If you’re interested in technology, you’ll know that one of the biggest events of the year is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early January. This year le tout le monde was talking about consumer Virtual Reality (VR) and the new generation of VR headsets which, of course, includes the highly anticipated Oculus Rift.

To us VR die-hards at Virtalis, Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) are our bread and butter. We’ve seen fashions come and go over the last two decades: wide field of view, see-through, wireless, bulky, streamlined and so heavy it is guaranteed to compact at least two of your vertebrae. We actually have an HMD museum at our Manchester HQ and you are welcome to come and wonder at it the next time you are passing.

HMD'S on display at Virtalis HQ

How much is the Oculus Rift? And is it worth it?

VR headsets for the consumer sector has seemed like science fiction fantasy for some considerable while. It might still be five years hence. Take a read of my earlier blog on how expectations might take a dive when people realise their graphics cards simply can’t hack it. The consumer sector is, by definition, where the bulk of the market is and it is clearly where Facebook is pinning its hopes but is that just because it needs to recouping that rash (to some of us) $2 billion investment? It’s not just the consumers – many commercial users are typing in their company credit card details this week in order to get their mitts on the much-vaunted $599 of promised VR wizardry. This, despite shipping dates for the Oculus being delayed from March to June. The real question for business users is what are you going to do with it once you open the box?


The Oculus Rift in the Real World

Whilst I admit the Oculus Rift and the many of the other new generations of headsets such as the HTC Vive, are far removed from the historic HMDs in our museum, the same business case for the technology still applies. If you look at the HMD as a wacky, techie gadget, you will fail. The HMD is a tool that could help you solve business problems through VR. HMDs as good as and indeed, considerably superior to these low cost, new generation ones being so heavily touted now have been around for quite a few years. What we are aware of is that their successful use in industry isn’t reliant on the HMD at all.

What is vital is strong application software coupled with accurate tracking solutions to create a realistic and immersive environment that allows the user to truly connect with their data. This is the holy grail. Now I hope you aren’t going to accuse me of blowing the Virtalis trumpet, but here goes anyway… Our ActiveSpace HMD-based system brings together the hardware components required combined with our Visionary Render software to create a seamless virtual environment. The kind where you forget you are using it and just get on with the understanding of your data which leads to improved decision making. We can even link multiple ActiveSpace systems with our ActiveDesk and ActiveWall solutions to enable users to collaborate and communicate either locally or across the world whilst sharing the same virtual environment. Now that’s VR – VR that makes things happen.

Images courtesy of Oculus & HTC