We have new toys, and no work will be done!
Planning for a June delivery, last week we got a surprise package of our new HTC Vive, rather unexpectedly (thus the surprise bit). After picking VR guru James Tubbrit up off the floor, we were tools down for a while and unboxed the kit as slowly as we could. We have spent the last week playing **cough** err working in the Vive environment, and these are some initial impressions:
It's not as sickening
VR sickness is a thing. When the human eye and brain senses movement it tricks the body into thinking it is in the middle of an impossible drop from a forty foot height on a rollercoaster. The body doesn't feel the drop, specifically in the inner ear, and therefore triggers an "oh-no-I-am-not-taking that-without-consequences" motion sickness bout.
Some people react differently to others. People like James who spend most of their working day in virtual reality, feel the sickness very little. People who are new to the technology feel it quite a bit more. It is akin to a sailor with sea legs vs. a landlubber out on the ocean for the first time.
From our experience in the Oculus Rift, using an X-box controller to move around an area is bearable, at a very slow speed. But we are not used to moving as X-box characters, we are humans. The more complex and common movements gamers use will turn your innards quickly. Strafe around a corner and you will see exactly what you had for lunch and sooner than you think.
The Vive however seems more real. For one, you are by default standing in a space under your own power. You balance in the Vive the same way you would walking to the shop. Bear in mind you can still feel sick at times, but standing seems to lessen the blow of VR sickness.
That is our theory anyhow. We flew around in the Vive as if we were Superman (again "working" of course) and it was enjoyable. In the Oculus it would have been gut-wrenching and it actually makes me a bit queasy thinking about it.
Oculus is TV, Vive is Playstation
We liken the Oculus currently to a movie in the cinema, albeit a really cool cinema. It is amazing to experience, the sound and graphics are great and in the words of Roisin Dunk our videographer, "It's like your whole body is in there!".
All that being said, it is still passive by nature. At least until we get paddles and leap motion hacked into ours. You sit or stand and watch what is delivered. Its not bad, but that is SO last week.
The Vive compels you to "perform", to become part of the experience. Whether it is drawing in 3d with TiltBrush or firing arrows at the incoming horde of cartoon vikings, you are actually affecting the VR world presented. We spent hours over the weekend painting with light and fire, saving it to our gallery, then doing it again, rinse and repeat.
Friday afternoon caught us swinging a viking sword and our very own lightsaber. We had to make our own lightsaber noises and that is part of the allure, you are dragged into the fun of it despite yourself.
Like kids in the virtual candy shop
So our verdict is that Vive is great fun, and at this point much more so than Oculus. That could very well be due to the limitations of us not having controllers or hacks to make the Oculus "full-on", but we have found the Vive excellent from the start.
It does have it's limitations, like having to be within a certain 'cube' of space and the fact you can't have two running in the same room, but overall it has captured our imagination, and the possibilities are really endless.
So if you will excuse us, we are off for a spot of #selfietennis
Feel free to also read how VR might be used in advertising to find out what Kevin in marketing had to say.