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VR (ycombinator.com)
1008 points by craigcannon on Jan 13, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 550 comments

I bought a Vive the week of Thanksgiving and have been using it roughly 2 hours a day. Every other day is my workout day most of the week (unless I'm playing hockey that day/night) and the VIVE has become part of my workout now too. After I complete my normal workout - a mixture of hockey specific training, free weights, aerobic and of course tons of pull-ups - I now spend an additional hour+ in VR.

I typically play Space Pirate Trainer first; once I get around level 15-20 things are so hectic I'm moving a ton and often going to one, or both knees. My abs and back can feel it big-time. I start with this game because it's not quite so intense at the start and is a good VR warmup.

More impressive is Holopoint - a bow and arrow game. That is easily the most physically demanding VR activity that I've found so far. I'm usually sweeting pretty solidly when I complete 8-10 games of Holopoint. I'm also noticeably fatigued in my arms, back, legs, hips, all over. And just to be clear most would classify me as extremely fit (regularly skate with/against NHL bound Junior players, the minimum pull-ups I do in my workout are 30 consecutive, body fat <10% etc).

Lastly I find I am no longer interested in 'regular games'... such as Madden, NHL 16, Gran Turismo, etc (on PS4), or even my all time favorite Dark Souls (series). I simply can't go back to not being physically engaged the way VR games are.

VR is going to be absolutely huge in the health/fitness space.

Additional workout suggestion: try Thrill Of The Fight ( http://store.steampowered.com/app/494150/ ). It's the most physically intense experience I've had in VR so far - I'd say even more intense than Holopoint, although the two are close. Obviously you will have to enjoy boxing for it to be much use or fun, mind!

You might also enjoy Climbey (http://store.steampowered.com/app/520010/ ) - it doesn't look particularly physical at first but it uses a decent amount of slow muscle movement. I was surprised at how sore I was the morning after a long play session with it.

(Oh, and given you love Dark Souls - you have heard of Left-Hand Path ( http://store.steampowered.com/app/488760 ), which keeps getting described by users as "Dark Souls VR", right? If not, I seriously need to work on my marketing. It's also at least somewhat physical, particularly if you decide to use the dodging mechanics a lot. Full disclosure: I'm the developer of that one.)

I have played Left Hand Path a lot, very intense esp. the boss fight. I can't seem to complete the ruin sequence to get past the end of level one so I put that one on hold until it gets patched, I'm pretty sure I am doing the ruin sequence right... but yeah great Dark-Souls like experience in VR. Can't wait to see what From does in VR.

Climbly is good too but it's tough because you still have to move around with their locomotion technique and I find it quite vomit-y unfortunately the way it currently works.

Thrill of the Fight is on my list to check out this weekend... new release, looks great :)

Oh, sorry to hear that! The end of that level does seem to stump people - I'm working on making it much more accessible.

If you'd like to either email me (email in my HN profile), reply here, or put up a post on the Steam forums (http://steamcommunity.com/app/488760/discussions/0/) I'd be more than happy to help you past that, as there's lots of good stuff beyond!

Climbey - yeah, the locomotion does get a little nausea-inducing :( I'm bulletproofed to it after months of VR development!

Oh great, thanks man! And I have to tell you it's impressive as hell what you have create with Left Hand Path esp. considering you are a single developer. Simply amazing man! I will definitely take you up on your offer this weekend.

Thank you! It's been a very fun and rewarding shift in career from what I was doing before. Glad people are enjoying my work!

And please do! We'll get you on the path through the Well again...

What background did you have before you went into VR? Anywhere you would point beginners who want to get started?

I've been making Machinima films using game engines for the past 20 years or so, including working with people like EA, the BBC, et al.

(I'm actually the guy who coined the word "Machinima", with a colleague, because we needed a better way to describe what we did than "Quake Movie".)

So I had a lot of game engine experience before I jumped in.

As for beginners getting started: Unity, Unity, Unity. Grab Unity and start learning - you can get a simple VR experience going in a fairly minimal timeframe.

Do you mostly use Blender to create the actual environments? I've started to do a little reading on this stuff too and it's a daunting hill to climb coming from primary a web-dev background (at least I know C# like the back of my Left Hand haha couldn't resist...).

I'm mostly using the Unity level editor, in actual fact, although I use 3D Studio Max for my detailed 3D modeling when I need to.

The Unity editor's very powerful, and you can extend it with tools like ProBuilder and Gaia, which are all available in the Unity Asset Store.

(I heartily recommend both of those for simple geometry creation and landscape creation, respectively.)

I've been coming at it the other way - I know game engine graphics and assembly like the back of my sinister hand, but I've been on a rapid C# learning curve :)

Just wondering what tools or techniques should you specifically learn to make VR games in Unity? I can make desktop games in Unity, is a VR game just like a FPS with different physical controls?

From another Quake veteran big kudos for Quake Done Quick(er). The good old days :)

Terrible graphics. I'm not up-to-date but are we still at this level?

Yes. Even the best VR headsets still have incredibly low pixel density. According to Michael Abrash, "the per-degree pixel density of a 1k by 1k, 110-degree VR display is... actually lower pixel density than the original Quake running at 320x200."[0]

And when you call the graphics "terrible" do you mean they actually look bad to you from inside a VR headset, or just looking at the screenshot on some other device?

Because what looks amazing in a traditional game can look cartoony and fake within VR, and incredibly simple things can look startlingly real.

[0] https://youtu.be/G-2dQoeqVVo?t=14m30s

Depends. Remember a lot of this stuff is driven by small dev houses and in some cases - one man bands. Sometimes the graphics aren't up to scratch.

Also - there's a tendency towards flat shading as an aesthetic choice - it actually looks great in VR and frame rate is king.

However - check out something like Valve's "The Lab" to see how skilled devs can produce stunning graphics that run really smoothly in VR. It shows it's possible...

(self-reply) I found this compilation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW8om7lcNpg

On reflection I don't think VR graphics are looking bad at all...

It's just barely good enough to be a compelling experience.

VR games are a lot of fun, but this is going to drive GPU development for a long time to come.

I welcome it! Admittedly I have enjoyed the past few years of not having to upgrade my graphics card. It would seem thanks to consoles, that shader technology and performance has been a focus of game development for a little while. The result being better and better visuals still running on the same hardware just fine.

But I am also behind an escalation of the chipset manufacturers duelling it out. Some market impetus would surely bring about some great new engineering.

This is exactly why I'm not jumping into VR right now. Once we have hi-res VR headsets and GPUs that can handle it comfortably, then I'll be interested. Give it five years or so, probably.

I'll take horrible graphics over awesome gameplay any day. Take a look at 'Onward' - just shows how simple can equal awesome!

Maybe I'm just lazy, but VR games requiring physical exertion have absolutely zero appeal to me. I want to sit back with a keyboard and controller and relax. I include any kind of room scale in that assessment, and personally, just the idea of wearing a thing on your face and having to crane your neck around to see what's going on sounds like a PITA.

I honestly and truly don't understand why people think VR is going to get any kind of mass market penetration.

I thought the same thing until I tried it.

Seriously, try it out the level of immersion is insane, a more classic game feel can be amazing. But something where you move around is incredibly compelling. I watched a friend try to lean on a counter while cooking in Job simulator. I have hit basically every wall in my living room with a controller at this point as well as all the lights.

On the exercise front, Not every game is a workout but at the same time even something simple like the default valve bow game from the lab can wear people out. After all, you are holding a weight at arms length for a while and simulating pulling back an arrow. Its mot a motion that many people do regularly.

Go borrow one or go to some local game meetup and try some's roomscale handset. Its amazing. I'm thinking about taking mine to the bar up the street on a weeknight hooking it up and getting everyone to try it.

I have a hard time seeing anything you're pitching as much beyond what you could get with a Wii, and that's completely dead and abandoned. How many people bought Wii fitness? Is that enough of a demographic to expect there to be an entire new ecosystem supporting it?

I get that the technology is amazing, I just don't see it getting much mass market penetration.

The big issue on the adoption front is cost.

Basically everyone who has ever tried the vive I own wants to buy one, it's just throwing 800$ after a 1500$ box is a bit steep for most people.

I equate it to using an NES back in the day. Right now it's expensive and imperfect but In The mid to long term it's a clear winner.

I have done the 15 min demo to about 40 people so far and everyone wants one. Something that you can already get on a screen like Google Earth is astounding in VR.

As an example, for most people I start with them wearing the display and hand them the controllers with them already wearing the headset. That is the first thing most people think is cool.they can see the controller as it floats into their hand perfectly. That's enough suddenly they can literally touch their computer. It seems really dumb until it happens and then holy crap is it cool.

That's sort of how VR is. In concept not that cool in execution it's amazing.

Who have you shown VR to was interested in it? My brother shows off his VR unit to everyone, but I've never seen anyone that tried VR that was interested in purchasing it. Even he doesn't use it anymore.

Using VR actually seems to cause less desire to buy it, including me. It actually turned out to be a worse experience than what I expected.

Better question is what is c0nfused showing that your brother isn't? The specific app between the two of them is important, but also everything else. From the headset hardware; at the extreme ends; Oculus vs Google Cardboard. Also important is what add-ons they both have - seeing your own hands inside the headset is remarkably important for immersion, which is kind of the point. Also important is the level of preconfiguration - if the number of times the presenter says "wait hold on", and then goes to futz with the settings for 5 minutes isn't zero, then VR is a total turn off and, eugh, I don't want one. The cables going to the headset are critical as well - wireless isn't here for VR yet, but if there are multiple tangled cable messes rather than a single zip tied set of cables, I'm not going to want one in my living room if it's too complicated to put on and is just gonna be a mess in my living room.

It's entirely possible the two crowds being presented to differs by that much, but there are so many other variables in play too.

> I have a hard time seeing anything you're pitching as much beyond what you could get with a Wii

Try it. It's much more compelling than a Wii.

I think the Wii had part of the jigsaw. Imagine Wii/Kinect interactions, a really vibrant indie-dev culture plus that really hard to explain thing - "presence". It's a fascinating time to be part of a technology. I can only think of a few things that came close - the original home computing and video game boom (I was a child - so everything was wonderful), the early days of my time on the internet and the early iPhone/Android days ("I've got a proper computer in my pocket!").

I haven't been this excited about tech for a long time.

I think the same as someone who has waited for it a long time and purchasing a Rift with Touch, but looking at it rationally the sum of everything is a bit underwhelming if you consider a price of 2k to get started.

Many people i showed it to think its really cool, but out of maybe 15 people, only one has expressed serious interested to actually buy one and he already owns the required PC. Most were also not completely blown away, more like "yeah this is pretty cool and fun" but the expectations were higher than what actually can be experienced today.

There are cool games and experiences, but the tech needs to get a lot better (mainly resolution for me because i enjoy racing games most) and it needs to be a lot cheaper. I am still skeptical about mass market adoption beyond the same people that were interested in Kinect/PS Move.

Err, most people I know who bought a Wii bought it because of Wii Fit. Perhaps I'm a different demographic to you but it was pretty big when it came out.

The balance board sold 32 million units, so it was a pretty major success. That is as many units as Nintendo64 consoles sold. See http://www.gamesradar.com/holy-crap-look-how-many-wii-balanc...

At this point, I have to assume you haven't tried VR, and your point is void until you do. It blows minds. Wii was a gimmick (especially with its accuracy).

Wii was great multiplayer fun. We literally spent half days playing Wii tennis with 2 or 3 people. I assume that VR will be much better (only used DR1 and cardboard and of course they aren't too compelling), but does meaningful multiplayer VR exist yet?

Edit: And by multiplayer, I mean everyone in the same room multiplayer. Social multiplayer?

You're right - Wii's strength was local multiplayer, whereas Vive is more of a conventional online multiplayer, considering you need a separate Vive for each person. If you happen to have 2 Vives nearby with enough space, I imagine it's fun, but you're still inside your own world, so a mic+speakers/headphones is all you really need.

There are some games where another person can participate outside VR (Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes), but it's not really the same at all.

Wii fitness was not fitness. It didn't approach anything of a challenge other possibly pushups, planks and a couple of other bodyweight exercises.

In VR you have to move a lot more for things to work and the the games are not fitness specific. It definitely gets your heart beating because you often have to hop around like your boxing or doing burpees. Burpees don't look that exhausting, but the constant floor to standing movement makes it challenging. I think this is what makes VR more physical.

Dude. Just. Go. Try. It.

When I tried all I noticed was the pixelation and had to take it off. It was such a terrible user experience. It reminded me of some student science project, instead of a marketable product.

VR isn't going to be popular until we have 8K or 16K headsets doing 120fps, and then we have to deal with the fact that it removes you from your environment.

The first generation of VR died off because they couldn't figure out how to solve the product liability issues. That problem still exists, which is why VR isn't going to be usable and is a dead-end.

I agree. I own a occipital bridge. The resolution needs to get 5x better than retina to be believable.

Also 6dof tracking with hand gesture tracking under 10ms is still a challenge. I think it's possible but needs serious hardware advancements.

I love my bridge though. No hanging cables is definitely a good thing

It's not perfect, Valves new controller prototype is probably the closest we have to noninteusive, low latency gesture tracking with some form of feedback (the oculus Half moon prototypes were also fairly close, but iirc the gesture recognitation was neutred for what ever reason).


The definition of Retina varies based on viewing distance. The DPI needed for Retina in VR is a heck of a lot higher than what's needed for a smartphone.

IMO we need to go through at least two resolution quadruplings on the Vive to get it to be crisp enough for the screen-dooring to not be noticeable.

Why 5x?

I let my wife, who has zero interest in games outside of Candy Crush, try on Google Cardboard (minimal immersion) on an iPhone (horrible display for VR) with the demo apps (can't even call them games really) and she was so engaged she ended up walking into one of our shoji/paper doors tearing a hole in it.

Once Vive-level VR comes down to wireless/portable size and down in cost to the $300 range it's going to be MASSIVE. Maybe the first generation ("until we get 16K 120fps headsets") will not appeal to productivity or hardcore gaming buffs, but 100 million Wiis were sold, and there was nothing technically impressive about that thing.

All the VR goggles are 1440p max, so we haven't seen "4K" yet to see how good it is.

I tried Oculus, expecting to be amazed. I found it annoying and not immersive at all. I can see every single pixel. Doesn't feel real at all. Possibly because I"ve been using high-resolution 3D displays for point cloud editing for the science I do for years. (Nvidia 3D Vision 2 -- probably the 3rd major attempt at consumer 3D that never really caught on)

this, I work at Facebook and try out all of the demo devices over at Oculus. I keep hoping that they are going to advance the pixel density, but have gotten so disappointed by it that I've stopped testing their new equipment at all in the last few months. That and the team of folks that work on it are outrageously arrogant. Looking at you Charmaine/pedoguy.

If you actually work at Facebook, this maybe isn't something you should share on a public forum…

put in my 2 weeks not long ago.

> having to crane your neck around to see what's going on sounds like a PITA

This is a step too far in my opinion. You already have to "crane your neck around" to see what's going on in the real world, all around you, all the time.

I'm also sure there are less physically demanding games/experiences for those interested. Pick your poison.

In the real world, you look with your eyes much more than you look with your head.

As you're playing games or working, the only time you ever turn your head is when something external distracts you, and you can resolve it in a split second. If you're using VR and something external distracts you, you have to abandon whatever your doing and dismount the device.

not really. ever wear a neckbrace, or pull a muscle in your neck? it really, really sucks.

i don't think physical movement will be a requirement of vr as a concept. you can sit and eat cheetos all day long if you want.

and in the future, i think we'll have instant-on instant-off see through LEDs so you can hit a button on the side and see through the headset into reality.

> In the real world, you look with your eyes much more than you look with your head.

Unless you wear glasses.

I wear glasses and seem to still be capable of moving my eyes.

Unless you wear bifocals. Single-vision lenses have a usable field of view that is as large as the comfortable range of movement of the eyes.

Anecdotally, I started wearing glasses a couple months ago and have been annoyed at how often I have to adjust my ahead when I would have normally just moved my eyes. My glasses tend to slip down my nose just a tad which cuts off a non-negligible amount of FOV.

That varies wildly by the design of the glasses. I tried rock climbing once with my glasses instead of contacts and it was intolerable. It wasn't immediately obvious how often I relied on a quick flick of the eyes to the outer edges until I tried it.

As to the original point, people adjust their head position all the time without even thinking about it. It's an unnatural and conditioned response to hear a noise on your right rear and move a joystick or mouse to look for the source of the noise.

It's perfectly possible to buy glasses that only minimal obstruct your field of view, and let you look at things out of the corner of your eye.

As a vehement supporter of VR and early Vive adopter, I agree. My Vive has been stuck in a drawer for several months now, and I'm strongly considering selling it.

Though, to be clear, most of my issues with current-gen VR is because of the state of the technology: low-res displays, bulky and heavy HMDs, clunky wires, etc. In a generation or two once this is addressed, it will be a much more enjoyable experience.

The other issue is in the software itself: there are just no must-have VR experiences yet. Technical demos, unpolished experiments, and shallow gameplay make up 90% of the current catalog. Plus there's the motion problem we haven't figured out yet, where most games rely on teleportation as primary movement mechanism, which is terrible UX.

Here's to hoping this isn't yet another failed VR attempt and that the industry will keep evolving, as the possible level of immersion is truly remarkable.

That was my stance, as well, especially after trying some of the early Oculus demos. I was converted the first time I played a game where I really had to aim a gun and reload it by grabbing a new clip and slamming it into the gun. It's a different kind of experience.

True, it isn't all that different from what you may get out of a Wii or a Kinect, but it's more immersive, and that makes a huge difference in how engaged you become.

How do you deal with sweat getting all over your device? Doesn't it start getting dirty quickly?

Agreed with OP on HoloPoint and other apps (e.g. AudioShield is another favorite of mine) being a surprisingly intense workout. I sweat quite a bit with these games after ~15min, and this is definitely a problem. On Vive, the soft padding absorbs the sweat from my forehead as a sponge and becomes quite gross. I've learned to deal with the yucky feeling and can mostly ignore it, but I could see how others wouldn't.

Washable cotton covers are available for the Rift and Vive headsets. The controllers can be wiped clean like any other controller.


One solution is to buy something called "3d sleep mask" costs $7 or so on Amazon but you can get them for less than $1 on Aliexpress with free shipping. Then you just cut out the middle part and the headband.

They won't be quite as soft as the normal ones since they are thinner but the advantage of this is that it increases FOV since you are closer to the screen. In my experience they also stick quite well to the Vive.

Example: https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4gezog/8_sleep_mask_m...

The Vive at least has an removed gasket. You can get the waterproof ones, and have a few on hand when playing with a group.

Overall it's pretty manageable if you are prepared but pretty gross if you are using it out of box

I own an Oculus Rift and find that you only really get sweaty with very physically active games (AudioShield, Space Pirate Trainer, etc.). When it starts getting sweaty I'll usually just go do something else for a few minutes until it dries.

I agree completely. What's really interesting is, if you start to think of VR as exercise equipment, suddenly $800 for a headset and $1200 for a high-end gaming PC aren't that much money. You can easily spend twice that on a treadmill and a treadmill is a terrible workout. You could almost spend that on gym fees in a year and not ever show up, whereas the VR system in my home is fun and compelling: I do use it. And it's only going to get cheaper from here on out.

Oh, yeah, definitely.

I'd actually compare the cost to the cost of hiring a personal trainer. Both solve two problems: exercising, and the motivation to exercise.

Looked at in that light, the Vive's way cheaper.

That's a great point that I haven't considered before. Back on the PS2 there was an "eyetoy" camera addon that allowed you to interact with certain games. "Eyetoy: kinetic" was a favorite of mine and my nieces/nephews: they could punch and kick and get rid of enemies or blocks or whatever on screen, instantly usable compared to the abstraction of a controller. It was easily the most engaging fitness I've done. It had its faults (proper spacing and lighting was critical), and now that you mention it I'd love to get into similar things in VR.

I used to use the Kinect for fitness in much the same way. I'm still upset that never really took off. The rafting game was particularly entertaining.

> That is easily the most physically demanding VR activity that I've found so far

Have you tried soundboxing? I'm on OSX so can't try it, but I really want to give it a shot - it seems awesome, and a good workout. Bringing back the glory days of DDR in the arcade...

[0] - https://www.soundboxing.co/

I've played Soundboxing quite a lot, its a load of fun and you definitely get a solid work out. Its usually my go to game when I want some VR exercise. The leaderboard is a nice touch as well, makes me really try push myself because I want to be #1 on some of my favourite songs.

Oh nice, this looks like a nice tweak on the AudioShield formula - appreciate the rec!

I've heard good things about Soundboxing too, but haven't tried it yet.

I think fitness is going to be huge with VR gaming.

We’re developing an FPS game, and are researching walking and jogging in place to drive character locomotion. The new Vive trackers are an exciting announcement, because that means we can have ankle tracking. In-game hands and feet.

Please consider moon physics! I haven't heard anyone talk about this but I've thought this was the answer to locomotion in VR. It strikes a balance between realistic movement and not being too tiring, and moon jumping would be hella fun, especially in a FPS.

We’re mostly intrigued with 1:1 locomotion and agility in competitive multiplayer. For instance players who can run a marathon, or throw a baseball, will have a distinct competitive advantage over players who cannot. But, in theory, if you played enough it would supplement physical training.

But moon jumping would be a fun game concept :)

> We’re mostly intrigued with 1:1 locomotion and agility

That doesn't sound appealing in many cases. As a game critic once wrote about the limits of realism: I am not a ninja.

For the casual gamer it may not be interesting, though that depends on the learning curve - eg regular sports can be pretty challenging and physically exhausting, yet people play them casually.

But in particular competitive gaming and esports would get a lot more interesting this way.

Ever played instagib with a low gravity mod in a regular FPS? It can be fun, but the gameplay becomes pretty limited, and I imagine the moon physics being similar in a VR FPS. Maybe projectile weapons only would make it work better, or the fact that hitscan is a lot harder in an HMD than with a monitor.

I always thought that the mitigating factor here would be that you don't have to take big loping leaps, you can also accomplish a fairly earth-like gait, just with fewer steps.

I could also see another way of using it that is similar to the teleport mechanic where you clear an area, make a big jump, and when you land you clear that next area before taking another jump. But it would be an interesting thing, almost like a angry birds pulling the slingshot back thing, where the accuracy of the jump is also put to the test.

> can be fun, but the gameplay becomes pretty limited

If I recall correctly, low gravity often made me want to avoid jumping due to the lack of air control compared to ground running.

Jumping in real life and then going back down and landing while your character is still moving up seems like a really efficient way to get nauseated. 1:1 motion is very immersive and very good for avoiding nausea, so it's not something to give up lightly.

Yes, that sounds bad. But you could move further while staying in the air for the same time in reality, right? At least for running it should work?

We were doing in-place walking in VR a couple years ago with the DrumPants foot sensors. It worked surprisingly well and IMO was more immersive than using a hand controller: https://youtu.be/T2K0zWZMC5E

I cannot wait for the point when, as VR devs, we can assume people have legs as well as hands tracked.

There are SO many exciting possibilities that'll unlock.

Also, I want my Thrill Of The Fight-equivalent Muay Thai simulator.

I have a DK2, and for sitting games like Elite Dangerous I'm very happy with it hence not buying a commercial version.

But...man, this makes me want a Vive so badly. The only thing stopping me at the moment is I keep telling myself I'm hanging out for the next resolution bump (and the attendant massive HTPC I'll happily build to drive it).

Don't you get incredibly sweaty though? What is that experience like wearing a bulky mask thing?

That's currently my biggest beef with these VR headsets, you have to wear some bulky thing on your head.

I do but I don't mind it. I wear a thin head-cap and bought the 'VRCover' which helps absorb the sweet (but is unfortunately made of cotton for some reason). My setup is in the basement too and so it's typically pretty chilly down there so it's probably not quite as bad as it could be.

I do have to take the headgear off every few games, towel off head/forehead, and clean up the lens.

Which VRCover did you buy specifically for sweat? I bought the memory foam soft cotton one (it's supposed to come in tomorrow" because I wanted to to be washable, but also comfortable in other scenarios, though I very much have the same experience as you described and I'd like to make exercising with VR games a much bigger part of my routine.

Edit: I'm mostly curious about the "leather" ones as they sounded uncomfortable for other usage, but specifically aimed at physical exertion.

I bought this one but I'm not totally happy with it. For now it does the job but I'm sure better options will come out at some point hopefully sooner than later:


Ohhh, I actually bought one of the replacement foams. Here were the two I was considering, I bought the first of the two I linked and will be getting it tomorrow.



I am looking for a cover that does not soak up the sweat? I like to take the vr to family parties with dozens of people trying the device and the nasty factor can be really if used heavily. I am looking for something that can be wiped with alcohol between uses.

VRCover make waterproof covers for the Vive and Gear, designed specifically for that use.


I haven't done any workout in a VR headset yet but I have cried in one, and the lens got fogged up. Clearly some sort of passive or active ventilation will have to be part of VR headsets.

>I have cried in one

What's the story with that, if you don't mind?

I visited The Library at Night, a part-VR exhibit by Robert Lepage in Québec City: https://www.mcq.org/en/exposition?id=425961

Alberto Manguel narrates the history of 10 of his favourite libraries. One of them, the Vijećnica library in Sarajevo, had a particularly striking history from the civil war: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vije%C4%87nica

That got to me.

Depending on how active the game is and how much you sweat it can be bad. I am certain that one of the first improvements in future devices will be better ventilation without leaking light.

Not OP, but familiar with this - I don't notice it much while I'm still in it, but if you take it off and on again, it's then like putting on a sweaty shirt - it's gotten cold and clammy, but warms up and you stop noticing pretty quick.

You do need to remember to rinse the padding tho, just like a sponge in the sink. Super easy.

I'll pass. Remind me when VR is a pair of glasses :)

Have you watched Dennou Coil, by any chance? :O

Good point - on the Vive you can easily remove the face padding and rinse it off. They also sell replacements, I have a few so I rotate them in/out depending on which is driest etc.

I recall reading in most places that you are not supposed to get the HTC default foam pads wet and that it causes them to degrade quicker. Anecdotally, my wide face cushion has way less definition and is squishier than my narrow face cushion. This is definitely in part because the narrow one gets used less often, but I figured sweat was definitely a factor

I've been totally immersing mine and drying it out so far without any problems.

Can't be all that different than sweat itself. If we're not supposed to be getting these wet, then we shouldn't be doing VR workouts at all.

That has been my worry, but I figured I'd just buy new foam pads from HTC at worst. It does say not to get them wet in the manual. To alleviate this, I just purchased replacement pads that were machine washable from a 3rd party supplier.

That's an interesting observation - most of the caveats about VR (poor UX/interactions, consumer hardware at least a few generations away from a good v1.0) probably don't really impact this space much as the focus is on other things. People are already demonstrably willing to put on somewhat clunky gear for an hour or two for a workout.

lol - great point - a squat rack is a pretty bulky piece of equipment too!

I totally agree! The immersive experience not only makes you forget that you are working out but also makes you want to be better at moving around so you can perform better in the game.

Now just imagine how that'll play out when we have really good competitive VR games that are also cardio workouts - so you're aiming to out-fitness the millions of other players.

The first DOTA or Counterstrike equivalent for VR that also rewards fitness with increased game ability will unleash a legion of very, very fit competitive gamers on the world.

Bearing in mind - 7 hr a week is more or less the minimum to be at all competitive at DOTA, for example. 7 hr of intense exercise a week will get you pretty fit.

It's more like 7 hours a day to be anywhere near competitive at DotA.

By "competitive" in that context I meant "won't get stomped at 1.5k MMR". Which is still, frankly, a pretty high bar compared to most games.

But yes. If you want to be actually competitive at a tournament level, you're dead on.

I see. Yeah, 7 hours of fitness a week on a casual level would do wonders for a lot of people, me included.

Damn - that is a great point!

Have you tried Holoball or Audioshield? Those are my go-to games when I'm looking for some exercise.

I use to use Audioshield for the workout but I find Space Pirate and Holopoint to be more intense.

I haven't seen Holoball, sounds awesome thanks!

Holoball is my current favorite, but I have to try these others tonight

Quite possibly education and elder care too.

I'm not into gaming much (I find the magic of games pretty much gone for "moar" details, "moar" movement). But for health and also bootstrapping understanding your body, I'd contribute a lot to VR.

You should try Beat Boxer. Its a rhythm based exercise game for the Vive and Oculus and will really get you sweating.


Full disclaimer: I am one of the developers.

So do you just have some huge empty room/garage in your house then? Are you ever afraid of smashing into stuff around you that you can't see because of the goggles?

The Vive chaperone tech is really good.

I've been developing with my living room as my VR space for months now - as well as getting other people in to playtest a physically intense, scare-heavy game requiring fast movement - and to date we've only had one even moderately close call with a controller nearly whacking my TV. And that was my fault for setting the chaperone bounds a bit optimistically.

>And that was my fault for setting the chaperone bounds a bit optimistically.

I learned that the hard way.

They need to add a note to SteamVR: Don't make the edges directly against obstacles.

I have half my basement setup for hockey specific workout stuff, I call it 'Hockey Heaven', and repurposed part of the area for VR use too. You can see pictures of it on my old blog below (which I'm in the process of relaunching as a VR specific site in the next month or so).


This is before I setup the VIVE so basically I hung the sensors around the 'blue line area' and put all my computer gear on the desk in the corner.

Your hockey setup is fantastic, nice work. And that is some sick stick handling.

Watch the pullups. I fried my elbows by doing too many. Doing them on rings is much better (if you don't do them that way already, I don't know).

Interesting that you are taking PQQ. I've been meaning to research this stuff. I also noticed no creatine was listed. It probably belongs in your anti-aging stack as it has neuroprotective properties, along with its other well-established effects on muscle power output.

Pretty damn jealous over here. More for the hockey than the VR. Sweet setup. What's the floor made of?

You should talk to a doctor about what your knee and elbow joints will be like in twenty years.

(Supposing you care, and surgical replacement won't be trivial by then.)

> regularly skate with/against NHL bound Junior players,

I've skated with guys that didn't make the NHL cut and they were extremely fast to me. All most no effort it seemed like.

That's really shocking to me that you could get a workout from VR. Fog has to be an issue, no?

Well the Vive/VR workout isn't my aerobic workout and/or what keeps me fast enough to play with those guys at age 49. I do a variation on the the Tabata Sprint workout, which is probably the toughest, most intense part of my workout outside of the pull-ups. Most people I know can't handle fully sprinting near exhausting repeatedly for 2m; the threat of vomiting alone from the workout stops most of my friends. So no, I don't mean to imply the VIVE workout is in anyway the main component of my aerobic fitness routine.

The Vive, for me anyway, is more a overall body workout that strains muscles I don't seem to hit from hockey, snowboarding and/or other such activities I do regularly. I would say it's a) a great overall, full body workout, but not super aerobic, and b) extremely good at training for tracking/responding to multiple 'threats' from multiple angles. Or sharpening my focus, or indirect focus skills. For example I often de-focus my vision and think about the "Inner Game" and just get out of the way of my body; I often will hit two targets with each hand independently from each other spread out 20ft or so apart. I've noticed on the ice I'm picking up players on my side/other team earlier and it's giving me an edge in just being ready a second earlier with the puck.

This actually brings up an interesting point I and other VR devs need to consider for our games.

We're aware of the concept of a difficulty level in games. But we now need to consider the concept of a "fitness level".

That's not so much a problem for my current game, Left-Hand Path, because whilst it's physical it's not focused on physical exertion (except in the "suddenly elevated heartrate" area :) ).

But for the next game I'm working on, which is currently roughed out as a more conventional combat-focused RPG with a heavy physical focus, I really need to consider how I can make something that'll be physically intense and challenging for someone like evo_9, whilst also not making it completely impenetrable for someone who's unfit.

Just another interesting challenge in a VR dev's day :)

> I've skated with guys that didn't make the NHL cut and they were extremely fast to me. All most no effort it seemed like.

All great athletes seem like they're barely exerting effort when in reality they are way above average peak performance. Just running back and forth on a football pitch for a whole game is something that would bring most of us to our knees.

Fogging in the lenses is usually a sign the lenses are dirty. Usually, if I let them fog over and then clean them with a clean cloth, they don't fog over again. I do a very similar workout to the the person you replied to. Once I get the lenses cleaned, I can play Space Pirate Trainer without any problems.

I haven't had a problem with fogging at all, I wasn't aware that was an issue with Vive/Rift.

How do you deal with neck muscle strain from the weight of the device which also gets soaked in sweat? I think it's great that you've been able to exercise but for me those two points are still a big area of potential innovation.

If sweat becomes a persistent issue, products like https://vrcover.com/ will become standard.

> VR is going to be absolutely huge in the health/fitness space.

Totally agree, I cannot see anything bigger. I feel it will be bigger than even the medicine and hospital business and even plaxo and glaxo and klein would be out of business (or who knows maybe they will start selling medicines in VR!)

VR gaming is so intense and immerseful that I hope that I get a chance to go out. All this fitness would make me so slim.. that I hope my family can identify me.

+1 Holopoint! It feels like dancing.

As someone who owns both headsets from day one and has been developing software for Vive, I'd honestly say the current generation of tech just isn't worth it for most people. In five years when we have wireless headsets with eye tracking and full FOV displays with no discernible pixelation and the library of games are finally here it will be worth it. As it is most people would probably be let down after the initial wow factor wears off.

I think VR is at the point smartphones were from 2000-2007 until the iPhone showed up. It's going to take another generation of devices that incorporate all of those features in a really well designed package before it goes mainstream.

I completely agree with this sentiment. I too develop for both Vive and Oculus and they're just so unfinished products that I'd never recommend anyone to buy them.

* Vive has huge problems with tracking devices. It needs to track 3 things and usually 1 has a problem and is not tracking properly sigh * The coords are annoying * FOV is too narrow * picture quality is crap (low resolution) * steam vr (as steam itself) is low quality software * the device is heavy on your face, uncomfortable and makes you sweat (in the face.. nasty) * lack of compelling content that has things just right (i.e. doesn't make you sick)

From developer point of view: * openvr library can be confusing, documentation is lacking and it's married to steam :(

I think the author is overshooting the importance of VR. The next generation hardware will undoubtedly improve much and there's definately potential especially in fields like visualization work and gaming too. But lets be honest there's a whole bunch of basic "productivity" apps and light user content apps (think your average phone app) that really doesn't have much to gain from VR. Undoubetedly some of these will want to jump on the VR hype (once it comes) and quickly make totally horrible half-assed versions of their software for VR.

yeah sounds like the author is still in the initial "wow" stage, since they only tried it last week. I too was amazed by my oculus when i first got it. I was amazed again when the touch controllers came out. But once you get used to the new interface you get resigned to the fact there are no games out for it and the ones that are out are essentially expensive demos created to show off the tech. Furthermore the cords and setup are a pain.

I think that the Vive is a little like the release iPhone. It has all of the pieces, but it's also clunky and extravagant.

You had to have a pretty good imagination to look at any 2004 phone and envision the iPhone, but once you had the 1st gen iPhone it's pretty easy to imagine a modern smartphone. It's pretty much just the same thing only more so.

I don't know, that first iPhone was pretty special. Just having a fantastic web browser (mobile Safari) was a game changer. The gap feels bigger with VR, to me.

The first iPhone cost $600 after subsidy, you had to wait for pages to load forever over EDGE, and it had literally no software. Seems like a decent analogy of current VR.

Before the iPhone, nobody had any idea what improvement on the smartphone would be required to get them in the hands of everyone. All anyone could say was "a smartphone isn't for everyone". With VR, just in this thread half the people are saying "I just hated the resolution, lack of portability and software", similarly specific objections like people had with the initial iPhone.

I actually had the opposite experience to you. The first iPhone wasn't very special to me. "So what, it accomplishes everything my current phone does, only with pinch zoom". My first Oculus dev kit experience, terrible 720p display and all was captivating.

Agreed that the first iPhone was special, it let me move across the country without knowing a soul for two thousand miles with confidence.

The limitations were obvious though. The small screen and low resolution made it hard to read much text. It was really slow, both in processor and in its 2G connection. And it was clear that there was a lot of work to be done on the software and design technology side.

The Vive feels pretty special to me too. Presence, that feeling of being in another place, a fictional place with fictional rules. Perceptually perfect hand and head tracking. The chaperone system to let you move around the room with confidence.

The limitations are obvious: high system reqs, cords everywhere, low resolution, flaky software, and again we need to question a lot of our assumptions about the kind of software that we write. All of that's being aggressively engineered away. I'm bullish.

>Agreed that the first iPhone was special, it let me move across the country without knowing a soul for two thousand miles with confidence.

What was your alternative way to move across the country?

There used to be a weird merge between google maps and 2D printing

There was also that old man Rand McNally. Or stopping somewhere and asking for directions. I think you might've managed fine without the iPhone.

It's nice to get accurate directions when you really, really need it. There's also something to be said for getting lost or wandering every now and then.

Pre-app store iPhones? (and all of the software that it massively incentivized?)

Or just the phones themselves?

You didn't have to buy and configure a gaming PC to use the release iPhone, though. There's a certain out-of-the-box simplicity that's missing from the Vive and Oculus.

For sure, people can see the potential of the interface and it just needs the hardware to catch up.

Which I think will look like:

- Inside-out head tracking (hololens and project tango)

- Dedicated VR GPUs (heat and power issues)

- Better resolution (4k per eye is getting close to desktop screen res)

Then phones will go into 'VR mode' as we're seeing today with daydream, so it essentially rolls out automatically and without additional spending from consumers.

All incremental improvements to really take it mainstream

I love this analogy. A similar one I've been using is that the Vive is like the Nintendo Entertainment System (1985).

Sure you could technically play video games in your house on the Atari 2600, but they were so much worse than arcade games they were sort-of still a gimmick.

The NES was the first home game system whose games were good enough to get lost in. But that doesn't mean there wasn't tremendous room for improvement.

I had the exact same thoughts after playing with a Vive. An amazing glimpse at the near future.

I have used a Vive and a Rift for games for about five hours each and that was enough time for me to get bored with it. Not sure if it's that the games being developed for it are extremely lackluster compared to "real" games or if, like you say, the technology just isn't where it needs to be to be fun, but it was a letdown for me. It did have an amazing wow factor when I first tried it though.

You should take a look at this YC company: https://www.sixa.io/ - these changes might come faster than you think :)

No Linux client. Dumb move, when a typical use case is windows development when working from a Linux workstation. Pity. I'd be a customer (and toss my windows VMs)

I wholeheartedly agree with you, but it's not hard to do so - it's the most logical and obvious explanation for what we're seeing. Just like any 1st generation technology, it's far from elegant and is clunky, so we have to give it a few iterations.

> In five years when we have wireless headsets with eye tracking and full FOV displays

Wireless at least ships in Q1 in China, Q2 for the US (TPCast)

What's stopping it from being wireless right now? Wifi technology or battery life?

Nothing actually. The tech is there and they are releasing multiple third party wireless addons for the Vive this year, but none of the major HMD's come with wireless as standard yet.

I would think the added weight of a battery on your head would be one additional factor also.

We're not going to have all that in five years.

I run a VR-focused VC firm (Presence Capital). We've done 25+ investments in this space, so you can say that we believe in the long-term potential of VR. Even given that, we're bearish on how quickly there will be a profitable/sustainable VR consumer business and have advised most of our portfolio companies targeting consumers to keep burn low.

That being said, almost all of the comments here are taking a singular worldview: consumer-focused VR for a western market.

VR for B2B or enterprises can make money today and doesn't require mass-consumer adoption. If you make someone 10x more effective at their job (tools for sales people: OssoVR) or onboard employees faster (training: STRIVR), you can overcome the cost and rough edges on the hardware.

In China, VR-arcades are going to be how most consumers first experience high-end PC VR. Culturally, people there are already used to going to internet cafe's to use computers by the hour and seek out 3rd spaces. VR-by-the-hour rooms fit this mold. Additionally, the short length of most VR experiences makes it easy to have a 15-20 minute session and not be disappointed by the lack of content. More info on this here: https://medium.com/@amitt/vr-will-be-huge-in-china-41de0c758...

Genuinely curious but what are your thoughts on VR porn being a thing? Recall that porn on the internet has really been one of the first to start accepting credit cards. The old adage "internet is for porn" rings true.

It is already a thing. As many hours spent in VR porn as in all the games combined.

funny you should mention that. I did an AMA on Whale today and that was one of the questions:


Well thought out and thanks for sharing. Having worked in quite a few sales / B2B / Fortune environments, I see VR in a lot of ways similar to video conferencing. Sure, it works and can save lots of money in time and travel, but I don't think it really has the value proposition to be a huge cultural change. I definitely see the use cases in training (heavy equipment, safety management) down the line.

Are you looking at anything or have been pitched anything in the AEC space?

The firm I work for has a small R&D department that is heavily testing out VR. As I've said in other posts, I can only really see it as a marketing tool currently but some of that team are hoping there might be ways to "move and build" items in terms of visualizations.


tools for sales people: OssoVR

Osso is for surgeons, not sales people. Or am I missing something?

Sales people at medical device companies. They need to learn how to use the devices and then easily demo them to customers. It's also used by the end customers, after the sale is made.

Interesting... sounds like a pivot from what's shown on http://ossovr.com

Blown away? Hyperbole of the century. At CES this year, I tried all the VR/AR tech I could get my hands on. Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Sony VR, Galaxy Gear, and everything in between.

I wasn't expecting much and yet I was still underwhelmed. There is zero immersion, primarily due to the poor resolution, the screen door effect, and the crippled field of view. It felt like watching a scene through a pair of binoculars, but that's not a fair comparison either, as physical binoculars are more immersive than any of these devices.

I feel like I the only one that feels such disappointment!

This is so different from my experience with the HTC Vive: while I obviously perceived the poor resolution, screen door effect, etc., after the first minute I started feeling more and more immersed, and then something in my brain clicked, pretty much like when you are falling asleep. That's when everything started feeling almost like a lucid dream. My heartbeat was noticeable faster and I felt strangely happy/exited, like if my brain was pumping serotonin. It was so weird and fantastic. The only reason why I still didn't buy one is because it currently is a relatively big investment (ie gaming desktop+vive) for an entertainment technology.

I think you nailed it: you have to relax a certain amount and let your brain do it's own thing—like falling asleep. Some people have more of a tendency to latch on to the fact they're looking through a device and don't 'let go' and the magic doesn't happen. It's also probably situation dependent; your mind is less likely to let go of your actual environment and focus on the virtual if there are distractions or anything you're concerned about in your surroundings (e.g. it will be less likely for some people while in stores and at conferences etc.).

I have a Vive and agree. I personally don't see the SDE but I think I need glasses. The visual issue for me is not being able to look away from dead-center where it's the sharpest.

I read once that in VR "geometry matters more than textures" and I totally agree with that. Some of the most immersive moments I've had in VR are when I was peeking around a corner. The graphics were all simple, but the geometry of the corner and connecting corridor are what gave me such a great sense of presence.

I've written software for nearly 20 years now and I don't want to do anything other than VR development. It's the new frontier.

are you doing vr dev?

100% agree - this is how I am going to explain it from now on

I think the closest I experienced to this was when I first discovered Second Life. My dreams after an evening on Second Life were insanely realistic. That thrill of addiction sounds familiar, almost like a dopamine chasing rat.

I found the initial experience very compelling, too. Unfortunately, that initial thrill wears off fast. I challenge you to buy a Vive and report back in a few months with your daily usage level.

My daily usage level has dropped, but mostly it is due to the lack of new interesting software. When you read this thread, or /r/Vive or anywhere else, it's always the same story: people talking enthusiastically about games that came out months ago. The same ones, over and over. Space Pirate Trainer. Holopoint. H3VR. Job Simulator.

I'm really bored of those.

Easy - as that time period includes the Oculus Touch launch titles.

That gives me:

1. SuperHot

2. Arizona Sunshine

3. The Unspoken

4. Dead and Buried

Looking through Steam sorted by user reviews: http://store.steampowered.com/search/?sort_by=Reviews_DESC&t...

Gives me another easy set. I'll stick to things I own or I've heard almost universally good things about:

5. Smashbox Arena

6. Sairento

7. QuivR

8. Distance

9. Bullet Sorrow

10. Vertigo

11. Serious Sam: TFE

12: Bullet Sorrow

13: Werewolves Within

14: ROM Extraction

There's more but I got bored. I can personally vouch for the excellence of at least 5 of those.

Thanks for this reply. Did not know SuperHot had a VR version. I definitely will check that out at least.

It's short but it's astonishing. Totally worth it.

I can't imagine how the game works not in VR.

I hear that Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is very immersive in its VR incarnation, if you're into that sort of thing.

Define 'months'. I can name half a dozen games of equal quality that came out in the last 6 weeks.

Please do! Really! Because I'm looking for great new experiences and not finding much.

(Sorry - I did but accidentally replied to your original comment by mistake: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13396832 )

Elite dangerous (if you're into realistic space sims) could easily eat 1000+ hours of gameplay.

Have had the Vive since 1 month after launch, use it almost every day for a few hours. Just got Elite Dangerous set up as well so I expect to be using it even more. Other games I usually play are smashbox arena, and Onward, as well as Holopoint, Space Pirate Trainer, Audio Shield and Audio Beats. Tilt brush is also amazing for drawing in. There is so much content to play its great.

Interesting. I've got a 4k setup with a GTX 1080 at home right now. I'm sort of debating about a Vive or another 1080 when I've got some extra cash to blow.

The Vive seems harder to rationalize because it seems like a really expensive toy with only a few crappy games for it. Am I wrong about this? Is the VR really worth it? I keep reading awful things about the resolution and about motion sickness issues - I care very much about those things.

I'd have an easier time with it if the resolution was doubled and it was closer to a $500 price point. But as is it just seems crazy to pay that much to have a way lower resolution screen than my current monitor strapped an inch from my eyes.

The coolest thing about VR right now isn't the visuals, it's the controllers. Being able to move around and interact with things in virtual space is a very powerful experience/concept. I can actually see some future apps/games using controllers without the goggles.

> I can actually see some future apps/games using controllers without the goggles

This reminds me of the Nintendo Wii and Wii Tennis and all those other Wii sports games that were really fun.

"...after the first minute I started feeling more and more immersed..."

VR = immersion.

The gear, resolution, tech is all details.

Given my loose definition, we've had VR for years. Dr Dan Bricklin once asked me (rhetorically): where are you during a (deep) phone conversation? Here? There? Both?

AR is when the gear matters as much as than the story.

Source: Gadfly during the first VR hype cycle.

Imagine people saying this about Doom when it was released. The graphics don't look photo-realistic, you can see the individual pixels, you can't look up and down, man I don't think this 3D gaming thing is going to catch on.

Everything you mention are very (very) simple technical limitations on what are basically proof-of-concept devices. If you think we don't have the technical capability to put higher-resolution screens in there, or to make better graphics, or to extend the FOV... the only problem right now is cost. The reason for these limitations is cost. They're solving the hard problems before tackling the easy ones because we already know how to solve the easy problems. Solving easy problems doesn't get you hundreds of millions of dollars worth of startup investment. And screen resolution is definitively an "easy" problem to solve.

The YC post didn't say "VR is perfect today", it said "VR is going to get a lot better". You have to be able to see into the future and determine what problems are solvable and what problems may never be solved. All of the problems you see with current VR are ones that are easily solvable (except maybe immersion, but you'd have to actually define what that actually means).

"Imagine people saying this about Doom when it was released."

Nope. We were blown away.

Even knowing full well we'd eventually have real-time photorealistically rendered worlds to explore, surgery to perform, molecules to inspect... The early advances were exciting.

"Everything you mention are very (very) simple technical limitations on what are basically proof-of-concept devices."

VR has some thorny non-gear problems to solve. Human physiology ain't simple.

I'm very aware of the direction of VR/AR. Prior to my new line of work, I assisted corporations with invention mining in the head mounted display tech area. Despite having fairly intimate knowledge of the tech and what's currently unreleased prototype stage, I had minimal first hand experience.

HoloLens are the biggest let down. That FOV was unusable.

Maybe mercurial MagicLeap is doing AR the right way.

Being able to focus sight on far or on nearby object at will is also a simple problem and already solved in VR? (I honestly have no idea). Until it is solved there is no R in VR.

The ability to focus in VR using your own eyes requires a light field display - that is something which sends light rays from arbitrary angles into your eyes, and your eyes focus them.

Magic Leap has an augmented reality device that does that, although not launched yet.

My feeling is that light field displays will massively increase sense of reality - and reports of people using Magic Leap back that up.

However, I don't think it's necessary for lots of use of VR or AR.

I can see why the current issues might bring someone out of immersion. But from somebody who owns a Vive, I think having a more personal experience is key to getting the most out of it (for now).

When you describe the binocular effect, I know what you mean, however my experience is that all those issues fade away once your brain "accepts" the inputs and starts filtering out the noise. How long did you get to demo the Vive? In my experience (and those I've demonstrated to) it takes a bit. These days, if I'm in an engaging game, I'll lose the peripheral darkness on an unconscious level in the same way I'll lose the world outside a monitor when playing an engaging PC game.

> When you describe the binocular effect, I know what you mean, however my experience is that all those issues fade away once your brain "accepts" the inputs and starts filtering out the noise.

Personally, as someone who owned and purchased some of the early HMDs of the 1990s - these kind of comments look "interesting" to me. I mean, people are complaining about the "low FOV and resolution" - when they clearly never had to use HMDs with 20 degree FOV and 320 x 240 resolutions...

Today's HMDs are things we only dreamed about (and those who could get close to this - well, those HMDs cost more than an automobile.

Regarding the "filtering out the noise" - we used to call this "seeing past or beyond the pixels". It was purely psychological or something going on (I think there were studies done on the effect). There came a point where you stopped noticing the pixels, and/or the low FOV - and it all just started looking much better than it did. The key, though, was to stop focusing on the issue - which some people couldn't.

> they clearly never had to use HMDs with 20 degree FOV and 320 x 240 resolutions...

Being better than what they had in the 90's doesn't mean it's good. It's still too low - like trying to view 4k content on a 720p display.

> The key, though, was to stop focusing on the issue - which some people couldn't.

Or the low resolution is thrown in your face. For example, attempting to view a virtual poster on a somewhat distant virtual wall. It's large enough that you should be able to read it, but the resolution is so low you can't.

Nothing pops you out of that immersion faster than having the fact you're looking at low resolution display thrown in your face.

It's an problem the medium has to solve the way every other medium handles it's technological constraints. Pop music production was partly a way to handle the constraints of AM radio. Opera's vocal style was the result of the clash of large venues, growing orchestra's and the desire for solo vocals.

If VR can't render readable posters then good artists will stop putting posters in VR.

Surely today's HMDs could be both much better than earlier generations, and not nearly good enough yet?

Yes, demoing things are using it every day are two different things. One issue for this tech is, you can show someone, they have to experience it - and for some things you need to actively use it to get your VR legs and really start being able to appreciate it.

The best analogy I have heard is that VR is experienced in layers, and the time it takes to settle into deeper and deeper levels is different for everyone.

My experience with Oculus blew me away. The following three things specifically:

1. Medium, a sculpting program[1]. This tool lets you build 3D sculptures. The intuitiveness of the controls and the ease with which you can make these gigantic sculptures feels amazing. I think things like this are going to have a huge effect on how art is made. It's such an empowering experience to be able to so easily make these huge pieces of art.

2. RiftSketch[2]. This is just a simple demo, but it puts you in an open plane where you can modify the world around you by writing Javascript in an in-world console. Again, the feeling of empowerment in being able to alter your world so easily was really cool.

3. The Unspoken[3]. This is a game where you're a wizard and shoot fireballs and things at other wizards. Not sure what to say about it but it was really fun.

[1]: https://youtu.be/KX-UyFCUfa8?t=1406 [2]: https://github.com/brianpeiris/RiftSketch [3]: http://www.insomniacgames.com/games/the-unspoken/

I feel the same as you tbh. Does the geek in me love it? Sure! But if I take that out of the equation and look at things as they actually are then I still feel VR has a long way to go.

I'm old enough to remember the last VR boom. I was even lucky enough to work in a CAVE for a bit. That hype train derailed around 2000. The same promises were made, the same breathless enthusiasm, the same feeling that we were about to ascend into the cybernetic matrix. It didn't turn out that way, and the only thing that's fundamentally changed is that the hardware is cheaper. This is going to bankrupt some investors, and the remaining companies will serve a niche market.

The hardware is not just cheaper, but its orders of magnitude more powerful. There have also been two huge breakthroughs that I think make this wave the real deal, sub mm motion controller tracking and 90 fps to the eye.

The CAVE was driven by a big honkin' SGI computer in a machine room next door. It was powerful enough.

Those are the least of its problems.

The big problem with VR is the product liability issues.

Honestly, I think the problem with VR is that people outside the bubble don't actually want it.

> the only thing that's fundamentally changed is that the hardware is cheaper.

The same thing might have been said about the commodore 64. Hardware being accessible to the (rich) consumer vs only to research labs and businesses is enough of a difference to create new industries!

I very much get the same sense from the uptick in VR over the past year or two that I did when 3D TV was all the craze several years ago - kind of interesting, but in practice not very good

Interesting. I got a PSVR over the holidays, and had everyone in my family try it out. Experiences were mixed, but trended strongly towards 'blown away' (the major exception was my mom, who was underwhelmed). I'm genuinely blown away by the immersion of the games is Virtual Worlds, and have played hours of Thumper in VR, which is my favorite game of 2016. I did find the more 'room scale' games to not work as well with the setup, though (I'm looking at you HoloBall) but that might just be that my play area isn't set up correctly for it.

My experience was the opposite of yours: I expected a lot, and was still happily surprised by the results. Head tracking is excellent, no motion sickness at all, and consistently high framerates made the experience extraordinary immersive for me. I love just spending time in Windlands and Robinson.

Like you, though, I look forward to higher resolutions and field of view, but I'm a very happy customer with the current setup. I guess we'll see how I feel in a few months!

IMHO presence wise we are there already, even with the PSVR (especially the PSVR in my case, prefer cockpit/controller based games). The resolution maybe needs a bit of imagination to make up for but again presence as described by John Carmack has been delivered by almost all of the devices you listed.

This brings up another point... VR is much more dependent on the user's body characteristics than past technologies. One person's eye distance and head/body shape can be a completely different experience from someone else's.

One person, like you, can have a much worse view and experience than someone else.

I'd say you were probably just very jaded going in already. I've ran literally hundreds of people through the HTC Vive (my company ran a popup VR arcade for a while as a marketing stunt) and 95%+ people said they were completely blown away.

I went to the VR Expo in downtown LA recently where I had to wait in line for over an hour to play for 2 minutes on the vive with the full setup. It was 'kinda cool', I suppose. On the way out they mistook me for the next in line and offered to have me play another 2 minutes on another game but it just wasn't cool enough for me to waste any more time.

If the content is engaging enough, and you go in with a receptive mindset, you shouldn't notice things like screen-door, etc. These are hallmarks of a developer or technologist / tester mindset.

I find Valve's the Lab demos to be very, very good. If you're looking for pixels, then the experience isn't fun enough.

How long were your demos? Have you tried VR for an extended period of time (1+ hours without a break)?

The limitations you mention are absolutely issues, but they start to fade away and the feeling of immersion rises the longer you are in it. YMMV though.

I didn't think it could be much, but my first experience using the gear for a game of keep talking and nobody explodes convinced me otherwise. Even seeing the pixels and with the awful control method of that implementation (a classic iPod esque scroll wheel on the side of the headset which didn't map to the game that well), it was easy to get immersed.

Go up to using a rift or vice for Elite with my hotas and i can see it being awesome. Planning to get either a rift or vive this year.

You're an outlier. Everyone I've observed trying VR for the first time (even Galaxy Gear) has been impressed. I've watched hundreds of people try VR because I love seeing their reactions. VIVE and HoloLens get the best response since they are the most immersive but even Galaxy Gear usually gets a shocked response.

"Hyperbole" implies you think he's not being honest but then later you say "I feel like I the only one that feels such disappointment" which suggests you do think it's a genuine reaction which you are in the minority by not sharing.

So - which is it?

They are only contrary given your flawed understanding of my first sentence.

Given you took the time to point that out, a clarification would have been helpful.

It sounds like you should go and see a doctor. Maybe you lack something neurological that prevents you from experiencing it the way people usually do.

> Hyperbole of the century.

Everyone has had different experiences with VR. To call another person's personal experience a hyperbole is disingenuous.

Curious for reasons, but did you have a chance to try anything by Daqri?

I tried every single AR/VR HMD at CES 2017. So if they were there and they had a demo, yes.

Selling my Vive tomorrow, before it's too late (unsellable due to something better on the market). < 50 hours use over several months. The visual quality is awful, not just resolution, but the lenses are terrible as well. Glare, very blurry except for a narrow center, the rings of the fresnel lenses are very noticeable. The glare is unbearable in any games with a lot of contrast, like space sims, that retro arcade hall game was terrible in this aspect, too, whatever it was called.

I'm not going back to try VR till the resolution is something like 8k per eye and the optical quality is far better. FOV needs to be much wider, HMD lighter and more comfortable, and of course wireless (I know you can get this now).

I have a dedicated home theater and room scale still does not work, because you will never have enough physical space in a regular home, and have to teleport around in games anyway.

The only games that really work are seated cockpit games. Racing, space sim, flight sim, etc.

Nausea was not an issue for me. Nor the "anti-social" issue, I've never been a party gamer, I like to play games alone, in a dark room with headphones on, sat at my desk staring at a monitor, or alone on the couch with a gamepad in my home theater enjoying surround sound and a 106" screen.

All made-for-VR games I've tried so far have been mediocre and more like small demos than full games. Best experiences were games not made for VR but with added VR support: Assetto Corsa and iRacing. Probably the only two games worth having VR at all for, but personally I'll wait for 6th gen or whatever will be good enough for me.

The games I like the best works better without VR. Sim racing games could be one exception, but are, for the moment, better with a triple monitor setup. Games like Pillars of Eternity have no need for VR, IMO.

Certainly VR has potential, I just think the HMDs we have now feel old and dated already. It's 2016 (when released) and it's heavy and wired, basically ski goggles with crappy monitors and crappy lenses hugging my face.

I hope that you realize that 8k/eye at 120Hz is in the 100Gb/s range with compression, that you won't see because it's already a retina display (60ppd) at 130deg view angle. Also there are NO GPUs that could come close to rendering a single eye today at even 60Hz (even 30Hz would be absolutely top end).

So, I think your requirements are completely unrealistic, but I agree that the current VR (1k/eye at <90Hz with 20-30ms latency) is unusable and gives me a headache. I suspect that around 2-3k/eye at 90-120Hz with 10-20ms latency will be sufficient to be usable.

Unfortunately, that almost certainly means Foveal rendering (since UHD at 60Hz is too hard and 120 is right out), which will take some time. However, it probably also means that the bandwidths might be possible to untethered mulit-Gig wireless. Having an unteathered system that used a high powered GPU would be really nice. <edited to add> http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/johnsny/papers...

I said that was when I would go back to VR. Of course I know we don't have the consumer hardware to run it today. But we will in 10 years.

As slow as growth has become in the graphics card and general computing industry, getting to the point where we can do 120hz at 8k per eye is a lot further than 10 years off. It will require a significant change in how (where?) we're generating graphics, not just better hardware.

You're absolutely right... But by rendering separately the high resolution and low resolution views (each at 1k, but one 4x upscaled) we could do 60Hz today. It only requires 2 FHD renders (which is less than a 4k 2eye view at UHD) so 60Hz is very reasonable... possibly 90-120Hz. It also cuts the bandwidth by 8x (2/16) without compression.

There are so many new rendering tricks popping up all the time... new APIs also give less overhead, which is nice.

Either way...

580 gtx gflops: 1581

1080 gtx gflops: 8228

7 years. 420% increase in float calc perf.

And you only need high resolution and high color at the fovea. Eye tracking will be the key to making VR/AR low-power and high-quality.

It won't, no worries. Eye tracking in an HMD, whether AR or VR is hugely complicated from engineering point of view. There is a reason why an HMD eye tracking kit costs several thousands of USD.

Moreover, from the rendering point of view, foveated rendering is a fairly complex thing to integrate into a 3D engine too. It is definitelly not "free".

Foveated rendering is certainly no panacea.

No panacea but another important piece of the puzzle. The software part may be complex - but it is just software, and once done, we all benefit from 10x battery life. Eye tracking hardware is complex but Lots of ongoing R&D - the outcome of which will be sensor chips which can be added to HMDs.

Only 6.5 years :)

Assuming that it's feasible to do ~1080p per eye at 120hz today, 8k per eye is only 16 times more pixels. And considering that increasing the pixel size is embarrassingly parallel, I don't see that as a problem to be able to do in 10 years.

Looks like current technology is 1000x1000 per eye at 90Hz: http://www.digitaltrends.com/virtual-reality/oculus-rift-vs-...

8k x 8k per eye at 120Hz is 64x more pixels at 1/3rd increase in frequency ~= 85x more processing power. Making the (maybe faulty) assumption of doubling processing power every 2 years and that current setup is processor limited, this sort of processing power is ~13 years away.

Same computation but with 4k x 4k per eye predicts ~9 years of progress needed.

I guess I misspoke about being 1920x1080 which is a "2K" screen split in two. An 8K screen split in two would be ~4000x4000 per eye which is still 16x as many pixels as I said, plus the 33% increase in frame rate which I didn't include which matches your second one. Although with how embarrasingly parallel it is, I don't think it's as far off as it seems. Especially considering that it's the previous generation graphics cards that can handle current day VR fine so we're 1-2 years into the 9 years we have to wait, and with so many pixels anti-aliasing can probably be turned off completely. You could probably build something today that could do it, it just would be very expensive and I don't think 8K panels at cell-phone size exist yet.

Also, eye-tracking + foveated rendering will severely reduce the load. Once that works reliably, you just need the cheap, super-high PPI, low-latency screens (which might almost exist today, though at high cost due to lack of a mass-market).

>Selling my Vive tomorrow, before it's too late (unsellable due to something better on the market).

The Vive came out like 8 months ago. I would hardly say even the craziest company (cough Apple) would rush out a new version that quickly.

>Glare, very blurry except for a narrow center, the rings of the fresnel lenses are very noticeable.

You are probably wearing it wrong. There are two adjustments you can make. There is a small knob at the right-bottom edge, turn it and it changes the lenses width (how far apart your eyes are), this is not likely the issue. The second adjustment is focal length (how far away the screen is), if you click out the left circle that attaches the strap to your headseat, you can turn it to adjust focal length.

The third adjustment is wearing it right. I know this sounds really dumb but you have to wear it much lower than you expect. I was wearing it very high up, like glasses, when the better position is like wearing goggles.

But overall, yeah, the resolution isn't great but things like blurriness can be fixed.

I'm not wearing it wrong, and I know what adjustments are possible. This is an inherent fault with the lenses, it's just about optics quality.




I get that you're confident that you're wearing it right, and you probably are, but just in case try going through this excellent guide: https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4e925m/ive_been_weari...

Maybe I'm substantially less sensitive to the aberrations you mentioned, or your lenses are not the same as mine, but my experience is much more positive.

I've given demos to probably more than 75 people at this point, and there are always some people who complain a lot and then we adjust the way they're wearing it and all is good.

Yea he's probably wearing it wrong, and just doesn't want to put in the effort to fix anything or try any games outside of the ones he's deemed "good". Everyone I've shown the Vive too has been blown away, 2 have purchased one.

> I would hardly say even the craziest company (cough Apple) would rush out a new version that quickly.

A side note: although Apple does come out with new product versions rather quickly, it's worth noting that they take a very long time to create the first version of their new products. More often than not those efforts don't even end up seeing the light of day. Now that I think about it, it's probably why Apple hasn't thrown their hat into the VR ring. Once they do decide to go to market with a brand new product category it typically has a ton of polish and iterating from that point on can be done incrementally and rapidly.

Now that I think about it, it's probably why Apple hasn't thrown their hat into the VR ring

They're working on AR

Sorry, what I meant by Apple throwing their hat into the ring was actually releasing a product. They've been working on myriad products over the years that they ended up throwing out. For a company like Apple, working on a product and releasing a product is a far greater distinction than for other companies.

I agree with this sentiment. I can't speak for the Vive, but I did get to try an Oculus headset (but not the new Touch controllers) over the holidays for an extended period of time.

The head/motion tracking was spot on and I didn't notice much lag at all. The problem was more with the resolution of the screen, FOV, and light leaks. I constantly had to trick myself in order to feel immersed. Also, if you don't have near perfect vision, the display will look even worse and its quite uncomfortable to wear the headset with glasses.

I think we're on the path, but the first generation headsets out there now are more in line with an expensive tech demo than anything else. I suppose that it is to be expected though. I look forward to future iterations.

> The games I like the best works better without VR. Sim racing games could be one exception, but are, for the moment, better with a triple monitor setup. Games like Pillars of Eternity have no need for VR, IMO.

This is a very valid criticism. The current limitations of VR require developers to design different kinds of games. I found Valve's The Lab to be excellent. It's frustrating as a designer, because you may not be able to make the game you want, for VR.

I haven't actually played any games in VR yet, but is there any reason the headset couldn't display a normal game? Even if it doesn't need VR and doesn't benefit in any way from head tracking or 3D visuals, just imagining a hypothetical future situation where all 2D monitors on the face of the Earth are replaced by VR headsets, you could still play Pillars of Eternity on a VR headset and it wouldn't be any worse, right? There's no technical reason a VR headset couldn't replicate a regular monitor?

SteamVR has a theater mode. The issue is the pixel density isn't really as high as you'd like it to be. You're using 2160x1200 resolution to render over most of your field of view, so the effective resolution of a rendered TV/cinema screen is actually lower than you might like. It's like playing on a 720p or maybe even a little lower resolution. Also, how will you see your mouse? That's actually not a huge problem if all monitors were replaced there could just be mouse tracking in the simulation.

It's possible, but the resolution and pixel density has to go up before it can be an effective replacement for the amazing screens we have.

I think minecraft is a great illustration of some of the limits of vr today: it defaults to a theatre mode, but also has the option of pov gaming. The latter is terrible for moving around - but works OK for standing still and looking around.

For now simulator-like games such as Elite:Dangerous are the most interesting. I'm sure we'll Se a couple of nice "room scale" games - but "sitting in a cockpit" fixes many of the issues related to movement etc.

Then, I think a backpack rig (Pc) coupled with custom controllers (eg: a softgun with tracking hardware and trigger support) will enable vr theme park games; a typical indoor paintball range with padded corners mapped in 3d - rendered over with vr goggles. I assume the first ones would need custom tracking hw.

This is why I love HN, the first 2 top voted comments are sharing complete opposite experiences using the Vive.

EDIT, in case it changes:

Positive: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13393449

Negative: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13393606

>Certainly VR has potential, I just think the HMDs we have now feel old and dated already. It's 2016 (when released) and it's heavy and wired, basically ski goggles with crappy monitors and crappy lenses hugging my face.

While I agree with many of your sentiments, I don't think you are realizing that only 2-3 years ago an HMD meant something like a Sensics zSight or one of the Collins/Rockwell ones. Starting price $40k, FOV around 30-60 degrees, SXGA resolution and input either frame sequential signal or two VGA/DVI cables (one per eye). And no tracking whatsoever - you had to buy external tracker, either magnetic or optical one ($10k+). No controllers neither, but a professional Flystick 2 (needs external tracking) could be yours for about $2k.

And on the low end you had stuff like Vuzix VR920 for about $400 or, then brand new Sony HMZ-T1 for $800 or so, if I recall right, with terrible resolution (Vuzix), FOV (Vuzix - 20deg yay) and latency (4 entire frames - Sony). Neither had tracking nor controllers neither.

So calling the current generation of HMDs "dated" and "crappy" is a tad unfair. You have obviously never had to use the "previous gen".

8k displays in HMDs would be great but are not going to happen for quite some time yet. Not even 4k, actually. The reasons for that are several:

* HMDs are still a very niche market. So to get components to make one you either pay a large premium to get a made to measure parts you need in low volume (=> that's partly why the Sensics HMD did and still do cost so much) or you have to use parts where the economy of scale works in your favor.

Until HMDs are a mass market device, the only source where to get (relatively) cheap displays in sizes that fit the form factor are smartphones, resp. displays that were meant for them. So until there is a mass produced 4k/8k smartphone, an 8k HMD is not going to happen. And 4k on a phone is a gimmicky nonsense, 8k even more so, so not likely to happen any time soon.

Development of a custom 2k display starts to make sense only when you are planning on buying 100k+ of them, otherwise the manufacturer won't even talk to you. It just isn't profitable. And it gets only more expensive for 4k and 8k resolutions, with insane engineering problems when you are trying to stuff 4k pixels into something 5" across instead of 100" (TV ...)

* You likely don't realize how much electrical a computational power driving of a 4k display needs. Most PCs would struggle with 4k@90Hz or more and even super high end PC would have major difficulties driving an 8k display. An HMD that nobody can use is not much of a product, IMO.

* Bandwidth issues - very few 4k display panels can manage 4k@60Hz, 4k@120Hz that you would want for VR is virtually unheard of. And 8k@120Hz ... well, maybe a decade off? If ever - it is not needed for TV and phones and VR alone is way too small market to make a manufacturer produce something crazy like that.

There is also the question of how do you talk to such panel - normal HDMI tops out at 4k@30Hz, anything more and you need either the recently standardized HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort or some proprietary stuff, along with expensive cabling. Don't get me started on 8k ...

Bandwidth is also why HMDs are not wireless. Until very recently (few months) there simply were no solutions on the market that could manage to transmit the volume of data needed and keep the latency low. You cannot use heavy compression, as has been common for e.g. wireless TV streaming stuff, because it adds too much latency and/or visual artifacts. There are now some solutions coming but we have to see how good they will be. And, of course, none of that will likely work for 4k+ without (massive) changes. Oh and you trade a cable for battery life and having to lug a battery either on your head or belt now.

So, to conclude - your usability gripes about the hardware are valid, but if you want to wait until they are solved, you will have to wait for a very long time. The vendors had to make engineering and economic tradeoffs and even then are not making much (if any) money on the hardware. So one needs to remain with both feet on the ground.

The current crop of HMDs is perfectly OK for many applications, even professional ones. That doesn't mean it is good for or should be used by everyone. That's fine as well - nobody forces you to.

I don't get why you, or the other person who replied, concluded that I thought 8k per eye was feasable now. I only said that was when I was going back to try VR. I'm positive we have at least that resolution in 10 years. I am also perfectly aware of all the challenges involved in outputting such a resolution and manufacturing such a display.

As for the history lesson, I played the SU2000.

Am I the only one who's more excited by mixed reality such as Hololens?

I can't imagine VR being as omnipresent in our daily lives in its current state. Oculus or Vive implies you are shutting yourself from the outside world. You cannot interact. You cannot go out, talk with others etc. It's easy however to imaging how Hololens can enhance existing reality and how anyone (even my grandmother) could use it for their daily lives.

AR is the future, and will be much bigger than VR, but it is also a much harder problem to solve.

I know companies that are very interested in professional VR applications today using the Vive, but Hololens isn't practical yet. I think in a few more revs it will be really great. VR now, AR when it's ready, but AR will definitely be bigger.

I feel the same way. In Sam Altman's most recent interview he talked about hours of use per day being an important metric for a new product.

It seems like the first high-use product in this category will be a lightweight regular looking set of glasses that simply displays your notifications.

Then in the future, add a camera to display overlays on the real world.

Same here. I'm much more excited about AR devices like the Hololens and Google Glass than VR devices like the Rift or Vive, because AR has much farther reaching applications than just gaming.

In our current tech landscape, we mostly interact with the digital world through screens. AR has the potential to turn any real world object into a human-computer interface. I definitely think AR technology is going to be nothing short of revolutionary once it matures, possibly even more so than the advent of the modern smartphone.

And we already have super successful AR apps like Snapchat and Pokémon GO

I can't believe some people are saying VR is a fad, that it's not going to work, etc, etc. Are you kidding me?

The only real question is how long it's going to take before it's fully integrated into our daily lives, there is absolutely no doubt this will happen (unless we somehow go backwards technologically, due to world war or some other unforeseen event).

It may not happen for another 10-15 years, but it WILL happen.

The term "virtual reality" is actually selling the technology short. Virtual reality does not merely replicate reality, it allows you to defy the laws of physics and expand into new dimensions and "realities". Replicating "reality" is only a small part of what it's capable of.

I'm hugely bearish on VR, I think its a fad (again), and I'm not kidding you.

You talk in such absolutes that I wonder if you've ever done any research on past technology endeavors. LaserDiscs, interactive TV, VRML (yes, "VR"), 3D TVs, Google Glass, and (probably) smart watches.

VR doesn't even replicate reality, let alone do more.

While I can appreciate your enthusiasm, there are always doubts.

Idk dude, VR headsets have already sold to millions of consumers and new applications pop up by the day. Not only that, but unlike most of the technologies you mentioned, VR has massive backing already from some of the most powerful companies in tech.

It has billions in investment already, FB is putting hundreds of millions into Oculus and funding applications/games. HTC has basically pivoted their entire company to the Vive.

This isn't going away, VR/AR is going to replace current keyboard/mouse/screen interfaces, because why wouldn't it? The aforementioned are even further from replicating what I am trying to do on a computer. Why do I have to move a mouse in two dimensions or tap on a flat display to interact with many concepts much easier to work with in 3D?

2016 VR sales were below almost everyone's predictions. Rift and Vive under 500K units. PlayStation under 1M (with market analysts backtracking on their estimates last month).

For FB, I see it as a moonshot project much like the various things Google does. Being a moonshot project doesn't guarantee you success.

As for investments, I think we've entered an era where everyone is afraid of being disrupted by a startup or missing out on a unicorn. Now, you have large companies putting money into VR projects and VCs scrambling to fund anything VR-related. I think a similar thing happened with smart watches and wearables.

I don't know enough about the state of VR interfaces for work, but it seems ideal for specialized industries (medicine, military, etc.).

None of that means it will succeed.

Apple Watch sold millions, and it's about to fail. Same with all the other smartwatches.

VR is going away, since it's such a terrible user experience compared to laptops/desktops/smartphones.

This is a strange post to me.

First, where's the evidence that the Apple Watch is about to fail? Every day I keep seeing more and more Apple Watches in the wild. Just the other day I was getting lunch and noticed that at the table next to me every single person had an Apple Watch on. Every time there's a get-together in my family, I notice one or two extra relatives who've ended up getting one. That's pretty impressive for something that's on the verge of failure. It actually feels comparable with how smartphones slowly started assimilating into our lives years ago.

Second, consumer VR right now is for video games, period. Maybe that will change later on, but that's what VR is all about right now. So comparing it to laptops/desktops/smartphones seems strange. What are the dimensions of this comparison? Turning on Steam VR, then putting on the headset doesn't feel all that different to me from turning on the TV, then sitting down on the sofa.

> LaserDiscs, interactive TV, VRML (yes, "VR"), 3D TVs, Google Glass, and (probably) smart watches.

I've lived through all of those and this generation of VR feels like a different thing.

I'm normally reticent to buy into bleeding edge tech. (I'm a 'wait til the price drops' kind of guy) and I opened my wallet for a new PC and a Vive within 3 weeks of borrowing a DK2.

This hype is enthusiast and consumer led - and not in the way Laserdisc had it's "enthusiasts" - it's the kind of tech that makes people want to switch careers.

I think it's fortunate that VR has coincided with the rise of crowdfunding and the renaissance of indie devs. That is going to help see it through it's difficult early patch.

Laserdisc failed because of cost/competition from competing platforms. 3D TVs were an add-on to a commodity product to help differentiate it in a technologically stagnate market. Google glass was experimental.

VR on the other hand is a technology evolution. You could argue we're too early in the adoption hockey stick. But I doubt you could even begin to compare it to those other products.

It seems like there are already enough early adopters to fuel the growth it will require (product-wise) to get mainstream adoption.

As others have mentioned, this has only scratched the surface in the consumer market. But the B2B applications are so wide that this could be huge there alone in terms of simulation, training, and business process automation.

I doubt someones poor experience with some early stage VR tech is enough to discredit the wider potential of the platform. Even if the consumer gaming side is niche for another half decade.

Ok, so what other mainstream product/technology went through a similar evolution as you claim VR is doing now? Recall 2 things:

1. VR has been tried in the past and went nowhere.

2. Adoption of mainstream things is usually pretty steep (cell phones, PCs, TV, Internet access)[1]

If you're saying current VR hardware are the "mainframe computers of the 60s and 70s" and we're still yet to see what the "personal computer of the 80s/90s" will be for VR, I can maybe buy that but I still have unanswered questions and would bet against it.

Also, current VR is also an add-on to a commodity product (PCs and gaming consoles).

You say niche for half a decade ... he says an "explosion" in less than 2 years. I don't get it.

[1] http://imgur.com/a/dr5rQ

> If you're saying current VR hardware are the "mainframe computers of the 60s and 70s" and we're still yet to see what the "personal computer of the 80s/90s" will be for VR, I can maybe buy that but I still have unanswered questions and would bet against it.

I'm not saying that it's a mainframe. In regards to the consumer market I think it is the personal computer but rather a PC with Windows 3.1, while the market is waiting for Windows 95 - and the explosion in software that came with it.

> Also, current VR is also an add-on to a commodity product (PCs and gaming consoles).

PC's are a commodity product but not the software that runs on them. Which is why one generates trillions more dollars than the other.

> VR doesn't even replicate reality

What device and apps did you try? Did you try room-scale? VR controllers?

Whenever I watch movies in my virtual living room I drop things on the ground because I try to put them on a table that isn't really there.

> let alone do more

I can watch movies on huge screens. I can take a dive underwater. Go in space. Shoot zombies. Talk to real people around a campfire.

Pay more attention to reality and you will notice that it does way more than current VR gadgets offer.

My computer doesn't perfectly replace reality either, it must be a fad.

My computer doesn't literally claim to be Virtual Reality either though - so that's a bit of a straw man. That's like saying my car doesn't perfectly replace reality either, clearly nobody ever claimed it would...

Well I mean if it was reality it would be called "reality". It's a virtual representation of reality, which is why it's called "virtual reality". A video game isn't the real world, it's a virtual representation of a world, so it's called a "virtual world". And Nintendo's head-mounted video game system from the 90s wasn't a real boy, it was a "virtual boy".

What I'm getting at is this argument stems from semantics. Of course VR is never going to replace the real world. That was never its intent. The goal is to not replace reality but rather to simulate it. That's why the name has "virtual" in it.

> VR doesn't even replicate reality, let alone do more.

Why does that make any sense? That's like arguing Pac Man doesn't replicate reality so video games are bad.

It's funny LaserDiscs are on the list when DVD and Bluray took off like crazy -- LaserDiscs were just ahead of their time once the technology was right, it took off. The same is true for VR -- the question is not whether or not it will take off but whether or this is the point it's viable.

I just got a Gear VR last week and while it's not perfect it feels like the right point and that's just powered by my cell phone.

I was riff'ing off the parent user's comment that:

> Virtual reality does not merely replicate reality ...

That's a fair point; the entire point of VR is that it isn't reality.

The current crop of companies can experience something similar to the video game crash of 1983. I also agree that the "VR will change everything" hype is baseless - 3d user interfaces are just not that effective for most applications. Though as an entertainment technology the experience is so compelling that it is hard to imagine that it won't become massively popular eventually.

To provide some references for my assertion that "3d user interfaces are just not that effective for most applications," there are a lot of systems that have been tried in the 1990s and 2000s, most of which you can try out today to see why:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fsn_(file_manager) (Free Software clone: https://sourceforge.net/projects/fsv/)


The one big non-entertainment application that 3d worlds are good at has been teleconferencing. There are a bunch of what are essentially 3d chat clients around, and many more have gone out of business.

I wouldn't include LaserDisks on that list. It was replaced by DVDs which I believe are close enough in practice to not consider it a failed technology. More of a first iteration.

3D TV didn't last long. I never got one and didn't really see the appeal but I wonder if widespread use of VR headsets would make that technology mute anyway.

Yes, all of the past technologies you listed, I was bearish on. If you have tried the current crop of VR and don't see the difference, I don't know what to tell you. Come back to this thread 10 years from now so i can say "I told you so".

> "VR doesn't even replicate reality"

if you meant to use "doesn't"- then you're only proving OPs point. VR is a matter of when, not if.

if you meant to use "can't"- well- that seems a little short sighted for something that is so obviously in the realm of physical possibility.

See my other comment. That was a specific reply to the notion that:

> Virtual reality does not merely replicate reality ...

He/she is saying "VR replicates reality and more", while I'm saying "no, VR doesn't even replicate reality, let alone anything beyond it"

No need to get pedantic about the grammar.

not trying to be a pedant and i completely understood the context. we're talking about tense, not grammar. there is a huge difference between saying "VR is not good right now" and "VR will never be good".

"Virtual reality does not merely replicate reality"

i'm assuming OP meant "VR [has the possibility to] not merely replicate reality." or "[ideally] VR can not merely replicate reality...".

we're trying to predict a trend- how well developed the technology is now seems less relevant than it's end-game.

Yeah, people are so near sighted. This is basically like people thinking solvent is not going to work. Are you kidding me? 5 years from now solvent is going to be the biggest market ever. I hope food industry survives.. if only for antique sake.

I think VR is just a stepping stone for true mixed reality, which most people confuse with AR but is really a mixture of the two. I doubt we will see VR-only games 10 years from now outside of dedicated arcade-like settings ala The Void, where you go and don the equipment necessary to to do this in a large space with convincing realism and with a group of people. The benefits of room scale pure VR are only properly realized in relatively carefully controlled settings. Mixed reality on the other hand can allow for a much wider range of experiences in a wider range of settings.

Our children are going to look back and laugh at existing headgear just like the transition from CRT to LCD ... hopefully direct brain/retinal input will happen in my lifetime :)

I wish my first thought after this concept hadn't been "not until there's RetinAdblock"

I am not sure what you mean by "happen" but as far as I am concerned, it is already happening. In 10-15 years, it will probably be as pervasive as a smart phone.

IDK, 3D movies have been with us for at least 50 years or more.

People's tolerance for putting stuff on their face seems to amount to a few hours, about once or twice a year.

Having both an Oculus Rift (pre-touch controls) and a Vive to play around with I have a couple thoughts on this.

The first impression/experience is powerful and most people are impressed by it. The Rift prior to touch controls was unusable in comparison to the room scale, touch control Vive (to the point that I sold it). Maybe it's better now with the new touch controls, but I think they still lack room scale and the ability to walk around is a big deal. The Vive headset also fully blocks external light which is nicer (but these are relatively minor things that can be fixed).

VR in its current early adopter state is a lonely experience - more so than playing a one player game on the couch, you're completely isolated. While this makes for strong immersion - I think it increases the barrier to entry for most people. I suspect FB is right about the importance of social interaction getting people to actually use VR for longer than just showing it off to people.

I suspect finding the "Doom for VR" - the application that really takes advantage of the medium hasn't happened yet, maybe when it does it'll be obvious in hindsight. As for the comparisons to AR - I think Michael Abrash's points still stand: http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/why-you-wont-see-hard-...

If it's lonely I think you are just missing out on the right software. Oculus has a built in mic that works great and is enabled by default. The Unspoken, Rec room, Dead and Buried, Arizona Sunshine are all very fun experiences that have a strong sense of presence for the other players. The inverse kinematics combined with various bits hand detection functionality are a hoot.

You are correct that the touch controllers are essential for immersion. After getting the controllers, I've stayed in VR longer than I've ever had in the past, and the comfort level has increased significantly. Google earth VR is so much more addictive now. Also demo'ing it to people requires no feedback since the learning curve is so low.

The room scale works really well but is limited because of only two cameras. But adding a third camera would make it full room scale (which Oculus has announced)[1]. Combine that with new wireless hdmi/usb adapters for VR [2], full room scale VR is almost here.

[1] http://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-touch-support-room-scale-360-...

[2] http://uploadvr.com/tpcast-wireless-vive-kit-works/

I run a 3 camera setup and it works fine for my 10 foot by 10 foot play space. I have a fourth, but I have been too lazy to set it up.

I do run two Inateck PCI-E USB cards so I don't run into capacity issues. There are many reports of issues running > 2 sensors and difficulty getting the Inateck cards working correctly due to driver version issues, USB power management etc.

> VR in its current early adopter state is a lonely experience

Some solutions to this have been asymmetric games/experiences where there are people in VR and on normal PC interfaces interacting with each other. The most popular example by far is Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes[1], whereby the VR player is a bomb defuser and the other player is the one with the bomb defusing instruction manual.

Another example is Mass Exodus[2], where a VR player must try to "catch" a PC player trying to blend in to a crowd of lookalike robots.

[1] http://store.steampowered.com/app/341800/

[2] http://store.steampowered.com/app/566530/

I spent years developing and then offering a system that remotely enabled creating realistic 3D avatars of people from a single photo. It works, I scaled it to viral capacity levels, the quality is high (https://twitter.com/3davatarstore), and my prices were nearly free. Yet, game, VR and VFX studios only wanted it free. After being jerked around for years by circuses of clowns, I shut it down. I'm happier doing FR now for government agencies. VR will continue to be a lonely place until the corporate exploitation is regulated to the degree that an individual will have legal and portable ownership over their appearance in VR technologies, with all the legal ramifications that exposes.

Interesting! Are you able to share anything about how your algorithm works? I've been playing around with feature detection (using HoG descriptors) plus constrained local models to identify locations in an image and then manipulating the mesh to better match these locations and extracting a corresponding texture.

I dunno if it's fair to blame corporate exploitation for your experience - I feel like the current perception that everything must be "free - maybe with ads, and maybe pay later" is more to blame. :/

Portable personal avatars is going to be a huge undertaking. I'm really looking forward to the results, though!

VR advancements to look out for in 2017:

- Eye tracking (it already works perfectly, I've tried it myself at SIGGRAPH), this will enable a few cool things:

  - Foveated Rendering - rendering only what is in the fovea view at high quality and using a lower quality method for the periphery. Reduces rendering requirement by ~75%, enabling either higher-end graphics on the desktop, or the ability to move many desktop-bound VR applications to mobile.

  - Eye-assisted interactivity - SMI had a demo at SIGGRAPH where they demonstrated using where your eyes were looking to increase precision of interactions with controllers in VR (for example, grabbing very small objects in VR accurately).
- Inside-Out Tracking - using computer vision to provide 6DoF tracking for headsets without the need for external trackers. Will allow mobile headsets to have positional tracking (which is SO VERY important for VR) and will allow desktop headsets to have lower setup complexity (less important). - note: Microsoft will likely dominate this by my guess, seeing as probably the strongest part of the Hololens is it's excellent tracking.

- Wireless adapters for existing headsets - these made a big splash at CES and apparently work pretty well. Making the existing experience un-tethered will definitely help room-scale experiences.

- Self-Contained headsets - this is vital to mass-adoption of VR imo. I think we'll see some of these this year, though probably not from HTC/Oculus yet.

AR, while definitely more the "consumer" product in the long run, is still far off as the display tech just isn't there yet. But the above advancements in VR pave a way for AR in the future, until there is no longer a distinction between them device-wise, but it rather becomes a slider of "how much reality do you want to replace?".

Hololens tracking isn't nearly good enough, in my opinion, and isn't going to get there soon. Vision algorithms + and inertial tracker could be interesting though. Appropriate tech exists, but is currently expensive.

There has been good work on eye tracking in other spaces for many years now, so that seems a much cleaner implementation path to work well.

edit: I'm going to add a caveat, I mostly care about VR and AR in decidedly non-consumer applications, so my bar may be unreasonably high for many consumer applications.

What did you find wrong with the Hololens tracking? I use it a couple times a week and have been super impressed with it so far. Seems to very solidly lock on locations, and I can walk to the far end of the office and my content is still right where I left it. You can use is in huge unbound areas and it doesn't mind at all.

The Hololens still has a lot of issues, the FOV's crappy, hand tracking needs a lot of work, occlusion isn't great, etc. but tracking is one place that they're top of the game.

It's probably fine if you just want "if I go back to my desk, this window is on the left hand side". If you want more precision and accuracy, or consistency with physical measurements/other tracking systems, it's not so good in my experience. Happy to revise/update that experience though!

That kind of precision isn't necessary for tracking position accurately for VR/AR though, Hololens' current system is pretty damn good and I'm sure internally it's improved a bunch as they roll out their own VR headsets too.

It absolutely is needed for many AR applications. VR is a bit more forgiving, particularly if you are talking consumer and games. Any time you need maintain a relationship to the physical space you are in you can run into trouble though.

Which eye-tracking tech did you try at SIGGRAPH?

The SMI one, and the accompanying Nvidia foveated rendering demo.

Were they in VR headsets (or glasses), or were they the desktop bars?

(Last time I tried a bunch of eye tracking, the desk-mounted was amazing and the head-mounted wasn't)

They were inside the headset, lining the lens, such that you couldn't tell between a normal Vive and an eye-tracking Vive unless you cracked it open.


I really think VR will take off but not yet. I was waiting for new games and new hardware for a year now but i think there is just a little bit of time needed.

I'm very enthuastic but not enought to pay 1k for it. Every game i saw in some video felt to 'simple'. More like funny small games but nothing which would make me using it for long enough.

but still i can already see useful usecases: When you buy a kitchen for example but the needed software needs to be build and that takes time and money. Something like this needs just time and enough 'normal' developer and manager have to be motivated.

Every peace of money already made with vr and which will be made in the next two years is probably opportunistic money.

I'm looking forward to better hardware (4k! lightweight, enough smartphones for google dream) and more software (architecture, kitchen, bath, ikea, website support for simple plug and play, concert videos, museum and history tours, games, games games :)

Nice to see some other people pointing out the positive effects here.

As a (room-scale only) VR developer, I've been writing about the upsides of VR and VR gaming for some time - example, http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/05/three-un... . There's a lot of skepticism around this area, particularly the claim that games will actually make people fitter - but you only have to play a few rounds of Holopoint or Space Pirate Simulator to realise it's also true.

(As a side note, I'm increasingly dividing VR into "pseudo-VR" (anything where you can't walk around) and "real VR" (room-scale experiences: the Vive, in short, and some Oculus Touch setups). Harsh, possibly, but it really does feel like a different medium once you can get up and interact with your hands.

To my mind, the only interesting VR experiences are those which engage the whole body. That's something I've been trying very hard to do with Left-Hand Path (http://store.steampowered.com/app/488760) the VR game I developed - at various points, you have to crouch, dodge, crawl, duck, and draw magical symbols in a variety of ways.

I'm doing that because quite apart from the health benefits, engaging my players in actual movement creates a whole new level of immersion. Proprioception is a thing - the sense of the body's place and movement in space.

Getting tired and even "gassed" also helps immersion. I've been playing the VR boxing sim Thrill Of The Fight recently, and it's remarkable how well it simulates real-life sparring in some ways - including getting gassed, and having to spend a while just keeping your guard up whilst you recover the ability to breathe without wheezing. That's an element of immersion I'm never going to get from a PC game.

I play a lot of Dark Souls, but the phrase "in-game stamina management" means something completely different when it's your stamina you're managing.

On the flip side, that fact that VR is such a physical exertion is exactly why it will absolutely not have a mass market appeal.

There's a reason why the Wii and the Kinect were cute and cool, but both failed to get any real market traction.

VR as a fitness device might be a thing, but that's nothing like the market of gaming consoles or pc's.

I don't know - quite a few people go running or play football (soccer) and both of those activities require physical exercise!

Soccer, for example, has 270 million active players. That's quite a few people who don't mind physical exertion.

I don't think it's fair to compare VR to Soccer, it's more equivalent to home treadmills, or something like a bowflex. An expensive niche product that usually just gets left in the corner getting dusty.

Home treadmills are a billion-dollar market in the US alone.

And a VR headset is considerably more interesting, convenient, and flexible than a treadmill.

And you've shown somewhere, I assume, that "that reason" is definitively and primarily that physical exertion doesn't work for people and necessarily prevents mass market appeal?

I feel like a lot of the comments here blasting the technology are related to its ability to output at the hi-fidelity we are now used to on the web / mobile 3D experiences.

This level of immersiveness/naturalness/fidelity will obviously come in due course.

Michael Siebel is here talking about the opportunity (obviously) — which is IMMENSE.

This is basically the iPhone/App-Store bandwagon all over again. If you can jump on it, do so.

The current VR/AR situation is nowhere near the iTunes app store situation when it was taking off in 2008-2010. The most notable difference is visible adoption of the technology. By 2009, non-tech peers and relatives were spending more time consuming content on their iPhones and iPod Touches than I was as a developer. You'd see more smartphones everyday just walking around.

I work in San Francisco in an office with multiple tech companies. VR/AR is about 99.9% invisible. It's occasionally mentioned by developers/gamers upon returning from GDC. Otherwise, it's completely off peoples' radars. I think the technology has potential, but claiming it's "the next iPhone" is inaccurate. It remains to be seen.

It's really surprising to me to see so many people on HN poo-poo on VR like they do, for this reason. Isn't this site supposed to be about startups, entrepreneurship, being forward thinking, etc? Where are the "thought leaders"? If you can't see the huge potential for VR, there is something wrong.

> If you can't see the huge potential for VR, there is something wrong.

Or, we see so many game-breaking limitations (cost, FOV, resolution, VR sickness) and are tired of the "give it 5 years" rhetoric that assumes magic will happen to fix it.

Or we're simply not convinced that what it offers is that much better than a regular old computer screen. How does VR change my daily activity of programming? Of watching movies? Of reading books?

I don't agree that there is anything game-breaking in the current state of the tech. Also, I don't see why they won't get better rather quickly.

And VR sickness is not really a thing for the vast majority of people. It gets hyped up by the press a lot. I've put hundreds of people through intense VR experiences over thirty or forty minutes long. In that time, ONE person had issues. I've seen higher proportions of people get nauseous from regular, first-person shooter PC games.

I'd take the opposite stance. Where's the critical thinking from the people who've drunk the VR kool-aid.

I know not a single person that has 9x9 to 12x12 sq ft of space to dedicate to room scale VR.

On top of that, having played many of the games I can t imagine playing them for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. They're tiring. I can play a game I'm really into for 8-12 hours in one day for 4-5 days straight but I can't imagine that in VR at all

I think there is potential as a tool. 3d modeling inside VR could be a 10x or 100x time saver. But, mass market entertainment seems very very unlikely.

I don't see VR as even remotely comparable to the smart phone revolution. A phone is a tool, it's an accessory. It's easy to use for a half a second, anytime you want. You can glance at your phone while you're working and not miss a beat.

VR is an activity. The effort to use VR is a magnitude more than the effort to use a TV, Laptop or Desktop, and those are a magnitude more effort than using a phone.

VR is more like a Wii or a Kinect than a phone, except it's significantly harder to use than either of those.

Yes. It is not cheap enough to be mass market yet, but is close enough that you can see a lower price being attainable. The vision implementation is good enough in some circumstances, but obviously much of that will improve. Multi-player games are not there yet, but Oculus has already shown next-gen demos with multiple players.

The current batch of first generation devices obviously have shortcomings, and the price, lack of apps and shortcomings will make them early adopter devices. It's obvious that VR has come a long way in 20 years though, and the next few steps forward will make these into mass market devices.

On Youtube is a demo of Medium, a sculpting app, used by artists. I used this myself on Oculus Rift. They said it can sculpt 3d objects you can't easily do on a PC or in real life. It's like Photoshop or Illustrator or some CAD app, with the left hand being the toolbar and the right hand drawing and sculpting. It may be primitive but is useful now. VR is here.

>This is basically the iPhone/App-Store bandwagon all over again. If you can jump on it, do so.

The reason iTunes/AppStore took off and became profitable has more to do with their monetization models rather than the technology involved.

It's not going to take off until someone solves the movement issue. The only games VR is currently suitable for are if you are stationary somehow -- pilot, tank gunner, etc. Which limits it pretty severely.

Something like the Ghostbusters Experience[1] is what people want in their own homes.

Also, maybe it's because I've been gaming my whole life, but the resolution in VR is still not good enough to "blow" me away, like I keep reading about. How people are so amazed at current gen VR confuses me.

[1] https://ghostbusters.madametussauds.com/

The ghostbusters experience was done by The Void[1], who in my opinion are on the forefront of where VR could really take off. People are thinking narrowly about VR in terms of personal use, but there's so many obstacles there for mass consumer adoption that it's a way off(and honestly I think mixed reality will be the real killer app, VR has other limitations for personal/consumer use at home).

Instead I could see a lot of VR arcades popping up once the technology is more polished. You go to a large warehouse space, don a VR suit of sorts and with your group of friends can battle pirates/aliens/whatever in a large enough environment that it doesn't matter that it's still physically confined. There's obviously an appetite for this sort of thing,(see the explosion of "escape rooms" or higher end laser tag/paintball places).


Movement with the Vive and room scale works (walk around small area and teleport to new small areas). I think it solves the problem and feels pretty intuitive.

To add to this point - I personally only buy/play Room-Scale games for this reason. And with HTC expected to sell additional LightBox sensors, it's quite possible I'll be able to expand my play space from the current HTC Vive max of roughly 12x13 to pretty much fill my entire basement. Of course you are limited by the cabling right now but HTC has a wireless module already announced for release during the first half of this year.

Exciting times for VR after decades of false starts.

> with HTC expected to sell additional LightBox sensors

You can buy additional base stations right now[1], mostly for replacement purposes, but the biggest limitation to using more than 2 has been in the software simply not supporting them.

[1] https://www.vive.com/us/accessory/

I thought adding more sensors (laser projectors?) to a Lighthouse system decreases the refresh. It halves for each one?

It does since they wait for each other to finish before doing a sweep with the laser.

I've wondered if scaled movement was possible or if it would really mess with our brains. For example, 1m realspace = 3m in VR. Would your body adjust to smaller/slower movements, or would there be a disorientation?

Not scaled movement, but there was research done in the 90s about having the computer subtly "distort" (I can't remember how it was really done) things being displayed to in effect make you walk in a curve to keep you away from walls (I think it was similar to how you can attempt to walk a straight line in a forest - and without a compass, actually find yourself walking in an orthogonal direction compared to where you started - simply due to ground level differences, motion cues, etc). I'm not sure how well it worked, but it was a workable system.

There's also the more expensive idea of an "infinite 2D treadmill" - which was first implemented by a guy named Rudy Darken; iirc, he did it for the "dismounted soldier" VR/AR training project for DARPA:


'redirected walking'. This has been used in practice by some of the big VR applications and in research since them. As I understand it, the problem is that it doesn't solve the 'small living room' effect because you can only distort by a few degrees and this produces a circle of like 15 meters - so works in a sort of warehouse setting but not in normal buildings.

That works for some people but not all - but for those it does work for, it works very well.

I've added exactly that - scaled movement - as an option into my VR game, Left-Hand Path, and so far most of my users are very positive about it. I love it personally - it feels very much like it doubles my available play area.

One of my playtesters hated it and found it made him nauseous, though, so like many VR locomotion options it's a YMMV situation.

I'd love to read/hear more about your experiences, as a fellow gamedev and looking at VR but not ready to take that plunge yet (couple projects first).

I Tweet a fair bit currently, and I've written about my VR work a fair bit over at strangecompany.org over the years.

I'm actually about to start doing more writing or videos on the topic of VR development and my experiences in it, so keep an eye on my Twitter, blog or YouTube if you like - they'll be up there starting in the next few weeks.

Any movement of the player in VR that is not 1:1 tends to cause motion sickness.

This will be solved by untethering the experience and adding Inside-Out tracking. Then, you could go to a local park and go on a Skyrim adventure with redirected walking [1], for example. A 100yd football field could potentially simulate 2km of movement, if I remember correctly.

[1] http://www.roadtovr.com/new-unlimited-corridor-video-shows-m...

Oh wow this is amazing! I wonder if it would also work if there was an outer-rim wall to create the illusion of being surrounded

Yeah, I think the current iteration of VR will be comparable to how the Ninentdo Wii and Kinect were received--initial enthusiasm giving way to the realization that movement is physically taxing and requires a bunch of dedicated space.

Right now, I also think the costs are still too prohibitive for most people whose Kinect sensor or Wii-motes have been long idle.

I think Microsoft's strategy of marketing VR/AR as a productivity tool is interesting.

The movement problem is already pretty much solved. Teleportation works amazingly well in games where that's not inconsistent with the in-game universe, and when fluid motion is necessary games like Onward have managed to make it work quite well. Keep in mind that Onward is a competitive military sim, so there's not a lot of room in the game for players to be fiddling with locomotion. The fact that the game has been such a success is pretty strong evidence that locomotion is not the contentious issue in VR that it was a year ago.

Recroom's Paintball is is one of the most popular and constantly active multipler VR games and that is all about movement.

http://vrlfg.net/ also shows Onward as being very popular - also very movement based.

(one thing worth noting in that page is how low current play counts are relative to other games. Currently there's not enough people in VR to support more than a handful of multiplayer games)

Roomscale VR is a complete DOA gimmick in the home. The Wii and the Kinect proved that physical UI's are not fun and don't have durable appeal.

Wii and Kinect sucked because they tried translating predefined motions to button-presses, with no added benefit over pressing that button on a controller. And they weren't particularly good at it. You don't see how VR is different, have you even tried the Vive?

For the record I was hugely bearish on the Wii, Kinect, 3D tv and movies, and rightly so. But there is no question in my mind that VR will be huge.

I've been thinking about this and it's bad for active entertainment, but maybe it would be fine for futuristic productivity uses where you have factory workers remotely controlling heavy machinery that still can't be fully automated through a VR interface.

> I think we are no more than two years away from an explosion of new consumer startups

I remember reading similar sentiment two years ago, back when the Oculus started getting massive attention after their successful Kickstarter.

There are counter arguments to the rise of VR. As mentioned, price and hardware are too high for casual use, but that will be fixed in time.

What can't easily be fixed is that fact that it is not conveient. VR tethers you one spot, and using VR in public looks ridiculous/antisocial to outside observers. In contrast, an AR approach can avoids both issues by embedding an immersive context with subtlety. (in theory anyways; Google Glass looked ridiculous too.)

Big screen TVs aren't convenient either - but a huge number of households have them - VR doesn't have to be exactly like smartphones in order to be very popular

You can do other things while watching TV, though, like eat dinner, talk to your friends on the couch, pet your dog, etc. None of those things are possible with a VR headset on, making it very inconvenient to use.

It's unlikely people will even feel comfortable walking through the room, since they have no idea when the VR user is going to freak out and blindly start flailing body parts around reacting to something only they can see. This means the entire living room is off limits, which is also very inconvenient when compared to someone just sitting on the couch watching Netflix.

There are a lot of social hurdles that VR will need to overcome, in addition to each of the technical ones.

I played with a Vive for a while and it's pretty mind-blowing that it's possible to do it, I also haven't bothered picking it up again. Aside from games I'm having a hard time thinking of any problem domain that would be served by VR. We've had screen-based VR going back to the 90s (VRML?) and the few applications that were attempted like virtual tours didn't really take off. I look at how little has been applied to using the Google Glass and Kinect as precedents. Even voice recognition has been going for 25 years and is barely past the novelty stage. I know the tech is still relatively new, but it's been a few years since we've had retail VR headsets and no one has come up with a killer app.

Just going to plug one of my favorite blogs here: http://elevr.com/ They're experimenting with basic VR interaction design. How do you represent things in VR, how do you communicate with other people in the room when you're wearing a headset, how does physical context change your experience. Fascinating, basic stuff we're going to have to figure out before we can build meaningful experiences in VR. http://elevr.com/would-you-like-to-see-an-invisible-sculptur...

Absolutely. Figuring out how the hell the interactions and UI work in VR is one of the hardest - and most interesting - parts to the entire process.

Even really simple stuff like "OK, I need a graphics options menu" becomes a significant UI design challenge.

Personally I'm figuring it out while building a big experience in VR, but hey - that's what Early Access is for!

Bookmarked - thanks.

I am both a huge proponent and skeptic of VR. I am no veteran but to my credit I was dabbling with VR many years before Oculus ran its Kickstarter.

I am skeptical in the short term because the hardware is still struggling to keep up with the demands (at a reasonable price point). Maintaining 90-120 FPS with any sort of detail is much more difficult than 30 FPS.

I am a proponent in the long term because there is definitely some sort of value. The feeling of "presence" just can't be matched by anything else (short of directly manipulating our sensory input).

I think people are still struggling to figure out where exactly the value is now though. In the long term I can see it being a huge social tool (to the point where people might regularly meet their significant other in a virtual environment, if the rendering is accurate enough). There is also likely benefit in creative tools (I have found modeling in VR to be much easier and more natural).

Interestingly, from the people I have shown VR to, it is the less technical people (non-programmers, etc) that walk away with their minds blown. Perhaps we are still not marketing VR strongly enough, because most people I know still have not tried a real device.

IMO VR will be different from mobile though. The evolution of apps for phones was explosive, but we are trying to game evolution by throwing huge amounts of funding at VR, perhaps prematurely. This is not to say any advancements at this point aren't worth the time, I am just not so sure there will be a large payoff in the short term. (And of course, this is just my opinion, feel free to disagree).

    In the long term I can see it being a huge social tool (to the 
    point where people might regularly meet their significant other 
    in a virtual environment, if the rendering is accurate enough).
I think I understand the thought process behind this, and I've heard this before, but this idea literally makes no sense to me.

The sense of logic that wearing goggles will let you see people and be seen is, outside of cultural context (sci-fi movies, books, and TV), a non-sequitur. It's like expecting current consumer Hoverboards to replace bridges. (They can't fly.)

If you start to expound on how you think people can meet in virtual reality, then it might be more useful.

If you know anything about visual effects, then you know that with motion capture it's possible to animate digital characters. Do people want to put on black clothes with white dots in order to look like themselves?

Along that line, if you take together existing technologies like VR, mo-cap, custom avatars, kinect, Second Life, and OKCupid - and combine them, then you're going to find the bottom of the uncanny valley.

The way I envision it does not involve any complex setup (like mocap markers, etc). Rather relying on nonintrusive sensors like cameras/etc to capture facial expressions and body positions (its crude now but I'm sure it will be better in the future).

In other words, I am sure technology will progress to a point where you can practically mimic reality (this might not be for another 20-30 years for the consumer though). At that point, you have something where you can engage virtually, perhaps with less of the fear you might have in the real world. Approaching someone virtually should theoretically be less intimidating (but perhaps if you have a true portrayal of your identity, it still is?)

I think that AR (think magic leap) is going to be much bigger, at least in the short term.

VR is like the desktop. It will have its uses, sure, but you'll be tied to your desk/room. Gaming will probably still be the most popular VR application.

Your AR glasses will be your smartphone, on you the entire time, and you won't even need to reach for your pocket.

Indeed, I think AR glasses will replace at least the display portion of smartphones. If I had to guess, the progression would go something like this: Initially, it will be glasses connected to the smartphone. Then, glasses connected to a watch-like device. Finally, just the glasses.

I touched on this before https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12104656. Imagine waiting in an airport and browsing instagram or watching videos on a relatively large, private display via glasses. The tiny, visible-by-others smartphone display would look very primitive in comparison.

Hm, I think it's the opposite. VR big in the short term; AR big in the long term. I do agree that when talking about smartphone applications, as in the blog post, those will need to be AR not VR.

Google Glass was squashed right? And Hololens is focused on business use cases first. I don't see it becoming consumer focused for some time. VR is amazing _today_ and has a massive gaming audience. The business applications of AR, while high impact/potential, are a much smaller audience.

I think that VR, unless much more advanced (e.g. expand to other senses besides vision and hearing) will have trouble catching on besides gaming and maybe some business applications. And even so, I have my doubts.

And I think Google Glass was dropped because the tech wasn't there yet. It was a small square on the corner of your vision instead of a "depth aware" overlay.

i see no reason why AR cant be merged with VR, although maybe that is because i dont have a clue about how either works

I think there's a bit too much exuberance around VR and AR at the moment. I can imagine a future where fully immersive AR is technically possible, but no one uses it because it's annoying or inconvenient. Sort of like how video calls are possible now but most people just text.

The convenience factor is being completely ignored by the enthusiasts. There is absolutely no plausible day to day use case for VR like there was for something like a smart phone.

VR games are the same sort of short term gimmicks that failed with the Wii and Kinect. The technology is amazing, it's just not very useful.

I think VR is garbage. You take what would be a decent visual experience, and stretch it across your field of vision until it's nice and pixelated. Then you cut that crap resolution in half, by giving each eye its own individual feed.

Now that you've got the resolution lowered by 10 fold or so, you can induce sickness with lag, head tracking inaccuracy, poorly executed strobing to reduce blur.

Now that you're sickly enjoying the screendoored world, your can enjoy the face sweat, and not being able to find your beverage in the real world.

I can live with everything but the screen door.

Why does this imply VR in general is garbage, and not just the current state of VR?

Maybe it's just me but I'm much more excited about Augmented Reality than Virtual Reality.

Recently I was looking for a new place to rent, and in every place I visited I kept trying to picture in my mind how my existing furniture would fit (and look) in the new space. It was so mentally tiring. I wish AR was advanced enough such that the rental agent would simply hire me a pair of AR glasses, I could log in to an account to load my existing furniture data, and project it into the empty rooms to rotate/rearrange/etc.

It's not just you, but AR is harder than VR, and has a longer "basic" feature list. Transparent screens, world tracking, world occlusion, object recognition / classification - plus the mobile VR issues of portable computing power and battery life.

VR will pave the way for a lot of the authoring technologies, and then those techs will (I mean, they already are) get adjusted for AR.

I completely agree. VR is a false start for a couple of reasons.

1) Spending a couple of hours in VR messes with your body, many feel motion sickness and other effects: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality_sickness

2) As antisocial as staring at your iPhone is, VR is much worse. You can't even function in the environment you are physically in because your body thinks it's somewhere else.

I think VR is really interesting, don't get me wrong, but it's not the next app platform. Yes it suits gaming really well if you don't get sick, but Augmented Reality is the next iPhone, and we are probably many years away from doing it right. We're not even at the T-Mobile Sidekick stage yet.

I would buy a discrete AR headset like I'd buy a smartphone, but I can't see myself buying a VR headset for anything other than setting aside an hour or so to be entertained.

I bought a Vive back in August. I loved the shit out of it for months, but gradually stopped using it, although I still think it's an amazing piece of hardware and a big piece of the future.

But, when I play games, I frequently want a very relaxing activity, and the Vive doesn't do that. So, interesting.

But! As a (former?) AR professional, holy shit the non-gaming applications for AR/VR. There's overlap and synergy for applications in both mediums, and then there's the overlap on the technologies (particularly authoring tech - I'm looking at you, Unity) that go into them.

Basically, if I wanted to be a "real" AR developer when AR is ready, I'd start by becoming a real VR developer now.

So the question is, are you willing to sell it for pennies on the dollar so I can try it out for a few hours and then send it off to someone else? ;)

No, not even a little.

For what it is worth, judging from CES this year the first round in the VR war was won by the Vive and GearVR. There were zero Rift demos that I could find. Of the two, the GearVR was better even though it lacked controls, the Vive hardware just just on the wrong side of crappy and the fuzzy muddy pictures I saw were a big dealbreaker, especially when compared to the GearVR.

That said, GearVR suffered from overheating the phone and crapping out.

On point #3, this is exactly why I've been building Primrose (https://www.primrosevr.com). Primrose is meant to be a framework for web developers to be able to build applications that live inside of a virtual environment. Microsoft calls this "Holographic Applications" (I don't exactly like that term, but I suppose I will get over it). The point is to divorce the need to do 3D graphics and geometry from building the application, to have those as the baseline and provide on top of that a shared set of UI metaphors. There is a really easy analogy to draw with standard, 2D GUI systems: you shouldn't have to write an HTML rendering engine before making a Web application, you shouldn't have to work in a game framework to make VR-enabled applications.

Please check out Primrose. I know it has some rough edges here and there, but I've already used it to make some interesting things (a client of mine was recently featured on Bloomberg.com for http://rex.legend3d.com). I know people are wary about "single-contributor" projects, but I've already been building Primrose for 2 years now, it's not going anywhere, and I'm open to bringing collaborators on, just nobody has really stepped up (and I've been so focused on working on VR projects for clients that I've not really had the time to proselytize).

Somebody is going to bring up A-Frame: I think A-Frame is a really nice system, I just think its design goals don't really match what I think is important. A-Frame wants to be the entity-component system for WebVR. That's great. But I don't think that meshes well with "get web developers on board". I don't want developers to have to think about what sort of motion controller component to use in their system. I actually want the system to be more restricted, less open-ended than A-Frame. Also, Primrose came out long before A-Frame, so I'm still married to Primrose for as long as I can be productive in it.

There are some limitations where I haven't quite reached my goal of making VR accessible to web developers, but that is more an issue of limited number of man-months. You can build useful applications with Primrose today. But I have a very clear goal in mind and if it's something you agree with, I would appreciate the help.

Maybe you should consider applying to YC - feel free to email me at michael@ycombinator.com if you'd like to chat about it

Thanks for your project description, I've got a similar issue with aframe which is too low-level for me.

I'll have a look at your framework for new VR prototypes.

One thing I can't stand is the resolution, it really needs to be 2x-10x increased for me not to feel like I'm staring really closely at a screen. And when you increase the resolution by an order of magnitude, you need more processing power, which makes it harder to solve the giant problem of the size, cost, and awkwardness of the hardware. I can't wait until contact lenses are VR enabled.

> I can't wait until contact lenses are VR enabled.

I doubt this will happen, simply because physics and optics won't allow it (unfortunately - because I'd love VR contact lenses myself!)...

I've had a Vive for a few months now and I hardly ever use it. I too was blown away at first. It really is an amazing experience when you first put it on and play a game like the The Blu but that sense of awe doesn't last long and you're left with a somewhat uncomfortable headset with less than stellar graphics and pretty boring games. These days I would much rather play a game like TitanFall 2 than any of the Vive games. Much more interesting.

Having said that, some of the non-game titles are great. Google Earth and The Body VR or whatever it's called, are fantastic learning tools.

One of my favorite things to do is to pack up my PC and Vive and take it to a friend or relative to try out. A lot of people view VR as a gimmick akin to 3D movies, which fairly predictably has died out, but once they have a chance to try VR they often understand the potential.

I think VR has a real future - which certainly will depend largely on falling hardware costs and increased software funding - and while I'm sure the next consumer device version will be significantly improved and appreciably cheaper I'm glad I was able to make a small contribution to the bootstrapping efforts.

What is your solution for mounting the base stations? I've looked into tripods before, but the sensors are meant to be much more firmly mounted from what I've read.

The best I have found so far* is a PVC 5 way side outlet with some short legs for stability and a tall sections based on how high you want to go. I wanted added stability to I made two per lighthouse, and a cross beam on top. Using some old go-pro accessories to attach. *You are right, you want it to be super stable, moving it while its plugged in can seriously damage it.

Could you post photos of them? I'd love to see if it's something I could also build.

I've done just fine with tripods, even fairly cheap ones. The software seems to compensate really well for any potential drift - even if the tripod gets bumped, I often don't need to re-run the room setup to re-calibrate. The most difficult part of the cheaper tripods is that they're often fairly short, so if someone walks between them they lose optical sync. In a pinch I've set the tripods on top of tables and desks, and that's worked well enough.

With a tripod, you don't need to worry. They are perfectly fine for VR, as long as you don't move the tripods while playing.

Seperate comment because it's a separate topic: if I was looking to make money from VR as a primary consideration (as opposed to my current cascade of story first, money second) I'd be ignoring games altogether and looking at creativity / design / conferencing apps, probably for enterprise.

VR is incredible for creation and design, and can easily be collaborative too.

I think I'd focus on the education/simulation training and medical market; there's already a bit in there, but nothing crazy big that I am aware of. Think:

Welding/training simulators (or tool training period)

Job training (perhaps heavy equipment simulation?)

Psychological/medical treatment (for instance, treating fear of heights - which has already been experimented with)

Virtual Design (VR CAD/CAM, interior decorating, real estate, etc)

I'm sure there are ton of these kinds of apps just waiting to be built or expanded on. Some of these could even enter into the home or consumer use areas.

Yes, training is another area where there's clearly a lot of potential to address pain points and make a great deal of money.

I was discussing VR with an ex-military colleague recently, and he got quite excited about the potential of the technology to enhance and extend early-stage simulator training. It's a hell of a lot cheaper to buy a Vive than a tank simulator.

And the therapy applications are incredibly exciting. Early days for those still research-wise, though.

>looking at creativity / design / conferencing apps, probably for enterprise.

I would too except for the fact headsets cost $800 and the computers to run them cost thousands.

Once price drops and it gets wide use, it will be a goldmine for early developers.

The pitch I'd do is basically this:

"OK, how many times do you send your designers away to have a meeting with their colleagues in other offices? And how much do the flights and hotel cost?

Well, you could eliminate 9/10 of those flights, hotel, travel time costs, and the rest by buying this one headset and upgrading their PCs - oh, and buying my proprietory design app..."

By the looks of it, Autodesk have had much the same thought.

> buying this one headset

I don't want to share anything that goes on my face with anyone in the office I work with. Just passing one around the conference room to each of the execs during your pitch should make that obvious pretty quickly.

I don't see VR as a useful replacement for video conferencing. You don't get any more body language and arguably less facial cues than standard video conferencing. If an engineer is getting sent somewhere, it's typically because they need to physically interact with something, which you also don't get with VR. For designers, I suspect the low resolution and inability to import and (especially) edit whatever designs they're looking at would prevent VR from being useful also.

I completely agree on the "sharing headsets" issue. The economics work out fine at one headset per dev who needs to collaborate off-site.

Start developing now and by the time your app/game is fleshed out you'll be well positioned for when the cost comes down.

> Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this growing up.

Color me skeptical but they said the same thing about NES Power Pad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Pad

I think it's more likely that people will be even more zoned out as you can't even move your hand up and down in front of their faces to block their line of sight to the TV.

> If I am right, over the next five years we will see the following:

> 1. Lower price point and maybe the ability to finance the hardware (like your cell phone).

> 2. 100 million devices distributed. Without a significant number of users the best founders won’t get serious about building for VR over building for web/mobile.

> 3. New frameworks. Building and iterating VR apps is going to have to get a lot easier.

> 4. Large companies solving the primary hardware problems: headset and input innovation plus distribution. I think this might be too expensive for startups to tackle.

None of these predictions involve any insight into VR. Replace the word VR in #1, #3, or #4 with any tech at any point in recent history and you can make the same statement. I also doubt #2 will happen. The smartphone revolution was a natural evolution of expanding communication devices that people already had into devices that were more useful. VR requires an entirely new set of hardware (for the display component) that isn't anywhere near as approachable as going from a flip phone to a smartphone.

> Recently I’ve heard a lot of investors say “There isn’t a whole lot of new stuff to do in consumer. There’s already an app for that.” With VR, there isn’t already an app for that.

> I think we are no more than two years away from an explosion of new consumer startups and I cannot wait to start funding them at YC.

This I agree is definitely coming though I have my doubts about it being anywhere near the scale of smart phones or the push to make all things web. I also think there's going to be an even higher "dud factor" with VR startups than the already high rate for consumer focused startup. Let's see what happens!

I applied to YC about 2.5 yrs ago with a VR-focused company for new construction homes software. Got rejected. Fast-forward today and I've built a successful company with it. It'll take a few yrs for VR to get mass adoption, but it shouldn't stop people from starting a B2B VR company. I've seen a lot of tech since my TRS-80 days and can tell you that this one is going to be transformative in a lot of areas.

What company is this? Because it sounds like Siebel would be interested to know/fund :)

www.pixiedustVR.com It's old, but that's what happens to company websites when they have paying customers. ;) If you have any questions feel free to contact me directly doug at pixiedustvr You can see our WebVR work 3d-testing.tollbrothers.com

I don't think VR will take off unless the headsets become the size of big sunglasses, have great battery life, and someone releases a killer app. It's surprising that these headsets have been in the market so long, going on over a year now, and we have yet to see that one app that makes everyone run out and get a headset. Until all of these happen I don't expect much from the current state of the VR industry.

I'm not really sure what this means.

YC has been investing in VR/AR companies since at least 2014/5. 3% of S16 companies were VR. It's been on their Request for startups since at least 2014[1]. Is this simply stating that they are going to be more aggressive in the space?

There are plenty of us VR/AR startups out there...

[1] https://hackernoon.com/3-of-y-combinators-summer-2016-batch-... [2]https://www.ycombinator.com/rfs/#vrar

It's always fun seeing people go through the various stages that I (and many many others) have gone through over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, he's missing the fact that it's exceedingly socially awkward to use these things and people in general actually don't like being removed from the world. It is mentally exhausting worrying about what's happening that you can't see. Not fun :(

You're probably saying, ahhh, that doesn't matter. It turns out, it does.

If you want to get excited about something, look at AR instead of VR.

(I have vive, dk1, dk2, and cv1. though i actually never opened my free cv1 ..)

I spent the afternoon with friends playing on a vive in a dedicated room. It was a lot of fun, but I didn't leave the experience wanting to own my own setup.

Partly the newness of the tech is to blame, and the games were retrofits of things that existed. I think as a new generation of games come around that are conceived for the hardware it'll come around.

Let's not forget the zen-like simplicity of (Google) Cardboard VR apps. They are a lot of fun and use your phone plus a 15-20 dollar holder. I think these apps will be quicker to innovate as all of the hardware is so cheap and plentiful for developer and consumers.

I'm going through this thread comment by comment and it feels like reading customer reviews on Amazon. Many comments are written like those '5-star' reviews there. It's just a vague feeling and maybe I'm wrong.

VR might be a hit but there're questions marks which got outlined by other commentators quite well.

I'm not qualified to judge if VR is going to be a hit but I realize that a lot of people seem to be committed and invested in this space (so money is involved) and we should be just wary when we see 5-star reviews.

The challenges for VR today can be summed up in a few points:

- The price point (a high-end VR experience costs around $2800 ($800 HTC Vive + a $2000 PC)

- Resolution (even the best VR is too low-res today)

- Inside-out tracking (explained below)

- Content – there are great games and other immersive content today, but it's just scratching the surface

Apart from content, all of these challenges will be handily solved by Moore's Law in the next 24 months. We will have inside-out, high-end, high-resolution virtual reality that will cost a consumer less than $500-$1000 all-in.

The chicken-and-egg problem of content vs. consumer adoption is already being solved. Enough new headsets shipped last year for the market to support substantial investment in VR content over these next 24 months, and newer, better content + cheaper hardware will lead to increase in consumer adoption, which will lead to even more investment in content, and so on.

The only question then is: will everyday people want to use VR regularly? I have yet to meet someone who has spent a decent amount of time (more than a quick demo) in a high-end VR experience and still doubts this. Certain activities (gaming) will be adopted more easily, while others (watching a movie with your family) might feel a bit strange – but that will feel more natural when VR and AR converge on a 5-10 year timeline.

It's exciting!

* Regarding "inside out" tracking above: Today, the most advanced consumer headset (HTC Vive) gives a glimpse of this potential with "room-scale" VR that allows a user 6 degrees of freedom – meaning the ability to walk around in an environment. But, the Vive requires sensors on the walls that draw lines around a playspace – this is "outside-in" tracking. Inside out tracking requires a headset that can draw a volumetric map of its environment in real-time – so you could walk from room to room in VR and see walls and obstacles before you crash into them. (the closest thing we have to this today is the Microsoft Hololens) This is important because it reduces the need for a large physical space, a complex rig, a constrained environment area. It might not be necessary for mainstream adoption, but it is a challenge that needs to be faced.

Re: inside out tracking - have you seen Bridge? It's a mobile, spatially aware headset for IOS. It uses an onboard Structure Sensor to power positionally tracked VR + high end MR. All on an iphone (no remote processing), and < $400 :)

We've been working on it in secret for a couple of years, and just launched it in December.


Still waiting to see what y'all do with structure core. Bridge is too expensive for OEMs :-)

You left out one huge area: weight/comfort, which includes being untethered because having a wire sticking out the back affects comfort by pulling on your head. VR won't take off without this area being tackled as well even if all of the areas you mention are addressed.

I'm not sure I have much to contribute to the idea of VR beyond my years of playing MUDs, MMOs, and Second Life. So I'm seeing VR from the POV of the desktop here. What I think is the key problem with VR is the problem with all kinds of technology: form factor. For years cell phones were bulky niche products that didn't have many users until the mid-90s when candy bar and clam shell form factors were good enough compared to the bag and bricks of the 80s. That's when cell phones took off. Smart phones had a similar problem that was solved with better touch screens and better storage/processor. Now, VR has always had a huge problem with the goggles and other interfaces so I think VR to be able to be attractive to people (especially developers) it has to be smaller, better resolution, and as easy as wearing sunglasses and/or winter gloves (IMO, I think a glove form factor is the bare minimum for any controller scheme or at least a good enough pair of gesture sensors that are easy to place and calibrate). Until a good enough form factor takes over there's no way VR will ever break beyond niche. It's just that 2016 made that niche bigger. So I'll be waiting out this wave of VR out until they have a form factor that's easy and cheap.

That's a very good analogy. Just don't underestimate how quickly the tech can progress in this day and age, I did that mistake myself. Less than two years ago I was very excited about the Rift and bought a dev kit. As someone who works in computer vision etc, I was convinced though that good tracking would be many years out, and then suddenly there were the lighthouse solution from Valve. Now I've had the same thought about inside-out tracking (by means of vision), but even that seems to be arriving much faster than I initially anticipated. Today every big tech company from MS, Google, Facebook, to Valve, and hardware companies such as Samsung, HTC and Nvidia/ATI manufacturers are pushing hard on every frontier of VR. I agree the form factor has to change to allow mass adoption, but expect much faster progress than what happened with phones in the 80s.

I'm going to politely disagree with this article. It's overly optimistic and draws largely from anecdotal preferences and insights.

I believe that VR will fail for the same reasons blockchain has failed to reach critical mass, there's just no overwhelming pain it solves, it's nice to have but great majority of people still do not appreciate having a bright screen inches away from your eyes and the hardware while it will certainly get better, may be addressing immersion the wrong way.

A truly game breaking VR device is one that would not require strapping screen to your face, we will see what's out there on the market but it's still very much too early to say whether it's going to have the legs it needs to reach critical mass.

I could be totally wrong and we might end up staring into empty spaces on the Skytrain with people manipulating VR objects with wild hand movements. Sort of the same shift in how smartphones have made people hunched over a small screen or talking to the air with earphones with microphones.

I believe agumented reality is a much more subtle and gradual adoption where it won't require a powerful device but with gentle gestures or possibly even reading your mind's will to issue commands without having to deal with a touch screen. The Google glass is great but I think the killer app would be something you can install on your prescription glasses that projects layered UI and makes it "smart". We would be living in a self organized surveillance state where it's no longer necessary for a government to keep track of everything but peer based apps that shames socially negative behavior and the fear of such reprisals will be at a far far higher level than we have today.

We are living in a time where every new critical mass technology (ex. facebook) are essentially "cigarettes", widely accepted and normalized but not fully understanding it's consequences.

That sounds right to me, and it's insightful. Thank you for sharing this.

I've tried the Vibe and the Microsoft Hololens. The Vibe feels like a minor improvement over Jaron Lainer's original unit from the 1980s, which I tried back then. It's still too big and heavy. The update rate and position tracking are at last acceptable. It's going to be popular with the FPS gamer crowd, but beyond that, it doesn't seem worth the trouble.

The Hololens packs an incredible amount of hardware into a small package. That's a very good piece of mechanical and electrical engineering. While it can't really "draw dark", it does a decent job of trying, displaying against a filtered background of the real world. It's also cordless, which the VR guys really should have had by now. Its display field of view is too small; it can't maintain the illusion of markers on the world. A wider field of view and it will be useful.

What do you think will be the use cases for the Hololens in the short and long term? I've yet to try it, but I've heard mostly good things.

I tend to link to this too much, but see Hyper-Reality.[1] Augmented reality for the job monkey, out of Medellin, Colombia. After viewing that, read Marshall Brain's "Manna", if you haven't already. Then visualize the two linked together.

The killer app for augmented reality may be the bossing around of humans by computers.

[1] https://vimeo.com/166807261 [2] http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

I've yet to put a new one on.

I tried a wireframe VR headset game back in the `90's. It was a two player game where you tried to shoot each other. My wife was the other player and had a hard time time navigating the space. I moved right next to her and she couldn't find me, but what I could not do was pull the trigger. No way. Not even in VR.

I still don't do games, and I'm not really interested in wearing one of those headsets for hours no matter how "immersive" it is.

And to be honest, I really cannot imagine that people will do that on any large scale. I'm sure they will play with them, but I'd expect them to be more of a novelty than a daily use thing.

I would liken them more to a Segway. Awesome tech, but not near as popular in use as was imagined or predicted.

Same with "3D" movies. My kids don't like them all that much, but the tech is still impressive.

I'm making a VR game with giant mechs that has a totally unique movement mechanic. Anybody want to fund me? :P

Get it into a playable state and up on Steam in Early Access, sir or madam. There are a LOT of people looking for a good VR giant mech game right now.

Going to SteamDevDays 2016 convinced me that this is a viable strategy, as long as you keep your scope small and costs low.

... and then I got side-tracked by machine learning and finance...

Please tell me you're making a game about being a quant.

Not VR (yet?) but have you ever played Hawken? A wonderful mech game.

I've been reading "Ready Player One" over the past few weeks and it's description of a VR-filled future is blowing my mind. It's really a great look into the possibilities for VR in the next 30 years. Highly recommended!

RP1 It's not any sort of world you would hope for. I'd rather the technology be banned than end up with that kind of world. But the story itself was fun.

RP1 does a decent job at this, but it feels sort of cotton candy compared to Snowcrash.

This article is basically, "VR gets a vote of confidence from YC". That's good to know, but:

a) It should be pointed out that this is what the article is doing (giving a vote of confidence, not summarizing, not making any sort of thorough or novel argument).

b) I think that thorough and novel arguments are more useful. The following post comes to mind: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2016/09/write-to-say-stuff-wor....

I agree that a lot of movement will happen to adapt actual apps to be explored in VR, but not just that. A lot of space will open for immersive content, one moment that you have a headset in every house. Therefore, new solutions are going to be needed both to explore and create for those devices. A good example are 360 videos editing. With that in mind I've been working on the last months on the first 360 video editor for smartphones, you can check that here http://collect.video

> Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this growing up.

In my experience, the best VR experiences are sit down. Sony's approach fully embraces this. Room scale is great, but I've had much more enjoyable experiences with the likes of Euro Truck and Elite than Showdown.

VR demos amazingly well, you're excited to try it out and it is genuinely breath taking the first time you look around your cockpit in outer space. But the isolation and cumbersome nature of it kills everyday use.

> In my experience, the best VR experiences are sit down.

This will be as subjective as which non-VR games consumers prefer. I have a friend that can (and has!) happily spent hours playing Fruit Ninja VR, which can be quite the workout. I personally really enjoy AudioShield and The Lab's Longbow game, which are also fairly active.

Honestly I think the biggest impediments to "active VR" are the cable and the buildup of sweat in the headset's padding.

What a silly quote, do they believe reading books is an unhealthy activity as well? Every activity doesn't have to be physical exertion.

I found that Superhot VR was much more exciting than Eve Valkrie. The immersion was so high that I started closing an eye to shoot better. I haven't done that with any other game.

I just had the same experience today testing Onward.

Closed my eye by reflex to aim with the iron sights on a rifle, then had one of those "oh my god I just did that" VR experiences.

When it feels real it feels very real.

We've applied to YC a few months back with a real estate app based exactly on this premise. The goal was saving people's time and money in the inefficient home-search process.

Turned down, though.

Maybe, in the not so distant future, the use of VR in real estate will be to give everybody a seaview mansion when, in reality, they live within four boring walls.

If only you could taste VR food...

Are there any information online about your startup? Will you continue working on it?

Nope, we closed shop

There have been QuicktimeVR type real-estate tours for a long time.

How would this be different?

Our project was mainly an operational effort rather than a technological one. We weren't to build any of the "core vr" technology, but to build an app upon the existing.

Taking a VR tour of a place is relatively easy. Taking a VR tour of every place is absolutely hard.

Hm. Market potential is limited to upper-middle class (those having large work autonomy) or about 15% of the US population. Which may be plenty for your outlook, i'm no expert.

But I am a normal dude. And there is no way the remaining 85% of the population can check out of their real-world duties of getting kids ready for school, cooking, working, watching tv, etc to check-in to VR. No way.

VR's downfall IS its immersiveness. It's a serial activity that cannot be run in parallel with other life activities. With a phone, I can be texting, surfing ect and when my kid comes over, I can put the phone down and answer a question or continue cooking or whatever. VR-not so much. I'd have to first HEAR my kid come up to me, then unstrap the headset, put down my handset(s), etc...

If VR has large uptake as a technology, our interpersonal world, our family and social structures are fucked. Feels like the final checkmate in human history. Think I'll dig my heels in a bit and let you run over the cliff with that one.

And look up "DPDR vr" when you have a sec. Lets see how many more mental disorders we can create by unleashing tech without ethical, philosophical, or human-first lenses. I'm getting a little jaded by this market-first approach.

People already spend significant amounts of time on game console screens and there hasn't been an explosion of non-game apps on those.

I remember being surprised at the number of productivity apps available for the gameboy in Japan. I suppose it was a herald of the the success smart phones would become.

It's not just about technology, but also about culture.

VR Porn will totally destroy all social norms and sexual IRL practices.

It's WAY too damn real, especially if you mix it with a real partner.

All I can picture here is two clunky headsets colliding in awkward fashion.

There was an episode of Black Mirror that dealt with this though, using AR contact lenses instead.

There was a scene in Demolition Man as well that dealt with this:


It'll be interesting to see how traditionally non-3D application translate to VR. For instance, what would a VR-enabled window manager look like, or an IDE, or a command-line shell, or a graphical file manager? What's the best way to manage web browser tabs in 3D or navigate a comment thread? What about interactive, graphical programming environments like puredata?

I expect there may be some generic solutions for problems like how to display a tree or graph in an intuitive way or how to manage a bunch of 2-D workspaces. Figuring out exactly what the best way to extract that generic functionality into libraries will be interesting, and I expect if VR becomes mainstream there will be a lot of competing VR widget libraries just like there are a lot of competing 2D gui widget libraries now.

I really want to get Oculus, but the requirement of high performance windows machine is keeping me away. I am a mac user and I don't intend to spend about $1500 for a windows machine that I would use only for VR.

I don't mind spending $1000 on an oculus which can work with a regular macbook pro.

You might be happy to hear that the $1500 machine recommendation is outdated.

You can view the current recommendation here [1] and it basically boil down to: RX480/GTX1060 plus i5 -- very much below $1000 at this point.

[1] https://www3.oculus.com/en-us/oculus-ready-pcs/ Click "View Recommended Specification"

I just said this a few days ago on another topic, but it bears repeating here -- people are thinking too narrowly. Replacing Input X for Input Y or Output X for Output Y are not seeing the big picture. Inputs and Outputs are now a multitude. We are entering the era of many-to-many for I/O.

The companies that succeed are not going be the software dudes who make their apps work for web, phones and VR (that will be a requirement, not a killer feature). No, the success stories will be those who build the glue to let everyone else easily make "all the things" work for all the inputs and all the outputs.

It is good to witness so much improvement in VR tech but most people focus on the eye. I think the killer step in VR and also AG will be when we can use all our fingers. Once we have that it will be a huge improvement in contrast to 2D interfaces. Haptic feedback on top of that would make the experience even better. Till that happens, VR experience is merely an eye interacting in a new world with 2 bulky pointers.

It would be great if someone develops a bracelet that can detect the electric signals going from my brain to my fingers and use it as an input to control virtual fingers.

I'm a casual gamer, enjoy gaming and like to buy a game and play it with my kids as a family activity. I bought an oculus rift when it came out, figuring it would be fun to try out. Everyone used it a few times and then it just sat there. Most of the enjoyment we get out of gaming is sitting around and interacting while playing, that really didn't work very well with the bulky headset on one person. I think maybe in a few years when the headsets are cheaper, smaller, and easier to manage then it will make sense, but I'm not sure that will be for a while.

I completely agree! My wife and I are very interested in VR, we keep wanting it to be something though we can't quite figure out what. What I want for sure is a multiplayer experience. PS4 Pro w/ 2 headsets exploring a VR world for instance. I want to look to my right and see her there. With just one of us playing at a time it isn't fun.

Maybe this is already the case and I just haven't figure out how to search for it correctly.

My experience was with a multiplayer game - which was a ton a fun

> Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this growing up.

What kind of VR games are you playing? I haven't seen a single physically demanding VR game (unless you count standing "physical"). Unless everyone is going to have a dedicated room for their games or we come up with some kind of rental halls there won't be any physical activity in VR games just because there is no room to move around.

Sure ducking and crawling is somewhat more physical that just sitting and playing games, but not by much.

Holopoint, Sword Master VR, Audioshield are some of the more physically intensive titles. Something like Onward is not intense exercise but will get you kneeling etc. instead of just standing. Even standing and doing things with your hands is better than sitting and playing a non-VR game.

Climbey is absolutely exhausting. Finally some hope I'll get some upper body exercise!

Archery games are physically demanding. I've lost on the QuiVR demo simply because I ran out of strength pull the bow string any more.

Any game with ducking or evading will begin to burn the calories - SPT and Zombie Training both have had me break a sweat.

Most room scale games involve a fair amount of crouching and moving. Even in my 2m x 1.9m space I'll notice the exertion after a while.

Thrill of the Fight

Trying to predict the future of VR based on tech specs is kind of silly, because I feel the determinant of the timeline of its success is dependent upon what applications are built for it. All it will take is one or two well executed applications that require VR to be used, that motivates folks sufficiently to purchase hardware (a $99 mobile VR headset being a starting price point) that will bend the curve. But, obviously its hard to predict what these are, otherwise someone would have built it already.

"3. New frameworks. Building and iterating VR apps is going to have to get a lot easier."

Hasn't Unity already cemented itself as the go-to framework for VR? Has anyone seen anything better?

A-Frame (https://aframe.io) is picking up traction. For many people, Unity is still to difficult to learn, takes work to get an app going, and get distributed.

With A-Frame, you can build an VR site with just an HTML file, open it in your Vive, and publish to the Web immediately. Though it's just HTML, it's based on the same architecture as Unity (entity-component), and can do powerful applications (TiltBrush on the Web https://blog.mozvr.com/a-painter/).

Sure, but Unity is a game engine, I think he means more like Xcode is to iOS dev as _____ is to VR. Unity isn't optimized for making general applications, although it looks like they want to head in that direction for VR.

I'm curious what you feel general applications need? I come from a games background and am in current heavy R&D for VR and AR applications. I tend to feel VR is much more like a game than anything else. You're fundamentally working in 3D space with tracked game controllers in a simulation that updates at 60/90/120Hz. Most of what's lacking for common application development is the sort of things we won't see until there are some mature VR/AR operating systems. AR in particular really needs to allow multiple programs to run simultaneously. There's not really the need for that with multiple overlapping virtual realities right now.

I don't think Unity necessarily has things wrapped up but it would be really hard to eclipse them right now.

Unreal is a valid and popular alternative.

Despite having two perfectly functional eyes, my brain only uses the right one due to a squint I had at birth which later improved but by then my brain had wired itself to ignore input from the left eye unless I close my right one (I get a quick shift to the left of everything in my FOV when I do this). As a result things like 3D cinema don't work for me (and I find using a telescope much easier than binoculars!).

If VR really takes off am I going to be unable to join in or will it work with one eye?

The "3D" effect is one of the least exciting features of VR headsets. If that was all VR had to offer it would be just as much of a gimmick as 3D Video. You will still get all the benefits of moving your head around, motion controls and so on.

Awesome! My main worry was depth perception stuff being problematic (I have occasional issues with that irl but no idea if it would be the same, better or worse in VR).

It should be very nearly the same in VR. You will still get the parallax from moving your head, even small rotation can add a lot to depth perception. Best try it out before you buy it. If you don't have a store offering demos near you, many VR enthusiasts enjoy showing off their hardware to others just as much as playing themselves.

Thanks for that, sounds promising. Will keep an eye out (haha) for somewhere offering demos and give it a whirl.

Should be plenty of places / people you can check out a rift/vive with without buying

i feel like the physical aspect is something that's actually cumbersome in practice, you need a lot of space, and even then you need to make sure you don't gradually bump into things. It's a bit of a gimmick and I believe it will wear off. I have a hard time imagining the N-state of VR being anything else than people sitting still, or even lying down with just a remote or two in your hands where you don't even use gestures.

The N-state of every leasure activity is as low physical effort as possible.

However I'm not sure what the main activity will be on a really good VR platform. It might just be watching movies or it might be playing games. The thought of some kind of second life type of game/world is also something that feels like a cliche but is also pretty likely to happen. In which case, how do you move? how do you interact? probably voice + some sort of game controller, right?

There might be some practical applications of VR, such as surgery or whatever, but that will never be the mainstream, unless VR fails for consumers (again), and this discussion doesn't become very interesting.

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually pretty optimistic about this generation of VR. I simply don't believe in the whole premise of it becoming a physical activity.

The N-state of every leisure activity is as low physical effort as possible.

As someone whose leisure activities have in the past included Muay Thai and Spanish knife duelling (with blunted knives and fencing armour; I'm not crazy) I would disagree with this assessment. None of those activities naturally tend toward low physical effort in their participants. :)

And personally, I seek out high-physical-intensity not low-physical-intensity VR games, and have done so consistently for a couple of years now. The comments on this post alone show I'm far from alone on that.

Personally, my money's still on VR being a gateway drug to exercise rather than devolving into seated activities. There are two main reasons for that: 1) It only takes one really good Doom-level breakout exercise game to get a lot of people moving, and 2) humans are wired to find exercise fun. Endorphins are wonderful things.

I can't wait to see the first ssh client for VR.

Pretty mundane and naive observations, which is not surprising since it looks like he tried a VR headset for the first time a month ago.

Are we sure that VR in its current form (headset ala Oculus) is the form of VR that will become ubiquitous? I find it hard to believe that the average consumer will be interested in buying that clunky, expensive piece of hardware just for the "coolness" of it.

If VR is to become popularized i feel like it needs to be more seamlessly integrated into our daily lives.

Is there anywhere one can demo/rent a VR setup? I'd like to experience it before I take the plunge.

"Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity"

- I had the same thought yesterday too. I would go further and say we will see the first open world MMO to adopt true geospacial coordinates very very soon.

What do you think this will do to fitness? ;)

>Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity.

It's a whole lot of research yet to be done in this area, VR & health (I don't mean muscles, I mean eyes, brain etc.). And VR market expansion will make this research possible.

I got pretty invested in VR in 2016, and to be honest I wish I'd just waited. Here's the history of how VR went for me last year:

* Pre-ordered Vive and Rift, planning to keep whichever one arrived first.

* The Rift encountered tremendous shipping issues.

* I got the Vive pretty much on launch day, so I figured I'd cancel the Rift order.

* I was blown away by room-scale in the Vive initially, but really disappointed in the visual quality. It wasn't just the resolution or screen-door effect. I was shocked to find how small the sweet spot is and how much of the image is out of focus around the edges. I was shocked at the godrays and various other optical phenomena.

* Because the Rift was said to have a much clearer picture than the Vive, I decided not to cancel the order.

* By the time the Rift arrived (in late July I believe), I had basically stopped using the Vive because I'd run out of content and the only new content coming out was incredibly unpolished Early Access indie stuff. Some of the games people are talking about here like Space Pirate Trainer or Holopoint I grew bored of by June of 2016. They're not new.

* The Rift was immediately more comfortable, the picture looked a lot clearer despite having the same resolution, and it was a big relief not needing to worry about separate headphones anymore.

* While I enjoyed the charm of Lucky's Tale and Chronos reminded me of Dark Souls, I couldn't get into any of the other seated content, so the Rift fell into disuse rather quickly. Keep in mind that if you're into racing sims or flight sims there's already a wealth of content for you -- but I'm not into those things (and I did try them).

* I entered a limbo where I didn't know what to do, which to sell (perhaps both?). I decided to preorder Touch, hoping that the Rift+Touch would be decisively better than the Vive and my decision would be made for me.

* Touch arrived in December. The controllers themselves were great. The tracking was not. It was a real pain to set up. I fiddled with it endlessly. The tracking software itself seemed to have glitches. It was really sensitive to which USB ports I used. Eventually I got the tracking working acceptably after my third sensor arrived -- still not as good as the tracking on the Vive, though, which was basically perfect.

* I've been experiencing a brief VR renaissance with the new Touch content, which is generally a lot more polished than anything on the Vive. However, most of it is purely multiplayer, which I'm not really into.

* Rift+Touch is not decisively better than the Vive, but I've somewhat arbitrarily decided to just keep it and sell the Vive, largely because it's the system that I currently have set up.

In retrospect, I wish I'd just waited an extra year or two. VR with tracked controllers and room-scale is definitely cool and I don't think it's a gimmick, but it's still very much in early adopter territory right now.

>> 4. Large companies solving the primary hardware problems: headset and input innovation plus distribution. I think this might be too expensive for startups to tackle.

Translation: Because startups are for software and if your idea is hard you should probably not bother.

Isn't this article a couple years late considering it is YC publishing it?

Maybe he should have waited a week before writing something under the wow effect.

So, how do you overcome the motion sickness / nausea problem?

1. Headsets have got a lot better - high persistence displays and refresh rates no lower than 90Hz

2. Game designers have learnt to avoid many of the things that exacerbate the problem. Avoiding acceleration and lateral motion, giving visual clues such as cages, use of vignetting.

Having said that - it stopped being a problem within the first few weeks. I'm now happily strafing around in Doom 3 BFG right after dinner without a care in the world!

I can already imagine multiple wearable mechanical contraptions to enhance the VR experience injecting orientation and acceleration to the mix. This is huge.

I spent ~$20 on a Evo and updated youtube and was very impressed. would I spend ~$1000 on the head stuff probably not but for ~20 you can't beat the it.

VR might explode once the hardware can convey our actual facial expressions.

Once that happens, there will be strong forces could tip:

* Offices/meetings

* Learning institutions

* Socializing with friends who aren't close by

* ...

I kind of wonder if stuff like that is going to require new levels of body-computer interfaces(contact lens, eye implants, brain implants). It's hard to figure out someone's exact facial expression when they have a headset covering most of their face. And if you don't get the facial expressions perfectly, you're going to have uncanny valley and miscommunication.

Yeah, I would assume some combination of eye-tracking and facial scanning might work.

There is research into translating real facial movements onto a digital model. If you are wearing a headset already, I am sure there is something that could be done to 'scan' facial movements.

Face-hugger HMDs?

Maybe infrared camera inside the HMD + another camera mounted to outside of HMD?

I'm not getting into VR until Linux support is there. Every major vendor promised it. It's been long enough. More than long enough.

Why do you think that VR requires Linux support to succeed?

I'm long past the mentality of software having to run on each and every platform, especially Linux. I love my Mac for work with software development, my Linux to deploy my servers to, and my Windows to play the latest games. Best of ALL worlds.

> Why do you think that VR requires Linux support to succeed?

Virtual Reality systems need to support Linux because they need to be built around Free Software: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-even-more-impor...

It is essential that we as computer programmers work towards making virtual reality systems respect people's freedom.

This is a problem of basic ethics and morality. You can say "I don't care" all you want and buy into the proprietary systems, that just means you are literally paying money to build out the surveillance police state infrastructure.

Fair point. Haven't look at it from this angle. Thank you.

Stallman! What have we told you about coming out in daylight hours and bothering regular folk...

>Why do you think that VR requires Linux support to succeed?

I never said it does. I simply expect companies to uphold the promises they make, especially the promises they make to Kickstarter backers - many of whom would never have bought into the Oculus Rift if they know Oculus would break their promises on Linux - what use is backing hardware you can't use when it comes out?

None of them big name VR machines have Linux support? Seriously? Are they Windows-exclusive?

HTC Vive supports the OpenVR "standard" - and I believe the HMD from Razer (yep, they make one - yet you never hear a peep about it) is the same.

The Rift doesn't have Linux support (anymore - the original DK1 did), and probably never will. There are some 3rd party reverse-engineered drivers for it, but they are limited in only allowing for the display to turn on, and view the output, plus a couple of other minor things. Tracking isn't supported, from what I recall.

For what its worth, I'm not even sure whether the Vive or the Razer offering even fully supports Linux; oftentimes you see things like "support for openwidget" actually meaning "Windows and Mac version of openwidget only".

The best way to get Linux HMD/VR support is the old-school, homebrew PC VR way (you know, the way Palmer did it before Occulus) - hack it yourself.

http://www.osvr.org/hdk2.html is the only Linux-supporting headset. It's open source and would very much appreciate contributors...

Oculus stopped Linux support with this blog post: https://www3.oculus.com/en-us/blog/powering-the-rift/

Their Linux support sucked anyway. They only got their unity plugin working on Linux actually one day before they published this blog post. They never supported unreal engine on linux even though they said they were working on it before the DK2 even came out.

A Valve rep has said in an interview before the Vive release that they intended to have Linux support on launch. The preorders showed SteamOS support, but they changed it right before the actual launch: https://i.imgur.com/MA2377D.png

Valve has given a demonstration with SteamVR on Linux, but they have yet to release anything to the public.

The OSVR SDK and the OSVR HDK2 work on Linux. But only with their core SDK. Their unity plugin and their unreal engine plugin still do not work on Linux. So far I haven't found an application with OSVR SDK support that works on linux.

Same here.

Buying a windows device specifically for the VR toy? No ability to use VR for real work on non-Windows machine (if possible)? No thanks

Just finished reading Ready Player One, and have never put on a VR unit. This post is timely. I can see having a very similar reaction.

Let's hope our world doesn't end up like that one, where society goes to shit because everyone would rather live in a fake world than deal with the problems. It would also be kind of disappointing if ETs follow the same course, and that's the reason we don't hear from them.

What's the model for building apps, then. Oculus is owned by Facebook. How do you create a game - does it require a paid SDK?

You can use either Unity or Unreal Engine - both are free to develop. They cut into your returns, though.

Some people are talking about app building. Unity and Unreal 4 are both game engines which means they run simulations. Since they use C# and C++ among other languages, and the target is desktop PC, you can run any software. They both also have other ways to write logic with triggers or blueprints, etc.

You could develop for WebVR (https://mozvr.com). That way you can publish whatever you want, no gatekeepers, and will eventually have instant distribution to anyone with a browser and headset.

Baloney. Unless the form factor improves significantly, this will disappear again quickly.

AR has a much much better shot at mass market adoption.

When companies stop selling prototypes for full price maybe I'll get one of these. For now it's just another toy full of unaccomplished promises and useless hype, waiting to be abandoned for the user after experiencing motion sickness. No immersion at all and nothing impressive at this very moment. Considering I'm hearing it's the "future" since virtual boy... this future is waiting too much to be reached.

Does anyone know if there is a correlation between the future of VR and the eyecare industry?

Probably not in the way you'd expect.

My optometrist is very enthusiastic about VR - apparently the way focusing works in VR puts a lot less strain on your eye muscles than staring at a screen.

I'm nearsighted, and I play with my glasses off. It's much less strain on my eyes TBH.

Yep, this is why game company www.gameover.la is moving to VR. The potential is huge.

How is VR "physical" when you are tethered to a computer?

The cable is very long and it is "room-scale" (You can move around), meaning games involve actually moving around.

And soon there will be wireless adapters.

Just to clarify this point: by "soon", we mean in this context "a few months".

TP-Link has one coming very soon indeed, I believe: http://vrscout.com/news/htc-tether-less-vive-upgrade/


The problem with "room scale" is very few people have a (near empty) room in their households which they can dedicate to a single-user VR experience. Every user in the household would need their own room (hmm - will new homes be advertised with these as "upgrades"?)...

I have a 2m x 2m area in the basement I use. I wish I had a little more space but it works well most of the time. The low ceiling is the problem - your brain is so convinced that there is sky or a high ceiling above you that you try to throw something over your head and smash the controller into the ceiling. I have marks on the walls and drywall dust embedded in my controllers. The chaperone boundaries can't do anything to warn you about that and those mistakes happen too quickly anyway.

Yeah, it is. I am hesitant to buy a couch for this reason. I live in a studio by myself and basically my entire living room is a VR space and it is still pretty small.

You move your upper body a lot. You also move your legs more than you might think, to peek around things, dodge, or line up shots.

We need more women to get into VR. Not some SJW thing, young 20 something techy dudes just don't shop enough. Future malls will be in VR, and it'll be awesome, but right now the wrong demographics are using VR.

I'd bet more on AR.

Personally, as someone who has issues in crowds, I would shop so much if I could try things in AR.

Currently there are no VR porn games for female either. And it's not because it's not fun for them (NSFW): https://vimeo.com/198344395

I expect lightweight, ergonomic VR or AR to replace desktop monitors in a few years. which means desks may no longer be needed. time to short IKEA - oh wait they re not listed.

Like most people, I'm completely sick when I'm in VR. I don't see how the VR could become mainstream if they don't fix this problem.

Which VR headsets have you tried? The problem's wildly worse in some than others.

I've only ever seen one person find the Vive at all uncomfortable, for example. Whereas the Oculus DK1... yeah, that was vomit city, population you.

> Like most people

Most people?

I've run 20+ people of all ages (4-63) through my Vive setup and the only person that got nauseous was a guy trying out Project Cars (a seated experience), and that was only after an extended period in the game.

Which people are you talking about? VR is amazing and it is the future. I just asked eveyrone around me and everyone wants it yesterday.

i cant see myself with vr.

    Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be 
    perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this 
    growing up.
I don't see this panning out ever. If "virtual reality" went beyond being room based, then it doesn't really seem like the same idea as virtual reality. And I don't think anyone thinks it's healthy to bump around a small office room.

Harkens back to the 'playing Wii is exercise' movement.

    Because VR is so immersive, I can imagine myself spending 
    significant amounts of time (hours) with a headset on, 
    every day.
While there's plenty of room for improvement, this doesn't sound particularly healthy. It's eerily similar to taping lightbulbs to your eyelids and expecting good results. Even if the light level were healthy, the close screen and lenses could do damage to focus. I would definitely talk to real eye doctors before planning around this idea. But then again, I'm nearsighted just from reading books and using the computer.

This is also a naïve attitude as anyone who has or has developed for VR knows that a little time goes a long way.

    As a result, gaming will not be the only significant use 
    case for VR. My headset will steal time time from other 
    screens (tv/laptop/phone) and as a result there will be an 
    explosion of VR consumer apps, entertainment apps, 
    developer tools, and more.
The virtual office concept is nuts. There is never going to be a time when the cost per pixel of virtual monitors outperforms real monitors. VR is inherently selfish, so there's very little room for opening up collaboration. A dry erase board gives a better sense of community.

    If I am right, over the next five years we will see the 
    following: 100 million devices distributed.
That's certainly possible but I don't understand the leap from, "this device is cool," to "this is a necessity." When I first saw 3D TV's I thought, "hey, this is great!" but they aren't sold in my local electronics stores any longer.

I do think VR is cool. I think it's great that Oculus was able to kickstart all the way to Facebook, and I think the Vive is an even better product. The smartphone VR is a neat way to get rid of wires. And there are plenty of great games and applications, where the community is just getting started.

But I don't think this is the revolution that people are pinning on it. In ways, VR devices are glorified view masters. Everyone loved those as a child but they are a toy. (The armed forces pay a lot for 'serious games' as well, so it isn't a discount.) I think if many people who tried VR tried a Nintendo 3DS they might also love it. And if you tried head tracking on a normal display it might also be exciting.

I don't like the infatuation with VR. It's not healthy and it's only going to make things more disappointing when the bubble bursts. It also rings hollow.

I have mixed feelings about the potential of VR, and seeing YC pushing for it makes me reconsider my position. Let me explain.

I preordered the HTC Vive as soon as it was available in Europe. I got it shipped and the excitement couldn't be bigger. When I first tried, I was blown away. It was an experience I never had had before. I described it once as the single, most beautiful digital experience in my life. And I really mean it.


Once the newness wears away, it's hard to find a motivation to keep spending hours in VR. It's cutting-edge tech, no doubt about it. But it requires a certain kind of commitment that you just can't give it for a long time. Using room-scale VR requires you to have a dedicated, large space just for VR. You need to detach yourself completely from the outside world while using it. You can't play it casually. You need to be a 100% committed to it. Compared to many other digital experiences, it's an all-in or nothing approach.

While playing on the PC, you need to be sitting in front of your PC. It's fine, because you can still read texts on your phone or talk to your family members that are passing by. Playing console games is even less of an issue, since you can be in your living room, sitting at the sofa, playing your favorite game. Using a tablet, or your phone is even more casual. You can do it in the middle of many everyday tasks, without it being an issue at all. At most, it's a distraction.

So after a while, VR becomes this great experience to be had only a few, limited times a week, or even a month.

Let's talk VR games. When the Vive started shipping world-wide, you would see tons and tons of VR content shipping to Steam. Unfortunately, most of them were short, alpha-stage demos, showcasing the new technology. But not a single deep, long game. You would pay full price for games that would not last more than 3 hours total. It's been many months now, and besides Bethesda's Fallout 4 coming to VR in 2017, there is just no other AAA title in sight!

I loved playing Pool Nation VR! I could play it with people from all around the world. It's honestly the closest you can get to a real pool table gameplay. But then again, after only a couple of months after its launch, it was next to impossible to even find a person available for playing online! The matchmaker would go for more then 10 minutes without finding a single opponent. I tried it many times, then I gave up.

The non-game aspect of VR seemed to have potential as well. But as of today, besides some gimmicky drawing applications or low-res virtual movie theaters, there just isn't a single app that would make you think that VR is the next big thing.

I was really excited about AltspaceVR. In the beginning, it was vibrant, with lots of people meeting and exploring this new way of socializing with other people from all around the globe. Guess what? It's pretty empty right now, not even a fraction of what it used to be the first few weeks after launch.

Still, I am going to reconsider selling the Vive now. I had pictures taken and a description prepared to sell it through a second-hand online store. Maybe there is more to it than it appears. Maybe the next-gen VR sets are going to be wireless and much, much less isolating (AR anybody?). We shall see...

Hey there, I work at AltspaceVR. I was sad to see you think things seem like they are empty, but I guess I thought I'd mention a few things that might be useful. First, a large percentage of people using AltspaceVR these days meet in private activities with their friends (something we didn't offer in the beginning) so it can be a bit misleading to know how many people are actually hanging out just based on who is in a public space. Spending time in VR with people you actually know and care about is a transformative experience, so we've tried to find the right way to introduce these types of features while still acknowledging that the connected graph of VR owners is still quite sparse.

That said there are still many people who prefer to meet new people in public spaces and activities (for example about 30-40 people are hanging out right now in there) so there's always some people around to meet up with. We're past the point where things are ever completely empty, there is always someone in there to hang out with (and worst case, you can hang out with our 24/7 concierge service staff who we have in there making sure new users have a good experience :))

Also, because as you mention that it is, generally, hard to get a whole ton of people together in VR at the same time because it is so new, we try to throw lots of VR events that give people an excuse to come together. Its during these types of events that we've set record highs for the number of concurrent people in VR. This weekend, for example, we have a SpaceX launch event and an encore (recorded) performance of Reggie Watts and Justin Roiland. (Our events schedule is here: https://account.altvr.com/events/featured) We also have a weekly VR dance party called Echo Space that gets more wild each time we do it. (It's a great excuse for us to try new tech :))

I'd def encourage you to swing by and check us out during one of our events, things do definitely get bumping :)

This matches the experience that I've had personally with VR. Maybe if a future phone-based mobile headset with quality hardware (i.e. decent controls a la Daydream or Leap Motion and inside-out tracking) comes to exist, then the commitment level will decrease dramatically and recurring use will increase.


would vr worsen myopia?

Kind of odd that it takes yc this long to understand such a world changing technology. And their point is that other vcs are even more pessimistic and unexcited about technology.

It really shows you how absolutely myopic and limited the current startup ecosystem is. Many thousands of people could tell VR was real this time back when Oculus did a Kickstarter. But vcs take +n years? Shows how much room for improvement there is, I suppose.

Agreed. In fact I found this post a little obnoxious. Not only is it an observation that is at least two years behind the times, it offers no new insight into everything that we've learned about VR in those last two years. Heck, we're already seeing the first round of VR startup closures (VRideo and Envelop VR among others), something we'll only see more of in 2017. It's exactly what was to be expected and not a sign of the death of VR. But nonetheless a culling will take place and there's a lot more we know now about what areas are and aren't viable in the current and near-future VR ecosystem. I would have far preferred a post from YC titled something like: "How To Think About VR Startups In 2017".

You make a good point - many investors (maybe us as well) don't start thinking a new technology is cool until they can investing in companies using or leveraging that technology... From a user perspective though, I bought Oculus Rift dk2 and thought it was horrible. The user experience has come a long way since then.

What is different now, compared to when Oculus did Kickstarter years ago, that would be the reason why you want to pay attention on VR now? Is it just that the hardware is better, or are there other reason for you to think the timing is now right as opposed to years ago when Oculus did KS

It's weird, he keeps misspelling AR. ;)

I think VR is still too focused on mainly males who are young and tech-savy. It can only grow so much while focusing on this demographic.

I got involved in social media, and many smart-phone enabled technologies or apps (and many other things now that I think about it), because the popular kids at school were using them. I personally haven't seen this adoption by social trend setters happen with VR yet.

But take gaming (or the web) for example - same subset of the market, and gaming is now a huge market and culturally significant.

However, there was, in certain respects, a kind of community for those above examples that I don't really see.

Maybe there's some path to get before the inflection point happens.

That could be the bio of any tech. iPhones were this when they came out, now everyone has an iPhone. The adoption rate is not as immediately obvious with VR though.

I think smartphones were this when they came out. Apple succeeded because they figured out how to sell smartphones to the popular crowd. It will be interesting to see who can do this for VR.

Nobody wants VR. You can try and ram it down our throats all you want with TV adds showing befuddled old people discovering the wonders of a phone strapped to their head, or calling VR systems a "hot Christmas gift," but that won't change the fact that nobody wants it. It's too awkward, and it makes the user too vulnerable. You cannot create this market.

Your message reminds me of Steve Ballmer, 2007:

> "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance," said Ballmer. "It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get."

But that's probably because I agree with the posted article, and think VR will have a very big future.

While witty, your comparison to the Ballmer quote has nothing to do with what I said. I didn't say "VR won't do well because people are cheap," I didn't say "VR won't do well because many similar, lower-tech products meet its needs fine." Further, the iPhone was immediately well-received and a huge success for Apple. VR products are not taking off, and will not do so. I'm not commenting on a press release or a tech demo. These things are carried by major electronics stores today.

If the headsets cost $50, they'd still be a novelty. Case in point: Many cell phone users have the ability to use some of this technology today with a low-cost addon. I'm no hermit and apart from some reddit posts, I have yet to see a single person using any VR device.

I repeat, most people don't want VR, and even most who do find it underwhelming at best, nauseating at worst. The comments here are evidence of that.

AR is another matter. AR has a bright future.

About 15% of my gaming guild has either rift or oculus. A guy at my 100 person office picked it up over christmas. Basically 100% of gamers say they want VR at least eventually - they at worst think that the current tech is cumbersome (wires or space concerns) or that there aren't compelling games out yet. Contrary to your reasoning that "most people don't want this", I find that everybody does want VR. How do you reconcile this?

I want VR. And judging from user reaction to the VR experiences I've created, quite a few other people do too.

The market's there. You can argue about the size of it, fine. But it's definitely there.

Nobody wants VR _as it is currently implemented_. With goggles the size of glasses, no tether, and the ability to see around you at the flick of a switch, it would take over the planet. That could be a while off though.

Hololens gets around the 2nd limitation, and I believe many headsets already have cameras for seeing around.

I agree that the current implementation is cumbersome, but it's getting there fast.

I do tend to put VR and AR together, for the general public they're mostly the same, although I believe AR is the real deal.

AR done properly should be a superset of VR.

Personally I don't want VR until it is divorced from motion controls. I hate motion based control schemes.

What do you mean? You can play with joysticks and whatnot in some (most?) games e.g. Elite Dangerous

Your comment isn't popular, but I believe there are more folks who agree with you (silently) than would admit. Let's have a similar conversation about 3D Printing.

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