Virtual Reality (VR) technology is something that is spoken about in awestruck tones. And after getting a hands-on demo of HTC Vive – a VR headset, we can certainly vouch for being completely awestruck. We spent some time using the Vive and here are our impressions.
What is the Vive VR headset?
HTC has partnered with Valve Corporation, an American game developer company, to come up with a virtual realityheadset which literally takes gaming to another level. Ever imagined what would it be like to be inside the game? Well, yes that’s what Vive VR does. It has two 1080*1200OLED displays – one for each eye and give you a 100 degree field view.
The headset will certainly not be winning any awards in the looks category. The hardware itself looks like something from a science fiction movie. It’s a headset that looks bulky and you’re strapped with a few wires around your head that are connected to a PC. You also have two wireless controllers that come with a clickable touchpad. It’s a bit surreal to use the whole “equipment” but it’s nothing compared to what follows.
I was placed in a small room with two chairswhere the headset was attached to a computer. One of HTC’s executives helped me strap on the headset and even though I wear glasses, it was easy to use the headset. For what was perhaps less than 30 seconds – but felt like much longer – while the machine is powered on, I stood in pitch darkness with headphones on my ears and eyes covered with the headset. What followed was simply incredible.
The first demo took me underwater and I was standing on the deck of a shipwreck. Shoals of fish suddenly came around me and for a few minutes it felt like I was genuinely underwater. While I was taking in the surroundings, a blue whale suddenly crept up behind me and as surreal as it may sound, it actually looked into my eyes. It may read like I am exaggerating but it was incredibly lifelike.
The second demo wasn’t meant for people like me – someone who can’t draw a straight line but nevertheless this showcased the handiness of the wireless controllers. It was a 3D painting experience where you use the controllers as a brush and can use them to draw anything. You can use abstract scenes of fire and light and the best I could muster was to write my name in fire next to a very beautiful looking moon.
What and when to expect?
HTC recently announced that the Vive VR headsets would be available only from April 2016. Serious gamers should mark the date in their calendars. However, its feasibility and functionality will raise a few questions. For starters, if you’ve an old desktop – by that I mean even a couple of years – the Vive VR won’t run on it. HTC still hasn’t clarified whether it can be used on existing gaming consoles and if yes then how does one use it. Even the pricing of the product hasn’t been settled yet. But let it be said that when the Vive VR actually hits the markets and becomes readily available, it will change the gaming world for sure as it certainly one of the most impressive products to have come out in the last few years.