Hardware Virtual Reality

VR is here

I mean, virtual reality is here in my home. I bought a Rift S. The price was so good as I got $50 off the $399 list and I had two $50 gift certificates. At $250, it was a no brainer. Of course, the week before I went and dropped down eleven Benjamins on a Nvidia 2080 TI graphics card so my sense of bargain-hunting is a little off-kilter.

Now the "server" I bought for cluster research, Kubernetes administration, and low-latency programming explorations has, as originally envisioned, morphed into a pretty good gaming PC and a suitable VR-ready playground.

I think everyone knows that someday VR will take off, but the take off date seems to be a moving target. By take off I mean, everyone will have it like everyone has a smartphone. Well maybe everyone doesn't believe this but I sure do.

But the take-off date is similar to that of AI's take-off date. Everyone knows we'll figure out Artificial General Intelligence one day but the date of discovery keeps moving forward. Of course, VR taking off is a lot more likely to happen in the next decade than AGI but no-one really knows.

So while the movie Ready Player One was disappointing, the book written by Ernest Cline painted a fantastic vision of a VR future, albeit the story chose a dystopian narrative. I think it will be impossible to create a truly immersive VR experience without extensive AI assisting in world-creation. A human artist, or even a team of human artists, can only place so many trees and boars before they go insane. A computer will need to do that and do it well.

I've wanted to get a VR headset for years, but either the tech didn't seem ready or the desire to obtain such a magical possession never exceeded my budget for frivolous purchases.

Yet here we are.

One of the tipping points for me was my current crusade to interest my kids in programming. My kids are avid PC gamers yet VR hasn't been on their radar so getting some VR gear and forcing it on them seemed like a good idea or at least good enough excuse for me to finally get something at home.

Rift S

I chose the Oculus Rift S over the Oculus Quest because while the mobility of the Quest was tempting, the device's image fidelity is inferior to the PC-powered Rift. The Vive seems very high-end, expensive, and while I was tempted to get a headset that would stress our my powerful 2080 TI, the cost was prohibitive. So here I am.

I was pretty bored during setup as the Rift S installation makes you watch these boring safety videos. I mean, yeah, yeah, yeah.

They make you trace out your real-world play area very carefully through their Guardian setup and have a lot of customization options on how to tweak the Guardian system's sensitivity parameters. This is the way the virtual "box" of your real-world play area is projected into your virtual reality so you don't smack furniture, your dog, or your child while immersed in the virtual environment du jour. It seemed like unnecessary precautions to me because of course I knew what I was doing and I'm not a dumbass.

Then I played one of the free games Spider Man: Far from Home, and nearly fell on my ass due to the VR was so disorienting! It was at this time that I remembered my friend, who has a lot of experience in VR, told me a story of this guy he knew had a VR-induced accident. Evidently this chap suffered from the same disorientation I felt when I played Spider Man and he lost his balance, fell, and broke his fucking nose!

So now I'm careful and I tell my children to be very careful.

More VR experiences are coming and I can't wait to write about them.