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The year of future gear VR set to blur the lines between creativity and reality

PHOTO COURTESY OCULUS VR

The latest piece of technology that is ready for the consumer marketplace is virtual reality, and it’s about to land in a big way.

Virtual reality headsets, like the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR are hitting stores this year, with the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift already available.

It is a little different than cordless phones replacing landlines, however.

Virtual reality is an experience on its own but one that often builds upon an existing entertainment medium.

Putting on a VR headset immerses the users into the game they are playing and augments reality to give the feeling of actually being in that world. Instead of running with a joystick, a VR user might move his arms quicker to increase running speed. The world you interact with is all around you, in 360 degrees, instead of just at the TV screen or computer monitor you are looking at.

Video gaming is a field that is often trying to come up with innovative technology and change the way gamers play.

PlayStation’s version of VR technology is set to be released this October. PSVR which will run with existing PS4s, retails for $399, which is $200 less than their competitors at Oculus Rift, which will run on high-end PCs.

Despite the price tag of $599, the founder of Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey, said pre-orders were going “much better than I ever could have possibly expected” during a conference hosted by Texas-based hardware company Dell.Facebook acquired Oculus Rift in 2014 for $2 billion.

On campus, there is no shortage of tech savvy individuals who are eagerly anticipating the arrival of VR headsets.

Joseph Nwankpa, a computer information systems assistant professor, is among those who plan to get an Oculus Rift soon.

“I see virtual reality as something that allows us to not only utilize our sense of seeing, but immersing ourselves in an environment that would not otherwise be possible,” Nwankpa said. “Virtual reality allows us to take that leap.” thought it would be successful
in consumer markets.

gradually going to get to [the consumers]. When you look at virtual reality, you realize that it’s being applied in more sophisticated platforms,” Nwankpa said. “For instance, in He explained why he “It’s something that is the military they are using virtual reality to simulate fighter jets. These are cases where they have to use something to put you in that environment. Of course, this is going to trickle down into much more basic, consumer products.”

The computer information systems professor, who teaches on the Edinburg campus, said that early adopters of the products often have done the most background research. He feels like they wouldn’t need to be extra cautious about what they are getting into.

Sophomore Lawrence Hernandez plans to be one of those early adopters.He will receive a Samsung Gear VR in April.

“From an outside viewpoint you see someone and you don’t understand.When you’re in it you realize how a technology can take you into another world,” the computer engineering major said. “The Samsung VR is the best one because it’s only $100 and it uses your phone, so it’s an entryway. If you’re nervous about it you don’t have to spend $600, like the Oculus.”

He said the introduction to VR with phones will help out the more expensive VR products, making users into believers.

“People will be more likely to buy into it. If that wasn’t there I can see [the release] being really clunky, because it’s $500-plus,” Hernandez said. “When you finally try it, I tried [Oculus] once when it was in the demo stage, it was really good. When you try it you don’t forget how it felt. Once you try it you’ll understand.”

This year will be the year that gamers, movie-watchers and even roller-coaster riders will be able to get their hands on VR tech. Time will tell how the market reacts to the technology and if it will become successful.

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