While much attention focuses on new VR headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift another revolution is happening in the world of augmented reality (AR). The day may come when these replace smartphones allowing you to project all sorts of things onto the physical world, but for now they are still very much in the early stages.
The biggest problem is that most of the headsets released so far have looks that only a mother could love. However, one is coming out which promises at least a step in the right direction. The Meta 2 has been much-hyped and although it is no oil painting, it is at least much nicer to look at than its contemporaries. It boasts a massive 90-degree field of view which is more expansive than anything else out there.
The technology is tethered, which helps to give it this wide field of view. While other developers such as Microsoft have gone for mobility Meta’s approach is to anticipate future developments and stick with the wired experience.
One thing that might worry you when using this is how you’ll look wearing it – your arms waving about in the air grasping at things which only you can see. While this might be okay if you’re using virtual reality in the privacy of your own home, people might think twice about using this out in public.
However, one thing to remember with this technology is that it is still very much in the early developmental stage. Meta uses a variety of sensors and a high definition camera to map out not only your hands but the environment they are manipulating to create a more seamless user experience, but even now it’s a little rudimentary. You may find yourself having to be quite forceful with content to actually move it. This is moving along quickly and in the future it will be much smoother and more intuitive, but for now there is considerable work to be done.
The future may lie in eye-tracking allowing you to manipulate content just by looking at it. This is more in tune with what consumers want and how they will use the system. This is coming some way down the line, but offers a hint at how developers might transform the undoubted potential of this technology into something which can work from a commercial standpoint.
However, there is something big coming down the line. Magic Leap has so far raised almost $1.4 billion from investors such as Google and is building a light-field which will beam a holographic image directly onto your eye. This will dramatically shrink the size of headsets.
And miniaturisation is indeed the way forward. While today’s headsets look pretty cumbersome, developers insist that in the future they could look like elegant strips of glass. So while Meta may have shortcomings it does offer a tantalising glimpse at a very exciting future.
Here’s some footage of the headset in action, thats been provided by @techcrunch :
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