Greetings to all who are interested in technology, modern gadgets and the development of virtual reality. Today I will tell you what virtual reality is in an adult way. No cartons with lenses for smartphones, only the effect of complete immersion, and only the VR platform gives it. If you want to know what virtual reality technology can really do, this article is for you.
What it is
Let’s start with a general concept of the device. Unlike conventional headsets, which give the so-called “false” virtual reality, the platform is able to completely transfer all your actions (and even sensations, if equipped with tactile and sound modules) into a virtually simulated world.
Simply put, if the headset deceives the eye, the platform interacts with the whole body. This gives a completely different level of immersion and greatly expands the possibilities of VR.
I want to note that the platform and VR glasses are different components. Sometimes they are sold together as a single set, but usually you have to buy them separately. The most commonly used VR headsets are HTC Vive (Pro, Focus, etc.) or Oculus Rift.
The platform itself is a device that reads the movements of your legs and arms, transferring them to the virtual world. For example, if in some shooter or simulator you had to press the WASD buttons to move, then on the platform you will have to do each step physically. The same applies to the transfer of other actions (evasion, attacks, shooting from various weapons, etc.) that are transferred to the virtual world.
VR platforms are mainly used in the gaming field, although experts predict mass use in other areas: training, tactical simulation, etc. Moreover, projects are already being launched to help fight obesity. Getting rid of extra pounds right during the game is a very good idea. Let’s see how it will be implemented in practice.
How the virtual platform works
I will describe the device of the VR platform and the principles of its operation. It consists of the following elements:
- running panel;
- housing lock;
- special shoes;
- controllers (hand controllers or weapons for shooters).
The package may vary depending on the model and manufacturer, but the number of elements is constant.
The main role belongs to the sensors – the basis of the whole technology. They are literally stuffed everywhere. Their task is to record all movements and transmit them as a signal to the space simulated by the helmet.
The signal speed will depend not only on the model (the cheaper versions have fewer sensors and a delay is likely), but also on the power of the PC.
In addition to technical equipment, the most important element of the platform is the mount, which is necessary to stabilize the position of the player, prevent accidental falls and injuries. In advanced models, a ring-shaped mount is used. It fixes the body around the waist with a special belt, preventing falls and flying out of the platform even with sharp body tilts.
There are “mobile mounts”, for example, as in KAT WALK VR. In them, the player’s body is also fixed with a ring at the waist, but gives a little more freedom for movement (due to the fastening on the lower back). First of all, the dependence on the player’s build is reduced, and this type of attachment also improves vertical movements, allowing you to sit down and get up faster (although the quality of the jump suffers from this).
The lower platform, or walkway as it is called, is responsible for transmitting traffic signals. Various sensors are built into the gimbal. They record the degree of pressure, movement, weight, etc. They are synchronized with platforms built into the body in order to capture all movements in the VR simulation as accurately as possible.
There are models that include a special chair or even a vertical bench to simulate flight. They are used for racing, aircraft and other simulators. Although the sensors and some features in such platforms may differ, there are no fundamental technological differences between them. Only the overall design of the VR station and the direction of the games are changing.
Advantages and disadvantages
I will dwell on the main pros and cons of VR stations. I want to clarify that I take into account not only the capabilities of the technology, but also other criteria – price, convenience, overall functionality, etc.
The only thing that I will not take into account is the quality of the content and the operation of the glasses, since this does not apply to the VR stations themselves.
Among the advantages it is worth highlighting:
- The only full-fledged opportunity to immerse yourself in games with virtual reality.
- New experience and sensations. This is not only about displaying real actions in the game world, but also tactile sensations: some models are able to transmit them.
- Physical activity during the game, comparable in intensity to sports loads.
- Versatility. Modern platforms are easily reconfigured for any game from racing simulators to shooters and fighting games.
Naturally, each platform needs its own controllers, shoes and a set of gadgets that come with the kit.
It’s hard to give general advice for people who prefer different categories of games (or even educational simulations). I hope my recommendations will help you make the right choice, regardless of your preferences:
- It is best to choose universal platforms. They are suitable for most games, you can stand, run, jump, sit, etc. with them.
- Be sure to test the platform before buying. There are cases when players have a feeling of nausea, which is associated with the work of the vestibular apparatus.
- Without a pronounced financial benefit, choose the basic package. Most often, additional elements to the platforms can be purchased separately and at no extra cost.
- You should choose a platform only after purchasing a virtual reality helmet.
Keep in mind that you will need a powerful PC that is capable of delivering consistent FPS in VR applications.
Rating of the best VR platforms
I will give an example of the most advanced and popular models. These platforms have already proven themselves and can be considered the best choice in their category.
- WizDish ROVR. Budget model, very popular for home use. At a price of 90,000 – 100,000 rubles, it allows you to fully play in VR mode.
- KAT Walk VR. A popular model for various shooters, rpg games and other games in which you need to change your body position frequently. Allows you to do quick crouches or jumps, which is important for shooters. The average price is 345-360 thousand rubles.
- Virtuix Omni. The most sensational models, which belongs to the top category. Compact dimensions make it easy to install the platform in the house. Suitable for any games. The station and a complete
- set of gadgets (controllers, shoes, etc.) will cost 750,000 rubles.
Cyberith Virtualizer is a premium model. Suitable for any game, has the most advanced sensor system and does not require special shoes to use the platform. Features realistic running and greater freedom of action. The cost of the station and a complete set of equipment is 850-900 thousand rubles.
In the review, I did not take into account improved versions of platforms, such as Cyberith Virtualizer Elite or KAT Walk Premium. Although they provide some advantages, they do not have fundamental differences from the basic options.
Platforms have perfectly complemented the possibilities of virtual reality, bringing us closer to the concept of VR that is shown in science fiction films. Against the background of augmented reality, this is a serious step forward and the first truly significant achievements of technology that can finally be “felt”.
However, the price of VR equipment makes this fun available only to a limited number of users who are willing to give for a new experience in games from 150,000 (the cheapest set of glasses and VR stations) to amounts exceeding 1 million rubles.
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