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Many are those who have been on the edge of their seating waiting for significant breakthroughs in augmented reality technology. For some it always seemed like it is only going to be in the distant future that you could put a headset on and a interact with life like projections in your room. Microsoft have shown that this is not the case with their striking and prodigious HoloLens.
The HoloLens has been available now for just over one year. While it’s still not available on a consumer level, the headset is available for commercial and educational purposes. Depending on your intent, the purchase of a HoloLens set will set you back at least $3,000.
The build quality on this AR viewer is terrific, and must be a big part why the price tag is so steep. In your hands it feels sturdy and definitely not like something that will have to be replaced over a short amount of time. It does however feel like it could scratched easily and lose its aesthetic, but that is probably the same feeling you will get when handling anything relatively expensive that is visually appealing.
How it fits on your head is something you might or might not get used to. Similar to other VR viewers the feeling of immersion is cut back a bit because of the weight on your face. It certainly isn’t a heavy device but it’s still noticeable. The device also tends to slip a bit so you have to keep refitting it from time to time to have it sit comfortably on your face.
The device is untethered which means that it doesn’t have any cables. It’s a whole computer on its own. While this can be nice for maneuvering around a room the downside is that you are limited by battery life. The battery life on the HoloLens could use some improvement as it currently only lasts about 2.5 hours on heavy use.
The projects made by the HoloLens are made to look quite realistic. They are sharp, vibrant and vivid and behave like real objects. You could walk around them and look at them from different angles. You can almost mistake them for being real objects.
There are numerous ways how you can interact with the projections. Gaze is the first form of input and is a primary form of targeting within mixed reality. The HoloLens uses its position and orientation to determine at which virtual or real-world object the user might be looking at to determine the users intent. This also makes it the easiest way of controlling the HoloLens.
The second way you could control your HoloLens is through voice commands. While voice controls is straightforward sometimes there is a noticeable lag between voice commands and their actual executions. This can be bothersome when you expect everything to run smoothly but every time you have to wonder if the HoloLens is taking its time or just didn’t hear you.
The third way is perhaps the one people would like to use the most, gesture controls. This is where you are actually interacting with the projections by touching, swiping and grabbing them. Perhaps gesture controls might be tricky to start off with as you will need to learn how to move your hands so the HoloLens can actually pick up on the movements.
It is when you learn to control using the HoloLens using all three controls is when you will probably use the device efficiently.
What adds to the realistic mixed reality experience is the spatial audio that comes integrated in the headset. Getting close to certain projections will make sounds get louder. This really provides an extra layer to the illusion of mixed reality.
What is something that we do want to see some improvements in is the Field of View (FOV). At a mere 15 inches it doesn’t come close to covering your eye’s own FOV. The projections are of course limited to the FOV of the HoloLens which means your peripheral vision is not covered.
While the HoloLens is certainly a leader in AR projection it still has room for improvement on many aspects. The software element of the HoloLens will probably get drastically upgraded one it’s in the hands of more developers worldwide. Right now it’s only available in less than 10 countries.
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There are already hundreds of VR games out there and dozens that are highly recommended by their players. The top VR games are always different depending on who you ask. Even so, there are a few games that do stick out as being top-shelf games. The following are our top, cherry-picked VR games that we are sure will appeal to anyone who tries them.
- I Expect You To Die (Oculus Rift, PlayStation® VR)
On the top of our list, we have a puzzle game which has proved to be a prime example of how VR games should be made.
In this escape-room type game you play an elite secret agent who is trying to hinder the evil plot of a villain, in the process you find yourself in life threatening situations and it’s up to you now to make a grand escape. The challenging part is that you only have your problem-solving skills, wit and the power of telekinesis on your hands to solve puzzles, clues, and secrets that will get you to safety.
I Expect You To Die is well polished, very fun to play and has excellent use of VR and motion controls. It is highly recommended to use the Oculus Touch controllers or PlayStation Move motion controllers to experience the complete submersion the game offers.
- Raw Data (HTC Vive, Oculus Touch)
It is the year 2271 in Neo-Shinkuju and the seemingly benign Eden Corporation owns the world. You are part of the Sydik8 which is an elite hacker resistance movement who have figured out that Eden Corp’s intentions with their new line of robotic products are malevolent. As an elite operative, your aim is to destroy Eden Corp. To do so you go on a mission to infiltrate Eden Tower to steal all the Raw Data you possibly can. As the secrets are slowly unwrapping it becomes clear that there is much more than meets the eye.
Raw Data is an action packed virtual reality game with intense an intense gameplay, intuitive controls and amazing graphics that will definitely make you feel submerged into another reality. You can play this game a single-player but you can also go at it as a team of two.
- Vanishing Realms: Rite of Steel (HTC Vive)
Go on an adventure. Grab a weapon in your hand and fight monsters as big as you are in face-to-face melee. The more you engage in battle the better and stronger you become which will give you the ability to fight more powerful and advanced enemies. Take a step back and enjoy the scenery from time to time. Discover treasure chests, weapon shops, undead foes, mystic writing, banished gods, lost artifacts, ancient tombs and a moonlit forest. Make your way deep in the Vanishing Reals and be ready to be taken on a wild ride.
Vanishing Realms is one room-scale VR game that everyone should get their hands on. With this game you don’t need to hit a button to attack, defend or duck – you physically move to perform those actions! One-to-one motion controls and movements make you truly feel like you are actually in the game.
- Arizona Sunshine (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive)
Arizona Sunshine is definitely not just another zombie game. VR shooters might be abundant but take it from us that Arizona Sunshine definitely comes out as one of the better ones.
After an outbreak of zombie, you are left to wonder if there are any survivors any survivors in the post-apocalyptic Grand Canyon state. You suddenly hear someone’s voice over the radio and your hopes are confirmed! It is up to you know to survive the horde of brain eating zombies coming at you if you want to make contact with other humans. Scavenge the environment, loot your enemies and manage your ammo and consumables. You’ll have a big range of weapons like pistols, shotguns, machine pistols, Uzis, sniper rifles, and grenades at your disposal.. if you can manage to find them in abandoned cars and buildings.
This game uses real life weapon handling, you are free to explore your surroundings and offers unprecedented VR realism. Choose for the single player campaign or get a friend to play the co-op multiplayer with you.
- Alien Isolation (Oculus Rift)
If you want a game that will show you fear and have your heart beating at a fast pace then this is the game for you.
When she left Earth, Ellen Ripley promised her daughter Amanda Ripley she would return home for her 11th birthday. Amanda never saw her again. After the disappearance of the Nostromo spacecraft and her mother, Amanda is approached by Christopher Samuels of the Weyland-Yutani corporation. He invites her to go on a mission to retrieve flight recorder of the Nostroma which is onboard another spacecraft, the Sevastopol. Upon arrival, she finds out about a “monster” lurking on the now damaged Sevastopol. Amanda is committed to finding the flight recorder no matter the cost.
What makes this game so great is how it uses your every move to react and deliver a subversive and thrilling experience that makes you not simply want to finish the game but to also gives you the feeling of wanting to survive.
- Assetto Corsa (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, OSVR)
Our favorite VR racing game out there is Assetto Corsa. This is mostly because of its attention to detail, realistic physics, customization, and moldability. The game certainly delivers a realistic driving experience.
With the exception of one track, all locations which you can race your car on has been modeled using laser-scanning technology. Pick between Monza, Silverstone, Imola, Mugello and many more tracks.
To make it all even better, cars have been reproduced with the best accuracy possible with the cooperation of official car manufacturers. You can pick between a multitude of officially licensed content from car manufacturers as McLaren, Scuderia Glickenhaus, Pagani, Porsche, Audi, BMW and much more. There are over eighty cars to choose from!
There are quite a few game modes you can choose from. There is a career mode, special events, quick races, drag races and much more. You play can the game as a single player or in (online) multiplayer modes.
Perhaps one of the most welcoming parts of the game is the ability for 3rd party modifications and customization. So you will be able to download or make your own cars and tracks other players have created
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