Virtual reality headsets become a rising trend in 2016

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Matthew Krieger, Staff Writer

Ten years ago the concept of virtual reality would only be found in science fiction books and movies; however, just a couple of years ago, a company called Oculus created a prototype of a virtual reality headset called the “Rift.” At the time; however, the “Rift” was not available to the consumer, only to developers.

Now in the year 2016, the two companies, Oculus and HTC/Steam, plan to release the consumer version of a virtual reality headset capable of convincing the wearer that they are in an alternate reality. Steam is a branch off of Valve Corporation that sells games for the PC, while Oculus is a branch off of Facebook.

In March of 2014, Mark Zuckerberg saw the rising trend in wanting the idea of being in a game or experiencing something imaginary, so he bought Oculus for 2 billion dollars. He hoped that he could use this not only in an effort to make Facebook popular again, but to keep up with today’s demand for gaming.

There have been five different models and improvements since the first version. It works by having two different monitors (one for each eye), motion sensors on the head mount for head rotation and angling and sensors to mark the area of the room.

Shortly after Facebook made their purchase of the company, Valve saw it as a perfect opportunity to make a competitor product. With help from HTC, they made their own prototype called the “Vive.” The design is pretty much the same; there are sensors on the head mount and for the room, but Valve decided to add motion controllers to further the experience and two front mounted cameras. Oculus is using an Xbox One controller, which limits the ‘virtual’ aspect.

Although this is groundbreaking technology and bound to improve, the price, however, will probably not. The cheaper of the two VR headsets is Oculus with a base price of $599.99. It includes the headset itself along with an Xbox One controller. The Vive, on the other hand, is slightly more expensive with a price of $799.99. The main reason is most likely because of the controllers. They are all based on motion compared to the limitations of an Xbox One controller. Also, with the front cameras, countless sensors, and a big name like Valve, the price reflects the quality. Preorders for these products can be found on their respective websites.

But before you take out your credit cards, be aware that you need a powerful PC in order for it to run smoothly. Both companies specifically noted that in order to get the full experience, your computer needs to be able to run games on two screens simultaneously at a frame rate of 90 or more. The minimum specifications for the computer are a GTX 970 graphics card or equivalent and an Intel i5 4590 processor or equivalent. Both of these items range from 200-300 dollars.