photo: The VOID

5 Ways VR Will Blow Your Mind this Year

a year of firsts…

Anyone tuned in to the tech world (even remotely) must be aware of the current buzz around virtual reality. Fads perpetually come and go, but sometimes we are lucky enough to witness truly noteworthy developments; industry milestones preceded by immutable hype. VR is one such milestone, and 2016 will mark its grandest debut to the public yet.

These days a technology is hardly worth mentioning unless it is widely accessible, and that is precisely why VR is finally coming to the fore of all tech. For the first time ever, consumers will be able to incorporate VR into their daily lives, and even explore the possibility of virtual content creation. There is a lot to be excited about, so let’s take a look at 5 highlights for the coming year.

1) Promising Head-Mounted Displays+ The Glyph

Oculus, HTC Vive, PS4's Morpheus━this trifecta of VR headsets is set to ship out en mass during the spring. Very soon a whole cast of HMD’s will be available to consumers. The front-runners are well known to most people, so let’s focus on a unique outlier.

The Avegant Glyph is not a traditional VR headset, but rather a sleek means for immersive entertainment. Self-categorized as “personal-theater”, the Glyph resembles a pair of expensive headphones that transform into an intimate media experience when you pull the top band over your eyes. The Glyph allows you to watch 3D films on the go, play games, or view 2D content with a startling sense of immediateness. It’s not the most popular VR aid to be sure, but it’s ability to blend utility with simple design is impressive. Already available for pre-order, you can have the Glyph in your hands in a matter of months.

2) HAPTO, Unlocking the Sense of Touch

Thus far developers have done a beautiful job with shaping intriguing VR worlds, but what is a virtual experience without a tactile component? Enter Hapto, an ingenious device that brings any VR experience onto a whole new level with the sense of touch. Shaped perfectly to fit in the palm of your hand, Hapto is a game controller equipped with four independent tactile actuators that allow you to feel shapes and surfaces within a virtual space. In other words, as you interact with a VR experience, Hapto will react in your hand and allow you to actually feel the effects of the virtual environment on your skin━just like that, you’ll be transported to the scene of the action. At the moment, Hapto is in its early production phase and should be widely available during the second half of 2016.

3) The Void: The World’s First VR Theme Park

This year we’re going to see the opening of the world’s first VR theme park; essentially just a room, but one that can transport you anywhere. Based in the suburbs of Utah, The Void is a “virtual entertainment center” bound to open its doors during the summer of 2016. The minute details of the Void experience are yet to be revealed, but this is what we do know━upon entrance, guests of The Void will be given a Rapture HMD, vest and gloves. They will then enter a physical space, similar to a “lasertag arena”, where they will embark on a VR adventure of their choosing. As VR tech advances, so will The Void, and there is no doubt that more projects of similar construction will pop up as the industry moves forward.

4) Ozo, The First Pro VR Camera

What’s most exciting about the new gadgets coming to VR in 2016, is the number of devices that place VR content creation in the hands of artists and regular consumers. Nokia’s Ozo claims to be the “world’s first professional Virtual Reality camera.” This spherical device is able to capture 360 degree video, complete with surround sound and interactive monitoring. The camera is wireless so there’s little hassle with the recording process, and you can even set up a live VR preview while filming. The greatest downfall of the Ozo is simply its price. The camera itself is sold for $60,000, while its digital cartridge is on the market for $5,000. Obviously, this camera is designed for professionals only, so there is another option for the average Joe.

5) Teleport: a VR Camera for the Average Joe

Teleport is an add-on to your smartphone that allows you to capture memories via VR video, and then share them instantly on social media. To use the device, you simply need to plug it into your phone and start shooting. Partially funded by a hugely successful Indiegogo campaign, Teleport has just gone into production, and also launched two simple VR headsets (one is cardboard) that can be used to watch your favorite VR memories. Wonderfully affordable and easy to use, Teleport is truly bringing VR to the masses. With the power to create virtual content on the go, it’s exciting to see where this little camera will take us.

There you have it, the best of VR coming soon. Whether it’s prolific headsets, the sense of touch, or the power to teleport to your fondest memories, it’s looking like one hell of a year━see you there!