Chapter 2. Virtual Reality Hardware

In this chapter we will take a look at popular consumer virtual reality hardware in use today, including VR headsets and the computers or phones they work with.

Even though this is a rapidly evolving industry, some manufacturers are already becoming established as leaders. Most notable is Facebook with the Oculus Rift, but there are several other head-mounted displays (HMDs) to choose from. Some HMDs require using desktop computers, others are just for smartphones, and still others are for use with game consoles. To further muddy the picture, new HMDs are coming out all the time.

Let’s examine three headsets that represent a wide range of HMDs on the market today, and that will form the focus of the rest of the chapters in the book: the Oculus Rift for desktop virtual reality; Samsung’s Gear VR (based on Oculus technology) for a high-end mobile VR experience; and Google’s Cardboard VR, a simple, low-cost way of adapting your existing smartphone to become a VR device.

Oculus Rift

While there have been several attempts to market consumer virtual reality headsets over the past few decades, nothing ever pushed it over the top until the Oculus Rift came along. Buoyed by an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign to fund its original development, Oculus VR raised significant venture funding, and the company was ultimately sold to Facebook in a blockbuster US$2B acquisition that the industry is still talking about. Without that watershed event, ...

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