Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You'll have to see it for yourself. - Morpheus, The Matrix
I'm a big fan of Virtual Reality (VR) it has potential to be an amazing tool for education, rehabilitation, and yes, entertainment. Saddly that means it also has the potential for abuse.
I helped Kick-starter the original Oculus Rift and own a DK1 dev kit signed by Andrew Scott Reisse, the cofounder of Oculus VR who sadly passed after getting hit by a car randomly while being a bystander who was at the wrong place at the wrong time due to a police chase. Oddly, the Wikipedia page for Oculus no longer mentions him and I think its very sad that Oculus VR as a company seems to support him being deleted from the record. Granted, I'm not surprised - his founder status was no doubt very monetarily valuable - but my personal opinion of this is that it speaks far more about Oculus VR as a company than any public statement they chose to make ever could.
Anyway, as a result of my earlier investment, despite the demand and delays, the ebay price spikes, and the fakes, I already own an actual retail production Rift devkit and am doing some research into others to see what the landscape looks like as a developer who is thinking long term.
I like the Vive so far as it seems more accessible than the Rift and isn't as hard core stalker as the Oculus Rift is in regards to the terms of service. I have a big issue with the fact everything I have read about the Rift seems to state that the people behind the Rift want to steal your IP if you use the Rift to create it... so i don't use it because despite having 32 gb of RAM, 2TB of HD space, a Intel CPU running 8 logical cores at 3.5ghz, and 3 monitors.. it apparently needs more than my main workstation can handle right now despite everything else ever being thrown at it working just fine.
This to me is the classic definition of failure by ego; It may work and be perfectly functional in optimal conditions, and the rift may be fully functional, but if its not accessible and not available to the masses due to egotism or narcissism driving system requirements, then to the people who don't get to use the Rift it still does not work.
Now I am fully aware of the fact that the Rift is more the Crisis version of VR than the Unreal or Unity version; But lets be clear if people can not use it, what good is it in helping the market grow? Who is it going to help if they can't afford access?
When I originally studied cybernetics and had the goal of designing the first bio-electric interfaces for direct human to computer interfacing, this was the stuff I dreamed of. I can see it being so much better than it is now; They worked hard and that is great but I admit, I am disappointed with what I see so far, as the hype was so much better. Maybe the marketing people did their job better than the engineers? Or may be the marketing people did their jobs too well and made promises that couldn't be kept because they had weak leadership driving them? I'm inclined to suspect that the second is the thing that happened here as marketing people have a history of making promises that are insane due to their ignorance of the technical limits involved.
Using the Rift for the first time left me both overwhelmed and underwhelmed. It needs a lot of work, the immersion broke too easily. But it has potential to be an amazing tool per the above that I can only hope is used for good.
I have been pondering this odd feeling of being "back" after using it. Its not the best way to explain it, and it feels odd since I could not shake hands with the Alien in the demo, I never touched anything, and I never traveled, I never stumbled, I never leaped or fell or even tripped. I was not at risk from the charging t-rex, I couldn't be abducted or probed by the alien who didn't understand me but seemed happy to wave to me, I wasn't at risk from the fox and his friends, nor was I danger to them.
Yet between the immersion killing moments that were sadly all too frequent.. I felt fear, I felt curiosity, amazement, worry, fear, I felt calmness of the sort I haven't felt in a long time, enough that I find myself now utterly depressed and wanting to weep for the life I lived for a few short minutes that never really was.
Still, I'm doing research. I'm data driven, so I will update this when I feel I have the data to do so.