I try to acknowledge my weaknesses and technology is certainly one of my major weaknesses. My house is full of early adopter junk that never made it past the early adopter stage. Fortunately, there’s also the occasional gem such as my 3D printer and my drone. These gems are the things that convince my wife I can be allowed to shop Amazon unsupervised. I think her trust in me slipped slightly this week when a pair of VR Goggles arrived. Sadly, I don’t think these will ultimately restore her trust in my judgement.

Virtual Reality or VR has been with us for a long time. I still remember going down to Fry’s for a chance to stand on a stage with the other Geeks while wearing virtual reality goggles and shooting at virtual creatures. Don’t laugh, on second thought maybe you should. For sheer entertainment value Texas line dancing has nothing on four geeks sharing a stage while wearing VR goggles. Twenty years later, virtual reality is still a technology looking for a need.

Imagine if you will two miniature monitors, one for each eye, less than three inches from your eyes. Add motion sensing and you can coordinate the video with turning your head. This gives you the sensation of actually being there. Use the right cameras to make the video and the view becomes a 3D image.

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard

Today a set of good VR goggles is about $1200 and that’s a lot to play video games. fortunately for all of us, somewhere during the Google glasses development somebody came up with Google cardboard. While I wanted a pair of Google glasses, I had no desire to play with a cardboard toy that imitated Google glasses. Turns out I can be wrong. Google Glasses and Google Cardboard are distinctly different technologies. Some bright person had Google realized all you needed for VR goggles was your cell phone and a pair of binoculars made from cardboard.

You can make your own Google cardboard from plans easily found on the internet or you can buy a pair on Amazon like I did. Mine are Breett New Version 3D VR Reality Headset made from plastic and having the all-important head strap that the cardboard versions do not. While this isn’t a review of the Breett VR goggles, they work as well as expected and for the $27 I paid, I’m certainly not complaining.

Google cardboard VR goggles would be worthless without something to watch and YouTube provides lots of material. All you have to do is search YouTube for #360 and you’ll find lots of videos to watch. I found ABC News videos allowing me to take a 3D tour of the earthquake aftermath in Japan. I got to fly in formation with the Blue Angels and I got to ride some of the biggest rollercoasters in the world.  So why am I not ecstatic about this new technology?

Remember these?

Remember these?

Truthfully I wanted more. My cellphone is a Samsung S5 with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 (while writing this I discovered that later S5 models are 2560 by 1440, curse my early adopter weakness). This is a good resolution for a monitor but cut it in half (half for each eye) and cut it in half again because the goggles can’t make use of the entire screen and you’re suddenly looking at the world with the same resolution as the old analog televisions. Twenty years ago I would have been thrilled to have this quality of video. Today, in the world of 4K televisions, I’m disappointed.

I bought my goggles after using a friend’s Samsung VR goggles with an S7 cellphone (2560 by 1140 resolution) and there was a big difference in the video quality between his phone and mine. It was easy to have a sense of wonder as the dolphins swam up and I won’t soon forget the sense of vertigo as I was on a rollercoaster doing a corkscrew. I’m not prone to motion sickness but I had to catch my breath a few times.

There’s no question that this will improve, as well as the quality of the videos available for VR goggles but after twenty years, I was hoping for a lot more.

Oh yeah, my wife tells me I still look like a geek with the VR goggles on. Sigh, some things never change.

© Copyright 2016 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen
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