Last night in the span of an hour I tested two extremely different virtual reality headsets with varying designs and totally unique experiences. The one common thread between the two products? They both made me look really dumb.
Don't believe me? Just watch this video, recorded without my knowledge by TechnoBuffalo's managing editor Roy Choi.
In the Instagram clip above I'm trying out the R-7 Glasses, a pretty amazing pair of augmented reality goggles from a California firm called ODG. Using a combination of angled displays the R-7 can project a translucent rectangular display right into the center of your field of vision. In this particular demo I held up a flat piece of paper with blueprints printed on it. As I angled the image a virtual 3D building rose into the air in front of me. My jaw dropped.
ODG actually sold a whole bunch of patents to Microsoft a few years back, which helped fuel development of the HoloLens. Since then the smaller startup has focused on making its own products as compact and portable as possible, but you'll still look dumb using them.
A little later I finally got to try out the HTC Vive, a bulkier virtual reality headset with an immersive high-definition display. One minute I was standing in the center of a busy event, and a second later I was at the bottom of the ocean standing face-to-face with a giant whale. It felt so real I even reached my hand out to touch one of the small fishes swimming by. Then I pictured myself in the real world looking like a fool yet again and dropped my hands to my sides.
But at the end of the day I don't care if I look stupid when the benefits of virtual and augmented reality are so amazing. If I could walk through the world with a VR headset strapped to my face I might just do it, and I definitely don't mind looking silly in the real world when the tradeoff is a mind-blowing virtual experience.
So if you're thinking of ordering an Oculus Rift today, but worry you'll look dumb with a big black box strapped to you face, just go for it, though the price may cause you to reconsider. As for me, I'm off to check out Zeiss VR ONE, another goofy headset that I can't wait to try on, even if I don't look cool doing it.