Hello, back again with another VR explainer to help you understand this exciting industry and potential impact on your clients.

Today let’s review the 3.5 tiers, or types, of VR headsets. These are the things you wear on your head, covering your eyes, so you can view 360 video/VR content properly. Please review my previous post about the different kinds of 360 video/VR content for a refresher.

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The first kind, the most accessible and one that you’ve most likely tried, are the Google Cardboard-type headsets for watching 360 video. We have a box full of them in the closet. They aren’t anything special and you won’t impress anyone with them, but they are the cheapest, easiest to use and distribute, and compatible with many different kinds of phones. They are basically paper cardboard holders for your smartphone, with built in lenses. You fire up whatever app on your phone that displays 36o video properly, put your phone in the Cardboard headset and away you go. Very simple, they work ok  but for a media event or any kind of nice content, you’re going to want to go with the second tier of headsets.

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The second kind of headsets are the Samsung Gear or Google Daydream-type hardware. These are still for mostly 360 video and some interactive experiences, but are a big step up from the Google Cardboards. These headsets are larger and more comfortable, have built in controls to interact with the content and only work with specific kinds of smartphones. The LA, SF and BK offices each have one of these, if you want to check it out just ask myself, Mica or Natania. These headsets are good for events and displaying higher-quality content. They have no wires besides the one going from the phone to the headphones (headphones are necessary for most 360 video/VR experiences), and are best used while seated on a swivel chair. Some also have an optional ‘wand’ controller that allows for limited control in games and applications.

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The next level of hardware is kind of a half tier, as these headsets are not out yet and not a lot of detail is known about them. These will be all-in-one headsets that do not require a smartphone, like the previous tier 2 headsets, nor a PC, which the next tier 3 headsets need. Exact pricing and specifications are unknown, but it is likely that this kind of headset, currently in development by both HTC and Oculus, will become the new standard for viewing medium- and high-end experiences at events, theaters and arcades. Definitely an option to keep an eye out for client events!

The top tier of hardware are called ‘tethered’ headsets because they need to be connected to a computer. When used, a long wire connects the headset from the user to a computer nearby. As these allow full, true VR, they require external tracking devices that are either mounted to walls or on tripods. They also have wireless controllers that are also tracked, so you can interact in the virtual world. The main consumer models are Playstation VR, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. The Vive is better. These the most expensive and complicated headsets, but they are the only way to experience full, true VR; which means you can move around in a virtual space and interact with virtual objects, rather than just watching a 360 video from a fixed perspective.

Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions at all about any of this, I am more than happy to explain anything further.

-Nestor