Today we got to try out David Smith’s latest Wearality prototype.
Like many other virtual reality head-mounted displays we’ve seen, a smartphone/tablet screen gets put into a holder with lenses. Unlike other VR HMDs we’ve seen, the resolution and field of view are amazing! We’d seen some of David’s earlier prototypes, so we know just how compelling and instantly-immersive a wide field of view can be. The moment you put it on, you really feel you’re in the scene, not looking at it through a tube. The lenses are also concave out from the eyes, so unlike the Rift you don’t get that problem where your eyelashes or glasses rub against the lens.
I was surprised when I learned that the Oculus DK2 was going to have such a narrow FoV, and then after I tried it, surprised that the DK2 is so immersive despite the comparatively narrow FoV. The narrower FoV of the Oculus means they can pack more resolution and better graphics performance in the FoV that is there. Real-time head tracking is a huge part of what makes the DK2 so convincing. You may start by feeling like you’re looking through a tube, but it doesn’t take long to get into it.
I think in the early days of VR we may see a split between HMDs designed for gaming, where a narrow field of view helps performance, and HMDs designed for viewing pre-rendered things like videos, where a wide field of view allows for greater immersion without sacrificing performance. On the one hand, today’s smart phones/tablets don’t have the capability to do fancy game graphics with low latency. On the other hand, that means this kind of HMD can focus on optimizing for truly spectacular high-FoV immersive VR video!
We’re really excited to see how our own videos look with a higher FoV, and look forward to adding Wearality to our list of compatible devices.