Virtual reality (VR) has changed dramatically since the introduction of Facebooks Oculus Rift and HTCs Vive in 2016. The headset’s graphics have evolved, the graphics cards are getting better and better, and there is now a wider choice of content. There is a downside too, the new technology has a motion sickness problem.
Until recently, a common technology underlying the best headsets in the industry was called outside-in tracking. Base stations or so-called lighthouses had to be placed on a desk or in the corner of a room to better determine the position of the headset and controller at any time. But now manufacturers are increasingly switching to inside-out tracking, and it will change the VR sex industry forever.
Why Inside-Out is Important
Inside-Out Tracking is a method whereby a headset uses internal cameras to capture the environment to create points that it can track within an area. This eliminates the need for base stations or lighthouses, which greatly simplifies the setup of a VR headset. It also means that there are fewer components that could break.
Inside-Out-Tracking, however, is not error-free. If a headset with Inside-Out-Tracking cannot “see” controllers or other devices it is trying to track, it cannot determine its positions. Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headsets had this problem early on because they lost sight of the controllers even when they were in normal use during operation. This can be improved by enlarging the device’s field of view and integrating enterprise sensors that allow the system to estimate the location of a device, improving the experience.
Everyone makes inside-out
Oculus’ Quest (launched in May) was the first known mass market product with inside-out tracking that was necessary because it was a standalone headset. But it’s not the only one anymore. Rift S by Oculus (also launched in May) has replaced the original Rift and its trackers. All headsets now use Inside-Out-Tracking. Rift S is still coupled to a computer, but does not require any external trackers.
- The Vive Focus has complete VR and Inside-Out tracking, but has not received the same positive ratings as Quest.
- But it’s proof that HTC is moving to inside-out tracking. The HTC Cosmos will be a major step towards inside-out tracking.
- When it comes on the market later this year, it will compete with the Vive and even the Vive Pro, especially because this headset also offers inside-out tracking.
A world of possibilities
If the VR industry can ensure that inside-out tracking works well, it will be easier for consumers and businesses to set up and use VR on a regular basis. This is the main reason why the technology is so fascinating for enthusiasts and investors.
The real turning point is independent headsets that also use inside-out tracking. Oculus Quest is the first mass market product to combine the two technologies, and if successful, it could trigger a new wave of wider adoption that the industry currently desperately needs.