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Has 2016 has become synonymous with Virtual Reality (VR)?

December 23, 2016 at 9:00 AM

The HTC Vive, Samsung’s Gear VR, Oculus Rift and the PlayStation VR.

And yes, before you ask I do realise the first question you will ask after reading the above will be “Ryan, what on earth are you talking about?”

I am of course talking about the technology of Virtual Reality (VR) and with 2016 almost in the history books; I thought it would be an appropriate time to recap what an incredible year it has been for all things VR.

What is Virtual Reality?

For those of you who aren’t aware, VR is a form of interactive media which comes to you via a head-mounted display that can create three-dimensional, fully immersive worlds.

In turn, this provides the user with a highly entertaining, albeit expensive experience – with the average price of the above headsets at around the £435 mark - not to mention the equipment that is required to use a headset in any capacity (smartphone, high performance PC or PlayStation 4).

What can we expect from VR in the near future?

Now, although Virtual Reality has been lurking around for a number of years, I think it’s safe to say that 2016 has been a landmark year for the technology and hopefully its popularity will continue to skyrocket.

With the PlayStation VR appearing on store shelves back in October, I'm extremely excited to see what game producers have in store for us, with a plethora of new opportunities open to create innovative titles that allow us to escape from the real world and live vicariously through engaging characters, stories and worlds – even if it’s just for a few hours at a time.

Can you imagine staring across the ring at the very intimidating ‘Beast Incarnate’ Brock Lesnar, the cover star in 2K’s WWE 2K17 or exploring the vast open wastelands wearing Power Armour in Bethesda’s Fallout 4 via a VR headset?

Another environment that I’m looking forward to see VR flourish in is that of Theme Parks. I recently visited Alton Towers and was surprised to see that the classic ‘Air’ ride has now transformed into ‘Galactica’, a VR-based roller coaster.

Being a somewhat open-minded individual, I decided to give the ride a try and what better way to have my first-ever VR experience. Whilst I was impressed, it felt somewhat unnatural, especially with the fact that you couldn’t really see or hear what’s happening around you.

This begs the question, how safe is Virtual Reality?

VR is rapidly gaining traction in the ever-moving technology market and I believe it will become one of, if not, the ‘go to’ way for playing the latest video games, watching videos and getting a thrill at your local theme park, providing the support from both manufacturers and the general public continues.

However I am concerned about the potential risks presented to home users, with the majority of demonstrations I’ve seen taking place in wide open spaces where the likes of trailing cables, walls and furniture simply do not exist.

Therefore, similar to the ‘Trainer’s Handbook’ I provided for Pokémon Go players during the summer, I’ve created the ‘VR Handbook’ to help all fellow VR users enjoy their potential roads to WrestleMania or racing their friends around Germany’s Nurburgring via DriveClub: VR safely.

“Check your surroundings, solider!”

The majority of VR headsets will use some form of motion sensor control that involves standing, waving your arms and looking around at your surroundings.

Before playing, you must ensure that you have sufficient space around you and that includes:

 •  You aren’t stood directly in front of your TV or furniture to avoid inadvertent damage

 •  There are no trailing cables around your feet

 •  And most importantly, ensure that nobody else enters the ‘VR Space’ whilst you are playing.

I’d advise that if you are using a VR headset, you should ideally play in a separate room away from any pets, children, loose cables or furniture likely to invade your playing area.

Press the ‘Pause’ button

 •  Whilst being able to escape into a fully interactive, immersive world sounds great on screen (paper may be passé in this day and age), it’s potentially dangerous for your eyes when using for a prolonged period of time.

 •  Ensure you take regular breaks when using any VR headset to avoid eyesight damage and put it down immediately if you start to feel any symptoms of ‘motion sickness’. Keep hydrated and ensure you rest appropriately whilst playing just like any of your in-game characters would.

“The world is your oyster”

 •  The last rule of the VR Handbook is to simply enjoy your VR adventures.

 •  As I mentioned earlier, VR is a fantastic means of escapism where players can visit vast open worlds and engage in captivating stories (for short periods at a time of course) which are designed for any and everyone to enjoy and have fun.

With the VR Handbook rules now officially laid out, I hope that all users / players / viewers will ensure a safe environment for themselves and those around them.

In conclusion, I believe that Virtual Reality is as popular in 2016 as it has ever been and with continued support and appreciation from users, its rise will only continue in the coming months, years and decades.

Please share your greatest VR experiences and opinions with us in the comments.


About the Author

Ryan Jackson Photo

Ryan Jackson is a Software Developer responsible for the design and delivery of applications supporting the implementation of new legal processes.

Ryan's last blog was Pokémania – How to (responsibly) catch ‘em all.

Pokémania – How to (responsibly) catch ‘em all

August 3, 2016 at 10:15 AM

As an avid player of the Pokémon series, I fondly remember Christmas morning of 1999, receiving my very own Game Boy Colour and a copy of Pokémon Red.

The original game allowed me to experience many adventures during my childhood as I was able to trade my pocket monsters with friends as well as battle with them to see who was the very best (coincidentally, this was always me).

Fast-forward 17 years later to the completion of my 7th Pokémon game – Alpha Sapphire for those interested – from the illustrious series.

On the countdown to the 20th Anniversary of the series, fans have been treated to a whole new kind of Pokémon game. This of course, being the ‘social media phenomenon’ which has taken over the globe, Pokémon GO.

Pikachu amiibo

The latest addition to the renowned series is a free-to-play, augmented reality (AR) game available across Android and iOS devices. The objective of the game is simple; players walk around their surroundings on the search for the recently discovered batch of Pokémon found to be wandering Planet Earth.

“Gotta break ‘em all!”

As a registered Pokémon Trainer on the app since 14th July 2016, I was initially doubtful whether the app would catch on with mobile users as this isn’t your ‘typical’ Pokémon game – How wrong I was.

With an estimated total of 75 million downloads across all available app stores since release, Pokémon GO has shattered records and statistics in a very short period of time.

•  The app was downloaded more times in it’s first week of release than any other app in history on the Apple App Store

•  The app was downloaded 50 million times over a 19 day period (Popular apps like Fortafy Games’ Colour Switch reached 50 million over a 77 day period)

With these impressive statistics, perhaps the greatest of them all is that the app was only released on the 6th July 2016 – a mere 20 days of this writing.

Essential tips that every Pokémon Trainer needs to know

As a regular player of Pokémon GO, I have been able to spend a handful of lunch breaks and weekends wandering around local areas visiting Pokéstops, Gyms and expanding my ever-growing collection of pocket monsters.

Pokemon Trainer

Using my experiences with Pokémon GO and other titles, I’ve created a short Trainer Handbook to help all fellow trainers make the most out of their adventures and most importantly, stay safe.

•  Stay in your elements

Rule #1 is simple. Always stick to areas you are familiar with.

Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms will usually be landmarks and other various points of interests. Pokémon themselves however, will appear in any random location.

When looking for pocket monsters, it is advised that you stick to areas you are familiar with.

If you wouldn’t go there without Pokémon GO – Why would you go with it?

•  Be aware of your surroundings

Rule #2 is to ensure the safety and wellbeing for all Trainers.

When using the app, you do not need to always look at your device. There are many options available in the app to setup notifications via sound or vibration when Pokémon appear so that you can enjoy your journeys without needing to look at your device constantly.

You may also want to invest in the Pokémon GO Plus wearable which alerts Trainers when Pokémon are nearby.

•  Explore with Others

Rule #3 in the Trainer’s Handbook is to bring others on your adventures.

Not only will you have a lot more fun and adventures when searching for pocket monsters with your friends, you’ll also be a lot safer when travelling in numbers.

•  Have Supplies Available

Rule #4 is to ensure that all trainers are supplied for adventure.

In the Pokémon games, trainers would always travel with a bag full of different items in the event of an emergency (i.e. injured Pokémon).

If travelling long distances with Pokémon GO, players should look to carry supplies such as water and snacks. Players should also take regular breaks if walking long distances.

•  Keep Valuables Secure & In Sight

Rule #5 is to remind Trainers to keep an eye on their belongings.

When you go to Pokéstops or Gyms, trainers will normally spend an extended period of time there so they can stock on items before their next journey.

If you decide to place any of your backpacks or items down around a group of people, be aware of their location at all times.

Hopefully, by using the Trainer Handbook, all players can contribute towards a safe and fun environment when playing Pokémon GO.

 

All in all, Pokémon GO is without question a trailblazer for AR and I’m eager to see what the future holds for augmented reality.

Please leave your top trainer tips and Pokémon catches in the comments.


About the Author

Ryan Jackson Photo Ryan Jackson is a Software Developer / Pokémon Trainer within Spencers Solicitors’ in-house IT department and is responsible for the creation of new legal applications and processes.

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