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The Future of Virtual Reality Headsets

At their inception, virtual reality (VR) headsets were two things: expensive and terrible. Gaming companies tried and failed to crack the code to the VR market. Both Nintendo (Virtual Boy) and Sega (Sega VR) released virtual reality devices that flopped in a short amount of time. Then, a small company called Oculus created a Kickstarter campaign to develop an advanced and affordable VR stereoscopic headset.

The campaign was a success and Oculus Rift is now a household name. Even when the developer's kit first launched in 2012, it was light-years ahead of any consumer product on the market. And, since it also was an open-source project, the developer community invented all sorts of ways to use the kit, such as for VR Half-Life 2 and augmented reality games.

Developers weren't the only ones to take notice of this plan, however. Just last year Facebook bought out Oculus for an impressive $2 billion (a combination of cash and stock). So, it was only a matter of time until others jumped on the hype train. Now, there is a new crop of VR headsets on the market that introduce new twists to the concept.

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Samsung Galaxy VR

Samsung is in a particularly advantageous position to develop VR headsets because they can pair with smartphones they already own. Where the Oculus Rift uses a fixed screen in its headset, the Gear takes advantage of the large screen on the Galaxy Note 4. The Note simply slides into the front of the VR headset and the two pieces become one.

This is a huge cost saving for Samsung, which allows them to sell the Gear VR for only $200. Although the final consumer version of the Oculus Rift aims for a $200 price point as well, it's still unclear if Oculus will actually be able to deliver a good product.

Google Cardboard

Leave it to Google to design a VR headset out of literal cardboard and call it cutting edge. Google Cardboard is simply cardboard folded into the shape of a VR headset, which is sold for as little as $20. Google isn't targeting gaming enthusiasts with this product, but it is counting on Cardboard to be a companion for all the games sold on its app store, Google Play.

Valve Vive VR

One of the biggest players in the gaming industry, Valve, just threw its name into the hat when it comes to virtual reality. Valve is known for PC games, such as Half-Life, Counter Strike, Portal and Team Fortress, as well as its online game store, Steam. In partnership with HTC, the Vive VR is aimed to be the premier PC VR and will go up against Oculus Rift in the market. If anyone out there can take Oculus off the number one spot, it's Valve.

What's Next?

It looks like VR headsets are separating into two camps: performance and consumer. Performance headsets, such as the Oculus Rift and Valve Vive, don't compromise gaming power or resolution. On the other side, consumer headsets use your smartphone for the VR display. Both will have a place in the market, and it will be interesting to see who reigns supreme in the next few years.

Although these companies have a good jump on the technology, can you imagine what virtual reality will be like once giant players like Microsoft and Apple decide to jump in?

In the video above, Tested takes a look at Sony's very own virtual reality headset---named 'Project Morpheus.'

Source:  This piece was provided to us by Social Monsters