3 reasons why Virtual Reality is now taking off!

Satisfied VR user after a planning session
satisfied user of Virtual Reality

VR is the future – there is no doubting that in our minds! In our blog, we would like to show you why we are now entering the age of virtual reality.

  • The number of VR headsets is doubling constantly
  • There are practically no limits for the users of current models
  • The 3D factory has become reality

VR has developed so strongly over the past few years, that the initial trend has become a boom. While the first devices were still heavy and relied on powerful computers, they are in the meantime designed for autonomous wireless use. We would like to show you why VR is now taking off, and that it has never been easier to use 3D visualizations in factory layout planning thanks to VR.

1. The VR entertainment branch is booming

The pace at which VR is developing in the field of entertainment is immediately evident from figures which were published recently by Steam. In 2019, the computer gaming and software platform recorded an increase of 75% in the number of VR headsets connected per month compared to the previous year. In absolute terms, over 1.3 million VR headsets were used in connection with the Steam platform in a single month. As the growth continued to accelerate rapidly, it was initially predicted that this figure would double by the end of the year.

Monthly-connected Headsets on Steam (projection)
monthly active VR users on Steam (source: RoadtoVR)

Since the release of the game “Half-Life: Alyx”, however, it has already been necessary to factor a considerable further increase into the existing forecasts. The streaming provider Steam registered almost 1 million new VR headsets in April 2020 alone.

The Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a further step towards the mass adoption of VR technology. For the first time, this popular simulation (first version 1982) gets official VR support from the developer after launch. In October 2020 the high-resolution VR headset HP Reverb G2 will be released in cooperation with Valve and Microsoft. The high pixel density and very good color reproduction will allow for a safe reading of the instruments in realistically simulated airplanes and remote viewing by the pilot.

The presentation of the new graphics cards from Nvidia from the GeForce 3000 series was also a big hit. These offer almost double the performance of the last generation at quite customer-friendly prices. This is the basis for operating high-resolution VR headsets and further lowers the entry barriers.

Even on the relatively small German market, the growing interest is not to be overlooked. The enthusiasm fueled by private VR experiences is also being carried into the workplace, and companies are investigating possible applications. More and more learning platforms like Engage, for example, are using VR to optimize knowledge transfer. In this way, the entertainment branch is also serving as a motor for the introduction of professional solutions.

2. VR with(out) limitations: inside-out, mobile and wireless

2.1 The Quest as the first mass-produced mobile 6DOF VR headset

The first generation of VR headsets (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) could only be used in conjunction with an external tracker, and also required a cable connection to a high-performance PC. Current models do away with all this, and have now become wireless or in some cases even autonomous – functioning without a PC or notebook! The Oculus Quest, for example, uses four integrated cameras to track the headset itself and the two touch controllers. Its Snapdragon 835 processor is so powerful that it is already able to visualize a complete 3D factory.

Facebook has just introduced the Oculus Quest 2 as the successor to the mobile headset, exceeding all expectations. Inside the $299 VR headset with higher resolution is a Qualcomm XR2 processor that is many times more powerful than the Snapdragon 835, but the introduction of the technically impressive hardware also requires a Facebook account, which has already led to controversial discussions about data protection and impact on the software eco system in the VR community.

One important factor is a software called Sidequest which allows sideloading apps to the Quest headset that are not officially distributed in the Oculus store. That allows especially small developers and researchers to experiment with their own VR software which is a great opportunity. If Facebook would decide to turn off the option it would be a big loss for the VR community.

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In the meantime, other manufacturers also offer wireless systems. HTC has added a wireless module to its Vive headsets, allowing for mobile use, but at the same time harnessing the full performance capabilities of a VR-PC or notebook. Here, too, larger 3D models can be presented without lag. The technology thus places practically no limits on the wishes of users.

2.2 Streaming VR content to the headset

A very popular software is also Virtual Desktop. If you use it together with an Oculus Quest (special version in the Oculus Store) and a 5GHz capable WLAN router, the glasses become a wireless PCVR headset and allow completely free movement in the room without a disturbing connection cable. This makes it possible to run applications that almost ignore the low latencies of wireless transmission or where very short reaction times like in fast games are not required. It can be assumed that manufacturers are already planning native support of wireless transmission without additional software and with negligible latencies for the next generation of VR glasses. An indication of the trend, the Oculus Quest is currently used more often in combination with a PC and Steam than all other headsets combined and the desire for this freedom is repeatedly expressed and shared on social media platforms.

3. The 3D factory has become reality with VR

In addition to the new devices and applications, supported by technophile employees, the concept of a 3D factory is also driving the VR boom. The software IrisVR Prospect provides a gateway to the VR world. With this software, it is now possible to enter extensive 3D factory models from visTABLE®touch directly and in true size.

fotograph of storage area for automatic report function in VR
fotograph of storage area for automatic report function in VR

Especially interesting in this connection are the available VR functions, such as

  • VR meetings with up to 12 persons
  • Mark-up and call-out
  • Measuring of clearances
  • Hiding/unhiding of specific objects
  • Generation of a PDF report
Measuring the distance between two work tables in VR
Measuring the distance between two work tables in VR

The implementation of your planning in 3D and VR could hardly be simpler and is accomplished in three steps:

  1. Export the 3D scene as OBJ
  2. Drag & drop in IrisVR Prospect
  3. Start a VR session

Before you know it, you are ready to immerse yourself in a virtual reality.

The boundaries between reality and virtual reality are becoming ever less distinct. The current generation of VR headsets, in particular, enables the user-friendly and cost-effective implementation of a broad spectrum of 3D applications such as VR factory layout planning. The age of virtual reality is dawning. If you would like to learn more about VR, simply give us a call.

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Tino Riedel
Tino Riedel

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