"Phone-based VR is official over" #futureOf3D #vrheadset


 

"Mobile virtual reality headsets helped millions of people try out
VR, but as of yesterday, they’re all but officially a thing of the
past. Oculus CTO John Carmack offered a “eulogy” last month for
the phone-powered Gear VR mobile headset, saying that the
headset’s days were numbered. And Google just revealed that it’s
discontinuing the similar Daydream View mobile headset, in
addition to omitting Daydream support from the new Pixel 4
phone. The app will still work on older phones, but Google has now
given up on a platform it once portrayed as an integral part of
Android."

https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/16/20915791/google-daydream-samsung-oculus-gear-vr-mobile-vr-platforms-dead

...BC


Depthcam
 

So... let' s translate that article:

A few years ago, there were only two types of approaches to VR headsets:  Very expensive ones connected to desktops and very low-cost ones that you can slip your phone into.

But at some point, Samsung and Google came up with very expensive versions of viewers you can slip your phone into while the Chinese instead came up with all-in one-solutions at about the same price !  That's in fact what I bought three years ago for about the same price as a Gear VR with no phone in it.

So... Oculus raced to compete with the Chinese all-in-ones and came up with the Oculus Go.  But by so doing, they also rendered Gear VR and Daydream obsolete.

But for us this means little since the Chinese also produced a myriad of good quality very low-cost plastic shell viewers that work fine with most phones for viewing 3D clips or stills. Powerful VR headsets are only necessary if you are a gamer or use interactive VR programs.

Francois


Nima
 

A few years ago, there were only two types of approaches to VR headsets:  Very expensive ones connected to desktops and very low-cost ones that you can slip your phone into.

That's not true.  Let's be more specific.  In 2014 there was only the Oculus Rift DK2 which required a computer and was relatively cheap, only $250.  Then in 2015 Oculus and Samsung partnered on the Samsung GearVR Innovator Edition for the Note 4 which was $200, shortly followed by the GearVR Consumer Edition less than a year later for $99.  Between the ones given away for free with phones and purchased units they sold like gangbusters and 10 million units were in consumers homes within two years.  Low cost headsets weren't possible until Google announced Google Cardboard and the Google Cardboard SDK which made a standard spec for doing stereoscopic rendering and warping which automatically handled differences between headset optics through a simple QR code calibration.

But at some point, Samsung and Google came up with very expensive versions of viewers you can slip your phone into while the Chinese instead came up with all-in one-solutions at about the same price !

This timeline is completely wrong.  Pico and other Chinese companies had many all-in-one solutions like the original Pico Neo(orange headset where the battery and processor were in the attached gamepad) and AntVR before Google Cardboard was even announced, and beat the Oculus Rift to market as well.  Samsung's solution predates Google Cardboard by years.  The standalone solutions were not cheaper than the $99 GearVR, but were much cheaper than the cost of a phone + GearVR.  Google Cardboard was obviously always cheap, anywhere from "free" to $5 for the cheap ones, $20 for premium ones, and up to even $130 at times for luxury ones like the Zeiss VR One.  Google Daydream came out MUCH later and was awful in every way, it was a bad platform and had bad comfort and optics.

That's in fact what I bought three years ago for about the same price as a Gear VR with no phone in it.

Was it less than $100?  Honestly, you get what you pay for, and GearVR is worlds better in every way than the vast majority of Chinese headsets I've seen.

So... Oculus raced to compete with the Chinese all-in-ones and came up with the Oculus Go.

Oculus wasn't competing with Chinese products.  Oculus Go came out May 2018, years and years after both Oculus Rift, Samsung GearVR, and all the Chinese companies released their headsets.  In fact, Oculus Go is barely an Oculus product: Oculus Go was manufactured by Xiaomi and even has their logo on the side.  Oculus Go IS the Chinese all-in-ones you're championing.  The reason Oculus partnered with them on Oculus Go was to move their software platform away from a dependency on Samsung.  They made the product to divorce from Samsung and take their users with them.  The tiny fraction of non-paying users using Chinese headsets wasn't a factor to them.

But by so doing, they also rendered Gear VR and Daydream obsolete.

Oculus Go is fully binary compatible with GearVR.  Daydream was indeed obsolete, but not because of Oculus Go, because of bad headsets and a dead platform.  The Lenovo Mirage was the best device on their platform, but it was expensive, crippled by a lack of motion controllers, and bifurcated their platform into two, with phones having 3dof head tracking but standalones having 6dof head tracking.  Samsung are the ones who made GearVR obsolete, because it was a tiny market for them, and yet one that Oculus was raking in all the software and platform sales with.  Instead, Samsung stopped supporting GearVR on their newest phones(Note 10, S20) so that they can roll out their own platform soon.

But for us this means little since the Chinese also produced a myriad of good quality very low-cost plastic shell viewers that work fine with most phones for viewing 3D clips or stills.

Chinese headsets are usually of absolutely awful quality.  Bad displays, bad lenses, bad comfort.  And of course, they're often designed for Eastern facial structures, so there is often not enough room for your nose in them(like the Xiaomi Mi VR Standalone, which is the Chinese version of Oculus Go sold by Xiaomi).  

Powerful VR headsets are only necessary if you are a gamer or use interactive VR programs.

Power has nothing to do with displays and optics.  3D photos and video look AWFUL in cheap headsets with cheap lenses and cheap LCD screens and look wonderful in the Valve Index.  The GPU plugged into the Index is irrelevant in this scenario.


Depthcam
 

> That's not true.


Actually, yeah it is.  Fine to say that "it's only $250" but it required a top processor and graphic card to run it.

Perhaps what you are missing in my point is I merely meant to mirror the distinction between what VR fanatics were willing to spend and what the average curious person would be willing to do.


>  Low cost headsets weren't possible until Google announced Google Cardboard


Actually, the fist such viewer was the Hasbro My3D and then a myriad of VR fans designed their own viewers with wider optics  - all before Google came up with Cardboard


> Was it less than $100?  Honestly, you get what you pay for


You seem to be arguing for the mere sake of argument.  But here goes:  The Chinese headsets were between $75.00 and $150.00 and they were meant primarily  for viewing 3D clips whether regular 3D or 2D, 2D 180, 3D 180, 2D 360 or 3D 360.  One thing they had was a hardware interface with USB ports, SD card ports and HDMI ports, which even the Oculus Go doesn't have.  No they may not have been the best in the world but indeed, for the price they did a lot more than empty shells such as Daydream and they allowed me to test quite a lot output from 3D 180 cameras hat I was looking into at the time.

And as for Gear VR, it's again nothing but a shell, which means that no matter its qualities, you still need to own or to purchase that phone to use the viewer.

That's the whole point about Chinese all-in-ones.  They were self contained.


> Oculus Go is fully binary compatible with GearVR.


Again you are misreading what I said.  Oculus Go made Gear VR obsolete (in the eyes of the public) simply because Oculus Go is self-contained.  It does not require one to have a separate phone.


> Chinese headsets are usually of absolutely awful quality.


Wake up !  EVERYTHING is made in China nowadays.  I have tested a myriad of Chinese viewers.  True that some are better than others.  But they are very low-cost.  The average user won't pay high prices for a viewer they'll use only now and then.


> Power has nothing to do with displays and optics.


Read what I wrote !  I said that "Powerful VR headsets are only necessary if you are a gamer or use interactive VR programs"

Francois


Nima
 

> Actually, yeah it is.  Fine to say that "it's only $250" but it required a top processor and graphic card to run it.


Wrong again!  Oculus Rift DK2 ran perfectly on my 2011 MacBook Air with an integrated(read: no dedicated) graphics card.  It wasn't until the Oculus Rift CV1 that a discrete GTX 970 became the minimum requirement.

> the fist such viewer was the Hasbro My3D

3D =/= VR, but you knew that.  The wheatstone stereoscope was actually the first my friend!

> a myriad of VR fans designed their own viewers with wider optics

Hobbyists made a lot of things that were really cool to share on message boards, but don't matter in the grand scheme of things.  The only thing that matters is one hobbyist who productized it: Palmer Luckey, the creator of Oculus Rift.

> The Chinese headsets were between $75.00 and $150.00 and they were meant primarily  for viewing 3D clips whether regular 3D or 2D, 2D 180, 3D 180, 2D 360 or 3D 360.  One thing they had was a hardware interface with USB ports, SD card ports and HDMI ports, which even the Oculus Go doesn't have.

Without naming Chinese headsets, I have no idea specifically what you're talking about or when they were released, and thus nothing you say can be refuted.  There were eventually some acceptable headsets that did allow for 360 video playback(but didn't have any capabilities of running realtime VR software) but they weren't available to purchase until late 2016 or early 2017.  But HMD's =/= VR Headsets, even if it has a headstrap, and there wasn't a single Chinese headset except the Pico Neo that was bearable for any VR software until after the Oculus Rift CV1.

> And as for Gear VR, it's again nothing but a shell

Wrong yet again!  Unlike other cheap Google Cardboard VR headsets, GearVR had electronics in it, including an additional, higher quality IMU.  However, when someone speaks of "GearVR", they don't mean just the headset, they of course mean the device, which includes both the headset and the phone slotted into it, running in GearVR mode with higher framerate, reduced persistence, and with it's custom VR Shell(not the shell you're talking about) which greatly reduced overhead and optimized performance.

> which means that no matter its qualities, you still need to own or to purchase that phone to use the viewer.  That's the whole point about Chinese all-in-ones.  They were self contained.

For millions of people over the years, this has been a non-issue, because of course Galaxy is the most popular Android line in the world.  The chasm between a cheap no-name Chinese standalone and the fantastic GearVR was infinite.  The vast majority of Chinese VR headsets in those early years were completely unusable, they would hurt your eyes and give you a headache within seconds due to their horrible optics and poor displays.  You're really misrepresenting a lot to try to make your argument. 

> Again you are misreading what I said.  Oculus Go made Gear VR obsolete (in the eyes of the public) simply because Oculus Go is self-contained.  It does not require one to have a separate phone.

Well, as someone who was the Product Manager for one of the top 10 VR apps for GearVR and Oculus Go (Within), I can say that I have data that wholly refutes what you claim.  GearVR user numbers continued to grow after the launch of the Oculus Go.  By that time, Galaxy S8 had released and the Galaxy A series gained GearVR compatibility for the first time.  It took pretty much until Samsung announced that Note 10 wouldn't have GearVR compatibility for user numbers to drop.  I'd love to see data that runs counter to mine though!

> Wake up !  EVERYTHING is made in China nowadays.

Everything is manufactured in China.  The iPhone is made by Apple in California.  There are great Chinese brands that have decent designs, like Xiaomi and Huawei, but those aren't the companies you're talking about.  You're talking about no-name companies that you think were somehow able to create one of the most complicated products in the world out of nowhere.

> I have tested a myriad of Chinese viewers.  True that some are better than others.  But they are very low-cost.

If you can point me to a standalone VR headset from before the announcement of Google Cardboard(as is the era you yourself are claiming the Chinese made great standalone headsets) that isn't made by Pico and doesn't make the average person insanely uncomfortable within two minutes I'll eat my hat.

> The average user won't pay high prices for a viewer they'll use only now and then.

Hopefully they didn't spend any price on non-functional VR headsets.  The VR devices manufactured then were designed to cash in on a fad and prey on uninformed consumers, the goal was never to make a usable headset.  I believe they're one of the core reasons why many consumers quickly became disillusioned with VR, and weren't won back in any real numbers until 2019 when Oculus Quest and Valve Index made great VR the standard.  When Walmarts and grocery stores in America started selling garbage knockoff Chinese headsets and later cheap Google Cardboard compatibles, that's when people started to think VR was a dumb gimmick, because all they were experiencing was bad software with an uncomfortable headset in exchange for some grainy stereoscopic images.  Let's not rewrite history here, even the top-end VR headsets circa 2015 and earlier were barely acceptable.


Greg Downing
 

Actually, the fist such viewer was the Hasbro My3D and then a myriad of VR fans designed their own viewers with wider optics  - all before Google came up with Cardboard  
 
I believe FOV2Go predated (2011) and possibly inspired Cardboard. http://projects.ict.usc.edu/mxr/diy/fov2go/


Nima
 

I believe FOV2Go predated (2011) and possibly inspired Cardboard. http://projects.ict.usc.edu/mxr/diy/fov2go/

It did, but actually inspired the Oculus Rift before it!  Actually, Palmer Luckey worked on FOV2Go and the fact that USC continued to refuse to productize anything was one of the core reasons he set out to make the Rift "kit" for enthusiasts and posted about it on MTBS3D, which ended up gaining the interest of John Carmack and Brendan Iribe, the latter of which convinced him to start Oculus as a real company and do the Kickstarter.

A good record of all this in the book "The History of the Future" by Blake J. Harris.