It's been a while since 2012 when a new startup founded by Palmer Luckey in California announces the imminent release of the OCULUS RIFT and ignites international interest in the world of virtual reality.
Palmer's credit wasn't inventing VR, we've all seen a lot of 80s-90s movies featuring fantastic helmets that promise immersive experiences; its merit is to have rekindled the interest (and therefore obtained huge funding) on a technology parked after a series of technical and commercial failures, promising a viewer at an affordable cost (promise nullified by production costs) an involvement of the major player in the 3D market to ensure quantity of content.
The truth is that VR is not a new technology, it is just a very expensive and technologically complex thing to implement two factors that usually discourage the creation of products aimed at the consumer market.
What is new in my opinion is the "positional tracking" or the ability to calculate the position and movements of the viewer in the real physical environment and use them in the virtual environment to give us the real "immersive" experience.
This is thanks to the so-called Mobile VR systems which, although failing to compete with the quality of Oculus Rift of PS VR, begin to give us experiences free from feelings of nausea, opening new paths towards what we call 6DoF or six-degree-of-freedom.
HTC Vive's approach (the system that currently guarantees the best tracking with two wall sensors that detect the position of the headsets) doesn't have to be the only system, Oculus that has a similar system based on cameras recently showed to the public a prototype with inside-out technology.
You may have heard of inside-out and ouside-in technology before, but if you're like us, you may be asking yourself some of the following questions: What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these two technologies? Which is better? Which one will we use in 10 years from now?
Speaking about commercial products available to the public between July and August, the first Acer inside-Out devices were made available on the developer market and HP called Mixed Reality HMD. Eonite instead proposes a sensor to be attached directly to the HTC Vive to make it independent of its positioning system. Surely the one who has invested the most with the best results at the moment is Microsoft which uses the inside-out technology in the HoloLens viewer.
A perfect and accurate inside-out positioning is what we all imagine when talking about VR and that those who have already tried some of these solutions until now are waiting to finally have a feeling of "reality". On the other hand, who among us wants to be connected to a cable or take to a PC in a backpack format?
"I suspect we may see outside in continue to exist only in the high-end desktop PC part of the market (Vive) as the absolute best solution and will likely be the last to move towards inside out. I believe we may also see some new tracking solutions come out that could accelerate the move towards inside out, but those are yet to exist. Ultimately, technologies like VR and AR tend to gravitate towards integration for a multitude of reasons and there are plenty of reasons why integrated tracking is beneficial, especially in AR. Many of those reasons have to do with portability and power consumption, both of which are pain points for many VR solutions today without inside out tracking." is the opinion of Anshel Sag, a VR analyst at Moore Insights & Strategy.
Even if the inside-out technology is starting to collect its first successes, we are still far from seeing it applied to headsets such as Daydream VR and Samsung Gear VR. But let's give time to time, it seems in fact the only logical way to go for an effective “spatial tracking” especially for all those promises and requests of AR.
Back in 2014, John Carmack said about his first inside-out developments: "everyone is skeptical that it will work out, so don't hold your breath", after a few years maybe now it's time to start hold breath!
For any further insights or curiosity, don't hesitate to contact us!