Category Archives: Virtual Reality

Sometimes the development of Virtual Reality Software is similar to that of sound engineering. And, sometimes even understanding it is similar.

What is the Big Deal About Oculus Rift?

The Oculus Rift is a big deal, in more ways than one. For many people, it is life changing in the virtual reality (VR) world. It is also expensive enough to cost as much as a mortgage payment.

For those who have experienced the Oculus Rift (affiliate), now owned by Facebook, for no small investment amount, they are bragging about how lifelike the experience is. When one realizes that the experiences that they have in real life can be transferred to that of a virtual reality experience, that tells you something about just how lifelike the VR really is, especially with this Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift is not only big in experience and price, but it takes up a bit of your living room as you are unpacking it and setting it up, with all of the cables and necessary gear. For most geeks, it is an easy enough installation along the lines of a computer installation, but for those who are not comfortable with techie things, there may be a need for some help in the Oculus Rift VR installation department. Likely, you have a friend or family member who is willing to help you, especially if they get a turn at the virtual reality experience as well.

The Pros and Cons

In deciphering the pros and cons of the VR platform, there are interesting outcomes. The main cons fall in the area of confusion (i.e. installation), and of course, the price. However, for those who have the money and the geeky know-how, there are the pros. Those pros and bragging level of the virtual reality experience seem to be through the roof. It appears that that may make VR worth every penny for those addicted to that VR experience.

One could hope that over time, this platform becomes a little more affordable and maybe a little less clunky. After all, even Facebook has improved in those areas, hasn’t it?

For the observer, looking at the Oculus Rift setup on their friend’ss face, in their home, it may seem odd. It may be a case of seeing the friend with the funny-looking viewer on their face. This may seem to be the strangest thing they have ever experienced. But, as Oculus Rift declares on their home page, that all is well. Simply step into the Oculus Rift and it is an entirely different experience. There are also many different types of experiences from which to choose, all of which provide some level of realism.

Does it really matter how funny-looking a viewer may appear to be, from the outside? Afterall, when looking through the viewer takes you to worlds that were previously unknown, that is all that matters, right? You are entering a place that used to be the stuff of dreams and the ingenuity of science and science-fiction. And, it was the fodder for Hollywood scriptwriters. Now is the opportunity to experience what the world was meant to be, at least that of the Virtual Reality world.

Bluetooth Technology and Other Tidbits in the VR World

The Bluetooth Controller may present a couple of question marks in your mind, as you are unboxing your initial Virtual Reality (VR) package.

So, what is a Bluetooth controller and why should you care?

Hopefully, your package comes with instructions that explain what it is and what it does. If so, you may find that the controller does exactly what it is advertised to do. It controls your smartphone!

Depending on the gear and the platform, the controller could control the Android or the iOS smartphone. It works as a sort of mouse, but the key thing is that it handles that smartphone to make your VR experience a little easier (and more fun).

Understanding the Importance of a Controller

Why does it matter?

By using a controller, you can ensure that your smartphone goes into the viewer properly. When the smartphone is carefully and properly placed in the viewer, you can help to minimize the possibility of damage to the smartphone. Also, it should help to avoid accidental misuse. Without a controller, the smartphone gets more handling. This causes potential scratches and damage.

Once your smartphone is in its place, the controller becomes essential, in order to avoid this type of damage.

Bluetooth technology facilitates the connection for the controller.

The example package, for the purposes of understanding the technology, is shown on Amazon (even though it is misspelled) > affiliate link. This one on Amazon also mentions that it is compatible with Samsung devices. That is something that is important to check when doing your research on controllers. Check compatibility. You never know when you may want to switch smartphones and not have to switch other gear, so it is good to know which ducks are in that row and to know that ahead of time.

Be sure to verify that it is easy to connect using the Bluetooth technology. Since you need to control the smartphone used, you want it to be something comfortable for you. And, especially since it is VR. It needs to be a technology with which you are comfortable.

Ideally, you want to be able to test the controller prior to investing too much money into the package deal (bundle).

Beyond the Controller… A Few Other Things

A few other things to check when figuring out all these little items that go along with VR systems: Is the headset comfortable? Is it padded for comfort? Are the lenses adjustable for range? We all have different eyes and facial structure, so that is important for customization.

Some other items to watch for in your package is that it really does include the Bluetooth remote control and that it includes the headset. You’d be surprised how many times packages reference something that is not included. Definitely double check!

Some of the items that you may want to check include the following. For example, essential batteries, scratch-proof lens cleaning cloth, and the user guide. You know, the guide that helps us know that we shouldn’t eat the preservatives that help to keep your stuff safe (is that what they do?).

So, now you know what a controller is, what Bluetooth technology is, as it relates to the controller, and a little bit of info to keep in mind for your research into that buying decision (i.e. VR Bundle).

The Virtual Reality Experience with the iPad

Yes, you can experience virtual reality (VR) with an iPad (or more specifically, especially because of size, the iPad Mini).

As you can probably guess, it looks a little odd. If you thought that Google Cardboard with the smartphone looked strange, then sticking an iPad on your face is even stranger. But, instead of imagining it, take a look for yourself, with this video:

AirVR is a big proponent of this iPad VR trend. Though, that trend started about three years ago. It is a good sign that it hasn’t gone away yet, even with its strange appearance.

AirVR has done a nice job with the graphics, above, in the video, but we do wish that they would work a bit on the sound and maybe sound a little excited about the product. But, hey, the idea is to see if we want to use an iPad for VR and how feasible it is, right?

Pros and Cons of the iPad VR Experience

The Pros of using an iPad (Mini) for the virtual reality experience is that you can benefit from the graphics, as well as all of the features that make the iPad awesome in the first place. Also, with the newer iPads, you can obtain cellular service (as opposed to the really old iPads, from way back when, as in the original iPads). This is a matter of chatting with your mobile service provider and obtaining a SIM card for your iPad. So, you don’t have to worry about cellular coverage or any sacrifices in that department when it comes to selecting the iPad over the iPhone for your VR experience.

The Cons that will come your way with the iPad VR is that it is funny looking and, uh, big. It is like a large board across your face and possibly that can affect your ability to breathe. Yes, you can breathe, but let’s face it, it is a bit of an awkward device for VR. Then again, as you can see from the AirVR video, they have thought of everything when it comes to adapting the thing for your face.

One other possible challenge is that you may not have the same mobility as you would with the smartphone VR. In fact, you won’t have the same mobility (no pun intended). But, the question is how much mobility you really need. Possibly, the iPad setup is just perfect the way it is and the mobility and movement aspect is not a disadvantage at all.

What is on Amazon for the Tablet/iPad?

One could spend hours (literally) searching for the perfect viewer or other gear for the iPad VR experience, on Amazon. And, even after that hour of searching, it is possible that nothing pops. A couple of different things are happening. In some cases, you may find an iPad case (no pun intended) and the vendor has included the acronym “VR” in the title and that is why it shows up as if it is a viewer. (True story! I saved you from the unpleasant experience of following that useless link.)

In other cases, like the example we are about to use, it is yet another situation. In that case, the iPad VR gear is normal VR gear that is accessed a certain way.

How is that, you ask? By using a smart controller (remote control).

To help explain this a bit easier, let’s take a look at the example >> “Ecoastal 2016 New Version 3D VR Virtual Reality Glasses Headset with Remote Wireless Controller, Focal & Pupil Distance adjustment” (affiliate).

We are not necessarily recommending this bundle (although it looks pretty good) but we are using it as an example. If you visit that bundle, scroll down the list of features. At the bottom of the list of features, you will notice verbiage that explains it all. It mentions that the bundle can be used with a tablet as long as the remote control is used. Of course, an example of a tablet is the iPad or iPad Mini, even though those are not the only tablets out there.

With the remote control capability, we have the ability to do quite a few things. Add that Bluetooth technology and you are connecting this with that and vice versa. That is the magic of being able to use the iPad for VR. Or, at least it is one way.

Making Your Own Tablet VR Viewer

Ok, I think we can agree that the iPad Mini VR contraption might look a little strange. It looks sort of like a plank attached to your face.

Granted, the benefits are there, when compared to regular smartphones. There are the added benefits that come with the iPad, like graphics, sound, etc. And, when using the iPad Mini for VR, all of those features transfer over to your VR experience.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that you look funny wearing a tablet on your face 😉

In trying to find a viewer/headset that worked with the iPad, we came up a bit empty. However, we did find some really helpful videos that showed us how to create our own viewers. Think along the lines of Google Cardboard and you have the right idea.

In this case, it is a matter of grabbing the next delivery box that comes through your front door, along with some scissors and cutting it to shape it into your new viewer.

YouTube Videos for Your Educational (or Entertainment) Value

How to Make a Virtual Reality Headset Cheap for iPad

This one is interesting and it certainly boasts of a pretty pink magnifying glass, as well as some grooving music to inspire you as you build whatever it is you are building.


Google Launches Cardboard VR Headset for Tablets

For real? Seriously? Not… but you have to watch it! You will be glad that you did!


My Cardboard iPad Mini

Need to save money? This is cardboard in the truest sense. This is virtual in the truest sense. Get ready for your True VR iPad…


Making a DIY Virtual Reality Headset Using a 7″ Android Tablet
This one is a long video. It is probably the most realistic as far as what might work, but do you WANT it to work? At the end of the video, you have something that looks like the evolution of the Village People version of a tablet VR viewer headset to a “Back to the Future” outcome, all thanks to a bin of hardware/screws, to help with the leverage/weight distribution.
One thing is for sure. Watching this video should help you to understand why it is sometimes difficult to find iPad or Tablet Viewers.

Oh – and this gentleman is a Brit, so listen carefully and realize that some words sound different to us Yanks (Americans) and that the money discussion may be different, depending on the country from whence you come.


A Couple of Concerns

One other thing to keep in mind is that even though the iPad (or other tablets) may have incredible graphics processing and sound processing, it may not be good enough for virtual reality (VR). You may end up with pixelated results or delays in sound and this will surely affect the enjoyment of your VR experience. So, before investing too much money, definitely keep that in mind. And, if/when possible do the “pet the puppy” routine, to give yourself an opportunity to try something before a huge investment.

Before we go, let’s learn a bit more about iPad VR, the hardware, the technology. Let’s go back to where it all started in 2014, with the Kickstarter campaign and the AirVR (http://getairvr.com/), as we know it today. See you there!

Making Your Own VR Viewer

If you do not have the money to spend on the fancy VR viewers and gear that you may want, you can still participate. How? You can create your own!

Even if you decide to invest in more expensive VR gear in the future, you can have a little fun with creating your own gear in the interim.

Do-It-Yourself VR Videos (Both Entertaining and Educational)

Google Cardboard VR Headset Homemade / DIY Virtual Reality

This video demonstrates more of the usage of the Google Cardboard VR Headset rather than the creation of it. However, it is helpful if you have some confusion on the usage and need a refresher.

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DIY easy VR headset

This is another interesting take on the assembly of a VR headset and walks you through the actual process, complete with text shown on the video itself.


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How to make a VR headset for $0

This one might appear a bit complicated, but the presenter does a nice job of demonstrating and explaining each step.

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Make Your VR 3D Lenses and headset from a Bottle and Cups

This one is a very creative take on a VR headset. It may not be for everyone, but it may also be something that serves as an interesting craft project for the family.

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How to Make a GOOGLE CARDBOARD at Home | Virtual reality Headset | DIY

This is another really helpful video that walks you through the process. This one might be one of the better ones out there, even demonstrating the process of finding the 3D videos on which to test your viewer.

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Making a DIY Virtual Reality Headset!

This one is advertised as a joke. If you have found some of the other videos difficult to follow, this video will help you take a break and laugh a bit. Oh, and make sure you use the restroom before watching this one. Spoiler Alert: When was the last time you wore a Girl Scout Cookie box on your face?

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