You’re about to take the plunge in virtual reality (VR). You see how much fun your friend is having playing with his Oculus Rift. Your Galaxy S7 toting friends are showing off their Gear VR. You’ve played with an HTC Vive in the store, and now you are ready to get into VR. How exactly do you do that? What VR platform should you invest in? Virtual reality broke out in a big way in 2016 with big names such as Sony and Facebook (via Oculus) releasing VR headsets for the masses.
While virtual reality isn’t new by any means (the first VR headset was built in 1968), 2016 was the year that VR truly broke out into the mainstream. Cheap VR headsets can now be found in several big box stores and even grocery stores such as Wegmans. Despite the coming out party for VR, it’s still very much an early adopters market. How the rest of the market responds to VR in the long term remains to be seen since we’re still on the first versions of current VR headsets. With that said, here are the top VR headsets to look at:
Starting out this list is the Oculus Rift. The Rift started out as the brainchild of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and id Software cofounder John Carmack. After Luckey created a Kickstarter for the Rift back in 2012, it quickly became the darling of the gaming industry and raised upwards of $2.5 million. The Rift has gone through several iterations starting with the Development Kit 1 or DK1. Each successive iteration of the Rift improved on the specs dramatically such as screen resolution, refresh rate, and frame rate.
In 2014, Oculus was bought by Facebook for $2 billion. The influx of cash from Facebook allowed Oculus to finish development of the Rift and it finally went on sale on March 28, 2016 for $600. Oculus formed a partnership with Microsoft to allow Rift games to be played natively with the Xbox One controller (which was also packaged in with the Rift headset). Initial reviews of the Rift were overwhelmingly positive with many reviewers praising the comfort of the headset and truly high end graphics that don’t compromise.
The major drawback was the lack of the Oculus Touch controllers at launch. The Oculus Touch Controllers free the user’s hands and allow more immersive VR experiences. The Touch controllers were later released in early December. The Touch Controllers connect to the Rift via Bluetooth thereby freeing up a USB port. However, even with the two cameras, the tracking may occasionally go out.
The solution is to buy a 3rd camera sensor which eats up another USB port and costs $80. Unfortunately, in order to render the detail required of Rift in a manner that doesn’t make the user nauseous, a PC with a high-end graphics card was required (NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290).
In October 2016, Oculus lowered the system requirements a little by adopting the “motion interpolation” technology which allows games to run at lower frame rates. This would also allow cheaper computers with lower specs to run VR games on the Rift. That said, computers that can run VR games comfortably still cost around $600-700 not to mention the cost of the Rift itself.
Up until March 2015, HTC was primarily known as a smartphone maker. The Taiwan based company unveiled the Vive at Mobile World Congress on March 2015 as a collaboration with gaming company Valve. HTC engineered the actual VR headset while Valve created SteamVR operating system for use on the Vive. The Vive was designed as a whole room experience from the beginning.
It utilizes two IR cameras placed on opposite sides of the room as well as two motion controllers to allow full movement in a VR environment. Up until the release of the Oculus Touch Controllers for the Rift, the HTC Vive was the only one allowing full room scale VR.
Most early VR games for the Rift were created for traditional couch gaming using the Xbox One controller, just with the added benefit of VR head tracking. In order to prevent users from bumping into the wall or furniture, the Vive has a feature called Chaperone which actually shows a cool “Tron” view of the real world using the built-in camera on the front once the user gets too close to an obstacle.
Reviews for the Vive were also favorable with many lauding the complete immersion offered by the motion controllers. Unfortunately, some reviewers complained how bulky and uncomfortable the Vive headset was compared to the Rift.
Additionally, be prepared to set aside about 15-20 minutes setting up the play space if you want the full room-scale games. The Room-Scale mode requires you to place the IR cameras (called Lighthouses) on opposite sides of the room. The space requirement can be as small as 6.5ft by 5ft or as large as 15ft by 15ft.
Fortunately, there is a Standing-Only setting that allows you to use the Vive in tighter spaces. Like the Rift however, all of that VR goodness doesn’t come cheap.
In fact, the HTC Vive retails for about $800, a good $200 more expensive than the base Oculus Rift. That’s also not factoring in the cost of the high-end computer needed to render the VR graphics on the Vive.
Not to be left in the dust, Sony released their PlayStation VR (PSVR) on October 13, 2016. Unlike the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, the PSVR was designed to be connected to the PlayStation 4 console instead of a PC. The PSVR is meant to be a more affordable entry into the VR space as most people who purchase it will probably already own a PS4. Also, the price the PSVR itself is only $400.
The complete system consists of the headset itself, a processor box to output video to the TV and 3D audio, the PS camera, and two PlayStation Move controllers. Some readers may recognize the Move controllers from Sony’s previous foray into motion controllers to compete with the Nintendo Wii.
The main drawbacks to the PSVR is that it’s not quite as powerful as the Rift or the Vive. The PS4 is much weaker than high end gaming computers and thus the PSVR is limited to 1080p resolution. While 1080p is crisp from a distance, the pixels can be seen when viewed up close.
Also, while the Move controllers are a welcome addition and do provide more immersion than a PS4 DualShock controller, the limited viewing angle of the camera can cause the loss of tracking of the Move controllers. While the setup doesn’t require you to place cameras everywhere, the plethora of cords can be a real pain. Regardless, for the price, the PSVR remains a solid entry into the VR market.
Google Daydream View
Google’s Daydream View headset utilize smartphones to provide the VR experience. Before Daydream, there was Google Cardboard. It’s literally what you think it is: a cardboard box with two lenses inside that had a slot for sliding in a smartphone. Google wanted a cheap and easy way for people to experience VR for themselves.
Google also positioned Cardboard for education and schools. Teachers could use Cardboard in the classroom for more immersive learning experiences. Unfortunately, VR on phones was still a budding concept and experiences, while novel, were not the best.
To remedy that, Google unveiled the Daydream VR platform and Daydream View headset alongside the Pixel smartphone on October 4, 2016. Initially designed just for the Pixel, Daydream View is a small VR headset made of fabric that has an opening for the Pixel.
It also came with a simple motion controller for pointing and interacting with virtual objects. Nothing as fancy as the Rift and Vive or even the PSVR Move controllers but for affordable VR, it gets the job done. Google is leveraging the Daydream VR platform on Android to allow developers to easily create VR experience for Android based devices such as smartphones.
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung also stepped into the virtual reality ring with its Gear VR. The Gear VR was originally released in November 2015 for use with Samsung’s flagship smartphones such as the Galaxy S6/S7. It was developed with input from Oculus and provides a cheaper alternative to high end VR headsets.
The first edition of the Gear VR was released to developers in December 2014 and only worked with the Galaxy Note 4. Technically, consumers could buy it as well but it was marketed towards developers so they could get a handle on the technology in order to create applications for it.
There are currently around 185 applications for the Gear VR. In fact, Six Flags Magic Mountain partnered with Samsung to create the first roller coaster with VR in North America.
So which VR headset should you pick? That question largely hinges on what your bank account is looking like. If you own a gaming PC with a relatively newer graphics card then go for the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Both offer uncompromised VR experiences allowing you to fully utilize a room. Because of the high-end graphics and resolution, there’s much less chance of feelings of nausea or motion sickness.
If you own a PS4 and don’t want to shell out for a high end gaming PC, then the PSVR would make a better bet. While the screen resolution isn’t as high as the Vive/Rift, it’s not so distracting that it takes away from the experience. Plus, because the PS4 already has a huge install base, game developers are more likely to create games for it.
On the downside, the Rift, Vive, and PSVR all suffer from a copious amount of cables that must be managed. If you don’t own a PS4 or high end gaming PC (or maybe you just don’t want to shell out $400 for PSVR), the Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream View are viable options especially if you own a Samsung or Google phone.
In fact, most people will probably use these as stepping stones into the world of VR. However, the VR experiences on these devices still pale in comparison to the higher end VR headsets, not to mention significantly eating into battery life on the smartphone. If you’re interested in the Daydream View but don’t own a Pixel, don’t fret.
Google announced that companies such as Samsung (ironically), HTC, LG, Alcatel, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, and Asus will all create Daydream ready smartphones.
Using Live Video To Double Your Business
Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video, and Periscope – more than likely you would have heard of these social media platforms, but did you know they are the latest technological breakthroughs for users to incorporate into their business? These platforms allow you to connect powerfully and easily with your audience, which means as an entrepreneur, you are able to personalize your brand and business amongst targeted viewers.
Engaging with your audience is key to running a successful company. Gone are the days where you can just create a website, cross your fingers, and hope that people will find it and contact you for your products or services. We live in a new era, where billions of people are constantly connected to their smart phone. According to Facebook, there are 1.18 billion active users that visit their social network on a daily basis! So with the Live Video option, you are now able to literally interact in real time with your audience. Think what that can do for your business.
The first thing you may be asking yourself right now is, how can I reach more people without a large following? Well, the easiest and quickest way to build a responsive following is to become Keyword specific. This means that you are targeting people specifically interested in your niche and what you have to offer. It is better to have 100 followers that are engaged and interested in buying your product or service than 1,000 followers that take little to no action on your offers. One of the fundamental keys to your business growth is to create an organic following.
How to build a following organically
Content is king
The more value and content you post regularly on social media — the more followers you are going to gain. People want to learn, be entertained, and see valuable posts from you.
Assuming you’re doing this and you have a responsive following, now you are able to incorporate Live Video! Before you “go live” you must have a game plan on exactly what you will be talking about. Go in prepared or you’ll lose interest and engagement.
Keep in mind the attention span of the average person is extremely short, so you have one chance and one chance only. Make it count! Lucky for you, you don’t have to be on Live Video for too long to get your message across. A handy acronym to use is: K.I.S.S: Keep it short and simple! Your audience will love you for that, trust me!
Build a bond
Like anything worthwhile in life, the power of our bonds with others is what binds us together. Strip all the technology away and we are simply human beings creating connection and bonds, which create trust and trust creates fans and buyers. With your current audience, you must build a bond, in other words, a relationship with them. You can do this with live video. Have a conversation with your audience, while keeping them entertained. Ask questions, acknowledge your viewers, and deliver value that they can take away once you’re done.
Now that you’ve created a relationship with your audience ask them to spread the word by liking to share and comment. The more likes and shares you get, the further your reach gets. Now the way Facebook’s algorithm works is, with the more activity that is happening on your post or feed, they will make sure everyone can watch it and have the opportunity to engage. Whenever a user logs onto Facebook, they will see you first on their feed!
Create a contest
People love winning. Creating a giveaway or a contest that gives your users the chance to gain something by participating will spread your name and page around Facebook like wildfire. It’s scary how fast news will spread when done correctly. A word of caution: Make sure you set clear and concise rules to your contest to avoid unnecessary drama or miscommunication.
On your post, make sure to include a form. Here, you will gather the user’s information: name and email address. These two requirements are essential for you. You have not only gained new leads for your business, but your new leads have also done free advertising work for you and your business. By liking, sharing, and commenting on your post, they have now expanded your message to their following, giving them the opportunity to participate in the contest and spread the word even farther. There are a ton of ways you can grow your audience exponentially with a few cleverly executed strategies.
Live Video Doubling Your Business
Providing value and entertaining info on your product or service without sounding like a door salesman will take you a long way. At the end of each video, provide a call to action for your audience to participate in. An example of this could be, “Click the link in my bio to learn more.” Keep in mind that you do not have to provide a call to action in every video. Spamming your viewers will only backfire.
Another approach you can have is leaving a cliffhanger at the end of each video where your viewers will want to see your next Live Event. It leaves you with suspense, which ultimately makes you come back for more. That’s the effect you need to have on your audience.
Your call to action could be clicking a link that you’ve posted on your page, tagging a friend on your most recent post, and/or leaving a comment with their email on your post. The link that the user will be clicking should direct them to a landing page where you will be able to provide the user with value and an offer. That ties back into a sales funnel, where you can convert leads into buyers.
At the end of the day, Live Video allows you to connect with your audience on a personal level. This form of communication will be help you convey your message more clearly as they watch you live. You will have a better connection with your viewers as you build a connection through emotions. Live video allows your audience to learn more about you, your business and what you’re selling. Make it exciting, provide value, develop creative call to actions for your audience and watch your business grow.
Popping the Bubble: How to Escape the Social Media Echo Chamber
This past election has left most millennials in a cloud of surprise. I know that on my own Facebook news feed there was a very anti-Trump/pro-Bernie vibe. In the months prior to the election, my outlets for social media were bombarded by very specific opinions against the reality TV billionaire. All I heard were calls to “feel the Bern”. To me, and I think to most people my age, it appeared unanimous that Trump would lose. However this was not the case. So what happened?
One issue with social media is that it’s prone to creating echo chambers: places where our ideas are reaffirmed by the consensus of our networks. Don’t like one particular friend’s libertarian view? Easy. Unfollow them. This ability to unfollow, paired with algorithms that curate content towards to your taste depending on what you like/react to, creates the walls that seal us into comfort zones with like-minded people. It traps us into a biased reality; a bubble that prevents us from ideas different than our own. Here are three simple ways to combat the bubble, and allow for the diffusion of ideas. No one’s saying it’s easy, but those who do are the guardians who keep the dialogue open during difficult times and with controversial ideas.
Actively like and react to diverse new sources and pages
Much of the power and control that users have over their social media is in curation. Your feed is curated according to the content you interact with. Simply being aware of this fact can make help make you more conscious about how and what appears in your feed. If you’re not seeing a lot of diversity in content, maybe try interacting with new stuff.
Watch out for confirmation bias
Does it always sound like you’re right? When you log onto your Facebook, does every status update and shared article resonate with your own beliefs? It’s easy to be drawn by the gravity of people who support your ideas, but to keep an honest perspective on the state of the world, you need to balance out what you expose yourself to.
A wise person once said to me “you like that author’s opinion? Then try reading their opposer’s book.”
The “unfollow” feature is meant to be used in times of dire offense. It’s understandable that a person be unfollowed because they are insulting or harassing. The problem is that in some subjects like politics and religion, people can resort to both of these behaviors. Because people tend to hold political and religious beliefs close to their hearts, opposing views often respond with even more hostility. Usually in these cases people unfollow not because of the idea itself but because of the primitive and often negative ways people try to convey them.
What makes unfollowing such a bad option is that it closes the dialogue between big contrasting ideas. If you unfollow a friend who disagrees with you, you’re basically choosing not to hear their side. Does doing this really make you the bigger person? When we choose to stop the flow of information, we are also choosing to remain within the bubble. Break free by practicing these three simple guidelines. Humans aren’t always the best at communicating, but at least keeping an open ear and an open heart leaves the door open to a more harmonious reality, one that actually reflects the ideas of the world, and the people who hold them.
How To Prepare Yourself For A Job In Tech
Technology has transformed the way we live our lives and is set to achieve what was thought impossible a decade ago.
In today’s digital world, every sector is somewhat dependent on technology. So, if you are interested in making a career in technology, there is no limit of options. It is estimated that more than 10 billion smart devices will be connected to the internet by the year 2020, which will create more job opportunities in the technological field.
If you are planning for a career in tech, you need to plan it meticulously and keep yourself updated from time to time. You need to identify the right opportunity and make yourself stand out from the competition. Most of the well-known tech companies have a complex recruitment process to hire the right candidate. Your resume should be unique to get noticed in the crowd. You should also work hard and have diverse skillset to excel in the interviews. Here are some strategic tips for you to make it big in the tech industry.
If you want to attain success in the tech field, keep your basics right. Most of the tech companies look for good technical expertise. Keep your knowledge bank up-to-date with all the technical know-hows and latest innovations. You need to understand and master technology to contribute successfully. In-depth technical knowledge can definitely put you ahead of your competitors.
Passionate about technology? – Share it
Recruiters and hiring managers look for talent who passionate about technology. If you research on a tech issue, share it on a blog or tweet it and get noticed. If you are particularly passionate about cloud computing, UI design, or data analytics, share it on your blog or LinkedIn page. Your passion and activities throw more light on your personality and increase your employability.
Get ready to face the interview anytime
Tech companies recruit talent quickly. They look for dynamic individuals for their companies who are agile and mobile. So, keep your resume handy and visit various career fairs or online job portals regularly to know more about the tech companies and their recruitment procedures. If your skills match with a position, keep yourself ready to face the interview anytime.
Do your homework
It is important to know about your prospective employer. Wikipedia or LinkedIn are great sources to gather all the information about companies. Show some interest about the company and its work culture in the interview and you may have a better chance to negotiate your salary.
The biggest hurdle to get a tech job is to clear the technical round of an interview. The hiring managers evaluate you on your ability to solve real-world problems quickly. They also try to judge your knowledge and skills. The technical round consists of solving puzzles, brain teasers, coding challenges, and group discussions. However, your communication skill will definitely be the deal breaker in the interview. Interviews are always a two-way street. Ask some thoughtful questions to the employer about your role and your future in the company. Your interviewers do not know why they should hire you. So, you need to run an extra mile to prove yourself.
After you bag a role of your dreams in the tech industry, do not stop learning about the latest trends and keep yourself updated. It can always keep you ahead of your competitors. A good work experience allows you to choose a better role in the industry.
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