Brisbane's Virtual Reality - with Lex Van Cooten

Virtual Reality as it is today has been around for a few years now. It’s always spoken about as the next big thing, but when is ‘next’? VR still hasn’t broken into the mainstream market despite the amount of money being injected into the industry, so we asked Lex Van Cooten from the Brisbane VR Club some questions to clarify what’s happening in the VR space.


Brisbane Byte: As the VR industry stands right now, would you recommend any interested
people to get a VR headset? If so, which one?

Brisbane VR Club: This depends of the persons budget and purpose for what they are wanting
to use the headset for. If the person is looking for the best gaming experience there is either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

Although the Rift has had a huge price cut the cost of their quality games tend to be higher. There is also less of a selection compared to the HTC Vive. The Rift is a lighter headset with less cables which is certainly a plus. If you are wanting to have some fun in VR I would recommend the Rift.

If you are serious about VR and want to use the most play space possible I recommend the Vive which has much larger tracking area and tracking stability. Your garage is a great place to
setup the Vive.


BB: With the Rift’s price drop, do you think Oculus is trying to reignite the market or are they just clearing stock for whatever comes next?

BVRC: I would say both, however Facebook understands the massive benefits of having a huge user base (all of their social platforms are built with this in mind). They have fallen behind HTC Vive in popularity within the gaming community but if they become the number one used headset in the market they would be able to win on the sheer numbers on their platform (prices of games/content will drop and they will continue to block use of headsets by competitors).


BB: What applications of VR are we already seeing in real life?

BVRC: Right now there are a lot of VR experiences used within training applications. One great example is for firefighting, where users wear heat simulating jackets and use a physical fire hose tracked in VR to fight virtual fires.


BB: One problem with VR is how much it cuts you off from the outside world while using it. With that in mind, do you think VR is here to stay or will AR surpass it?

BVRC: Both will exist in combination. A VR experience is much more powerful than an AR experience in my opinion (as it takes you to a completely different world and is not limited by real world physics) however due to everyone having a mobile phone, which is great hardware to consume AR experiences though, we will see AR enter mass adoption quicker than VR. Both will stay.


BB: Do you have any theories about how to get past the motion sickness issue and moving in VR in general?

BVRC: Having a ‘virtual nose’ simulated within your VR experience is one technique which can reduce motion sickness. Another is to have some form of mobile transport, such as a hoverboard, in the game to move around larger virtual spaces while still giving the human brain a reason why it feels like it is moving. Unfortunately, there will always be some who are so sensitive to motion sickness that they will not be able to be an early adopter of VR technology.


BB: It seems like the content might not be there yet to entertain the average consumer for more than a month or two. Which game or software would you most recommend people try out in VR?

BVRC: I recommend downloading the Oculus store and Steam and filtering through the virtual reality games, watching trailers of the top games and determining which ecosystem you would prefer to be a part of. You will see that there is a massive amount of content of Steam however the quality just isn’t that great. Oculus has less content by due to Facebook funding developers to build exclusive games the quality and length of their games are up there at AAA Level.


BB: One problem with VR is how much it cuts you off from the outside world while using it. With that in mind, do you think VR is here to stay or will AR surpass it?

BVRC: Both will exist in combination. A VR experience is much more powerful than an AR experience in my opinion (as it takes you to a completely different world and is not limited by real world physics) however due to everyone having a mobile phone, which is great hardware to consume AR experiences though, we will see AR enter mass adoption quicker than VR. Both will stay.


BB: Where’s the best place in Brisbane for people to try VR?

BVRC: There is a monthly meetup that I am involved in at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The event happens once a month, with the next one happening on the 29th of August, starting at 6pm. There is always a VR headset or two setup for anyone to try out the latest VR experiences available, and a talk from a local developer/company on a VR/AR experience they have developed. It is a free event and suitable for all ages.


This was first published in the August 2017 issue of Brisbane Byte magazine. Subscribe below to get future issues delivered straight to your inbox.