Virtual reality, or VR, is a technology that lets you figuratively step inside a computer-generated 3D world. You can explore and sometimes even manipulate objects in that world. Imagine virtually stepping inside a video game, where the game world feels as real as the non-game world. In fact, video games are one of the most exciting and engaging ways to enjoy VR today.
Beyond video games, there are several other exciting ways to experience VR. College students can use VR technology to learn complex, dangerous tasks — like piloting an airplane or performing surgery — in a safe environment. Architects and engineers can incorporate VR technology to see their works rendered in 3D before a single brick is laid or a screw is turned. Real estate agents can give virtual tours of buildings for sale, even if the potential buyer is hundreds of miles away with VR technology.
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg; VR is being utilized in all sorts of exciting ways around the world, and the possibilities seem to be growing by the day.
Smartphones are probably the most affordable VR option on the market right now. You can download VR apps to your phone, then slide the phone into a smartphone-compatible wearable VR device (sold separately). You'll see these products called goggles, glasses, headset and viewers. These devices let your phone become a portal to the virtual world. They're perfect for 360-degree gaming on the go. But VR on cell phones is not limited to gaming. Imagine a real estate agent giving a virtual tour of a property wherever they are, or a student getting a more lifelike learning experience from the dorms.
There are two main types of products that will let you experience VR on your smartphone.
- Handheld devices require you to hold them up to your face, like binoculars.
- Headsets are worn on your head, so you can free up your hands for other tasks.
Before you start using VR apps on your phone, many headset devices come with a QR code used to sync with these apps. A QR code is kind of like a barcode that you scan. This code will configure your app for optimal viewing on your specific VR device. If you skip this step, your virtual reality device and smartphone might not be optimized and you could experience blurriness.
As more products become available, features will vary by product. Here are some of the features of VR devices for cell phones:
Since VR is dependent upon seeing the virtual world through two lenses, the experience may differ based on the size and shape of your face. To compensate for this, many devices let you make adjustments to two important specifications:
- Focus – To reduce blurriness, many VR devices have a focus dial that ever-so-slightly moves the screen toward or away from your eyes.
- Pupillary distance (PD) – The distance between pupils will vary from person to person, which could have an impact on image alignment and picture quality. With adjustable PD, you can calibrate the screens to line up with your eyes for an all-around better experience.
If you plan on using your VR device for long periods, you may want to consider a device with built-in faceplate cushions for added comfort.
Some devices have vents along the edges to help your face and the device stay cool. This is another feature to consider if you're using it for longer sessions.
If you want to use headphones with your VR device, the device will need to have an opening to accommodate the headphone jack on your phone, or you might want to connect to wireless headphones via Bluetooth.
Since VR devices for cell phones use your smartphone to function, you will need to make sure the VR device is compatible with your phone. Some devices will only work with iPhones, while others are designed to work with specific Android models. There are also devices that work with a wide range of phone sizes and types.
So when you're looking for the right VR device for your phone, double check to make sure your phone is compatible before making a purchase.
To complement the VR experience, Best Buy also carries several accessories for VR devices. For example, wireless controllers sync to your smartphone via Bluetooth to give you more control over your virtual environment. Since VR apps can drain your battery faster than typical phone use, you might also want to consider some portable power solutions, like chargers and battery packs.
Currently, the only VR device available for gaming consoles is Sony's PlayStation VR.
One of the most exciting ways virtual reality is being used today is to bring video game worlds to life. With PlayStation VR, you can enter fully realized 3D worlds for a visceral gaming experience that hits more of your senses than ever before.
And that's why the PlayStation VR is, at its core, built around games. Whether you plan on exploring the vast reaches of outer space or run from zombies that chase you through an abandoned house, PlayStation VR is ready to bring thrilling VR games into your home.
PlayStation VR is lightweight and can be worn with glasses. It includes a 5.7" 1080p screen for excellent picture quality.
PlayStation VR is compatible with the PlayStation 4 gaming console. Most PlayStation VR games will work with the DualShock 4 controller that came packaged with the PS4, but you may want to add PlayStation Move motion controllers for an ever deeper level of immersion.
If you crave the ultimate virtual reality gaming experience, VR devices for PCs are built with the hardcore gamer in mind. Currently, the premiere VR headset for a PC is the Oculus Rift.
Beginning as a wildly successful start-up company and then partnering with social media giant Facebook, the Oculus Rift has been at the center of the VR world's attention for years now.
As far as VR is concerned, the Oculus Rift has it all: a high-quality display, a sleek and comfortable design, customization options and precise motion controls. It also has a library of high-quality games, with more being added all the time.
Plus, discover Touch from Oculus. Touch is a controller system that has been created with the human hand in mind to make controlling your virtual reality as natural as possible. Its ergonomic design, intuitive actions, and outstanding hand tracking, make it seem like your hands are actually in the virtual reality.
The Oculus Rift is built for mid- to high-end gaming computers and laptops. If you are not sure your computer is powerful enough, we've compiled a list of minimum spec requirements to help determine if you're Oculus Rift-ready.
There are several accessories designed to enhance the VR experience on a PC. These range from high-quality gaming controllers to cleaning kits to help keep your device at peak performance.
You can pair a VR device with a 360 camera to take photos and/or videos in a 360-degree angle. This lets you capture a full environment with very little effort, which you can later explore using various VR apps with your mobile device. A flat image doesn't compare; the best way to experience 360-degree images or videos is with a VR device, hands down.
To check out VR on a cell phone, just stop into a Best Buy store and see what it's about. We've got a great selection and a team of experts on hand to help.
Get a hands-on demo of the new Oculus Rift. Oculus team members will be at select Best Buy stores to guide you through Rift's virtual-reality features and answer your questions. Space and demo hours are limited. Sign up for your demo session today or stop by a store in the list below.
Your local Best Buy has a variety of virtual devices and accessories for purchase, and VR demos to try out. Stop into a Best Buy store to try out virtual reality for yourself.
You'll also find additional VR options on the Best Buy website.