I was lucky enough to try the HTC Vive at their event in Philadelphia this morning. They are able to show the ~15 minute demo to about 80 people in one day. Friendly people running the event and other VR enthusiasts waiting for the demo.
After making small talk with the event staff they wave you into one of the testing rooms and are immediately set up with the head set, headphones, and controllers.
There’s a quick tutorial in a Matrix Construct type of environment regarding the Chaperone system and the controllers. Part of the tutorial has you use the touch-click wheel on the controller which was a cool interface method but not really used again during the demos. After the tutorial was complete they jump right into the 4 demos.
This was a well executed demo to lead off with. It demonstrated the immersive feeling of an environment and the ability for VR to show scale and perspective. You can walk around a little bit and there’s plenty of stuff to look at. A whale swims by and it’s very impressive to feel the scope and scale. It was a well designed introduction and probably my favorite demo.
Job Simulator – Kitchen
Next up was the kitchen demo from Job Simulator. Extremely fun and a good introduction to the controllers. Intuitive to pick things up and manipulate them. A little strange how some items “snap” in orientation to the controller. I’m curious how the Oculus Touch controllers feel, it may feel more natural to grasp items with a middle finger trigger.
This seemed a bit silly at first because I wasn’t sure what to draw. I doodled some 2D shapes and then started to move my head around so see things from an angle. This is where it clicked, I should be drawing and thinking in 3D. I immediately started to sketch a cube and sphere. I ran out of time before I could accomplish too much, I would love to have a second shot at this demo. The controllers were well utilized, one controller is your brush and the second is a color palette. It was a very natural setup.
Aperture Robot Repair
I actually saw this video a few weeks prior to the HTC event so this was slightly spoiled for me. This was an extremely impressive demo though. Intuitive to manipulate everything and a well done environment. Valve had fun playing the sense of scale, funny to see a drawer full of tiny people followed by the feeling of being in an enormous warehouse at the end. The exploded robot view demonstrates the potential application in engineering or any type of design industry.
The headset was lightweight and comfortable. I made a mistake and I didn’t take the time to adjust the headset straps to my head. One side of the headset kept drooping and it would cause everything to loose focus in that eye. Annoying but it would take a minor correction every minute to get my eye back in the sweet spot. No motion sickness like I experienced with the DK2 but after removing the headset I had a moderate headache – I’m guessing it was due to eye strain.
No tracking issues with headset, everything was extremely smooth and fluid. I bumped into the Chaperone system a few times which was a bit jarring but it makes complete sense in implementation.
Screen door effect could be seen if I looked for it but it was virtually unnoticeable in the demos. The only time it cropped up was at the end of the Robot Repair demo where I was looking in the far distance of the warehouse.
The controllers were intuitive to use and comfortable. I would have liked to use the click-wheel more, I think it was possible in Tilt Brush but I forgot it was there. No tracking issues, everything was 1:1. This was my first experience with positional controllers, I’m now curious to try Oculus Touch.
A very cool experience overall, HTC is smart do demonstrate this technology as it’s very hard to advertise and communicate the feeling of VR.