Remember those rides in amusement parks and malls alike where you get wind blasted at you, water sprinkled on your head, and sat in moving, hydraulically powered chairs that mimicked the action on-screen? They had various names but always had a “D” mentioned somewhere. Now we have a combination of VR and these experiences, and coincidentally this one’s called a “9D” experience.
Perhaps it’s slightly tongue in cheek, or they count dimensions in a different way, but long story short, it’s still the same experience as before, only now a mobile-VR headset is thrown into the mix. The combination shows a lot of promise, especially with the number of possible experiences, but it brings to the table the same problems as its Google Cardboard – based brethren.
I selected a roller coaster experience to see how well the setup performs. The problems immediately started from there. These headsets have problems with syncing the dual displays, have horrible lag, stuttering frames, and latency issues, which brought out my inborn vulnerability to motion sickness in a jiffy. The moving chair, the sounds and the fan pushing out random bursts of air helped my motion sickness along, instead of helping to increase the immersion. The backgrounds in the display were low resolution and the movement was only a crude estimation of what was currently happening in the headset.
For all that, I still found myself marveling at the fact that the regular consumer can soon experience a form of virtual reality, and in fact while lining up for my turn I saw a lot of users who finished their experience smiling and wanting to go once more. I blame it on my previous experience on the Vive and the smooth, polished gameplay that it displayed; I’ve become spoiled because of it.
The hardware gets an A for effort, but the implementation, especially the use of mobile-based hardware (it seems) and mobile-based games, makes the experience sub-par compared to “real” HMDs like the Vive, however many “D”s they add to the name. Still, this kind of entertainment is definitely still in its infancy; a first step if you will. There’s much more to expect and look forward to, now that VR has set its sights on the mainstream, as shown by the PSVR and HTC’s interest in propagating its headsets through internet cafes.