I've been playing with all the VR headsets I can get my, erm, head on :-/.
The real juicy stuff hasn't been released yet but it will be here soon. I've had enough time to play with the Oculus, and I've sampled some of the cardboard type systems during this long wait for proper commercial releases. I've had enough time to come to some conclusions on some of the sticking points of VR headsets. If the manufacturers get these things right they're sure to get some market traction, if not they'll fail even if they score highly in other areas.
1. Facial comfort
Normal people do not take long journeys in a sports car. Sure it's quick, and it corners like it's on rails, but 3 miles in and you can't feel your cheeks! Put the roof down and you won't be able to feel your cheeks either ;-). It'll be the same in the age of VR. The headset might have the best optics, it might have the widest possible field of view, but if you can't stand to have it crush the top of your nose for more than 5 minutes it won't have any reasonable applications...except porn perhaps! Get these things light and comfortable, it's number 1 in my list because it's a non-technical show-stopper.
2. Vomit visor
I'm the guy that can't read on car journeys, I have to see out of a window or I'll feel sick. I'm prone to travel sickness, and motion sickness sends me queasy if I play older low res FPSs! I'm a prime candidate for Virtual Reality Sickness and I've experienced it plenty.
I don't really care what the technical reasons are but if you do then here knock yourself out! What's important is that manufacturers (and developers) eliminate, reduce, or at least manage the issue.
I'll stick to gaming as the application for VR in this topic as that's my only vomit visor experience.
Different games cause different levels of this sickness phenomena and if the issue can't be eliminated then some kind of warning or rating will need to be applied.
Over at share.oculus.com there are plenty of free games and tech demos for use on the Rift (DK2) and consequently there is plenty of variation in vomit rating amongst them. It's strange that I can fly around in a wing suit in the excellent AirDrift and my only nausea issue will be a comfortable approximation of the stomach churn experienced by real wing suit flying, a testament to the quality of the experience perhaps? Whereas a gentle stroll around the grounds of a Tuscan Villa in the ubiquitous Oculus Tuscany Demo will have me blowing chunks and green of hue for some hours.
If the issue remains when the much anticipated commercial version of the Rift is launched then I only hope some consideration has gone into helping the user become gradually 'immersed' by providing ever more challenging experiences. Something completely benign and yet still a full VR experience such as Therapeutic Heights - Relaxation Experience to begin with. Perhaps one whole tutorial application that gradually applies more and more sensory challenges...just don't start in that bloody awful Tuscan nightmare!
3. Field of view
We see a lot out of the corners of our eyes. If the deepest immersion is what is sought for then the field of view must be the widest possible. As soon as our eyes see something from reality then the immersion level drops and the experience is compromised. It'll be important for Augmented Reality too but in functional way rather than a suspension of disbelief thing.
This is a kind of tipping point issue for me where the virtual reality experience can be dropped in favour of better graphics. The clearest (no pun) example of this is with Elite: Dangerous and the the Oculus Rift DK2. Elite: Dangerous is a beautiful game in all aspects, but in particular its visual delights are frankly awesome. I imagine most people will play Elite at resolutions of 1920x1080 or greater and boy is it pretty. Elite: Dangerous has direct support for the Rift DK2 which is excellent and it's the perfect game for VR. Playing Elite in VR offers you near perfect spacial immersion, it really feels like you're sitting in space. If you've ever been snorkeling on a reef in surging seas then you get the idea...it's that good. The problem comes with the relatively low resolution of the Rift DK2. At 960×1080 per eye things are not as pretty using the Rift, but it's not just graphics snobbery, the resolution isn't high enough to render the control screens properly and that ruins the immersion in my opinion. If I'm meant to be sitting in the cockpit of my super space fighter and I look down at my navigation screen and I can't read it because it's all interlaced then I'm 'back in the room'. Having said all that, it's such a great experience immersing spatially that the poor graphics only just about send me back to the old monitor. Hopefully the new commercial version will be good enough with its 1080x1200 per eye...I can't wait!
Broad compatibility, open source development kits and developer collaboration are all required to support the market for a product, and indeed to help push the development and adoption of future versions. Hardware is only as good as its applications and this is particularly so in the gaming world. It's a big issue for non-gaming uses of VR and AR too as most currently used systems are proprietary meaning the manufacturer develops the software AND the hardware. For gaming, a developer community can be particularly beneficial for innovation, longevity and customer loyalty. It's clear from the amount of community created content on share.oculus.com that Oculus ticked this particular box.