• Posted

My Top Gadget Predication of 2016 & My Favourite Gadget of All Time!

With 2016 approaching – yes it’s hard to believe – I recently discovered a great article on the best gadgets of 2016 and this made me stop to think about some of the exciting prospects heading our way next year. For me though there is one stand-out gadget that was listed in the above article that inspired my thinking and it’s one that I am looking forward to trying big time in Q1 2016. It’s essentially the Virtual Reality (VR) headset ‘Oculus Rift’.

Originally invented in 2011, by Palmer Luckey (the first prototype created in his parents Garage). It was the involvement of the legendary John Carmack of id Software fame, who demonstrated a prototype of the Rift at E3 2012 running a modified version of Doom 3 BFG Edition, that got the press and the rest of the world’s attention. With quotes from some of the top tech sites at the time stating “It transforms the experience of playing a first-person videogame!”.

After a Kickstarter Campaign the team then got bigger with the likes of former exec of Gaikai and Scaleform Brendan Iribe joining the fray - who is now the CEO.

However it was the $2 billion dollar acquisition of the company in 2014 by Facebook that took most people by surprise, some were sceptical arguing Facebook would dumb down the VR headset, but others were more optimistic. In fact it showcased to people that this was a product to stay for the long term; as nobody invests this amount of money for it to flop and this is exciting stuff!

Of course VR headsets are not new (in laymen’s terms VR places you in the heart of a computerised world that you can interact with as if you were there), as I remember seeing an episode of Gamesmaster once which featured the arcade machine ‘Virtuality’; a 3D Virtual Reality headset that was hooked up to either a pedestal (so the player could move around) or you could sit down in a Go-Kart fashion.

Virtuality

It also had a hefty price tag of $50,000 to match! Of course in the 90’s you did have some cheaper consumer attempts of tackling the VR market in the form of the Nintendo Virtual Boy and Sega VR. Sadly the latter never got out of the starting blocks and the Virtual Boy was deemed as a commercial flop; it was pulled from the market the following year of its release! Sometime in 1996 if memory serves.

VirtualBoy

I think the main problem (not taking cost into consideration) with the VR headsets at the time was the technology that caused people to have headaches and worst of all motion sickness! Thus every time you went into the virtual world you would come out needing the sick bag accessory that came with it! The last part was a joke – ed.

While the above back story does not seem like the perfect way for me to describe my predicted top gadget of 2016, you need to remember that the above headsets were developed some 20+ years ago and technology has moved on a great deal since then!

Even so it’s still brave of the team behind Oculus Rift to take on the mantel, but what impresses me about the gadget the most is that the core focus from the off has been to resolve the aforementioned age old problem of motion sickness.

Now this is solved and out the way the team can go on (with the financial backing of Facebook behind them) to develop varying VR experiences for consumers and businesses alike (not just games).

This is what excites me the most about the tech, for example while being immersed in games will be an amazing experience (something that caught my eye back in the 90’s); just imagine playing Alien: Isolation! I think as Mark Zuckerberg predicted, games are just the beginning. Being a big movie fan it would be cool to watch films as if I was sitting in a virtual cinema or getting up close in sports tournaments such as Wimbledon.

Likewise, from an education point of view, visiting museums to study all the exhibitions - as if you were there – could be awesome!

Teleconferencing is also on the cards, with VR Chat proto­types already in the works, so you can be at meetings without being physically there.

Epic Games have even demoded this year some code that allows two players (wearing Rifts) to interact with each other’s avatars in the same virtual room.

So the ideas are limitless, of course the Oculus Rift will come at a price, with Forbes suggesting it will cost over $350 and it will still require a powerful PC to run it.

Inspiring others!

Despite this there is no denying that the Oculus Rift has inspired other companies to produce alternatives and this can only be a good thing for consumers. You will find VR in the form of the PlayStation VR (aka Project Morpheus), a headset from HTC called the HTC Vive, The MergeVR (for smartphones) and of course you have Microsoft’s take on things with their HoloLens tech!

Thus VR is certainly going to be something to look out for in 2016!

Note: Check out this article from Wired as it has a great backstory of how the Oculus Rift came to pass.

My Fave Gadget of All Time!

Then again now that I have come back to Earth for a moment, when it comes back to basics I still have my favourite gadget mounted beside me as I write and while I don’t want to be a stereotypical gadget lover its Star Wars related! With the new films coming out in December it had to be didn’t it!

My favourite gadget of all time is my Star Wars Master Replica Force FX Darth Vader Lightsabre; modelled from Darth Vader’s Lightsabre used in Episode IV: A New Hope.

I remember fondly getting this from the postman and giggling like a child as I activated the blade for the first time, with the authentic igniting sound effect (taken from the film) that accompanies such a move kicking in and likewise swinging the blade from side to side as the motion sensor activated an accompanying sound effect (again taken from the film). Then of course you had the process of closing the blade and yes it is geeky, but darn it’s an awesome feeling!

You will have to let us know what your favourite gadget is of all time in the comment’s below.

For now though going back to my earlier piece, the future is certainly looking bright for gadgets and technology in general for that matter. Thus, I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how 2016 plays out that’s for sure!