Virtual Reality (VR) seems to be a buzzword in the tech space right now, but this immersive technology has been around much longer than you might think.

In fact, VR tech was supposed to take off commercially back in the 90’s, with several prototypes pitched at science fairs and TV documentaries, though it didn’t live up to the promise due to technical limitations at that time.

That’s all changed now as the tech has greatly improved – VR hardware is more powerful, graphics look more realistic, there’s more VR content and application, and the goggles are also better designed. It has come a long way since the dated ‘Lawnmower Man’ visuals and laughably bulky headsets.

But its concept and philosophy remains unchanged since its inception. You put on a VR headset, it blocks out your world view and substitutes it with a digital environment which you can explore and interact. In simple terms, VR is a form of mental teleportation.

Want to explore mars or fight a fire-breathing dragon? You can do all that simply by donning a pair of VR glasses at the comfort of your home.

The state of VR

Big businesses are now driving the growth of VR today, making the technology more accessible than ever, from interactive entertainment to e-learning to simulation training.

The video games industry is one of the largest proponents of VR right now. VR hardware such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR are revolutionising the way people play video games. With VR, gamers get to be inside the gaming world.

Phone companies are also pushing the envelope with VR. Samsung has been getting its Galaxy phone users to done their Gear VR, while Google is promoting its Daydream virtual reality platform for Android. Apple is also reportedly exploring VR and augmented reality tech for future iPhones.

A VRXBN representative demonstrating the Oculus Rift at the Glitch event at Avenue 41, Kiarong. Image: Courtesy of VRXBN

In other industries like engineering, medical, education, military and aviation, VR is increasingly becoming a powerful application for marketing, training and design.

In 2015, German airliner Lufthansa used VR to create a virtual experience for visitors at a travel trade show in Berlin.

Professional 3D artists use VR to create 3D models and designs with more in-depth precision, and  some American schools are now using VR to make learning in classrooms more immersive.

VR is also being used to train surgeons, soldiers and even astronauts. As the technology progresses, VR training becomes increasingly effective for various professions beyond the desk job.

With every technological leap, VR is going to get even better over time. Eventually it could expand beyond the human visual and auditory senses. It’s only a matter of time before you could smell, taste and touch in a virtual realm.

The question now is whether Brunei has caught up with the VR trend.

Advocating VR in Brunei

Rimey Osman (2nd L) poses with members of the VR Experience Brunei and a representative of Bruplay.com. Image: Courtesy of VRXBN

The guys behind VR Experience Brunei (VRXBN) have been an advocate for VR tech in the sultanate for quite some time. Their mission is to educate the public on the technology and promote VR adoption in the country.

Rimey Osman of VRXBN said that as VR is increasingly becoming mainstream, he and his team hopes to help Brunei catch up with the rest of the world through public awareness and engagement with public and private organisations.

And while VR gaming has already made a splash in Brunei in the form of PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR, the group wants to break the public stereotype – that for the majority of people, VR is “just for gaming”.

“VR can be actually used for various industry and commercial applications, such as in education and HSE training simulations,” he added.

Oculus Rift

A VRXBN representative demonstrating the Oculus Rift at the Glitch event at Avenue 41, Kiarong. Image: Courtesy of VRXBN

VRXBN is currently bringing in Oculus VR solutions into Brunei. The group hopes to spark public interest in deploying the technology for various solutions.

On Saturday, VRXBN in collaboration with Bruplay.com hosted an exclusive VR showcase, dubbed “Glitch”, at Avenue 41, Kiarong during which invited bloggers and influencers were given the opportunity to experience full VR immersion with the Oculus Rift.

The first PC virtual reality headset to hit the consumer market, the Oculus Rift supplied by VRXBN comes with Oculus Touch motion controllers and sensors to track movement, allowing the user to stand up and move around in his or her virtual space.

One of the guests at the Glitch event donning the Oculus Rift headset. Image: Courtesy of VRXBN

The Rift’s snug-fit headset features dual OLED displays with a resolution of 1,080 x 1,200 per eye, 90Hz refresh rate and 110-degree field of view. The headset is wirelessly tethered to a high-end PC.

During the demo, guests donned the Rift headset and played a round of Beat Saber, a VR rythm game where the player slashes the beats with “lightsabers” along with the music a la Dance Dance Revolution.V

VRXBN also demoed its full body haptic suit for VR, called Bhaptics, which essentially simulates haptic feedback to the wearer as they interact in the virtual world.

“Through this event, we’re showing the community how much VR technology has evolved and how it can benefit us in our daily lives,” Rimey said, adding that the public can expect showcases like Glitch hosted more frequently.

The Oculus Go headsets on display at the event. Image: Courtesy of VRXBN

Also on showcase was the Oculus Go, which is aimed for the more casual consumer due to its portability and lower price point. Unlike the Rift, the Oculus Go isn’t tethered to a phone or PC – it can be worn and used right out of the box.

This standalone VR headset can be used for casual VR gaming or immersive movie viewing while on-the-go.

VRXBN is the exclusive VR solutions provider in Brunei and is a distributor of Oculus VR products. For more information on their services, visit vrxbn.com.

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