Virtual Reality Headset Comparison for Engineering Applications
With all of the different headset options currently out and many more upgrades on the way, a single location for some of the more popular virtual reality headsets can be very useful. This blog will hopefully serve many as the go-to location for comparing these headsets!
Headsets Being Compared
There is a wide variety of headsets currently being used, ones from $15 dollars made of cardboard to higher end ones that can cost up to $9000 dollars. For this blog, we will be comparing 5 different headsets. The headsets we will be comparing are the HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go (32GB), and the Google Cardboard. For each, we will look at some advantages to using each in engineering applications and some disadvantages to each.
Table 1: Headset Comparison Chart
First, we’ll start with the main headset we have been using at Perception Engineering which is the HTC Vive. For the price and how simple the controllers are, this headset set is one of the better ones. With little to no experience, users can become experts with the controllers after running through the set-up process. In an engineering sense, the HTC Vive is great and one of the better headsets from the list. Many software recommends using the Vive because of its capabilities. All in all, it’s a great headset with a good price point for those getting started with virtual reality.
Figure 2: HTC Vive Headset
HTC Vive Pro
Next is the HTC Vive Pro which is similar to the basic HTC Vive, but it has some extra added benefits. One obvious change from the previous version is it’s upgraded headset design. This features built-in headphones and different strap methods so that wearing the headset for extended periods of time doesn’t cause pain. It also has a better resolution per eye giving the user a clearer view of whatever is being viewed. The only complaint so far with this headset is the price. The $799 headset does not include controllers or the base stations, so this is strictly for the headset itself. However, previous controllers and base stations from the original HTC Vive will work. Image by https://www.vive.com/us/product/vive-pro/
Figure 3: HTC Vive Pro Headset
For the price and specs of the Oculus Rift, it is up near the top as one of the better headsets to use. It’s a little cheaper than the HTC Vive but is identical as far as specs go. The controllers may look a little more complex than the HTC Vive controllers, but the Oculus Rift controllers are more comfortable as they are more ergonomically designed. This may not seem like an issue, but in extended uses, the more comfortable the better. One disadvantage with the Oculus Rift is the sensor tracking. For something like a 360-degree experience, a third tracker will need to be purchased. This can also be an advantage depending on the application. For bringing this technology to trade-shows, there isn’t the worries about needing an excessive amount of room since both trackers will be placed side-by-side facing the user. Image by https://www.oculus.com/rift/
Figure 4: Oculus Rift Headset
Oculus Go (32GB)
With a cleaner look and a more comfortable feel than that of the Oculus Rift, the Oculus Go is a great virtual reality headset for those just starting out with VR. This is another good headset for trade-shows as it is both wireless and only uses one controller. This is great for those who may not be up to date with the latest technology since there are very few buttons. There is a limit to what can be done with this headset. There is no room setup style so sitting down is the only option for viewing things virtually. There is still 360-degree viewing since the headset can track it all without the use of the tracking stations needed with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. At one of the lower prices of these headsets being compared, the Oculus Go should be highly considered by any company looking to implement virtual reality. Image by https://www.oculus.com/go/
Figure 5: Oculus Go Headset
The Google Cardboard has been added to this list even though it’s not really virtual reality, but rather it’s a 360-degree viewing experience. This doesn’t mean that it’s not useful for certain engineering applications. For it is the lowest cost and wireless, it’s very useful for viewing something like CAD files in a virtual environment right on a smartphone. Being that it’s on a smartphone, there is a limit to how large and detailed some items can be. This may be tricky for certain applications or companies where detail is very important. 360-degree photos for quickly showing someone is where the Google Cardboard really stands out from the rest. It’s very quick to take a 360-degree photo, load it on a smartphone, and then view it in the headset. This is ideal in a setting where many individuals will be looking at the same photo because they won’t be able to interact with items as in-depth as they could with one of the other headsets. The biggest takeaway here is that the Google Cardboard is quick, lower cost, and easy to use.
Figure 6: D-Scope Google Cardboard 360-Degree Viewer
In the end, it’s all up to company specifics as to which headset to go with. At Perception Engineering, we use the HTC Vive, but there wouldn’t have been any issues if we would have gone with the Oculus Rift for instance based strictly on specs of the headsets. The HTC Vive Pro is just too early to purchase. Even with us having the earlier version and having both the controllers and base stations work with it, it’s better to wait until the full HTC Vive Pro package can be bought in one bundle. For quickly showing files such as a 360-degree photo of a product that’s trying to be sold,
for instance, the Google Cardboard and Oculus Go are great options. Again, the best approach is to check the company’s overall goals and pick the most applicable headset!