The Oculus Rift has landed. But VR headsets won't always look like 2016's cohort. Sure, they might not radically change in the next few years but design studio Artefact already has one eye on 2020's form factors.
It has posted its project 'VR 2020: A more inclusive vision for virtual reality' with two VR headset concepts named Light and Shadow.
And both concepts concentrate on how to make VR both more social and more solitary in very different ways. The features lists read a little like a VR tech wishlist - wireless headsets and accessories, emotion and mood reading smart fabrics. But there's no harm in giving headset makers something to aim for in their second gen gear.
Shadow is a headset that is attached to a hoodie for a really private VR experience. The computer and battery are actually built into the hoodie part, not the head-mounted display, and it's a suite of wearables including a sound vibration pack and a neuromuscular force feedback sleeve for tactile interactions.
Artefact designed the Shadow concept with hardcore gamers in mind and it is meant to be untethered from cables. It's social in the sense that the wearer could connect with other gamers:
"For the hardcore gamer, inclusion is meaningful primarily in the context of a shared gaming experience. Eye tracking enables Shadow to detect the user's emotions, which can be reflected through a virtual avatar or using displays within the mask that mimic the user's eyes."
Artefact's second concept, Light, is more geared towards being social in the room you're sat or stood in. It uses features that we've seen headset makers begin to explore on existing headsets such as a Vive-style front-facing camera and a sharing mode via friends' phones or other external screens. It's wireless, obvs, and features bone conduction audio and wireless wearable controllers too.
"We imagined Light as a VR headset for families or groups of friends who want to dabble in virtual reality but above all want to experience it together," the post reads. "Simple, sharable and transparent, it allows the user to stay connected not only to the virtual reality but to her environment and the people around her."
The lead industrial designer on the project, Markus Wierzoch, also offered some insight as to why Artefact decided to focus on the social element: "VR has been called the "church of our imagination" by some and "virtual insanity" by others. Whether or not it becomes more than an addictive trap that insulates us from each other is within our control."
Via: FastCo Design
Let us know what you think of the concepts in the comments below.