Choosing the Best VR Headset for your Business
When comparing VR headsets for business, there is complexity beyond navigating the explosion of new hardware that’s coming to market. Considerations have to be made around what’s going to deliver the best experience to your clients through seamless sales presentations, and how that aligns with costs and ROI - and how effectively sales can use the hardware. Start by considering your use cases. One sweet spot our clients have found for business VR is in quick, impromptu, out-of-office portfolio demos when prospecting for new business, while others may be focused on pitches in their own boardrooms, or on the presentation of designs when seeking feedback and sign-off. Whichever cases you are looking to solve with VR, headsets suited to the task are key, and having put in over a thousand hours of user testing, here are our recommendations for the best business VR headsets.
Google Cardboard and the Homido Mini are the key players here. Costing around $15 each and working with any smartphone, they’ve both helped to revolutionize the accessibility of VR. The Homido Mini is small enough to fit in your pocket, meaning sales teams can easily showcase designs in VR wherever and whenever there’s an opportunity. (As an aside, this is key for job-seekers too - A&D students powered by Yulio carry their portfolios in their pockets to demonstrate their design skills, and comfort with technology) Google Cardboard headsets (or that style) can be bought in lots of places.They’re straightforward to assemble and highly ‘brandable’ so can be given away to prospects affordably. We use them at tradeshows and presentations and they offer a solid viewing experiences and an exciting giveaway.
These lower-end headsets are effective for mobile VR, but they don’t offer as immersive a viewing experience because they let light in and allow the real world to intrude little on a virtual environment.
Great Middle Experiences
Greater immersion through higher-end headsets can be an incredibly effective sales tool in the right presentations. Taking a step up in price and specs, we recommend our clients get the Samsung GearVR or Noon when starting in VR. They’re good compromises on cost vs quality of experience. These both work by inserting a mobile device; any device works in the Noon but, for the Gear, only Samsung phones are compatible.
Both offer strong immersion, are portable and affordable - at around $120 - for businesses wanting to make an impact with VR without moving up to tethered headsets and systems. One caution with mobile VR experiences: as part of the total ownership cost, you may want to consider buying dedicated smartphones for presentations. Using a multi-purpose or business phone comes with the potential to disrupt a user’s immersive experience through chiming texts or calls. Purchasing a dedicated phone is certainly a way to get around this but obviously comes with significant additional cost. Pro Tip: consider using a Kijiji or other buying service like Craigslist to pick up used phones in good condition. You’ll lower the overall cost of ownership but still have devices dedicated to showing VR experiences.
Staying Ahead of the Technology
One more important consideration - at Yulio, we’ve watched the original genesis of VR come and go and it’s clearly going to be a rapidly changing technology. We’re specifically expecting some pretty significant churn in virtual reality headset hardware over the next 8-12 months. As a result, it’s important to choose software that will support multiple devices and headsets. Working with a device-specific technology only to have it become obsolete as the market changes would leave designs unviewable, and your investment in assets wasted. Great new headsets are launching all the time, including Google Daydream which has come with a lot of excitement in part because of the power of a Google Play Store full of potential content. But beware when purchasing any headset hardware that most are limited by phone compatibility (just 4 right now for the Daydream), making them potentially less useful to your sales team and clients unless you’re investing in phone hardware too. At Yulio, we keep abreast of the VR landscape and changing technologies in viewer apps and headsets so that our clients don’t have to - they’re business isn’t about VR trends, so we do that for them. Find a partner with the flexibility to be hardware agnostic, and the resources to be your lookout as VR presentations evolve in the industry.
A Note on Tethered headsets:
Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both deliver a fully immersive experience with ultra-high definition imagery. Being the VR industry’s poster children, they spark a lot of interest, and, used in the right environments with willing participants, can be an impressive draw. On the downside, the need to be tethered to a powerful PC, on top of cost of the headset, makes it an expensive undertaking, and one that is limited in usage to tradeshows or in your office / boardroom. Our user testing has also demonstrated a greater issue with Virtual Reality sickness in tethered VR than mobile, likely due to the greater difference between reality and perception of motion. The incongruity between those are what cause most sensory conflicts and create the feeling of nausea.
Our Business VR testing has shown:
Business users are sometimes hesitant to wear virtual reality headsets - they may have concerns about a headset’s cleanliness, or it messing up makeup and hair (and for the record that objection is raised more often by men). What all that really means is hesitation about looking foolish in front of work colleagues. Being strapped into VR is blindfolding and isolating, and users may be nervous about nausea. At Yulio we’ve adopted a practice of immediately removing the straps from our headsets, preferring instead to allow users to hold a device up their face when needed, like the Cardboard and Homido. They allow your clients to more easily pop in and out of the experience, and have a more collaborative and social presentation, without the sensation of being trapped. Think about workarounds for anything that makes the experience of using VR a negative that might be associated with your design.
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