The 3 Types of Virtual Reality Platforms
If you are looking for a surefire virtual reality (VR) bet in 2019, then you’ll probably want to take a look at hardware and part manufacturers. Electronic hardware has a high barrier to entry and requires a strong foundation that very few companies will have. In other words, hardware tends to be more predictable than software.
Whether virtual reality is used to supply intense gaming experiences, teleconferences for multinational corporations, or powerful first-person education, there are hardware requirements for rendering these visual experiences. And the hardware will differ between the three flavors of virtual reality we're seeing at the moment.
So what’s the difference between Tethered VR, Mobile VR, and Standalone VR? Let’s take a look...
In the case of Tethered VR, we’re talking about connecting a desktop computer or gaming console to a virtual reality headset. With this option, the computer or console relies on a graphics processing unit (GPU) in order to render virtual reality scenes and animations.
There are really only two big hitters in the field of non-mobile GPUs. Find out how you can profit on them here>>
You can expect tethered virtual reality to be more immersive—since the hardware in computers is significantly less space-constrained than the mobile and standalone VR counterparts. Most people don’t want to carry a big graphics card around with them.
Examples of tethered VR headsets include the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift, and the PlayStation VR.
Mobile VR refers to headsets which have a smartphone slot.
In this case, a phone renders the virtual reality experience. This means that developers must rely on the computational power of the smartphone, the hardware of which suffers significant constraints: size, power, and heat. These constraints are significantly loosened for PCs and consoles.
For smartphones, the GPU is baked into the "system on a chip" (SoC). There are currently a handful of big smartphone GPU manufacturers including Qualcomm, Arm Holdings, and Apple.
Right now, Qualcomm is the choice of the Google Pixel series, Sony Xperia, and the Xiaomi Mi series. Which as a point of reference is about as popular as iPhones are in China.
ARM GPUs are also exceedingly popular and have made their way into the Huawei, which is the world's second most popular smartphone brand after Apple’s.
The Samsung Galaxy series actually supports two different SoCs, including Intel’s Exynos for international phones and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon for phones sold in the United States. The Exynos uses ARM for its GPU, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon of course uses a Qualcomm Armedo GPU.
Examples of Mobile VR headsets include Google Cardboard, Google Daydream View, and Samsung Gear VR.
Finally—the moment we’ve all been waiting for—Standalone VR.
Standalone VR attempts to provide a full and immersive VR experience without the computing resources of a PC, console, or a phone. And typically, most of the hardware is within the headset itself.
In this realm, you are not tethered to a computer and you can keep your phone in your pocket. Rather than attempting to support the many different smartphones on the market, each wielding different platforms and hardware, companies are quickly switching over to this VR technology.
Current examples of this include the Oculus Go (Facebook), Mirage Solo (Google and Lenovo), and VIVE Focus (HTC). Interestingly, each one of these has something in common. They all use ONE company’s technology. Learn more about the company who has a monopoly in the Standalone VR market (Learn More>>).
If you are looking for more VR investing info, see our article “How to Invest In Virtual Reality.”