SEATTLE — I knew things were bad when the gate fell off of the platform and I was standing 500 feet in the air. Even though in the back of mind I knew that I was using Acer's developer-focused Windows MR headset, the hairs stood on the back of my neck.
At the Microsoft Build developer conference, amusement company Two Bit Circus showed off a concept project called "The Ledge," using VR content from AppliedVR, which makes VR experiences for hospitals. Attendees stepped onto a moving, shaking platform, strapped on the headset and watched as a window washer raised them, slowly, on a suspended platform.
Microsoft first unveiled plans last year to work with hardware makers on developing relatively inexpensive VR headsets that offered freedom of movement. Prototypes of the first Windows headsets began appearing at CES earlier this year, and the Build conference is giving Microsoft's partners an opportunity to showcase the hardware and software consumers can expect from these mixed-reality devices.
"The Ledge" was one of the many experiences being shown off by developers at Build on the $300 headset, but also one of the most immersive thanks to the movement of the physical platform. It's unlikely to be experienced by consumers anytime soon, but it proves that the inexpensive headset can provide exciting experiences.
There were a few glitches. The sensors were a little finicky, causing me to fall before I took that one step over the ledge, and I found that the peripheral vision on several Acer headsets I've seen during my time at Build was slightly blurry compared to what you might get on higher-end devices like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
But for $300, it wasn't bad, and it might be enough for some people to take the plunge.