Today we launch our softest and most comfortable replacement foam for the HTC Vive so far. It is memory foam and you basically sink into it. We recommend this to be used for any kind of sweaty Vive activity or when you show VR to a lot of people and want a hygiene solution that is quick and easy to clean.
The field of view remains the same as if you would use the standard / official HTC Vive face foam pads.July 21, 2016
We reverse engineered the facial interface of the Oculus Rift and also spoke to Oculus who helped us out on the last meters to the finishing line to get our prototypes ready for production. We have everything lined up now and just launched a Kickstarter campaign for our two new facial interfaces that also enable you to use replacement foam pads with your Oculus Rift.
All details can be found on our Kickstarter page.
Would be awesome if you could share this with friends and other VR enthusiasts and help us make this happen.New Oculus Rift Facial Interfaces on Kickstarter.comJuly 6, 2016
In the modern world we are always switched on, always connected, always on the move. In many ways technology has shrunken the world and brought us closer together, but it’s also made it harder to detach from the stresses of life. At one time in the not too distant past, you only got the news three times a day. Once in the morning paper, once on the evening news and once again on the late night news if you stayed up to watch it. Generally, leaving work at 5pm meant leaving work behind until the next day, and a discussion of politics was an occasional and invigorating event among friends.
Thanks to technology, we have access to news twenty four hours a day as it happens and it seems to be either bad news or entirely inane. Work can not only reach you at home but anywhere you happen to be, and often you are connected enough to drop everything and do what needs to be done right where you are. Political discussions have given way to the incessant background noise of constant political disagreement. As wonderful as technology is, these and many other aspects of it, can make life more stressful and so it is no wonder that people want to switch off and reconnect with nature or themselves. For this, many turn to meditation retreats.
When I think of meditation retreat I imagine a group of people in a fancy resort-like setting with a spa and a lawn peppered with white fountains where you meditate at your leisure and make good friends. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, in researching this article I’ve yet to come across a single retreat that offers these things. Instead, meditation retreats seem to be strictly regimented, silent affairs where even eye contact is forbidden. There may be some yoga, but the point of the retreat is to spend time in your own mind, so most of your day will be spent in non-optional meditation in a room with everyone else.
For the intense and/or religious meditation practitioners these retreats are probably just fine. But for the rest of us, the ones who don’t want to live like a monk for a month, virtual reality may be the answer. While trying to replace a month long meditation retreat with current virtual reality technology is probably not a good idea, if not entirely impossible, that doesn’t mean virtual reality has nothing to offer. With virtual reality you could set up a mini retreat right in your own home, one that you can squeeze into your busy schedule without taking a sabbatical.
Virtual Reality can take you out of your environment and place you anywhere that can be displayed on a screen. You are not limited to what is physically possible. You can float through the clouds, meditate on the moon, and drift gently under the ocean while watching the fishes. You could even be a disembodied something floating among wisps of light. That’s the great thing about virtual reality, it can put you anywhere that the developer can imagine.
When you think of virtual reality you might think only about the headset, but virtual reality is already far more encompassing than that and will only get more so as time goes on. Already we have spatial audio and on some virtual reality devices, tracked controllers that put our hands in the virtual world in addition to the headset. This means that virtual reality can replace your world with another one. One that you can hear and interact with. When done well it becomes very convincing.
Currently meditation and relaxation applications are most widespread on the Samsung Gear VR. While this limits their immersive qualities, it does make them portable and available whenever you need them. Simply pop your phone into your headset and throw on some headphones and you will find yourself on a beach, or in a forest where you can take the time you need to draw in your thoughts, concentrate on your breathing and relax. This can even be done as a short meditation retreat during your lunch break while still leaving you enough time to eat or to unwind when you get home from work (even if it means sneaking into the washroom to do it.)
As VR develops virtual meditation retreats could become much different. Those who are developing virtual reality technology say that the end goal is something like the holodeck from Star Trek. In case you are not familiar, the holodeck is a room that creates virtual environments that are indistinguishable from the real thing. Some say that we could have something very close, minus the ability to touch the holograms, by 2024. Assuming that the tech becomes available eventually, even if not by 2024, you could conceivably have an entire proper meditation retreat without leaving your home.
Holodecks are a long way off. The tech we have right now will allow for short relaxing respites away from the hustle and never-ending bustle of modern life and, for most of us, that’s all we can afford anyway. If used daily the benefits from short virtual reality meditation sessions would have a greater impact than a retreat that is completed and then abandoned. It also won’t break the bank. Plus, let’s be realistic, when the holodeck technology comes about, if history is to be trusted, it will recreate your office at home, so you never have to leave.
Be careful what you wish for.June 29, 2016
Stress is a part of life. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, whether you’re a student trying to pass your classes, a homemaker trying to make sure that your household doesn’t fall apart, or a CEO tasked with ensuring your shareholders are earning a profit. What causes you stress may be different, but the chemicals are the same.
There are many ways to deal with stress when it comes on. You can take a warm bath, drink tea, go for a walk or try some deep breathing. All of these will help to reduce stress in the moment, but if you find that stress is something that you are dealing with on a regular basis or is getting out of hand, then you may want to try mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the here and now with openness and curiosity. Most of us tend to be pre-occupied with the past or the future and spare very little time for the moment we are in. Studies have been done that show mindfulness meditation can have a lasting positive impact on mental health if practiced regularly.
Mindfulness, like any other discipline, requires practice. Perhaps the easiest way to get into mindfulness meditation is to download one of the many apps that are available on your favourite app store. There are many different versions but they all generally tend to give guided meditations, offer some way to keep track of your meditations and encourage you to keep going. The best ones tend to be paid, or at least have a paid component, but there are free ones too.
If you have access to a Gear VR, you have even more options. Obviously, with a Samsung device being required to power the headset, you have access to all of the apps on the Play Store, but you also have access to the ones on the Oculus store. And there are a surprising number of them. And as with the non-VR apps, they tend to offer guided meditations, but they also offer new environments, which when done well can really increase your relaxation and meditation experience. Having your view blocked out and replaced with serene locations enhances your ability to not become distracted by the world around you. With headphones on the immersion is even greater. Sometimes it isn’t even a real environment, but rather just black space and something to focus on, or an animation that follows your breathing to make it almost feel like you are really breathing something different, something calming.
If you have an Oculus Rift you are out of luck at the moment as there are no apps specifically designed for mindfulness. There are applications that could be relaxing, such as Ocean Rift or Titans of Space, but they might not be great for mindfulness meditation since there are things going on inside them that will draw your attention and they do not offer guided meditation. However, Rift is still new so there is still plenty of time for meditation apps to arrive.
The HTC Vive fares better in this space. Being powered by SteamVR it has a more open market place than the Rift so that might explain why that is the case, but whatever the reason there are several VR meditation apps for the Vive. These are going to provide the best possible experience at the moment as the Vive is powered by a PC and allows for a much larger play space and hand tracking. Though these last two points aren’t going to play a big role in meditation apps, anything that increases your presence in the virtual world will help you to be less distracted and more able to focus on your mindfulness. It’s hard to focus on your breathing when all you can think about is the world juddering around you or things popping into and out of existence.
Mindfulness mediation may seem to some like hokey, new age nonsense, and if you’re not into new age stuff then some of it will probably seem that way to you. But science seems to indicate that taking the time to focus on the moment is highly beneficial. It also indicates that virtual reality can be a great tool for being distracted from outside influences. As long as the virtual environment that you select is peaceful and doesn’t add to distraction then you should find that meditation in VR is as easy or easier than it is in real life. In fact, I work from home and today my son is home from school which means extra noise in the house. So I am finishing this article in my Oculus Rift using a program called Big Screen and some non-distracting music. It has been very helpful in keeping my mind on task and I think it would do just as well if I were meditating.June 28, 2016
We love the HTC Vive here at VR Cover because it is great to work with. The removable foam pad and the velcro below helps us to make our VR Cover sit well and we are happy to introduce our first own HTC Vive Foam Replacement today.
This high quality pu leather foam replacement for the HTC Vive brings you closer to the action while still being comfortable.
It is a bit less comfortable compared to the original HTC Vive foam padding but you are closer to the lenses of your headset and therefore experience an increased field of view. A lot of people love this because virtual reality experiences can feel more immersive with a bigger field of view.
As an added benefit the soft and durable pu leather on this foam replacement is easy to clean with antibacterial wipes (we recommend non alcoholic wipes because they are better for the skin). It still feels great on your skin and is perfect for more active VR experiences that might make you sweat.Get Your HTC Vive Foam Replacement NowJune 28, 2016