Unwrapping the Future: The Gift of Virtual Reality Headsets this Christmas.

As the festive season approaches, many of us are on the hunt for the perfect gifts that will bring joy and excitement. This year, one tech gift that stands out is the Virtual Reality (VR) headset. From immersive gaming experiences to virtual travel adventures, VR headsets offer a portal to new worlds. In this blog, we’ll delve into the practicalities of VR headsets, and provide tips on ensuring a secure and cyber-safe VR experience. 

The Evolution of VR Headsets: 

The concept of virtual reality has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until recent years that the technology advanced enough to make VR accessible to consumers. The first VR headset, known as the Telesphere Mask, was invented by Morton Heilig in the 1960s. Fast forward to the 21st century, and we have a diverse range of VR headsets available, from affordable options for smartphones, to Meta Quest 2 and 3 and Apple Vision Pro, potentially being released in 2024. 

Benefits of Immersive VR:  

The benefits of VR are limitless with untapped potential across gaming, education and entertainment.  It adds a new level of engagement and realism, enhancing the overall gaming experience. 2023 saw VR events by Google, Meta and Apple introducing features to users and exploring the worlds they are creating virtually. Something 2024 will bring more of is virtual travel and the ability to travel to different places or explore environments and events that may be difficult or impossible to visit physically. 

Safety Concerns in Virtual Reality: 

While VR offers incredible experiences, it is essential to be aware of potential safety concerns. As the technology has advanced, disorientation and common side effects including motion sickness and eye strain have been reduced but are still common for some users to experience. To mitigate these issues, it is crucial to take breaks during extended VR sessions and gradually build up tolerance. 

Securing the Physical Environment: 

Creating a secure physical environment is just as important as securing the virtual one. Make sure the play area is free of obstacles to prevent accidents. Some VR headsets, like the Meta Quest, come with built-in sensors called The Guardian System, which can be set up to give you a stationary boundary, so you stay in your activity space to avoid collisions. Familiarise yourself with the device’s safety features and use them to create a safe and enjoyable VR experience. 

Cybersecurity and Privacy: 

As with any connected technology, VR headsets come with cybersecurity and privacy considerations. When setting up a VR headset, follow best practices to protect personal information. Ensure that the device’s software is up to date and that privacy settings are configured appropriately. Additionally, be cautious about granting unnecessary permissions to apps and games, as some may collect more data than needed. (link here)  

Parental Controls: 

For those considering VR headsets as gifts for younger users, it is crucial to implement parental controls. Many VR platforms provide tools to restrict access to age-appropriate content and set usage limits. Take advantage of these features to ensure a safe and age-appropriate virtual environment for younger users. Further information for parents can be found on the NSPCC website. 

This Christmas, a VR headset can be the gateway to a world of entertainment and exploration. By following our guide to safety and set up you can ensure that the gift of virtual reality is fun for all.  

Merry Christmas and may your VR adventures be ever fun and immersive!