These are the kinds of programs that change the way people look at technology. In this case, it’s a program that, for some people, might actually make virtual reality a enjoyable, even practical, replacement for their monitor.
It’s called Virtual Desktop, and it’s available from March 28.
The idea is simple. It’s an application for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift — sorry to the few people with access to StarVR — that lets you use your computer desktop as if you were in a virtual environment.
It’s got multi-monitor support. Support for 360 degree photos and videos. Music visualisation tools. An environment editor so you can spice up the background of your virtual “screen”. You can watch streaming services like Netflix in VR without waiting for them to create a separate app.
And, most importantly, video games. Anything on Steam is playable. Things through third-party launchers (like Blizzard’s Battle.net) are playable too. I’m willing to bet you could probably get DOSBox going without much fuss as well.
This is the kind of tool that changes VR from a gimmick to something that might be more usable on a day-to-day basis. I’m willing to bet that many have been thinking about VR only in terms of what games and specific applications they could use with it — but not the potential for VR to be used as a monitor replacement.
And for those wondering how hard it’d be to read regular text, the creator, Guy Godin, posted on Reddit that “text is easily readable on a 2560×1440 screen” and the higher pixel fill rate and optics of the consumer-version headsets make a world of difference.
2D games also don’t require a great deal of horsepower to run while in Virtual Desktop. “My app is built on top of DirectX and it is very lightweight,” Godin added in another thread. “It’s very optimized. The impact on the GPU is very low. I’m able to play HOTS with a 770 in VR fluidly to give you an example.”
Virtual Desktop launches on March 28 and will cost US$15, according to Godin. A demo of the program for both the Rift’s development kits is available now via Virtual Desktop’s Steam page.
Note that you’ll want Windows 10 to get the best experience though, as Windows 7 reportedly “doesn’t have low latency APIs to capture the desktop at high frame rates to make a decent enough experience”.