Whether it be the 90’s or even the 21st century, these virtual reality monstrosities are the definition of ridiculous.
With new technology comes endless manufacturers hoping to discover the winning formula that makes their design the gold standard for the industry. Virtual reality is all too familiar with this phenomenon. Countless attempts at the perfect VR headset has resulted in some truly horrible designs that’ll leave you with serious night-terrors. Here are a few of the strangest virtual reality head-mounted displays we could find. Once again, the following headsets are/were ACTUAL functioning pieces of technology that an ACTUAL person signed-off on:
THE VIRTUAL IO I-GLASSES
The Virtual IO I-Glasses were top-of-the-line (640×480 resolution) when they made their initial debut back in 1995 and were one of only several virtual reality systems available to consumers at the time. While its lightweight and ergonomic design made it comfortable to wear, it’s complicated system of heavy cables and absurdly-large power supply made it less-than appealing. Add on the fact that the headset makes the user look like a cheezy space-cop from a bad 80’s sci-fi movie and you have a product that was doomed from the start.
Next up is this big beauty. The 3D Head announced itself in 2015 as not only the ‘largest VR headset,’ but as the ‘Oculus-killer’ as well. Since you’ve probably never heard of this device before this post, I think it’s safe to assume 3D Head didn’t exactly live up to all its promises.
Here’s where things get weird: The enormous headsets main component was a 7-inch tablet with a glasses-free 3D screen. The device could be slipped into a large gamepad to be used as a portable console, or inserted into the massive headset for virtual reality. No, i’m totally serious… The billionaire backer behind the project, Alki David, is infamous for his multi-million dollar dares and intense media feuds however. Perhaps this was all just part of one big expensive troll on the technology industry?
THE TOSHIBA BUBBLE HELMET
The Toshiba Bubble Helmet is probably my favorite addition to this list. Most likely because the headset makes you look like you ran head-first into the bottom of an old-school television set. This not-so-subtle piece of work gave its users a 360-panorama when playing video games or watching videos on pre-existing televisions. Jokes aside the ability to immediately deliver a 360 degree experience to any medium is actually pretty cool. There were also several additions in the works that added features such as head-tracking, but the project went dark before reaching the general public.
I know, I know. It’s been beat into the ground a million times, but how could I make a list covering the craziest/worst headset designs and not include the machine that single-handedly gave me the back issues of a 65 year old. The Virtual Boy was released by Nintendo August 16th, 1995 and condemned by the masses August 17th, 1995… See what I did there?
I owned one as a kid, so I can say from personal experience that this was one brutal ‘VR’ headset. 15 minutes of continuous play was a good time. 20 minutes and your eyes started bleeding. It’s no wonder Nintendo discontinued it less than a year after its release. RIP Virtual Boy, you’ll be in my heart. Always <3.
This final headset is more disappointing than it is strange. The AirVR headset straps a big old iPad straight in front of your face because why not? The totally-unnecessary contraption was being funded on Kickstarter back in 2014 and was reportedly in production for backers before disappearing. The company now provides more standard mobile VR headsets that actually feature some pretty gorgeous aesthetics. Either way I’m glad they’ve decided to change course and stop taping iPads to people’s faces. Wait, maybe it’ll look cooler if you’re in a leather jacket:
Oh, wow. Somehow that’s worse…
If you can think of any other crazy-looking VR headsets I may have skipped over let us know in the comments! New headsets are being designed every day, so I have a feeling we’ll be updating this list a whole bunch…