Virtual Reality - Powered By Steam's OpenVR

Powered by Steam's OpenVR means headsets from various vendors will be able to run the virtual reality.

From the Wiki: “OpenVR is a software development kit (SDK) and application programming interface developed by Valve for supporting the SteamVR (HTC Vive) and other virtual reality headset (VR) devices.”. All that was required to get our WMR headset (used for testing) working was to download Microsoft's “Mixed Reality Portal” app.

More from the Wiki: “Although OpenVR is the default SDK for HTC Vive, it was developed to have multiple vendor support. For instance, a developer can design OpenVR-based trigger button functions for controllers of Oculus Rift or Windows MR because these systems are both supported by the SDK.”.

VR Basics - Getting Started

Tracking sensors and controllers

Headsets are available with and without tracking sensors built-in. Not built-in requires having separate tracking sensors placed within the room.

Development of the simulator’s VR feature has so far been carried out using a headset that uses built-in sensors, which has worked flawlessly.

Handheld controllers allow you to 1) Navigate through the VR system’s (such as SteamVR) various menu options, and 2) Operate any game/application features designed to be controlled by the controllers.

RC Simanic is a flight simulator being developed and expanded to include additional models, including model planes and cars. Transmitters such as the Spektrum DX6i used during development, are intended to be the choice of controller (although joysticks and steering wheels are okay for certain model types of course).

This means the flight simulation and the control of other types of radio control models, ultimately don’t require the use of VR handheld controllers at all. However, the option to operate the simulator’s control panel via handheld controllers is to be added.

System requirements

Performance-wise the recommended minimum graphics card for VR: Nvidia GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 480, or equivalent.

Technical insight: One of the most significant factors which causes VR to require such high-performance graphics cards, is that each rendering draw call which is processed by the graphics card has to happen twice instead of once. This is simply because instead of just 1 image being required, like is the case for an image being sent to a PC monitor, 2 images are required which are each rendered from a slightly different viewpoint, which are both then fed to the VR headset, 1 for each eye.

Windows Mixed Reality

So far, it's been tested using an HP 1440 headset which works great. The pilot can be standing in the pits or travelling through 3D worlds, just as you can when playing via an ordinary monitor. Click here to find out more about Windows Mixed Reality

Six different Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) headsets for VR games and other 3D type applications.

VR Action Shots - RC Helicopter

Click on the images below to zoom in. The illustrations show the WMR viewer window on the left, which is one of many built-in features available via the VR menus, and the Simanic development window on the right, which is currently set to open automatically when running the simulator in VR mode.

Inverted backwards helicopter flight close up - VR Screenshot. Inverted forwards helicopter flight - VR Screenshot. Rear side view of helicopter in flight - VR Screenshot. Rear underneath view of helicopter in flight - VR Screenshot.

HTC Vive

The HTC Vive uses Steam's OpenVR as its native software system. Testing is to be carried out using HTC headsets.

More information about HTC Vive headsets

Oculus Rift

"SteamVR supports the Oculus Rift". Testing is to be carried out using Oculus Rift headsets.

More information about SteamVR + Oculus Rift

VR Phone Holders

Numerous VR phone holders are available, which are designed to make your phone usable as a virtual reality headset, but at a fraction of the cost.

VRidge from RiftCat has been tested using a Samsung Galaxy S6 and an iPhone 8 via two different mobile phone headsets.

Google Cardboard

Produces a view with an effective depth perception. On the S6 it did tend to press the phone buttons periodically, but maybe it could be modified to avoid this. It didn’t come with a strap for mounting onto one’s head, so a bit of DIY is required to accomplish this.


It has a very high-quality construction. It contains the S6 comfortably and has very nice adjustable sliders which allow the lenses to move easily enough in either direction to suit one’s eyes. The strap is great and feels very comfortable.

Phone holders vs Dedicated headsets

I personally very much prefer my HP Windows Mixed Reality 1440 headset over both phone holders tested. The WMR headset produces an absolutely awesome level of clarity with respect to depth perception, and the overall sensation of being in any 3D world seems totally pure i.e. real with no distortion when turning one’s head to look around a scene.

I guess the optics within dedicated headsets produce better clarity of perception because they’re designed specifically for VR applications.

Ultimately the HP 1440 and other dedicated headsets could benefit from higher resolutions, but I’ve found 1440 to be pretty good. The image colours of the HP headset aren’t as rich as they are on phone screens, but again for me, that’s insignificant in contrast to the overall clarity of perception the HP headset provides.

I’m anticipating I’ll experience the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift to also be very impressive.