Every year, we see the Virtual Reality ecosystem continue to develop and mature — convincing professionals, enthusiasts, and critics alike that the newest VR technologies are moving us closer and closer to the tipping point of mass adoption. While no single technology or application will transform VR from being a novelty to becoming an everyday utility, some promising announcements came out of the Consumer Electronics Show this year which will certainly help move the needle:
Our top 3 VR announcements at CES
1 ) Going Wireless — Cutting the Cord to Virtual Reality
Between HTC’s wireless adapter, Pico Neo’s Standalone Headset coming to the United States, and Lenovo releasing its new standalone Daydream headset, it’s clear that going wireless will prove to be a critical piece of making VR accessible to the masses. Untethered VR will allow people to forget about their attachment to the physical world while being fully engaged and immersed in a virtual experience.
Additionally, both Pico Neo and Lenovo’s new standalone VR headsets feature 6DoF (six degrees of freedom), which is often considered critical to a high end VR experience. A notable distinction between the two is that Pico Neo provides their high fidelity control through controllers tracked with ultrasonics technology, while the Mirage Solo features WorldSense inside-out tracking, derived from sensors and cameras included on the front of the device.
These advancements towards wireless headsets excite us at Observer because less wires equals more immersion. As content continues to improve alongside better hardware, we are able to capture a more comprehensive data set, ultimately leading to key insights about user behavior in VR.
2) Oculus Partnership Update with Xiaomi
Some of the most exciting news to come out of CES 2018 was the announced partnership between Oculus and Chinese electronics giant, Xiaomi. While Xiaomi is committing to manufacture the Oculus Go, the company’s upcoming $200 standalone VR headset, they will also produce a China-only equivalent, titled the “Mi VR Standalone.”
In the same tone as our last point on the importance of wireless VR, Hugo Barra, VP of VR at Facebook mentions, “The standalone VR form factor represents the next significant phase of VR hardware development at Oculus. Through our partnership with Xiaomi, both Oculus Go and Mi VR Standalone represent our first step in delivering that sweet spot between mobile and PC VR. These devices will be, hands down, the easiest way to get into VR.”
With a low price point on a standalone VR headset and a consumer electronics market as large as China’s, we believe this announcement will have an extremely significant impact on VR adoption across the entire industry. The shared design and performance of both versions of the product will also provide some consistency and standardization across diverse markets, which should increase market penetration.
3) HTC Vive Pro
As the manufacturer of one of the most premium VR headsets on the market, HTC outdid themselves again by releasing the HTC Vive Pro, which comes with a much-improved resolution, built-in headphones, a head strap, and an additional front facing camera.
Starting with the improved resolution, the Vive Pro houses dual-OLED displays for a combined resolution of 2880 x 1600, resulting in a 78% increase over the standard Vive headset. This resolution should certainly help with clearer text rendering, quicker latency, and overall graphics quality, which makes the Vive Pro better than the Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality headsets in terms of image quality.
They also added another front-facing camera, alluding to the possibility of mixed and augmented reality applications. Potential use cases include gesture recognition, improved positional tracking, and the ability to overlay pieces of the physical world onto the virtual one.
In addition to the above improvements, the Vive Pro will also be getting a new head strap and built-in high quality audio system. These additions to the second generation headset improve upon overall usability and comfort. We believe that HTC’s goal is to make VR hardware more suitable for long-term usage. We hope that this headset allows users to spend more time in VR due to the increased immersion level that these features are designed for.
There were a multitude of exciting VR and AR announcements that came out of CES this year, but we’ve identified these 3 as the most significant and most likely to impact the course of the VR ecosystem. We’re hoping that 2018 will be a break-out year for virtual reality as we continue to see new developments across the board in hardware, content, and applications.
We at Observer Analytics are passionate about nurturing the growth of this ecosystem by providing the tools necessary to understand user behavior in VR. If you are a developer or content creator building VR content, reach out, we’d love to help you achieve your goals.