Virtual Reality in 2017
Virtual Reality in 2017
Virtual reality has been cited as the next big thing throughout 2016. Have we finally reached the apex where VR and AR will become as ingratiated into our lives as smartphones? Looking at the latest developments in the field, it looks like the summit is still a little further ahead on the horizon than touted.
The biggest virtual reality development that caught people’s attention in 2016 was definitely Pokemon GO. The adoption rates of the gaming app by Niantic Labs was unprecedented, a bona fide global phenomenon. While not fully immersive like the Oculus Rift or similar VR headsets, Pokemon GO presents an augmented reality viewable through your smartphone. One thing that can be observed from this is that consumers aren’t ready to completely give up on the real world just yet.
The completely immersive nature of virtual reality headsets hasn’t yet taken off with consumers. This brings us to the next chapter of digital realities – augmented or mixed reality. Combining computer generated 3D images with real world objects and spaces presents a middle road which could be the doorway to achieving mass appeal. By the end of 2016, Microsoft’s HoloLens was made available for purchase. The HoloLens allows users to move around and interact with real-world objects, while overlaying virtual images over them. This is a significant milestone for augmented reality headsets since the introduction of Google Lens – a product that never really gained much traction.
It seems that the key to making virtual reality accessible to the masses is to integrate the virtual world with real-life. Facebook has also made attempts to tie virtual to reality, incorporating its social networking prowess into Oculus’ VR equipment. Facebook launched Hangout Rooms in late-2016, as well as voice chat capabilities to connect users to the real world instead of holing themselves up in a solitary virtual realm. A recent report by Digi Capital revealed that AR has a larger potential market than VR, but will take a longer time to realise it.
2017 looks to be a ripe year for mixed reality since the launch of HoloLens. The recognition that comes with the brand Microsoft has also brought other Heads-Up Display (HUD) headsets to the forefront. Here are a few other companies that are looking to enter the augmented or mixed reality space:
Despite rumours of internal problems and multiple delays, Magic Leap, an augmented reality startup with a lot of funding from notable investors like Alibaba and Google, is set to unveil their version of the head mounted virtual retinal display very soon.
Meta, another Heads-Up Display producer, have begun shipping out demos and development kits late last year.
Osterhout Design Group (ODG), creator of smart glasses, recently unveiled 2 new prototypes, R8 and R9, which appears to display mixed reality properties as a new feature.
Samsung, one of the first companies to achieve a significant amount of mass appeal with their Gear VR, recently announced their intention to shift focus to the development of augmented reality hardware and software.
At this current time, the main barrier of the mass-adoption for VR and AR equipment is the price point. Many of these products are far too expensive for the consumer market. Once the cost of production for these headsets can be reduced, we can expect higher adoption rates. The next phase of the growth of AR and VR will be the development of applications for devices. With all these milestones not yet reached, the AR and VR revolution still needs time to attain global proliferation.
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