2018 CES VR: Still Waiting for the Cool

2018 CES VR: Still Waiting for the Cool

2018 CES VR: Still Waiting for the Cool

Once you are inside VR you forget how ridiculous you look to people in the real world. 2018 CES VR didn’t make this any better, in some ways, it made it worse.

Contact CI’s haptic glove prototype looked like something right from a Star Trek Borg assembly kit. The dangling wires and conduits did little to assuage the fear of nerd-purity from the VR canon. That said, if you are in a virtual world, you probably want to touch stuff, and that’s their promise. Feedback to make virtual stuff starts to feel real. Important not only for games but also for design work.

The HTC Vive Wireless adapter likewise took one step forward by eliminating the umbilical cord that feeds virtual-ness into the visual cortex, but it made an already clunky looking mask even heavier and odder looking. On the good side, the Vive Pro brought better resolution with 14401600 per eye. Vive Pro also integrates headphones into the headset.

Vive Pro Headset Specifications (via Vive)

Screen:Dual AMOLED 3.5″ diagonal
Resolution:1440 x 1600 pixels per eye (2880 x 1600 pixels combined)
Refresh rate:90 Hz
Field of view:110 degrees
Audio:Hi-Res certificate headset 
Hi-Res certificate headphone (removable) 
High impedance headphone support 
Input:Integrated microphones
Connections:USB-C 3.0, DP 1.2, Bluetooth
Sensors:SteamVR Tracking, G-sensor, gyroscope, proximity, IPD sensor
Ergonomics:Eye relief with lens distance adjustment 
Adjustable IPD
Adjustable headphone
Adjustable headstrap 

Lenovo brought their Daydream™-based Mirage Solo, which runs on a smartphone. It also looks a bit better than the Vive, taking design cues from Sony, which still as the best looking headset with PlayStation® VR.

The Pimax kickstarter brought their high-resolution experience. Rather than looking nerdy and Borg-like, Pimax went for a headset that looks decided non-humanoid alien. Reports were it made people’s head feel a bit alien as well.

2018 CES VR
Lenovo Mirage Solo

And speaking of eyes, Kopin shared their Elf [press release here] 2k by 2k Goggle glasses. These look rather steampunk. I’ll have to find out soon if they actually recognize that people wear glasses and that their eyes perceive inputs differently. On my last checkup, my stigmatism upgraded itself. I know when I’m in my Samsung headset that I do get a less focused view because the focus works as a single binocular rather than accounting for individual eye focus. BTW, the Elf is a great strategic move for Kopin, who specializes in specialized optics. As a reference design, it demonstrates capabilities even if they never release the headset. The Elf, however, doesn’t make VR look any cooler.

As has become tradition at events feature VR, 3DRudder made an appearance. They continue to be one of the more intriguing interface choices. The device continues to evolve functionally and aesthetically. I have used it several times and always thought that should I move into a VR world, I would move in with a 3DRudder as my footstool.

So that’s what I was able to garner from press releases and side conversations related to 2018 CES VR. What did I miss in 2018 CES VR?  What did you think was cool (or not)?

Read more VR stories from Serious Insights here.

Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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