This year CES is a focal point for virtual reality with pre-orders of Facebook’s $599 Oculus Rift being taken online starting at 8:00am January 6. The latest ship dates are not expected until May, and will continue to slip as demand rises.
Oculus, isn’t the only virtual reality vendor at CES, in fact, this year CES has created market places for Virtual Reality (VR) and Gaming, and Augmented Reality (AR). The combination of VR and gaming gives short shrift to the business applications of VR, whereas the dedicated AR area speaks to the existing market, which is primarily enterprises.
For VR to become a market, it will need an ecosystem of products and services that will support content creation, enhance control and content VR to whole-body experience. CES is previewing products that fit into all of those categories.
Here is a taste of the VR and AR offerings that can be seen by show goers at CES 2016.
A feet-based motion controller for VR, that is used when seated. Given the dearth of methods for controlling VR experiences, this products offers a unique answer approach, as well as an answer to the question “what do I do with my feet in seated VR?”
360 degree audio for VR. Sound will be a key component, and many systems offer only basic stereo. For VR to be truly immersive, it will require sound that is equally enveloping. Sound will also be a safety issue, helping inform people in VR where things are in space, and helping them navigate.
According to Philippe Tour, CEO of ARKAMYS, “After vision, we rely on our hearing to understand the environment around us. What’s more, we can see in only one direction, but we hear sounds coming from everywhere. Adding positional audio to something, whether for entertainment or safety, provides a more complete—and more natural—experience.”
A 3D camera that adds the ability to capture 3D photographs on any smartphone or tablet. While this isn’t an immersive technology, there will be cases where 3D photographs will play a role in VR, such as given a presentation. It won’t be cool to put 2D images on a presentation delivered in VR, so people will start wanting 3D images as a first step to mastering what is likely going to be a completely new way to present.
SCALee transforms any existing wall into a highly immersive universe where players can interact naturally in 1:1 scale games and applications. Think of it as a personal cave like the ones used by the U.S. military.
A bicycle controller that includes wireless sensors that translate real-world peddling to in-world speed and action buttons on the handlebars. Compatible with Sony PlayStationVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
New augmented reality headsets, the VidWear® B3000 Waveguide Sunglasses and the M3000 Monocular Waveguide Smart Glasses that uses waveguide technology to enhance the AR experience. Also previewing their new iWear® Wireless Video Headphones for consumer VR.
Other VR headset exhibitors include Serious Insights tested Oculus, Homido VR and Carl Zeiss. Occipital will be showing their unique 3D scanning solution for Apple iPads.
Other VR-related CES news
Las Vegas will also play host to a non-CES VR event called VRFest during CES.
VR and AR are on their way. They will be important technologies to watch, and valuable for experimentation as they will surely generate new ideas about how applications should evolve given the new capabilities. Will that have a huge impact on businesses in 2016? Highly unlikely, but they will influence the entertainment and gaming industry, shifting some investment toward VR properties. AR still needs to get lighter and less intrusive before it becomes viable for consumer use, but it will continue to prove valuable in areas like logistics, law enforcement and security and medicine. New headsets and new technologies will do nothing but move the AR needle forward.
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.