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Focal Point

Focal Point: How VR Looked From The CES Show Floor

Focal Point: How VR Looked From The CES Show Floor

We ask our industry panel - the brightest and sharpest VR professionals from around the world - one question about the VR industry, business, technology or trending stories every week.

 

This year’s off to a flying start with VR-aplenty at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas, including wireless VR front-and-centre, smartglasses, mobile VR chipsets, and new accessories such as the Vive Tracker unveiled for the first time. How do you think the event has kicked off 2017 for the VR industry and what’s the biggest thing for VR you’ve seen come out of CES this year?

The show floor at CES this year was as packed as ever.
 

Wendelin Reich, Founder and CEO at Virtual Beings
“I feel like the buzz around the ASUS ZenFone AR stole the show. Not only is this the first phone to integrate mobile VR (Daydream) and AR (Tango), but it's also an extremely sexy device that surpasses the current incumbent of the Daydream throne, Google's own Pixel XL.

“The VR community has been watching Google's progress on Tango with both excitement and despair, waiting and waiting for the introduction of a Tango-enabled phone that consumers actually want. The ZenFone AR might be that device, and the marketing muscle that ASUS is already throwing behind it suggests they know this.

“Even for VR purists, Tango is exciting because it can already - though not officially - be used for positional inside-out tracking. Once Google and their competitors have figured out how to make positional tracking safe - watch that chair! - I predict the two technologies will merge.”

Is the ASUS ZenFone AR the first Tango handset the public wants?

The first experience [of VR] is revelatory, but the novelty has worn off for analysts.
Jonathan Wagstaff

Jonathan Wagstaff, Country Manager - UK & IE at CONTEXT 

"Last year's CES saw VR as the big buzz category, while AI and self-driving cars have been at the fore this year, with Amazon's Alexa following closely behind.

“I think a lot of the reason behind this is that many people hadn’t tried high-end VR until CES 2016 - and as we all know, that first experience is revelatory for many. We're now in that limbo state where most analysts have tried the technology, but the novelty has worn off. I know that I hark on about this issue, but we’re still seeing too much focus on hardware rather than content.

“Without a few 'killer apps' or AAA VR titles for all platforms, the category will remain a curiosity; at least in the consumer space. We need to see more companies pushing VR game development, following in the lead of Oculus Studios.

“Sadly, I've not seen much evidence of this at CES this year, and half the industry seems to be shrugging their shoulders. On the professional side, we have seen some good news, with VR First's announcement of accelerated HMD adoption in universities across the globe. It's possible that B2B VR will overtake consumer VR in 2017 in terms of revenue investment."

VR First: targetting VR tech in universities worldwide.
 

Alexandre Tomic, Co-Founder at SlotsMillion 

“Steam VR Tracking, which Valve has opened up to all developers, is very exciting for the industry. But even more important, I think, is TPCast’s wireless upgrade kit for the HTC Vive. From what I’ve heard, it worked impressively well, achieving a high framerate, that we thought would be impossible after listening to Michael Abrash at the Oculus Connect 3 only three months ago.

“Today, when you enter a virtual environment, everything is focused around taking your body with you, via the use of Touch controllers and other motion sensors in order to create a feeling of presence. Very soon, though - probably this year - we’ll begin to see the development of Brain Computer Interface technology. This will allow users to leave their bodies behind; creating, in my opinion, a higher level of immersion by enabling users’ virtual bodies to interact and move by reading their brainwaves, like the Swiss company MindMaze SA is working on.”

MindMaze could single-handedly negate the VR peripherals market.
 

New innovations are pushing technology past the speed of Moore’s Law.
Stephanie Llamas

Stephanie Llamas, VP, Research and Strategy at SuperData Research 

“Mobile and enterprise applications will be this year’s VR stars, as VR’s small but powerful showing brings new hardware and developer capabilities. 2017 will be the year of Google Daydream VR, as several compatible phones are announced and Samsung’s five million Gear VR units sold proves consumers are ready for mobile VR.

“Chip and hardware manufacturers are going all-in with VR-ready laptops, with new innovations pushing technology past the speed of Moore’s Law.

“HTC Vive continues to open up VR, providing new easy-to-use hardware and software capabilities to developers, pushing the idea of the ‘VR living room’ and giving consumers a subscription service for their Viveport app store. Gloves, guns and magazines will be the must-have peripherals as Vive’s new Tracker turns anything into a controller.

“Eye tracking will be an enterprise staple, with FOVE and Tobii debuting new capabilities — but it likely won’t be a consumer technology for now.”

Will mobile VR be the star of 2017?
 

VR's in the ‘everyone’s doing it’ category.
Dean Johnson

Dean Johnson, Head of Innovation at Brandwidth 

“I’ve just returned from CES and survived to tell the tale! Unfortunately, VR has fallen into the ‘everyone’s doing it’ category so there’s a lot of crap kicking about.

“The single best product was one I’ve been close to for a while now and I’m glad I got to see the latest version – Sulon Q. It’s still the best mix of VR and AR and they have exciting things planned for 2017. The best AR was London-based Kino-Mo’s ‘Hypervision’ – delivering augmented reality, without the glasses!

Kino-Mo's vision of glasses-free AR is marketing heaven!

Editor

Steve has been a games journalist on and off since the first PlayStation made games ‘cool’, but he’s never forgotten the thrill of finding a Space Invaders machine in the wild. Neuromancer is one of his favourite books and The Matrix is one of his favourite movies, so he’s been ready for VR all his life.

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