We already are in the aftermath of The Consumer Electronic Show (CES), the largest and most popular tech convention, and this year, virtual reality and augmented reality sharply stormed into the scene and left dozens of attendees reeling with disbelief. Well, other than the usual drones, TVs, and automotive technology, both augmented and virtual reality seem to have come of age and they are here with us aggressively turning things around as they sifts through the maze of technology.
Virtual and augmented reality took to a whole new level in 2016. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony PS VR were just but some of the few gadgets that took the tech space by storm. HTC, Microsoft, Lenovo and a couple of other tech giants have all along been hinting at mind blowing VR and AR gadgets and accessories and now is the right time to find out what the noise has been all about.
So speaking of some of the best VR and AR gadgets that stole the show in CES 2017 conference, here’s what you will want to know.
Windows Holographic Ecosystem Hardware
Microsoft has always been mean in showing up at tech conventions instead preferring to do their own independent events so not much could be anticipated from them except for their hardware partners who’ve previously attended the show.
Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Dell and 3Glasses are Microsoft’s hardware partners for its Windows Holographic ecosystem. HP, 3Glasses, Dell, Acer Already, and Lenovo introduced their VR headset at the just ended CES 2017. We’ll take a look at the Lenovo’s VR headset.
Lenovo’s VR Headset
First on the list of known hardware that are set to work with Windows Holographic API sets is Lenovo’s VR headset. It’s pretty light (at 350 kg) and its design kind of apes that of Sony’s PS VR in which the lenses suspend over a person’s eyes rather than being strapped horizontally around the head.
Resolution is set at 1440 X 1440 which is Windows Holographic standard resolution while the panels are all OLED. With an inside-out tracking able to do 6-degrees, that eliminates the need for a camera, something HTC vive and Oculus Rift still struggle with. Other features include a combination of converted HoloLens apps, a theatre-style viewing mode, and so much more.
No information about its launching has been released yet but it’s anticipated that it will be out sometime this year.
So even as we anticipate the most of the hardware to be out quarter-way through 2017, already most of the partners did make a presentation of them at WinHEC 2016 Convention late last year and also did the same over CEs 2017. So all of them could be hitting the stores very soon.
Microsoft’s HoloLens is an experience like no other - a VR gadget that promises to give current VR headsets a run for their money. When you focus on something they will glow as a confirmation of your aim and with the theatrical pinch gesture, you can select, hold the pinch and drag something and then un-pinch when done.
So just like HoloLens, the hardware from Microsoft’s partners will feature some kind of inside out tracking only that you will have to tether them to your computer which isn’t the case for HoloLens.
HTC’s New Vive Tracker
HTC has been at the forefront of virtual reality with an already popular HTC Vive. But realizing that that alone isn’t enough, they have gone head to give us something else by the name of HTC Vive tracker. It’s a small –sized attachment that incorporates motion tracking to third-party accessories.
Developers will be able to easily come up with VR peripherals compatible with the unit’s laser towers. Already HTC has hinted at partners already trying out the tracker. Design-wise, the unit is round in shape and has on three small humps. Compared to the current Vive controller, it’s smaller and weighs just 85 grams.
Consumer versions are anticipated to be out in the second quarter of 2017 and during the first half, the company will release the trackers to developers. Best thing about it is that it’s easy to add to a peripheral while a somewhat downside to it is that comfort is definitely going to be an issue to watch out for due to its clunky nature.
Extras from HTC
As if that’s enough, HTC announced a few other additions to the Vive’s world at the just concloCES 2017. They include the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap, an update to the TPCAST accessory plus another new subscription service that will launch via the Vive port.
Deluxe Audio Strap: If you’ve seen Oculus Rift’s in-built headphones, then there isn’t much of a difference between that and the deluxe audio strap. Like those for Oculus, this headphones are positioned at the top of your ear then wrap round your head in a horizontal direction. A wheel fitted at the headset’s back lets you turn it up and down so as you can find where it fits well.
TPCAST update: For just $249, you will be able to lay your hands on the TPCAST starting this march. The unit itself is a china-made peripheral that lets you enjoy tetherless gamely and lasts up to 2 hours.
Viveport subscription: For just a small fee per month, you are going to be able to access some new cool apps through a service that has been designed to assist users have it easy maneuvering the increasing VR app market and also let app developers earn from their content.
Osterhout Design Group (ODG)’s R8 and R9 SmartGlass
For those who don’t know about ODG, this is one of the very few promising manufacturer of AR smart glasses. Right now, they have the R7 model which is the true definition of augmented reality. Think of a smart glass that could overlay info into your line of sight and in the process letting you check tasks such as email or related simple tasks. That’s what the R7 is all about.
Not too long ago, a short video showed up on YouTube showing something more advanced than the R7 which many assumed was ODG’s R9 model. Generally, mixed reality seems to have taken center stage in developing the two and CES 2017 revealed a lot more about them which you can check out here.
Vuzix Blade 3000 Smart Glasses
Vuzix makes into this list and for good and valid reasons. Already, they have four CES 2017 innovation awards for the just mentioned Blade 3000 Smart glasses. All through the years they have been in existence, the company has been working on state of the art smart glasses including the famous Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses.
In the same spirit, the company brought its state-of-the-art glasses to the CES 2017, the blade 3000, which at a glance, may seem like regular glasses as they are outfitted with a transparent display. A tiny projector has been fixed on the right lens of the glass. It’s considerably condensed to fit perfectly on the arm of the glasses.
The unit practically floats its graphics on top of whatever the wearer is looking at. Earlier on, the company’s demo showcased navigation instruction of how to get around an unfamiliar location without appearing like a tourist glued to their phone for direction. Besides that, it also has a speedometer for cyclists. And what’s best is that it’s totally non-distracting.
Tech events are never short of crazy surprises and those who showed up at Intel’s event on the 4th of Jan 2017 got theirs: barf bags. The company even went ahead to hand out paper receptacles before they took the audience through what lied ahead.
Those in attendance started off with putting on an Oculus Rift headset then the company’s CEO talked them through a couple of demos. At the end of it, many thought Intel’s display was enough to win a person over to virtual reality.
So looking at all that lies ahead for virtual reality, there’s plenty to look forward to and if you thought this was it, scratch that thought because this is just the beginning of what lies ahead in 2017.