This article is just a small recap about the latest VR news and announcement, so if you’ve lost them, you can read it here only in one place! Most of them has been made at GDC or MWC.
First of all, Vive has revealed the price of the Tracker and the Audio Strap: they’ll cost $99 dollars each. Finally we know how much money we will spend to start developing innovative VR applications with pseudo-objects-tracking. As I’ve already said, I hoped price would have been lower for the Tracker, to help adoptions among makers, but the price shows a more business-oriented approach.
About SteamVR world, we have another super-interesting news. LG has showcased a prototype for a new VR headset compatible with the Lighthouse system. The headset looks like a copy of the Vive with some little improvements and a completely different design. Some journalists have tried it and expressed positive reviews. It is still not completed and we still don’t know the future price, but this news shows how the theoretical open-ness of the SteamVR tracking is becoming real. SteamVR and Lighthouse will not mean only Vive in the future… more headsets are to come. This is a good thing for Vive ecosystem and Valve.
Vive has been a partner even in another news: Tobii has showcased its eye tracking solution, showing a HTC Vive headset modified to use the eye tracking tech of this company. Then people have been able to try some simple apps showing how pupil tracking can make human interaction in social VR more realistic: see other people’s exact eye movements and eye blinkings makes everything absolutely more natural. Furthermore, even human-computer interactions are easier: you can select objects with gaze just moving your eyes and not the full head, that is tiresome. Eye tracking will be huge for VR, we all know it and having a working demo makes us understand how the times of eye tracking are coming. Ah, and do you remember the headset removal demo in mixed reality made by Google? Well, headsets used in this research were using Tobii technology inside. You can see a little presentation video by Tobii here.
PSVR has sold more or less one million devices. This is a great news for VR, because means that with a good device and low prices, VR can really penetrate into the tech market. PSVR is the first tethered headset to reach this result: even the super-praised HTC Vive has not reached this number and it’s been out 6 months more than Sony’s device. So, if VR prices wll lower, as is happening now, we’ll all enter the metaverse!
Oculus has lowered the prices of its headsets! -200$ for Oculus+Touch bundles, -20$ for additional external sensors. Furthermore it has released a software update that has solved lots of issues, released with Epic a free and super-awesome action game called Robo Recall, which everyone is loving and modding. So Oculus has played really well in this period. Ex CEO Brendan Iribe has announced that in his opinion this Oculus hardware will last 2 years, but honestly with this crazy evolving VR market, I don’t believe him that much.
Qualcomm has showcased its reference prototype for its standalone headset, the Snapdragon 835 VR dev kit. It is a good standalone headset (standalone = all included inside it… no wires, no phones, etc…), featuring hands tracking thanks to Leap Motion integration, pupil tracking and foveat rendering. It got lots of positive reviews, even if it is not completed. I’m very interested in this innovative project, even if I think that price will be high and that it will be dedicated to business market, at first.
Microsoft has showcased the first cheap tethered headset compatible with Windows 10, made in cooperation with Acer. It performs inside-out tracking and it is still not refined: journalists that tried it were not enthusiasts, but the refined version should be much better. This is the beginning of Microsoft plans to dominate the VR market with its own ecosystem that treats headsets just as screens that the Windows OS manages. Microsoft upcoming Xbox console, Scorpio, will support VR headsets in 2018.
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