With the first month of 2019 pretty much already under our belts, it’s time to look ahead at the releases and developments we’re most looking forward to, or think will have the biggest impact this year.
With CES early on in the month of January, it was announcements from HTC Vive that got us most excited; two new headsets, new social spaces to explore and meet in VR and a “Netflix of VR” library subscription service all announced. We’ve already been impressed with the improvements to visual clarity and comfort of the HTC Vive Pro headset, and having done some preliminary exploration into the use cases for eye-tracking within our training applications, the announcement that the Tobii Pro system will be available in the Vive Pro Eye VR headset this year will allow us to provide more accurate, meaningful user feedback.
The other headset announced, the Vive Cosmos, offers an interesting positioning for wider interoperability amongst devices in the future. Whilst being confirmed initially for launch that it will be a tethered headset to PCs still, the inside-out tracking helps reduce the clutter, cables and need for external sensors, whilst the suggestion that other mobile devices will be able to power it in the future, making for a powerful mobile VR headset to come.
Related to standalone VR, we’ve been promised a new headset from Oculus for release in “spring 2019”; the Oculus Quest is a truly standalone full VR headset that brings Rift-like capabilities without the need for a powerful PC connected to it. We’ve been working with the dev kits here at Make Real for a couple of months and we know this will be a fantastic option for our clients and partners once the enterprise business edition is available for deployment. Likely to cost between £400-600 (if consumer prices and additional commercial benefits applied previously on Rift/Go match up), without the need for PCs or VR-Ready Laptops costing £1,000+, meaning that much more beneficial economies of scale can be achieved.
Not everything that excites us is virtual however, with augmented reality looking to make more of an impact this year, as we hope to see wider rollout of shipping Magic Leap devices outside of the USA at scale, rumours of the new Microsoft Hololens 2 to be announced at Mobile World Congress in February and other manufacturers releasing more lightweight, compact “AR” smartglasses for consumers and enterprise alike.