CES 2017 was the place to be for all VR enthusiasts. We were all holding our breaths to see the possible future of this technology. The rapidly growing fame of VR brought new players to the game but… we didn’t really see the great advancement we were hoping for.
The first good news is that HTC unveiled their new tracker that allows turning physical objects (like a baseball bat, or a toy gun) into traceable VR devices, and committed to building a wireless VR headset. We’ve been working on that along with Valve so we know how exciting this really is, as HTC Vive is, without a doubt, the best VR headset on the market. You told us the same when we asked you. HTC also presented a content marketplace for VR arcade operators and announced a VR subscription service. The headset’s design has also been slightly changed and now has integrated headphones and a different, hard-shell strapping mechanism.
Lenovo also showed off a VR headset with controlles and promised it’s going to be cheaper than their competitors’ products with a possible price below $400. Unfortunately, the prototype on display wasn’t actually working so we might have to wait for a bit longer in order to see what it’s going to be capable of.Intel is also developing a VR headset but the presentation was using a well-known Oculus tech so nothing really exciting happened there. Still, that doesn’t mean we’re not following what’s going to happen – Intel is a giant brand that might surprise us at any moment.
The more “extravagant” devices we saw were Theory’s Hypersuit and Cerevo’s Taclim. The Hypersuit is a prototype of a full-body flying simulator, desgined to fit in the world of VR arcades. This is an amplified VR experience that you can’t get in your home (yet) and that still needs some improvements, mainly when it comes to the user’s comfort.
Taclim does pretty much the opposite and takes you to the ground – quite literally. It’s a set of shoes and gloves for VR with built-in tactile devices to give haptic feedback to users. Taclim generates the sense of stepping on the ground in virtual spaces (desert, grassland, water etc.), brings you the sense of wearing shoes worn by the virtual character and brings a sense of touch. Taclim also works as an input device to control the character and reflect the motion of the player in the virtual world to increase the feeling of immersion.
Maybe we were expecting that VR technology will expand and improve with the temps that smartphone technology improved but that’s not the case. Even though VR headsets were on the tech shops’ shelves this Christmas, it’s still not the everyday technology that the smartphone is so we can’t really expect it develop so quickly. Still, it’s on the right track to getting more and more lightweight, consumer-friendly, and most importantly – fun!