CES 2015: Virtual Reality Check


“Virtual reality is finally here.” We’ve been told that over and over again, and each time, the technology has not lived up to the hype. The closest we’ve come to mass-market virtual reality was Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, which launched in 1995 and, a commercial flop, was discontinued months later. This year’s International CES, however, shows startups and major manufacturers alike pushing affordable, immersive VR like never before.

No virtual reality outfit has as much buzz as Oculus, the Facebook-owned startup whose prototypes of the motion-tracking Rift headset have taken the world by storm. Their newest prototype, codenamed Crescent Bay, was unveiled at this year’s CES. The new version sports a higher-resolution display, lower weight, built-in audio, and 360° tracking. The company has also announced that the upcoming Oculus Audio SDK will incorporate Head-Related Transfer Function technology. HRTFs allow developers to simulate the changes in sound that occur when you turn your head in relation to an audio source in the real world, thus creating “3D audio” spaces that feel natural and immersive.

Another heavy hitter to exhibit new virtual reality products in Las Vegas is Samsung. The Korean multinational’s Gear VR head-mounted device now lets you stream 360° video with the Milk VR service, and Samsung will be producing 360° videos, aiming eventually to release five per week. Virtual reality fans should be glad to hear that Samsung is investing heavily in the Gear VR platform, as it will likely spur other large manufacturers into producing their own systems.

One of the most important developments to be showcased at CES 2015 isn’t a product, though. The Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) platform was introduced as a joint venture between gaming company Razer and professional virtual reality company Sensics. The aim is to make OSVR, in the words of Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan, into the “Android of virtual reality,” providing a standardized open-source platform for companies of all shapes and sizes to develop their own virtual reality hardware and software. While the new project already has around 25 companies and organizations supporting the platform, the partnership has introduced the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit, a new head-mounted display, to foster innovation and spur development. The device’s 1080p display and 100-ish-degree field of view are similar to the Oculus Rift, but the Hacker Dev Kit is meant primarily, as its name implies, as a platform to test new software and hardware ideas. The plans and design files for the device will even be posted online, so anyone with some technical knowledge and access to a 3D printer will be able to make their own.

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1 Comment

The only one thing. People's eye+brain. It isn't "fit" this technology. eye+brain has one important "feature" - by stereoscopic image and "known" size of objects we calculate a distance. this things like "3D TV" (in fact stereoscopic TV) brokes this feature. "stereoscopic" distance should be one, known size of object says other distance... And if you watch TV from few meters - in this "glasses" there are few centimeters. So, it should destroy your "visual processor" in brain faster. Thats why first gen says - only 15 minutes of VR. now resolution much larger - but it doesn't care - You mind dumbed! thats why it isn't safety for you. Unless you will always interact with reality in this glasses - in this case it will became safe again, but technology not ready for this gap...