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Virtual Reality at CES 2018

Is 2018 the year for Virtual Reality (VR)? It’s possible… The up and coming system has been growing for a couple of years now, yet we’re yet to really see anything come out of it other than a handful of relatively good “experiences”. At CES this year, VR was once again one of the staple features, but what exactly stood out?

Despite failing to make real waves, both Oculus and HTC both unveiled more details on their upcoming headsets. First, we heard more about the Oculus Go, Oculus’ standalone headset. The headset is set to run a Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 821, the processor found in the LG G6 and the first Google Pixel.

What’s more, Oculus’ Hugo Barra revealed that his former employer, Xaiomi, is the hardware partner for the Oculus Go headset, which is interesting as Xaiomi have dominated the smartphone market in Asia, but is yet to really make much of an appearance in the west. In addition, Xiaomi is set to make their own China-specific version of the Go titled Mi Vr Standalone.

Unfortunately we’re yet to get a release date despite being pegged for an Early 2018 release.

Virtual Reality at CES 2018 - n3rdabl3

On the HTC side of the fence, the company unveiled the HTC Vive Pro, a new higher-end version of its already pretty high-end headset which increases the resolution to 2,880 x 1,660. It’ll also offer built-in headphones with an amplifier, dual microphones, and a redesigned strap.

In addition, the headset can be made wireless thanks to a new wireless adapter HTC also unveiled at the event. It works over Intel’s 60GHz WiGig standard, and is compatible with both the Vive Pro and the original Vive. Interestingly for owners of the original Vive headset the new Vive Pro will be backward compatible with existing hardware.

Currently there’s no release date for the HTC Vive Pro.

Elsewhere we heard more from Pimax who you may have heard about last year as they smashed their Kickstarter campaign for the Pimax 8K VR headset. This headset made its show debut allowing people to get hands-on with the frankly gigantic headset. While there isn’t any news, necessarily, it was nice to start seeing people’s impressions of the headset, though it turns out that the rubber strap isn’t too comfortable and it doesn’t really work too well with glasses, despite the headset’s massive size.

Virtual Reality at CES 2018 - n3rdabl3

Another headset at the event does a little more than offer a VR experience, the LooxidVR tracks both your eyes and your brain. LuxidLabs’ LooxidVR seems like something out of Black Mirror as it has the capabilities to track where you’re looking and what you’re feeling thanks to its in-built eye-tracking cameras and EEG sensors built-in.

While it seems slightly creepy, and slightly futuristic, this technology actually offers some improvements with VR as users can simply glance to the side to perhaps see more of what’s on the screen rather than jarringly twist their necks. The EEG brain scanning side might not be the next big feature on consumer headsets, however in the medical sector this could be used for therapies and all sorts of medical treatments.

Finally, there’s one for the designers out there. MeshroomVR which turns CAD drawings into VR prototypes. Essentially this allows designers to get up-close and personal with their drawings to ensure everything is up to scratch before beginning the arduous process of 3D printing the design or cutting it out.

MeshroomVR does however require a HTC Vive headset as well as Meshroom license worth $2,700 for an entire year. However if it’s an industry you’re a part of, it might be worth shelling out for.

One thing VR is missing though is that killer app, that one thing which screams “I need a VR headset”. While many platforms have come close, such as the PS VR which is currently the most popular consumer headset, there really isn’t anything calling for people to rush out and grab one. Maybe this is the year though? It’s still young after all.

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