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Virtual reality (VR) has great potential for consumers, especially those interested in gaming and watching movies, but there are still numerous problems. VR is poised to continue getting better due to increased investment, growing interest among developers and consumers, and because of improving processors.
Hardware manufacturers are getting better at reducing physical sickness - and software is developing. However, many wonder how often they will use their VR headsets if there is a shortage of apps. Hardware is largely designed for PCs with higher-end GPUs, so console gamers are waiting for a wider selection of products to drool over.
Facebook plans to begin implementing VR functionality into its social networking site, so viewers will be able to interact with videos. Designers want to make VR even more immersive, and will try to make sure viewers are able to utilize their hands and bodies in virtual environments.
Although this video is currently sitting at 10.6 million views, many technology and 3D-printing enthusiasts still haven't discovered or thought about the possibilities ranging around developing weapons out of their newly-found printing machines.
VICE talked to Cody R Wilson two years ago and looked at his life surrounding 3D-printing of weapons conducted out of his own home. This 25 year old Texas law student lists himself as an advocate for 3D-printed weapons with this documentary covering the making and firing of a real-life 3d-printed rifle.
Are you against 3D-printed weaponry of some or all kinds, or is it something you encourage and support? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Smartphone company HTC wants to continue its expansion away from just smartphone hardware, and the Vive head-mounted display (HMD) is an important next step. Partnering with Valve gives HTC the chance to build trust among hardcore gamers, and the experiment will begin soon. Vive is expected to be released before the end of 2015.
The room scale experience, full-room virtual reality, is something that HTC and Valve hope is great for gamers.
"We look at it similar to the way we looked at smartphones in the late 90s - as really, the future," said Jason Mackenzie, president of HTC America, when speaking of the HTC Vive. "Gaming is where it will start. Plenty of application for that right away. As soon as you experience it, you will see how it can change the world of education, travel, real estate. There are so many different vehicles."
The Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) platform has partnered with more than 20 research institutions and universities for its OSVR Academia program. As part of the initiative, OSVR Academia provides hardware development kits and support to universities, so they are able to develop VR-based software.
Universities and research institutions include facilities in the United States, UK, Canada, Italy, Poland, Spain, Germany and Austria - with US institutions including Johns Hopkins University, University of North Carolina, and Virginia Tech.
"OSVR is an important piece of the emerging consumer VR ecosystem," said Eric Hodgson, director of the Smale Interactive Visualization Center at Miami University. "The ability to make so many devices and software interfaces standardized, interoperable, compatible, and interchangeable has the potential to change the way people interact with their hardware and software."
Former Epic Games president Mike Capps is hesitant to believe virtual reality is going to find its way to a widespread audience, as the technology must overcome numerous hurdles. The first issue is price of VR headsets, as there are only a few different models currently available for consumers to choose from.
"There's so little tolerance at the consumer level for that kind of an investment," Capps said during the GamesIndustry International. "And I like one of the things I'm most curious about - you look at 3DTV as a super easy-to-use technology that is really unfettered. Just a pair of polarized glasses and people didn't use it because it wasn't worth the trouble."
Another issue is that the headsets might provide an environment that is too immersive, distracting users from other activities.
SoftKinetic has announced that the DepthSense Close Interaction Library (CILib) has been modified so it is adapted for augmented and virtual reality environments. Based on its middleware, SoftKinetic hopes this is the first piece of the puzzle for 3D technology custom designed for the AR and VR markets.
The ability to physically use your hands while interacting in a VR or AR environment allows for gesture recognition and physical interaction. The CILib ReachVR toolkit will be released in Q2 2015, and will allow developers to use the SoftKinetic tracking library if they have the company's 3D depth-sensing camera.
"Virtual reality is incredibly exciting for the gaming community, as it provides a truly magical engagement with the world around us," said Eric Krzeslo, chief marketing officer of SoftKinetic. "SoftKinetic's CILib, coupled with our advanced 3D Time of Flight depth sensing camera, is uniquely suited to the demands of both the AR and VR environments, and provides the 'feeling of presence' gamers crave."
It looks like Apple is interested in developing some type of virtual reality head-mounted display or projection system, after new job listings appeared on the company's website. Specifically, there is a need for Optical Display Engineers, Sr. Display Software Engineers, and other roles pointing towards virtual reality.
Considering VR is a booming business, and has great future potential, it shouldn't be surprising if Apple wants to begin seriously developing its own product. In 2014, Apple started recruiting employees to develop "virtual reality experiences," including specialists in augmented reality and 3D graphics.
Microsoft, Facebook, Razer, Steam, and other major companies are throwing down in the augmented reality and VR markets, so Apple will have some competition to deal with in the future. However, Apple has the time and resources to make sure it is able to launch a large-scale development of VR hardware for consumers.
Virtual reality still has numerous problems to overcome before it goes fully mainstream among gamers, but already has greatly influenced the video game market. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week, game studios, developers and influencers are expected to discuss VR-focused hardware and software.
At GDC, Oculus will show off Rift, Razer is expected to promote its OSVR headset, while Steam is going to unveil the SteamVR headset.
"Nobody buys a piece of gaming hardware because they think it looks cool," said Lewis Ward, analyst at IDC, in a statement published by CNET. "Until there's a great experience to go along with it, the hardware simply opens the door."
Augmented and virtual reality devices will drastically increase in popularity, rising from 3 million units in 2015 up to 55 million in 2020, according to ABI Research. Head-mounted displays (HMDs) will lead the way, but mobile-reliant devices will see early success, with tethered solutions needing a bit more time to mature.
"There is a lot of excitement and hype focused on getting consumers to try out virtual reality, including the LG G3 shipping with an HMD in some markets, and Mattel's View-Master AR toy," said Michael Inouye, senior analyst at ABI Research. "These early experiences will be like any new toy-novel for a while and then fall off in use, with new content potentially driving periodic re-engagement."
It's unknown if gaming and movies will help drive VR, even though hardware developments are being made. Meanwhile with AR, which is increasingly popular in the enterprise, consumers find a lack of apps difficult to help embrace the technology - and ABI Research thinks it may be a matter of time:
It's going to take a while before 3D printers go mainstream, but consumers have shown a genuine curiosity about 3D-printed food.
3D food printers operate by printing out layers of edible materials, capable of creating pastries, chocolate, pasta, pizza, and other delicious snacks and foods. Unfortunately, supporters are struggling to find ways to turn this curiosity into a long-term business model - and whether this is an ideal strategy for home cooks or restaurants.
"The really exciting thing is the food we can't even imagine today because we don't have any way to make it," said Hod Lipson, Cornell University Creative Machines Lab director, in a statement to the AP. "That's the part I don't think anybody has really figured out."