Just two months after HTC announced that they are working on a standalone VR headset, the company has unveiled its first Vive Standalone VR headset for the Chinese market at ChinaJoy. ChinaJoy is China's biggest gaming expo and is the most important show for VR in China as well.
The company has been one of the pioneering companies when it comes to VR. They are the first partner to work with Valve on the Vive for SteamVR and they have the best overall VR experience. HTC isn't really a PC company, so for them to be so heavily involved in PC VR was a challenge for them. But we also know that HTC is a smartphone company with expertise in mobility and design. So, it was only a matter of time until they announced their own mobile VR headset.
The exact details about the headset itself are not quite known yet, but we do know that it will be based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 platform and will likely have the same or similar specs as the Snapdragon 835 VR reference design.
Google's Daydream has struggled to compete with the likes of Samsung's Gear VR even though it came out with much promise late last year. According to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, there will be only eleven devices by the end of this year that will support Google Daydream.
When you consider how many manufacturers there are out there and how many devices each of them make, eleven really isn't much. In fact, Samsung can claim eight Gear VR devices today, and they're probably about to launch their ninth with the Note8 coming next month.
For Google to only be able to muster eleven devices among all of the Android manufacturers, that is quite a poor showing. In addition to that, two of the devices, the Huawei Mate 9 Pro and Porsche Design Mate 9 are not even really shipping in any volume, and the ASUS Zenfone AR likely won't ship in high volume either.
Microsoft's next generation Hololens AR headset will have a special built-in AI chip to recognize and process data.
The new second generation Hololens AR headset from Microsoft will feature a highly customized AI chip that will help users in a myriad of ways, Bloomberg reports. The new AI-infused chip, which was recently unveiled during an event in Hawaii, is built around Microsoft's Holographic Processing Unit that currently powers the company's self-contained alternate reality HMD.
The Redmond-based company touts that their new AI processor is the first chip of its kind to be featured in a mobile device, and has strong potential to help revolutionize the AR segment. The chip--and others like it from Google, Apple, and even NVIDIA--could one day allow HMD wearers to translate signs and even languages during visits foreign countries. Microsoft's new AI chip aims to boost real-time processing power and speed by reducing reliance on the cloud, and will also reduce battery drain to boot.
Oculus has confirmed that its premium Rift VR headset is getting a permanent price drop in a bid to fill out the headset's install base and pull more gamers into the Oculus ecosystem.
After the Oculus Rift's big $399 sale ends, the Facebook Inc.-accelerated headset and its accompanying Touch controllers will be sold in a bundle for $499. Oculus affirmed this price drop is permanent, and the bundle includes: Rift headset, two sensors, Touch controllers, cables, and six free titles when you activate Touch-Lucky's Tale, Medium, Toybox, Quill, Dead and Buried, and Robo Recall. We reached out to Anshel Sag, Associate Analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, for further insight on the Rift's price drop.
"Dropping the price to $499 indicates that Facebook isn't happy with sales (and they shouldn't be). They also desperately need to reach at least 1 million users so they have a compelling user base size to attract more developers. They can't pay for all the content on oculus home, so they're going to need to attract unpaid developers," said Moor Insight's Mr. Sag, who analyzes key trends in the technology sphere such as VR and AR.
As we reported, the PC-powered Oculus Rift VR headset is the least-popular in terms of HMD sales and hardware revenues, and is fourth in line behind the HTC Vive, Sony's PS4-powered PlayStation VR, and the mobile titan Samsung VR.
Facebook is making a new $200 mainstream wireless VR headset, something that's planned for next year, and something the social media giant is hoping to have the same effect Apple did with the original iPhone to the world, with its new $200 headset.
Oculus will be making the headset, with the news of the $200 wireless VR headset breaking days after Oculus slashing the price of the Rift + Touch bundle for $399. The new codenamed "Pacific" headset is reportedly smaller than the Rift, and lighter than the mobile-based Gear VR from Samsung. The final design might change, but those with details on the new headset said it will be easy enough to pull out of your bag and start watching movies on the plane or train.
Inside, we should expect a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor of some sort, with gaming performance somewhere in the vicinity of the Gear VR - but not the full-blown Rift on the PC. The new Facebook VR headset will be released next year, and with a $200 price point, we might see some fierce competition in the mobile VR space.
Qualcomm being in the middle of it is only another market where the company can dominate, as there's nothing AMD or NVIDIA have that can compete with the powerful mobile solutions in the form of many Snapdragon processors - including next-gen products that Qualcomm are working on now.
inXile Entertainment, a developer known for games like Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera, has secured a big multi-million dollar investment to help fund a new ambitious project.
inXile's $4.5 million investment from games publisher Gumi Inc. will be used to make a new open-world survival VR RPG, possibly pushing the current fledgling market closer to a HMD-selling "killer app." Not much is known about the project, but inXile is currently developing The Bard's Tale IV as well as Wasteland 3, and will leverage the investment from Gumi to help build a foundation for the new RPG. The developer states that the VR game will "launch on all platforms," likely meaning it'll see release on PlayStation VR, the HTC Vive, and Oculus' slow-selling Rift headset.
"Gumi shares my passion for creating deeper virtual reality games and I'm fortunate to have a partner to work with in this spectacular new medium. We've had incredible feedback from our first game, The Mage's Tale, and we want to continue to build on our experience and reputation. I've always been fascinated by the social dynamics of the open world survival genre and experiencing that in virtual reality will create powerful and terrifying moments. We'll also be bringing our storytelling and RPG experience to the table to help enrich the genre," said Brian Fargo, CEO, inXile Entertainment.
As the sales rift between Oculus' VR headset and its competitors continues to widen, Facebook slashes price in an attempt to spark sales growth.
Facebook-owned Oculus recently slashed the price of its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for the second time in three months. The Oculus Rift now comes bundled with its Touch controllers for $399, down 33% from the headset's current $599 MSRP. Oculus asserts the price drop will last six weeks. Although the company hasn't said so publicly, the consensus is that the price drop, which puts the Oculus Rift square up against Sony Corp's console-powered PlayStation VR competitor, will boost flagging sales and pull more gamers into the Rift ecosystem.
Adoption of VR headsets like HTC's Vive and the Oculus Rift has slowed due to higher costs. The headsets typically cost up to $700 and require a beefy desktop or laptop PC on top--with PC hardware, headsets, controllers and games, the total price of high-end VR deters many gamers. Sony has enjoyed success by tapping the middle ground between high-cost PC virtual reality and low-powered mobile VR. With its $399 PlayStation VR, Sony has made virtual reality accessible to core console gamers and has dominated sales of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. In fact, the PlayStation VR's 1.8 million lifetime sales through 2Q 2017 beat the Vive's and Rift's sales combined.
Oculus has just changed the VR landscape with a massive drop in the price of its Rift headset, which is now being bundled with the Oculus Touch for just $399 at all stores. This will include in-store, Amazon, Best Buy, and others.
At just $399, Oculus is fighting the good fight with mainstream consoles that are priced at under $400 like the Xbox One S and PS4. You'll need a PC or a good enough gaming laptop, but slashing $200 from the price of the Oculus Rift on its own - at its old price of $599, is a big deal. The other piece of this VR puzzle is the Oculus Touch controllers which used to be $200 on their own, are now bundled at a cheaper price than the Oculus Rift was just yesterday.
Oculus were offering a bundle for the Oculus Rift and Touch for $600 recently, but now Oculus is a massive $400 cheaper (half price!!) than the HTC Vive which sells for $800.
We know that Samsung is working on its own standalone VR headset, but now VR eye-tracking company Visual Camp, has teased Samsung's secret new standalone VR headset prototype called Exynos VR III.
Samsung's purported Exynos VR III headset is powered by a 10nm SoC with Mali G71 graphics, and can power dual "WQHD+" displays (2560x1440 or so) at 90Hz, or a single 4K panel at 75Hz. Samsung's secret new VR headset sports gaze tracking, as well as hand tracking and facial expression recognition. With enough sensors, Samsung could have inside-out motion tracking which is the bleeding edge for new mobile VR headsets.
What exactly does the gaze tracking do, you ask? Well, Samsung's new headset - and I'm sure Qualcomm and others are working on similar tech, is actually foveated rendering. This means that with gaze tracking, the headset will push rendering power to where your eyes are focused. You can see in the image above, the gaze point is to the upper right - so why should the headset render everything to the left and under it in 100% quality... that's not how your eyes work, so rendering power saved is a huge win.
One of the greatest bands of all times, if not the greatest, has been around for decades. Even after the tragic death of legendary Freddie Mercury in 1991, Queen has stuck around, and their songs are still highly popular even with the younger generations.
A couple of years ago, the band started performing again with Adam Lambert, selling out the shows around the world.
Now, the band's fans can experience a live performance by the band in virtual reality. The band has released a virtual reality concert named VR the Champions, which contains Queen's most popular songs, such as We Will Rock You, Radio Ga Ga, and We Are the Champions. Unfortunately, Freddie isn't featured in this VR movie, but let's hope that someday we will be able to see the legend itself in VR.