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The Apple Watch didn't give the wearables market a significant boost like some analysts hoped for, but there is plenty of great growth opportunity thanks to virtual reality. Even though there have been very few VR product launches this year, shipment volumes will reach 14 million units in 2016, according to TrendForce's Topology Research Institute (TRI).
VR video games cost less to create than VR movies, and with the appeal of audiovisual in regards to VR, there is huge sales potential. Game developers have plenty of incentives, such as low cost and minimal time investment, to create VR game titles - and it seems like only a matter of time before VR-centric games hit the market.
"VR hardware's market positioning is clearer than smartwatches," said Jason Tsai, wearable device analyst at TrendForce. "Since VR device's strongest feature is providing users with an immersive audiovisual experience, its early application will be related to gaming."
Now that the launch of Windows 10 is out of the way, Microsoft's next exciting launch is HoloLens. The company has said that HoloLens would arrive "in the Windows 10 time frame", but when is that?
During an interview with the BBC, company CEO Satya Nadella said that HoloLens should hit the first handful of developers and enterprise users "within the next year", smashing hopes that people would see it this year. Nadella added that the technology inside, and out of HoloLens is a "5-year journey".
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes it's only a matter of time before members of the No. 1 social networking site fully embrace "immersive 3D content."
When asked about possible mainstream applications that could help boost virtual reality, including Facebook-owned Oculus VR, he offered this statement:
"The reason we're excited in this space is the continued progression of people getting richer and richer ways to share what's on their mind," said Zuckerberg, in a statement."Ten years ago it was text. Now it's mostly visual and photos, then primarily video and we're seeing huge growth there, but that is not the end of the line. Immersive 3D content is the obvious next thing after video."
Kinematix has been heavily promoting its TUNE, a wearable designed for runners, able to collect all sorts of information - well beyond pace and speed - including each foot's ground-contact time, heel-contact time, and more.
TUNE includes insoles with electronic sensors, able to to sync with small electronic devices that connect to the outside of the shoe. After each run, athletes are able to take a closer look at their technique throughout the workout - and the TUNE app even shows how to properly do exercises.
The insole is extremely thin and should be able to fit into most shoes, and since the insole isn't in direct contact with a person's foot, there should be no need to try and wash it.
No Man's Sky is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious and anticipated games in recent memory--its magnificent interstellar sci-fi themes awaken the inner space pirate in all of us, not to mention the cosmic beauty of an infinitesimal procedurally-generated universe made of billions of celestial bodies and planets just waiting to be explored.
And what better way to experience such a galactic adventure than with VR? Hello Games' Sean Murray agrees that No Man's Sky would benefit tremendously from VR support, and has shown a lot of interest in the possibility. "Morpheus, Oculus...There's nothing more cool and sci-fi than VR and a big procedural universe," Murray continued in a recent interview with EDGE magazine. "I think that, for the people who want to just explore, and even for the space combat and things like that, it would be a good fit. Let's put it that way."
Acknowledging the sensitive nature of pre-release juggernauts and the deal with Sony, Murray wasn't able to get into specifics: "I don't know what I'm allowed to say. [VR support] is something we're thinking about."
If you've been waiting to purchase the Apple Watch but didn't want to visit an Apple store, you'll be happy to hear Best Buy will begin selling the watch on August 7.
Best Buy will roll out the watch to 100 retail stores next month, and will make sure more than 300 locations have the watch in time for Christmas.
"The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it," said Jason Bonfig, senior category officer at Best Buy, in a statement published by VentureBeat.
The virtual reality market seems to be surging, but there is still quite a bit of confusion regarding what vertical will help drive interest. Initial signs point towards the gaming market, but a VR pioneer said there are much more important and practical uses for VR technology.
"I don't believe that video games are an appropriate market for this. Especially when you get into the highly violent games - do you really want to feel that blood splatter on you?" said Jeremy Bailenson, founder of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, in a statement to the San Jose Mercury News. "I don't think it's the right use case."
"I don't believe VR should be used for hours a day. I think VR's great for really particular and specific moments that you try to learn about yourself and learn about others. Maybe I'm in a minority, but when these games come out, I don't think people are going to want to play them for eight hours."
While HTC might not be doing so well when it comes to smartphone sales, it has one of the most exciting products in it arsenal, with the Vive VR headset arriving later this year.
With no firm release date other than 'the end of 2015', HTC is now saying that it will sell Vive directly through its website, as well as various retailers. HTC.com and HTCVR.com will have the first Vive units available, but it will slowly reach other destinations. HTC's Head of Global Marketing, Jeff Gattis, talked with Polygon recently about Vive, where he said: "Everybody is excited about this: They see the potential for the market, the potential to sell the things around it. They see it as a great traffic driver to their stores".
Gattis said that "retail will be part of [their] strategy" but it won't happen until Q1 2016, but that doesn't mean the Vive is delayed from its 'end of 2015' release window. Gattis added: "I don't know if we're necessarily going to hit retail for holiday, but we're still very committed to that".
Virtual reality has potential well beyond just video games, and it looks like movies providing a more interactive experience could help the market surge even higher. Oculus recently signed a "multi-project, multi-experience virtual reality production deal" with Felix & Paul Studios to create custom content for the Oculus Rift.
If you're not familiar with Felix & Paul Studios, the company created Jurassic World and Wild VR experiences for the Samsung Gear VR headset. Working directly with VR headset manufacturers gives Felix & Paul Studios the ability to provide polished VR experiences directly to consumers - and will hopefully create interest for the VR industry overall.
"We believe in virtual reality's profound potential as an art form and storytelling medium," said Felix Lajeunesse, co-founder of Felix & Paul Studios. "Our studio's objective is to create content of the highest quality - both artistically and technologically - and to expand the boundaries of what can be expressed through the medium."
Nokia is reportedly planning to unveil its own VR platform next week at a VIP event in LA, and with the first whispers that Nokia would enter the VR market floating around in April, this report from Re/code could be true.
Nokia Technologies, one of Nokia's many units, is rumored to be behind the device. Nokia Technologies' last device was the Android-powered N1 tablet that was released back in November last year, but the division has teased that it would sell smartphone designs next year, as well as a bunch of software projects.
If the Finnish company did release a VR headset, it would be competing with some of the biggest names in the industry: Oculus and Facebook, as well as Valve and HTC, Microsoft, Google, Sony and Samsung.