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Virtual reality was one of the most popular topics during E3 2015 earlier this month, but Nintendo isn't quite on the VR bandwagon. Although the company is paying attention to VR developments, it's seen as a technology that doesn't fall in line with Nintendo's current game production philosophy: be fun and social.
Microsoft and Sony appear to be fully onboard VR hardware support - and game development - hoping consumers are okay with wearables designed to enhance the gaming experience.
"The current types of virtual reality aren't really a good fit for Nintendo's philosophy of trying to create entertainment that people can play together in the living room," said Shigeru Miyamoto, game design legend behind Mario, told Yahoo Games during E3. "We're constantly looking at different technology and experimenting with different elements of it, but we're not feeling virtual reality is currently in a place where it's ready to be released - as a product that fits with our philosophy of fitting in the living room."
The Apple Watch brought attention to the smartwatch and wearables market, but it looks like initial demand for the watch is dying down.
If you're thinking about purchasing an Apple Watch, you'll be happy to know there are plenty of them available to choose from. Even though some estimate 13 million to 20 million units have sold, the hyped Apple wearable isn't seen as a necessity.
"The initial demand for the Apple Watch looks lackluster," said Brian Blair, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities, in a statement on CNBC's "Power Lunch." "It's not clear what the killer app is. It's nice to get notifications, but it's a nonessential product."
It looks like you can't count game designer Warren Spector interested in developing VR video games, with the man best known for Deus Ex, saying VR won't be anything more than a fad. The Oculus Rift drew major attention during E3 2015 earlier this month, but Spector said he "didn't see much interest in VR or AR." However, he's an overall fan of the technology, but hasn't seen enough to become a "true-believer" in it... yet. Maybe?
"The other VR/AR stuff seemed like a big ho-hum to me. Maybe that's just my prejudice - I think VR's going to be a fad (again) and at best a minor part of gaming's future, not unlike stereoscopic 3D, which I also called out as a fad," Spector recently said in a blog post. However, he clarified his viewpoint in a follow up blog post:
"As an individual, I find VR cool, interesting and compelling. I'm not anti-VR. The content is coming, I have no doubt - I know too many super smart, super creative people working to create the unique content that will make the VR experience desirable if not irresistible."
It's impossible to tell when virtual reality will go mainstream - if it does - but the companies pushing VR hardware hope its sooner rather than later.
Re/code recently caught up with Palmer Luckey, Oculus co-founder, to see what he thought about the future of VR.
"In these early days, probably for at least two years, VR is going to be primarily for gamers and enthusiasts that are willing to invest in high-end machines," Luckey said while speaking with Re/code. "VR is going to become something mainstream, but it's not going to happen right away. You just don't have the horsepower to make it happen on a device, much less a cheap enough and comfortable enough device that a normal consumer is going to want to have."
Ready or not, a wave of virtual reality hardware is right around the corner. As gamers learn more about the choices we have in front of us, trying to figure out how long to wear the VR headsets during each session.
Some people will only be able to use it for a few minutes at a time, while others will be good to go for a few hours.
"We're not recommending 20 straight hours of gameplay in the Rift. We're looking at 30, 60, 90 minutes," said Brendan Iribe, head of the Facebook Oculus VR division, in a statement to GamesBeat. "Maybe an hour or two. Then you should be able to enjoy it every day. When you come out of it, if you don't feel good, you're not going to want to do it the next day. We want you to come out of the experience like you want to get right back in."
Cirque du Soleil Kurios used a custom camera to record its show, providing a 360-degree version for guests wearing virtual reality headsets. If you're wearing the headset, and turn your head, you'll receive an entirely different view of what you're seeing. The Samsung Gear VR headset was chosen in the demo, and allowed for an entirely new perspective of the show.
"So every time you turn around, you realize that someone is really close to you and they're doing something very, very interesting," said Jeronimo Carbi, electronic maintenance coordinator for the Kurios show, in a statement published by CBS4.
As a huge fan of Cirque Soleil, I think there is some appeal to seeing a VR experience with the high-flying acrobatics. Each show is unique and entertaining in their own right, so adding VR into the mix should only make it better.
The wearables market is growing, and while analysts can't agree on what the future holds for the evolving market, Intel isn't going to sit on the sidelines and wait it out. Intel recently announced it purchased Recon Instruments, a company known for creating connected eyewear for athletes.
"Going forward, we'll continue leading the smart eyewear category for sports, and we'll be able to bring our technology and innovation to completely new markets and use cases where activity-specific information, delivered instantly, can change the game," said Dan Eisenhardt, co-founder of Recon, in a blog post.
So far in 2015, Intel introduced the Curie hardware model, a new system-on-chip (SoC) designed for wearable products, while also announcing a partnership with Oakley. The company didn't stop there, as Intel will also work with Google and TAG Heuer in the smartwatch market.
Microsoft has teamed up with NASA to help develop the Sidekick project, designed so astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) can use commercial technology to be more productive. Ideally, astronauts will be able to successfully complete tasks in a more efficient manner, while also reducing the amount of crew training before missions.
Expect astronauts to use HoloLens so they have a digital virtual aid - with HoloLens blasting into space aboard a SpaceX commercial resupply mission on June 28.
"HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could have drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the man and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station," said Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS program at NASA. "This new technology could also empower future explorations requiring autonomoy on the journey to Mars."
Sony wants its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset to help revolutionize gaming, and spent a lot of time promoting the platform during E3. However, some gamers wonder if VR will be nothing more than a gimmick, in a similar sense to how 3D TVs were expected to be the next big thing - and quickly fizzled.
When asked about how Sony plans to promote VR, especially to users that think it's a gimmick similar to 3D TVs, here is what Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony's Worldwide Studios at Sony Computer Entertainment, said while speaking with PlayStation LifeStyle:
"Yeah, so people ask me 'is virtual reality the next 3D TV?' And I say, 'No, it's not.' The experience that we are creating is totally different from 3D TV and games on 3D TVs. When you look back, games you played on 3D TVs are almost exactly the same as you've played on 2D TVs. You just get depth simulation inside the TV but it's the same game."
Virtual reality is booming right now, and the overall market is expected to reach $15.89 billion by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 63.18 percent from now until 2020, according Marketsandmarkets.
Oculus VR, Sony, HTC and Valve, Microsoft, and other manufacturers are currently developing VR hardware, with consumers anxiously waiting for more consumer choices. With Sony and Oculus admitting they are "sharing notes" with one another regarding VR, the two frontrunners in the hardware market could help drive interest in the market.
Most of the attention on VR is dedicated to video games and movies, but the technology will likely be disruptive for the medical, industrial, education, retail and marketing, and other verticals. VR will grow to be even more competitive, but opportunities exist as there are new large scale collaborations, partnerships and agreements among software and hardware developers.