Today at GCD 2019, Oculus announced the new Oculus Rift S virtual reality headset.
The Oculus Rift S isn't a dramatic jump over the existing Rift insofar as power, and isn't what you'd expect from a true next-gen successor. If anything the Rift S is an iterative refresh over Facebook's original HMD and serves as the new dedicated desktop-powered model. The Rift S will sit higher above the middling self-contained $199 Oculus Go in the company's VR hierarchy.
The Oculus Rift S has quality-of-life upgrades across the board including convenient Oculus Insight inside-out motion tracking built right into the headset, alleviating the need for external sensors. Using five sensors built into the HMD, Oculus Insight tracks and maps out physical environments in real-time to preserve immersion for room-scale VR experiences. The Rift S' visuals have been upgraded too. It sports a single LCD panel with boosted 2560x1440 resolution and improved colors and pixel density. The headset uses the same higher-end VR optics found in the new wireless Oculus Go, which have been optimized to eliminate the screen door effect.
Qualcomm will reportedly be showing off new standalone wireless VR headsets at GDC 2019 according to the latest rumors, and they will also be able to connect to your PC.
The new reference design VR headsets from Qualcomm are reportedly called Boundless XR, which is a new reference design headset that will not only offer 6DoF (six degrees of freedom) but they'll also work with your PC through a super-fast 60GHz connection, and will be powered by Qualcomm's own Snapdragon 845 processor.
Qualcomm claims that latency will be low at 16ms, and should take some of the processing heavy lifting from your PC thanks to the on-board Snapdragon 845, but we don't know how much it will offload. The PC or console that you're connecting the Qualcomm VR headset will need to support 802.11ad Wi-Fi, and run Qualcomm's own software.
Today Nintendo announces an affordable and accessible solution to VR: a mass-market Labo kit specially tailored for its Switch console.
A bit ago we reported the Switch could get VR support via its innovative-yet-simple Labo cardboard kits, and this turned out to be true. The VR "headset" isn't like PSVR or Oculus Go; instead they're lower-end Toy-Con VR Goggles that create the illusion of VR. A Switch is slotted into the cardboard kit and special software adjusts the screen for VR gaming. Internal JoyCons tracking allows users to shoot cardboard blasters at aliens and other interactive activities.
Nintendo plans to release two new kits on April 12 that allow consumers to build their own VR experience. The base Nintendo Labo: VR Kit retails for a cool $40 and includes plans to make a blaster, the Toy-Con VR Goggles, and the "headset" to hold everything in place.
Sony will begin ramping up towards its next-gen PlayStation 5 reveal later this year, which I'm sure will coincide with the reveal of a next-gen PlayStation VR 2.0 headset, but before we get to that point let's discuss the latest from Sony.
In a new interview between Game Informer and Sony Network Entertainment International's Vice President and COO, Shawn Layden, we are beginning to receive information about the next 10 years of PSVR development. In the interview, Layden says the next 10 ye ars of PSVR development will be "dramatic", comparing the evolution of VR to the adoption of smartphones.
In the beginning, smartphones were expensive and didn't really have everything we needed in smartphones but over time they evolved into the how-do-we-live-without-them situation we find ourselves in today. Layden explained: "With PSVR, what I like about it... there have been very few times in my career - and I have been working in technology since the late '80s - when you get to be part of a truly 1.0 experience. The problem is nowadays, people's expectations and [attention] spans are so short. Now it's, 'Oh! PSVR, that's great! When is it going to be this size?"
Microsoft looks to preparing for the announcement of its next-gen HoloLens headset, something the Redmond-based giant teased in a new trailer simply titled '2.24.19 #MWC19' on YouTube.
The new HoloLens is reportedly codenamed Sydney, and should be lighter, more comfortable, feature a better display and more powerful internals over the original HoloLens. Microsoft will most likely update the built-in sensors of the new HoloLens, and an updated Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) which will reportedly have AI acceleration features.
We are expecting Microsoft to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 inside of the next-gen HoloLens, replacing the Intel Atom that powered the original HoloLens. Microsoft will most likely unveil its new HoloLens headset during Mobile World Congress 2019, on February 24 specifically. Until then.
Oculus might have its all-in-one Quest headset coming in Spring 2019 for $399 on the way, but now rumors are starting back up about the next-gen Rift, something that will reportedly be called "Rift S".
The news is coming from Upload VR that said it found new filenames in Oculus' PC application that teases Rift S, with the outlet saying they found the Rift S mentions in the UI code. These mention tease that the purported Oculus Rift S headset would feature built-in cameras, removing the need for external cameras that take up additional USB ports and power.
TechCrunch reported last November that the Rift S name was a possibility, and that it would roll out with inside-out tracking. The built-in cameras would allow Rift S owners to walk around in an environment without the external accessories and setup required, with a bunch of VR accessories that are in development rolling out with inside-out tracking support as it makes it much easier to get into the VR world either at home, work, or on-the-go if you take Rift S with you.
Sony's PlayStation VR continues pushing consumer interest in virtual reality and sparks sales in 2018's holiday quarter.
The PS4-powered PlayStation VR headset helped push 2018's total virtual reality revenues up to $3.6 billion, according to figures from analyst firm SuperData. The data clearly shows that consumers favor lower-cost hardware that's more accessible than enthusiast PC-powered models. In 2018's holiday quarter, Sony's VR HMD sold 700,000 units worldwide, followed by the wireless $199 Oculus Go with 555,000 sales. More demanding VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive sold 160,000 and 130,000 units respectively.
The PlayStation 4's staggering 91.6 million install base is a major factor in PSVR adoption and serves as a widespread foundation; so many people already own a PS4 that buying into the VR ecosystem is made much easier and less expensive than the Rift's of Vive's total PC-and-headset cost. Of course Black Friday sales also helped push PSVR adoption.
Facebook has dropped its PC-powered VR headset permanently down to $349 across all regions.
The Oculus Rift is now just a fraction of its original cost, hinting big things are to come from the VR giant. The Rift and two Touch controllers can now be had for $349 across retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, representing a mighty 41% price drop from the Rift's $599 debut in 2016.
This new reduction makes sense from a business perspective. The Rift is the company's core dedicated PC-based headset and soon will be joined by an all-in-one standalone HMD, the Oculus Quest. This diversification allows for more options and accessibility for consumers, widening VR's overall reach.
CES 2019 - In conjunction with a ton of other VR announcements, HTC today revealed a new eye-tracking variant of its $799 Vive Pro virtual reality headset.
Unlike the Vive Pro, the Vive Pro Eye isn't really made for consumers or enthusiast VR gaming experiences. Instead HTC hopes businesses in the enterprise sector will leverage the headset's built-in eye tracking technology for research and development and training scenarios. That doesn't mean it can't be used for VR gaming and apps, of course, and we could see some nifty interactive content roll out thanks to the Pro Eye. The new eye tracking headset is PC-powered and features the same specs as the Vive Pro (90Hz refresh rate, 1440 x 1600 resolution dual AMOLED panels) with the added bonus of eye-tracking sensors.
"Vive Pro Eye is targeted at the enterprise market where eye tracking has a number of immediate benefits-from performance, to accessibility, to improvements in training applications," HTC wrote in an official press release. "It will also benefit developers by minimizing computing resources needed to render high-end VR environments."
CES 2019 - HTC's new Cosmos VR headset can be powered by both a PC and mobile handset.
Meet VIVE Cosmos, VR made for everyone. Easy setup. Comfortable design. Modular capabilities. VIVE Cosmos goes beyond everything you could want in one device.
Today HTC announced its latest VR HMD called Cosmos, an interesting headset aimed at accessibility and comfort. The device looks like a mini Vive Pro and features inside-out tracking, but it's main selling point is a kind of expansive modularity. The Cosmos is primarily a dedicated headset for PC VR experiences and tethers to a desktop or laptop, but a smartphone can apparently be hooked up to it for on-the-go or mobile use (although Vive has yet to detail this feature). This could mean the Cosmos has varying power and perf, similar to a Nintendo Switch's docked vs undocked performance discrepancy.
"Cosmos is the newest VR headset in our family built with absolute comfort in mind. We really wanted this to be something that would make it easy to access your virtual world," HTC said in their recent CES 2019 stream. "In the coming months we'll have more to share on this product, including the kinds of form factors it can expand into."