The people of the divination division at beancounters Canalys have been shuffling their tarot decks and concluded that virtual reality headsets will be a hit in verticals such as healthcare and education.
Canalys said the emerging device category has just racked up its first million-unit quarter and shipments reached seven figures for the first time in the third quarter.
This was due to a price war among leading players such as Oculus and Sony which saw consumers start to buy.
Canalys analyst and auger Jason Low said that VR headsets are set for “strong uptake” in the business market from next year as new A-brand PC entrants supporting Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform begin to push their products through the channel.
“VR in business can be applied to many industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and education,” said Low. “As top-tier PC vendors, including HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Dell launch their own VR headsets, using their distribution channel efficiencies, one can expect a strong VR uptake in business.”
Canalys’s definition of VR excludes simple viewers, such as Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View. Oculus – one of three players alongside Sony and HTC which together account for 86 percent of the market according to Canalys – recently slashed the price of its Rift headsets to $399.
Beancounters at research house IDTechEx says the market will reach $37 billion by 2020.
AR, VR and mixed reality headsets should grow in the consumer, education, construction and medical sector.
IDTechEx has predicted that the market will grow by more than tenfold over the next decade, from $3.4 billion to $37 billion.
Its research looks at not only AR, VR and mixed reality devices, but also devices labelled under other terms including ‘annotated reality’ and ‘augmented vitality’.
IDTechEx principal analyst Dr Harry Zervos said that the devices are categorised hinges on how much of the real world is allowed to come through the headset.
“A pure VR headset blocks out reality completely, while an AR one will only superimpose additional information, without obstructing the wearer’s view of the real world at all,” he said.
“What the future is bringing is a spectrum of eye-worn devices with varying amounts of reality and virtuality thrown in; for instance, a VR headset with a front facing camera can instantly become an AR headset, as it allows the wearer a full view of the real world, albeit through a display.”
According to Zervos, the market will be propelled in the short term by growth of VR devices that are tethered to an external PC.
“From 2021 onwards, growth will be transferred to standalone AR, propelled forward by the launch of high performing headsets and reduced power consumption that will lead to longer battery life and independence from the grid. Standalone VR will also make its mark, although its exact value proposition is not fully clear or even distinctly separate from standalone AR.”
Intel’s CEO claims that VR is going to bring big bucks to the Channel.
Talking to the assembled throngs at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Brian Krzanich used his platform at CES to underline the firm’s belief that virtual reality is going to be an area that will deliver growth in the future.
He claimed that the technology will extend far beyond the classic consumer electronics and extending to every experience you have today.
“I know a lot of people are questioning ‘is virtual reality going to take off?’ ‘Is VR going anywhere? We have a lot more technologies coming over the next few years and we believe Intel is leading this unprecedented change and make this vision a reality.”
One of the places where VR would have an impact in the commercial world was in jobs that had an element of danger, like pipeline inspection, where a user could take a look using the combination of VR and cameras on a drone.
“All of this we believe is one example of how work can be transformed by virtual reality. Inspections, search and resuce, dangerous work it can save lives, it can save money and it can save time and those are the solutions we believe will bring value to the end user,” he said.
Overall there are 261 exhibitors in the augmented and virtual reality category at CES, which is the largest number that have turned out to promote the technology.
VR is still too pricey to make a clean sale, with more than half of consumers thinking that the technology is over priced.
A survey carried out by IT market analysts Context has found that almost four in ten consumers in the UK believe that VR is too expensive. That figure rises to 47 percent when extended to include thre rest of Europe.
When asked how much they would be willing to spend on their first VR headset, consumers showed they thought that spending that much dosh was a waste of time.
37 percent would prefer to pay nothing for the headset, whilst 21 percent would only be willing to pay under £100. Nevertheless, over a third (35 percent) would fork out £100 to £200, but when asked to consider the current cost of the headsets, almost four in ten (39 percent) believe they are too expensive.
It is not as if they are poorly informed. The survey also found that three in four consumers have heard of technology such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or PlayStation VR.
Consumers in the UK and around Europe are most excited about VR’s applications in sport, film and TV. Half of those surveyed in the UK (51 per cent) want the chance to experience something they would never do in real life, such as sky diving.
VR’s biggest draw is currently sport, with 60 percent of consumers claiming they’re most excited about viewing a match as if they were really there. This figure rose to 65 and 66 percent in France and Germany.
The survey has found that those in the UK certainly do not see VR as a gimmick, with over half of the British public (56 percent) agreeing that VR has serious applications in fields such as medicine, science, and education. The figure rose to 68 percent with German consumers.
The tech industry has given VR a dominant focus over the past few years, and that trend looks set to continue as it becomes more widely available.
AMD has been showing the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco its LiquidVR SDK that will help developers customise virtual reality content for AMD hardware.
AMD said that LiquidVR SDK makes a number of technologies available which help address obstacles in content, comfort and compatibility that together take the industry a major step closer to true, life-like presence across all VR games, applications, and experiences.
Its theory is that which company wins the war to make virtual reality worthwhile will be the outfit that can build the strongest sense of “presence.” This is jargon for the feeling you have of actually being in the virtual world.
Like most things computer geeky it can be determined by a maths formula which is based on the speed with which the virtual world (within your view) updates as you move.
If you physically turn your head but there’s even a short pause before your view updates in the virtual world, the sense of actually being in the world is lost.
Oculus has signed up for AMD’s LiquidVR SDK and Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus said that achieving presence in a virtual world continues to be one of the most important elements to delivering amazing VR.
“We’re excited to have AMD working with us on their part of the latency equation, introducing support for new features like asynchronous timewarp and late latching, and compatibility improvements that ensure that Oculus’ users have a great experience on AMD hardware.”
AMD showed off several features of the LiquidVR SDK at the conference, including Affinity Multi-GPU, which lets multiple GPUs work together in VR applications (important for framerate improvements) and asynchronous shaders for Hardware-Accelerated Time-Warp, which is meant to improve motion-to-photon latency, or your sense of presence.
Many people find wearing virtual reality headsets gives them a headache or makes them feel sick, but that hasn’t stopped Taiwanese firm HTC by announcing it will sell a system later this year.
The company made its announcement at the Mobile World Congress, an annual shindig in Barcelona where vendors vie with each other to attract attention for forthcoming products.
HTC is cooperating with Valve, a US company that specialises in video games, to let you pretend you’re walking around virtual rooms and psychotically blasting virtual foes to cyber eternity.
The HTC unit, called the Vive, can show video at a whopping 90 frames a second, and has two 1200 x 1800 pixel screens. It includes a number of sensors including an accelerometer and a gyroscope.
HTC has had a somewhat troubled time in the last two years as its core mobile business suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous vendors like Apple and Samsung. A VR headset is a new departure for the company, which also used the MWC shining to launch an Android handset to not much enthusiasm.
Famous for operating its reality distortion shield, Apple might have taken control of the Virtual Reality market with an ancient patent application.
Apple was granted a patent for a Gear VR-like mobile headset which would use a portable device (like a smartphone) as the primary display. However the patent is similar to Samsung’s Gear VR and a swath of VR smartphone adapters out there like Google Cardboard.
According to patent attorney, Eric Greenbaum the patent could kill off all competition for mobile VR headsets and patent troll the market to oblivion.
In 2008 Apple filed a patent for a “Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display.”
The patent describes a device which sounds an awful lot like Gear VR and other VR smartphone adapters. Eric Greenbaum, told Road to VR that the Apple patent may have broad ramifications for mobile-device based head mounted displays.” Which I take to mean, Apple could have a case on their hands if they wanted to challenge Gear VR or similar devices in court.
He thinks that Jobs’ Mob may have pressed to get the patent through the system after Gear VR was announced.
Greenbaum warned that Apple has not yet announced a plan to build any VR products. However their patent filings indicate a strong interest in the field and I would expect them to be planning something.
This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD.
There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it in forming strategic partnerships.
In other words, Apple without actually inventing anything could take control of the entire market. It could cherry pick the best technology out there and then release its own product.
Yesterday we reported that Thomas Cook wants to woo customers by showing them fun places they might like to book a holiday.
And so they might be interested in research from UCLA which finds the brain reacts completely differently to virtual reality than to seeing and hearing things in the real world.
Mayank Mehta, a UCLA professor of physics, said that his and his teams findings could well be significant for people who use VR for gaming, military, commercial or other purposes.
Mehta said: “The pattern of activity in a brain region involved in spatial learning in the virtual world is completely different than when it processes activity in the real world. Since so many people are using virtual reality, it is important to understand why there are such big differences.”
The UCLA boffins studied the hippocampus, a part of the brain which plays a big part in creating new memories and mental spatial maps.
The scientists believe that the hippocampus measures distances between a person and surrounding landmarks, aided by other sense impressions like sounds and smells.
The scientists tested rats in virtual and real worlds and measured the activity of hundreds of neurons in their hippocampi in both environments. The results were entirely different – in VR the rats’ hippocampi fired randomly “as if the neurons had no idea where the rat was”. Mehta said the mental map “disappeared completely”. Over half of the neurons in the hippocampi shut down in VR.
Want to book a holiday abroad? Thomas Cook claims that it’s going to give you the experience of a lifetime before you ever get near an airport.
The firm said it will use head mounted virtual reality display headsets to customers in a number of shops it has in the UK, Germany and Belgium.
Thomas Cook said it is introducing the virtual reality following successful trials in the massive Bluewater concept store earlier this year.
The company has already created a number of virtual reality experiences including a helicopter tour of Manhattan, a visit to a pool at a resort in Rhodes, and a trip to the restaurant in Cyprus. Other content will include a boat tour round the Statue of Liberty, a drive in New York in a yellow taxi cab.
The content will also be made available on the company’s website so you can look at the content on your tablet, rather than putting your head in the gadget (pictured).
Marco Ryan, head of new things at Thomas Cook, said: “Our use of VR is set to enhance the in store shopping experience for Thomas Cook customers, allowing them to make informed decisions regarding their next holiday.”