The world's biggest technology showcase CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) is held every year in Las Vegas over the last 50 years. New 2017 is not an exception – the event ran from January 5 to January 8.
As consumers get their first taste of voice-controlled home robots and motion-based virtual realities, a quiet swath of technologists are thinking big picture about what comes after that. The answer has major implications for the way we’ll interact with our devices in the near future.
Spoiler alert: We won’t be yelling or waving at them; we’ll be thinking at them.
VR systems like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift are really cool but also really expensive. That’s why RiftCat created a new app, VRidge, that lets you play rich PC-based VR content on small devices like Google Cardboard and Gear VR, giving you the opportunity to try VR games without spending a few hundred dollars.
Ever wonder what life would look like if you were literally a fly on the wall? Or, better yet, a dragonfly in the forest? Actually seeing the world through another's eyes is still very much science fiction, but thanks to advances in virtual reality, you can come close.
Six months ago, Formula E — the all-electric racing series that was started in 2014 — announced that it was partnering with a company called Virtually Live in order to offer live broadcasts of its races in virtual reality. There was a twist, though: the VR races would be created using computer graphics, offering a sort of interactive video game-style experience where you could be on the track or even watch from right next to the cars. Unfortunately, there was also a second twist: those broadcasts never happened.
Let’s face it, the state of virtual reality gaming isn’t looking so great these days. Though the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive managed to sell out rather quickly upon each of their respective releases, sales of the two devices have pretty much flatlined. The initial hype got early adopters to jump on board and buy units in droves, but the current sales numbers tell us that consumers just aren’t interested in VR gaming. Some believed this technology would usher in a new era of innovation for games, but it appears that VR is turning out to be the fad most (myself included) said it would be.
With PlayStation VR set to land in four months, it was no surprise that Sony went big on virtual reality at E3 2016.
Along with a handful of new VR-ready games, Sony revealed a new add-on called the PS VR Aim Controller, which you'll be able to use with the game Farpoint - and presumably plenty of other titles too.
AMD at Computex 2016 has unveiled its 7th generation laptop processors. Apart from two FX-Series APUs, the company introduced seven new APUs in its A-Series and E-Series. The chipmaker also unveiled the Radeon RX480 graphics card based on its Polaris architecture - the card is VR ready, AMD says, and has an suggested retail price of just $199 - seriously lowering the price bar for PC users to correctly enjoy virtual reality. AMD's upcoming Zen-based Summit Ridge processors were also partially detailed at the event.
VR needs content if it’s to be more than a flash in the early adopter pan.
But it’s pretty clear that in the short term at least it’s not going to have a whole lot of compelling content.
And understandably so. It’s a new medium, after all, and figuring out how to create exciting ‘experiences’, as the VR pushers put it, is going to take time. Not least because perfecting the hardware remains a sizable distraction.
A Los Angeles writer who set a world record by spending 25 hours playing a single game in virtual reality was left wondering how long anyone could last in an experience that he considered intense and overwhelming.
Derek Westerman, 32, took on the challenge after trying virtual reality for the first time earlier this year. When he found out there was no world record for time spent in avirtual reality headset, he pitched the stunt to Super Deluxe, a maker of comedic YouTube videos.