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Virtual Reality is Ready to Rocket

Virtual Reality is Ready to Rocket
by Daniel Payne on 08-09-2015 at 7:00 am

Virtual Reality (VR) is such a hot technology concept right now that the topic has made the cover of Time, Wired and Forbes magazines this year, along with countless online articles. What really captured my attention was that moment in 2014 when Facebook acquired VR startup Oculus for $2B, yes that is billions of dollars. The last time that I saw this much excitement was the advent of personal computers back in the late 1970’s.


Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR

To make VR work you need several components:

  • A headset to immerse viewers with 3D content
  • A video processing engine capable of quickly rendering 3D content
  • 3D content that is compelling for entertainment, education or exploration

There are a few dozen companies all clamoring for position in this brave, new, 3D, VR world. VR headsets can range from a simple, folded piece of cardboard like Google Cardboard that uses your existing cell phone, to commercial headsets with integrated headphones.


Google Cardboard

Video processing may be supplied by your cellphone, tablet, laptop, desktop or dedicated hardware. If you visit the local BestBuy store, the only VR product for sale are headsets that use either the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Samsung Galaxy Note 4cell phones as the video processing and software from Oculus:


Samsung Gear VR

Let’s take a quick survey of other VR headsets that have been announced to get a feel for the variety to choose from:

[TABLE] style=”width: 500px”
|-
| Product
| Features
|-
| Oculus Rift
|

  • Crowd-funded on Kickstarter, owned now by Facebook
  • Both audio and video, wired
  • Available Q1 2016


|-
| Project StarVR
|

  • Hardware by InfinitEyes
  • Software by Starbreeze
  • Dual Quad HD screens
  • Still in development


|-
| AirVR
|

  • iOS devices only
  • Kickstarter funded
  • In development


|-
| Avegant Glyph
|

  • Audio and Video
  • 120 Hz refresh rate
  • In development


|-
| Cmoar
|

  • Powered by Android or iOS devices
  • Includes Augmented Reality
  • Kickstarter funded


|-
| Dior Eyes VR
|

  • Dior fashion brand
  • Uses Samsung Galaxy Note 4 device
  • Fashion viewing market


|-
| Emax X1
|

  • Compatible with Oculus Rift
  • Made in China
  • Soon to launch


|-
| Fove
|

  • Eye-tracking technology
  • Full 360 degree experience
  • Kickstarter funded


|-
| Google Cardboard
|

  • Use most any smart phone
  • Lowest price
  • Available now


|-
| Homiod
|

  • Smart phone powered
  • Wireless
  • 69.99 Euros


|-
| HTC Vive
|

  • HTC and Valve team
  • Available end of 2015
  • Content from HBO, Lionsgate, Google


|-
| ImmersiON BlueSky Pro
|

  • Dual 1920 x 1080 displays
  • Multiple game engine support
  • From Silicon Valley and Spain


|-
| Impression PI
|

  • Senses hand gestures
  • Versions for smart phones and stand-alone
  • Kickstarter funded


|-
| MindMaze NeuroGoggles
|

  • Brainwave controlled
  • Tracks hand motions
  • From China


|-
| Pinch VR
|

  • Uses your smart phone
  • Includes finger sensors
  • From Canada


|-
| Razer OSVR
|

  • Software is Open Source
  • Well-known gaming company
  • Coming soon


|-
| Samsung Gear VR
|

  • Available at BestBuy
  • Uses Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or S6 devices
  • $199.00


|-

Source: Virtual Reality Times

What an amazing array of VR devices that are soon to be unleashed into the consumer and commercial marketplace. If I were to guess which of these VR headsets are still around in 18 months it would: Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and Razer OSVR. Let’s see what Facebook does with their Oculus brand and if Samsung can create early interest in VR. I was surprised to see some 114 favorable product reviews on BestBuy about the Samsung Gear VR device, yielding a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.

Economically speaking, I think that the real winners are the 3D content creators, because they should command bigger revenues than just the hardware providers of VR. It’s the same business model as Game Consoles, sell the console for a low or subsidized price, then make all of your revenue and profits on each new gaming title.

Who knows, there may even be some use of VR for EDA companies as IC designers may benefit from taking a 3D tour of their FinFET chips, packages and boards.

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