CES 2019 has been a delight to follow. A lot of cool VR announcements were made by Nvidia, HTC, Audi and TPCast. There are more, but we have chosen 7 highlights that we found most exciting. First of all, welcome to another episode in our DIVE INTO VR series, where we share our excitement about VR technology, news and just everything beyond that. Today, we just wanted to share our excitement about the CES 2019 VR announcements. So here are 7 of our most favorite VR highlights Coming up!
NVIDIA review of the PC VR Market
Nvidia said during their CES 2019 press conference that 4 million PC VR headsets are sold. This number is most likely about the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. They also said that 3800 VR titles are now available on Steam. Now, Nvidia has not announced where they got this information, so it probably means that they have their statistics somewhere. But this is perhaps the first time that we got a more accurate number of the size of the PC VR market since HTC and Oculus never gave us any sales numbers. So this could be an estimate, but I have a feeling Nvidia could have a pretty good idea about this. And we feel this is a pretty good number! So great
More VR Ready hardware
Both Nvidia and AMD announced new VR ready hardware. Nvidia announced the RTX 2060 GPU priced at 350 dollars. This is an entry-level graphics card that is allegedly more powerful than the GTX 1060 and 1070 cards, but benchmarks will have to prove this. 2060 will launch on January 15th. AMD also announced its next gaming GPU. The AMD Radeon VII. With this AMD is hoping to take on NVIDIA’s RTX 2080. The AMD Radeon VII will launch on February 7th and will be priced at $700. This is exciting news if you are looking to upgrade your PC since you have more choices now. We are on a GTX 1070 ourselves, so we are pretty happy about this! We will probably get a GPU with VirtualLink though, which is the new USB-C single cable standard for future PC VR headsets. And we want to invest into something that is more future proof for VR headsets as VR enthusiasts ourselves. What’s also exciting is that Nvidia also announced laptops with the GeForce RTX chips, some of them will also include VirtualLink. I’m a little sad about this though because we just bought a new VR ready laptop. Probably one of the most exciting highlights are the ones from HTC Vive. So coming up are three highlights from them that we are most excited to see.
HTC VIVE Pro Eye
The VIVE Pro Eye is a new VR headset that looks just like the VIVE Pro, except it has blue rings on the camera’s in the front and it has integrated eye-tracking. The advantage of eye-tracking is that it will allow foveated rendering. Foveated rendering is an upcoming graphics rendering technique. It can reduce the rendering workload by prioritizing what a user is looking at and lowering the resolution of everything else. This can allow you to play VR games with better graphics using the same hardware! Other details of the specifications of the VIVE Pro Eye has been minimal, but it seems like it will have the same specs as the VIVE Pro. We are excited to see a headset use eye-tracking and foveated rendering. However, there are sounds that the VIVE Pro Eye headset is going to be more focused on enterprise instead of for gamers. But I guess time will tell.
HTC VIVE Reality System
VIVE Reality System. VIVE Reality System is Vive 's software platform similar to SteamVR 's Home and Oculus Home. It sounds basically like a menu, except shaped in a world in 360 degrees, allowing you to engage with the software in a more immersive way. VIVE Reality System will be focused on social interactions. According to HTC, this means that users will be able to connect, watch videos and play games together among other creative experiences.
HTC VIVE Cosmos
Now here comes the highlight that we are probably the most excited about. The VIVE Cosmos announcement. This is a new PC VR headset that can be used at home or on-the-go as teased by HTC. HTC has been pretty cryptic about the Cosmos, as they seem not ready to share a lot of information. However, what we could gather is that it will be a 6DoF headset with four cameras. Two at the front, and two at the sides. This will allow inside-out tracking, so no external tracking devices are needed allowing for a more comfortable setup. It has a flip-up visor, which we think is very cool! As it looks like one of those headsets straight from Ready Player One. It has two controllers that look just like the Oculus Quest controllers, but these new VIVE ones have a beautiful visual addition: the lights on the outside, which looks like tribal art to us. There has been a lot of confusion about this headset. First of all, people thought (including me) that it would be a standalone headset, which it won’t be. It will be a tethered headset that you can connect to the PC. But HTC also teased that you might be able to power it with a mobile device. How this is precisely implemented is still unknown. It will also be modular, meaning you’ll be able to customize it how you want, making it future proof. But the best news is that it will support OpenVR according to an article by RoadToVR, which most likely means that it will support SteamVR applications. That would be great news. HTC hasn’t said a lot about the display, except that it’s their sharpest screen yet, with real RGB displays and with minimal screen door effect. Well, we are intrigued, but we would love to hear more about things like pricing and just more specifications. But I guess we have to be a little bit more patient.
Audi is working on new VR technology for motion sickness
The car brand Audi is working on a new VR technology that can help prevent motion sickness in car rides, making the commute for passengers more fun. During CES, Audi put a VR headset in their cars, which ran an interactive VR game in their cars demoing this technology. Audi has co-founded a start-up named Holoride. Together, they are working on an exciting VR technology called "Elastic Content." What it does is help VR content adapt to a car ride, to its type of route and driving styles. This means that if the car turns in real life, the game you 're playing will also be able to simulate this turn automatically. The advantage of this is that it can help reduce motion sickness in any form of transportation, not only during car rides but also in airplanes or on boats for example. It’s great for anyone who is prone to motion sickness, but even if you’re looking to make a ride more fun. The startup will use an open-source approach in the future to give access to other car makers and content creators. We love this approach. And as someone who can get motion sick in car rides in the passenger’s seat (not while I’m driving by the way), then I think this would be such a fantastic solution for it.
TPCAST was one of the first to release a wireless adapter for the HTC VIVE and Oculus Rift. Now, they have announced a second-generation wireless solution called the TPCAST Air. Now this device can stream PC VR applications through WiFi connections onto standalone VR headsets like the Oculus Go. TPCAST is also planning on adding support for the Oculus Quest in the future. It seems like TPCAST isn't targeting consumers though, but more at the enterprise, multi-user industrial applications and Location Based Entertainment (LBE) according to their press release. TPCAST also states that the most significant advantages of using the TPCAST Air are: Firstly, its ease of setup, because LBE and VR arcades need a PC backpack to make the headset's wireless, which requires more configuration. Second is the lower costs as you don 't need a high-end and high-cost VR headset anymore. The system supports all SteamVR applications and utilizes the most popular game engines Unreal and Unity, which is excellent news for developers that use these engines because it makes it easier for them to use the TPCAST Air as well. Now TPCAST Air is more focused on enterprises, like LBE and VR arcades. But still, I am pretty interested to see how this technology turns out.
So, which of the CES VR announcements are YOU most excited to see? And did we miss anything that should have been in this list as our favorite VR highlight? And as always: Get your VR on!!!