VR Gadgets Arrive at CES
The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off today, bringing with it the expected flurry of virtual reality related announcements. The most consequential reveal so far was the Qualcomm 835 system-on-a-chip, which will power this year’s Android flagship phones and has, among its design goals, better VR performance. To that end, the chip features faster graphics and draws 40% less power, hopefully helping to address the throttling/overheating issues that bedevil mobile VR.
ODG announced the first Qualcomm 835 device, a pair of prosumer mixed reality glasses that will compete with Hololens’ feature set. The glasses feature inside out tracking and a 50-degree field of view and will debut at two price points, $1800 for the R-9 and under $1000 (eventually) for the R-8, which will first arrive as a developer kit. In December, ODG announced that they had raised $58 million to pursue their smart glasses. Unfortunately, as of press time no demonstrations of a working model had been given.
Also shown off in a nonfunctional state was an intriguing new Windows Holographic headset from Lenovo. On paper the device is very impressive, with 1440x1440 per-eye resolution (higher than Rift and Vive), a light weight, and a PSVR-inspired design that looks comfy. The device will reportedly retail for a bit over $300, although the final price has not yet been determined. Lenovo is not developing a matching set of motion controllers although they expect another company will fill that gap.
A leaked announcement revealed that Asus’ Zenfone VR will work with both Daydream and Tango, which will be very enticing for developers.
There were a few other VR related products shown that are either in early stages of development or look like they won’t make much of a dent in the market, but are interesting nonetheless: motion tracked haptic sandals, the $99 NOLO VR motion tracking system for use with mobile VR devices, SMI’s “Social Eye” tracking, and the Tactai haptic fingertip controller.
The Fox Innovation Lab, which led the creation of The Martian VR Experience, will produce another companion VR experience, this time for Alien: Covenant. Like The Martian, the experience will be sold as a standalone product.