It’s the start of a new year and with a new year often comes the exciting glimpse of what’s ahead of us in our technology future. They may not all happen, but most of the announcements and previews found at CES are just launching announcements where they get technology enthusiasts excited about technology. For most, this is an exciting time but I’m a skeptic at heart so let’s look into what CES and the beginning steps of the year provided us and see if there’s anything to actually be excited about.
Another Windows Update
Let’s go ahead and get Microsoft’s new announcement out of the way, primarily because VR from Microsoft has kind of flopped so they took an interesting action to counter the issue. Essentially, Microsoft gave the “OK” to start making Windows 10 VR products and a lot of companies have jumped on board for this. 3Glasses, a Chinese company, will be producing their S1 VR headest in the early half of this year. The Windows brand has been steadily getting worse and I really don’t have high hopes for this, nor should anyone who has followed Microsoft since the initial release of Win 10 on platforms.
When I first “upgraded” to Win 10 from Win 7, I only did so as a need to get used to navigating around the environment. At first, it was pretty and it was fast and it honestly felt like they had put some real hard thought into it. There was even an announcement they would be bringing Linux functionality to the platform. It was like the honeymoon for a developer as everything seemed so flawless. Then, I tried to program in it and it only took a couple of days to turn into a nightmare. Cortana stole my ports so I couldn’t host a local server without doing manual things and Windows 10 started collecting information even though I tried to opt out of everything. In order to stop Microsoft’s spying and get my port back, I had to break Cortana and when I broke her I suddenly had no start menu or context menu. Cortana would still randomly shut off my server and the memory overhead for my programs was twice as big. I threw my hands up in rage and went back to the ease of my Win 7. Therefore, do I expect VR in Windows 10 to be good? No, but most of the applications for VR require the use of Win 10 so there’s not much of a choice.
So, what are the companies that have signed up because the OS is the most popular in the world? Asus, Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, of which only one of those companies I actually trust: Asus. Maybe I’ll get into why I don’t trust the other companies another day, but we’re looking at their HMD’s for now. The importance of them all being OS approved is that they will, potentially, have access to HoloLens, which is something that many people have found to be a nice idea that hasn’t been fully explored yet.
The Company’s Headsets
Of course it looks cheap because it’s Acer and it also looks like someone thought it would be great to make the product look like a child’s toy. It has minimal comfort design, but it does have forward facing holes that would undoubtedly be for AR and MR technology. 3Glasses doesn’t look that much better, but it does provide a mostly strap-based securing structure whereas most of Acer’s securing structure is made of plastic.
Dell’s design is very sleek and doesn’t look bulky at all with a minimalistic approach. It has a padded plastic structure so it doesn’t look like our craniums will ache anytime soon.
Of all of these, HP looks as though it would be the most comfortable as they went with a heavily padded plastic design, which is really good for those players who intend to go beyond a couple of minutes.
Lenovo is somewhere in the middle with a comfort design that looks alright but definitely not the best. Pico Neo CV also made an announcement at CES and their design looks like a cross between the Samsung VR and the PS VR.
Panasonic has a similar support structure, but their model looks as though someone failed at making the front end of a model semi. However, Panasonic has a much different inside than the other headsets like the fact that sound is transmitted via bone induction and the lens have been modified to give the viewer much more visual content.
Merge VR was probably the most strange and rule breaking of them all since it has a mostly non-plastic design, but rather a foam design that’s resistant to sweating. It looks like a more new age toy, which is similar to the initial goal of the creation by trying to reach out to younger audiences. It was also accompanied with a Holo Cube, which was an interesting toy to show off Merge’s AR/MR capabilities.
What this all means?
If you noticed, most of this was about the different problems these companies will likely face on Windows 10 and that the comfort design was really the only specifications we’ve got right now. Most of them do the same thing and generally have the same functionality, but the most important part is that they could be setting up for AR. This is important as AR is considered, by most, the best way forward for a good portion of the technology. With AR, your backyard becomes the battleground rather than your specially crafted room based on average game specifications. This includes AR running where you may be running from zombies in an actual street rather than running inside of a bedroom. Additionally, this also means that most of them will likely have inside out tracking.
While there may not be any current specifications on these headsets, you can be assured that most of them will be almost the same. It may not be ideal, but this is because most of the technology to do the job is almost exactly the same and most of these companies are looking to get their first product out, which means they don’t want to reinvent the wheel if they don’t have to. A good prediction to have is that most of these will likely be coming out in Q1 and further improvements will be made throughout the year.