The following graphic is the first incarnation of a virtual reality industry ecosystem supergraphic. It represents more than 150 different companies which provide head mounted display and related hardware, production equipment and software, VR apps, research, and technical and other services, organized into 22 categories across 11 major sectors.
The 2015 Virtual Reality Ecosystem Map comes with a caveat: the graphic is not comprehensive. It is a sample, albeit a large one, of the many different kinds of virtual reality companies operating today. There are many more companies — indeed, entire categories — that were not included, merely due to the constraints of time and space. The pace of change in this field is breathtaking.
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COMMENTARY: VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) are exciting – Google Glass coming and going, Facebook’s $2 billion for Oculus, Google’s $542 million into Magic Leap, Microsoft’s HoloLens and the launch of the Samsung Gear VR headset into the mainstream market. There are amazing early stage platforms and apps, but VR/AR in 2015 feels a bit like the smartphone market before the iPhone. We’re waiting for someone to say “One more thing…” in a way that has everyone thinking “so that’s where the market’s going!”
A pure quantitative analysis of the VR/AR market today is challenging, because there’s not much of a track record to analyze yet. We’ll discuss methodology below, but Digi-Capital’s new Augmented/Virtual Reality Report 2015 is based on how VR/AR could grow new markets and cannibalize existing ones after the market really gets going from next year.
AR is from Mars, VR is from Venus
VR and AR headsets both provide stereo 3D high definition video and audio, but there’s a big difference. VR is closed and fully immersive, while AR is open and partly immersive – you can see through and around it. Where VR puts users inside virtual worlds, immersing them, AR puts virtual things into users’ real worlds, augmenting them.
You might think this distinction is splitting hairs, but that difference could give AR the edge over not just VR, but the entire smartphone and tablet market. There are major implications for Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others.
Where’s the beef?
VR is great for games and 3D films – that’s what it was designed for. However it is primarily a living room, office or seated experience, as you might bump into things if you walked down the street wearing a closed headset. Still a great technology with a ready and waiting user base of tens of millions amongst console, PC and MMO gamers, those who prefer 3D to 2D films, as well as niche enterprise users (e.g. medical, military, education). This has attracted a growing apps/games ecosystem around early players like Unity, Valve, Razer and others.
AR is great fun for games, but maybe not as much fun as VR when true immersion is required – think mobile versus console games. But that possible weakness for gamers is exactly why AR has the potential to play the same role in our lives as mobile phones with hundreds of millions of users. You could wear it anywhere, doing anything (well maybe not some things – that wouldn’t be polite like the consumer criticism received by Google Glass). Where VR is like wearing a console on your face (Oculus), AR is like wearing a transparent mobile phone on it (Magic Leap, HoloLens).
AR could play a similar role to mobile across sectors, as well as a host of uses nobody has thought of yet. The sort of things you might do with AR include aCommerce (yup, we just invented a new cousin to eCommerce and mCommerce), voice calls, web browsing, film/TV streaming (in plain old 2D as well as 3D), enterprise apps, advertising, consumer apps, games and theme park rides. So while games feature prominently in most AR demos, they are only one of a multitude of potential uses for AR. See full analysis by sector here.
Digi-Capital forecasts that the virtual and augmented reality industries will hit $150B in annual revenues by 2020, with AR taking the lion’s share at $120 billion.
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CB Insights reports that investments in virtual and augmented reality companies have seen their most active quarter in 2015, with over 40 deals (and $240M invested) in the first six months of the year.
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ABI Research projects that 43 million virtual reality devices will ship by 2020:
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Courtesy of an article titled 2015 Virtual Reality Ecosystem Map appearing in Greenlight VR and an article dated August 11, 2015 appearing in Greenlight VRand an article dated April 2015 appearing in Digi-Capital
Today Oculus gave 1,500 developers at the Oculus Connect 2 conference (as well as those at home via livestream or on Gear VR a chance to watch) a look at how the consumer version of the Oculus Rift will roll out in Q1 2016, how Oculus plans to bring virtual reality to millions through the Samsung Gear VR, and how new platforms and controllers will expand the uses of Oculus Rift from games, photos, videos and art.
Click To View The Oculus Connect 2 Developer's Conference recorded earlier today
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said.
“This is the dawn of VR and this is a once in a generational moment that we can create something that inspires millions of people.”
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Iribe brought Mark Zuckerberg on stage, who said.
“[Virtual reality is] like teleporting to some other place by putting on a headset. I was so excited with it because I realized I was seeing the next big technology platform. After video, the next logical step is fully immersive virtual reality. VR is the next platform. In just a few years, VR has gone from being a science fiction dream to reality. All of you are inventing the next major platform.”
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Later in the keynote, Iribe said the Oculus Touch handheld motion controllers will be shipping in the second quarter of 2016. However they will be available to developers earlier and will include a second Rift sensor.
Toybox, which is being demoed here at the event, is an example of how Touch can be used in a virtual world. Iribe said.
"Toybox demonstrates the power of social VR and is just stretching the surface. It has the potential to be more social than any platform we’ve seen yet.”
The Touch SDK will include the APIs, controller position, as well as avatar hands.
Samsung Gear VR headset works with the complete line of 2015 Samsung Galaxy smartphones and is powered by the Oculus VR virtual reality software (Click Image To Enlarge)
Medium, which Oculus’ new painting app, will open up a new medium, Iribe said.
“Every great platform needs a paint app and this is going to be our paint app.”
Medium will also be demoed here at Connect. It allows you to use your hands to create 3D sculptures in VR.
The Oculus and Samsung partnership to build the Gear VR will open virtual reality to a more mainstream audience with its $99 price point. Though not as powerful as the forthcoming Rift, it only needs a Samsung phone to run and will make it affordable for more consumers to experience VR, starting when it ships in November 2016.
Nate Mitchell, VP Product at Oculus, announced that the consumer version of Oculus Rift virtual reality will be out Q1 2016 (and it will come with an Xbox one controller). Mitchell discussed the launch of the Oculus Ready PC program, which works with NVIDIA and Intel. PCs that work for developers will have an “Oculus Ready” badge on them. The partners include Asus, Dell, Alienware, NVIDIA, and Intel. The specs will be NVIDIA GTX 970/ AMD 290 or greater, Intel i5-4590+, and 8GB+ RAM. All the rigs Oculus showed off cost under $1000.
The Rift SDK 1.0 will be available in December. The number of developers continues to grow: Mitchell said there are more than 200,000 Oculus Developer Center Users.
The Rift is not only for games. Oculus has made an effort to explore new forms of storytelling through its Story Studio department. The first short film Lost was followed by the second short film Henry, which is about a hedgehog that tries to make friends despite his prickly nature. Today on Oculus Share, Henry is available for viewing by anyone with a DK2 and will be available for download for anyone who wants to see how it was produced.
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The Oculus Platform will have social features, games and app services, and commerce. There will be more features around user profiles including Oculus IDs and avatar pictures. The Oculus Platform will also have its own robust friend graph. There are rooms so people can connect with a group of people before they go into a virtual world.
For developers wanting feedback on their content before sharing it on Oculus Share, the new Oculus Concepts program will let developers distribute content early to testers. It will launch on Gear VR and next year on the Rift.
Palmer Luckey, founder and visionary of Oculus, announced Minecraft is coming to Oculus. It is available for purchase on the Minecraft Windows 10 Edition and Oculus Share in the spring of 2016. Luckey then threw out some Minecraft swag to the crowd, elating fans of the Lego-like building game.
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The 20 new VR experiences in Gear VR, Rift, and Touch will be demoed today. All of the Touch demos were built with Unity or Unreal Engine. One that’s sure to be a favorite is Netflix, which comes to Gear VR today, and Twitch is coming soon.
While today lacked any blockbuster device reveals, it strengthened the foundation of Oculus’ hardware, software, and platform. The Gear VR now has seductive experiences that will draw rookies towards virtual reality. And the Rift has the developer capabilities necessary to unlock games and apps that will convince people it’s worth the price. In short, after years experimenting in the basement, Oculus is ready for the spotlight.
COMMENTARY: Other highly anticipated games are coming to the Samsung Gear VR:
Monument Valley, a new title from game maker Ustwo.
Lucky's Tale, a cartoonish adventure game from Texas game company Playful.
Eve: Gunjack, a high-energy space shootout game from Ieland game maker CCP.
Bullet Train, a new Unreal Engine VR experience from Epic Games, which is a first-person shooter game where players can use their own hands to aim, fire and throw weapons.
Oculus is also working with Microsoft to adapt its technology to the popular Xbox video game console. and it's working with media companies like Netflix, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate to bring hit films including Alien, Die Hard, Predator and Birdman and TV shows to the device as well.
To make the Oculus Rift more appealing to customers, Oculus said it has partnered with companies like Alienware, Dell and Asus to sell PCs that are Oculus-ready and able to power virtual reality games and experiences. Some of those PCs, Oculus said, will cost less than $1,000.
Oculus isn't the only company building VR devices.
HTC is partnering with game maker Valve to release a competing headset, Vive, later this year.
Oculus plans another headset, Rift, that will work with computers when it's released early next year.
A long time coming
VR has been a common trope in science fiction -- think Star Trek -- where it's seen a key element of training and entertainment simulations. But its history in the real world has been marked by frustration as clunky technology and high-price tags discouraged both companies and consumers from embracing it.
After decades of false starts, including the high-profile failure of game giant Nintendo's Virtual Boy, the industry may have a product it can sell at an affordable price. VR headsets contain hundreds of high-tech parts, many of which are also used in smartphones, a booming market where leading companies have driven down costs for everything from high-quality screens to gyroscopic sensors.
Palmer Luckey, the 23-year old inventor behind Oculus, is also behind the optimism. His Rift headset reignited interest in VR when it was announced in 2012, promising to make the technology affordable and easy to use. Oculus quickly became one of the leading companies making the technology, attracting some of the most high profile names in the technology industry such as VR researcher Michael Abrash and game making legend John Carmack, who headed development of key games like Doom and Quake.
Oculus Rift headset unveiled in 2012 (Click Image To Enlarge)
Michael Abrash, Oculus Rift chief scientist, said the attention the industry is getting and the speed with which it's growing has been surprising. He said.
"Just a few years ago, all of this would have been totally inconceivable."
Oculus also offered details about the Oculus Touch controllers it's developed for the Rift headset. The company said they'll be offered to consumers by the middle of next year, and will have a compliment of games and experiences prepared when it does. One will be called Toy Box, in which people can stack blocks, throw balls and shoot guns.
All of this will likely attract enthusiasts to buy its device, but whether general consumers will buy in is still unclear. Zuckerberg said even smartphones didn't sell in large numbers initially, and suggested VR may follow that trend as well. Zuck said.
"Facebook is committed to this for the long term."
Courtesy of an article dated September 24, 2015 appearing in TechCrunch and an article dated September 24, 2015 appearing in C|NET and an article dated September 24, 2015 appearing in Forbes
Oculus today gave the world the first look at its Rift consumer virtual reality headset which will ship with a wireless Xbox One controller. It also comes with a small, table-top camera on a stand that watches a constellation of LED markers on the Rift to track your head movement.
The partnership with Microsoft will also see the Rift work “natively” with Windows 10, plus play Xbox One games in the headset.
Oculus VR's new consumer Rift VR headset will be on display at the E3 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo running between June 16-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles. People attending the E3 Expo will be able to try out Oculus Rift.
Oculus also made the announcement in its blog:
Step into the Rift
Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to the Oculus Rift!
The Rift delivers on the promise of consumer virtual reality and next-generation VR gaming.
The consumer Rift virtual reality headset up close (Click Image To Enlarge)
Custom Display and Tracking System
The Rift uses custom display and optics technology designed specifically for VR featuring two AMOLED displays with low-persistence. The technology enables incredible visual clarity as you explore virtual worlds with the Rift.
The consumer Rift virtual reality headset is tracked by a Infra-Red LED constellation tracking system for precise, low latency 360-degree orientation and position tracking (Click Image To Enlarge)
The headset is tracked by our IR LED constellation tracking system for precise, low latency 360-degree orientation and position tracking.
Integrated VR Audio
Audio is a critical component to achieving and amplifying presence.
The consumer Rift features an integrated VR audio system with adjustable headphones (Click Image To Enlarge)
The Rift features an integrated VR audio system designed to convince your ears that you’re truly there. The integrated headphones are also removable in case you want to use your own.
It also incorporates a high quality internal microphone for social experiences.
Ergonomics and Design
We’re incredibly excited for you to try the Rift’s new design — we’ve been refining it over the last few years.
The consumer Rift virtual reality headset has an advanced ergonomic design improves the headset’s overall balance and stability. This strap architecture offloads the overall weight, allowing the Rift to rest comfortably (Click Image To Enlarge)
The Rift has an advanced ergonomic design improves the headset’s overall balance and stability. This strap architecture offloads the overall weight, allowing the Rift to rest comfortably.
It’s as easy to put as slipping on a baseball cap. Once you’re in, simply adjust the straps to fit you.
The consumer Rift virtual reality headset includes a mechanism that allows you to adjust the distance between the lenses for the most comfortable visual experience (Click Image To Enlarge)
Further, we’ve included a mechanism that allows you to adjust the distance between the lenses for the most comfortable visual experience. You can also remove the facial interface to replace the soft foam, and we’ve improved the form factor to better accommodate glasses.
Wireless Xbox One Controller included with every Rift
We’ve been working closely with developers to understand what they need from the Rift since the earliest days at Oculus.
Developers wanted an input device that was robust and versatile enough to enable next-generation games and experiences in this first generation of VR. As a result of that collaboration, we’ve decided to incorporate one of the best gamepads available, a wireless Xbox One controller, with every Rift.
The consumer Rift virtual reality headset incorporates one of the best gamepads available, a wireless Xbox One controller, with every Rift (Click Image To Enlarge)
…but what about new genres and categories of games that require a different set of inputs?
Introducing Oculus Touch
We see VR input evolving and coming in different forms depending on the experience you want to have in virtual reality.
While the Xbox controller is great for many games and genres, we want an input device that lets you to reach out and interact with objects in VR naturally.
We’re excited to introduce Oculus Touch!
The Oculus Touch prototype is a pair of tracked controllers called 'Half Moon" that deliver hand presence – the sensation of feeling as though your virtual hands are actually your own (Click Image To Enlarge)
Oculus Touch is a pair of tracked controllers that deliver hand presence – the sensation of feeling as though your virtual hands are actually your own. Touch will let people take their virtual reality experiences further than ever before by unlocking new interactions.
Today, we’re showing off a feature prototype for Oculus Touch at E3 called ‘Half Moon’. There are two controllers, one for each hand. They’re mirror images of each other, like your own hands.
Each Half Moon controller has a traditional analog thumbstick, two buttons, and an analog trigger. There’s also an input mechanism that we call the ‘hand trigger’. Imagine using this trigger to pick up a virtual gun, then using your index finger to fire it.
Each Oculus Touch VR sensor is held in each hand and delivers the sensation of feeling as though your virtual hands are actually your own (Click Image To Enlarge)
They’re wireless so that you can move and interact with the virtual world freely, and they use the same IR LED constellation tracking system we use in the Rift for precise, low-latency, 6-DOF tracking.
The Half Moon prototype includes haptics that developers can use to deliver feedback when interacting with objects in the virtual world.
Finally, Half Moon can detect a set of finger poses using a matrix of sensors mounted throughout the device, which allows the controller to recognize a set of communicative hand poses like pointing, waving, and giving a thumbs-up.
Close-up view of the Oculus Touch showing touch controls located on top for the thumb and belowthe ring for the index finger (Click Image To Enlarge)
Oculus Touch will ship to gamers, developers, and enthusiasts in the first half of 2016, and will be available for pre-order around the same time as the Rift.
Gaming in the Rift
At today’s event, we showcased a few of the upcoming made-for-VR games for the Rift including EVE: Valkyrie from CCP Games, Chronos from Gunfire Games and Edge of Nowhere from Insomniac Games.
All of these games will be playable on the Rift at E3, along with new VR demos including:
Damaged Core by High Voltage
VR Sports: Challenge by Sanzaru
Esper from Coatsink
AirMech by Carbon
Lucky’s Tale from Playful
We’ll have more details on all of these games next week at E3. If you’re at the show, come by the booth and experience them for yourself on the consumer Rift. You can also schedule a demo for the Rift using our Oculus Live app.
Stay tuned for more made-for-VR game announcements as we head toward the launch!
$10,000,000 to accelerate Independent Developers
We know that virtual reality is going to inspire a new generation of game developers, driven by emerging independent teams and individuals.
In order to bring these innovative, one-of-kind independent games to the Rift, we announced today that we will be investing more than $10,000,000 in accelerating and supporting them.
Not only will these folks bring more and better games for launch and beyond, but we’re looking forward to their inventiveness and creativity in VR.
The Future of VR Gaming
Virtual reality is going to transform gaming forever. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.
Gamer using the consumer Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch sensors to play an Xbox game (Click Image To Enlarge)
COMMENTARY: It's been just a little over a year since I informed my blog fans about Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR back on March 25, 2014 and the inside story about how Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg met with the founders of Oculus and convinced them to join Facebook on June 27, 2014. At that time, I thought it would take two or three years before Oculus VR would have a commercially viable product that would be ready for consumer marketplace. The problem was developing VR games for Rift. Well, the miracle has happened. Not only do they have a consumer version of the Rift headset but also Oculus Touch a pair of hand sensors to play around in the virtual world, a partnership with Microsoft that will include an XBox controller and half a dozen VR games available for Oculus customers.
The projected price for the Oculus Rift headset and Touch sensors will be $1,500.00. This puts it out of the range of most gamers, but early adopters will have no problem coming up with the doe. I haven't read any reviews of the new consumer Oculus Rift headset, but as soon as these these are available, will be bring to you here on my blog.
Oculus Rift is the first headset to provide a true real-time virtual reality experience. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Samsung is giving Oculus access to high-resolution OLED screens (that will make video displays feel more indistinguishable from reality). Oculus is giving Samsung its software technology--a way to build games and entertainment experiences for 3-D headgear. And together, they’re going to develop a new interface to control this display that covers one’s face. (The two companies are each still building headsets of their own--Samsung's will hook to a phone, and Oculus hasn't canceled plans to make a video-game-related rig for PCs.)
Google Glass are augmented reality glasses that display real-time information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Sony's Project Morpheus is a prototype headset for the PlayStation 4 that would allow players to fully immerse themselves in 360 degree virtual worlds. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Now, it appears that two companies--very big, powerful, companies--have joined forces for mutual benefit. Together, they’re building standards to the experience that could echo across the industry at large. There could be one common platform on which to design virtual reality experience. And for Facebook/Oculus especially, this is a good deal. If they can own the software-end of the experience--sort of like Google owns Android--and they can license several hardware manufacturers to build hardware for it.
Microsoft's Xbox One, a.k.a. Project NEO, is the company's foray into the world of virtual reality. (Click Image To Enlarge)
As for what that hardware experience will look like, we’re not so sure. Engadget describes a scenario that Samsung is testing now, in which you wear a Samsung headset that plugs into a phone. The headset is the monitor, and the phone is the computer. You can watch movies or play games this way, but the phone’s camera can be used to feed environmental video to the headset and actually show the wearer where they’re walking.
Could be trippy. Literally.
COMMENTARY: You get the feeling that Mark Zuckerberg has always believed that the next evolution of Facebook had to provide the user with a completely new user experience, and that it had to be in real-time. The new user experience had to be more than just the small, incremental changes we've become accustomed to (e.g. Timeline), but truly out-of-this-world, spellbinding, visual and monumental. It had to be a huge leap in the user experience.
Bringing the social experience into the world of virtual reality met that requirement, but Zuck's team lacked sufficient knowledge and experience with virtual reality technology so they acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion in March 2014. Oculus VR was the only company that truly understood virtual reality, and had developed the headset, albeit somewhat crude, and VR software, that gave users a real-time VR experience that was so realistic, that they often got motion sickness.
Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR allows Facebook to leverage that knowledge and experience in both VR games (the intended goal of the Oculus team) and bringing the social media experience into the VR world The partnership with Samsung allows Facebook to leverage Samsung's experience with mobile phones and wearable devices like Samsung's experimental VR headset and smart watch. Samsung gets to use Oculus VR software to improve the performance of its VR headset, and Facebook gets to merge social media into the world of virtual reality. It potentially means a licensing deal with Samsung, and with nearly 650 million Galaxy smartphones already on the market, the payback could be huge for both companies. Facebook has over 800 million monthly active mobile users, so you have to wonder how many of them will opt for a VR social experience and be willing to pay for it. It's a win-win for both companies if they can pull it off.
How a 19-year-old hacker behind Oculus Rift set out to invent a gaming headset but ended up reviving a dead technology and building a global communications platform, worth $2 billion to Facebook in a surprise deal announced this week
After WhatsApp and Oculus, Is There Anything Facebook Won’t Acquire?
To understand why Oculus Rift matters, it helps to know who John Carmack is. You already know his work, even if you don’t know his name: Carmack is the programmer who in the early 1990s cracked the problem of how to write a video game that takes place in three-dimensional space.He’s the reason that when you play a state-of-the-art game, you’re not leaping from platform to platform or wandering through a two-dimensional dungeon, you’re running and jumping around in proper space-time, all six axes in play, backward and forward, side to side, up and down. He’s responsible for Quake, the first true 3-D game, which begat Halo and Call of Duty and all the rest of it. Carmack did for computer games what Masaccio did for painting: he turned a plane into a space.
The legendary John Carmack from id Software is pushing hard to make VR headsets a part of every gamer's standard equipment. (Click Image To Enlarge)
As such, he’s the principal architect of a medium that has generated literally billions of person–hours of entertainment over the past 20 years, and like most people who’ve started a revolution, he keeps a weather eye out for the next one. That’s how he spotted Palmer Luckey and Oculus Rift two years before Mark Zuckerberg and most of the rest of the world.
On March 26, Facebook announced that it was purchasing Oculus VR, the company Luckey started in 2012, in a deal worth $2 billion. (See my blog post dated March 25, 2014) The social-networking giant is getting top-flight engineering expertise as well as the technology behind the company’s flagship and only product, a virtual-reality headset. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
Two billion dollars is a lot of money—a head-snapping amount—for a social network to pay for a two-year-old hardware company with an ultra-nerdy name that has yet to ship a consumer-ready product and whose founder is still only 21. But what’s really surprising is that Zuckerberg is putting down a massive bet on virtual reality, which until very recently was considered not just a failure but a punch line. The Oculus deal makes for a twist ending to one of the greatest and weirdest comeback stories in the history of technology.
Oculus VR CEO and co-founder Palmer Luckey (Click Image To Enlarge)
Palmer Luckey—the name suits him—grew up in Long Beach, Calif., the son of a housewife and a car salesman. He was a natural-born tinkerer. “Self-taught!” is how he describes himself.
“Explore the world around you, take things apart, put ’em back together. You can learn a lot if you do nothing but spend your entire life in your garage working on projects or in your room reading on the Internet.”
As a teenager one of Luckey’s hobbies was taking apart old video-game consoles and reassembling them inside portable cases. Another one was virtual reality.
It was an odd hobby for a person Luckey’s age because the received wisdom at the time was that VR was a failed technology. Everybody has an idea of what VR is, or what it’s supposed to be: a simulated, three-dimensional, interactive world that surrounds you completely. It’s been a staple of science-fiction classics—-Neuromancer, Snow Crash, Tron, Star Trek, The Matrix—and a core component of our collective pop-cultural vision of the future for decades.
But apart from niche applications like designing cars and surveying oil fields, VR never made it to market. As Luckey puts it,
“The idea existed, the will existed, the people existed, the demand existed—and the technology did not.”
It baffled engineers, frustrated consumers and ate up billions of dollars of R&D money. Like flying cars and robot butlers, VR is one of those revolutions that went from wow to lame without ever actually materializing in between. Nintendo tried its hand at it in 1995 with the Virtual Boy game console and lost millions. The list of virtual-reality products that launched and then died of neglect is long.
Luckey owns most of them. He probably has the world’s most complete collection of VR headsets anywhere, more than 40 of them at last count. He bought them because he was among the very few people anywhere who still thought virtual reality was cool. Unfortunately, none of the headsets worked very well. He says.
“I didn’t start out trying to build something. I started out trying to buy something that would do what I wanted. And it became apparent that there wasn’t anything like it.”
So he started building it himself.
Luckey wasn’t the only person who still cared about virtual reality, but he almost was. There was a small community of true believers, less than a hundred, who hung out on a web forum called MTBS3D to talk about it. (MTBS stands for “meant to be seen.”) Luckey was one of them. John Carmack was another.
Carmack thought VR had potential too, in spite of all the failures, and every few years he would check in on the state of the art to see if it was usable yet. In April 2012, Carmack was tinkering with a VR headset made by Sony, and he posted about it on MTBS3D. Luckey responded. He told Carmack about his own prototype, and Carmack said he’d like to buy one. Luckey was in awe. He says.
“You cannot take money from Carmack. It would be like if Jesus said, Give me your clothes.”
He sent Carmack the prototype, his only working model, for free, via regular mail.
In 2012, what interest there was in VR was mostly in creating a kind of virtual cinema: you’d look in the headset and see a simulated version of a giant screen hanging in the air in front of you, and you’d watch a movie on it. Not many people did. Not only was it Skymall stuff, it was pricey—Sony’s head-mounted set costs $1,000.
Luckey’s device wasn’t like other headsets. Luckey’s device was different. It was designed to run games and to immerse you in them. It ran fast, and its field of view was very wide: the display wrapped around to eat up your peripheral vision, putting you well and truly in another world. Luckey says.
“That’s the only way to get any kind of immersion. I didn’t want to just have a TV you could wear.”
Carmack agreed. He adapted his latest game engine for Luckey’s headset. Two months later he took it to E3, the biggest video-gaming trade show in North America, where he announced to a startled press corps that virtual reality had finally arrived. A lot of people started asking Luckey for demos. Among them were Brendan Iribe and Nate Mitchell, both alumni of a gaming-software company called Scaleform.
“The first time I saw the Rift, it was in a hotel in Long Beach. Basically Palmer had a bunch of circuit boards, and a bucket of cables and wires, all this stuff tangled up. He set it up, plugged it in—it took him a little while, and I was sitting there being like, Is this really going to happen? Is this going to work?”
At that point Luckey’s prototype was just a box that you held up to your face, running a simulation of a bare room. But when Mitchell looked inside it, something new happened. He says.
“There was no interactivity, nothing moving. But it gave you the sensation that, wow—there’s a world inside this little box.”
Two years later, the Oculus Rift—the dorky name is a point of nerd pride—still doesn’t look particularly futuristic. It looks like a pair of chunky ski goggles with opaque black plastic where the lenses should be. Time will tell whether it’s a gateway to a new virtual frontier, but one thing is clear already: you look weird wearing it.
Oculus Rift headset (Click Image To Enlarge)
But put it on anyway—it embraces your head slightly more forcefully than would be ideally comfortable—because you’ll get the rare sensation of experiencing a technology that is genuinely new. Google Glass feels like what it looks like: you put it on and think, Yup, it’s a pair of glasses with a tiny screen in one lens. Oculus Rift is different. It’s not what you expect.
The first time I tried the Rift (which seems to be winning out over Oculus as the shorthand of choice) it showed a simulation of a craggy, rocky mountainside. I turned my head experimentally, and the view changed, with no discernible lag, just as it would have in reality. Instinctively my brain started looking for the edge of the image—but it didn’t come. I kept turning until I was looking all the way behind me. There was nothing but mountain back there.
Then I looked up and watched snowflakes sift down out of a gray sky straight into my face. That’s when my brain admitted defeat. It surrendered to the illusion that it was in another world. It wasn’t going to find an edge. There were no edges. The Oculus Rift is the first visual medium that doesn’t have a frame around it.
Another demo put me in the driver’s seat of an old-fashioned race car. Just sitting there, without even starting the engine, was a revelation. I leaned over and stuck my head out the window and admired the car’s exposed left front wheel assembly. If I leaned in to the dashboard I could read the fine print on the gauges.
When you’re in the Rift you become the camera. You control the point of view with your body, the way you would in reality.The Oculus Rift has limitations. The resolution isn’t high enough yet, so you have a slight sense that you’re viewing the world from inside a screened-in porch. Look down and you’ll notice that something’s missing: your entire body. Oculus can bring your eyes and, with headphones, your ears into the virtual world, but nothing else. You haunt the virtual world as a floating, disembodied spirit.
And yet it’s convincing. It’s visceral. VR offers a new kind of illusion. There’s a name for it in the industry, this deep and abiding conviction that you’re somewhere else: presence. I tried a simulation of a dogfight in outer space, and when my one-man fighter was shot out of the mother ship into the cold black void, my stomach dropped through the floor. After South by Southwestthis year, a viral video circulated of the actress Maisie Williams trying an Oculus Rift simulation of the 700-ft. wall of ice in Game of Thrones. She’s standing on solid ground, but she has a full-blown panic attack—she’s afraid of heights. The illusion of being on a cliff edge is tenacious. Mitchell says.
“You can’t do that on a TV monitor. You can’t do that on a phone. You’ve never been able to do that before in the history of humankind. You know you’re not going to fall, but your brain’s saying, Don’t take that step.”
Two years after he mailed his prototype headset to John Carmack, Palmer Luckey is somewhere else: a black glass office tower in Irvine, Calif., the headquarters of Oculus VR, where he now has the title of founder. Carmack, 43, is his CTO. After 22 years he quit his job at Id Software, the company he co-founded, to work at Oculus. Brendan Iribe is now Oculus’ ebullient, hyperverbal CEO. He left behind unvested options from his last company to come to Oculus. It has that effect on people.
Why could Oculus solve VR when nobody else could? The answer takes some explaining. VR presents an intractable mass of interconnected engineering challenges, most of which start with your brain.The problem with your brain is that it’s smart, and it’s difficult to fool. The human brain is constantly taking in data about the world. Some of it comes in through your eyes; some of it comes from your vestibular system, your inner ear, which provides your sense of balance and orientation. Your brain’s constantly cross-checking those data sources to make sure they match up. If they don’t, bad things happen.
Say, for example, you’re wearing a virtual–reality headset that is telling your eyes that you’re on Mars. If you move your head, the view of Mars has to change too—instantly, with no latency, the way it would in reality. If it doesn’t, your eyes get out of sync with your inner ear. Even a delay of 50 milliseconds between head-turn and view-change is too much. Your brain will spot it.
In fact, it’ll get really upset about it. So much so that it makes people feel nauseated—it’s one cause of a phenomenon known as simulator sickness, which is similar to motion sickness. Individuals’ tolerance for latency varies, but at Oculus they peg the maximum allowable lag at 20 milliseconds. On a technical level, that’s a challenging specification to hit. By comparison, an eyeblink takes about 300 milliseconds.
A headset also has to deliver new frames to the eye absurdly fast in order to keep the image from smearing or freezing when you move.It has to have two tiny high-definition monitors in it, one for each eye, and they have to cover a field of view wide enough that it blankets your peripheral vision. It has to be simple enough to mass-produce and cheap enough that people can afford it. It has to be light enough that it doesn’t hurt your nose.
Getting this kind of precision requires tight integration of hardware and software—it’s one of the mantras you hear around the Oculus offices. And beyond that, it takes a solid grasp of the fundamentals of gaming technology. That’s where a guy like Carmack, who invented some of the technology in question, comes in handy. Irebe says.
“The science around this is so close to the metal. It’s so close to what bits are happening when. Carmack knows he can go in and get that fully optimized.”
Oculus began on Aug. 2, 2012, with a campaign on Kickstarter. The goal was to raise $250,000; the project passed that figure in two hours. By the time the campaign closed 30 days later, backers had pledged $2,437,429. Since then Oculus has taken 75,000 orders for its development kit, which is a nonfinal, prerelease version of the headset intended primarily as a tool for people who want to write software and develop content for it. In December it closed a $75 million round of financing from venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Then, of course, came the Facebook purchase.
Not even the founders saw it coming, or not at first. Zuckerberg first met Iribe last November. Irebe recalls.
“He came down and we showed him some of the internal prototypes, and he got so excited about the vision of what we were doing and about the potential that this is truly the next computing platform. He actually said that to us. And it’s like, ‘Wow! We are looking at this whole thing being just that gaming platform. But tell us more, Mark.’ And he started to describe it, and we started to believe it too. And we started to relate it to a lot of the experiences we were having.”
It had been dawning on Luckey and Iribe and their colleagues for some time that they might not be as clear as they thought they were on what virtual reality is actually for. It began as a gaming technology, but it turned out first-person shooters weren’t the killer app they expected. Irebe says.
“Pretty quickly we realized, ‘O.K., maybe running down hallways at 40 m.p.h. isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing to do in VR when you’re sitting in a chair.’ As we started to build these made-for-VR experiences, we started to realize that intense gaming, where there are bullets flying at your head, can be actually a little too intense.”
So they started thinking more broadly about what exactly it was they were building. Iribe mentions virtual vacations and a 3-D VR encyclopedia as future possibilities.Mitchell describes a “magic school bus” that could take a bunch of kids on an instant field trip to Florence to look at Michelangelo’s David. But the really big opportunity, the mainstream, billion-user opportunity, was in virtual reality as a next-next-generation communications medium. Irebe says.
“When you add other people to it, and you can actually see somebody in that place and you can make eye contact, and you can look at them and they can look around, you can now have this shared sense of presence in this new gaming experience, entertainment experience or just social experience that really starts to define what virtual reality is all about.”
The news that Facebook was acquiring Oculus was not received with universal happiness in the gaming community that had backed the company in the first place. The announcement on Oculus’ blog quickly grew a comment trail 900-plus posts long essentially arguing, in various ways, that Oculus had abandoned its hardcore hacker roots to become a bland, corporate, three-dimensional ad-serving platform. Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft, was an early backer, and he visited the Oculus offices earlier this year. He summed up the attitude when he tweeted to his 1.54 million followers,
“We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just canceled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”
Luckey is quick, very quick, to assert that this isn’t a pivot away from gaming and toward something else. He says.
“Nope. No pivot. We’re doing what we’ve always done. We’re continuing to operate independently, and if anything, we’re putting more resources into games, not less. This lets us invest in content, make better tools for content, better developer relations, and build a much better platform for games.”
Iribe is right behind him:
“People have not even seen our final form. There are so many cool things that happened directly because of this deal. It’s one thing to have an initial first impression of a deal that might not make sense on the outside. It’s another to see the proof of it once the big picture becomes clear.”
Iribe points out one concrete benefit for users: cheaper headsets. Now Oculus can afford to sell them at cost.He says.
“It changes our priorities from making money to making virtual reality happen."
Iribe rejects the idea that he and his colleagues sold out. He says.
“If anything, I think Facebook got an incredibly good deal. If we stayed independent, we could probably have made a lot more.”
Brian Blau, a consumer technology analyst at research firm Gartner, says,
“They want to seed the market. They want to get it in front of more developers and more early adopters. And that’s the way to do it, to give it away as cheaply as they can.”
Zuckerberg clearly has a lot of faith in the Oculus team, because as far as they’ve come, there are a lot of technical challenges left to solve before virtual reality can become a social medium at all.It will have to track more than your head: it’ll have to track your hands, your mouth, your facial expressions, your gaze. That’s not part of the existing technology. At the moment virtual reality is still a pretty lonely place.
It will also have to morph into a form factor that nontechnophiles will be willing to put on their faces. And it will face competition. Earlier this month Sony unveiled a new VR headset of its own, with the working name Project Morpheus.It will presumably connect to its popular Playstation 4 console, which already has millions of users.
Sony's VR headset, a.k.a. Project Morpheus, is a worthy competitor for the Oculus Rift says The Verge. (Click Image To Enlarge)
For the next few years at least, Oculus VR is going to be what it started out as: a high-end gaming peripheral, supplemented with content from adventurous creatives in the broader entertainment world. Irebe says.
“We’re working a lot with people who want to do things like immersive movies or music videos or meditation or relaxation applications. It’s kind of like the beginning of film. It’s going to take this whole new set of mechanics and engineering to master it. We have no idea what really works in VR. People ask us, What’s the holy-grail app going to be? I have no idea! Don’t know.”
The uncertainty doesn’t bother him.
For now, Luckey and Carmack and the rest of them are still poised at the crest of the wave. Their money worries are over. Now they just have to safeguard what made Oculus so exciting in the first place, back when it was just a box with a room inside it. Luckey says.
“I think people have always wanted to experience the impossible. That’s one of the reasons games have caught on. They want to actually do things themselves, have a say in how that world works, instead of just watching someone else do it.”
COMMENTARY: I can certainly see a bright future for Oculus and its Rift virtual reality headset. The development of applications running on Oculus Rift will be key, as it was when Apple introduced the iPhone to the world, and again when it introduced the the iPad. The fact that many Kickstarter contributors were techies and 3D virtuality applications developers, and they will be receiving a copy of the Oculus Rift developer's tookit is a good start.
Oculus has the ability to do what Zynga did for Facebook with its social games. This means potentially lucrative 3D virtual reality games or even 3d virtual reality social games could become a big part of Facebook's future income streams. Facebook is still too dependent on advertising revenues, and could feel the pinch, if the economy goes into a tailspin. They must diversify. The departure of Zynga, left a huge, gaping hole to fill, and Oculus could just be what Facebook needs, but only time will tell.
That $75 million in new venture capital will certainly come in handy, but if Zynga is any indication, a whole lot more, perhaps as much as $500 million in additional VC rounds, will be needed to take Oculus into a big league 3D virtuality gamemaker.
I am still not sure how Facebook's 2D social platform will work in a 3D virtual reality world. Is there a future for 3D virtual reality social networks? Is this the vision of Mark Zuckerberg? Is this how Facebook users will connect and engage in the future? I can assure you that a 3D virtual reality Facebook will not be for everybody but the most overzealous and affluent Facebook users, who just have to have the next best thing to enrich their social media experience.
Having said this, I don't believe that Facebook will be running in a 3D virtuality reality format for quite some time, perhaps five years on a limited basis is my guess. Or, possibly never. Of the forty or so startups that have given 3D virtual reality a run for its money, not one has managed to generate substantial revenues, or any revenues, for that matter. Oculus could become the next big loser in that effort. It is going to take lots of capital, bright and creative 3D virtual reality software developers, and the technology to support this will have be developed. It's going to be a bandwidth eater for sure. I don't see 3D virtual reality apps working very well with good ole standard American WIFI. You will need really fast DSL line to do it reasonably well, and this raises the bar, and the cost to the consumer. So only time will tell whether Oculus will become Zuck's next big bad investment, or a huge success, taking Facebook to the next level in social networking.
Courtesy of an article dated March 26, 2014 appearing in Time
IT LETS YOU DRAW IN 2-D AND MANIPULATE YOUR DESIGN IN 3-D.
We’re stuck in an awkward spot. We can manufacture nearly any 3-D product we’d like. But these objects are trapped behind the 2-D computer screen we design them in.
The Gravity Sketch tablet uses augmented reality to make a drawing appear in midair. (Click Image To Enlarge)
The core hardware of the Gravity Sketch tablet is just a headset, tablet, and pen. (Click Image To Enlarge)
One solution is to 3-D print a plastic mock up. A more efficient solution is a new working concept called Gravity Sketch. It’s essentially a 3-D notebook. You put on a pair of video glasses, grab the stylus, and hold a tablet in your hand. Then you draw your creation in 3-D space using augmented reality--the glasses, pen, and tablet work in concert to create a digital illusion that your drawing is floating right there in front of you. But you're literally drawing on a 2-D surface.
The Gravity Sketch team refused to get into technical details about their system unless we signed an NDA, but they did share quite a bit more about how they designed the sensation of drawing itself. In fact, they may have solved one of the biggest problems in 3-D drawing today--namely, how do you make it feel natural to people who’ve grown up drawing on flat, 2-D surfaces?
You draw directly on the Gravity Sketch tablet. (Click Image To Enlarge)
And those drawings stack and rotate to become 3-D objects. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Current 3-D drawing systems, including the holographic zSpace or this 3-D-printer pen, ask you to be part sculptor, part surgeon as you draw wisps in boundless midair. It's a weird concept to get accustomed to.
Right now, the Gravity Sketch tablet is just a working concept. (Click Image To Enlarge)
But the team is in talks with various companies and investors to bring the Gravity Sketch tablet to market. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Gravity Sketch takes a different approach. It only lets you draw on the flat plain of the tablet itself. But you work with your design in 3-D as you draw--and the program give you a set of rules by which to manipulate your design. The team explains.
“By providing a simple set of rules, people quickly learn the limitations of the tool and work their way around them. Through experiments, we found that people could build their ideas out in a three-dimensional space while playing to their natural instincts and the ease of drawing in two dimensions.”
But it still begs the question--would you wear glasses to draw in 3-D? (Click Image To Enlarge)
Here's how it works. You draw something on the tablet. That drawing becomes, conceptually speaking, several pieces of paper stacked into a cube. You can then rotate or excavate those layers via simple controls on the tablet.
The value of this technique emerged during trial and error during the research process. Gravity Sketch tried out several low-tech inventions to simulate the experience of drawing in 3-D. The most successful, they decided, was a layered acrylic cube, so that’s what they settled on when they built the program.
COMMENTARY: The Gravity Sketch 3D drawing tablet is a cool device, but like most mobile devices based on augmented reality technology, the cost will most likely be prohibitively high. Considering that this device is just in the concept stage, and limited in what it can do, and funding is needed for a commercial version, let's hope that it has sufficient horsepower to satisfy the needs of engineers and designers who require 3D rendering.
In a press release, Oculus VR announced its acquisition by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) in a cash and shares deal worth around $2 billion. The acquisition positions Facebook to accelerate Oculus’ growth in gaming, communications and new social experiences.
MENLO PARK, CALIF. – March 25, 2014 – Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Oculus VR, Inc., the leader in immersive virtual reality technology, for a total of approximately $2 billion. This includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock (valued at $1.6 billion based on the average closing price of the 20 trading days preceding March 21, 2014 of $69.35 per share). The agreement also provides for an additional $300 million earn-out in cash and stock based on the achievement of certain milestones.
Oculus VP Product Nate Mitchell introduces the Oculus VR Development Kit 2 during an interview with Tested at the Game Developer's Conference 2014 in San Francisco on March 19, 2014.
Oculus is the leader in immersive virtual reality technology and has already built strong interest among developers, having received more than 75,000 orders for development kits for the company’s virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift.
Click Image To Enlarge
While the applications for virtual reality technology beyond gaming are in their nascent stages, several industries are already experimenting with the technology, and Facebook plans to extend Oculus’ existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas. Given these broad potential applications, virtual reality technology is a strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform.
Click Image To Enlarge
Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said.
“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
Click Image To Enlarge
Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR said.
“We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world. We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it’s only just the beginning.”
Oculus will maintain its headquarters in Irvine, CA, and will continue development of the Oculus Rift, its ground-breaking virtual reality platform.
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.
In the following YouTube video, Dan from The Diamond Minecart uses Oculus VR's Rift virtuality headset with Minecraft, a VR game, to demonstrate Rift's VR capabilities. Judging from Dan's overall enthusiasm and joy using Rift, and fun riding Harold the Pig (an animal character in Minecraft), it appears that Rift is going to be a runaway best seller. 75,000 Oculus VR development kits 2 have been presold as a testatment.
In acquiring Oculus VR, Facebook is banking that games, communications and social media apps will go VR in a big way, and we will all be wearing these VR goggles in the same way we watch videos and our friends via two-way videoconferences.
Webcast and Conference Call Information
Facebook will host a 30-minute conference call to discuss the acquisition at 3:15 P.M. PDT / 6:15 P.M. EDT today. The dial-in number for the call is (866) 751-3284 (toll free) and (973) 935-8772 (international); participants will be connected by an operator. The live webcast of the call can be accessed at the Facebook Investor Relations website at investor.fb.com. Facebook uses the website http://investor.fb.com as a means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with its disclosure obligations under Regulation FD.
Following the call, a replay will be available at the same website. A telephonic replay will be available for one week following the conference call at (855) 859-2056 or (404) 537-3406, conference ID 18971947.
COMMENTARY: The virtual reality headset, the gizmo that was supposed to seamlessly transport wearers to three-dimensional virtual worlds, has made a remarkable return at this year's Game Developers Conference, an annual gathering of video game makers in San Francisco.
After drumming up hype over the past year and banking $2.4 million from crowdfunding, the Irvine, Calif.-based company Oculus VR captured the conference's attention this week with the Oculus Rift, its VR headset that's more like a pair of ski goggles than those bulky gaming helmets of the 1990s that usually left users with headaches.
Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey said.
"Developers who start working on VR games now are going to be able to do cool things. This is the first time when the technology, software, community and rendering power is all really there."
While VR technology has successfully been employed in recent years for military and medical training purposes, it's been too expensive, clunky or just plain bad for most at-home gamers. Oculus VR's headset is armed with stereoscopic 3-D, low-latency head tracking and a 110-degree field of view, and the company expects it to cost just a few hundred bucks.
A line at the conference snaked around the expo floor with attendees waiting for a chance to plop the glasses on their head and play a few minutes of "Hawken," an upcoming first-person shooter that puts players inside levitating war machines.
Attendance was also at capacity for a Thursday talk called "Virtual Reality: The Holy Grail of Gaming" led by Luckey. When he asked the crowd who'd ordered development prototypes of the technology, dozens of hands shot into the air.
Simon Carless, executive vice president at UBM Tech Game Network, which organizes the Game Developers Conference said.
"There's been a lot of promise over several decades with the VR helmet idea, but I think a lot of us feel like Oculus and other devices like it are starting to get it right. We may have a competitive and interesting-to-use device, which you could strap to your head and have really immersive gaming as a result."
Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. are reportedly working on similar peripherals, as are other companies. Luckey contends that the innovations Nintendo Co. made with its Wii U, Sony is planning with its upcoming PlayStation 4, and Microsoft is likely tinkering with for its successor to the Xbox 360 don't seem like enough.
"We're seeing better graphics and social networks, but those aren't things that are going to fundamentally change the kind of experiences that gamers can have."
A growing list of high-profile game makers have sung the device's praises, including Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, "Minecraft" mastermind Markus Persson, id Software's John Carmack, "Gears of War" chief Cliff Bleszinski and Valve boss Gabe Newell.
Valve is planning to release a VR version of its first-person shooter "Team Fortress 2" for the Rift, but Luckey is hoping that designers in attendance at this week's conference begin creating games especially for the doodad.
"The doors are already open. People are already telling us things they want to do with the Rift that they can't do with traditional games."
Luckey said prototype versions of the technology are being distributed to developers now, and he anticipates releasing a version for consumers by next year.
Forecast: 200,000 Virtual Reality Headset Units Sold by End of 2014, $60 Million Market Size
Announcements made at GDC last week by Sony and Oculus have helped to firm-up the state of the consumer virtual reality market in 2014. For those of you who didn’t catch the GDC news…..
Oculus confirmed that the second iteration of the developer kit (DK2) will be shipping in July 2014.
Sony showcased Project Morpheus, their VR headset. However, this will not be shipping in 2014 and instead is rumoured to be available early 2015.
Back in January KZero Worldwide released its State of the Market report and accompanying market sizing analysis. In its market sizing assessment Kzero forecasted a total of 200,000 VR headset units sold in 2014, yielding a market value of $60 million (at an average sales price of $300). It looks like KZero's forecast was pretty accurate for the following reasons:
Oculus has sold 60,000 DK1 units to date (with sales now suspended for this version). Of this 60,000, circa 20,000 were sold in 2014 (Kzero estimated).
Kzero expects the vast majority of DK1 buyers to purchase at least one DK2, meaning circa 60,000 – 80,000 repeat unit sales from these existing customers.
With interest in VR and Oculus continuing to grow through 2014, Kzero forecasts at least 100,000 new sales (from new buyers) in 2014 once DK2 is released.
Kzero's five year unit sales forecast is shown below. Post 2014, its forecast is based on the following assumptions:
In 2014 Oculus is the only company selling a virtual reality headset. So, its 2014 forecast numbers for the market is essentially a forecast for Oculus.
Sony enters the market Q1 2015 with a consumer version of Project Morpheus.
Oculus also launches their consumer version (CV1) in Q1 2015.
Microsoft and potentially three other major companies enter the market towards the end 2015. Kzero anticipates Samsung, Apple, Google and LG to be in the mix.
Other hardware start-ups launch consumer VR headsets throughout 2015 and 2016.
Hardcore gamers and Innovators drive initial sales (these are the people purchasing DK1 and 2).
Early adopters and light gamers boost sales supported by the Early Majority and the Teen market from 2015, ramping up from 2016 onwards.
Click Image To Enlarge
Total unit sales in 2015 is forecasted at 5.7 million, rising to 10.9 million in 2016 with the VR market establishing itself as a serious contender in the global gaming and entertainment marketplaces. Over the full five year period of 2014 to 2018, Kzero forecasts total cumulative unit sales of 56.8 million.
Click Image To Enlarge
Kzero's Slideshare presentation containing more detailed market forecasts for consumer virtual reality is shown below. For more insight into the Virtual Reality market you can order our State of the Market report for free here.
Courtesy of an article dated March 25, 2014 appearing in ValueWalk and an article dated March 19, 2014 appearing in Kzero Blog
RECON, WHICH BILLS ITSELF AS A GOOGLE GLASS FOR ATHLETES, HAS ALREADY SHIPPED THOUSANDS MORE DEVICES THAN GOOGLE AND SECURED INVESTMENT FROM INTEL CAPITAL TO BOOT.
Recon, maker of a $600 Google Glass-like wearable device marketed toward athletes, reports it has already shipped 50,000 of its "Snow" model, geared toward skiers. That's many thousands more than the number of Glass devices Google has shipped to date. Google has instead chosen to roll out its device very slowly, to only a few thousand people to start.
Recon has also secured an investment from Intel Capital to continue development on what Recon calls "the world's most advanced wearable computer." Although the debate over which wearable device can claim the title of "most advanced" is still up for discussion, Recon's current niche is high-performance athletes, which means it's more durable than the shatter-prone Google Glass.
Intel VP Mike Bell, who manages the corporation's new devices group, said.
"In Recon Instruments, we see compelling technology and a solid strategy to capitalize on the wearable revolution. This is an area of significant focus for Intel Capital, and our investment in Recon Instruments is a key part of our approach to innovation in this emerging space."
COMMENTARY:In terms of design, Recon glasses are reminiscent of the futuristic Oakley sports shades that are so popular with many top tier sports professionals. An interesting difference between the Recon Jet and Glass is that the former puts the display lens at the lower part of the wearer's vision rather than at the top.
According to a statement on the Recon Jet website,
"Research has shown that looking down is an easier eye movement than looking up. Jet is also designed for outdoor use, where looking up could result in looking directly at the sun, something we want to avoid."
Another important difference is that the Recon Jet is controlled only by a touch-pad on the side of the device, no voice control feature is included.
As for the technical specifications, the Recon Jet is equipped as follows:
720p HD video camera.
Built-in microphone and speakers.
8GB of flash memory.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability
Micro USB port.
The device functions on an open platform that anyone can develop apps for, but right out of the box, the Pilot Edition of the Recon Jet comes with software that allows users to track their speed, distance, and heart rate. Users can also connect the glasses to their smartphone to see SMS alerts and caller ID.
And while you might think that Google wouldn't want to give exposure to a potential competitor, it appears that the company's reps were welcome at a Google recent conference. Recon Instruments CEO, Dan Eisenhardt, said,
"We introduced Recon Jet to the developer community at the Google I/O tech conference last month. To say the response exceeded our expectations would be a massive understatement."
Pricing for the early adopter Pilot Edition was $499, a deal that expired on July 21, to coincide with the end of this year's Tour De France event. Delivery of the device is expected to be December 2013 through early 2014.
RECON Jet Pilot Edition
The advantages of the Recon Jet over Google Glass are apparent:
Cheaper price (for now).
First to market.
Open platform (no worries about Google controlling your personal data).
Targeting athletes is smart.
Athletes have been looking for something like this for a while now, particularly now that wearable performance trackers are taking off. But the notion of a normal personal walking around wearing Glass in the same way that they might utilize a smartphone has struck some as impractical at best, and a capital offence against fashion at worst.
George Hincape wearing a pair of RECON Jet glasses (Click Image To Enlarge)
And, beyond all the other considerations, Recon Jet is simply the best alternative for anyone who wants most of the facility of something like Glass, but without having to lock yourself into Google's cloud apps that spread your data throughout the search company's software ecosystem.
Given those factors, the Recon Jet has a lot going for it. However, the major advantage Google has is that scores of people have been enthusiastically testing Glass in the public eye for months now. In fact, in July Google uploaded a video of Wimbledon tennis pro Bethanie Mattek-Sands training with Glass, a clear indication that the company is trying to get more sports pros to adopt the device.
RECON Jet Features (Click Image To Enlarge)
Tour de France veteran George Hincapie testing out the Recon Jet in the video below.
RECON Jet Technical Specifications
Recon Jet is a powerful standalone microcomputer with the onboard processing power, suite of sensors and networking capabilities you would expect from a tablet or smartphone. It's open platform and SDK allows developers to create apps for any activity where information, relayed direct-to-eye, changes the game.
ONBOARD SENSOR FRAMEWORK
9-Axis sensors • 3D accelerometer • 3D gyroscope • 3D magnetometer
Trekking to IKEA is often an exercise in futility. The armchairs and bookcases never look as perfect in your cramped apartment as they do in the color-coordinated showrooms. After 15 minutes, you're tired and overwhelmed and you can't remember what you even came for.
Simply place the catalog in the spot where you're considering adding a new piece of furniture, scan the catalog with the augmented reality app on your mobile device and select the desired item.
Click Image To Enlarge
The augmented reality feature then projects the item into your home by layering it over a real-time view of your room captured through your device's camera. The app also lets you experience the scale of the objects in relation to your living space, as you can see in the video above.
Click Image To Enlarge
IKEA's 2013 catalog included smartphone integration, but only featured videos and photo galleries that could be accessed via an app by scanning the catalog's pages.
This year's catalog also includes several highly anticipated new releases, such as the Lövbacken table, a revival of the company's original flat-pack table produced in 1956.
The Lövbacken side table, originally sold by Ikea as the Lövet in 1956, will be making a come-back into stores in August (Click Image To Enlarge
Do you think IKEA's concept for an augmented reality catalog will catch on with other furniture sellers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
COMMENTARY: I have seen augmented reality apps used in the fashion retail industry for virtual reality dressing rooms. Users can see how a piece of apparel looks on them without having to go to the change room. One of the issues that I see with the app is the lighting differences between the IKEA furniture item and the room where that item will be placed. Subtle changes in lighting can make the item look out of place or mismatched with other furniture in that room. However, I do see some merits for this type of app. I don't know if scale is taken into consideration, or how it is handled, so simply superimposing an item in a room does not anser the question, whether there will be sufficient room for that item or how it will affect the overall room.
Courtesy of an article dated August 6, 2013 appearing in Mashable