VR Industry Round-up: January 2017

The end of the year brings with it a ream of articles highlighting key trends and technologies that commentators think will define the coming 12 months. This year, VR continues to dominate the conversation.

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From social media to gaming to industry specific learning applications, more companies are experimenting with the potential of VR than ever before. And with the explosion of available hardware over the last year, more and more people are experiencing the technology first hand. This year will undoubtedly see further evolutions both in terms of the hardware and applications of the tech.

With all that in mind, here are some of the biggest stories from the last few weeks, and a look forward at how VR is shaping up in 2017.

CES 2017

Chinese computer technology firm Lenovo has thrown its hat into the VR ring, announcing its first VR headset at CES 2017 – the world’s largest tech conference – last week. The headset they displayed was a non-working prototype, so details are somewhat vague, but according to the manufacturer the headset will be tethered, will weigh around 350g and the price point will be between $300-$400. The as-yet unnamed headset should be available later this year.

Meanwhile, there were rumours that HTC would be announcing the Vive 2, the follow up to the hugely popular Vive, at the show, but the company moved quickly to dispel those myths. So, no new launch as of yet, but Vive remains at the top of the pile when it comes to VR experiences – particularly for business use.

One announcement at the show did catch the eye, however: the KwikVR wireless add on kit which cuts the cord for the Vive, allowing players to roam unhindered by wires. See the video below.

Facebook’s VR store

Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of VR firm Oculus in 2014 was a clear signal of intent from the social media giant that it had big plans for virtual reality. Nearly three years later, and we’re starting to see their vision for a virtual social future.

Facebook has been taking the tech on tour, starting with a pop-up store in Denver Airport, to showcase immersive 3D video, introduce visitors to different virtual landscapes and allow people to leave with a 3D gif of themselves. The shop was the first of 30 pop ups planned in different cities across the United States.

VR learning for the medical sector in 2017

2016 saw the world’s first VR surgery, broadcast live to students, an explosion of VR therapies for mental health and beyond, and advances in the use of VR for motor learning. But this really is the tip of the iceberg: virtual reality in the medical sector is constantly being refined and improved upon. This piece by the Huffington Post explores how VR will heal and teach throughout the next 12 months.

The future of VR is reality

While VR is on everyone’s lips at the moment, it’s yet to reach its true potential. The applications may range from retail to military and beyond, but a vast majority still think of it as a gaming tool. But as we’ve explained ourselves, fun isn’t necessarily a dirty word when it comes to VR learning. So what is the future of VR? The World Economic Forum assesses exactly that in this piece.

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Coming soon…

Meanwhile, Venturebeat assesses the VR and AR landscape, offering up 10 predictions and opportunities for VR in 2017. In amongst the predictions are the development of web VR, Apple’s first foray into VR using the iPhone 8 camera, and the launch of a standalone HTC Vive headset.

Time will tell if this all comes true, but one thing is for certain; 2017 will see more of us experiencing VR for the first time, developers will find more applications for the tech, and the hardware will get better and better. Here at Immerse, we’re seeing more and more businesses go beyond the discovery and pilot stages, to actually implementing VR in learning programmes and we expect this to continue.