Green Screen Review #20: VR Disappoints at CES

Whatever pun you choose, the virtual reality industry has some explaining to do after this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, during which the biggest product announcements can largely be categorized as “more of the same.”

Consider computer maker Lenovo, which showed off a VR headset whose primary selling point is that it’s cheaper than competitors like the $599 Oculus Rift from Facebook or the $799 HTC Vive — though Lenovo isn’t discussing prices yet and the prototype on display doesn’t actually work.

There’s also Osterhout Design Group, which showed a new pair of smart glasses, powered by Google’s Android phone software and using the newest chips from Qualcomm. The glasses were supposed to be the latest entrant in the world of AR, or augmented reality, layering computer images on the real world you’re looking at. (Think Pokemon Go.) But you’d be forgiven if you confused them with last year’s model, though they promise better performance and visuals. It’ll launch by midyear, costing as much as $1,500.

Even Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, which is developing its own VR headset, gave a presentation using nearly year-old devices from Facebook’s Oculus.

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But a tour of the show floor, littered with companies offering their take on basically the same tech, seems like an indicator the industry’s virtually running out of new ideas just as it’s finally arriving on store shelves.

And that’s a real shame.

This raises the question, is VR just a flash in the pan like so many other technologies that died when the tech bubble burst? Has the ERC invested in slowly expiring bubble?

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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1 Response to Green Screen Review #20: VR Disappoints at CES

  1. Stu says:

    Both AR & VR have some applications and the current gear is impressive when first encountered but the rest of the “backstage” technology has a long way to go before VR becomes something more than where the camera array went or enclosed virtual space (games)

    The CEO of Naughty America might have the right idea though, one of the little discussed technology drivers is porn. It was a major market factor in the ascendency of VHS over BetaMax, is a significant driver in computer animation / video since the beginnings of the PC era and is what fraction of the web? VR with tactile feedback has long been the goal of that section of technology


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