The latest and greatest virtual reality technology for the masses was supposed to become the next best thing since, I don’t know, splitting the atom, but despite the promises and huge expectations of what should have become a mega trend, VR really disappointed at CES 2017.
Initially, virtual reality was imagined by science fiction writers and movie producers (think Johnny Mnemonic) to change dramatically the way we manage our daily lives and how we use computers. So, why it’s such a boring topic at world’s biggest tech expo?
The virtual disappointment at CES 2017, or virtually boring, or unsurprising, whatever you choose to call it, is due to the fact that the industry was kind of stagnating in the last couple of years. Basically, after the Consumer Electronic Show we can safely describe the progress made by the VR industry, including their new products, as something along the lines of “more of the same”.
For example, the Chinese tech giant Lenovo showcased their latest VR headset and the only thing remarkable about it is that it’s cheaper than others, the likes of Facebook’s Oculus Rift ($599) or HTC’s Vive ($799).
However, the Lenovo VR’s price tag wasn’t revealed nor discussed yet, and the prototype is not actually working. So, what are we talking about here after all?
Not to mention Intel, a legend in our times and world’s biggest chipmaker, a company that is working at its own VR headset yet it offered a presentation using last year’s tech, i.e. the Facebook Oculus.
Osterhout Design Group tried to break the ice presenting a “new” model of smart-glasses running on Android OS and boasting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon latest and greatest chipset architecture. These smart-glasses are supposed to be the new kid on the block in the world of augmented reality as they work by layering computer generated images over the “real world”, just like Pokemon Go does.
However, the new model is strikingly similar to the old model, though the company promises better visuals/overall performance. The new smart-glasses are expected to be launched in the summer of 2017 for a hefty price tag, i.e. $1500 apiece.
If you were expecting for CES 2017 to rock your VR world, well, it was all show but no go, nothing to see here, really, move along, please come again next year. For more than half a century, virtual reality was nothing more than a pipe dream, being a science fiction issue more than a “real world” one. Things changed in 2012 when the startup Oculus (later bought by Facebook for 2 billion dollars) hit the world, promising a high quality/affordable VR experience for the masses.
CES 2017 only proved that the industry is virtually drained of new ideas and that’s sad to quote from the classics.