Virtual Reality for 2017: An exciting year ahead

2017 is set to be an exciting year for virtual reality (VR). The push for VR in the entertainment industry is what will drive companies to produce quicker, cheaper and even more competitive technology. Consequently, this push will have a knock-on effect on the companies within the engineering sector who already use or are still considering professional VR.

In 2016 we saw the release of HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift which marked the start of this trickle-down effect from the entertainment industry.

The trend of more budget-friendly VR Technology is set to continue this year with various HMD announcements expected in the upcoming months. Some of these gadgets are set to be equipped with eye-tracking (or ‘see through’ cameras) which will be able to analyse the users eye movement as well as their head. Hopefully this will help prevent the sensation of motion sickness. Also, another development we expect to see is wireless connectivity.

2017 may finally be the year we say goodbye to those inconvenient tether cables! To kick start the year was the annual global technology showcase in Las Vegas, Nevada where they hosted the famous Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017. Here are just some VR gadgets from the fantastic show this year:

HTC Vive

HTC Vive Adapter and Tracker

For those who already own Vive, HTC has announced two very exciting game changers. First was the TPCast adapter which will make the headset wireless, this adapter will soon be available to pre-order globally soon. Secondly is the exciting tracker accessory, it can be attached to gloves and other accessories (for example baseball bats)  to track them in VR. The tracker accessory is due later on this year.

Windows VR Headset

Windows VR HeadsetLenovo, HP, Dell and Acer have all been showing off their new, affordable PC VR headgear. They will all be joining Microsoft’s already announced Windows 10 VR headset. All of the designs so far show a headband design rather than a secure strap. Each of the headsets has a pair of depth-sensing cameras on the front which is designed to let us have room-scaling without sensors around the house. They are all due to launch in the second half of this year.

Intel’s Project Alloy

Intel’s Project Alloy

Project Alloy is Intel’s first VR and mixed reality headset. This headset will have features which resembles an Oculus Rift crossed with a Microsoft HoloLens, however Alloy will not be designed by Intel. We still do not know who will be the manufactures of the first Alloy headset(s). Essentially the VR headset will be completely wireless, with some additional mixed reality features, just like the Vive it will warn the wearer if they about to walk into anything. Project Alloy will be powered by seventh gen Intel Core processor. Intel will develop Alloy by the end of the year.

Reliefband Neurowave

Reliefband Neurowave

There is one company who is hoping to provide a solution to the problem of motion sickness. Reliefband Neurowave offers a drug-free relief from nausea and vomiting which is caused by motion sickness. The clinically proven, FDA-cleared device which works by applying programmed pluses the median nerve, found on the underside of the wrist. This process is called ‘neuromodulation’. The band uses a simple metal clasp to secure it into place ensuring that the contacts sits correctly on the band, you will need to apply small amount of recommended gel.  Neurowave is set to land in the second quarter of this year.

Cerevo’s VR Shoes

Cerevo’s VR Shoes

Cerevo’s idea for these shoes is the wearer has the VR shoes on and let three tactile, vibrating sensors increase the immersion of the VR environment. One of the tactile devices is located on the top of the shoe near to the toes, whereas the other two are located on the bottom of the shoes one at the front and the other at the back. They look like over-sized sandals which would be impractical for anything other than virtual worlds. The team behind the shoes have said they have been created for Google’s VR offering and they expect to ship the first products later on in the year.

Hypersuit

Hypersuit

The hypersuit is like riding a Ninja motorcycle while flying through the air. It is a simulator which enables the user to explore breath-taking universes safely. This is one massive VR video game controller in a style of a forward-facing Lay-Z-Boy recliner. A user can control where they fly in virtual reality by moving the arm controls. Hypersuits team have said they plan to offer the hypersuit as rental to movie theatres, malls and cinemas about mid-2017, although this may not be directly sold to consumers just yet.