Where next for Virtual Reality?

Over the last few years, the Virtual Reality (VR) industry has seen many ups and downs but a drop in prices and technological expansions are opening new ways for virtual reality (VR). Virtual Reality is here to stay as this technology has completely blended with our daily lives be it education, video games, or medicine. Growth can be seen this year in both the consumer and commercial sectors as VR hardware and software have merged in new exciting ways. There are plenty of opportunities despite hardware supply constraints due to COVID 19. From guided museum visits to the dissection of a muscle, VR allows us to cross unthinkable boundaries. Among different technologies, virtual reality has the biggest projected potential for growth.

Over the next four years, the investment in VR and AR will increase by 21-fold and will reach 15.5 billion Euros by 2022 according to IDC Research in 2018. VR hardware is continuously improving and evolving. The launch of the VIVE Cosmos Series was announced by the VR pioneer HTC focusing on the increased functionality of the original PC-based Cosmos product. HTC is now offering three flavors of the product by using modular swappable faceplates. The Elite works with outdoor SteamVR base stations by using an external tracking faceplate. A meticulous experience that costs $899 is offered by the company’s Vive Pro or Vive controllers.

The original Cosmos will be available in the market at $699 with six inside-out tracking cameras. By employing four inside-out tracking cameras at a lower starting price the upcoming Cosmos play will bring more value-focused users to the platform. Cosmos XR edition will enable a mixed reality experience with high-quality pass-through cameras. Users can efficiently move up the stack according to their needs due to the modular nature of the Cosmos product line. Instead of buying a whole new setup users can easily buy a new faceplate.

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Eye-tracking hardware add-ons and software are provided by companies like Tobii and Pupil Labs to VR/AR headsets. Foveated rendering can be achieved by this technology in which the peripheral regions appear in lower resolution while a scene in high resolution is only rendered in the fovea region conserving the processing power. To provide a comfortable and more personalized experience for each individual, eye tracking can also be employed in the customization of lens widths and to identify users as seen in HoloLens 2. Valuable information about the user’s desires and emotions can be inferred from micro-expressions and eye movements.

VR devices might soon surpass the physical boundaries, language gaps, and even produce considerably more richly textured and expressive interactions between two people with the help of emotion-detecting AI software such as Affectiva.

For some existing pharmaceuticals, virtual reality for health care will shine bright as a drugless solution in 2020. With the aid of 5G and edge computing multi-user experiences, and more permanent virtual objects will become more efficient. The cell devices enforce too much delay but with 5G it would feel like you are talking to someone face to face. The methods of communication can be revolutionized in the future by enhancing real-time connectivity in VR/AR.

HTC isn’t the only VR company working on the new features of an existing product line. New features were announced in the Oculus Quest headset by Facebook. You can connect the Quest to a PC with a USB 3 cable by using a free software update called Quest Link. Rift games and experiences from gaming PC can be easily accessed by Quest users through Link. You can leave the controllers and interact with virtual reality content hands-free in the Quest by a new feature called integrated hand tracking which tracks your hands using its existing cameras. These features were rolled out by Oculus to their users as a free update. Moreover, software development kits were also made available to the developers. Along with these companies like Varjo, Valve, Pico, Sony, and DPVR are also making strong moves in the VR.Half-Life: Alyx from Valve and Horizon from Oculus are the two big software-related VR launches in 2020.

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A huge paradigm change within the enticing ecosystem can be seen with the shift from tethered to standalone VR headsets. A user’s field of motion is restricted due to wires and clunky hardware as VR devices rely on PC connections. A quick increase of a standalone and greatly mobile VR experience economy will be witnessed as the VR goes into the dematerialization stage. Without the constraints of heavy hardware, VR/AR will become a seamless add-on easy to transport, and highly interactive. Within a few years, you will be able to take your lightweight VR goggle anywhere in the world and use them instantly.

The future market will completely transform with these promising trends and VR/AR will definitely revolutionize our lives with a boon in next-generation education, time-traveling, real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, and whatnot. Virtual reality is the bright future we all await and in a few decades, its success will skyrocket with limitless applications for new and converging industries.

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