After last year’s explosion of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) at CES, I expected to see more booths, innovation, and creativity when it came to how both types of reality were being developed and explored. Sadly, CES 2016 failed in that aspect to truly showcase any meaningful change in how VR and AR are being used, especially for the average consumer.
Let’s look at some of the handful of standouts in VR and AR at CES this year. I am going to avoid talking about Oculus, because honestly, everybody talks about Oculus and there’s other VR and AR platforms out there doing more and taking different approaches than them.
3 of the Best VR and AR at CES 2016
For me, I was looking for more innovative approaches to VR and AR at CES. Anybody can design a game, anybody can create a 3D world, what you do with it is what makes VR and AR stand out to the average consumer. Sadly, most just were content with doing what everybody else in the industry is doing in this niche.
Sony Smart EyeGlass
We did an interactive demo with Sony Smart EyeGlass last year in the Sony booth showcasing how it can be used for shopping in a warehouse by consumers or those employed there. It was fully interactive, and the hope was to build out this functionality into something the average consumer could use. It appears Sony has dropped that as its primary course of action and jumped into the practical applications of Smart Glasses.
I demoed how third-party companies are utilizing Smart EyeGlass to help with disabilities, such as with the deaf. Imagine in a theater setting, such as the opera, musical, or play, right now there aren’t many practical options for them to fully enjoy the experience if they aren’t sitting up close to the action.
With applications of Sony Smart EyeGlass, imagine if you could see closed captioning of an event anywhere you look while wearing the AR headset. That’s what applications are being used with Smart EyeGlass that will truly make a difference in lives.
It’ll be interesting to see how many other big names VR and AR makers begin finding more practical uses for their products like Sony.
Check out more from Sony here.
VRTIFY boasts to be the world’s first VR music platform. While I can’t verify the truth in that, I can tell you after demoing VRTIFY, this is another way that VR will enhance its use for the masses.
VRTIFY is a VR platform that allows users to experience a fully-immersive 3D, 360-degree sound system.
I was able to test the device front row at a concert without dealing with screaming fans, pushy people, or feeling hot and uncomfortable as we all know some of our favorite venues are. The sound quality and the 360-degree aspect of VRTIFY is what sold me on what they were trying to do and how they were going about doing it.
The older I get, the less I want to push my way front row at a standing room only event and deal with the mayhem that follows. Give me a fully-immersive and functional way to do that with VR live at the event? Shut up and a take my money moment.
It’ll be exciting to see if the VRTIFIY concept can gain traction among concert and venue promoters in the future.
Check out more from VRTIFY here.
Glyph intrigued me by its design before I was introduced to do what it did. It’s a VR wearable product that is a personal home theater. It’s lightweight according to the description, but that depends on the user.
I found it a bit clumsy and took a few minutes to get used to when trying it out personally. Imagine audio, video, and everything you can expect in a high-quality home theater system in a wearable device. You can watch at home, the office, or on the go and you have Glyph.
One of the truly beautiful design aspects of Glyph is the use of the headphone model and integrating a VR experience into it. This makes Glyph more familiar than 99% of the VR and AR headsets out there, which I think will ultimately drive consumers to giving it a try compared to other products out there.
It can connect with an HDMI-supported device, meaning you can watch just about anything on it in the Glyph-experience.
I’ll be excited to see where Glyph goes from here and how it helps build not only a VR platform for users but a home theater experience, too.
Check out more from Glyph here.
VR and AR Themes from CES 2016
Like last year, and into the future, I expect gaming to be a huge VR and AR application in this industry. Unfortunately, until game makers start truly looking at VR/AR tech and evolving games for it, it just seems like a slightly more immersive experience than going to the arcade and jumping into a racing machine.
Game makers either need to step up the development or stick to what they know best: Making games for consoles, PCs and mobile platforms.
I had the opportunity to speak to the folks and take a NASA booth tour at CES, followed by an amazing round of drones in action with Qualcomm that tied into one another. NASA is looking to launch training initiatives with VR and AR platforms for astronauts before, during, and after space. This is exciting, considering manned missions to Mars aren’t that far away if you believe in exploration.
It was very awesome to see how they’re using VR to train, especially when training via software is an easier way to transmit data in space – something imperative for astronauts to adapt to things going wrong in space.
It was also interesting to talk to several NASA engineers about the psychological aspect of VR in keeping astronauts sane while on much longer missions in space, either by themselves or with a small group of people.
Google Cardboard is cool and all, but wake up consumers, it’s not real VR or AR innovation. It’s a simple way for the average consumer to start experiencing some virtual reality situations, apps, and games.
If you truly want to see development in the VR world, you have to start investing in what standalone VR headsets and platforms are doing not just jumping into it with Cardboard and expecting that to be all VR and AR should be.
Virtual and augmented reality isn’t going any time soon, and its applications will soon be felt across a wide range of industries. The real question is – and something I’ll be looking for at CES 2017 – is whether companies are truly investing in the future of the technology or simply trying to take advantage of the hype surrounding it.
I’m looking at your VR developers: The future is in your hands, not in the VR world, but in the real world. Do something more, do something better with technology that can truly revolutionize the world as we know it.