CES 2020 Showed VR Expanding in Professional Markets
January 27, 2020
You couldn't walk more than 100 feet and not see VR or AR somewhere. Gone were most of the gimmicky uses and much of the prototype-like hardware that left a lot to wish for. In its place were evolved devices that are fitting niche use-cases and enhancing industries with effective virtual reality worker training and customer communication. It's also clear to us that AR is coming but still playing catchup with VR.
Here are a few highlights of what excited us at CES in VR and AR:
With larger VR companies like HTC and Facebook absent from the show floor and showing demos in private meeting rooms, the big announcements in the way of VR headsets came from smaller companies like Pimax, VRgineers and Pico, namely improvements in resolution, field of view, refresh rates, and the addition of eye tracking capabilities.
Chinese company Pimax announced a few new VR headsets, including the 5K Super, which now boasts the highest refresh rate on the market at 180 Hz, the 8KX, their top of the line model with 4K per eye resolution and the “Artisan”, a lower priced model at $499, that has 1440p resolution and a 170 FOV (as opposed to the other models that have a 200 FOV). The VR headsets also have modules that can add eye tracking, hand tracking, improved audio and comfort.
Another ultra-wide VR headset that showed at CES 2020 was the 8K XTAL Ultrawide from VRGineers. This is an upgrade in picture quality from their previous generation VR headset. VRGineers is targeting professional business and virtual reality training use cases, and has packed the 8K XTAL with a host of features, including an 8K resolution, foveated rendering, eye tracking, integrated LEAP motion for hand tracking, and a 180 degree field of view.
Pico, a company that has had a strong presence at CES over the last few years, announced their new Pico Neo 2 and Neo 2 Eye. Both all-in-one devices with 4K resolution, 6DOF inside out tracking (including 6DOF controllers), and spatial stereo speakers. The eye version also adds eye tracking (provided by Tobii). Pico is also targeting the enterprise market and the addition of eye tracking should improve insights in relation to virtual reality training and research. The Pico Neo will sell for $700, with the eye version selling for $900.
Panasonic revealed what they call the world’s first ultra HD VR eyeglasses, that is also an example of VR in a smaller, more lightweight form factor.
Varjo, the company known for having the first VR headset to match human eye resolution at 60 pixels per degree in the center 20 degrees, had some private showings of their new VR headset, the XR-1 AR HMD, with the added ability of a passthrough camera and an improvement on the separation between the “retina” and high resolution display panels. This was shown with a “workspaces” demo that captured how we might work in the future, with blending our real workspace with virtual monitors and bringing in 3D models and objects.
NextMind revealed a VR headset that can apparently read signals from your brain using 8 electrodes that attach to the back of your head. The $400 development kit will be available early this year. It uses non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG).
Augmented Reality and Smart Glasses
NReal was showing their Nreal Light glasses that are planning to be available around spring of this year. The headset is very lightweight and connects to an Android phone. The contrast is very impressive and they claim that you can now pin Android apps around your real world environment. A microphone and speakers are also built into the frames.
RealMAX had a multi-user experience accompanied by a live violin player. They were showing their RealMax 100 HMD that can switch between AR and VR and has a 100.8 degree field of view.
Vuzix was showing two pairs of their smart glasses, the Smart Swim, that can be used underwater and the M4000.
Another pair of smart glasses was being shown by Bosch, the Light Drive BML500. The device weighs less than 10 grams, and delivers a bright, clear HUD that adapts to ambient light. The small, lightweight device can allow for more stylish and smaller smart glasses.
In other augmented reality showings at CES, Futurus, showed off a prototype of their AR Windshield Tech.
Bebop Gloves showed their Forte Data Gloves with additional hardware support, including for the Oculus Quest.
Teslasuit also was displaying some new gloves as well as their haptic suit.
Sensoryx VRFree gloves - Full hand gesture tracking
Additional VR related announcements
In other VR related news from CES, Nvidia announced Variable Rate Supersampling, or VRSS, which will dynamically increase the resolution in the center of a VR headset’s lenses. This can allow for greater frame rates and performance, as there is no need to waste resources on rendering the highest resolutions on the entire view.
Intel announced a new, dedicated graphics card, the Xe DG1.