Read our comprehensive industry expert update on new hardware, software and solutions changing the XR landscape.
New XR headsets
Motion Tracking and Motion Capture Solutions
Input devices and Haptics
Machine Learning and AI
As we move into 2023, we see many updates and improvements in the realm of XR. From more sensors, better passthrough cameras for mixed reality, improved haptics, cloud rendering as well as leveraging AI (for easier ways to do motion capture, improve rendering and create 3D models on the fly), we are seeing technological advancements and growth that will improve immersive experiences and creation.
The following is an exhaustive collection of the devices, technology, software and trends that have been seen over the past year. For help with integrating new hardware into your existing VR lab, or setting up a new VR lab with various hardware and software solutions reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One area that has seen significant growth is the use of sensors and cameras for mixed reality experiences. Passthrough cameras, which allow users to see the real world in mixed reality applications, have been improving in resolution and field of view, making the mixed reality experience more immersive. Here are some of the new Mixed Reality headsets available now or in the very near future.
Meta Quest Pro
Color passthrough camera
1800×1920 per eye
106 FOV Horizontal
37% more pixels than the Quest 2
75% more contrast than the Quest 2
Snapdragon XR2+ processor
Self tracking controllers via internal tracking cameras
Wifi 6G support
Three microphone array
722 grams, but feels lighter due to weight distribution
Late last year, Meta released the Meta Quest Pro, a mixed reality enabled device that uses the improved passthrough camera to map your room and surroundings for immersive AR experiences. The Meta Quest Pro also improves on the VR capabilities with a higher density resolution, self tracking controllers (that can also be used with the Quest 2), eye tracking, face tracking, hand tracking and a smaller form factor with pancake lenses. With support coming to an end next year for the Quest 1, this headset is a more powerful solution for those that are willing to pay a little more than the Quest 2 to get a better mixed reality experience with additional sensors (and for those who don’t want to wait until the Quest 3 arrives).
Vive XR Elite
Color passthrough camera
1920*1920 pixels per eye (3840*1920 pixels combined)
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ XR2
Inside Out Tracking
Hot swappable battery
Eye Tracking add-on to come later
The Vive XR Elite headset is Vive’s mixed reality entry in a small form factor and compact design. The headset was announced at CES 2023 and is due to be released in February. It is expected that an eye tracking add-on will come later, most likely similar to the eye tracking add-on they have recently made available for the Vive Focus 3.
Magic Leap 2
The Magic Leap 2 is the next iteration of their augmented reality headset, with an improved field of view (up from 40 degrees to 70 degrees), built in eye tracking, an ambient light sensor and enterprise features such as data management, privacy and cloud autonomy. It has 3 versions: Base, Developer Pro and Enterprise.
At IITSEC, Varjo released the upgraded version of their XR headset, the “XR-3 Focal Edition”. The headset features improved optics to achieve 70 ppd in the focal area. The device also features improved security and enterprise features.
VRGineers XTAL 3
VRGineers released their XTAL-3 headset early last year with a 180 degree field of view for mixed reality, with eye tracking and the ability to connect to multiple tracking systems, including inside- out tracking, Lighthouse base stations, Optitrack, ART Tracking and Vicon. The headset is targeted towards pilot training and professional use.
Somnium VR One
The Somnium VR One headset is a partnership between VRGineers and Somnium Space and VRGineers. The headset features a modular design, where pieces can be swapped by user’s wishing to upgrade specific components. The device features high resolution displays, special custom non-fresnel, crystal clear lenses, eye tracking, hand tracking, high resolution pass-through cameras, and works with both SteamVR and OpenXR.
Late last year Pico released the Pico 4, a Meta Quest Pro competitor with eye tracking, facial tracking, a color passthrough camera and pancake style lenses for a smaller form factor. This headset uses the XR2 chip and weighs in at 295 grams. It can be used as an all-in-one or connect to a PC via SteamVR.
Pimax Crystal and Reality 12K
In the world of Pimax there were a few announcements. The Pimax portal entertainment system, a full solution for VR experiences and the “Crystal” headset, which is a more affordable version of their fully updated headset the “Reality 12K”, that should be available later this year. The Crystal has interchangeable lenses that can sport either a 140 degree field of view at 35 ppd, or a 120 field of view with 42 ppd. It also has built in eye tracking and inside out tracking.
While not able to be used for PC based VR, the Playstation VR has captured a large size of the market focused on entertainment. The updated version available this year, the PSVR2, will include eye tracking, a 110 degree field of view, built in haptics in the headset, as well as adaptive with capacitive touch sensors and 3D audio.
While still in the development phase, Valve is in the process of working on a new headset, codenamed the “Valve Deckard”. This will be a standalone device (similar to the Vive Focus) and will most likely also allow connection to a PC. Valve is also rumored to be working on the Valve Index 2.
The lightweight XR device, the Lynx R-1 will be released this February in two editions, standard and Enterprise. The headset is mostly stand alone, but can also be connected to a PC.
China based company, DPVR announced the latest in their line-up of headsets, the DPVR E4. With a 116 degree field of view and inside out tracking, it is an affordable alternative to headsets like the Quest 2.
Apple Reality Pro
The much anticipated mixed reality headset from Apple seems to be moving closer towards release. While the plans to release a pure AR headset has been postponed indefinitely, the first Apple based headset will be a mixed reality device, similar to the Meta Quest Pro. There are supposedly two other versions to follow, that will be more affordable versions of the original (presumably in 2024 and 2025).
Megane X Ultra Compact Headset
The Megane X Ultra Compact headset from Shiftall, a subsidiary of Panasonic, will be released this Fall. Compatible with SteamVR or standalone, inside out or lighthouse tracking, and an ultraslim design this headset is due to be priced around $1,700.
India based startup, Ajna XR showed off their lightweight XR headset at CES 2023. With included eye tracking and hand tracking the headset and company are mostly targeting towards creating learning experiences.
Red 6 ATARS
The Red 6 ATARS (Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System) HMD is a military grade AR headset commissioned by the US Air Force, to provide pilots with additional overlays and information.
Ant Reality Optics Crossfire
Ant Reality was showing their new AR glasses boasting a 120 field of view. These are also utilizing waveguide optical technology.
In addition to headsets there are some updates in the realm of large, immersive displays. Here are some highlights on a few of the ones that stand out.
Google’s “Project Starline” is a holographic teleconferencing solution that provides a true sense of presence with a person in another location. This has been getting real world testing at Salesforce, WeWork, T-Mobile, and Hackensack Meridian Health. Hopefully this will be available to the larger public soon.
Another device using a holographic style teleconferencing is one from PORTL. Currently it can be rented for tradeshows and conferences and comes in a lifesize and smaller scaled version.
ARHT, a third holographic telepresence solution revealed last year their touchscreen 4K device called “Capsule”.
Looking glass last year revealed the largest 3D hologram display. A 65 inch screen using their holographic technology. In the future they plan to add haptics and improve on their immersive media.
Breylon Immersive Display
The Breylon Immersive display creates a virtual large screen using a method to blend light to scale the field of view. The device is targeted at those who may wish to have an immersive experience without having to wear a VR headset.
Holoarc, a company specializing in advanced visual technologies, had on display at CES a hologram solution that can run in direct sunlight or very bright lighting conditions. The company also has solutions for 16K 3D displays as well as 8K VR headsets.
PRISM is a comprehensive solution for immersive training. It enables users to effortlessly capture real-world environments with a 360 camera and then use a drag-and-drop editor to create training scenes or scenarios. PRISM is a fully immersive projection environment, complete with surround sound, smells, and other sensory enhancements. The application is designed for easy interaction through a tablet controller and wall-touch controls for a highly intuitive experience.
Motion Tracking and Motion Capture Solutions
Kinetix Tech now has a tool which allows you to create full body animations (including hands) using just a single camera, or pre-existing video. You can try it now for free. For additional information on using this tool, see our recent blog post on it.
Mocopi is an IMU based Mocap system designed by Sony. It only uses 6 sensors and will have an integration into motion capture software such as Motionbuilder.
AccuRig from Rellusion is a free to use tool to automatically rig up an avatar to use in 3D modeling programs. Export in common formats, such as .fbx.
Input devices and Haptics
The selection of haptic and input devices for immersive experiences continues to evolve and expand. Here are a few of the most recent developments.
Haptic Vest maker, bHaptics has a few new products they were showing at CES, including a haptic face plate and haptic gloves.
Owo has a haptic shirt that can produce “microsensations”. These can be combined to create an infinite amount of sensations that can add to the immersive experience.
Shiftall FlipVR controller
Shiftall has a new pair of controllers specifically designed for VR experiences where you want to go between using button inputs or having your hands available, called “FlipVR”. The button part of the controller flips out of the way to easily swap between the two.
Manus Quantum Metagloves
Manus VR continues to improve on their hand tracking technology and with the new Quantum Metagloves they now have an even higher level of accuracy, especially in regards to self contact. The new gloves use a magnetic field that senses the finger position.
Machine Learning and AI
Machine learning and AI is rapidly evolving many industries and the field of immersive technologies is no exception. Here are a few of the examples.
Customized simulations and learning- Through the use of AI, an immersive simulation or training experience can adapt and respond based on a user’s interactions.
Danger awareness in military AR training- With AR glasses AI can assist in spotting danger on the battlefield
AI Chatbots- Through the use of AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT users can interact with AI agents in a natural way with open conversations, as well as ones tailored to the specific experience.
Healthcare AR surgeries- More surgeries are beginning to use AR as a way for a surgeon to more accurately know where to go. AI is a powerful tool that can assist with this.
Physical environment mapping- Recognizing intricate terrain features that are beyond the capabilities of current methods
Environment generation- AI can be leveraged to automatically create virtual environments that can dynamically change and adapt.
Deep learning super sampling- Nvidia’s DLSS, Deep Learning SuperSampling can render very small resolutions at a much larger upscale using AI.
Generation of content- Tools such as Point-E and upcoming ones from Nvidia and Microsoft can create 3D content using only a text prompt, similar to Dall-E and Stable Diffusion for images.
Code generation- Using tools such as ChatGPT and CodePilot, programmers created virtual reality applications can now leverage the ability to generate code using natural language.
360 video is an easy entry point for creating immersive content, the cameras are continuing to evolve and have more powerful ways of capturing the real world and bringing it into VR.
Kandao Obsidian Pro
The Kandao Obsidian Pro is an alternative to high end 360 cameras such as the InstaPro 360 Titan. It can capture at 12K in 3D 360. The sensors are larger than the InstaPro 360 Titan with 8 APS-C Super Large Sensors.
Plutosphere is a new service that allows you to stream from a PC based VR application,to a standalone headset such as the Quest 2. This allows you to run applications such as Vizard or SteamVR applications on a headset that can be anywhere as long as there is an internet connection. A competing service called Shadow also works for VR, but is mainly focused on 2D gaming.
Software Solutions and Platforms
Meta’s “Horizon Workrooms” is now integrated into Microsoft Teams and will also benefit from hardware improvements, such as eye tracking, face tracking and the ability to use the new controllers as a stylus pen for writing on a virtual whiteboard or paper (just need to flip the controller around).
Built off of “Horizon Workrooms”, “Magic Rooms” allows for hybrid collaboration in a meeting. For instance, you can have some users in VR with a headset, while other users are wearing a mixed reality or augmented reality device using passthrough. In which case they could see other participants as avatars in their real world environment.
Viverse is an open metaverse world where users and communities can build and explore online virtual worlds using multiple devices.
SightLab VR is a drag and drop experiment generator for VR built on the versatile python based software, Vizard. It allows for seamless integration of data from various sources such as eye tracking, head position, physiological measurements, user interactions, and more. Using the intuitive drag-and-drop interface, users can quickly create immersive scenarios using 3D models or 360 videos, and customize them using pre-made templates or custom python code. The experiments can be run on a wide range of VR hardware, and the output can be visualized in an interactive 3D playback (complete with heatmaps, 3D gaze paths, etc.), video recordings or raw data, providing researchers with a comprehensive understanding of the experiment results. Works with up to five users.
Spatial and Spatial VR Toolkit
Spatial is a video conferencing application for VR that uses lifelike avatar representations and allows you to bring in content such as webcams. They now have available a VR toolkit for building online worlds. This creator toolkit is based on Unity.
Nvidia’s Omniverse is a powerful platform for creating 3D simulations in the Metaverse. It allows for cross platform collaboration using an interchangeable 3D format called .USD. Omniverse combines AI, physics, 3D models, materials and more. Users can work on the same project collaboratively using different 3D modeling programs. Omniverse has a big focus on digital twins, where real world objects are simulated in a digital environment as close to reality as possible.
Microsoft’s “Mesh” is a platform that allows developers to create multi-user cross platform applications. Users can interact using various mixed reality devices, such as the Hololens to have virtual meetings or sessions. This can also work with Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins, to bring in digital copies of real world objects or people.
While on the subject of VR online communities and social applications (whether for work or for play)it is sad to see that Altspace VR is going to be shutting its doors soon. Here are a few examples of some other VR social applications that are still either being developed or have active users:
Vizible WorldViz VR collaboration solutions for enterprise and R & D
That’s our summary of the current immersive XR market for 2023. It will be exciting to see what developments come in the years ahead. Feel free to reach out to email@example.com for any questions or for help setting up or configuring a VR solution or VR lab.