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posted by martyb on Wednesday December 05 2018, @02:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the virtual-progress dept.

El Reg:

Wearable watchers, CCS Insight, had good news and bad news for the virtual and augmented reality industry today. Sales are tanking but look! New hardware!

The report underlines just how much the industry has been driven by users of smartphone-based VR, which peaked at 8 million units in 2017 before plummeting to just 3 million in 2018. The net result is the total VR shipments in 2018 will actually end up less than 2017.

[...] But all is not doom and gloom. Stand-alone VR is tipped to hit the big time in 2019, with 29 million of the wireless beauties expected to ship in 2022.

VR vendors, not least the Facebook-backed Oculus, hope so. The Oculus Quest is due to ship in 2019, free of the pesky wires and PC gear needed with the Rift. A cheaper tetherless variant, the Go, has already shipped.

Meanwhile, virtual reality cafes are empty.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Oculus Co-Founder Says there is No Market for VR Gaming 51 comments

Facebook will never break through with Oculus, says one of the VR company's co-founders

Five years after its $2 billion purchase of Oculus, Facebook is still pushing forward in its efforts to bring virtual reality to a mainstream audience. But one of the company's six co-founders now doubts Oculus will ever break through.

Jack McCauley told CNBC he doesn't think there's a real market for VR gaming. With Facebook positioning its Oculus devices primarily as gaming machines, McCauley doesn't believe there's much of a market for the device. "If we were gonna sell, we would've sold," McCauley said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

[...] The $199 Oculus Go has sold a little more than 2 million units since its release in May 2018, according to estimates provided by market research firm SuperData, a Nielsen company. The Oculus Quest, which was released this May, has sold nearly 1.1 million units while the Oculus Rift has sold 547,000 units since the start of 2018, according to SuperData.

[...] Since leaving in November 2015, McCauley has enjoyed a semi-retired life. He's an innovator in residence at Berkeley's Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation and he continues to build all sorts of devices, such as a gun capable of shooting down drones, at his own research and development facility.

The cheaper, standalone headsets are selling more units. Add foveated rendering and other enhancements at the lower price points (rather than $1,599 like the Vive Pro Eye), and the experience could become much better.

Related: Oculus Rift: Dead in the Water?
HTC: Death of VR Greatly Exaggerated
As Sales Slide, Virtual Reality Fans Look to a Bright, Untethered Future
Virtual Reality Feels Like a Dream Gathering Dust
VR Gets Reality Check with Significant Decline in Investment
Creepy Messages Will be Found in Facebook's Oculus Touch VR Controllers


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  • (Score: 3, Touché) by c0lo on Wednesday December 05 2018, @02:41AM

    by c0lo (156) on Wednesday December 05 2018, @02:41AM (#769918) Journal

    Meanwhile, virtual reality cafes are empty

    No wonder, virtual coffee is absolutely worthless.
    VR cafes will need to diversify - I could suggest teledildonics, but I'll refrain from actually doing it and let it to the level of a virtual suggestion.

    (grin)

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday December 05 2018, @02:46AM (8 children)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday December 05 2018, @02:46AM (#769920) Journal

    Too bad about smartphone-based VR. It seems like a good and cheap way to do it if you already have a flagship. And people carry their smartphone almost everywhere.

    I'm optimistic about the future of untethered VR hardware. Switch to a new transistor design and 3D ICs [soylentnews.org], and we could see a 1 petaflops GPU [imgur.com] in smartphone/headset form factors. You could see real-time ray tracing with much greater performance than Nvidia's RTX 2000-series GPUs, and 32K resolution [soylentnews.org] @ 240 Hz, but untethered.

    But even without crazy hardware like that, there are tricks [google.com] that can be used to lower the complexity of the problem.

    While early adopters are going to get much less capable hardware than what will be available in 10-15 years, the real problem is a lack of content. YouTube can host 360-degree videos, but how many people have 360-degree cameras? Existing games could be given VR support, but will they work on the untethered headsets or Rift/Vive only?

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    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by edIII on Wednesday December 05 2018, @02:58AM (5 children)

      by edIII (791) on Wednesday December 05 2018, @02:58AM (#769925)

      Fuck content and games. Virtual Reality Window Manger :)

      I want a VR headset that I can develop with on Linux/BSD, that doesn't require shit proprietary drivers, phones home, or requires Steam to operate. With untethered hardware and the ability to track my hands and fingers, I could easily imagine an awesome window manager.

      Who needs multiple 4K screens when virtually you are free to put data wherever you want in the virtual space. Cerebro anyone? The possibilities for notifications, docks, multiple screens, different ways of organizing data, etc. I've always wanted a moving background. With VR, I can literally be floating in a nebulae out in space with multiple screens around my head, and data presented in front of me on an IMAX like wall.

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday December 05 2018, @03:08AM (2 children)

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday December 05 2018, @03:08AM (#769930) Journal

        The VR window manager and a VR cinema mode for 2D videos (exists already) should be relatively easy to accomplish and not need much updating. Actual made-for-VR videos and games need to be an ongoing thing. And it indirectly benefits you since greater adoption of VR means more people picking up on the window manager use case, more hardware competitors, more progress.

        --
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        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by edIII on Wednesday December 05 2018, @04:04AM (1 child)

          by edIII (791) on Wednesday December 05 2018, @04:04AM (#769950)

          I wasn't thinking literal 3D video, although your point about it driving the window manager is a good one. The 2D Video Window Manager is just a monitor with a regular window manager right? I meant to indicate that I overwhelmingly support a 3D VR Window Manager over games, and see games as the least of the possibilities almost. Until you give me a really immersive RPG that is Final Fantasy kind of detail level. The games were just not taking off, although I found a couple really cool. They were about as simple as pong though. Even with the wands and lack of haptic feedback, using your current mouse and keyboard, it would be really useful.

          With haptic feedback and a better interface, which would be scanning your hands very fast, I can see all kinds of applications benefiting. I could use a 3D VR Sketchup that allows me to grab and place objects, scale them with my hands, and sculpt if I want to. A 3D D3JS with network flows depicted in 3D, customer records like cylinders with an avatar on the top, .etc. A network monitoring platform that completely rips off Zion Control in the Matrix II. Review logs and see 3D representations of regex matches. Actually see into the file and be able to move through symbols, organize, and sort them. What could readable programming be like in 3D?

          I see commercial applications that are worthy in their own right. Get a little frustrated when gaming is driving this :)

          --
          Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05 2018, @01:37PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05 2018, @01:37PM (#770057)
            I believe the order that drives new technology is porn, games, then everything else.
      • (Score: 2) by The Archon V2.0 on Wednesday December 05 2018, @03:32PM (1 child)

        by The Archon V2.0 (3887) on Wednesday December 05 2018, @03:32PM (#770111)

        > Who needs multiple 4K screens when virtually you are free to put data wherever you want in the virtual space.

        They're trying, but it's going to be a while based on early prototypes: https://youtu.be/L2sCJpR3x8o?t=495 [youtu.be]

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Wednesday December 05 2018, @04:04PM

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday December 05 2018, @04:04PM (#770126) Journal

          For the virtual desktop manager and some games, it would be nice for the headset to have some presence awareness so that it finds a desktop/laptop keyboard and any external mouse using its front-facing camera and sensors, and overlays a faint, accurate representation of their location. Use simple machine learning so it finds these things no matter what brand/model they are, without picking up clutter on the desk, and labels the keys correctly. Maybe make them disappear if you withdraw your hands. Then I would use it to sit in a chair and play a stealth game.

          Just throwing some ideas out based on the laptop and wireless mouse already in front of me.

          --
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    • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Wednesday December 05 2018, @03:55AM (1 child)

      by Mykl (1112) on Wednesday December 05 2018, @03:55AM (#769943)

      The real problem with VR movies (as opposed to 3D) is that we are accustomed to the screen drawing us to the points of interest that the director wants us to focus on. Want to see the twitch in the eye of the suspect while the police are interrogating them? In traditional movies that will be a close-up headshot. In VR? It would probably be completely missed.

      Sure, we could be looking at different types of experience (probably closer to theatre), but it makes it very difficult to bring a critical mass of content to bear any time soon.

      So, if movies are out, that leaves games and productivity. I think there's promise, but it's not going to be an overnight sensation.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday December 05 2018, @04:44AM

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday December 05 2018, @04:44AM (#769960) Journal

        I think directors will have a lot of trouble adapting movies to the VR medium, but maybe someone out there can carve a niche doing it. Look no further than video games such as Skyrim to see examples of "cinematic sequences" where the player can move their head or even move around. Worst case scenario, you get some art films done in VR and some low-brow Hardcore Henry type films, but very few VR films per year overall.

        Notice that I said VR video in my comment, not movies. There are a lot of situations in which 360-degree video capture could be of value. And it can also be done live. Thinking of those recent "yellow vest" protests, photojournalists or participants have the ability to live stream with 360-degree cameras. Both the platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Periscope, and others) and cameras can do this. But most will do 2D livestreams since there are more people viewing those and the cameras are cheaper (or they just use their smartphones). Maybe some livestreaming 360-degree cameras could transmit both 360-degree and forward-facing 2D at the same time, so you could have two simultaneous streams from one camera.

        We'll probably see the cutting edge of VR video content come out of BBC and National Geographic with short nature docs done in 360-degrees.

        I'd like to see 360-degree cameras streaming live 24/7 from some locations. Maybe mount one on top of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, or something.

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