The Next Big Thing
Virtual reality: No longer nicheVirtual-reality headgear like the Oculus Rift, the Avegant Glyph, and Sony's Morpheus are all the buzz. CNET's Brian Cooley explains the potential impact on gaming and vertical industries where VR might ultimately take root.
[MUSIC] From playing games to war game, virtual reality headgear has become absolutely reality. [MUSIC] Rift, Morpheus, and Glyph, they sound like three brothers from a fantasy novel, but it's a fantasy come true. Not just watching, being there. That's the essence of virtual reality. It brings me into this world that I've never been in. You can actually see your hands holding an Xbox controller. That's kinda cool. They want to create... create a world that feels real, that sounds real. I was able to interact with a knight, with swords with a crossbow.>>Uh, and potentially two independent displays and they render different angles on the game so you get a 3d effect with a wide angle to fill the view. What you get is that type of immersion. Is what VR is going for. It's using Texas Instruments based DLP technology to project right on my retina. I wish everybody at home was able to see. What I saw was extremely promising. Now popular fascination with the basic idea of virtual reality goes all the way back to the late 80s on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Remember Jordy Laforgue had the vision headgear. Then flash forward to the mid 90s and something called Virbl, virtual reality markup language. It was going to make webpages a 360 immersive experience. Still waiting for that. But today the dream definitely lives. Take a look at Oculus Rift. Fair to say it's the darling of the bunch right now. It creates this 360 immersive media world. Based on panning video as you move. So the concept here is that you don't have screens literally all the way around your head but the video is passed around through your immediate vision and your periphery by sensing the motion of your head and body. That's using right now a camera that is external and LED emitters in the headgear to index with it. In the future, we can expect all of that to be built into the headgear itself and it will continue to get smaller. Now Sony's project Morpheus, looks similar, but it's a little different in its connectivity. It cables in to a PS4, obviously, it's a Sony thing, and there of course it graphs in to existing motion control and tracking technology that that platform already brings in as well as a base of developers who are already tied into that motion and tracking, so it's got a leg up in a sense. Now clearly the initial use cases for both of these would come to mind as serious gamers. But if you really wanna find the hot spot for these, I think you have to look at what our Riley referred to as vertical markets. For example look what the Norwegian Army is doing with oculus rift and cameras mounted around tanks. A way for tankers to get a completely unobstructed view from outside their vehicle, while remaining protected inside of it. It's very useful when you have to close all your hatches. Or imagine virtual reality head gear for an online meeting, and finally for the first time. Feeling like you are there. As opposed to the very clumsy technologies we use today. That are not so much present, as barely present. Think about going to a hotel, without going there. Take a look at a room in real detail before you book. Look at open houses and maps before deciding which few you want to actually drive to. Go to a car dealership and actually get inside a car and look around the cabin before going down to take that test drive. And I need not even mention the possibilities with telemed. And it's called a virtual retinal display. Finally there is [UNKNOWN]. What they do here is more about attacking the media world. Giving you a full immersive screen for media in front of your eyes, but it's not one where you look around and move through it, more it tracks with your vision. This is about going after the world that has already been in love with IMAX Theaters, big curve TVs, and Beats Audio. Kind of mash those three together. It's one that has a lot more immediate acceptance compared to the other two that are still trying to build and educate the consumer market. Now all these products are in about the same phase of their developement. They are heading off to where new technologies go to live or die, and that is the hands of developers. Who now must take the ball and run with it over the next year or so to create compelling, understandable use cases to bring these to as many consumers' attention as possible.