Although 2017 has come and gone, its impact on the augmented/virtual reality industry will undoubtedly be felt for decades to come. While it remains to be seen if 2017 will be recognized as the year AR/VR finally made its first real push into the mainstream, there were a veritable plethora of events that occurred last year that will continue to influence the industry.
After substantial contemplation, we have picked what we at VRWorld believe to be the Top Ten VR/AR Stories of 2017. Here they are, counting down from #10:
#10 – Pimax 8k
First discussed by VRWorld last January, the Pimax 8k would go on to make an even bigger splash than simply being the world’s first 8k headset (boasting, among other things, dual 4k displays and a 200 degree field of view). Heavily demoing prototypes at places including CES roused the attention of VR enthusiasts globally — and resulted in the Pimax becoming the highest-funded VR project in Kickstarter’s history. The headset is shipping this month (January 2018) to its supporters.
#9 – ZeniMax v. Oculus
The United States is well-known for instances where civil juries award massive damages to aggrieved parties in court matters. This came to the VR industry in a big way, when an intellectual property lawsuit saw Oculus on the hook for some $500M in damages in a February ruling. The matter has since moved on to an appeal.
#8 – Sony dominates VR gaming
Demonstrating that console-based gaming is still going strong, Sony managed a spectacular run with throughout 2017 with the PlayStation VR, bringing an impressive number of AAA titles, including Batman Arkham VR and Resident Evil 7 to the platform.
#7 – Mixed Reality Update in Windows 10
In October, VR officially became a part of the world’s most widely-used operating system, when Microsoft rolled out its “Fall Creators” update to Windows 10, to provide integrated support for their Windows Mixed Reality ecosystem.
#6 – Rise of wireless VR headsets
An inevitable consequence of most any computer hardware is a desire to make it wireless. Solutions to accomplish this started to emerge in 2017, with TPCAST unveiling devices to empower Oculus and Vive headsets with wireless capabilities, and with speculation rife that both manufacturers would unveil in-house solutions. The latter did occur — with Oculus demoing a wireless prototype late in the year, and HTC announcing a wireless solution for their headset to start 2018.
#5 – Oculus vs. HTC price war
Speaking of Oculus and HTC, the two companies found themselves engaged in a price war by mid-year. Perhaps predictably, it seems Oculus faired better, given that it could depend on it’s deep-pocketed parent, Facebook. HTC, on the other hand, struggled financially in 2017.
#4 – VR goes mainstream
Improvements in hardware, software and development tools culminated in a truly massive number of real-world applications for VR. From entertainment, including VR movie theatres and sizeable arts initiatives, to VR theme parks, to VR being used for industrial training, in education, and for treating health conditions, 2017 truly was a game-changing year.
#3 – AR/VR Becoming More “Real”
One of the biggest “stories” of 2017 is actually multiple smaller stories, each of which symbolize incremental improvements to what AR and VR can technically accomplish. This has included impressive outcomes in terms of lighting algorithms, the development of ever-improved VR headset technologies, and major leaps forward in AR displays.
#2 – Oculus Go Announced
Impressive affordability? Check. No need to be tethered to a computer? Check. The brand and resources to pull it off? Probably. Such defines the stand-alone, $199 USD MSRP Oculus Go, a VR device announced in October, with a prospective launch early this year.
#1 – Apple Lays Groundwork for AR
And, with the last entry, we are trying to be retrospective in advance, predicting that the stories and rumours emerging from Apple, including ARKit and their involvement with leading-edge AR manufacturers, may well herald a game-changing AR device from the company in an announcement later this year — perhaps as transformative as the iPod or iPhone.