Global smartphone markets are saturated, same goes for most mobile gadgets like tablets, laptops and gaming consoles. But as we all know, the manufacturers of this gadgets have got to make profits anyway, so what’s next?
Perhaps in a desperate search for new ways to grow, the mobile industry is placing a large stack of chips on virtual reality. Microsoft, Alphabet, Samsung, HTC and most recently LG are just a few in a long list of tech giants that are taking the Virtual Reality gamble as real as it comes.
“VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want,” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said after making a surprise appearance on stage during Samsung’s talk time at the Mobile World Congress (2016). “For right now, it’s mostly used for gaming. That’s quickly evolving.” the nerdy Facebook whizkid added. Virtual Reality took center stage at the event, as dominating as it was, it was far from a surprise. Every VR savvy writer and gadgets freak knew in advance that 2016 is to Virtual reality what 2007 is to the smartphone. Virtually everywhere you turned in the massive MWC conference center, companies were showing off virtual reality applications and hardwares. Samsung Electronics even had a freaking Virtual reality roller coaster at the show! Every VR firm had promised a different experience — Samsung’s Gear VR took you on a VR roller coaster ride (Samsung has a thing for roller coasters am sure). Others promised to send you underwater, but I hope you don’t mind, as I am a little picky — I would very much prefer the ones that promised a space mission to Mars. Considering uncle Sam has failed woefully at that so far.
Though Samsung’s Gear VR tried to steal the show, fortunately the didn’t. HTC’s annoucement of the pricing and availabilty of its Vive VR system fell on a lot of curious ears . The system, which works with Valve and seems to be as earlier rumored, heavily targeted toward gamers. The HTC Vive priced at a somewhat hilarious $800 and set to start shipping in April works quite as well as advertised.
Things didn’t stop there however — LG surprised us all with The LG 360 VR headset and a compatible smartphone to go with. LG’s VR headset explored some relatively uncharted territories in the VR architecture. Rather than work by slotting in a compatible smartphone like most VR headsets, the LG G5 smartphone feeds the headset via a USB Type-C cable. Though not entirely spectacular, but LG’s first attempt at making a working VR gear is quite impressive.
And then came the much awaited HTC Vive. A stunning VR gear that could easily pass for a gadget from Star Wars. HTC’s virtual worlds are wonderfully clear and sharp with a decent amount of colour and contrast as well. The beauty of the Vive Pre ( a version of the Vive that tries to breach the Gap between the Developer and consumer version) is the 90Hz refresh rate which makes the entire experience seem silky smooth with none of the lag and ghosting that has blighted other VR headsets. Those who suffer from nausea and eyestrain when using VR devices, might find the Vive VR quite helpful. The ViVe’s motion tracking precision was perhaps its biggest selling point. The speed at which the Vive Pre and its controllers react to movements injects an element of physicality to the VR experience. This makes it far more immersive than using a VR headset and a traditional game console controller.
A handful of other great VR hardware and accessories were showcased at MWC 2016. I can’t completely highlight the many VR gears and the exhilarating and awesome experience at the event. As it is, if the momentum VR has begun 2016 with is sustained, the technology might be pushed to the mainstream this year with lots of more innovative application of the technology.