In a few days, Consumer Reports will be in Las Vegas covering CES, the country’s largest tech expo. While there will be a multitude of products from drones to printers, virtual reality products are some of the most exciting ones to keep an eye out for.
You’ve probably heard of the major VR players Oculus, PlayStation, etc. But what about the other guys? A new slew of VR toys is set to debut in 2016. Here are just a few things we expect to see.
Cheap VR Is (Already) Here
If you think dropping a few hundred bucks is the only way to get into virtual reality, CES has your wallet covered.
Expect a flood of inexpensive VR headsets, many based on the Google Cardboard standard. Cardboard is the popular headset Google introduced in 2014 to help popularize VR. It employs the user's phone and only costs a few dollars.
These offshoots will be compatible with most smartphones and support basic VR functions. And a few are bringing some special features to the table. For instance, the Freefly VR headset can accommodate a variety of phones, using the Google Cardboard standard. But it also comes with a cool remote to help you control the screen.
The VicoVR will be one of the many non-headset pieces of VR tech shown at CES. It's a camera that tracks your body in the virtual reality space much like Microsoft’s Kinect works for the Xbox One. It has infrared cameras and features gesture control and support for up to two players, turning head-bobbing games into full-body experiences (as long as the rest of your set-up is compatible).
Wanted: VR Content
Your iPhone isn’t really useful without its signature apps. The same thing goes for virtual reality—it needs content, and that's been in short supply. While VR-ready games are in development, video companies are taking your favorite pastimes (read: sports) and turning them into technological experiences that cost less than some courtside seats.
Sideline views of football games in 3D are just one of the many sporting events NextVR wants to use to highlight its virtual reality live-streaming system. The company has plans to expand its content to nearly all VR headsets, but now it only works with Samsung’s Gear VR.
More Weird Controllers
There have always been weird controllers in the gaming world, but virtual reality controllers take the digital cake. When you can’t see your hand in front of your face, or you’re floating through space, you’ve got to find another way to move through the world around you without compromising the immersive experience.
Oculus will be showing off its Rift headset, complemented by Oculus Touch, the company’s pair of VR controllers that lets you use your hands in the VR space instead of a traditional controller that just sits in your hand. (The Touch, originally planned for release early in 2016, has now been delayed at least into the second half of the year.)
Leap Motion, a gesture-control company, will be there, no doubt showing off how its tiny motion sensor can track your hand movements in VR space (it even has a tiny mount that hooks up to an Oculus Rift headset). It's like a "Minority Report" adapter in a box the size of a smartphone.
If your hands are too busy holding a controller or flailing in the air, you can always use your feet. 3DRudder is pushing its feet-controlled VR motion controller. The UFO-shaped disc responds to tilts, presses, spins, and can act as a joystick even if you’re not in a VR headset.
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