HTC Vive backscreen

VR or “Virtual Reality” headsets are currently a kind of headgear designed to carry glasses (generally shaped to provide a full peripheral 90° vision arc), which superimposes on actual reality (“real life”). After 3D movies that are playing collective, VR is the next individual entertainment big hot new thing around. Yes, that thing is about to replace your laptop, smartphone, tablet and TV, all in the same package. No doubt big industry names are salivating.

HTC Vive video screen

Everybody have in mind movies like Matrix, especially the Scion control scene or Total Recall. Video Games persistent universes already set up durable, entertaining alternatives to the real world, sometime addictive like Second Life. Forging a true alternative reality is a mind-boggling concept, but at that stage, nothing can approach even from far, sci-fi’s most visionary VR concepts: They are self-evidently about all senses and not capped only to vision and hearing. Plus you still feel the headgear bearing on you (and side effects, see below).

Possibilities are endless, but Entertainment is the application that came first. Video games, next-gen 3D movies, your average ultra HD Documentary or broadcast reboot TV show (when YOU are into the room). But design, educative applications are also already thought of. There are alternatives to the costly and heavy headsets: Simple smartphone cardboard adapter (Google Cardboard), or light headgear like Google Daydream.

HTC Vive headset

Drawbacks of this technology however are quite annoying compared to AR, especially in lasting use.

  1. Nausea, and other long-run use side effects, that are still to be fixed
  2. Incomfort by wearing the headgear, if badly designed/balanced, especially for the cervical
  3. High hardware level: Powerful, costly computers required to avoid lagging
  4. Lack of rock-solid standards* and therefore of compatible apps on the market

Although Oculus Rift set up its own standards* in many ways, developers teams are still struggling with diverging syntax and protocols, which tends to cap applications today. The only thing helping out is the relatively reduced numbers of products available on the market, the two other contenders being Sony’s Playstation VR and Valve’s HTC Vive, clearly targeted at Gamers. Let’s not forget also Samsung’s Gear VR, and the OSVR headset.

*Early VR development standards were set up by Unity, originally tailored for Oculus.

OCULUS RIFT

OCULUS VR, is proposing to revolutionize a sector that is considered to be hermetic to innovations of rupture, thanks to an equivalent for gamers of the famous Google Glass and competing services. Third geekery or real revolution?

The Irvine-based company based in California has only existed since 2012, and was able to start with kickstarter (famous crowfunding site), with $ 2.4 million (currently $ 16 million). The company is currently strong with a team of +20 people, increasing. His product, currently in the commercialization phase, is the “Rift”, a sort of 3D glasses for total immersion in video games.

This is one more step towards virtual reality, an old concept of science fiction which struggles to impose itself technically (the speed of calculation is undoubtedly the greatest limit). The 3D in video games (90s) is now more widely used by rendering engines always more efficient in terms of realism, but still remains “remote” from the user: It is the brain Which reconstructs a 3d impression, because the real environment is always there. In augmented reality, the environment becomes “intelligent” and possibly interactive, but we are not yet in the context of virtual reality, which is a total substitution (vision, hearing and direct interaction) of a real environment Virtual environment, hence its name.

So far this “graal” was inaccessible for problems of development costs, market maturity and modularity (not enough standards). Oculus has based its development in close partnership with major players in the gaming industry such as Valve, Epic Games and Unity, and works on widely accepted standards with an “open” code for incremental development. Their strategy is to facilitate the conversion of existing games (eg Half-life 2) and thus enlarge its “catalog”, making its offer more attractive, and eventually create a serious incentive for game publishers to develop Their product in compatibility with virtual reality, knowing that the development of video games currently passes through an accumulation of existing “bricks”, such as graphic engines and rendering engines. The company also offers a development kit for publishers.

The application prospects of this system are not limited to video games only. The former Korean director of Autodesk gameware and scaleform intends to offer in association with Oculus 3d rendering applications “in total immersion” that could revolutionize the way interior and exterior architecture firms, decorators, landscapers, urban planners , “Sell” their projects to their customers or prospects. It is the world of 3d creation in general that should respond with compatible integrations and formats in the near future.

More concretely, the complete development kit is sold for $ 300, and the latency tester $ 100, but the glasses themselves in “mass retail” should be marketed for only $ 20 according to the figures announced.

For more information: http://www.oculusvr.com/
Some facts and figures on the video games sector:

-The gaming sector has long since emerged from its “shell”, its target having expanded considerably since the 1980s to Geeks in general (third generation of gamers), with a combined turnover in 2011 exceeding that Cinema and publishing, but blaming the blow in 2008 (top, with $ 12 billion). In 2011, the market stood at around $ 9.6 billion, in constant recession. The sale of PC also experienced its biggest decline, equaling the historic low point of 2006, in favor of an aggressive market of consoles and the explosion of tablets and smart phones.

– It is a “mature” market with largely incremental innovations:

The most rapidly evolving technologies concern the graphic part (For a marketing department it sells best), often to the detriment of AI (artificial intelligence) although the explosion of multiplayer has largely attenuated these limitations By proposing human versus human confrontations. The crisis plays an important role in this field, and the case of games launched commercially in the beta phase (and not final, completely debugged) is becoming more and more common. The marketing pressure to meet deadlines to coincide with strategic launch dates are decisive, and concern mainly the PC domain (multiple user configurations) versus consoles, to the uniform controlled environment.

-The physical sales (software) still exceed digital sales (copies online) with in 2011 a market share of 69% against 31, distributed by the platforms.

-The economic model of digital distributions (platforms) is based largely on pre-orders, and DLC (extensions) paying.

-Five kinds of hardware exist today sometimes competing, sometimes complementary according to the decision of the publishers:

-> PC (with a marked increase in the power of laptops / laptops) under OS microsoft (mainly windows XP) represents 65% of users, MAC and linux coming in only a few percentage of this total.
-> Game Consoles (8th generation in 2012, market launched by the Odyssey of Magnavox in 1972) currently represents 70% of casual players.
-> Smartphones (games in flash and then based on new technologies compatible Android) represent 38% of gamers.
-> 35% for autonomous integrated systems (nomadic consoles).
-> 26% for tablets.
Market outlook for smartphones and tablets was 120 million players in the US alone in 2012, and potential 170 million in 2015.

– Casual gamers (at least once a month) are moving towards more free online games especially for smart phones. (31% women – 45% total -web design degree center Nov. 2013), and the largest share of online (42%) and mobile (47%) games Concern puzzles, cards, board, game show, and trivia. The popularity of certain games (such as “angry bird”) is not directly related to the turnover they generate because their main sources of revenue are advertising and products.

-The “Core gamers” market is the one that generates by far the most revenue (traditional market PCs and consoles), with 96% of the turn against only 4% for the casual games, and are classified by Nearly 44% of the market, “shooters” (FPS and MPS) with 20% of the market and 33.7% of other genres. An example: Call of Duty 3, a FPS / MPS dominated the market in 2011 as the best-selling game, for a billion dollars 16 days after its launch. CoD Ghosts, the latest iteration of this title, reached that figure on the very day of its launch in November 2013. In comparison the film-record of James Cameron in 1997 “Titanic” accumulated 1.8 billion of receipts in the world .

For an indication, the average budget for an E3 size video game, usually one of the most anticipated titles, is between $ 100 million and $ 250 million, the record being held by Grand Theft Auto V 2013) with $ 256 million. By comparison, Cameron’s film “Titanic” was estimated for $ 200 million budget.

– Approximately 40 events (trade shows, conferences and conventions) deal with video games every year or at regular intervals. The most famous is the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo)

Sources: Entertainment Software Association and Statista, 2012.

HTC VIVE

Official Teaser

HTC Vive is a competing project in VR (Virtual Reality) of the famous Oculus Rift. The project is co-financed by Valve, the well-known video game platform, and was unveiled in Barcelona on the eve of Mobile World Congress. An indicator on the specialization of glasses, as shown in the introductory video Of the site, which put more emphasis on the final impression as evidenced by HTC Vive website.
HTC consumer version was released by the end of 2015, with a developer edition in the spring.

“Over the past few years, we have seen them develop the first concepts of visualization and virtual reality experiments. But no one has yet defined the ideal experience. Today we are ready to introduce you to this world – by being completely immersed. We will bring you a virtual reality experience that no one has seen before, a breakthrough innovation with our partner Valve, “said HTC CEO Peter Chou at a conference on stage.
“We are convinced that virtual reality will totally transform the way we interact with the world. It will become a consumer experience for consumers in general. The possibilities are unlimited.”

The Vive feature a room-wide RV experience, sent by more than 70 sensors to provide interaction in a 360 ° full-scale environment. The refresh rate is 90 Hertz which for HTC says is a “new benchmark for performance and comfort. “To avoid feeling nauseous during the immersion.
Helmet wearers will be able to “explore objects in their environment from every angle”, according to HTC – and “one will not only be able to see on the periphery, but also move and interact as you do in the world real”. The glasses will be used in conjunction with a series of wireless controllers. The helmet itself is described as lightweight for added comfort.

HTC Vive Official Video

Peter Chou suggests that Vive will allow several types of VR experiences, landscape mode, attend live concerts, watch movies, 3D chat and even virtual shopping. Valve is a major partnership for HTC, given the position of the brand in the video game industry. Valve had also approached the concept in 2014, showing off a concept of helmet last summer. He also worked on a tactile controller for his Steam platform, although long delayed since the fall of 2013 and postponed in 2015, probably to integrate it into the more mature product of HTC and offer a successful VR headset. In addition to working with Valve and its Steam platform, HTC has also sourced and contacted partners to prepare commercial content or demo for launch, such as HBO, Lionsgate Entertainment, Google and the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.

HTC also builds tools for consumers to create their own RV experiences and comprehensive development tools to offer publishers opportunities. Let’s hope that they expect the concept to be a commercial success to invest in securities for these glasses.

There, Google has put its Google Glass on the drawing board, Oculus Rift is still in development, and Magic leap is trying to bring cinematographic quality to holographic imagery and Microsoft recently unveiled its Hololens also in the games/entertainment sector, as Sony which has in turn spoken its SmartEyeGlass (as well as Toshiba) release its Playstation VR gear. This is a strong trend that emerging, to be confirmed by 2016 and 2017 with the launch of a new array of games to make these platform more attractive on the long run. It remains to be seen how the VR/AR match will end. By a marriage probably, not for reasons of public distribution and economies of scale …