Google has announced it is investing even more in VR, despite disappointing sales for a technology that was tipped to be as revolutionary as the smartphone. — dpa
There's been a lot of hype about virtual reality (VR) headsets for years, but now that they’ve actually hit the shops, it's become apparent that besides hardcore gamers, most people aren’t interested in investing upwards of a thousand dollars on these new virtual worlds.
The Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, the Sony Playstation VR, the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream have hit the market – but sales have been disappointing for a technology that was tipped to be as revolutionary as the smartphone.
An Oculus Rift bundle costs close to US$600 (RM2,560) and a HTC Vive with controllers around €900 (RM4,290), while for top-end systems there's the prerequisite of a powerful PC, which is likely to cost significantly more than €1,000 (RM4,767).
Some VR headsets can do without a high-end PC and just need a smartphone to be connected to the device, for example the Samsung Gear VR or Google's Daydream.
While these are cheaper and more mobile, they lack the image quality and precision of the more expensive VR systems with room sensors.
But Google has announced it is investing even more in VR. At its latest developers conference, the tech giant revealed a standalone VR device that doesn't require a computer or a smartphone to function and that will cost around the same as an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
In terms of resolution and tracking accuracy the Google device, which will be manufactured by HTC and Lenovo, won’t reach the level of the larger VR headsets but it’ll be quicker to set up as the movement sensors that track the user will be built into the device.
Clay Bavor, vice president of VR at Google, conceded that VR has so far failed to meet sales expectations. "This is the case with many new technologies. But it's going up again," he says.
Meanwhile Google is also focussing augmented reality, in which visuals from the real world is combined with virtual content.
Google demonstrated is plans with an application allowing users to look inside an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus from the Detroit Museum of Arts. Visitors can not only see the coffin's mummy on their tablet but also that the pharaoh is missing a toe.
Google hopes that in future all schools will have access to such technology. "It will take some time for this concept to become a reality, but it's no longer science fiction," Bavor said. — dpa