Virtual reality was once again close to everywhere at CES in Las Vegas this week, with countless booths displaying headsets and accessories. A number of studios and creators also used the event to either launch or preview new experiences. But the biggest advancements may not be available to consumers for another year or two.
You don’t need a crystal ball to know that the tech industry is excited about VR — but just in case, Global Imagination made one anyway. The U.K.-based company had brought its “VR Sphere” to CES, which displays 360 degree videos on an oversized glass globe.
Someone actually made a VR crystal ball.JANKO ROETTGERS / VARIETY
It was just one of the countless products popping up in the VR space, with many companies looking to find ways to add to the experience that headsets from major manufacturers are offering. Special VR chairs optimized for 360-degree swiveling, a wireless data glove, an input device that can be controlled with your feet and extension packs that make it possible to use headsets like the HTC Vive wireless were also on display.
A number of companies also displayed their own headsets, and others showed off PlayStation VR-like tracking and controllers for mobile VR — but much of this had been on display at last year’s show as well, or at CES Asia 2016 in Shanghai.
More interesting were the things you can’t quite buy yet — at least not as a regular consumer. uSens showed off its hand tracking module, which it is selling to developers for $99, with the goal of getting enough support for its platform to have headset manufacturers adopt it for their next-generation projects.
SoftKinetic, a subsidiary of Sony, demonstrated similar technology working with a customized Oculus Rift headset. The premise of both is intriguing; being able to use your hands instead of controllers in VR would definitely be a huge step, and the tech already seems pretty impressive. However, a SoftKinetic employee cautioned that it may be another two years before we see anything like it integrated into the VR headsets from major manufacturers.