My speculation about the next few years of VR

Started by the-pi-guy, May 03, 2019, 02:13 AM

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the-pi-guy

This speculation is based off current VR headsets, patents from various companies and how I expect the market to receive it.  

Oculus, HTC:

Of all the major companies in the VR space, their actions moving forward seem to be the most predictable.  
Their current actions are toward making VR mainstream, by making the headsets as easy to use as possible.  

Oculus in particular is hedging it's bets on the Oculus Quest.  A standalone VR headset that doesn't require a PC.

I think they'll be successful.  It's basically wireless VR with no prior requirements to buy in.

I think they'll still release a major upgrade to PCVR in a few years when it can be a substantial upgrade.

Sony:

I think Sony will take a middle ground approach and they'll make an easier to use headset that'll also be a solid improvement.  

The biggest question that I have for the PSVR2 is what kind of tracking it will use.  
Sony's current tracking offering is poor peanuts compared to what we see on the PC, and good tracking goes a long way to making immersion work.  The controllers especially need improvements.

Check out what Valve's controllers are doing:
https://steamcdn-a.akamaihd.net/valvesoftware/images/index/videos/Finger_Tracking_v3.mp4


Either way, I expect Sony's VR market to grow at a faster pace than right now.  


Valve:

Valve is dedicated to making as good of a headset as they can.  Whether they decide to go towards ease of use like the HTC, will largely depend on if markerless tracking reaches a point where they feel comfortable dropping lighthouse.  Seeing as they've invested quite a bit in lighthouse, I think it'll be a while.  

Unless their games blow everything away, I dont think that they'll capture much of the market.  A major Half Life game could go a very long way, though.




With all this said, I wouldn't be surprised if in 3 years, all the headset makers will in a closer space.  Where ease of use and high quality VR are able to coincide.  


So what would you like to see out of VR in the next 3 years?  
Who do you think will succeed?

Legend

Imo the move towards standalone headsets is pretty cool. At first they were just alternatives to phone powered VR, but now it seems like they are an evolution of pc vr. Instead of investing a lot of money to create a wireless system that works without issue, why not just move the software to the headset? Then it has the added benefits of working room to room or outside.


These standalone headsets will probably be the big success story over the next three years. Makes VR so accessible and easy to use. It's kinda like magic.


Wired and wireless VR needs to focus on differentiating themselves. Better graphics, cheaper price if you already own a game system, better tracking, better vr quality, lighter headsets, colder headsets, less recharging, better game libraries, and multiscreen social aspects are pretty much the only potential ways these headsets can be better. Steam's VR headset is focusing on being a higher quality VR experience which could work. Other headsets could focus on being really cheap and beat standalone headsets that way.


A hybrid approach could be possible. A standalone headset that either has HDMI in or streaming support could try to cover both categories similarly to the Nintendo Switch. I'm not sure that is the best idea though because it would be very hard to get lots of software to support it. A problem with PC vr games is that a single SKU is designed to support multiple headsets. A hybrid headset would need dedicate ports and essentially not offer any of the benefits of a traditional wired/wireless headset.


Another important element is eye tracking. Right now the industry is really focused on the pros of VR without wires but I imagine eye tracking will quickly be just as valuable. Eye tracking in VR can be used for lots of things. FIrst off it can be cool in software. Many VR games require the player to point their head at things while with eye tracking they just need to look at things. Also can make NPC interactions more personal where the game reacts to eye contact, blinking, and other things like that. From a quality perspective, eye tracking enables foveated rendering. This greatly decreases the amount of pixels that need to be rendered and allows a VR game to have closer graphics quality to a 2D game running on the same hardware. Additionally, eye tracking can potentially be used to really increase the quality of the headset's optics. Bigger fov, less screen door, variable focus, etc. It can be really beneficial for headsets and could show up in the next few years if a manufacturer is interested in it.


I think manufacturers making the cheaper and accessible headsets will succeed. The higher quality ones will be great in a niche market and help next gen accessible headsets have better tech.

It's also kinda a side note, but standalone headsets will probably become the default next next gen. Streaming is incompatible with VR and standalone headsets are the only way the two technologies can coexist. I used to think VR would slow the adoption of streaming but instead it looks like that will not be as big of an issue.

the-pi-guy

I think standalone VR (Quest) will be really successful.  

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The announcement of the Valve Index has been bothering me.  It only really makes sense if you factor in that Valve has definite long term plans for VR.  

Gabe has talked on several occasions about wanting to be like Nintendo, that Miyamoto gets to design hardware and the games around each other.  
And here, Valve has failed.  None of the games are included with the hardware, and only 1 of them is intended to be released this year.

Even during the announcement of the Index, Valve was talking about 3 pillars for VR's success, VR has to be high fidelity, affordable and low friction.
Valve has admitted that it only does the first one.  This makes no sense.  What company announces a product, says "it has to do these 3 things to be successful and ours only does 1."

This whole thing makes no sense.  

For a company with such lofty goals and the means to reach those goals, it doesn't make sense that they'd do any of this.  

Unless you consider that Valve already has a successor in mind.  Then this starts to make a lot more sense.  

The current headset isn't intended to make VR big.  They aren't intending for the Index to be successful.  They are only intending for it to be good.  Which is another thing that Valve has talked about, VR has to get good before it becomes successful.  


So I think we'll see another headset from Valve in the next 3 years that will follow through on their other two goals.