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CES 2020: A quiet month for VR and AR

CES came and went, with a little noise on immersive tech. The real winner are smartglasses, which littered the show floor with Samsung and Panasonic entering the fray.

While relatively quiet, it feels like companies are gearing up for 2020.

Analysis of CES 2020

Yes, smart glasses were featured extensively this year. Bosch showed some smart tech which is incredibly light, while Panasonic revealed some bulky punk shades which would fit in Mad Max.

Like with each year, CES shows plenty of proof of concepts, which may all either fold or forgotten. So anything which seems a bit far out, or without hard evidence, may well be cast aside.

The Panasonic goggles have so few details that its almost worth mentioning as a footnote for now, not as a full-blown announcement. Meanwhile, VRGineers (who I like a fair bit) is releasing a new headset which builds on their extensive experience. That is one company to follow.

Overall, CES is a fun bubble of cool tech; but for AR and VR, it’s more iterative than new.

VRgineers introduced the new XTAL professional VR headset

The latest version of the XTAL headset incorporates 8K resolution, with readability optimized for GPUs like the Quadro RTX 8000 from NVIDIA.

XTAL headsets are currently being used by a variety of US Airforce airbases for pilot training. The first user will be the Vance Airforce Base in Oklahoma, which ordered XTAL headsets to completely upgrade their training center. VRgineers will also participate in US NAVY and US NAVAIR R&D initiatives for next-generation simulator solutions

The XTAL headset., revealed at CES 2020.
The XTAL headset. Photo credit: VRGineers.

Targus reveals AR for backpacks

Targus recently initiated an AR programme, which lets users virtually explore different backpacks so they can find the perfect fit for every working lifestyle. 

Neat idea, and it’ll be interesting to see how many people actually use it.

Raphael De Perlinghi, Director of Consumer Business EMEA at Targus, said: “Targus created this AR mannequin as a response to what we have been seeing in the retail industry – shrinking store footprints and growing customer demands for an immersive retail experience. The mannequin was designed to show that physical stores no longer have to rely on limited shelf space and to have a strong and unique offering.”

Samsung used AR glasses alongside a workout

One of the weirder conferences, Samsung showed some AR use cases like using an exoskeleton while exersising.

Does it mean Samsung is doing some AR stuff in the future? Perhaps; they may be doubling down on their hardware to make smartglasses. But for now, the hardware is at the prototype phase. For now, let’s enjoy the quirky hardware.

Nreal announced a 3D system that supports Android

The system, Nebula, claims to be the first-ever system capable of taking any Android smartphone apps and turning them into MR. This works with Nreal Light glasses, and transports the app to a virtual environment.

While interesting, I wish to see it for myself to see how smooth the transition is. Is it just a case of screen sharing? An overlay in a virtual world, with a flat surface? Perhaps, but we will see.

Nreal Light Developer Kits pre-orders are available now starting at $1,199; early supporters will get them now. The consumer version, priced at $499, will come early this year.

Pimax announces 180Hz ‘5K SUPER’ headset

Pimax announced a new headset with a high refresh rate – neat. No price yet, but worth mentioning that there are plenty of beefy VR headsets being made in the market.

It’s worth mentioning that the refresh rate is higher than the Valve Index headset.

Panasonic revealed their “VR” goggles

I do not think these are actual VR. At best, they are 360 immersive viewers which let people sit in an enclosed environment and watch content.

But they look cool, right?

Details are light, but it’s interesting to see Samsung enter the fray. Let’s see what happens next. But please, don’t call them VR. If it has tracking, or interactivity, then we can talk.

Pico Neo 2 pricing revealed

Pico showed the specs of their new headset, as well as another version that may use eye-tracking.

It is priced around $700, while the Neo 2 Eye for around $900.

More details will come as soon as we know more.