CES 2016 is currently taking place in Las Vegas, USA with all the major technology companies coming together to show off their wares.
It has been clear for awhile that 2016 was going to be a major year for virtual reality, as the first commercially available headsets will finally be coming to market. So it’s fitting that the event has seen some huge announcements from the biggest players in this emerging and exciting space.
First up is Oculus Rift, easily the most widely recognised name in VR, with a concept which started more than three years ago as a Kickstarter campaign. Since then, they’ve gone on to huge success, including being bought up by Facebook.
The Rift headset had been aiming for release before the middle of 2016 but now we finally have more concrete details on the device and availability.
It has been confirmed that the first Rift orders will ship at the end of March 2016, and pricing will be in the region of €699. For that you not only get the headset but also a bunch of peripherals like a Xbox One controller, a sensor, remote control, cables and two games – EVE Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale.
That’s a lot of tech in one package, and the creators of the system are estimating that there will be more than 100 games available by the end of the year, on top of plenty of other entertainment experiences.
Another big announcements came from the HTC camp and centred around the Vive. Actually it was more about the Vive Pre, which is the brand new name for the virtual reality headset coming from HTC and Valve software.
Technically speaking, the Vive Pre is a developer kit which will come before the final retail version but it does reveal a host of new additions, including one which HTC is very proud of – a front-facing camera.
This makes it possible to ‘peek’ at the real world from inside the virtual one, which is handy if you want to do something like finding a chair to sit in and it also if you’re in danger of tripping over something at the edge of your space.
The Vive Pre is also lighter and more comfortable than before, while the touch controllers have been upgraded to wireless models, all with the aim of improving the user experience. The Pre version is going out to developers now and is likely to resemble the final model, which will ship in April, pricing TBC.
One big thing to note when it comes to considering virtual reality is that fact that both of these devices need a PC to work, and it will have to be a very powerful machine. An early estimate suggested that only one percent of current PCs have the specs to comfortably run the graphics required for the Oculus Rift so consider the need for an upgrade before you buy.
Expect plenty more news on virtual reality in 2016.