CES 2020: The Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Highlights

Kicking off 2020 is another Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the annual gathering place for world-class innovators. Household names like Samsung, Intel, and Sony come together to show off the latest and greatest in consumer tech. Gravity Jack is no stranger to Las Vegas; we first attended CES in 2012 and again just last year with RealMax Inc. and our Adroit AR technology. Skipping past any 2020 vision/headset resolution jokes, let’s jump straight into some industry highlights.

Spatial: AR / VR Communication Platform

Spatial takes communication to the next level, marrying VR, AR, and traditional platforms in holy matrimony. Supporting up to 12 different users, Spatial works to eliminate cross-platform compatibility issues, functioning across the Hololens 2, Oculus Quest, mobile, and eventually desktop as well. From conferences to hands-on design meetings, Spatial allows content sharing and management in real-time, maintaining the best of both the real and virtual worlds.    

HaptX: VR Gloves

HaptX takes center stage with their cutting edge VR hand controls. Going beyond simple vibrations, the HaptX VR gloves offer 130 different points of feedback. Just as a screen uses color-changing pixels, these points form a sort of touch-based “display” that conveys shifts in pressure and displacement. This rewrites the hand controller game, enabling a more diverse array of sensations to further enhance the immersion experience. The gloves’ 6DOF tracking capabilities line up perfectly with our own Adroit’s 6DOF object posing, and we look forward to seeing these gloves used for both design and training purposes down the line.   

VRgineers: XTAL 

Before we decry an $8,000 headset’s presence at a consumer electronics event, let’s see what the hoopla is about. Upon closer inspection, the XTAL serves as a window into the VR industry’s future. Aside from dual 4K LCD’s, one notable upgrade is the addition of foveated rendering support for eye tracking. Those familiar with the inner workings of open-world games may draw some parallels; rather than render entire environments in HD, focus is centered only on what you’re looking at. Just like a human eye, the remaining “peripheral vision” is rendered in much lower detail, enabling crystal-clear resolutions while keeping resource needs realistic. Another striking feature is the use of VirtualLink. The XTAL forsakes the usual brainstem’s worth of cords in favor of the single-cable USB-C. Although VirtualLink is still out of the masses’ reach, it gives consumers something to look forward to as hardware accessibility increases.

HTC Cuts Vive Pro Price

While we’re talking about accessibility, HTC is shaving off a solid $200 from the base Vive Pro headset. Although its price point is still markedly higher than competitors’, the vanilla Vive Pro (sans controllers and base stations) is now cheaper than the latest Vive Cosmos. Could this discount signal a shift in target markets from businesses to consumers? Only time will tell. 

Closing Thoughts

As VR and AR edge ever closer to seeing mainstream use, CES 2020 reminds the world of what’s possible and what to look forward to. Although AR headsets were scarce this time around, this year’s show is proof of the life within these high tech industries. Between car windshield HUDs to updated AR glasses, and all eyes will be on what next year’s CES has in store.