For any person passionate about new technologies, January means the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and for some years now this prestigious event devotes exhibition space to augmented and virtual reality technologies. CES 2018 did not disappoint and we have seen a few prototypes which promise to make AR and VR more convenient to use.
At the same time, Apple OS software updates ready to roll out promised enhanced AR experiences as well as new practical applications. Not to be left behind, virtual reality marks another innovative and prestigious use: as training solution for top level professional athletes.
And now that we have outlined the key events, let us start detailing the most important developments in augmented and virtual reality in January 2018:
New Concept for Hands-Free Augmented Reality Experience: Voice-Activated Smartglasses
The Consumer Electronics Show is the place for many prototypes and concepts to get in the hands of the public and be validated or denied. In the crowded section reserved to AR and VR technology, Chinese startup Rokid presented its latest concept: voice activated augmented reality goggles.
— Rokid (@RokidInc) January 19, 2018
The Rokid Glass is capable of projecting a single image with the aid of OLED lenses with 1080p and a field of vision of 40 degrees. The design of the smartglasses is simple and gives them the aspect of regular, thick-framed glasses. The glasses are capable of face recognition and are still a work-in-progress concept, because the voice activation service is still behaving in an erratic manner.
— Rokid (@RokidInc) January 19, 2018
Undoubtedly, the idea will continue to be developed, by Rokid and by other AR companies, and soon enough we will be able to talk to our smartglasses in the same way that now we talk to Siri, Alexa, or Cortana.
US Team Uses STRIVR Virtual Reality App to Train for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games
Virtual reality is already used for educational purposes in schools and universities, as well as for healthcare professionals’ training. And now this cutting edge technology has reached a new milestone: it has become a part of the official training program for the U.S. winter Olympics team. The virtual reality sports app STRIVR, which is already being used by professional sports team for training purposes, will also be used by the American ski and snowboard teams to prepare for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which will take place in South Korea between February 9 and February 25.
Through an official partnership with the High Performance Division of US Ski & Snowboard, STRIVR allows the US Olympic team to train indoors, in an immersive and realistic experience, using 360 degree videos which were filmed on the actual course which will be used during the competitions.
Apple iOS 11.3 Will Enrich AR Experiences with New Features
The upcoming update of Apple mobile OS, iOS 11.3, will also bundle the next version of the augmented reality development platform, ARKit 1.5. The update will allow developers to add several exciting and interacting features to their apps.
For instance, AR objects will be able to be placed on vertical surfaces, such as doors and walls. This will certainly open up new possibilities for online retailers, who will be able to include more products in their AR shopping apps.
In addition, ARKit 1.5 will support higher resolution of real-life objects and interactions between holographic 3D images and vertical surfaces. Thanks to this important feature, real-life items in AR apps will look much clearer and crisper than before, allowing AR apps to get even more immersive.
The Next Generation of Virtual Reality Headsets Will Be Wireless
We will end the January round-up of VR and AR news back at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where HTC debuted its VIVE Pro virtual reality headset. But what really attracted everyone’s attention was the concept of standalone headset with “inside-out” tracking.
This new concept adds outward facing cameras to the virtual reality headset, and integrating the computing unit to the headset as well. This means that VR games and experience can be freed from tethers and from the markers placed on walls and furniture to delimit the area and signal obstacles.
CES visitors were able to test this new concept with the Mirage™ Solo headset developed by Lenovo on the Google Daydream basic VR headset. The product is set to be shipped to stores during the spring of 2018, with a starting price under $400.