Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality: Is It There Yet?

Susan Schreiner (susan@c4trends.com) is the founder and editor of C4Trends.com and a veteran journalist who covers developments in consumer technology. She is also a CE industry and events analyst.

Bridging the gap between virtual and real-world experiences is quickly moving beyond just science fiction.   While we’ve been hearing about Virtual Reality (VR) for several years, the VR space ignited when Facebook acquired Oculus Rift in 2013, and more recently, interest was fueled even further when Oculus announced that it would introduce its consumer VR headset in early 2016.

There’s a lot going on – and we’re in a transitional time, as VR and AR move from the R&D phase into market reality. In addition, confidence in the future of VR/AR is building as companies like Google, Facebook, Sony, Microsoft and others are making major investments in various sectors in this space.

VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSETS

There are going to be lots of platforms and devices, and the biggest challenge for the channel will be sorting it out, based on marketing support, price and – most importantly – titles.

The first wave of consumer-ready VR and Augmented (AR) headsets are starting to battle for attention. Mobile company HTC is partnering with Valve, creator of the popular PC gaming platform Steam, for an HTC Vive headset. With Valve and Steam having a diehard following in PC gaming, this could be a killer product, since it is expected to hit the shelves in time for the holidays.

The result of Oculus’ partnership with Samsung mobile phones is expected to hit the market during fourth quarter. Samsung’s Gear VR headsets debuted in 2014 and the second generation was launched in March, along with exclusive compatibility with Samsung smartphones, including the flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

At Samsung’s August press conference, Samsung’s co-CEO JK Shin teased that the third generation of the Gear VR will make its way to consumers “soon.” He did not divulge launch date or any other details, but it is anticipated that the third-gen Gear VR will be priced similarly to the others, at around $199.99 MSRP.

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