Professional Virtual Reality in 2017: The Year Ahead
2017 is set to be an exhilarating year for virtual reality (VR) in engineering.
At Virtalis, we believe that the push for VR in the entertainment industry is what will drive companies to produce quicker, cheaper and more competitive technology. Subsequently, this will have a knock on effect on companies within the engineering sector who already use, or are considering, professional VR.
2016 saw the release of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, marking the start of this trickle-down effect from the entertainment industry. These head-mounted displays (HMDs), whilst not high-end in price or functionality, are sufficient enough for use with small to medium sized engineering data. Furthermore, their price points are radically lower than the previously available technology and are compatible with Virtalis’ 3D CAD software.
This trend of more budget-friendly VR technology is set to continue into 2017 with numerous HMD announcements expected in the coming months. Some of these are to be equipped with eye tracking technology or ‘see-through’ cameras, which will be able to analyse user’s eye movements, as well as their head. It is hoped that this will help prevent the sensation of motion sickness. Another expected development is wireless connectivity. 2017 may finally be the year that we wave goodbye to those bothersome tether cables!
VR controllers are also set to see significant advancements this year, especially in regards to haptic feedback devices. We’ve already seen the release of the Oculus Touch controllers, which will make interacting with your 3D CAD data far easier, as well as more intuitive.
2017 kicked off with CES, the annual global technology showcase in Las Vegas. Here are Virtalis’ top picks of the CES announcements, which will help advance the role of VR in engineering:
- Lenovo Windows Holographic VR HMD:
This HMD is currently only a prototype and not yet functional, but the audience were given a glimpse of what lies ahead. It differs from previous HMDs as it is secured to the head by a hinge from one main strap, as opposed to the triple strap approach. The Holographic VR HMD is lighter than the HTC Vive and has no external cameras. Instead it has two-front mounted cameras for improved depth perception and to support inside-out tracking.
- Wireless HMD connectors:
Whilst there was little news on a possible Vive 2, HTC did announce a number of significant new accessories- the ViveTracker and the ViveDeluxe Audio Strap. The ViveTracker will allow additional objects to be tracked, such as a bat, rifle or haptic gloves. The ViveDeluxe Audio Strap is essentially a set of integrated headphones, reducing the level of cabling, which also allows for easier fit adjustment.
- Haptic gloves:
The Gloveone prototype is a new haptic glove with built in motion tracking. Vibrators on the glove’s fingertips provide the user with sensation in the virtual world, known as haptic feedback.