CES 2017: Samsung and others push VR
By Reinier Macatangay
Oh how times are changing quickly. Remember last decade when the Angry Video Game Nerd mercilessly mocked the Virtual Boy? Towards the end, he pointed out how companies no longer cared about virtual reality.
Fast forward to 2017 and the recent CES convention in Las Vegas proved companies do care about VR. Samsung, in particular, was enthusiastic in showing off their Gear VR 4D Experience near the entrance.
The booth featured four major rides. One of them was called Space Racing. As one can tell from the picture, Space Racing ended up as the most intense of the Samsung VR experiences. Attendees were strapped on something that looked like it belonged on a roller coaster ride.
According to the press release, “The never-before-seen Gyro 4D simulator rotates 360 degrees vertically and horizontally to replicate the motions of a spaceship racing through space.”
One headline on CNET had an accurate description when it noted “not to wear a dress” on the ride.
The second simulator was Boat Racing, and in this VR demo a Sway simulator took “viewers on an exotic dinghy boat adventure through the rough streams of Australia’s Murray River.”
The booth also featured a ride down a skeleton track in Canada, and an airshow from a pilot’s perspective. Besides the rides, Samsung showcased Robot Wars, where attendees using sensors were able to throw items at each other.
But, Samsung was just one major company showcasing the possibilities of a virtual reality headset.
Qualcomm had a Power Rangers VR experience at its booth to promote the Snapdragon 835 processor, and this writer did try the demo. Unfortunately, the headset had trouble focusing (maybe it was not strapped on properly?).
Razer, who dominated headlines with a 3-screen laptop that was stolen, offered a VR headset experience at their booth as well.
Sony displayed a handful of VR games too, while their normal non-headset games were missing.
The entire convention went virtual reality crazy!
Nearly every major company at CES had some kind of virtual reality experience to offer, which means the technology is not going away easily. VR headsets are the future, or at least companies are pushing for it.
Whether the movement becomes successful depends on the same factors that decide whether game consoles succeed: price and content. To become mainstream, a device needs the right price. It also needs compelling software. There is some skepticism, but with Samsung, Sony and others behind it, VR has a chance.