What 4 Experts Expect from CES 2017
4. Virtual reality will need to step up its game.
I was at CES 2016 and noted that VR was present in a number of booths, and that 2016 would be the year that VR comes of age. Now at the end of 2016, that prediction is proving to be at least partially true. This was the year that Oculus, Vive and Sony VR headsets shipped, as well as Google Daydream “casual VR”. The caveat is that sales weren’t as huge as predicted, so there already is grumbling from certain sectors.
Yet, we haven’t gotten past the “shiny object” phase of VR, and now AR, so compelling experiences are largely elusive. The technological problems are challenging but relatively easy, since we know what “right” looks like — headsets need to be wireless and smaller, lighter; tracking needs to be better, etc. But the human experience and how to use these new capabilities to engage, entertain and train is an open question that still is deeply in the experimentation phase.
For 2017, expect VR hardware to be everywhere. It will be less of a “gee whiz,” but still a large percentage of the attendees will not own VR hardware, so for some percentage it will be a new experience.
The question will be how patient are users. Gamers have a high tolerance for “user pain” — buggy software, incomplete experiences, etc. — so they have been early adopters, but the broader public is used to a pretty refined experiences.. It will be interesting to see how much “Joe Sixpack” will deal with in order to move beyond “gee whiz” in VR.
At CES, it will be an interesting experiment to see how many attendees are not impressed by any old VR experience, and instead have moved to become a bit more discerning or cynical.
— Todd Richmond, director of the University of Southern California’s Mixed Reality Lab + Studio and IEEE fellow