According to which scale should I judge the virtual and augmented reality in 2018? Should I measure it with the sci-fi aspirations set by VR and AR companies years ago that did not come as a surprise? Should I assess how far it is from the mainstream introduction? Or should I keep the comparison of 2018 with 2017, when I gave the VR a medium C-grade and did not even talk about AR? Since I just bothered to list these options, my predictable answer is "All of the above."
2018 was partly a year of disillusionment. Some prominent AR and VR companies, including Meta, Jaunt and Starbreeze, have either massively downsized or shifted their focus. As the head of CCP Games said in October, a year after leaving the VR business, "we expected VR to be two to three times bigger than it was."
The successes of the year have sometimes felt unimpressive, like Magic Leap, a ridiculously well-funded AR startup whose basic tenet was "we've recruited the greatest minds of modern culture to literally rewrite reality." And when it turns out that this is just a decent competitor to Microsoft HoloLens, this is a real achievement! ̵
Especially since I've been doing Augmented Reality for the first year, I've also deducted points for the industry's increasingly confused terminology. Is a given product augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, extended reality, head-up display, smart glasses, an immersive computing device, or possibly something else? Here. Have a diagram.
The big VR players expired in 2018 with smaller hardware releases. Oculus has released the well-engineered, low-deployment Oculus Go mobile headset. HTC has released an expensive, higher-resolution Vive headset update, and Valve has provided development kits for its new Knuckles VR controller. Google and Lenovo have released a mediocre VR headset while Microsoft has maintained its Windows Mixed Reality brand with updated partner headsets. But neither platform has attracted much attention.
And unlike previous years, we do not know much about the VR hardware product line of 2019. Oculus announced a self-contained headset called the Oculus Quest, but even there rumors point to a high-end Device was scrapped – and his former CEO Brendan Iribe left the company for nebulous reasons.
Augmented reality hardware continues to focus on the problem areas such as industry and medicine, where it has been used for decades. That's not a bad thing, because companies can iterate on headsets in a truly existing market instead of simultaneously solving hardware problems and selling users with a whole new kind of product. However, it does make AR a kind of summary for most consumers, unless it's a phone-based AR, which is a completely different experience. (You may want to review the spreadsheet at this point.)
However, one of VR's early long recordings may have paid off. The location-based VR entertainment startup The Void was an ambitious but risky project in 2016. After receiving investment from Disney last year and starting an experience with Star Wars he opened several new locations and worked with other Disney franchises. It's just one of many VR gambling halls and theme parks – though not all of them have performed well since IMAX discontinued its VR-based entertainment experiment in 2018.
While Sony may not have released any new VR hardware this year, it released some PlayStation VR titles that received a lot of attention. Dark Souls Studio From Software released a short adventure game named Déraciné for the platform and Tetris Effect had a well-rated PSVR mode.
VR still It's not a distant mainstream, but this was the first year I consistently played VR games for myself rather than as an experiment or as a way to keep up to date with the coverage. (Well, it was mostly just Beat Saber – by the way, that was my favorite game of the year in any medium.)
And at that point, VR and AR are two of the last great technologies out there no huge scandal involving genocide, mass surveillance, electoral manipulation or the total dissolution of the truth. Are there any issues? The VR startup upload resolved this year as a result of a sexual misconduct suit, apparently after losing Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey's investment in building a controversial "virtual boundary wall". Technology is busy. Microsoft and Magic Leap competed for new AR headsets for the military. Meanwhile, Facebook's privacy concerns have raised concerns about how Oculus will outlive its users. Nevertheless, there is still a potential for optimism that is hard to find in other parts of the tech world.
I'm worried that I'm not sure what happens next year in VR. I'll be looking for a second generation of Microsoft HoloLens, the Oculus Quest and possibly some products from China that have a large VR and AR industry. However, we are nearing the end of the first generation of headsets, and companies have so far not shown any major technological leaps that could turn us into a second. By now AR is unlikely to be on the radar of most people for many.
So I'm not sure what the past year will be like. But hey – at least we have beat Saber out of it.
The Verge 2018 Certificate: AR / VR
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- Some very good VR experiences
- Some good iterative hardware updates
- At this point relatively non-destructive to civilization
Need for improvement
- Too few very good VR experiences
- AR hardware is a long way from mainstream readiness
- No clear path to untroubled success