VR feels like it’s simultaneously moving fast and slow. It’s been two years and four months since the leading PC VR headsets, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, hit shelves. The leading high-end headset overall, PSVR, has only been around for one year and nine months. That’s a significant amount of time for individual products, but just a blip in the context of the formation of a brand new ecosystem and medium. Looking forward to the next generation of VR, advancements in specs and experience are not the only improvement; the industry as a whole is becoming more cohesive, which will ultimately benefit everyone involved. Here’s how.

OpenXR API Standard

OpenXR is an in-development standard that’s open and royalty free. It’s being developed by a consortium consisting of effectively every major player in the VR market, including chip makers, headset makers, game engines, publishers, and VR app stores. The standard is being developed under the Khronos Group, the organization behind a number of major graphics standards like OpenGL, WebGL, and Vulkan.

Public supporters of OpenXR. | Image courtesy Khronos Group

OpenXR aims to foster greater interoperability between major pieces of the VR ecosystem: apps, game engines, and headsets. The goal is to make it easier to ‘write once and run anywhere’, meaning reducing the redundancy and complexity for an app, game engine, or headset to support the multitude of options available on the market.

The OpenXR project is building an ‘Application Interface’, which sits between VR apps and content platforms, and a ‘Device Layer’, which sits between the content platforms and individual VR headsets and devices. The idea is that the Application Interface and the Device Layer should be standardized so that everyone can design against a common target rather than needing to maintain individual support for many different platforms and devices.

OpenXR is a broadly supported initiative to create an industry standard method of interfacing between VR headsets and software. | Images courtesy Khronos Group

Hypothetically this means that a game supporting OpenXR that launches tomorrow could work with an OpenXR-supported headset that launches in five years, since both were built targeting the same Application Interface and Device Layer. Similarly, a OpenXR headset from one company could work with OpenXR controllers from another company, letting users use various devices together more easily.

Similarly, if a new game engine wanted to offer support for VR, it needs only to target the OpenXR Application Interface to potentially work with every headset and VR platform that supports OpenXR.

SEE ALSO
Oculus Wants to "Go big" On Opening Their Platform to Third-party Headsets, When the Time is Right

This doesn’t necessarily mean that every VR platform that supports OpenXR will support every headset that supports OpenXR (for instance, the HTC Vive on the Oculus Store), but it does mean that the technical capability is in place if platform stakeholders want to move to an open device approach.

In total, this makes it easier for new players to jump into the VR market, whether that be with a game, a game engine, a content platform, or even a new headset or accessory. This benefits everyone in the market by creating more options for developers and customers, and fosters competition which leads to better products.

Image courtesy Khronos Group

In March this year, the OpenXR group announced its latest progress and did a deep dive into the technical scope of the OpenXR spec. While the group hasn’t announced an official release of the standard, the latest timeline shows that they are nearing an initial release,  which we expect could come by the end of the year.

VirtualLink Connection Standard

Public supporters of the VirtualLink project

Most major tethered headsets today require two or three plugs on the end of the cable which need to be connected to the host PC, and they differ from one headset to the next. The Rift, for instance, has one HDMI plug and one USB plug. The Vive has one DisplayPort plug, one USB plug, and a separate power plug that needs to connect to a wall outlet.VirtualLink, backed by most of the major players in the VR industry, is a newly announced connection standard that aims to simplify headset plugs into a single, well specified connector.

Based on USB-C, the VirtualLink connector offers four high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes (which are “scalable for future needs”), a USB3.1 data channel for on-board cameras, and up to 27 watts of power. The standard is said to be “purpose-built for VR,” being optimized for latency and the needs of next-generation headsets.

The new connector will not only simplify the connection on the end of the headset’s cable, it will also make it easier for customers to understand if a given computer will support a certain headset, which eases the process of buying a VR Ready system.

Whereas today you might think your system meets all the specifications for a VR headset, only to find that your USB ports don’t actually support the speeds required for the headset, or you don’t have the right HDMI spec, the VirtualLink standard means that both customers and headset makers can count on the connector to support a well specified set of capabilities.

VirtualLink was just announced last month and is expected to debut with the next generation of GPUs and PC VR headsets; the former we could see by the end of the year.

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  • Lucidfeuer

    Please be careful with the terms you used, because sometimes wanting to make click-bait actually has a contradictory effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mature_market

    • benz145

      I’m a bit offended that at the implication that this 2,100 word essay overviewing important growth in the VR industry is clickbait.

      I’m not using the word “maturing” in the economic sense. Even if I was, “maturing” is different from ‘mature/matured’. A toddler can be maturing as much as a teenager, but they are very different stages of growth. What you don’t want to see is stagnation, which is the point of this article.

      • A VR Enthusiastic

        .
        Dear benz145 / Roadtovr team,

        We know Roadtovr better than that. We appreciate your work and support you.

        This is also very good, honest article, and thanks for that.

        Take care and best regards,
        .

      • R FC

        Well written and timely article. Keep up the good work of driving VR along the road, which has been a rocky road at time, no doubt. Happy VR!

        • Lucio Lima

          I love Ben!
          Because it keeps us always very well informed about vr!

      • Get Schwifty!

        Yeah I have to say trying to deride this article is “click bait” is reaching on the highest order… it’s very well thought out and shows indeed that progress in VR, while not what gamers want to see necessarily, is indeed moving forward and maturing as an industry for the long term.

      • MosBen

        Exactly. VR doesn’t have to reach its final form overnight. It just has to keep improving such that body of people interested in and investing in VR increases. The next generation of VR isn’t going to have 8k x 8k per eye resolution with 210 degree FOV in a sunglasses format which will last a week on a single battery charge. And that’s fine. Maybe in 20 years we’ll get there, but we shouldn’t confuse an eventual goal with the bare minimum necessary to convince people to invest in and use a VR headset.

        And for most people, the requirement to set up base stations, cable management, cost, and ergonomics are bigger barriers to entry than what the pixel density is.

        • Lucidfeuer

          “Maybe in 20 years we’ll get there” then you’re more patient than me. I’d rather see VR in it’s “final base form”, and by that I only mean a first practical iteration that would only quickstart the market, than to see it stalling for 10-15 years (which btw never happened on any markets, you only get a window of a few years for a given cycle, before a whole efforts falls into niche research oblivion like between the 90s and 2013)

          • MosBen

            Countless discussions with you on this issue have shown that it’s simply not worth arguing history with you. You have a tendency to put arbitrary goal posts on technological development to support your ridiculous position that all successful technologies must emerge fully formed and achieve widespread adoption very quickly to avoid dying off. You also have unrealistic assumptions about what it means for something to be a “practical iteration”. But hey, you’re on these boards constantly talking doom and gloom for VR, so don’t let me get in the way of your brand.

          • Lucidfeuer

            You’re right it’s useless conversation, but I want you to know that if and when VR fails for this iteration, it’s not just manufacturers, it’s people like you who will be responsible. I’ll be back to explain how or why if that’s the case, since either I’m wrong and all is good, or I’m as right as any analytical prospective goes and that’ll be easier to explain what is prospective and why reality is not a chaotic random fantasyland where you get to repeat kool-aid dreams over and over thinking it’ll make things happen for no reasons…

          • MosBen

            Oh, please. You always present your position as if it’s some kind of “analytical prospective”, but your arguments are sloppy and unsupported. You’re guessing at this as much or more than anyone. VR absolutely could fail in this generation and then go away for several years, as happened in the 90s, and as you continually assert that it will. But the major players in this space have the cash and from what they’ve said, the intention of supporting VR as the technology develops, at least as long as it appears that there’s interest. Facebook may reevaluate their position on VR, but it won’t be because they can’t afford to continue developing and releasing the tech to a smallish but growing body of people.

      • Trip

        Absolutely, positively not click bait. The article is top notch, even among the high standard of most content on RoadtoVR. That said, the title including the phrase “next generation” did, in my opinion, cause me to expect content that was not present. I’d have worded it differently, but fewer people probably would have read it as a result.

        • benz145

          Thanks for this feedback. I’d be interested to hear how you’d have written the headline for greater clarity (always a priority for us).

          • Trip

            I’m no writer, but maybe something vaguely like “upcoming VR ecosystem advances show key signs of a maturing market”. I would definitely stay away from the phrase “next generation” for anything but news of “next generation” VR headsets (and peripherals) that so many people are chomping at the bit for because you know that’s what some are going to expect when they see that phrase.

      • Lucidfeuer

        Let’s not pretend that web media traffic isn’t centred around titles, as this is the way readers are presented with content first-hand. Clickbait indeeds designate a title which is either mis-worded (which I believe is the case here), biased or contrary to the article’s content.

        Then I would argue that it’s not the market that is “maturing” whatsoever (it’s indeed stagnating =/= maturing), but standards, which is not only a good but also true. Anyway, clickbait might have been strong word given I don’t see R2VR as being any biased, inconsistent or “clickbaity”, but that’s just one of my colleague’s and mine irked reaction when we saw a wording that is in any cases, false.

    • Raphael

      There is no clickbait here. You have a long history of negativity towards VR and in this case you have locked-on to a couple of words and then tried to turn things sour. True to form at least. I have a long history of swearing at people whilst remaining positive about VR and where it’s headed.

      • JJ

        yeah a few of us here are known for calling out RtoVR when we feel fit, this however is not one of those moments this is a good article and deserves praise

      • Lucidfeuer

        The first thing any reader sees is a title. And the subject matter of the title indicating that the “market is maturing” is false. As someone who’s observed enough times dubiously apologetic statements or PR turn a project, product or market haywire, I’d rather not read obviously false or at least presumptuously apologetic statements. A matter of objectivity and meaning…

        This doesn’t remove anything from the rest of the article, which in fact illustrate that some VR -standards- are maturing (not the market), which is not only good but also actually true and therefor relevant.

        • Raphael

          Ladies and gentlemen… I present to you the latest poetic masterpiece from Lucididdle entitles “gibberish”. I’m my opinion it’s his best piece yet.

          • Lucidfeuer

            Have your Octopus Santa Cruz yet?

          • Raphael

            They tried giving me one for testing but I sent it back and told them to make it PC and mobile compatible. I could have been more polite about it but I received some bad news about a penguin on that day.

  • oompah

    I hope we shall live to see it.
    By then 7nm &
    glasses based headsets would arrive
    to relieve the eyestrain
    & probly all boxes will
    vanish

  • Muzufuzo

    VR won’t be maturing for at least another 20 more years. Progress is very slow and incremental. By now there should already be 2nd gen consumers sets available with 4K per eye, wireless connection and significantly wider FoV. There is also an urgent need for at least 1080 Ti level of performance in 150-250$ graphics cards. Price of RAM is too high and needs to drop heavily. Without such important developments there is no way VR will get fully mainstream anytime soon. No hardware means no good enough software and that means no widespread adoption. I used to be very optimistic but I now see reality as it really is.

    • JJ

      uh what? lol are you high
      You contradict yourself when you say itll take 20 years but we should already have 4k per eye. if were that close or capable of 4k per eye then it wont be 20 years till take off…

      • Muzufuzo

        I don’t think 4K per eye is enough at all. People won’t start putting boxes on their heads everyday just because resolution is 5x higher. 4K per eye is a good start but everything has to improve at high exponential rate. In 20 years maybe there will be devices that look like glasses enabling 16K 240Hz VR along with BCI earbuds, for a reasonable price. Then VR/AR will become widespread. I own and use VR for myself but I am becoming more and more dissatisfied and tired by it.

        • MosBen

          Yes, perhaps in a decade or more we’ll have AR/VR glasses that people wear most days for most of the time. And at that time VR/AR will truly be a defining technology in people’s lives. But the tech doesn’t need to reach that level in order to be widespread or self-sustaining as an industry.

          • Muzufuzo

            I believe otherwise.

          • MosBen

            The average person that’s not a hardcore gamer or tech enthusiast doesn’t know about or understand things like pixel density or whatever. They care about how much it costs to buy a product, if that product works with the things that they already own, and is easy to setup and use. We’re not going to have a situation where a few hundred thousand people buy the first generation of HMDs and then the next generation comes out and everyone buys one. The next generation will broaden the pool of people who are interested enough to buy into VR, but if it “only” sells several million units, that might well be enough to be a success. At least, it might be enough of a success to convince the HMD makers to continue working on developing the tech for a third generation, and then a fourth, and eventually we’ll have those 8k x 8k screens and the hardware to run them.

          • R FC

            major competition for widespread adoption of Virtual Reality?

            Smartphone addiction. Large numbers of people are literally addicted to using their smartphones; the social media applications are designed that way for a reason, providing a constant drip of dopamine triggered by likes and notifications.

            Smartphone is too easy to use whilst going about your daily life, VR headsets not so easy..but, can see a transition from smartphone to AR glasses once that tech is fully developed.

          • MosBen

            I suppose, but that’s true of any form of entertainment. People watch YouTube instead of TV, etc. VR/AR will see some market penetration through the workplace, and the rest will just be the hardware and software maturing enough that it becomes an affordable and enticing expenditure for people.

          • R FC

            yes, its a competition for leisure time, no doubt. i find myself watching a lot of television boxsets simply because there is so much compelling content – its often said we are in a ‘golden age’ of television. the experience of watching this content (for example, “The Expanse”) on 55″ 4K Ultra HD with 5.1 home cinema system is incredibly immersive, and so frictionless to use with television drawing content from my NAS.

      • Muzufuzo

        after nearly 2.5 years since Oculus Rift CV1 there still isn’t any really new hardware generation, only expensive add-ons, extra devices that cost money and your time, making you look silly… 2 years and 3 months since the last truly new GPUs using a new lithography (Pascal), RAM prices are much higher which is absurd, GPUs just now returned to their MSRP prices (in some countries, not in my btw)… you can play Skyrim and Fallout 4 VR – 2011 and 2015 games… very disappointing

        • JJ

          nah you just expect too much, we would all like tech to move faster but it only moves when a lot of smart people put in a lot of work.They cant just press a button and boom better tech, we dont even know whats going to allow us better specs yet things need to be invented. VR is awesome i’ve been playing for years and will continue to as tech progresses, if you’re not content with where tech is at then you’re just spoiled, its that simple. Technology doesn’t care about your feelings or what Muzufuzo wants next, it progresses with whats available in a direction of hopefully pleasing users. Again nothing in new tech is easy, it is all up for grabs, so before you critique something you have no grasp on, try turning your brain on and doing research. Lol nobody else has been disappointing that skyrim and fall came to vr, if they hadn’t wed still be a few years out until bethesda actually made a vr game. So be thankful and stop acting like a big baby

          • Muzufuzo

            I hear a lot of people disappointed in Skyrim and Fallout 4 VR.

          • Muzufuzo

            I remember the 90s and 2000s, how PC (and console) tech used to change. Yes, I was spoiled by the rapid progress and now I am disappointed when after 2 years you can’t really buy a better PC for the same price.

          • Lukimator

            You don’t even seem to understand why tech used to change so quickly before and why it has stopped now, so it’s pretty worthless discussing anything with you really

          • Muzufuzo

            I know why but my comments are not about it. By attacking me personally you are loosing in this discussion. I am just stating the fact that 2x improvement in hardware capabilities after 3-4 years is not enough to keep VR afloat in the nearest future. Do you really believe that with things being like they are now (SSD, RAM, GPU prices stagnating or even getting higher), VR can flourish? I don’t.

          • kool

            Your confusing tech hardware and graphics capabilities. You don’t buy a new monitor every two years and it’s the standards that have to be established so the VR market isn’t fragmented next gen.

        • MosBen

          And? Why do you think that a new generation of HMDs should have been released already? Not all technology is updated on a yearly refresh cycle. The next generation of HMDs will come, and will be an improvement over the current generation in most ways. But VR doesn’t have to be perfect (or an enthusiast’s version of perfect) in order to be useful and entertaining for most people. It needs to be affordable, relatively simple to set up and use, and have fun experiences. There’s no reason to believe that in a year or two when the next generation of HMDs is released that these will not be the reality.

          • Muzufuzo

            I believe HMDs should have a two-year release cycle, not every year. VR is currently anywhere near being affordable, easy to use or even useful for the average person. I talked with a lot of people about the subject and they view VR with skepticism.

          • MosBen

            All the more reason for there to be a bit more time before the next generation of HMDs to hit. If by waiting another year or two the next generation of HMDs is able to ship with wireless transmission, or at least a universal, single cord, work on a wide variety of computers that people actually own, have more intuitive inputs and ergonomic design, all at a more affordable cost, then it makes sense to wait. Releasing a new product just because the enthusiasts want it is not a great idea.

          • JJ

            thank you!

          • Muzufuzo

            If PC hardware was advancing like it used to, there could be very well Rift CV2 and Vive 2 this year.

          • MosBen

            And if the Vulcans landed and gave us replicator technology we could have VR HMDs for free! Speculating that hardware producers could X if the pace of technology were faster is both pointless and also assumes that what’s really holding a new generation of HMDs back is the lack of more powerful GPUs. Right now, the target spec for HMDs is in the GTX 1050-1070 range. When the next generation of HMDs comes out, the target spec will probably be…in the GTX 1050-1070 range. And that’s because pushing the most polys is not the primary hurdle, but cost is. There’s simply no way that Oculus or HTC are going to expect people to build $1,000 PCs in order to use the next generation of their product.

            The next generation of VR hardware will come when it’s ready to come. They need to work on improved inputs, improved ergonomics, testing different tracking methods, and yes, working on things like foveated rendering to allow for improved visuals without a huge hit to system resources.

            Making VR mainstream is not going to be a function of enticing normal people to essentially become hardcore gamers; it’s going to be about making a product that can provide a compelling experience at a reasonable price and a minimum of hardware headaches.

          • Muzufuzo

            The complaint I hear most often about VR is that the effective resolution is too low. Either Foveated Rendering works well enough or we will need much faster (and cheaper) machines.

          • brandon9271

            You have buy a Windows Mixed Reality HMD for less than $200 and build a VR capable PC for $400-500.. That’s quite affordable if you ask me. Especially when you consider that a lot of folks already own a PC that just needs a Video Card upgrade.

      • Muzufuzo

        In my country GTX 1060 6GB has the same exact prices that GTX 970 used to have literally 3 years ago, while being only 15% faster. With such small improvements we can forget about VR in the near future.

        • Muzufuzo

          My friend bought a Radeon 290 (and a good version of it, overclocks very nicely with relatively low temperatures) 4 years ago – in 2014 for the same price 1060 6GB is now (in my country). There isn’t much of a difference in performance between these two, is there?

          • JJ

            http://gpu.userbenchmark.com/
            Nah its only about half as good

          • Muzufuzo

            I don’t know where you see that but no, 1060 6GB is about 15% faster than the 290.

          • Robbie Zeigler

            JJ doesnt know what he is talking about and that link he used is worthless.

          • JJ

            lol yeah dont mind me, i only work in the AR industry and talk to these developers and companies daily, but no your right i know nothing and randos on the internet know more about my job than i do… and how is the GPU benchmark link worthless? You guys are idiots

          • Muzufuzo

            Maybe you are taking into consideration “Simultaneous Multi Projection”. Thing is, SMP is not supported by most software. That is why I don’t count it and therefore 1060 6GB is only 15% faster in VR than 290. With SMP it could potentially be as much as 2x faster, yes.

          • JJ

            like others have stated, you clearly know nothing about the industry and its hardware so this discussion is pointless. come back when you learn how to actually do research.

        • JJ

          you mean you can in your country, which i am sorry thats the case with GPU’s i wish it was different. but yeah the fact that things are more expensive in your country doesnt really play that big of a role in vr tbh. The majority of first world countries have means to make these purchases without that big of a penalty. So sorry but your only solution is to move, its nobodys fault but yours and your countries trade ethics wiht imports and exports. Stop hating vr for that

          • Muzufuzo

            Prices aren’t much lower in other places either.

    • brandon9271

      20 years? LMAO.

      • Muzufuzo

        For a meaningful VR progress there needs to be a healthy 40-50% improvement in GPU performance/price every year. Turing should be 4-5x faster for the same price than Maxwell. Then things would make sense. And it isn’t anything special as Xbox 360 was about 200 000x faster than SNES 15 years prior. With that kind of progress, everything would look very bright. The first PlayStation offered about 200x more powerful hardware (in games) than SNES, only 4 years later. We are now making maybe 2x in 4 years (at the same price point). This is not enough and everyone should realize that. The stagnation is staggering. There needs to be room for: much higher res, higher refresh rate, more advanced environments and greater interaction level. No way to do that with RX 580 hardware level. Either we get 200$ 60 tflops cards soon or VR is going to die for some time and then rise again.

        • Lukimator

          That stagnation you are talking about isn’t exclusive to VR though, and you seem to be forgetting that eye tracking and foveated rendering will greatly help when resolutions go much higher

          • Muzufuzo

            Yes of course, the stagnation is everywhere, we are seeing what’s called “diminishing returns”. I also hope for eye-tracking and FR but it probably isn’t happening before 2022. And btw. I am worried that companies like Facebook will be gathering data about where exactly I look, which is terrifying for many potential users.

          • Lukimator

            It isn’t only happening before 2022, it’s happening in 2020 with CV2. And people like you can worry about data gathering while I enjoy VR, no problem

          • Muzufuzo

            I too use VR but mainstream consumers won’t adopt daily use of VR for many years. I don’t even count toys like Cardboard, Daydream etc.

          • Lukimator

            Consumers will start adopting VR by around gen 3. If you thought VR would show up and consumers would immediately purchase en masse then you just haven’t paid any attention to the history of technology

            Which again leads us to the fact that VR isn’t the problem, it’s you and your ridiculous expectations

          • Muzufuzo

            No, 3 years ago I thought that VR will be adopted by mass audience during 3 gen of VR sets [2020-2022]. Now I see it more likely to be 2035-2040.

          • Lukimator

            Define “adopted by mass audience”

          • Muzufuzo

            I now define it as at least 1 billion active users of VR with full 6DoF and functional transfering of all movements or the will to move into VR. The expierence has to be comfortable to use for hours.
            There are now 7.6 billion people on this planet and I wont’t consider below 1/8 of total population as mass audience.

          • Lukimator

            LMFAO, so now everybody who reads this will understand why you have been making such ridiculous statements all along.

            Most of us don’t need to wait for VR to become the holy grail to be able to enjoy it and the things that will come. PC and consoles aren’t even close to a billion users and that doesn’t mean the gaming industry is dying or a failure, so it basically must suck to be you

          • Muzufuzo

            3 years ago my definition was a 100 million rather than a billion. VR isn’t just gaming, it’s much much more. It is like the Internet so a billion users isn’t that much at all.

            And btw, I am not writing about the Holy Grail because that would be something like in the Matrix trilogy. I am talking only about getting closer to Ready Player One in terms of capabilities. Personally, I am going to use VR but I doubt hundreds of millions will, in the near future. Not counting cardboard crap.

          • Lukimator

            Can you remind me again why does it need to be used by hundreds of millions in the near future when as I’ve already told you, no emergent tech has ever done that?

          • Muzufuzo

            It doesn’t but in my opinion we are soon entering a period of relative silence in VR that will in the mid 30s be disrupted by something akin to the first iPhone. Then in a few years a billion active users will happen quickly. By 2041 VR should be extremely popular.

          • Lukimator

            Yes, in 2165 VR will be popular too. No way to miss if you set dates like that

          • Muzufuzo

            I was writing about maturization. Not enjoyment. I enjoy VR but it is also quite problematic sometimes. For example you can’t really use it when the temperature is too high.

          • Lukimator

            So according to you the market isn’t maturing, because we don’t have VR in sunglasses form factor

            Ok then

          • Muzufuzo

            We are getting closer with each month but my prediction is that it’s going to take 20 years for VR market to become mature.

          • Lukimator

            Is it surprising that a brand new industry takes 10-20 years to mature? That’s not the point of this article though, so I don’t get what are we discussing here

          • Muzufuzo

            Some think that VR is going to be like video games now in 5 years and like smartphones in 10 years. I disagree.

          • Lukimator

            It is perfectly possible that it will be like video games in 6-7 years when gen 3 comes out. It won’t be like smartphones until VR and AR merge in sunglasses form factor, but there is no way to know if that is going to take 10, 15, 20, or 100 years. I don’t know, and you don’t know either

            At least you aren’t one of those saying that VR/AR will never be mainstream, as if “never” wasn’t a reeeeally long time. It also depends on each person’s definition of mainstream. I consider consoles to be mainstream, because even if they don’t have a billion users, surely more than a billion people know what they are, they don’t need to own it. If everything needs to sell over a billion units to be mainstream then there aren’t a lot of tech products that are mainstream then

          • Muzufuzo

            But I don’t consider VR like video games consoles. It’s more like the Internet or TV.

          • Lukimator

            Irrelevant when it comes down to them being mainstream or not

          • Muzufuzo

            Lets hope Turing is really a “breakthrough” and foveated rendering comes very soon.

        • brubble

          Yeah man, what the hell IS the industry doing? When will they fianally decide to stop milking all of us plebs and remove their heads from their collective asses? Its just so damn simple to double, triple, nay, quadruple stats!! and shrink components, boost that flux capacitor etc etc. Just like halving a sandwich, no problem, piece of cake, 2+2=4. Yes sir, by your logic we should be right on track to teleporting ourselves to the surface of Mars and back by 2021. The naivety is staggering.

          • dsadas

            here is the thing. we have 4k phone panels since 2016. Fevoted rendering is possible since many years ago. FOV could easily be increased if they really want it.

          • Muzufuzo

            You misunderstand me. I know it is extremely difficult to significantly improve hardware nowadays. It’s just that without such potential big improvements, VR won’t be mainstream. Enthusiasts don’t understand how common people think and make decisions. They won’t buy stuff that is completely unnecessary and doesn’t really work well.

    • Arv

      Depends on what you mean by mainstream. The hardware you’re talking about is for enthusiasts. You have enthusiasts, such as my good self, that won’t bat an eyelid at forking out 700 notes for a GPU and 800 notes for a headset.

      You then have mainstream gamers. These are the people that buy and play mainstream games such as GTA, Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Far Cry etc. They’re willing to upgrade their PCs or willing to buy a new PC when their current PC can’t run the latest game or can’t run it without a few bells and whistles turned on. I believe there’s a sweet spot for mainstream gamers to be willing to spend on a VR headset at 300 dollars. That’s impulse buy territory for a mainstream gamer.

      But for things to go TRULY mainstream you need to completely take gamers out of the picture and look at the average household having a VR headset in the home. The sweet spot price for this demographic will be around $100.

      It’s not going to take 20 years for that last demographic to adopt VR, we’re probably talking about 5-10 years at the most before almost every home has at least one VR headset.

      • Muzufuzo

        Enthusiasts are adopting VR right now but mainstream gamers won’t for another 10-15 years and mainstream non-gamers for another 15-20 years. Unless there are some totally revolutionary changes coming soon.

        • Arv

          Nonsense. Mainstream gamers will start to adopt VR when both Sony and Microsoft include a VR headset with every console, and we’reonly a few years away from that happening.

          And mainstream non-gamers will start jumping in once the price of headsets comes down and when sports and films are shown in VR, this has already started with this year’s World Cup event. Once you start getting good quality headsets for under a hundred quid we’ll see the true mainstream adoption. 10 years at the most.

          • dsadas

            lol you will never get good quality headset for under 100 and you don’t need to.

          • Muzufuzo

            I believe that the next PS and Xbox won’t feature any VR stuff. Therefore VR is going to keep being a niche for at least another 10 years. Maybe with 10th gen consoles there will be VR available once again).

    • Lucidfeuer

      You may be right, but I don’t think specs or GPU prices are any relevant. VR headset have basic functional and operational shortcomings compared to the device it’s supposed to be at the bare minimum to be of any consideration or relevance to general markets.

      And since all the missing components and tech already exists, that is indeed either unperceptive or lazy/greedy reasons that are hindering VR and making it’s early market phase stagnating.

      Then because no product or market ever had an infinite amount of time to get-out of stagnation, this might mean that this cycle of VR will eventually fail like in the 90s therefor meaning we’ll have to wait another 10-15 years for a first practical commercial product to emerge and the market to grow from there. Or not.

      • dsadas

        lol no … by mid 20’s this will be mainstream no matter what. People only heard of computers in movies in the 90’s, so it’s pretty stupid to compare that generation with this. also the resolution was like 256×256 for christ sake.

        • Muzufuzo

          In the 90s people used 800×600. I remember. There were already many 3D games.

    • brubble

      Hmm yes, you’re a little “touched” in the head.

    • dsadas

      20 years? what are you, stupid? In 20 years we will have contact lenses for AR.

      • Muzufuzo

        I hope so.

    • dsadas

      Also your post shows that you have no idea what foveated rendering is. Well , let me tell you this, foveated rendering will actually make VR gaming cheaper than normal gaming. To give you an example what now will need a gtx 1080 to run, with foveated rendering will only need a gtx 680.

      • Muzufuzo

        I have known about FR for years but I don’t believe it will work well enough in the next 2-3 years when it is the most needed. Also, 2K per eye in 2020 isn’t good at all. Such a small improvement after 4 years?

    • s3xy shr00m

      20 years is a stretch, by then AR will be the rage.

  • Lance

    Why most commentators hold up the Santa Cruz as the next step change in mobile VR is beyond me. We develop for the Focus and it is a great device, HTC deserve some recognition for that. Only downside is the 3 DOF controller.

    • No Spam

      On a quick read, you seem to answer your own question: the general perception is that Santa Cruz’s two 6DOF controllers will be the definition of step change in mobile VR compared to Focus’s 3DOF.

      As a developer though, you must have used both 3DOF and 6DOF controllers, so your confusion confuses me.

      Maybe as a user you feel that a tetherless HMD with 6DOF controllers will not significantly increase immersion over a tetherless 3DOF HMD. However, as a developer don’t you agree that a common input paradigm will allow consistent game designs across PCVR and Mobile VR in ways the Focus can’t?

      Unlocking new game designs and developer ROI sounds like a step change. Why do you feel differently?

      • Lance

        My confusion is, why is the SC being held up as the leading example in mobile VR when it isn’t even ready yet and won’t be for at least 6 months whereas there is already a working viable product in the Focus.

        The controllers aren’t my issue. Vive are bringing out a 6DOF upgrade (from what I understand not true 6DOF) for their controller this month I have read. Future interaction in my view won’t be controller centric but a variety of input methods like voice, hand tracking and gaze.

        Our market is not gaming but enterprise so anything with a toggle stick for interaction is a negative (generally most people can’t use them).

        • s3xy shr00m

          because money. No one wants to buy a new console with minimal features compared to next gen.

          That’s like telling people to buy a PS3 slim, even though PS4 was revealed.

          Hell, Im going to stick with TPCAST before I buy a new headset with only 3dof.

    • benz145

      I think that a system with 6DOF head and 3DOF hands is a weird in between step that’s actually harder to develop and less natural than compared to pure 3DOF or pure 6DOF.

      I elaborate more on this in our Mirage Solo review (https://www.roadtovr.com/lenovo-mirage-solo-review-positional-tracking-comes-to-mobile-vr-sort-of/):

      “But there’s a big catch [to the good positional head tracking], which might not seem so big at first: while the headset is tracked in 6DOF, the controller (which is identical to all previous Daydream controllers) is only capable of 3DOF (rotation only). So while high-end VR headsets let you move through space and reach out to intuitively interact with the virtual world, the Mirage Solo’s controller is effectively stuck on the end of an invisible pole which is attached to your head. While the system does make some guesses about how your hand is moving, and can follow a limited range of movements, you are effectively limited to moving your hand as if your elbow was stuck to your torso.

      That’s not a problem per se, but it limits the design space that developers have to work with to create compelling experiences. It’s not only limiting, but it’s also potentially more complex than developing for a pure 3DOF or pure 6DOF system. And when you consider that the vast majority of mobile VR headsets out there right now are pure 3DOF systems, I have to wonder how many developers will take the time to take advantage of the Mirage Solo’s 6DOF capabilities in a way that goes beyond the added comfort that automatically comes with 6DOF head tracking.”

      • R FC

        I’ve used the Mirage Solo and more recently the Vive Focus, got to try the first one HTC had in the UK, a nice white version.

        I was ready to pull the trigger on a Mirage, its £349 in the UK, and I know Daydream has some decent applications – interested to try out Virtual Virtual Reality, Eclipse:Edge of Light and Bladerunner Revelations using Worldsense to get that 6DOF headset tracking and “feel” more present in those worlds.

        But the 6DOF/3DOF mismash is something that just felt jarring, and in some ways worse than the 3DOF/3DOF experience on Daydream View or Gear VR where the shoulder model works with the fixed viewsphere.

        Same problem with the Focus, and that doesn’t have a good application library of any sort at the moment, and would have been purchased as a development kit.

        These current standalone headsets are interesting from a development point of view, have lots of room for experimentation, but feel temporary before the true 6DOF/6DOF standalone like SC arrive.

        • Jerald Doerr

          Yeah… after having my Vive for 6 months then getting a Gear VR the display was amazing to me but quickly left it all behind because I could see A: Lack of video ram. B: 3dof controller was a compleat turn off and I’ll never ever purchase a VR unit like this.

          My only worry is that type of VR might make new people think all VR is this way a sucks..

          • R FC

            I got a Daydream View and Pixel XL about a year after getting my first Vive. The increase in screen resolution and reduction in screen door effect was immediately noticeable, and made the display on my Vive feel crude in comparison, despite the disparity between mobile SOC and Gaming PC driving the displays of the two respective devices.

            For media consumption, specifically YoutubeVR, the View/XL combo was excellent, in fact a real surprise.

    • HybridEnergy

      I personally don’t think we are ditching the PC master race for a very long time. By the time a stand a lone santa cruz comes out, whatever the plans for internal graphics processing is will already be out-dated.

    • Lucidfeuer

      Focus was released too early with a short-sighted conception, and was suddenly “boosted” and software iterated for in China, in a way that indeed it makes it a relevant contestant to the next gen of wireless/hybrid standalone (if that’s what the Santa Cruz aims to be).

  • Phil Lelyveld

    This is a really good summary update. Next time – or next article – please talk about other, emerging UI techs such as eye tracking, haptic feedback, and voice controls. Also, what about the evolution of UX and UI design toward more intuitive and naturally MR experiences.

  • Great editorial on current situation of virtual reality. I think that we’re still moving too slow and we need something more to make VR really mainstream. Starting from considering it as only a gaming technology, as a lot of people think.

    • Muzufuzo

      the order should be like that:
      1) much better hardware with reasonable prices (300-500$)
      2) killer apps/games
      then people will start buying millions of proper VR sets (meaning like current Vive Pro setup but better, easier to use)

      • dsadas

        as long as they don’t include fevoted rendering VR stands no chance. They should have done this from the very begining. A normal computer will have been able to run them if that was the case.

    • impurekind

      I think it’s all coming along just fine, and I don’t think looking at it as primarily a gaming technology for now is an issue at all. It’s never harmed the likes of Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft selling gaming-centric console boxes.

      I think one of VR’s greatest strengths will always be gaming, just as it is for PCs, smartphones/tables, TVs (as the displays), and has always been for consoles. And, rather than do an “Apple” and think that gaming somehow isn’t worthy of its systems and that it shouldn’t be put right up there at the forefront with every other thing they’re capable of doing, which was a dumb mistake it made for a long, long time, I think the VR should continue to acknowledge that gaming is one of the most important entertainment mediums out there and fully embrace is as a core competence.

      The rest of the stuff will come in time just as it is now with modern consoles.

    • Trenix

      Based on what you want out of VR, of course it’s too slow. Expect a decade or even longer before VR ends up replacing computers and is used for purposes other than gaming. VR is a great experience, but it simply doesn’t replace my computer or TV which can do far more, is more convenient, and has a far better resolution.

      • dsadas

        it doesn’t have a far better resolution.

        • Trenix

          Actually it does, when compared to distance. The closer you get to pixels, the smaller they need to be to make them unnoticeable to the naked eye. Even if VR has 4k resolution, it will still be incomparable to a TV or a computer monitor because of distance. Again, expect a decade or longer before VR replaces anything, besides gaming.

  • OkinKun

    I REALLY hope Oculus announces more details about the Santa Cruz headset soon, like at Oculus Connect!
    It’d be amazing if they released it at the end of the year, or even early spring next year.

    • Vegeta785

      Yeah!

  • impurekind

    All good stuff. :)

  • HybridEnergy

    Maybe I’m old but where we are now compared to where we were in 2016 is insanely further. Maybe I’m just old and saw that it took longer than that to go from nintendo to super nintendo.

  • brubble

    Im excited by all these consistent baby steps. Cant wait for CV2 etc.

  • Jerald Doerr

    Great info! I had no idea all those companies where working together to agree on type of standard… I’m not surprised to see Apple missing from the list.. I’ve looked like 4 times… maybe it’s my A.D.D… ???

  • VR4EVER

    Great article, thank you for putting this together. The knuckles v2 should come with new software and Santa Cruz with ported Rift games – I‘m really looking forward to those exiting times!