AR/VR: why these technologies were the stars of CES 2023

AR/VR: why these technologies were the stars of CES 2023

HTC made perhaps the biggest announcement in virtual reality and augmented reality at this year’s show. But it was far from the only company to dive into the pool of these technologies. Picture: HTC.

Virtual reality and augmented reality have seemed poised to revolutionize consumer technology for years now. While we can’t yet tell if this year’s CES will be the tipping point that sends these technologies into living rooms, there were tons of announcements that could help make augmented and virtual reality the successor. smartphones.

HTC’s new VIVE XR Elite is an “all-in-one” XR solution

HTC VIVE XR Elite VR Headset

The modular design is just one aspect of the new helmet that sets it apart from current offerings. Picture: HTC.

Nobody will be surprised that HTC is at the top of this article. The VIVE XR Elite is a headset packed with intriguing and never-before-seen features. Whether it’s a modular design that lets you wear it either as glasses or a traditional VR headset, or the use of adjustable lenses that can help glasses wearers see more clearly, the VIVE XR Elite brings several enhancements to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

Jason Hiner trying out HTC Vive XR

ZDNET’s Jason Hiner tries out the HTC Vive XR. Image: June Wan/ZDNet.

The headset’s price of around $1,100 also puts it well below its most obvious competitor, the Meta Quest Pro, aimed at businesses. The price drop comes with the loss of eye and face tracking (which HTC plans to add via an accessory), but it also brings it closer to the price range that customers were already willing to accept for the previous models, including HTC’s original VIVE.

Time will tell if the price and feature set combine to put HTC back at the helm of the consumer VR sector, or if Meta, or even one of the new entrants we’ll discuss below, seize this crown.

TCL: an explosive device

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The company’s NXTWear S glasses can create a virtual 130-inch screen from any video source. Picture: TCL.

While everyone knew HTC was planning a big announcement, TCL surprised many by unveiling a trio of living room devices.

The simplest, and most immediately available, are the NXTWear S goggles seen above. They fill an increasingly popular niche of not-really-AR glasses that provide a lightweight virtual display for your smartphone, tablet, or handheld game console.

TCL's RayNeo X2 head-mounted display glasses

The RayNeo X2 glasses do not yet have an estimated release date. Picture: TCL.

TCL also unveiled a pair of real virtual reality and augmented reality devices. The TCL RayNeo X2 glasses promise a full augmented reality experience in a form factor that might, at first glance, be mistaken for standard specs. The company touted things like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 (Extended Reality 2) core and micro LED-based waveguide optics, while promising to perform practical tasks like translation of texts in a foreign language, literally before the eyes of the spectator, or the aid to navigation in the city.

Learn more about TCL RayNeo X2 glasses

Finally, the NXTWear V headset, a full-scale VR solution, is a showcase of what TCL has in store. Impressive specs, like a weight of 236 grams and a pixel density of 1,512 ppi, could shake up the industry if they manage to move from this concept to an actual offering.

Razer finally offers its accessories for virtual reality

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Razer’s first two VR accessories, a headband and a facial interface, installed on a Meta Quest 2 / Razer.

Despite being one of the biggest gaming peripheral manufacturers on the planet, Razer had next to nothing for this VR and AR sector before this year’s show. That changed when, among its many new products, Razer revealed plans for a pair of Meta Quest 2 accessories.

The two new offerings include a head strap that promises to provide superior comfort and better weight distribution than the default elastic strap, and a new facial interface that’s touted as being gentler on sensitive skin and more effective for block unwanted light.

Razer has yet to release pricing or dates for either offering, but expects to have them ready in the first months of 2023.

Lumus gives a boost to the dream of truly discreet augmented reality glasses

Lumus Z-Lens AR glasses

You would probably have to invade the personal space of the wearer to distinguish them from normal glasses. Image: Lumus.

One of the biggest hurdles augmented reality technology has to overcome in order to become as ubiquitous as existing wearable technologies is its tendency to make the wearer look like a weirdo. At CES 2023, Lumus showed off a new optical engine that shrinks its waveguide technology into a package so small it can be hidden in the top corner of an eyeglass lens.

Lumus Z-Lens

It may soon be possible to wear augmented reality glasses without looking like you’re disguising yourself as a cyborg. Image: Lumus.

The new Z-Lens system offers 2048 x 2048 resolution for full-color AR content, along with a 50° field of view and LED illumination of over 4,000 nits per watt. So anything projected onto your lens should be crisp and clear, even in direct sunlight.

We are still only at the prototype stage, but the technology is functional and ready to be integrated into the offers of the major players who we constantly expect to disrupt the market for augmented reality and virtual reality ( yes, everyone is waiting for what Apple could do).

Other announcements you may have missed

Holoride's Retrofit kit for in-car VR

The Holoride system aims to bring VR gaming to your car, while hoping it doesn’t make you vomit. Image: Holoride.

CES brings so much news and product announcements that it’s easy to miss some things. Often it’s half-heard ads like these that can turn the whole industry upside down in a few years. Let’s take a look at a few of them at this year’s event.

Holoride’s Retrofit Kit Can Bring Virtual Reality Play To Any Car

Holoride's Retrofit

The Holoride Retrofit kit revolves around a main unit that is not much larger than a hockey puck. Image: Holoride.

Holoride creates virtual reality experiences in cars. It might sound like a car-sickness disaster, but the company’s technology allows it to create “elastic content” that matches in-game or app movements to the actual movements of the user’s vehicle. The result is an experience that many testers described as comfortable, and not as nauseating as you might think. At this year’s CES, Holoride debuted its new Retrofit system, which makes it possible to adapt its virtual reality experiences to any vehicle.

The puck-shaped device that powers the entire experiment weighs less than a kilo and is designed to be stuck to the windshield using a suction cup. It then uses Bluetooth technology and a 14-hour rechargeable battery to connect to the user’s virtual reality headset and provide the data needed for Elastic Content’s experiments. The Retrofit is available as part of an $800 kit that includes an HTC VIVE Flow headset, or as a standalone unit for $199.

Augmented reality enters the operating room, thanks to Magic Leap

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Imagine your doctor being able to see real-time health data about you, just by looking at you… Image: Magic Leap.

There is probably no place on earth where a user needs to be more sure of their tools than in an operating room. That’s why it’s so impressive that Magic Leap’s latest augmented reality headset, the Magic Leap 2, has achieved IEC 60601 certification. ‘other clinical settings’.

Magic Leap and its partner SentiAR have already developed a software solution for the device that allows surgeons and clinicians to view live clinical data and images without ever having to take their eyes off the patient. The companies say the solution can even make tricky tasks, like inserting a catheter into a patient’s heart, easier by providing a 3D map of the organ overlaid on top of the doctor’s view.

Somnium Space brings modularity to consumer PCVR

The Somnium Space VR1 headset

The headset is designed to be both open source and easily moddable. Picture: Somnium Space.

Somnium Space is an actor most people have probably never heard of. The company has been preparing a virtual reality headset for some time, but has run into supply chain issues that have caused it to delay developing a fully self-contained unit. Luckily, she was able to push ahead with a PCVR headset for use with a computer at this year’s show.

Able to play wired or wirelessly, the Somnium VR1 has some impressive core specs, like 2880 x 2880 resolution, 120-degree field of view, and eye and hand tracking. However, it is the modularity of the device that sets it apart. Between the trio of 10Gb/s USB-C ports for connecting accessories and the three modular docking points, the device has the potential to be suited for a massive variety of virtual reality and augmented reality scenarios.

The company even supports the ability for users to 3D print accessories for its headset, further expanding its use cases and potential convenience. Somnium Space wasn’t ready to commit to a specific price or release date just yet, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

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AR/VR: why these technologies were the stars of CES 2023

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