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Navigating Virtual Reality in the Mobile Market

January 18, 2016

Navigating Virtual Reality in the Mobile Market

By Joe Elichaa 1/18/16

Navigating the virtual reality waters can be tricky. There is so much information that arrives in my email and social media accounts daily that I have trouble keeping up with all the news and information being shared. I wrote an article recently to help me understand the different market segments of this ever growing and changing technology. I classified the headsets by the technology that is being used to experience virtual reality. Then I decided which segments I want more information about. This helps me sort through the piles of information and know which news articles I want to read and which tweets I can ignore.

This is a short recap of the market segments I identified.

  • Google Cardboard: Low price, short viewing times
  • Mobile: View and interact with VR content on your smartphone, has a head strap for hands-free viewing (Samsung Gear VR, VR KiX, Zeiss VR One)
  • Dedicated Branded Headset: Sony PlayStation VR
  • Tethered HMD: Connected to a computer and have proprietary electronics inside the headset display. (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive)

While Google Cardboard may have the largest quantity of headsets in the hands of users, I see the mobile category of headsets having the largest impact to the VR industry.  These smartphone headsets have a low manufacturing cost which gives consumers a great buying price. Users can upgrade their phone and not have to replace their VR Headset. These mobile versions are easier to share with family and friends because many are designed to accept many sizes of smartphones. These mobile headsets are also the easiest to add modular accessories.

Life is full of modular technologies. Look at the computer on your desk. Did you pick out the monitor and the hard drive? Do you have the printer you wanted to paired with it? What about a speaker or maybe a microphone? Stereo systems are a great example of modular technology. You can create a sound system or television entertainment center with components from multiple sources.

Within the Mobile category of VR headset, you can choose the smartphone, your game controller, any style of headphones, or other wearable accessory. At CES in Las Vegas last week, I saw new VR technology that confirms this belief I have that the Mobile segment will come to dominate the VR industry.

  • X-Hawk: headset attachment to provide positional tracking
  • Indo Tranq: Attaches to headset strap to enable head tracking
  • Vidoo SharpNow: Gesture sensitive controls
  • Rink: Hand motion controller for mobile VR
  • Nod: wireless controller
  • 3D Rudder: platform for your feet, allowing motion in small spaces
  • SteelSeries: game controllers
  • Sony, Bose, JBL, Jaybird: headphones for any preference

As this year moves forward, and the VR industry morphs and changes, more start-ups and existing companies will enter the arena of the Mobile VR Headset segment to enhance, improve and change the way we interface with our smartphones and our virtual reality experiences.

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