Tech Quarterly

Essential VR/AR/XR insights from Q3 20

In this VR/AR/XR Tech Quarterly

Headset and smart glasses companies continue to struggle to woo consumers and become commercially viable. As larger firms pivot to focus on enterprise-first strategies, attempts to crack the consumer space continue to flounder. Meanwhile, acquisitions and rumours point to a concerted effort by the tech giants to close in on the consumer space – although they’re not quite there yet.

5 minute read

Aled Herbert

Aled Herbert

Content Director

August 3, 2020 8:27 pm

1. Proof-of-concept VR headset tears up the rule book

VR headsets and AR smart glasses have tried-and-tested form factors but a new proof-of-concept (PoC) design from Facebook has challenged that. Abandoning the traditionally bulky headset design, the PoC looks more like a pair of large sunglasses. But Facebook claims the device delivers a legitimate VR experience despite its thin, 9mm lenses.

2. Facebook axes ‘budget’ Oculus Go

Facebook is shelving its lower-end Oculus Go headset and focus on its popular Oculus Quest and Rift devices. The $199 Go was launched just two years ago and will continue to get updates until the end of the year.

3. Headset vendors walk the affordability tightrope

The recent decision by Facebook to end production of its Oculus Go highlights the challenges faced by VR headset manufacturers. Firms must find the precarious balance between high-end features and affordability.

4. Apple Glass lenses pass prototyping stage

Apple and its manufacturer Foxconn have reportedly made progress on the long-rumoured Apple Glass project. A report from The Information claims that the semi-transparent lenses slated for use in the AR glasses have passed the prototyping stage and are now in engineering validation testing.

5. Alphabet buys AR start-up North for ‘parts’

Alphabet is buying AR glasses manufacturer North in a deal that could be worth $180m. The Canadian company’s consumer-focused Focals range has struggled to gain market traction and is now reportedly being ‘stripped for parts’ by the Google parent company.

6. Bose abandons AR venture

Consumer electronics giant Bose has drawn a line under its foray into augmented reality. The company entered the consumer AR market with a pair of smart glasses in late 2018. However, that adventure is over. In a statement made to Protocol, a Bose spokesperson said: “We learned a lot – mostly, that our work in AR delivered compelling customer experiences based on specific interests and specific use cases, not for broad, daily use.”

7. US police departments use VR to cut down on excessive violence

Virtual reality is being used to teach police officers how to reduce the use of unnecessary violence in their law enforcement duties. The training tools from Street Smarts VR help police officers experience and react to different stressful scenarios to learn more effective responses. The VR training has already been used by the New York Police Department and the Louisiana State Police with others lined up to trial it.

8. VR home trials used to treat chronic back pain and fibromyalgia

VR has been shown to reduce chronic pain, improve emotional well-being and help sleep quality. A small study of patients with chronic back pain or fibromyalgia measured the effectiveness of VR therapy self-administered at home. The software helps patients learn how to focus less on their pain by using cognitive behavioural therapy to distract them with soothing images and audio.

9. AR used to protect Amazon warehouse employees

Amazon has begun using AR to help its warehouse workers socially distance. The ‘Distance Assistant’ uses a depth sensor and AI to give instant visual feedback on a monitor when employees come within six feet of one another. The company said that hundreds of units will be deployed at its locations over the coming weeks. It is also making the software and AI open source to allow other organisations to benefit from it.

10. Steam add-on improves accessibility standards for VR gaming

A Steam add-on has made VR gaming more accessible to users with limited physical mobility. A Windows app developed by 2MW lets users perform virtual movements (like standing) and allows controllers to compensate for limited motion.

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