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Why Virtual Reality Headsets Failed to Create Craze Among Masses?

There is no doubt that enterprise AR is evolving quickly, especially in the fields of healthcare, education and at firms that aim to enhance customer experiences

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virtual reality headsets
Having been around for nearly five years now, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are yet to find adoption among the masses. Pixabay

Having been around for nearly five years now, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are yet to find adoption among the masses. You only find them tucked away in a corner at the neighbourhood mall where kids wearing head-mounted devices (HMDs) experience virtual games. Even those who bought VR headsets — either as an independent unit or bundled with smartphones — have dumped those at home.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the global Augmented Reality (AR) and VR headset market returned to growth after a full year of decline in the first quarter this year, as global shipments reached 1.3 million — up 27.2 per cent — from the same quarter last year.

VR headsets represented 96.6 per cent of the combined AR/VR market during the quarter with strong volumes from top companies such as Sony, Facebook, HTC, Pico and 3Glasses. There is no doubt that enterprise AR is evolving quickly, especially in the fields of healthcare, education and at firms that aim to enhance customer experiences.

“Many companies are actively looking for hardware solutions they can use to improve existing business processes and drive new ones,” says Tom Mainelli, Group Vice President, Consumer and Devices Research, at IDC. However, VR headsets have failed to strike a chord with the consumers.

virtual reality headsets
VR technology is not able to rule out nausea and other health-related issues while experiencing it. Pixabay

“One of the main reasons why VR is not booming into the consumer segment is because of the uncomfortable, clunky headsets — even early VR adopters have complained of mental fatigue due to prolonged use of VR headsets,” Prabhu Ram, Head – Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS. “Secondly, there is a clear dearth of quality VR content that one could watch,” he added.

Reports suggest that even as a relatively young technology, AR has shown more promise than VR as it involves adding visual elements to the real world — typically via smartphones. Unlike VR, it does not push users into distinct virtual environments.

According to Delhi-based tech entrepreneur Tanuj Malhotra, who is working on his own VR startup called VRover, the technology is not going to come to life anytime soon. “It is impossible for VR to take off and compete with AR unless vendors make some serious changes from the consumers’ perspective,” said Malhotra.

“VR content out there is not readily available to consumers. Also, the VR technology is not able to rule out nausea and other health-related issues while experiencing it,” he added.

virtual reality headsets
VR headsets have failed to strike a chord with the consumers. Pixabay

According to Jack McCauley, one of the co-founders of Oculus, Facebook-acquired VR firm Oculus may not be profitable as the social networking giant is struggling to bring VR to the mainstream consumer market. “There are a lot of fundamental issues that remain unresolved with VR gaming,” McCauley, who stayed through Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of the company in March 2014, told CNBC.

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McCauley mentioned how people still get nauseated when they put on a VR headset and how they still prefer to play video games alongside their friends on a 2D display. “Consumer interest in VR, while still in its infancy, will see a slow and steady traction as specific use-cases, such as gaming, are pushed forth,” noted Ram. IDC expects standalone and tethered headsets to drive the VR market growth.

“Standalone VR headsets will capture 38.2 per cent of the VR market in 2019, up from 26.6 per cent in 2018. Tethered VR headsets will have a share of 46.1 per cent this year, versus 44.1 per cent last year. Finally, screen-less viewers will decline to 15.7 per cent, down from 29.3 per cent last year,” the IDC predicted. (IANS)

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Facebook Develops Augmented Reality Interface Device to Help Users Type with their Mind

The UCSF team has been able to decode a small set of full, spoken words and phrases from brain activity in real time -- a first in the field of BCI research

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Facebook o help patients with neurological damage speak again by detecting intended speech from brain activity in real time. Pixabay

Facebook is developing a brain-computer Augmented Reality (AR) interface device that would help users type with their mind. At its F8 Developers’ Conference in 2017, the company announced its Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) programme — outlining its goal to build a non-invasive, wearable device that lets people type by simply imagining themselves talking.

Facebook is supporting a team of researchers at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) who are working to help patients with neurological damage speak again by detecting intended speech from brain activity in real time.

In a paper appeared in the journal Nature Communications, the UCSF team “has shared how far we have to go to achieve fully non-invasive BCI as a potential input solution for AR glasses”, said Facebook in a blog post on Tuesday.

The UCSF team has been able to decode a small set of full, spoken words and phrases from brain activity in real time — a first in the field of BCI research. The researchers emphasise that their algorithm is so far only capable of recognising a small set of words and phrases, but ongoing work aims to translate much larger vocabularies with dramatically lower error rates.

augmented reality, facebook
Augmented Reality (AR)-powered wearable computers can help those with ASD gain confidence, clarity, understanding, social integration and self-sufficiency. Flickr

“The promise of AR lies in its ability to seamlessly connect people to the world that surrounds them and to each other. Rather than looking down at a phone screen or breaking out a laptop, we can maintain eye contact and retrieve useful information and context without ever missing a beat,” Facebook added.

As Chief Scientist Michael Abrash and the team at Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) see it, “we are standing on the edge of the next great wave in human-oriented computing, one in which the combined technologies of AR and VR converge and revolutionise how we interact with the world around us”.

“It is going to be something completely new, as clean a break from anything that has come before as the mouse/GUI-based interface was from punch cards, printouts, and teletype machines,” said Abrash.

facebook, augmented reality
Facebook first announced in 2017 that its research lab, Building 8, was working on a computer-brain interface. Pixabay

The aim of the BCI research programme at Facebook Reality Labs is to develop a non-invasive, silent speech interface that will let people type just by imagining the words they want to say – a technology that could one day be a powerful input for all-day wearable AR glasses.

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Ultimately, the researchers hope to reach a real-time decoding speed of 100 words per minute with a 1,000-word vocabulary and word error rate of less than 17 per cent. Facebook first announced in 2017 that its research lab, Building 8, was working on a computer-brain interface.

The Facebook programme comes on the heels of Elon Musk-led startup Neuralink’s bold research that has revealed tiny brain “threads” in a chip which is long lasting, usable at home and has the potential to replace cumbersome devices currently used as brain-machine interfaces. (IANS)