In Summary
  • Companies are finding efficiencies and cost savings in using virtual reality gear for tasks such as training workers or designing products.
  • A delivery truck driver crash in virtual reality, for example, is harmless compared to what might happen in the real world.
  • HTC demonstrations included VR software to coach people on public speaking.

Virtual reality showed off its spectacular side at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, whisking people onto hockey arenas, baseball fields and even into the internet with animated film trouble-maker "Wreck-it Ralph."

But even with the impressive visuals, VR appeared to be in the slow lane toward mass adoption, according to analysts and industry attendees at the massive technology trade show.

"VR is not dying or failing; it is continuing to progress well," said Dan O'Brien, Americas region general manager at Taiwan-based HTC, which makes Vive virtual reality gear.

"We see the gap between how people are using VR and how they use their other computing devices, and we are working really hard to solve for those things so we can really bring it to mass market adoption."

HTC packed a casino ballroom with virtual reality experiences, some of which showed off eye-tracking capabilities newly built into Vive.

"Home Run Derby" created by US Major League Baseball let people step up to a virtual home plate and hit balls out of a digital park.

Fidelity Investments let people step into financial portfolios, entering a digital world where share prices were all around.

HTC is working with Firefox browser maker Mozilla and Amazon's cloud services team to enable websites to provide online access using eye-popping virtual reality.

While O'Brien wouldn't specify figures, he said Vive sales were steadily growing, with interest heating up for business or professional use.

"It's not mainstream, and it shouldn't be mainstream this year," O'Brien said.

 

Companies are finding efficiencies and cost savings in using virtual reality gear for tasks such as training workers or designing products.

A delivery truck driver crash in virtual reality, for example, is harmless compared to what might happen in the real world.

HTC demonstrations included VR software to coach people on public speaking.

"There will be a significant number of people who are introduced to VR in either an arcade or an office," O'Brien said.

The Void VR system offers arcade-style experiences in several countries, overlaying virtual worlds on real rooms to let people move about as they might if really in the fantasy.

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