Augmented reality is a technology that layers virtual enhancements atop the actual environment before you, in order to make experiences more meaningful through interaction. Together, the two create a space called mixed reality and it's likely the future for these already innovative headsets. Below are both emerging VR and AR headsets and how they suit your lifestyle. Here are the details you'll want to know about the top contenders. Which headset is right for you?
The PlayStation's virtual reality headset is making its way into gamers' homes - the last of this year's three big VR hardware releases. Many analysts think Sony's kit will outsell rival headsets from HTC and Facebook's Oculus division because of its lower price and the fact that more than 43 million PS4 consoles have been shipped. Even so, they add, it is likely to remain a niche product for some time to come. Strategy Analytics forecasts that only 3% of Brits will own a VR headset this year and the PlayStation model will account for just 7% of that number. The bulk, it says, will instead own more basic "shells" into which they can slot a smartphone.
Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman demonstrates an HMD Odyssey virtual reality headset during a media conference on Oct. 3, 2017, in San Francisco. Microsoft is touting virtual reality headsets made by other companies in hopes of establishing personal computers running on its Windows 10 operating system as the best way for people to experience artificial worlds. The devices unveiled on Tuesday include a Samsung headset called the HMD Odyssey. The $500 headset requires a connection to a PC running on a Windows 10 update being released Oct. 17.
Ever since PlayStation VR, speculation has been rampant: is console-based virtual reality here to stay, or will it die an early death? Apparently, its near-term future is secure. Sony's Andrew House tells the New York Times that the company had sold 915,000 PSVR headsets as of February 19th, just over four months after its October 13th debut. That doesn't sound like much for a company that has sold tens of millions of PlayStation 4s, but it's well ahead of expectations -- Sony had hoped to reach the 1 million mark by mid-April. Sales might have been better still if the company hadn't been purposefully cautious with production, leading to shortages centered primarily in its home turf of Japan.
Starbreeze may be comparatively new to virtual reality headsets (and hardware in general), but it's getting some big allies in its corner. The Payday 2 game studio has revealed that Acer will help design, make and sell its theme park-oriented StarVR headset as part of a planned joint venture. Yes, the computer industry veteran is doing more than just making VR-ready PCs. While Starbreeze already has some help from outsiders (Toshiba is one of its partners), the alliance should give it a better shot at becoming a significant player in the VR world. And for Acer, this isn't just about entering an undiscovered country -- this and the company's existing mobile efforts are a hedge against a declining PC market.