It was four years ago, on the monolithic showfloor of the Las Vegas Convention Centre, that one of the progenitors of the VR industry made it's first big virtual reality reveal. Oculus had worked on a developer version of their Rift headset all through 2012, and by 2013 they were ready to reveal it to media and tech professional worldwide. The moment the journalists and attendees at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2013 had their first taste of virtual reality, they knew Oculus was on to something.
By the following year, a myriad of new VR and AR startups had already jumped aboard the VR hype train, and were ready to exhibit new and quirky offerings to the public at CES 2014. Despite the pretenders and the imitators, Oculus still stole the show with its more finely-tuned DK1 Rift units - so much so that not long after Facebook acquired the company for startling $2 billion.
At CES 2015, we saw the rise of mobile VR with the reveal of Samsung's Gear VR headset, the first headset to be powered solely by a wearer's smartphone. The bridge between the current niche-appeal of VR and mainstream adoption seemed clear and a new energy was injected into the industry. Not long after the Gear was released, we saw an immense amount of spin-offs of the budget headset, including Google's $15 'Cardboard' headset, presenting an all-new cost effective way to experience VR. Now anyone with a smart phone could get a sample of what VR technology had to offer.
Despite not appearing at CES 2015, the VR world exploded that March when HTC and Valve revealed their dual-effort masterpiece, the Vive at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. A PC-based open source approach to VR shook the "walled garden" industry to its core, offering a headset unmatched in power, and motion controllers unmatched in precision and immersion.
By CES 2016, VR headsets were consumer-ready and the industry had begun to take off into it's prime. Purchased mainly for gaming usage, the Vive and PS VR headsets took centre stage throughout the year as they garnered a cascade of media attention with high quality releases and promotional exposure via social media influencers on YouTube and Twitch.
It's now 2017, and once again we're gearing up to attend CES to get a glimpse at the next step for the industry. We could be seeing wireless VR tech, a lower-priced v2.0 of the Oculus and Vive, new input controls for VR headsets and more. This is a pinnacle year for VR as "VR-ready" PCs get cheaper and the technology becomes more accessible to consumers. We also expect to see more enterprise usage of VR, whether that's in industrial or education sectors.
We'll be providing updates on social media during the show (which runs from January 5-9), so make sure to follow us on Twitter to see what VR wonders will be in store for this year's show!