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At CES, everyone wants to be the Oculus killer

What’s a better way to experience CES than strapping on a virtual reality headset and pretending you’re not actually at CES? VR goggles had their first big year at the electronics show, and it’s obvious they will have a strong presence in the years to come.

Here’s a look at the most notable headsets vying to compete with the grandaddy (or teen mom) of them all, Oculus:

The real competition

VR companies have primed us to expect ski goggle-like contraptions that would be awkward to wear anywhere outside our own homes. But Silicon Valley’s Avegant challenged that with its newest Glyph prototype. Glyph can sit on your head and look a lot like a pair of oversized Beats headphones, but then slip down over your eyes to show regular 2D entertainment or an actual virtual reality experience. Its screen doesn’t work like other VR headsets either; it actually doesn’t have a screen at all, instead opting to project images into the wearer’s eyes.

Fove also drew praise for its stylish white headset, but what is especially interesting about the product is its incorporation of eye tracking. Developers are working on eye-tracking additions for Oculus Rift, and the company could still incorporate it into future headsets, but Fove is an early opportunity to experience it. Eye-tracking can improve the feeling of immersion while in virtual reality or even be used to control a cursor or prompt actions in games.

Phone-based VR headsets were also plentiful at CES. There’s Visus, and, of course, the recently-released Samsung Gear VR. Both headsets are cable-free, which means they can be taken anywhere and battery-powered. They’re not as powerful, but their screens still look great.

An attendee tries out a Samsung Electronics Co. Gear VR headset during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 6, 2015.
An attendee tries out a Samsung Electronics Co. Gear VR headset during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 6, 2015.

Oh god why

One company, 3DHead went ahead and wrote “Oculus killer” right there on its booth. A whole slew of journalists demoed it and, well, the company might have spoken too soon.

3DHead is just a 3D tablet stuck inside of an enormous helmet, according to Engadget. Seriously — it’s huge. It looks like a Tron helmet for an apatosaurus. It sounds like the tablet on its own isn’t that bad, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near a VR headset.

Crescent Bay is still the clear winner

Bin Li of China tries out the Oculus VR Crescent Bay Headset prototype at the 2015 International CES on January 8, 2015.
Bin Li of China tries out the Oculus VR Crescent Bay Headset prototype at the 2015 International CES on January 8, 2015.

Hear that? It’s the sound of minds being blown, and Oculus’ latest headset drags it along wherever it goes. Crescent Bay is proof the Facebook-owned company is nearing a consumer headset. The release date is supposedly months away, but Oculus has made it clear it will release it only when it’s ready.

Until then, we have Crescent Bay. It’s not for sale like the developer kits, but the demos make its power clear. It is lighter, sharper and less likely to make people sick. It’s a real winner.

6 Responses to “At CES, everyone wants to be the Oculus killer”

  1. Graham Radetsky

    oculus crescent bay was by far the most immerse experience, but what I found was also impressive was not only the vr glasses, but the augmented reality glasses that was there. Some of them blew google glasses and toshiba new projection glasses away and are generations ahead of these largest companies. They are able to augment real high quality 3d models onto real life objects. A different experience than oculus, but as far ahead oculus is against other VR machines, the biggest problem with oculus VR machines is you now are loosing the ability to know your surroundings. To use oculus crescent bay you must either dedicate a whole room with padding around you so you do not hit the walls or jump out a window unintentionally, or figure out some alternative that allows you to move around in oculus cresent bay without actually moving around the room. These augmented reality glasses have the advantage over oculus that they are getting better much faster than oculus and are able to be used in every day environments without risk. Both need to now have a way to control the environment without using actual controllers, one huge advantage over oculus is augmented reality glasses allow you to see your hands and body as well as others hands and bodies allowing the ability for you to potentially control the glasses and objects on it with your body or see others interact with you with their body/hands. Oculus has much larger obstacles to be able to do the same and is very limited in the environment it can be used it.

  2. The phrasing speaks volumes about how Virtual 3D is seen in the industry – the next big thing, the next revolution in the entertainment, gaming and tech industry. It will be massive.
    You can’t begin attacking the competition soon enough , apparently.

    • Scott Phillips

      They also are going to be basically impossible to “kill”. They’ve already won the game, in a sense. They’ve made their money. Delivering an awesome product is now just icing on a very tasty cake. Palmer and the gang aren’t just going to sit on their hands and wait for some other upstart hackers to overtake them. They’ll push as hard as they can, for as long as they can (and they have youth on their side). Sure eye-tracking could become a thing, as could augmented-style transparency, or whatever. But the best that any of these HMD devs can hope for is to be eaten by Oculus, rather than to kill them. Any talk like that, is simply, as they say in the classics, pissing into the wind.