Virtual and Mixed Reality Get Real at COMPUTEX 2016

COMPUTEX, the leading global ICT show with a complete supply chain, featured significant virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality announcements and booth demonstrations from May 31st to June 4th.

Microsoft invited hardware partners to create virtual and mixed reality devices with Windows Holographic, the platform that powers Microsoft HoloLens, the company’s headset that lets users view and interact with 3D images. In mixed reality, also known as augmented reality, devices can offer experiences that extend beyond the virtual world. By wearing a mixed reality device such as Microsoft HoloLens, users can see their physical hands as they manipulate an object, work on the scanned 3D image of a real object or bring a real-life holographic representation of another person into their virtual world so that they can collaborate.

In addition to opening Windows Holographic to its partner ecosystem, Microsoft is working with Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, HTC, Acer, ASUS, Dell, Falcon Northwest, HP, Lenovo, MSI and many others to build a hardware ecosystem that supports great virtual reality experiences on Windows 10.

With Windows 10, we’ve been on an incredible journey with our partners, and today we usher in the next frontier of computing — mixed reality,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices, at a Microsoft Forum at COMPUTEX.

While Microsoft opened its VR platform to third-party hardware developers to add a common platform to the VR mix, AMD addressed a VR cost issue at COMPUTEX with the introduction of the Radeon RX 480, a VR-ready graphics processing unit (GPU) with a starting cost under $200 USD.

“As we look to fully connect and immerse humanity through VR, cost remains the daylight between VR being only for the select few, and universal access for everyone. The Radeon™ RX Series is a disruptive technology that adds rocket fuel to the VR inflection point, turning it into a technology with transformational relevance to consumers,” said Raja Koduri, senior vice president and chief architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD.

Other VR highlights at COMPUTEX included full-body VR simulations of bird flight and parachuting. HTC offered a virtual bird flight over Manhattan on the Birdly full-body simulator and HTC Vive system. Cooler Master offered VR parachuting over a simulated city on the Revresh Para Parachute full-body simulator, a Cooler Master PC, and an Oculus Rift headset.

Two VR backpacks were also on display at COMPUTEX: MSI’s Backpack PC and Zotac’s Portable VR Solution. VR backpacks are self-contained VR systems that expand the range of motion by freeing users from tethering to stationary PCs, and are a new VR product category that came to light at COMPUTEX.

According to market research firm IDC, worldwide shipments of VR hardware will skyrocket in 2016. The broader VR ecosystem will benefit from this rapid growth. The shipments of VR devices worldwide are expected to increase by up to 24 times in 2016, with screenless viewers enjoying the largest market share at 74 percent, IDC said.

As more consumers and industry users adopt VR technologies, there will be ample opportunities for consumer, gaming, entertainment and business applications providers to ride this wave, IDC said.