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Virtual Reality expected to gain traction this year

Many vendors have launched headsets for just Dh199

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Visitors experiencing the Virtual Reality gear by Vsun which comes free with its Race and Illusion models at Gitex Shopper Spring 2016 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Gulf News

Dubai: Among the new technologies unveiled at Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show and Barcelona Mobile World Congress recently, Virtual Reality (VR) is going to be the next big thing after the “touch technology” on smartphones and tablets.

It is also evident at this year’s event as many brands have bundled VR headsets with their smartphones.

VR allows users to engage in a 360-degree 3D computer-simulated reality and immerse in places through videos or photos and allow users to interact by elevating live-event experiences such as concerts, indulge in adventure sports without the risks from the comfort of the couches.

Sensors in the headset track the user’s movements and change the user’s view accordingly. A VR version of scuba diving allows users to feel as if real fish are swimming toward you. If users look up, they can see a realistically rendered sky. When you glance down, you are shown the ocean floor.

The soundtrack adjusts accordingly, enhancing the perception of being elsewhere. All other things being equal, the higher the screen resolution, and the faster the screen refresh, the more convincing the simulation.

Vsun, Xtouch and Lenovo have launched VR headsets worth Dh199 while Samsung was the first to launch its Gear VR for Dh399.

Vsun, Xtouch and Lenovo are offering the VR headsets for free with their smartphones.

Haitham Kalakeche, CEO of Vsun, said that VR has been there from 2009 but it was too expensive. Now, every consumer can buy a VR headset and it has become affordable.

“Without content, there is no VR. So, we can expect around 90 per cent of the big players in the content level is developing infrastructure for the content,” he said.

In the next three to four months, he said that all the big players like Google and Facebook are going for VR. Even the shopping experience is going to change once VR enters into that space.

Amazon is investing to create a VR platform for immersive storytelling. Netflix already has its own VR app on Samsung’s Gear VR headset while Hulu is expected to put its own VR app and the content soon.

Facebook has started shipping its Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets and HTC with its Vive.

Sony, which is coming out with its PlayStation VR in October, is planning to sell around 2 million units this year.

“One disadvantage which I see with the VR is that people are going to become couch potatoes. So far, people have become fitness conscious with the wearable devices and VR is going to change that because you don’t need to move, just sit on a couch and put the headset,” he said.

Vsun is going to launch within the next three months an app called “Check Umra” in Saudi Arabia to do Umra through VR.

Umra is the non-mandatory pilgrimage made by Muslims to Makkah.

In future, Ebrahim said that the VR will have motion sensors so that people can swim and do yoga through VR headsets.

Farhad Hussain Khan, vice-president of commercial at Xtouch, said that it is a new technology and all the major brands like Samsung, HTC were promoting the VR at Mobile World Congress.

“We have no content as of now as we are not fully into VR. We are just offering the headset for people to just get a taste of it. The headset does not offer full immersive VR. We will be coming out with a true VR headset in the next couple of months,” he said.

Swithin D’Silva, Vsun’s vice president, said that consumers and people from the industry are crazy about VR.

“We have a Vsun innovation Lab which is developing content in a big way. We will be pushing VR content regularly through our app store on a monthly basis,” he said.

Mahesh Chotrani, assistant vice-president of Jacky’s Electronics, said that VR is the way forward but it is not going to happen overnight. The range and content has to be there and it will take another two to three quarters.

“Gaming will overpower entertainment on VR. If content is available, then gadget sales will happen. Many brands are working on the content. People are going to search for content whether it is on VR or TV,” he said.

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