Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have only just started to impact the gaming market, but if CES is any indication of trends to come, its influence is going to get a lot more significant in the coming year. Gigantic VR and AR displays dominated the gaming section of this convention — practically everyone in the building was either wearing a pair of VR goggles or waiting in line to try some on.
To give you a sense of just how buzzy the topic of virtual reality was on the convention floor, we're showing you the applications of this technology that impressed us most. These immersive experiences were such a hit that we figure it's only a matter of time before they leave the world of tech exhibitions and make their way to homes and arcades near you. Take a minute to vote up the AR/VR experiences you want to try most, and vote down the ones that don't seem worth the hassle.
Ximmerse is a VR company based in Guangzhou, China, but they've recently begun to make inroads into the American market by establishing a new HQ in Los Angeles. On display at CES was Ximmerse's "Holo World," a version of their "Holo Museum" product that is largely geared towards children.
Inside the dimly lit dome pictured here, visitors put on Ximmerse's unique VR helmets and used handheld controllers to interact with undersea life. Though the technology obviously has potential gaming applications, it can also be used to give students and museum-goers an interactive method of learning about ocean life, prehistoric Earth, and much more.
One of the biggest hurdles of VR is all the work that goes into setting it up and connecting it. It's unfortunately never as simple as putting on the helmet and pressing play — or is it?
By rolling the whole system up into a traditional arcade cabinet, Leo eliminates a lot of the hassle surrounding VR while bringing a touch of nostalgia to this very futuristic-seeming gaming technology. And if you're worried about wearing a mask that the sweaty guy ahead of you in line just had over his eyes, don't worry: the goggles come with UV lights that automatically disinfect them after each use.
The games were new, but incredibly simple, and had names that are very typical of an arcade shooter like "Guardian of Crystals" and "Battle Monsters." While plenty of other VR rigs won attention for being flashy and immersive, this one impressed us with its dedication to making VR fun in the same way traditional gaming has always been.
RealMax really brought an innovative twist to the AR experience by capturing a live performance in 3D at the beginning of the convention, then replaying that experience for goggle-wearing attendees throughout the rest of CES. The performer was Lindsey Stirling, aka "Violin Girl," a violin virtuoso who's best known for improvising over electronic tracks at festivals like Bonnaroo and Burning Man.
A DJ on a stage up front helped to guide participants through the system's interactive functionalities, including the ability to draw shapes or write messages that hang in the air for other participants to see and add on to. While most of the other AR and VR platforms being exhibited were used to demonstrate various gaming capabilities, RealMax showed how the technology might be used to create incredibly immersive (and, potentially, pretty trippy) concert experiences.
The innovative speaker company Earthquake Sound made a big splash at CES with a sizable exhibition featuring not one, but two VR-based driving simulators. VR goggles provided the visual experience of a driving video game while a hydraulics-based gaming chair jostled back and forth with the movements of the driver. Of course, surround sound speakers were there to complete the immersive experience and place the driver in an entirely different world.
There were a few different driving simulators on display at CES 2020, but Earthquake Sound's was by far the most impressive looking. It's hard to imagine putting that setup in your home (unless you're a true racing game fanatic), but it could easily become a staple of arcades in the near future.