Weekly Poll: Are VR or AR headsets the next big thing in tech?

This week HTC revealed its first new phone in a while, but in a stark reminder that the company has now largely moved on to VR headsets, the Desire 22 Pro was presented as a partner of the HTC Vive Flow. Meanwhile, we keep hearing rumors of Apple’s revolutionary VR headset, Sony trying to keep the PSVR 2 on track, and Mark Zuckerberg showing off prototypes for advanced AR/VR headsets.

What do you think – does VR have a future outside of their current niche? Zuckerberg’s ideas about the Metaverse lead you to believe that virtual reality will soon be a viable way to both work and play. But smartphone makers tried VR for a while and it fell through almost as quickly as 3D. Do you remember Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR? For consumers, VR is mainly a niche gaming for the time being.

It doesn’t help that there are so many types of VR headsets. The early versions of Vive, Oculus and Sony were head-mounted displays (HMD) with head tracking that showed images from a PC or console. These are perfect for AAA gaming and business use. For example, some designers and architects use them to show their work to clients. Sophisticated games and highly detailed models require a lot of processing power and a PC/console can provide that, it’s just not a portable setup.

Weekly Poll: Do VR or AR headsets have the potential to become the next big thing in tech?

The most popular VR headset at the moment is the Oculus Quest, a standalone headset that runs its own software on a built-in chipset. Similar to that is the Cardboard and Gear VR, which used the phone’s processing power and display as key components for the headset. These are very portable and as long as you don’t need industry leading graphics they can be just as capable.

Weekly Poll: Do VR or AR headsets have the potential to become the next big thing in tech?

There are simple head-mounted displays like last year’s TCL Nxtwear G – no head tracking here, just lightweight goggles that create a virtual 140-inch display. Simple as they are, they do a great job of letting you watch a movie on an airplane or get some work done using something like DeX or other desktop modes. In a way, these are like foldable phones, a smart way to have a large yet portable screen.

Weekly Poll: Do VR or AR headsets have the potential to become the next big thing in tech?

Then there are the Augmented Reality or AR glasses. Boeing engineers used Google Glass to build aircraft, superimposing important information about components and showing instructions on how to assemble them. Microsoft’s HoloLens tries to display more advanced graphics, but despite several game demos, it’s also mostly used as a distraction-free way to always have instructions visible on the factory floor.

Which type of head-mounted displays do you think has the best chance of becoming the next best thing? Could one of these one day replace smartphones? Or should they forever remain niche products for gaming and business use?

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