- Apple’s disruptive $3,500 VR headset with hand tracking challenges industry norms.
- Metaverse giants like Meta, HTC, and Sony react to Apple’s innovation.
- VR companies must adapt to the paradigm shift for survival.
- ByteDance’s Pico navigates challenges posed by the evolving VR landscape.
In the aftermath of Apple Vision Pro’s revelation earlier this year, ByteDance-owned Pico seems to be pivoting its attention from controllers to hand tracking.
Standalone headsets vending without embedded controllers would denote a seismic departure for the virtual reality industry. Apple’s forthcoming $3,500 debut in the early reaches of next year heralds this transformative paradigm shift, breaking ranks with the “awkward” controllers that accompanied all consumer VR headgear during the 2010s. Instead, Apple forges ahead with a novel inception, an interface forged through a pioneering blend of ocular and manual tracking.
For established virtual reality purveyors such as Pico, HTC, Meta, Valve, and Sony, a $3,500 all-inclusive headset might not be an immediate menace to their present standing. Nevertheless, ponder the scenario when Apple’s subsequent, more economical iterations emerge, bearing notably less heft. For rivals, devising an interface that fluidly transitions from item tracking to digit tracking presents an intricate technological challenge that could conceivably hamper apps that remain unadapted to champion the novel system.
“We shall wholeheartedly urge developers to embrace [manual tracking] whenever feasible,” conveyed ByteDance Games Operations Manager Wenyue (Vayne) Lv in correspondence with UploadVR via electronic mail. However, users can access material anchored in ray cast controllers.
In a separate vein, an informed insider corroborated with UploadVR, affirming that ByteDance’s top brass diverts the lion’s share of developmental funding from games that exclusively cater to tracked controller inputs.
Meta has introduced an experimental facet to its upper-tier Quest Pro headset, enabling simultaneous manual tracking and controller deployment. In the current year, Owlchemy Labs, under Google’s aegis, alluded to this as the future trajectory for virtual reality input. HTC also aligns with this dual-mode functionality.
Yet, historically, Meta’s substantial investments in machine learning engineers and computer vision scientists have propelled the calibre of its tracking technology beyond the reach of its diminutive rivals.
Apple’s entry into the arena is poised to bolster the worth of autonomous, dedicated manual tracking enterprises like Ultraleap. However, platforms operating on shoestring budgets, with vested interests in controller-centric games, might grapple with the impending transformation.
For instance, companies such as HTC and Pico bear the onerous responsibility of evolving their platforms to accommodate controllers as an elective input system while securing marketplace clearance from the select pool of developers with the right notions and aptitude to materialise a groundbreaking title. Can these minor participants genuinely aspire to attract sufficient developers to vie against Meta and Apple?
The intricacies of this formidable transition perhaps explain why ByteDance recently extended an invitation to UploadVR for participation in a “symposium” alongside other esteemed “invitees,” all convened for “collective learning.” UploadVR respectfully declined attendance, citing the event’s classification as a “confidential” occasion, with a caveat that ByteDance would not countenance audio transcription for archival purposes. Nonetheless, if an acquaintance attends the conclave, we are eager to learn about Pico’s maritime strategy for the impending, treacherous evolution.
In which locales does Pico stand poised to dispatch its ensuing headset? Shall each region’s offering encompass controllers or abstain from them? And is Pico prepared to allocate the requisite resources to deliver high-calibre games to the platform that seamlessly harmonises with either input paradigm?