VR Headsets: Fad or Future?

VR Wearables: Fad or Future?

This week we look closer at the world of VR headsets. In the next year many companies will come out with products along this trend. Some will cost $100 and some $1000. But will you be adding it to your mobile collection?

Wearable Today Episode #97 Show Notes

  • Apple has never released any of their sales numbers for the Apple Watch, but that’s not stopping analysts from taking an educated guess. Jason Low at Canalys says that Apple sold over 5 million Apple Watches in the 4th quarter of 2015, bringing total sales over 12 million for the year. This would make Apple the market leader in Smart watches, although not overshadowing the 37 million “band devices” sold in 2015, which Fitbit comfortable leads.
  • Will 5G change wearables? That’s right, the successor to 4G is already in discussion by Verizon and AT&T, and the hope is to have lower latency, faster speeds, and even smaller devices. This could mean a big change for wearables, as storing information on the wearable won’t be as big of a concern, since streaming data could be as fast as local storage. Early AT&T field tests could be happening in Austin, Texas by the end of the year, but of course, these will be internal tests that require new hardware.
  • Many fitness brands have bought up software products to expand their lineup, and increase their marketing reach, and now Runkeeper joins the list. Asics purchased Runkeeper to bring the two fitness brands closer together, and provides Asics the ability to communicate directly with Runkeepers 45 million users. Wired has more thoughts about this might impact the future of both brands, and reminds us that Under Armour owns MyFitnessPal, and Adidas has Runtastic. Thus far, all these brands have been interoperable, but perhaps soon we will start to see more division as brands aim to build an ecosystem around a singular point.
  • Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour met with Fortune Magazine last week to talk about the Super Bowl, their athletes, and wearable technology. In the 23 minute interview, he discusses the incredible growth they’ve seen, how tracking your own biometrics is the wave of the future, and much more. He is very excited about the future of weartech, and the value that Under Armour can provide by aggregating all the data that people are collecting through devices like the HealthBox. Watch the whole interview and hear the passion of the person in charge of the entire company over on fortune.com.
  • Mobile World Congress is next week. TechCrunch looks at some of the weartech that is coming from the conference. Samsung will be debuting the S7, LG will unveil the G5, and lots of VR from HTC and Samsung. Even Blackberry will have some announcements that might just vault them in the Android arena.
  • Ready to upgrade your thermometer? That is what Flo thermometer is trying to do. A simple heat reading device, it can not only tell your temperature via pointing the device at your head, you can also create a series of memories so you can keep track of you or your child’s health. You can also use this device to check the temperature of other items like liquids you are about to consume.
  • Standing while at work is a tough gig. Fatigue continually works against you and postitions such as doctors need to be able to keep sharp. A team of Japanese researchers are working on a wearable chair called “Archelis” – or “Walkable Chair”. The idea is for the doctor to strap into this device and support the muscles.Of course, this has many other applications for jobs which require standing. For a doctor, they can better relax while on a multi-hour surgery.

VR Headsets: Fad or Future?

Jeff’s Take

Google is working on a stand-alone VR headset – a mobile device on its own to keep your unwired and your phone battery full. Best part is we know it can be done with quad-core processors and high-end mobile graphics. The real question is: will people buy into it.
R. Buckminster Fuller said “Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.” After all, we have almost ditched the main reason why we have a cell phone because we can text and Facebook and play Smart Jewels and Zombies… or something like that.
In the meantime, I hear how people want an iPad but can’t justify the $399 price tag. Especially if “Words with Clans” can be run on their phones.
Did Google Glass look into the reality of public VR? Maybe it was the $1,500 price tag that brought the device to its knees. Still, if it was $500, would Glass have been around longer?
People like new and shiny, but might not buy into it. Further, a big bulky system that sits on your head might be as inhibiting as a pair of glasses or large cup headphones. We’ll learn to live with it but we would rather have smaller, un-obtrusive items sitting on our heads.
We can turn a smartphone into a VR unit with a simple piece of cardboard. That makes me wonder if people will shell out another $500 for a stand-alone headset. Would it replace a TV or become a companion. If that is the case, will a family of 4 want to spend $2,000 for stand-alone headsets?

Luke’s Take

Smartphones used to be only for geeks, but now they’re common place. People are willing to adopt new technology, but it has to be worthwhile. Watching TV or a movie in a private theater has it’s benefits, but not enough for everyone to need one.
Video games will be one of the first big successes for VR, as the experience will be a lot more immersive for first-person shooters.
The real nut to crack will be social aspects. Facebook and Twitter are the two big juggernauts, but the advantage of having these in a VR world are not as obvious. Is it a wall of tweets, or a sphere of posts. Do you travel around a virtual world and look at all the posts from that area? I’m sure a lot of these are being experimented with right now, but it will take a little while to perfect.
Content creation is key as well. If I could share a VR experience from my upcoming trip, I’m sure there would be more interest from people that have VR headsets. It’s like cameras on phones. Once everyone was carrying a camera with an internet connection, they could show people exactly what they were doing, not just tell them. Facebook posts used to be mostly text, with a picture every now and then. Now it’s mostly pictures with just a little text. Once people start posting 360 video experiences, people will be very tempted to get that VR headset.

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