In 2023, the world of virtual reality saw plenty of advancements and progress. We are going to look at a couple of the ones we thought were most relevant this year, and also briefly touch on some of our own 2023 milestones.
AI Integration in VR: Exploring New Horizons
The big tech story of the year was of course AI. We are still in the early stages of exploring the synergy between AI and VR, particularly in the realms of generative image AI and large language model applications. While we’re still in the early stages of understanding the full potential of these innovations, it’s clear that they hold the key to enhancing the VR experience in various ways. Some promising avenues include AI-driven character interactions, adaptive environments that respond to user choices, and the potential of generative software in crafting richer, more intricate 3D worlds.
Apple’s Vision Pro: A Glimpse into the Future
Apple made headlines with the announcement of their mixed reality device, the Vision Pro. While it has yet to hit the market, the mere revelation of Apple’s foray into immersive technology garnered significant attention. This move has prompted many other companies to ask themselves how they are going to incorporate immersive tech into their operations, knowing that Apple’s influence can reshape industries.
Meta’s Quest 3: Elevating VR Performance
Meta launched the Quest 3, a VR headset that also features mixed reality passthrough capabilities. This device stands out not only for its immersive capabilities but also for the notable enhancements in processing power and tracking precision. In Mersus we are fans of this headset because it supports hand tracking, dispensing with the need for clunky controllers, does not need to be hooked up to a pc or need external sensors to work. The Quest 3 continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in fully portable VR.
Other New VR Hardware
Playstation VR2 also launched this year, which is regarded as an excellent high-end gaming headset. HP Reverb G2 is probably the headset with the most high-res graphics available at the moment. Valve Index comes with unique controllers that can track each finger of the hand. While all these different headsets might seem confusing to someone considering buying their first, it is actually easy to pick the one that best fits your needs while considering your budget. Some pros and cons of the current VR headsets can be found here.
SteamVR 2.0: Elevating the VR Experience
In a significant development for the world of virtual reality, SteamVR 2.0 has officially launched, bringing a host of exciting enhancements to the VR landscape. This update seamlessly integrates many of the features that have made Steam and the Steam Deck popular among gamers into the VR realm. Users can now enjoy an updated keyboard with support for dual-cursor typing, expanded language support, a range of emojis, and customizable themes, making communication and interaction in virtual reality more versatile and engaging. The integration of Steam Chat and Voice Chat further enhances the social aspect of VR, allowing for seamless communication with friends and fellow enthusiasts. The improved VR Store ensures that the latest and most popular VR releases are prominently featured, simplifying the discovery of exciting new content. With easy access to Steam notifications, users can stay connected and informed while fully immersed in their VR experiences. SteamVR 2.0 promises to elevate the VR experience, making it more accessible, social, and engaging than ever before.
In the span of the year 2023 VR has witnessed an extraordinary expansion in its applications, reaching far beyond its early gaming and entertainment roots. Diverse sectors have now embraced VR, unlocking innovative uses that were once the stuff of science fiction. In education, VR is steadily making its way into the realm of learning, offering immersive experiences that bring complex subjects to life. Healthcare has seen remarkable strides with VR in areas like telemedicine and patient rehabilitation, providing interactive and personalised treatment methods. The corporate world, too, has not been left behind, as businesses have leveraged VR for everything from remote collaboration to advanced employee training programs. This broadening of horizons not only underscores VR’s versatility but also its potential to revolutionise how we interact with technology and each other in our daily lives.
Closer to home, Mersus Technologies and Avatar Academy have enjoyed a year of progress and recognition! We have continued to expand the functionality of our Avatar Academy platform, and worked on projects with a number of high profile clients. Our work was recognised firstly with a win at the Irish Family Business Awards for Tech Family Business of the Year. Following close on the heels of that award was the honour of winning at the European Technology Awards in the Virtual Reality category. We are confident that next year will be another year of continued growth and innovation for us.
A Glimpse into the Future of VR
As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s evident that the realm of virtual reality is on an exciting trajectory. From the convergence of AI with VR to the emergence of innovative hardware and the growth of usage of VR in different sectors, this year has been a testament to the dynamic evolution of immersive technology. With each advancement, VR becomes more accessible, social, and creatively empowering. As we look ahead, the possibilities for virtual reality seem boundless, promising an even more immersive and inclusive future for all.