CES 2017 Preview and Predictions – What To Expect From VR This Year

by Joe Durbin • January 4th, 2017

CES 2017 is officially “begins” tomorrow but the behemoth conference is already revving up in Las Vegas. The pre-show press conferences have already begun and that means the big virtual reality news is already breaking. But before the real deluge begins, let’s take a moment to dissect the big show and discuss what it may (or may not) mean for VR.

On this week’s episode of our VR news podcast, we discussed CES 2017 at length. Listen or download below to be fully briefed on all of this year’s major expectations/predictions while you drive home from work or enjoy your lunch.

Vive (HTC)

HTC-Vive-Pre-1

What We Know: Today at 1pm HTC will be hosting a press conference to discuss its HTC Vive virtual reality headset. The Vive released earlier this year and HTC has been fiercely committed to the product’s success ever since. CES is not typically a place for major software announcements but we know that there will be space and time for demos following the executive speeches.

What To Expect: HTC has made its tracking system open-sourced for public use. This means that anyone anywhere can start building peripherals and accessories that work with the Vive. We know for a fact that HTC will not be discussing a new version of the Vive itself, but keep an eye out for a collection of new partners that are creating brand new compatible hardware.

Microsoft

microsoft-headsets

What We Know: Microsoft is at the show in a multitude of capacities. As far as VR is concerned however, all eyes are on the new line of VR headsets that the company announced just a few months back from partners including Asus, Dell, Lenovo and others.

What To Expect: The tricky thing about Microsoft’s headset is that they won’t actually let anyone turn them on yet. Perhaps learning from the HoloLens backlash, the company seems to be carefully controlling hands-on impressions for these new headsets. Take any show floor demo you see, therefore, with a healthy grain of salt.

Sony

couch-sony-ps-vr-party-game

What We Know: In our world its easy to forget sometimes that Sony is much more than just a gaming company. The PlayStation is an enormous portion of the Japanese companies overall business, but it is by no means its only iron in the fire.

What To Expect: This year at CES, as with previous years, Sony is expected to focus primarily on its ever-expanding catalog of televisions. The OLED arms race is on, and Sony will likely commit the bulk of its press time to unveiling and discussing a new line of TVs that take advantage of the more powerful design standard.

Sony also barely mentioned PS VR at all during PlayStation Experience, which is a completely gaming focused show. An omission like that on a stage tailor-made for VR news does not bode well for big immersive updates from CES this year. We will be more likely to hear from them at this year’s GDC or E3 conferences instead.

Oculus (Facebook)

oculus_rift_consumer-6

What We Know: This year’s biggest question mark by far is hovering over the Oculus Rift. Like HTC, the Facebook-owned company also launched its high-end VR headset early last year. In December, it followed that up with the release of Oculus Touch — a hand-tracked controller platform that has impressed both fans and critics alike.

What To Expect: The curious thing about Oculus is how quiet they have been concerning this year’s CES. Last year the eyes of the world were upon them hoping for any indication of when the Rift would launch and how much it would cost. That tension was released in March, however, and Oculus seems in no hurry to build it back up again.

The focus for Oculus now seems firmly on content, which historically is not what you announce at CES. Like Sony, it’s more likely we will hear big news from them at this year’s GDC or E3 conferences. We were however able to confirm from one Oculus representative that there will, at least, be Oculus Rift demos on the show floor.

What do you think? How will this year’s CES factor into the incredible VR narrative of 2016? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Doctor Bambi

    I know it’s probably wishful thinking, but I’m hoping we get another glimpse a Oculus’ Santa Cruz headset.

  • Towfiq I.

    No Gear VR News??