HP’S VR STRATEGY PAVES THE WAY FOR COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS FOR VR.
8/1/2017 - LOS ANGELES - “76% of virtual reality applications are geared towards video games” explains Xavier Garcia, VP for HP Z Workstations. And on Monday, HP announced a set of products as part of a broader strategy to diversify the VR landscape with offerings geared towards businesses. The two most noteworthy: A wireless VR workstation - The HP Z VR Backpack, and 13 Immersion centers slated to open globally.
THE BACK PACK - Solving Untethering
The backpack addresses a major hurdle for higher end VR developers - an untethered experience allowing full freedom of movement without sacrificing computing power. Partnering with giants like Intel, NVIDIA and VIVE (the major hardware giants in the space) HP hopes to solve the tethering problem by strapping the user with the workstation. Other solutions which include streaming the signal from the workstation to the headset (TP Cast for example) or offering an all inclusive headset (such as the GEAR VR or HTC Vive’s unreleased 3 DOF heasets)
Speaking with HP reps, it was clear that at the very highest end of the market, the mild inconvenience of carrying the workstation would be the only downside to giving enterprise clients a best in class VR experience. Streaming solutions as of yet, have resolution hiccups and are limited in multi-user experiences. All inclusive headsets such as Samsung Gear VR, are too underpowered when compared to high end workstations.
When demoed - the backpack itself felt super light weight (approximately 10 lbs), pretty quiet and didn’t overheat. I didn’t get a chance to demo it for longer than 15 minutes so the jury’s still out on how it performs over long periods but from what I could see and feel, It was a far superior experience to being tethered to a traditional workstation. It’s also built to be rugged - withstanding the demands of military and law enforcement training requirements. Lastly the pack can be charged with a docking station, and since I didn’t get a chance to test it for long periods of time I’m uncertain of how much power you’ll get with the pack.
The backpack will start at $3299 and will be available in September.
THE IMMERSION CENTERS
The second announcement addresses another hurdle - a crisis of imagination. The immersion centers hope to allow commercial clients to see VR applications applied to their businesses. Whether that be virtual showrooms, design and product prototyping or training applications.
This could go both ways - if the demos and applications are well thought out and targeted, it could help push commercial VR adoption. But, if the demos fall short it may turn off businesses from considering VR technology. I’m optimistic for the former, and applaud HP for making the investment. VR’s commercial adoption hinges on companies and business leaders finding value and use cases in the technology. Showcasing commercial applications, if done right, could help decision makers find these use cases.
While VR hasn’t yet become an integral part of industry or business in the same way the internet, smartphones or PC’s have, the big hardware manufactures think its adoption as another tool is around the corner. Hopefully, with manufacturers shifting their priorities towards businesses, we’ll be moving a little closer to that breakout moment.