Still in pre-order is one of the headsets we're looking forward to trying next year. Billed as first standalone VR and AR headset, the specs and reviews for what this can do in real world tests are a game changer. Coupled with an high definition lenses, spatial audio, color accuracy for AR, and hand tracking this could be the headset that brings Mixed Reality more into the forefront in 2021, freeing it from solely relying on mobile phones and devices.
Also in pre-order and exciting for other reasons is the DecaGear 1. This VR headset comes out the box with face tracking, haptics, very high resolution displays (4320 x 2160 pixels), affordable optional wireless play, and body tracking that are normally only sold separately at a premium. Emotions being captured and relayed in experiences like VRChat will make this a favorite pretty quickly.
Wildly successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns were no surprise since audio quality is even more important to an immersive experience than visual fidelity. These headphones that sit away from your head are going to enable teams to build experiences that pulls users even deeper into experiences. Sadly, (due to the pandemic this won't be available until around summer 2021)[https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vrears/vr-ears/posts/3015736], but we're looking forward to getting our pair.
When VR arcades make their inevitable return cabinets like these will be a large part of how we can ensure that germs, viruses, and sweat are cleaned from headsets and controllers after they are used. These UV cabinets also address a concern we all have for the potential damage continued use of cleaning fluids will have on our gear.
Another bit of gear I'm looking forward to see in VR arcades is this full body suit that allows users to fully translate their leg and body movements into VR. This exosuit provides haptics and resistance to the body, which most other gear can't do since they are focused on just isolated body parts instead of the while body. Though still in a prototype stage you can see the potential for what this could be in their YouTube teaser video.
The Plexus VR gloves implement flex sensors attached to your fingers and contain haptic feedback haptic vibration motors. The design is pretty slick and almost looks like a set of gloves, leaving a lot of room for holding controllers or mounting tracking markers. The fact that they do need markers for position tracking makes them somewhat limited for a full body tracking setup but still pretty cool looking.
Manus provides a few products that are already in use within large organizations and for live performances (see their case study for a recent John Legend concert). We like how well they provide a reliable way to add hand tracking and interactions into virtual environments, though the haptic feedback is primarily vibrations.
This peripheral has been teased for a while since it's Kickstarter, and has the sleekest design of the haptic hand trackers I've seen. Their approach of using motors to restrict finger movement is also one that sets it apart from others who only provide vibration to indicate touch.
Unfortunately the company appears to have moved away from the consumer market in favor of enterprise, so ordering the units requires submitting an inquiry before you can get pricing. Virtual Reality Oasis did a good demonstration of the gloves on their channel, and next year I hope to get my hands on a review unit to experience it for myself.
Back in early 2019 the last addition to the Nintendo Labo line was support for virtual reality. Besides making a nifty sleeve for the Nintendo Switch they added support to games that open up new ways to see the familiar worlds from a new perspective. Not every game supports VR, but the entire Labo line allows game developers new interactions for experiences. This is not as immersive as a dedicated head mounted unit (HMU) but it is an interesting step into VR for anyone that owns or is interested in the Switch.