Initiatives from the likes of Facebook and YouTube are giving consumers an easy way to consume 360-degree video with no need for an additional headset.
However, the virtual-reality sector is already percolating with the full range of headsets — from entry-level, practically disposable platforms like Google Cardboard to new high-end platforms such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Here’s a snapshot of some VR headsets and viewers that are the market now, and some additional high-end platforms that will start shipping later this year. EDITOR's NOTE:Download the VR Headsets chart at the end of this article.
While some headsets appear to be going after a certain part of the market, “there’s room for multiple big winners that are that are going after different segments and use cases,” Andrew Trickett, co-founder of Merge Labs, said. “Our target is not so much the hard-core gamer as the … technology enthusiast.”
As for the Merge VR platform, it’s compatible with all of the Cardboard apps, though the company has also released a software |development kit to help partners build in capabilities that take advantage of its other functions, including lens adjustors and integrated buttons.
The company, which began to ship the Merge VR last November via outlets such as Amazon, has also developed Merge Start, a curated “trusted gateway” for VR apps and services. Early on, it features an “app of the day,” but will expand from there, Trickett said.
The VR market is expected to broaden in the year ahead. Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that Google’s developing a successor to Cardboard that will feature a higher-quality headset and be more tightly integrated with the Android software and apps ecosystem.
Google is expected to announce details at its annual I/O developer’s conference in May.