Next-level VR, and NFTs on your TV will all be part of the future, according to exhibitors at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
The tentpole event, held in Las Vegas, has long been the place where tech companies showcase their latest projects. At this year’s show, which began last week on Thursday and wrapped up on Sunday, Web3 and the metaverse were a big focus.
More firms join the VR-focused metaverse
The debate continues over whether the metaverse should even revolve around virtual reality, or whether the technology is “a distraction”. Either way, major players showed that they are willing to follow Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta down the VR path with a series of new product announcements.
Taiwanese technology company HTC launched its new Vive XR Elite mixed reality headset at the conference, calling it a “gateway” to the metaverse. Specifically to the Viverse, HTC’s own virtual world. Positioned as a rival to Meta’s top-of-the-line Quest Pro headset, the Vive XR Elite can deliver content in both virtual reality and augmented reality.
There was also an opportunity to try out Sony’s next-gen PlayStation VR headset PSVR 2, as well as a demo of Brelyon’s immersive OLED display, which looks kind of like a y2k TV crossed with a giant VR headset.
But CES exhibitors weren’t the only companies declaring their VR-focused intentions. In a perhaps conveniently-timed leak, details of Apple’s mixed reality headset found their way to The Information last week, suggesting that the tech giant is going for a lighter, more maneuverable product than its competitors. And in a pointed jab at Meta, it may even be able to capture leg movements. The product could come as soon as spring this year.
The next VR frontiers
Alongside the product launches from major tech players, CES is renowned for its weird and wacky products. The 2023 edition didn’t disappoint, with OVR Technology managing to capture attendees’ attention with its gambit to bring taste and smell to the metaverse. The idea of adding smells to entertainment experiences goes back to at least 1868, and despite various resurgences has never had long-term success with mass audiences. Could this change as consumers spend more time in virtual worlds?
Another business, Flare, told Fortune it was building an app that will incorporate sensations like touch when the technology is available, as part of its plans for VR dating world, Planet Theta.
And finally, for those who prefer to plunge into the virtual world while resembling one of Doctor Who’s more terrifying monsters, there’s Shiftall’s Mutalk. It’s a device which contains microphones and can be strapped to your mouth, keeping your speaking voice inside, which affords the user more privacy for their virtual conversations. TechRadar says that despite the rather bulky appearance, it works well and solves an issue that not many others have yet thought to tackle.
Let’s get phygital
An intriguing development was BMW’s new i Vision Dee (short for “digital emotional experience”) concept car, which features a color-changing exterior. The car’s exterior is made from an e-ink film that can change between 32 different colors, an update from last year’s iX Flow, which could manage black and white.
The car points to a future in which customizable skins make their way from video games into the real world—which, in turn, suggests a wealth of possibilities for digital artists, who could ultimately sell NFTs for digital skins that are displayed on real-world objects.
NFTs and digital art
South Korea’s LG Electronics continued to blaze a new trail in its quest to integrate Web3 with television. The company announced that LG Smart TVs will now support a service called Blade Wallet, which allows users to buy, sell and trade NFTs.
Owners of this piece of kit will also be able to access the metaverse platform Sansar, a social virtual reality which uses user-generated content (UGC).
Meanwhile, Mastercard announced a new program to train up five emerging artists in Web3 and Blockchain skills. The Web3 Artist Accelerator, for which the payments giant has partnered with Polygon, will also see the release of a new NFT, the Mastercard Music Pass. It will give holders access to educational materials as well as events in both real life and the metaverse.