Here are 10 companies in the enterprise VR space that everyone should be paying attention to for the rest of this year and on into 2020.
Enterprise virtual reality is having a busy year in 2019. With new companies, new hardware products, and updates from established companies, we’re seeing more and more applications for VR emerge in commercial spaces ranging from product design to healthcare and even skilled labor and trades. More and more companies are aiming to leverage VR to transform the way engineers and designers work forever.
Here are 10 companies in the enterprise VR space that everyone should be paying attention to this year and on into 2020.
A good deal of work is being done in the area of applying VR to medical training. But London-based Fundamental VR is adding a new dimension to VR for medical training by developing systems that also offer haptic feedback to users. Through a partnership with Seattle-based HaptX, a maker of innovative haptic gloves, Fundamental VR is currently deploying systems that allow for realistic touch interactions in virtual training environments in medical institutions all over the world.
(Image source: Fundamental Surgery)
While companies like Oculus (Facebook), HTC, Sony, and Samsung have focused their VR efforts primarily in the consumer market, HP stands out as one of the few big-name tech companies going exclusively after the enterprise VR market. While its flagship VR products – the HP VR Backpack and the recently released HP Reverb headset can be applied to consumer and entertainment applications, the company has made no bones about being primarily concerned with creating products for design and engineering workflows. The HP Reverb (shown above) in particular is a high-resolution headset designed with engineers and designers in mind – making the resolution and comfort needs of its target audience its highest priority.
(Image source: HP)
Long viewed as the main competitor to Oculus in the VR entertainment sphere (particularly in PC gaming), HTC added a new wrinkle to its traditionally consumer VR-focused product portfolio with the release of the HTC Vive Pro. The Vive Pro was HTC’s first VR product targeted at the enterprise market – offering a 78% increase in resolution over the original Vive headset. HTC’s aim with the Vive has been to attract enterprise users interested in users interested in virtual collaboration and product design as well as other application.
In 2019 the company released an upgraded version – the Vive Pro Eye (shown above) – with integrated eye-tracking technology from Swedish company Tobii. Using Tobii’s infrared tracking system, the Vive Pro eye can allow users to move about and control VR environments hands-free using only their eye movements.
(Image source: HTC)
Iowa-based Mechdyne focuses on large-scale VR systems for smart manufacturing and other enterprise applications. The company deals more specifically in cave automatic virtual environments (CAVEs) – systems that create virtual environments via room-scale projections on walls.
One of its products,the Powerwall, is a VR display system that projects 3D visualizations onto an 8 x 14-foot wall and onto the floor in front of it. By wearing shutter glasses users can explore virtual environments such as factories at room-scale with the sensation of standing in the actual space. The system lends itself to interactive training as well as data analysis and visualization.
(Image source: Mechdyne / Thomas Motta)
Boston-based Neurable is taking an innovative approach to control schemes for virtual reality – mind control. The company has developed an EEG headset that can attach to a VR HMD such as the HTC Vive to allow users to control applications using only their thoughts. The hope is to not only create easier and more efficient means of control for VR users but to also allow better access for the disabled, provide user insights, and create whole new applications for VR.
This year the Neurable debuted a new software product, Neurable Analytics, that “provides neural insights for objective feedback in human insights, design, and immersive training applications.” The software uses machine learning to classify EEG signals and can be used in applications including market research, product design, and high consequence training and industrial safety.
(Image source: Neurable)
Facebook-owned Oculus is the company that brought VR back onto the map. In the past, Facebook has offered business packages of the Oculus Rift. But now rumors are circulating that the company may be looking to launch enterprise editions of its VR hardware in the near future.
In 2018 the company released the Oculus Quest (shown above), its first standalone VR headset (requiring no wires or a PC). The headset offers resolution and specs comparable to some of the latest PC-tethered headsets and has become one of the best-reviewed standalone units on the market since its release.
In 2019 the company released the Oculus Rift S to mixed reviews. While the Rift S included next-generation features such as inside-out tracking it was not the giant leap forward in innovation many were hoping. However, that still hasn’t stopped many from eagerly anticipating a true follow up to the original Oculus Rift.
(Image source: Oculus / Facebook)
Based out of Tokyo, SE4 specializes in creating software for robots that operate in high-latency environments, where it may be difficult to operate them remotely. Most recently, the company has developed a robot operating system that combines, VR and machine learning and AI to accelerate remote robotic control in applications such as excavation and construction. Rather than training robots in a 2D environment or via tedious programming, SE4’s solution allows robots to be trained via simulation in a 3D virtual environment. A user performs the task in VR and the AI extrapolates that task into a sort of to-do list that the robot is then able to execute, even remotely.
The company also has larger ambitions and is targeting its software solution at robots deployed in space. If SE4 has its way, we may someday be using VR to help robots build colonies on Mars.
(Image source: SE4)
London-based VR Electronics is the manufacturer of the Teslasuit – a full-body haptic suit that provides wearers with a sensation of touch in VR via electrostimulation. The suit can also capture biometric data, which the company says can be used in personalized experiences as well as training, performance, and healthcare applications by providing feedback on the wearer’s key health indicators, stress levels, and even emotional state.
The Teslasuit also doubles as a motion capture device and can be used in related applications.
(Image source: VR Electronics)
There are many VR headset makers on the market, but very few are creating devices specifically aimed at professionals like engineers and product designers. But Prague-based VRgineers does just that. In the 2018 the company released the VR Hero 5K – a powerful headset with a whopping 5K video resolution (that’s 2.5K per eye). The company soon followed that up with the XTAL (shown above), another 5K headset that added a slew of additional features including eye tracking and an integrated Leap Motion sensor for tracking hand movement without the need of any external controllers or sensors. The company’s headsets are spec’d and priced at a level targeted at large organizations, where VRgineers is aiming to become a go-to supplier for VR headsets for training, product development, and other engineering applications.
(Image source: VRgineers)
VRSim creates interactive tools aimed at training workers in skilled trades and professions. The latest version of the company’s SimSpray software is an HTC Vive-compatible VR painting tool targeted at the coating and paint industry. SimSpray creates VR simulations applicable to a variety of sectors, including automotive and aerospace, and gives users a realistic experience and feedback, complete with paint finishes and even defects.
(Image source: VRSim)
Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at Design News covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics.