Des visiteurs du salon high-tech IFA de Berlin en lunettes virtuelles, le 2 septembre 2016

Virtual reality becomes real at the IFA high-tech trade fair in Berlin

And why not watch a TV show like you’re in the audience ? Or watch your vacation videos as if you were still there ? The fields of the possible of virtual reality take shape at the IFA high tech exhibition in Berlin. Hardly a booth of this huge gathering of consumer electronics open until Wednesday without a massive and opaque helmet to put on his nose. There a gesticulating teenager, visibly chasing bad guys that only he can see, there a person with his nose in the air to look at the sky of a 3D video. The attractions of the roller coaster are what works best to fully live a first virtual reality experience, believes Daniil Shcherbakov, from the Russian manufacturer of helmets and virtual reality applications Fibrum. The impression of falling at full speed without his feet leaving the ground. “It’s a real live experience,” says André Gröger, spokesman for the Fraunhofer Heinrich Herz Institute. The German research institute shows the IFA what a 3D TV experience looks like, allowing you to see what a TV crew is doing while filming a show, for example. “You can also feel the clamour of a stadium during a match,” says Gröger. For Franz Troppenhagen, product manager at German optical specialist Zeiss, 2016 is the year of virtual reality ,” because people are now seeing the benefits there are.” This is demonstrated by the popularization of 360 ° cameras such as the Insta360 of the Chinese Arashi Vision, which allow to shoot all around you and then to watch this video in 3D with the adapted helmet. Perhaps for lack of a sufficient field of applications, the augmented reality market, the cousin of virtual reality, where what we see for real is embellished with virtual elements, does not make as much talk to the IFA, and this despite the worldwide success of the game Pokemon Go.

Two different worlds

“Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two different worlds, they are not in competition. For now, virtual reality is even more for geeks”, while augmented reality can start with a simple application to animate coloring pages for example, believes Mr. Shcherbakov. If the two are “to be clearly distinguished”, a certain convergence is not to be excluded “in the medium term”, with the new augmented reality glasses, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, allowing applications similar to those of virtual reality, notes Klaus Böhm, director at the firm Deloitte. But it is behind a glass that Microsoft is still content to show HoloLens. The sale of Google Glass interactive glasses has been suspended. For now, beyond the different hardware needed for virtual reality or augmented reality, “the applications still stand out clearly”, the former focusing a lot on the world of gaming and entertainment, while the latter already has technical applications in companies, explains Klaus Böhm.”Augmented reality is a market with very high potential but the technology is not there yet and the applications are lacking, but it will come. If you return to the IFA in five years, you will see some very cool AR applications, ” promises Franz Troppenhagen.

Already, on the TCL stand, a man is positioned in the center of a white circle on the ground, facing a huge screen. Here he appears in the real IFA setting, but with bionic arms firing at robots. The Chinese TV manufacturer has chosen an augmented reality game to illustrate the future of ever larger and more accurate screens. “In five to eight years, you will be looking at a screen on your wall and you will not be able to tell if it is reality or a screen,” anticipates Marek Maciejewski, the director of development.

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