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Samsung Gear and HTC Vive Lead VR Survey But Magic Leap?

There are surprises in the CGarchitect VR survey but the bigger surprise perhaps is the brewing emergence of Magic Leap and what it means for computing and where Apple fits in this story.

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A new survey into the use and expected use of VR (virtual reality) gear in the architectural visualization industry by CGarchitect has produced some interesting results.

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According to the survey, which was initiated in July 2016 and took in global participants common to the readership at CGarchitect, the number one VR head-mounted display used in current production is Samsung Gear VR, with 49 percent (half the field) of participants using the device.

Surprising too was the second most common VR head-mounted display—Google Cardboard, with 42 percent usage. HTV Vive had 32 percent while Oculus Rift (DK2) was also at 32 percent. And the end of the spectrum was Microsoft Hololens with just 6 percent. Bear in mind that Architosh gave much credit to, and an award honor at AIA 2016, to SketchUp’s new alpha technology using Microsoft Hololens, which is an AR (augmented reality device) not a VR device.

MORE: AIA 2016: Information Technologies at this Year’s Convention—Part 1

HDM (head-mounted display) usage going forward was a bit more interesting. The survey asked which HDM users were experimenting with or plan to use in 2016 or 2017 (in other words in the future or next). Samsung still held the top spot at 45 percent, while the HTC Vive rose to 43 percent. In third place was Google Cardboard falling to 37 percent.

01 - The new HTC and Valve co-produced VR headset. The new device gives Oculus Rift serious competition.

01 – The new HTC and Valve co-produced VR headset. When we first wrote about this device we said it gave Oculus some stiff competition. It looks like ArchViz pros see Vive as a much more important device than Oculus when it comes to VR for architectural visualizations.

With Oculus devices falling slightly in percentage points, we see Microsoft Hololens rising to 18 percent while Magic Leap garners 6 percent projected usage.

Learning More About Magic Leap

Magic Leap is a company based in Florida that raised a half a billion dollars back in the fall of 2014. It has been called the world’s hottest startup and the world’s most ‘secret’ startup. As the developer of “novel human computing interfaces,” the company is developing a proprietary interface known as Cinematic Reality™, a term unique to the VR-AR world they alone have coined.

02 - Holding a tiny elephant in your hand as it walks around and snorts is just one of the amazing things Magic Leap seems to promise in its future product.

02 – Holding a tiny elephant in your hand as it walks around and snorts is just one of the amazing things Magic Leap seems to promise in its future product. Image: screen capture from Magic Leap website.

The fact that Magic Leap appears on the list above in the survey without anyone really knowing what the device will be like says a lot about the expectations surrounding this company. Back in April of this year, Wired got the best look of Magic Leap. Yet, we still don’t know too much beyond that information—and, an approved patent application drawing.

But one thing is clear. Magic Leap seems to be in possession of mixed reality technology that is clearly ahead of anybody else’s AR or MR technology. And that explains why Google was an early investor, along with legendary Silicon Valley VCs like Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins. So far, investors have poured over $1 billion into Magic Leap. And yet there is not even a beta version. Talk about a leap-in-faith.

All puns aside, Magic Leap’s astounding financial backing doesn’t guarantee it will succeed. Every major heavy-hitter in tech has VR/AR/MR or other-named artificial reality projects in the labs. Consistent with expectations and history, Apple has been tight-lipped but also acknowledged the importance of AR, strongly suggesting recently that the company has tech brewing in this area. And Facebook has over 400 engineers working in VR. So while the world pontificates about whether Apple is in or out of the “autonomous” car market, what folks should really come to realize is that it would be insane for Apple not to be—all in—in AR.