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Computing Got Colorful in 2016

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In 2016, computing entered a brisk and colorful autumn.

There’s a chill in the air as Moore’s law grows more complex and expensive and the semiconductor industry matures and consolidates. But it’s also a vibrant season with new kinds of processors for artificial intelligence, new types of memories, a whole new layer of 5G wireless communications in the works, and a small but brilliant new market in virtual reality emerging.

A year ago, analysts were divided over whether virtual reality would gain traction in 2016 or just crash and burn again. Some suggested it might be “a belly flop.”  

Jon Peddie Research started 2016 with a projection that VR headsets would have a brief rise and then fall.

Jon Peddie Research started 2016 with a projection that VR headsets would have a brief rise and then fall.

Before the end of the year, the Khronos group recognized the need for an open applications interface to smooth the growth path for a sector that had already spawned a dozen products. Meanwhile, developers working on real-time remote presence apps for 2017 are suggesting that gaming may not even be the biggest use of VR headsets.

Long term, the road map leads to augmented reality. Along the way, mobile VR is pushing smartphone electronics to the max while Intel and others are crafting a new generation of integrated headsets.

The high prices of the high-end headsets and PCs to drive them are still holding back mainstream buyers (like myself). But enthusiasts (like my colleague, Max Maxfield) are hungry for the latest apps, controllers, and experiences. Skeptics admit that the low-cost mobile VR experience can be exhilarating, though it still has kinks to work out.

Next page: Race to define AI accelerator begins

Low-cost mobile systems such as Google's Daydream VR are expected to be early winners. (Image: Google)

Low-cost mobile systems such as Google's Daydream VR are expected to be early winners. (Image: Google)

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.

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