Innovation

Forrester identifies top 5 VR and AR vendors, Oculus doesn't make the cut

From startups to established players, these extended reality vendors are worth investigation, according to a new Forrester Research report.

Image: Erin Carson/TechRepublic

A new report from Forrester Research has identified the top five vendors in the augmented and virtual reality space, and Oculus isn't one of them.

The report, titled Breakout Vendors: Virtual And Augmented Reality, analyzed companies in the field ranging from hardware to software platforms based on maturity, offering, scenarios, challenges, and roadmap. Based on that the criteria, the top vendors were:

  • HTC Vive
  • HoloLens
  • Sensic's OSVR
  • APX Labs' Skylight
  • Marxent

Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder, author of the report, said that while Oculus is seen as the presumed leader in virtual reality, the HTC Vive has a feature set "unmatched" by Oculus, which includes hand controllers, a front-facing camera, and base stations that allow for the creation of a full-room experience. And, that camera could signal a future convergence with augmented reality.

"It introduces real-world visualizations and opens up even more room to compete with Microsoft's HoloLens in a mixed-reality or AR scenario," the report said.

That doesn't mean that HTC doesn't have to contend with Oculus' strong partnerships with Facebook and Samsung.

"For example, Facebook just mentioned 1 million monthly users of Samsung Gear VR, which runs on the Oculus platform," Gownder said. "All that content plus other content, apps, and experiences that are Oculus-only will continue to create a benefit for Oculus. However, the barriers aren't as high here as in, say, mobile phones (iOS vs. Android), so porting content and apps from Oculus to HTC Vive is relatively easy, and if HTC and Valve can bring developers onboard, the Vive's spatial experience might win out over Oculus."

Also a well-known player, Microsoft's HoloLens makes the grade for its potential in mixed reality. It's a self-contained, untethered headset, and it's already in use in B2E and B2B2C scenarios, like at NASA. The report sees the backing of Microsoft and Windows 10 as an advantage in terms of device maturity. Though, competition from companies like Magic Leap means that HoloLens isn't assured dominance.

"Microsoft must assemble a rich ecosystem of developers for business-to-employee (B2E), business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C), and, soon enough, business-to-consumer (B2C) applications to cement a lead for HoloLens," the report said.

Speaking of HoloLens and partnerships, Forrester included Marxent Labs, which recently worked with HoloLens and Lowe's Home Improvement to create a mixed reality experience where customers can design and preview a kitchen or bathroom. Marxent makes AR and VR apps for commerce through their VisualCommerce platform.

"Overall, it's a boutique-sized, early-stage company with strong expertise and some early wins," the report said. Still, they'll have to prove the ROI of 3D modeling.

Also included was Sensics' OSVR, which has middleware to bridge hardware platforms and makes customized hardware solutions. Finally, Skylight from APX Labs, which powers enterprise smart glasses in the sense that it "augment[s] the capabilities of workers in field service, complex maintenance tasks, material handling, and similar operational workflows using smart glasses," the report said.

SEE: 4 ways AR and VR will change the future of work

This combination of companies shows the space is evolving and tech decision makers may very well be faced with AR, VR, or mixed reality as it could relate to their business and how those technologies could present "an opportunity to reshape both their digital operations and their interactions with customers."

"Enterprises lack information about the VR/AR space, so they are thirsty for awareness and insight," Gownder told TechRepublic. "Often, the first vendor to get to those buyers plays a big role in educating them."

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About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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