Virtual reality hardware has been making steady progress for the past decade, going from early Oculus Rift prototypes with low-resolution screens and some severe motion sickness potential, to ultra high definition OLED displays, comfortable headsets, and integrated 3D audio. It’s night and day, but as much as the likes of the Oculus Quest and PSVR have helped popularize the medium, it’s still in its early stages of growth.
Fortunately, 2022 looks set to blow the doors off of the VR industry with a whole range of exciting new hardware which could finally make VR technology truly mainstream.
Here are some of the new VR headsets you might see in 2022.
Oculus Quest Pro/Project Cambria in 2022
Facebook might have renamed itself Meta, but Project Cambria is an Oculus headset through and through. This hinted at upgrade of the existing Quest 2, will reportedly still use internal processing for tether-free VR experiences, and inside out tracking, but will be much more high-end than existing offerings. That means greater battery life, greater GPU power, and a higher price tag.
Still, that higher price should also bring with it greater resolution, improved motion tracking, and likely higher refresh rates too – something that can make a big difference to reducing motion sickness.
No word yet on a potential release date, but there’s a lot of speculation that it will arrive towards the end of 2022 – around two years after the release of the Oculus Quest 2.
PSVR2 in 2022
Sony’s PSVR is still the best, and only real console virtual reality headset and though it holds up reasonably well, it is showing its age. Its resolution is low compared to modern VR headsets, and its limited field of view restricts the types of games you can play on it. A second generation of PlayStation VR headset has long been rumored, and though it hasn’t been officially announced, there are some real hints it could make its debut next year.
Sony has been showing off new 8K prototype headsets it’s working on, and though the PSVR2 is unlikely to offer that kind of resolution, lower resolution versions of the same OLED panels in that prototype could make their way into a next-gen headset.
Rumored specs peg the PSVR2 as having a total resolution of 4000 X 2040, with a 110 degree field of view, and could leverage foveated rendering to improve frame rates. It’s also thought likely to have a new generation of controller, though there’s very little information on that at this time.
Expect more information in the coming year, ahead of a possible holiday 2022 release.
Apple’s AR/VR Goggles
Apple has been teasing a move into virtual and augmented reality for years, and now with its highly performative M1 mobile SoCs, it could do so in dramatic fashion. Several patents have pointed to Apple launching some form of augmented or virtual reality goggles in 2022. Early concept images from fans based on patent data point to a single round-the-back headband, with a lightweight headset on the front, and side buttons providing touch inputs on the headset itself.
The first version released in 2022 could be super expensive, acting as an early adopter product for professionals and super fans, with a follow up, consumer-centric device debuting in 2023.
Decagear to push social VR boundaries
Going in a slightly different direction to other hardware manufacturers, Decagear is building a VR headset focused almost-entirely on enhancing social interaction. Its headset design is slated for a holiday 2022 debut and will include integrated facial tracking cameras, to better represent what you do with your mouth, eyes, and facial muscles in VR. It even has tongue tracking!
It will also have a high resolution and refresh rate, matching most of the high end options out there today.
Its only downside is when it will ship. It was initially supposed to go out to early pre-order buyers in early 2021, but now it won’t even make it to the first buyers until the end of 2022. The price has also gone up from $450, to $700 for the headset alone.
It’s an exciting headset, but one to watch before laying down any money just yet.
Valve Index 2 in 2022
The Valve Index is, for gamers, often considered the gold standard for VR headsets. It has the highest refresh rate of any VR headset available, and with its high resolution and cutting edge motion controllers, it’s the full package. It just can’t do wireless – yet.
A new Valve Index is rumored to be in the works, though, and it’s likely to be wireless, or at least offer a wireless mode. It’ll likely come with higher resolution displays, and may even drop the iconic lighthouse base stations – although they do give the existing Index some of the best VR tracking of any other headset available.
There’s been no official word on a new Valve Index 2 just yet, so don’t expect anything until the latter half of 2022 at the earliest.
As VR expands into new territory, so will VR accessories. USB-C cables are now widely used for VR headsets, with companies like Cable Matters offering cables designed specifically for VR.