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PAX East 2016 – The Real Future of Virtual Reality Has Arrived, 3D Scanning and I never knew a keyboard could do that

Just as important as the games on display is the technology that helps our favorite titles run. At PAX East 2016, many of the new and trendy technology was on display for us to get our hands on.

If you were a product of the 80s and early 90s you may have remembered Virtual Reality, or at least the huge bulky and expensive machines at arcades (remember those?). Nintendo even attempted to get in on the game with the ill-fated Virtual Boy console.

With the Oculus Rift (who was also at the show) making waves from their Kickstarter, other manufacturers have gotten in on the game such as Sony with the PS4 VR headset and the HTC Vive. Less expensive alternatives exist that make use of the mobile phones you already have, like the Google Cardboard.

I had the opportunity to check out the PS4 VR setup when I demoed Thumper, a title billed as “rhythm violence” built by Drool, a studio started by two Harmonix alumni, Brian Gibson and Marc Flury.

Most of the VR action takes place on the headset while the game is controlled by the controller and streamed from the PS4. You’re a metallic space beetle fighting an evolving entity. As you progress, you navigate an increasingly complex series of patterns. If you fail, the stakes are a bit higher as this will quickly wear down your armor and lead to your demise.

The patterns do resemble their Harmonix roots, so if you’re a fan of Rock Band or other titles in the genre, this will be an easy experience to pick up.

The game has already generated a lot of buzz and was one of several titles that were on display at the show for PS4. The headset itself will be available for the general public in October 2016.

Newegg also offered private demos of the HTC Vive, which is a headset with two Wiimote-like controllers that streams content from a PC. This provided more of the traditional VR experience where you are in a 360 degree environment and you are the controller. The game selected did a very good job of displaying the capabilities of the VR system and gave me a bit of a workout.

If you’re salivating at that prospect, prepare for the dream crushing reality – the HTC Vive currently has a list price of $799.99.

Their main booth on the Expo floor also gave showgoers the chance to play with the latest in PC gaming technology and some other fun peripherals to support their “Game like a Pro” campaign. The goal is to make you think of Newegg when you’re getting ready to build or upgrade your equipment so you don’t experience lag, performance issues or overall frustration with your hardware.

And while we’re on the topic of PC gaming technology, both Intel and Logitech had a presence at the show with some rather interesting tech I’d never seen in the wild before.

Intel offered “digital swag” in the form of doing a 3D scan of your likeness. In a week, I’ll be able to use the file to import my image into Fallout 4, Skyrim, FIFA and potentially other games so that my protagonist can look just like me. Cool huh?

Logitech unveiled a wall of keyboards that were programmed to show a video. Their keyboards had an impressive array of functions, the most compelling of which was the game profiles that can be imported to support your favorite titles.

The intention of this feature is to highlight only the hotkeys and in some games, even blink so you can quickly reload, heal up or perform some other function.

We’ll be looking forward to how the new VR evolves and I’m eager to get my hands on my 3D scan and a new Logitech keyboard.

As cool as the VR is, I’ll also be waiting for that to get a bit cheaper but it won’t stop me from longingly gazing at what can be done on it.

Thank you to Drool, Newegg, Logitech and Intel for sharing these experiences with us.

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