Oculus Quest and Rift S now shipping

Facebook -owned Oculus is shipping its latest VR headgear from today. Pre-orders for the PC-free Oculus Quest and the higher end Oculus Rift S opened up three weeks ago.

In a launch blog, Oculus touts the new hardware’s “all-in-one, fully immersive 6DOF VR” — writing: “We’re bringing the magic of presence to more people than ever before — and we’re doing it with the freedom of fully untethered movement.”

For a less varnished view on what it’s like to stick a face-computer on your head, you can check out our reviews by clicking on the links below…

Oculus Quest

TC: “The headset may not be the most powerful, but it is doubtlessly the new flagship VR product from Facebook”

Oculus Rift S

TC: “It still doesn’t feel like a proper upgrade to a flagship headset that’s already three years old, but it is a more fine-tuned system that feels more evolved and dependable”

The Oculus blog contains no detail on pre-order sales for the headsets — beyond a few fine-sounding words.

Meanwhile, Facebook has, for months, been running native ads for Oculus via its eponymous and omnipresent social network — although there’s no explicit mention of the Oculus brand unless you click through to “learn more.”

Instead, it’s pushing the generic notion of “all-in-one VR,” shrinking the Oculus brand stamp on the headset to an indecipherable micro-scribble.

Here’s one of Facebook’s ads that targeted me in Europe, back in March, for e.g.:

For those wanting to partake of Facebook-flavored face gaming (and/or immersive movie watching), the Oculus Quest and Rift S are available to buy via oculus.com and retail partners including Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, Walmart and GameStop in the U.S.; Currys PC World, FNAC, MediaMarkt and more in the EU and U.K.; and Amazon in Japan.

Just remember to keep your mouth shut.

IDC: Asia-Pacific spending on AI systems will reach $5.5 billion this year, up 80% from 2018

Spending on artificial intelligence systems in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to reach $5.5 billion this year, an almost 80% increase over 2018, driven by businesses in China and the retail industry, according to IDC. In a new report, the research firm also said it expects AI spending to climb at a compound annual growth rate of 50% from 2018 to 2022, reaching a total of $15.06 billion in 2022.

This means AI spending growth in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to outpace the rest of the world over the next three years. In March, IDC forecast that worldwide spending on AI systems is expected to grow at a CAGR of 38% between 2018 to 2022.

Most of the growth will happen in China, which IDC says will account for nearly two-thirds of AI spending in the region, excluding Japan, in all forecast years. Spending on AI systems will be driven by retail, professional services and government industries.

Retail demand for AI-based tools will also lead growth in the rest of the region, as companies begin to rely on it more for merchandising, product recommendations, automated customer service and supply and logistics. While the banking industry’s AI spending trails behind retail, it will also begin adopting the tech for fraud analysis, program advisors, recommendations and customer service. IDC forecasts that this year, companies will invest almost $700 million in automated service agents. The next largest area for investment is sales process recommendations and automation, with $450 million expected, and intelligent process automation at more than $350 million.

The fastest-growing industries for AI spending are expected to be healthcare (growing at 60.2% CAGR) and process manufacturing (60.1% CAGR). In terms of infrastructure, IDC says spending on hardware, including servers and storage, will reach almost $7 billion in 2019, while spending on software is expected to grow at a five-year CAGR of 80%.