• It’s a Dog’s Life When Dex’s Day Out Slobbers onto Standalone Headsets HTC Vive Focus and Oculus Go are first in line.
  • The Messy Truth VR Experience Secures Social Justice Lumiere Award It stars Winston Duke, who played M’Baku in Black Panther.
  • Newly Revealed Microsoft Patent Points Towards HoloLens 2

    Microsoft is set to announce their HoloLens 2 in February. Do these patents show the future of Microsoft’s AR device? There’s currently a lot of discussion surrounding Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, which is rumored to be making its unveiling at Mobile World Congress in February. We don’t know too many of the details around the device

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  • Onward’s v1.5 Update Adds new Map, Game Mode and More It's free on Steam for the next couple of days.
  • Oculus Go Update Adds Expanded Power Options, Audio In Screen Recordings, More
    Oculus Go Update Adds Expanded Power Options, Audio In Screen Recordings, More

    The latest Oculus Go updates bring a new power section to the settings, audio when recording video, and more.

    The Power settings lets you toggle the Battery Saver mode (added late last year) as well as whether you want the headset to turn on automatically when you put it on. You can also set how long the headset should wait before going to sleep after being taken off.

    Videos recorded in the Oculus Go now contain audio. Previously YouTubers had to use the 3.5mm port on the headset to extract the audio separately and sync it up. This is a very welcome change that should make it much easier to record Go content.

    A surprising update is that an option to Report users in social / multiplayer is now pinned to the main menu. At any time you can simply click the Report button and it’ll list everyone you’ve recently played with and prompt to start recording a video clip.

    Confusingly, Oculus Go updates aren’t sent out instantly. Instead, they’re rolled out in “waves”. Even more confusingly, certain features seem to be activated server-side, so getting an update doesn’t mean you’ll get all its features.

    In the past few months Facebook has also rolled out detailed storage settings. Previously you could only see how much storage was remaining. The new Storage Manager breaks down the storage used by each app, video, and image on the device. Given Go’s relatively anemic storage and lack of SD card slot this comes in handy for deciding what to delete.

    The Oculus UI now feels faster too- especially the web browser. Facebook may be hard at work optimizing the OS in time for Oculus Quest‘s release in Spring. With its higher $399 pricepoint, expectations of system responsiveness will also be higher.

    Tagged with: Oculus Go, oculus mobile, Oculus Quest

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  • PlayStation VR Definitely Won’t be Getting Expert+ for Beat Saber This Week It's most likely going to be next week now.
  • Waveguides vs Laser Displays: What You Need To Know To Understand The Smartglasses Market
    Waveguides vs Laser Displays: What You Need To Know To Understand The Smartglasses Market

    In this article we will make a comparison between waveguides and laser to holographic combiners. In doing so we will also look at North (formerly Thalmic Labs), their business success, and their IP, and place that into the context of the greater smartglasses market, and near-eye optics IP.

    What The Reader Will Gain

    This article is not meant to be a scholarly treatise, but rather an accessible overview, providing the reader with a baseline understanding of the competition between waveguides and laser displays, and how advances in the field of optics are changing the landscape in the consumer smartglasses market.

    Simple Displays

    A “combiner,” as the name implies, combines virtual content with the user’s view of the real world. The simplest combiner is essentially a two-way mirror. It may also be referred to as a “Pepper’s Ghost” display, referencing a Vaudeville era magic trick that employed two-way mirrors. A birdbath display is one that employs a curved combiner, a trick used to expand the display’s field-of-view.

    Simple beam-splitter displays were employed in early ODG glasses, such as the model R-7. A birdbath display was used in the META 2, and a miniature birdbath display was employed by ODG’s model R-9. It is also notable that ODG’s assets were put up for auction in January, and META was recently declared insolvent.

    So Let’s Look Instead At Waveguides

    Waveguides are employed in conjunction with a light-engine (a micro-display that projects into the optics). The light-engine feeds an input grating on one side of the waveguides. The light moves through the lens, and exits the waveguide through an output grating in front of the eye. Depending on whether the waveguide is a surface-relief or holographic waveguide, the optical elements are either engraved into the lens (subtractive), applied onto the lens (additive), or exposed within the lens as holographic mirrors.

    Now Let’s Look At Laser to Holographic Combiners

    Retinal lasers were pioneered in near-eye optic display systems by MicroVision, but their combiner was a more basic beam splitter. A collection of Swiss companies perfected the use of a laser reflected off of a holographic combiner, into the wearer’s eye. A holographic combiner uses a similar technique as a holographic waveguide: a series of micro-mirrors are holographically exposed into a lens, and a laser is directed—typically using a MEM Chip with a nano-scale mirror mounted on a dual-axis gimbal—to reflect the imagery into the eye.

    Where Have Laser to Holographic Combiners Been Deployed?

    Laser displays are “having a moment,” most notably with Focals by North—which employ a laser to holographic combiner display, and have recently launched to much fanfare and success.

    After initial work by MicroVision, laser displays saw more recent advancements coming out of Switzerland. A startup named Lemoptix developed some of the most advanced micro-opto-electromechanical systems (MOEMS)—essentially a laser and nano-mirror projection system—and Composyt Light Labs then employed Lemoptix laser projector into an RGB composited near-eye optics display module. Subsequently Intel acquired the combined companies. Composyt’s early devices stumbled with color compositing, and early last year a monochrome red version based on their technology was briefly deployed

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  • 5 Super Bowl VR Apps To Get You Primed For The Big Game
    5 Super Bowl VR Apps To Get You Primed For The Big Game

    It’s nearly game day! The Super Bowl 2019 is nearly upon us and the hot dogs are cooking. But if you’re hosting a party this year, what better way to get people hyped than with a VR headset? So here are the best Super Bowl VR experiences to get you ready for the big match.

    VR Sports Challenge (Rift)

    Want a slice of the blockbuster football experience? VR Sports Challenge gives you a taste of the all-star life. This snapshot of the big leagues lets you execute major plays, including game-winning throws and catches. Plus there’s a heck of a lot more than just football here; also look out for baseball, basketball and hockey games.

    2MD: VR Football (Rift, Vive, Windows VR, PSVR)

    If you’re looking for something that offers a more robust game then 2MD VR Football is your best bet. This still isn’t an entire football match in VR but it’s got more sport-specific features. You get to simulate the last two minutes of a game, calling the shots. On top of that mode, there’s also minigames to play and trophies to earn.

    ESPN (Go)

    Okay, actually playing football might be a little too exhausting. How about an immersive viewing experience, then? ESPN’s mobile VR app offers live coverage and highlights of a range of games. Take note that we’re not sure if the app will be showing the actual Super Bowl in VR this year, but it’s a good companion for any sports fan all the same.

    Super Bowl Experience (Location-Based)

    If you’re in Atlanta for the big game this year, you can get a taste of the Super Bowl experience. Head on over to the Georgia World Congress Center for a VR app that has you throwing a real ball. The experience seems to use a Rift with a different tracking system attached to it. Sadly there aren’t any real players to tackle you. Maybe that’s a good thing, though.

    Google Earth (Rift, Vive)

    Or, hey, maybe you’re not in town this weekend. But you can get the experience of being there with Google Earth. Take a trip to see the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in all its glory and switch over to Street View for a real life look. Just remember to come back in time for the real game.

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  • Facebook’s Leaders: The People Responsible For VR And AR Strategy
    Facebook’s Leaders: The People Responsible For VR And AR Strategy

    We’ve been following the development of VR headsets at Facebook since its acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014.

    That’s when Facebook, under the direction of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, bought the two-year-old Oculus VR startup. In the process, they hired Oculus employees John Carmack, Nate Mitchell, Michael Antonov, Brendan Iribe, Palmer Luckey, and a long list of engineers and researchers working on the Oculus Rift PC-powered VR headset, as well as the Gear VR phone-powered system. They also made significant new hires like Michael Abrash, formerly of Valve.

    Since then, hundreds upon hundreds of people joined the VR and AR teams at Facebook. Facebook itself ballooned to some 34,000 employees at the end of 2018, up from 23,000 a year earlier. In the build up, though, Oculus founders like Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe left Facebook as a layer of Zuckerberg-approved management was installed to lead the VR/AR efforts.

    Why is Facebook focusing on VR/AR?

    Facebook’s first three consumer products: Oculus Rift, Oculus Go and Portal.

    Here’s Zuckerberg’s explanation:

    We’re investing a lot in this because, frankly, we haven’t to date been a hardware company or an operating system company. We think that we need to build up a lot of different muscles in order to be competitive and be able to succeed in that space and to be able to shape that space.

    One of my great regrets in how we’ve run the company so far is I feel like we didn’t get to shape the way that mobile platforms developed as much as would be good…

    Zuckerberg is looking to secure a direct relationship with consumers. To do this, the AR/VR teams at Facebook are making hardware products. Facebook shipped three consumer products on this path — Oculus Rift, Oculus Go and Portal.

    These products come ahead of more robust efforts planned for 2019 and beyond.

    The Oculus Quest

    Mark Zuckerberg at the OC5 developer’s conference in 2018 unveiling the $400 Oculus Quest.

    In 2019, Facebook is releasing Oculus Quest as a $400 standalone console VR system with Touch controllers. More than 50 titles are already planned for the system. The Oculus Quest could represent Zuckerberg’s best chance yet at establishing that direct relationship with millions of customers. Quest is hardly the end of Facebook’s ambitions. Creative software apps like Medium and Quill flourished into full VR software products at Facebook while the Oculus research division became Facebook Reality Labs, with researchers working longer-term on technologies which could push VR and AR into more compelling products. The Half Dome varifocal prototype, for example, showcases a design that could provide sharper visuals up close and more comfortable long term use overall.

    Who is determining strategy in VR/AR at Facebook?

    Underneath Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer is VP of VR/AR Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, the Facebook executive formerly in charge of ads.

    Bosworth took on the new role in 2017.


    Facebook’s Goal

    Andrew “Boz” Bosworth on stage at Oculus Connect 5 in 2018.

    Before Andrew Bosworth, former Google executive Hugo Barra was put in charge of the VR/AR efforts.

    Now Barra reports to Bosworth as “VP AR/VR Product.”

    We’ve reached

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  • RiftCat’s Latest VRidge Solution Turns Your Smartphone Into a Controller This continues the company's progress towards making VR more affordable.
  • I Played Beat Saber On Oculus Go With Two Controllers Using RiftCat
    I Played Beat Saber On Oculus Go With Two Controllers Using RiftCat

    Want to play Beat Saber on Oculus Go or other low-end VR devices? There’s a way, though we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

    VRidge Controller is the latest release from RiftCat, a company best known for its PC VR streaming app. The $4.99 download turns your Android smartphone into a three degrees of freedom (3DOF) pointer-based controller similar to a Go or Daydream remote. That means you can flick your wrist to slash a sword in Skyrim, for example, but not reach out to thrust it forwards or anything of that sort. Many PC VR games would still be unplayable.

    Beat Saber Oculus Go? It’s Possible… But Not Very Good

    You can connect two phones to the service, though, allowing you to play apps like Beat Saber, or just pair one phone with an existing motion controller. Here’s us playing it with the help of Oculus Go; the controller on the right is the standard Go remote and the one on the left is a first generation Google Pixel. It’s a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster of VR.

    As you can see, once I’d turned off many of the options I was able to have a little fun playing. My phone controller was very jittery (RiftCat says quality varies depending on the phone) and I couldn’t realign them. I had to turn obstacles off because I couldn’t move my head and I had to turn failing off because, well, it was really hard even on Easy difficulty. I can imagine it being slightly better on Vive Focus with 6DOF head tracking, but not dramatically so.

    How It Works

    But here’s the catch; the app only works through streaming with VRidge on another phone or standalone VR headset. You couldn’t use this as a replacement controller for your Rift, for example. So if you have a VR PC but no PC VR or standalone headset, jumping into Beat Saber would require three phones for inferior 3DOF controls. It’s not exactly sounding like a great alternative to buying a headset anymore, is it?

    It does make slightly more sense if you have a standalone device and want to sample what’s available on PC. Still, without 6DOF tracking in either the headset or the controllers, it’s bound to be pretty awkward.

    To get it to work you’ll need to download the standard VRidge software on your platform of choice. Then you have to connect the first device for streaming and then to phone connects to that. Once it’s connected your phone will turn into a surrogate motion controller. The touch screen will include buttons staple VR interactions like gripping objects, pulling triggers and accessing menus.

    RiftCat told me that it is considering making the application separate for use with other headsets in the future. For an app that started life as an easy workaround to buying a PC VR headset, though, this is all starting to get a bit complex. We’ll just keep waiting for that rumored Oculus Quest port, thanks.

    Tagged with: Beat Saber, Oculus Go, RiftCat, VRidge

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  • Ubisoft Announces Space Junkies Arcade, Available in 100+ Locations Worldwide The studio will be running a special Space Junkies Tournament starting this month.
  • Subnautica’s Below Zero Expansion Probably Won’t Ever Have VR Support
    subnautica below zero unknown worlds vr support

    Subnautica's newest Below Zero expansion is apparently really, really good but unfortunately it seems like VR support won't be happening.

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  • Walking the Walk With LBE VR Specialist PlatformaVR VRFocus caught up with PlatformaVR's Ilya Kuzyuk to learn more.
  • The Messy Truth Is A VR Experience About Race Starring Black Panther’s M’Baku
    The Messy Truth Is A VR Experience About Race Starring Black Panther’s M’Baku

    A new VR experience focused on race made waves at this week’s Lumiere Awards.

    The Messy Truth VR Experience, which is the latest addition to TV host Van Jones’ long-running series, took the Social Justice Award at the event on January 30th. The experience stars Winston Duke, best known for playing M’Baku in last year’s Black Panther. In it, viewers step into the shoes of a 12-year old African American boy. Based on a real-life incident, the story follows both him and his father (Duke) when they’re pulled over by the police.

    The piece is directed by Elijah Allan-Blitz and produced with the help of research from Time Magazine. But it’s not just a simple 360 video; the piece used Leap Motion hand-tracking to put you in the body of the character.

    “Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to truly understand what a person of a different race, gender or worldview is going through,” Jones said of the piece. “But a Virtual Reality experience can give life-changing insight. VR has the potential to be the world’s most powerful tool for generating empathy and understanding. It’s time to start using this new technology to bring us together across old divides.”

    For now, The Messy Truth VR Experience is on display at LA’s Technicolor Lab. The production team plans to take it on tour, though, visiting sites like airports across the country. No word on a home release just yet, though. This is the first in a planned series of VR episodes.

    Interested in other VR apps about race? We’d definitely recommend I Am A Man, a powerful retelling of transformative days for America.

    Tagged with: The Messy Truth VR, vr movies, Winston Duke

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