- Google Uses AR To Replace The Faces On Dollar Bills With Notable Women
News erupted in 2016 when the U.S. Treasury announced it would replace President Andrew Jackson with the image of Harriet Tubman. The choice to replace the past president with an abolitionist like Tubman, was both celebrated and considered controversial by the public due to the weight of the decision. The leaders on our currency are
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- Adverty Announces Release of Advertising Network for Mixed Reality PuzzleAR: World Tour becomes the first HoloLens title to use the Adverty advertising platform.
- Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Escape Room Is Location Based VR At Its Collaborative Best
Ubisoft was right to withhold the Assassin’s Creed branding from its first ever location-based VR escape room, Escape The Lost Pyramid. Though this exists in the popular gaming series’ universe (and loosely ties into the just-released Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey), the closest you’ll get to the hood-wearing, neck-stabbing escapades of the Creed games is clambering up some walls and firing a bow and arrow at some decidedly un-killable mirrors. But that doesn’t mean you should pass up an opportunity to visit this Egyptian tomb, especially if you’ve got three friends with you.
Escape The Lost Pyramid, not to be confused with the Temple of Anubis VR maze we saw at E3, is a smartly-designed escape room that plays to VR’s strengths. It doesn’t have you scratching your head solving riddles or going in circle searching for keys to locked doors but instead focuses on things that are fun to do inside VR, especially with friends. That means plenty of physical activities as well as delivering on the powerful immersion that can come with feeling true presence. Played on either the Rift or Vive, four players team up to navigate the treacherous traps of an enormous pyramid. You’ll have your own tile to walk around on that’s roughly the side of your physical walking space, although you can also teleport with the game’s simple one-button control scheme.
This being an escape room, I’m hesitant to share much info about the game and its solutions, suffice to say that it smartly designs around the potential headaches of VR problem-solving. This is an experience that gives you the opportunity to do things you wouldn’t do in real life; climb over chasms with the abyss lingering below or practice your archery skills in self-declared competitions. A lot of the time the game pairs you off with one other player so as to avoid too much complication and pace the experience so that everyone gets a turn to do something fun.
To seasoned VR players, this is all fairly regular stuff, but the collaborative nature of the game gives it a welcome twist. Communicating with each other as we twisted platforms to open up paths for teammates and worked out puzzles in the rare moments we all stood together almost felt like being on a game show. One especially nice touch is the echo added to voice chat over the microphone, creating the feeling that you’re really calling out to someone from far away. I think I screamed in the ear of another player that was maybe a tenth of the distance I thought they were in VR.
Crucially, for two of the people in my group, it was their first time in VR. We spent about 30 minutes inside the experience (you’re given an hour to complete it, though I’m betting experienced VR players will be at an advantage) and neither of them ever claimed to feel sick. Not only that but our adventure was filled with gasps as we ascended through enormous environments and laughter as we messed around trying on different
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- The Virtual Arena: VR’s Bonanza for Commercial Entertainment (Part 1) Kevin Williams gives his perspective on the recent developments.
- Varjo Raises $31 Million For Industrial VR Headset With Human-eye Resolution
Varjo, a Finnish startup that’s building a high resolution virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (XR) headset that promises clarity comparable to the human eye, has announced it has raised $31 million in a series B round of funding led by Atomico, with participation from Next 47, EQT Ventures, and Lifeline Ventures.
“Traditional” VR headsets are certainly clear enough for many scenarios, such as watching a soccer match or playing some games, but if you ever need to get up close and read a piece of text on a virtual document or identify subtle nuances between shades of color, for example, then something a little more high-res will likely be in order.
Founded out of Helsinki in 2016, Varjo (pronounced “Var-yo”) is targeting myriad industries with a super high-resolution headset and software that promise to help companies carry out tasks that traditionally require a detailed view, but from within a virtual world. The headset can also be integrated with popular 3D engines such as Unity, among other integral industry-specific software.
Varjo shipped its first alpha headsets last November, and has been working with a host of big names from multiple industries including 20th Century Fox, Airbus, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, and Technicolor.
Above: Varjo beta prototype
The current available prototype has an effective resolution of 50 megapixels per eye, which is well over 20 times more than most consumer VR headsets. VentureBeat was given a hands-on demo with a Varjo prototype headset, and we have to say, it was quite impressive.
While the version we used isn’t fully representative of the one that will go to market, the rough shape and size of the unit will be the same, and it will still require a high-performance computer to operate alongside — this isn’t a standalone device, and it isn’t wireless.
Above: VentureBeat trying out a Varjo prototype
We witnessed several demos, including an artist’s studio and a cockpit simulation, and the detail was incredible. In the cockpit, for example, you could crane your head forward and read tiny numbers on the various screens and dials.
It’s difficult to convey this without experiencing a demo yourself, but by way of a crude illustration, these side-by-side comparisons go some way toward highlighting the differences between what Varjo is trying to build and where consumer VR headsets are currently at. Using a Sony DSC-RX 1000M4 camera, Varjo snapped a photo of the on-screen visuals through a Varjo headset (top) and the Oculus CV1 headset (below).
Above: Cockpit comparison: Varjo (top) vs. Oculus CV1
Image Credit: Varjo
In reality, humans only see the most clarity within around a five degree area off their full field-of-view, and Varjo’s so-called “bionic display” tracks your eyes to deliver high-res imagery where the eyes would normally expect to see such clarity in the real world.
“The resolution of VR devices on the market today is a fraction of what the average human eye can see,” noted Atomico founding partner and CEO Niklas Zennström. “Until we met Varjo’s visionary founders and experienced their superior product firsthand, we thought that VR was still at least 10 years
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- What Will It Take For Location-Based VR To Succeed?
With home-based systems getting better and cheaper, can VR arcades and attractions bring in repeat visitors and turn a profit? We talked to some key players about what it takes to be successful in that space.
Many who rushed to jump on the VR bandwagon and invested heavily in opening VR arcades with the debut of consumer headsets in 2016 have since gone out of business. Some industry insiders, however, remain enthusiastic about Location-Based VR Entertainment for VR and see the market as entering a more sustainable phase.
We talked to some of the survivors about how they made it this far and how they are honing in on a profitable model for out-of-home VR entertainment. Here’s an overview of where the market is going.
Lower Per-Minute Pricing
SpringboardVR has VR arcade operators in 36 countries with dozens more joining every month, according to co-founder and CMO Will Stackable. A recent survey conducted by the company across its network of arcades suggested a majority could be profitable, with many operators having opened multiple locations or planning to expand in the coming months.
Part of the problem in the early days, according to Stackable, was that many arcades signed expensive leases at malls and set their prices at up to a dollar per minute. At that rate they couldn’t compete with other out of home entertainment venues and mostly attracted one-time thrill seekers. Now that prices have dropped closer to the .50 per minute, however, customers can afford to come in on a weekly basis and arcades are able to build up repeat business.
SpringboardVR’s survey data shows 95 percent of VR arcade customers have never tried VR before, with the biggest demographic consisting of families with kids.
“We’re seeing arcades with consistently high utilization numbers,” he said, adding that VR arcades are also diversifying their income streams by acting almost like community centers and hosting tournaments, school field trips, STEM classes, and even nursing home visits.
Bring VR To The Customers
“For LBE VR to properly take off, it needs to be experienced, enjoyed and somewhat integrated into the local community,” said Barbara Lippe, Co-Founder and Head of content at HolodeckVR.
HolodeckVR’s strategy is to sell into existing location verticals instead of trying to create new ones, since there are plenty of entertainment venues out there such as cinemas, casinos, shopping malls and even waterparks.
“Most people don’t realize how big in the U.S. trampoline parks, indoor skydiving, family entertainment centers, traditional arcades, bowling alleys, etc. still are,” said Stackable, who believes steady growth in VR arcades will come from consumers that already enjoy, and pay for, location-based social experiences.
Finding How To Scale
Simplifying and optimizing equipment setup so that locations are able to decrease the ratio of staff per user could make the difference between going bust and finding profitability.
“As you might expect, our stages/equipment, location and labor expense are the primary drivers of cost, but while specific economics will vary by location, our locations typically have a positive Net Operating Income from day one,” said Curtis Hickman, Chief Creative Officer and
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- Rovio Entertainment Is Planning A New AR App Called Project Magic Rovio Entertainment is working with AR company Zappar to create a new AR app for branded content.
- 29 Halloween Horrors Come To VRrOOm Via The Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival Hot on the heels of its tie in with the Venice Film Festiva
- Space Bullet Talk Virtual Mecha Mayhem In Vox Machinae Jakub Czeszejko-Sochacki, Co-Founder of the robot battler's developer discusses the title's launch at OC5.
- Make It A (Virtual) Reality: Tom Clancy’s The Division "What will it take to save what remains?"
- Virtuix Looks To ‘Level Up’ Competitive VR Play With Omniverse ESPORTS Cash prizes, global rankings and more as the makers of the Omni unveil their latest project.
- RE’FLEKT Wins 2018 European Product Leadership Award From Frost And Sullivan Augmented reality firm's work praised.
- Life In 360°: An Electric Archive (Part One) Let's look at the entire archive of 360 degree videos from the Formula E Championship, shall we?
- Experience The 1943 Berlin Blitz In VR
BBC’s VR experience takes you back to war-torn Berlin during the height of the WW2 blitz. The BBC’s 1943 Berlin Blitz experience, first previewed for selected audiences at the Venice Film Festival where it was very well received, is now available for the general public to download. “We have been overwhelmed by the response to
- Adult VR World ‘Fantasy’ Announces Partnership With Leading Adult VR Platform Velvet Reality The virtual fantasy world on Mars will soon be open.