• How USB-C And VirtualLink Could Play A Part In Facebook’s Next VR Headsets
    How USB-C And VirtualLink Could Play A Part In Facebook’s Next VR Headsets

    We’ve confirmed with multiple sources that a standard reversible USB-C connector is used for charging Santa Cruz — the code name for a higher-end standalone VR headset on the way from Facebook.

    USB-C is also the connector backed by Oculus, Valve, NVIDIA, AMD and Microsoft to transfer data, power and the VR headset’s display information over a single wire. The recently announced alternate mode to USB-C — VirtualLink — will ship on the new NVIDIA graphics cards in September.

    We’d expect Facebook’s forthcoming standalone VR headset to be a hit if it costs less than $600 and works perfectly with ported games like Beat Saber and Superhot. While that is complete speculation on our part, we have heard Facebook is aiming to release the headset early in 2019. We expect official information at Oculus Connect 5 on September 26 and 27.

    In the meantime, I’ve started wondering what headset designers at Facebook’s Oculus could gain or lose by becoming one of the first manufacturers to support VirtualLink in an upcoming VR headset. Here’s an overview of the possibilities.

    One more thing…

    A USB-C connection with VirtualLink, in theory at least, would be capable of marrying a standalone headset with the power of a nearby PC. You could play a pared down “mobile” version of your favorite game with potentially fewer enemies or less detailed environments, or you could plug it in to start charging and use that same wired connection to bring the full fidelity of the PC version of the game to your eyes.

    For this to work, designers would need to find a way to have the headset’s display directly driven in dual modes — one mode for the internal chipset of the standalone and another letting the PC drive the display over a long VirtualLink cable. The headset would pass tracking data down to the PC just like any other wired VR headset.

    Rift Lite or Go Pro?

    No more Oculus Sensors please

    Facebook is focused on creating a great standalone experience with Santa Cruz and that means making sacrifices. If the release date, heat, weight or any other factor of the end user experience would be impeded by the inclusion of VirtualLink, then the optional connection likely wouldn’t make the cut. As we’ve seen with Oculus Go, even battery life is reduced to its absolute minimum to save weight on the headset itself. So for 2019 it seems plausible that Facebook’s leaders would focus exclusively on pushing out the best standalone headset they can build.

    Then again, why wouldn’t a new Rift use VirtualLink for a more streamlined experience? The Rift hardware hasn’t been updated significantly in more than two years and the same core tracking technology that will enable Santa Cruz could also be used on an upgraded Rift to simplify the setup process and potentially even lower the minimum PC requirement. Such an upgraded Rift would need only a VirtualLink connection to a nearby PC. There would be no need for extra USB ports on your PC and annoying wires running around your home

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  • Spatial Eyes Up Game Licenses After Kickstarter Success It still needs to achieve $50,000 for the stretch goal to start.
  • Terminal 3 Finally Showed Me AR Can Be As Powerful A Tool For Change As VR
    Terminal 3 Finally Showed Me AR Can Be As Powerful A Tool For Change As VR

    Inside London’s Barbican Centre sits a pop-up room, white, spotless and sterile with Microsoft’s HoloLens resting on a table. In any other location, you might assume you’d be putting the augmented reality headset on to organize virtual furniture or fix some broken plumbing, but what you get here is unlike anything else you’ve yet seen in HoloLens or Magic Leap.

    Sitting across from you in the real world is a stool, identical to the one you’re placed upon. As you pull the HoloLens over your eyes and tell the device you’re ready to begin, a young girl walks into view and virtually takes her place upon the seat, making direct eye contact with you as she settles in. For a moment, I pause as an awkward silence fills the room and then two questions appear on either side of her. I have to choose which one I want to ask her and then ask it. I’m a border patrol officer in the United States and this woman’s immediate fate is in my hands.

    Directed by Asad Malik, whom we spoke to for Holograms From Syria, Terminal 3 is a curious piece of AR experimentation. I initially came out of the experience wondering if I’d seen it in the wrong headset. Putting you in someone else’s shoes, taking you to someplace else, making you believe you’re talking to another real human; these are all core components of the VR experience, not AR. But there are real-world aspects and implications to this striking piece that, for the first time, showed me AR can be just as valid and compelling a tool to spark emotion as VR can.

    My interrogation of this young woman, for example, immediately feels uncomfortable. For starters, there’s distance between us; I’m almost on completely the other side of the room to her. No doubt the limited field of view in HoloLens had a part to play in that, but the wasted space between us gives our conversation an air of hostility as if to separate me from the simple fact that I’m talking to a human being with rights.

    I’m also not afforded the isolated and judgment-free environment that gives VR a sort of safety net. VR lets us act with a strange sort of separation from our bodies, but there’s no such fooling you in AR; these are explicitly your actions and this person will be faced with the consequences of what you decide. It lends an unexpected weight to the proceedings.

    And so we talk. I choose to gently prod at the reason I suspect we both know we’re in this room for rather than tackling it head-on. It’s partly because I want to treat her with respect and, truthfully, because I’m somewhat ashamed to dive into the more provocative territory that asking about terrorist links would lead to. I ask her where she’s been and what she did, who her family is and her history in the US.

    As she dutifully answers questions I start to see more of a person

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  • Windlands 2 Coming to Oculus Rift Next Week, 2019 for HTC Vive and PlayStation VR Psytec Games goes even bigger and bolder in the sequel.
  • August’s Steam Hardware Survey Shows Continued Improvements for Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality HTC Vive's dominance continues to slide.
  • Windlands 2 Release Date Announced, New Trailer Arrives
    Windlands 2 Release Date Announced, New Trailer Arrives

    The sequel to Psytec Games’ swinging VR launch title, Windlands, is just around the corner.

    Windlands 2 arrives on the Oculus Rift on September 12th for $29.99. You can watch the new trailer below. The game builds upon the original’s high-flying swinging mechanics, which saw players zip between trees and floating islands like Spider-Man using motion controllers.

    The biggest addition to the sequel, which we went hands-on with last year, is four player co-op. Though the entire game can be played in single player, you can also have up to three friends join you as you journey across fantastical environments. They’ll help you take on the game’s new boss battles, too, which you’ll fight off using a new bow and arrow weapon that turns you into a sort of acrobatic Robin Hood.

    We were super impressed with Windlands 2 when we played it last year. Co-op seems to bring a new dimension to the game, turning platforming challenges into casual races and providing players with a fun space to hang out in. Elsewhere, the game includes fully-voiced NPCs, collectibles to hunt and new modes that switch up the gameplay.

    As for other platforms, Psytec says both HTC Vive and PlayStation VR (PSVR) support is on the way, though there’s no official release dates to share today.

    Tagged with: Windlands 2

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  • Zombie Shooter Dead Ground: Arena Leaves Early Access Take the role of a secret agent to destroy zombies in newly released zombie shooter.
  • Hands-On: Stormland Feels Like It Could Be A Truly Special VR Adventure
    Hands-On: Stormland Feels Like It Could Be A Truly Special VR Adventure

    Insomniac spent the first day of PAX West confusing pedestrians. Several blocks away from the Washington State Convention Center, well outside of most of the nerd envelope that surrounded the show, Insomniac had rented a storefront and decorated its front windows with the Stormland logo and a picture of its robotic protagonist, shown above. People kept asking me what it was as I waited outside: was somebody getting ready to sell advanced robots on 3rd Street? Were we finally in the jetpack future we’d all been promised?

    When I did get inside, I was told I was one of the first 20 people or so outside Insomniac Games to play Stormland. I got strapped into an Oculus Rift headset and dropped directly into the game.

    I was surprised by how intuitive it was from the start. A big part of it, in retrospect, is how much it does with your avatar’s body. You can holster weapons on your hip or shoulder, attach grenades to a bandolier across your chest (and prime them to go off by wrenching one end of the grenade with your opposite hand), check your inventory by means of a holographic interface in your left palm, turn on a sensor array that highlights useful items in your vicinity by putting your left hand up to the edge of your visor, and keep track of your objectives with a compass built into your left wrist. I’ve played a few VR games that made a point of highlighting their interaction with your avatar’s body (even if it’s, you know, by chainsawing bits of it off), but I like how Stormland effectively builds its UI out of your character.

    Most of what you’d want to know at a glance is communicated by a gadget or gauge that’s built directly into you, or failing that, your equipment.

    The movement controls are a little harder to deal with, as it’s simple dual-stick navigation: the left one moves, while the right turns. It eventually faded into the background, but it does take a little getting used to in conjunction with the rest of the experience. I kept wanting to take a step forward, despite the fact it wouldn’t actually move me around. This is a remarkably immersive game from the waist up.

    The playable segment of the game at PAX feels like it might be part of the tutorial, or maybe an illustrative vertical slice. The demo began with my robot empty-handed and unarmed. At the request of a friendly radio message, I set out to find the equipment and raw materials I’d need to defend myself, as well as catch up with a missing friend.

    The raw materials in question are simple enough to grab. You can salvage bits of alloys from enemy robots, blast them off of usable rocks with a weak laser built into your character’s right hand, or strip down unnecessary equipment like extra guns by tearing them in half in-game. That alloy lets you make mod chips that you can slot into your

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  • Preview: In&Out – Keeping the Party Going With Some Social VR Oculus Go’s local VR multiplayer expands to a second screen.
  • Synaptics Announce Technology for 2K VR Displays VR displays of 2K per-eye with up to 1,000 PPI may be possible wit new technology from Synaptics Incorporated.
  • Oculus Rift/HTC Vive Gap Widens In August Steam Hardware Survey Results
    Oculus Rift/HTC Vive Gap Widens In August Steam Hardware Survey Results

    August’s Steam hardware survey results are now in, and the Oculus Rift takes its biggest leap over the HTC Vive yet.

    Last month’s survey showed less than a 2% difference in the usage of the two leading PC VR headsets on Valve’s gaming platform, but that gap grew to just under 4% in August. Vive came in with 42.58% of the total share (down from 44.35% last month) and Rift took home 47.11% (slightly up from 46.18%). Valve also deemed Rift the most popular VR headset in use on its platform by 0.35%. Could the launch of Oculus’ Marvel: Powers United VR bundle have given the headset a boost in any way?

    It looks like Microsoft’s Windows VR headsets will have had a part to play in that gap widening, as its share jumped from 6.41% to 7.18% this month too. This category covers a broad range of devices, many of which are regularly put on sale for prices well below the $499 Vive and $399 Rift, which has no doubt been helping them creep up the chart since launch last year.

    The Hardware Survey is an optional survey that collects data about the hardware customers are using. Given that it’s opt-in and requires users to actually use their headsets instead of simply saying they own them, it’s by no means a definitive way of telling which VR headset is in the lead, though it does give you a hint as to some overall trends. Since launching in early 2016 neither Oculus nor HTC has provided official sales data for their respective headsets.

    September brings a handful of big releases like Zone of the Enders 2 to Rift and Vive, though nothing that looks like it could really boost headset sales. All eyes will be on Oculus Connect 5 at the end of the month to see what Facebook’s VR team introduces to the future of VR hardware.

    Tagged with: htc vive, oculus rift

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  • Skyfront VR Developer Talks Maps, Customisation and Leaving Early Access Skyfront VR developers say the title is almost ready for full release, what can players expect from the final version?
  • Sony CEO on VR: ‘You Will See The Change And Improvement’
    Sony CEO on VR: ‘You Will See The Change And Improvement’

    Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida is confident that issues with current VR headsets will be improved upon in the future.

    Speaking to The Independent at the IFA technology conference in Berlin last week, Yoshida outlined many of the common problems with early VR headsets like the company’s own PlayStation VR (PSVR), noting that the tech was “still evolving” at the moment. He noted that the inability to see the world around you when in VR could be “a little bit dangerous” and that motion sickness was still prevalent.

    “So there is a lot of room of room to improve in VR experiences and you will see the change and the improvement,” Yoshida said.

    Yoshida’s comments weren’t specific to PSVR itself, but his words were certainly relevant to the headset, which features a limited 180 degree tracking system for its motion controllers. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the company is planning to improve upon that feature and many, many others in a successor to PSVR, if the company ever decides to make one. The Sony-backed Japan Display Inc already showcased a hugely promising new VR display at the SID Display Week earlier in the year.

    Also during the interview, Yoshida noted that mixed reality technology was “one potential evolution of VR”, likely referring to headsets like Microsoft’s HoloLens and the recently-launched Magic Leap One. That makes us wonder if Sony has any of its own experiments going on in that space right now and if they could at all be linked to the PlayStation brand. As PS4 enters the later stages of its lifecycle and speculation about a possible PS5 begins to ramp up we’ll be very interested to see where the company also takes this tech.

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  • Virgin Atlantic Turn to AR For Training Cabin Crew Cabin crew can familiarise themselves with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner before they ever get on board.
  • Virtual Reality Surgical System Comes to Children’s National Hospital A cutting-edge VR system has been gifted to a children's hospital in Washington D.C.