• HTC On Why It Sold Vive Pro To Gamers, Why Pro Eye Won’t Replace It
    HTC On Why It Sold Vive Pro To Gamers, Why Pro Eye Won’t Replace It

    HTC has a lot of new VR headsets. There’s much to learn about the Vive Cosmos, but there’s two new additions coming to the enterprise side too. The upcoming Vive Pro Eye improves on the first Pro with integrated eye-tracking, for example. Meanwhile, the newly-announced Vive Focus Plus succeeds a three-month-old headset with new six degrees of freedom (6DOF) controllers.

    Despite surpassing their predecessors, though, neither of these headsets will be fully replacing them. Why is that?

    I put that question to Vive General Manager Daniel O’Brien at MWC this week. He told me that it was down to the difference between consumer and enterprise markets. “It’s really about — when you’re talking about enterprise — it’s a very long lead sales times,” O’Brien said. “And you’re also talking about time that you need to service and you need to keep supporting those customers. They’ve built business cases around them, they’re going to deploy them, they’ll ramp in that new hardware when they’re ready to ramp it in.”

    Having previously worked in HTC’s phone division, O’Brien said he understands how that may look to a consumer market. “You’ve got to give your customer enough time,” he added. “And sometimes that cycle can be 12 – 18 months. You’ve got to be very respectful of your customers and how they purchase products and not cause friction to their planning process or else you’re out of business.”

    Speaking of the Pro, I also spoke to O’Brien about the decision to sell the kit to consumers too. When HTC introduced the Pro at CES 2018 it seemed marketed toward both consumers and businesses. When the hefty $799 price tag was later revealed (for just the headset), it became clear it was focused on the latter audience. The company caught a lot of flak for the price online. So why sell it to consumers at all?

    “We just knew on the consumer side if we blocked them out of a higher resolution display and more comfortable headset, we were going to upset them,” O’Brien explained. “And we didn’t want to upset those customers.”

    He told me that the company was selling “a lot” of Pros on the enterprise side. “I know it seemed confusing in the messaging, but we were just trying not to upset anyone,” he said.

    Vive Pro Eye will be much the same case. Prosumers will be able to buy the headset when it launches in Q2, but it’s more built for business use than gaming. Instead, it’s Cosmos that will be HTC’s next consumer-focused VR headset. The device is due to launch this year. HTC remained tight-lipped about it at MWC, however.

    Tagged with: b2b, Dan O'Brien, enterprise, htc, htc vive

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  • Magic Leap Accepts 31 Companies into its Independent Creator Program They include some well-known VR developers.
  • Ambitious VR Project Restores 1964 Tokyo With Real Images
    Ambitious VR Project Restores 1964 Tokyo With Real Images

    The absence of Terminators in 2019 means VR is probably the closest we’re going to get to time travel. But how do we ensure trips to our past are as accurate as possible? NHK Enterprises (NEP) and Rhizomatiks have one idea.

    The pair this week announced a new project set to showcase at SXSW next month. Simply named The Time Machine, it will allow audiences to travel back to 1964 Tokyo. Crucially, the Japanese capital has been recreated not through interpretation but by using actual pictures of the city taken from that year. The aim is to provide photo-accurate 3D renditions of sites around Tokyo. Check out the trailer below.

    We’ve seen this process, named photogrammetry, used in VR before. It’s being utilized to preserve historic artifacts, for example. But this is the first time we’ll have seen images from the past used to allow people to step back in time. That means that the world you see will be in black and white.

    Using an HTC Vive, viewers will find themselves standing at the iconic Shibuya Scramble Intersection in the present day. They’ll then travel back to 1964, visiting sites like Hachiko statue at Shibuya’s JR Train Station, the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Tokyo Cultural Center) and Miyamasu-zaka Hill.

    Produced by Toshio Tsuchiya, the piece is a part of celebrations leading up to Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics. The games were last held in Tokyo in, you guessed it, 1964.

    The Time Machine will be up and running from March 10th – 13th at the Austin Convention Center.

    Tagged with: SXSW, The Time Machine, tokyo

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  • Angry Birds VR Dev Resolution Games Confirms Work on Several Oculus Quest Titles More will be revealed during GDC 2019.
  • Oculus Quest’s Content Quality Will be set High for Developers Which makes for good news for consumers.
  • Beat Saber’s First Music Pack Will be Released in March It looks to be a multiplatform launch.
  • Oculus Quest To Have Strict Game Console-Like Store Curation
    oculus quest standalone vr headset

    A new blog post authored by Facebook’s Chris Pruett announces a stricter process for software approval on the upcoming Oculus Quest Store.

    Facebook’s standalone VR system should ship in the coming months starting at only $400. Quest is a hybrid of the company’s previous efforts with Oculus Go, Gear VR and Oculus Rift. Like Go, Quest is a fully self-contained VR system. Like Rift, Quest ships with Touch controllers and 6DoF tracking perfect for engaging games like Superhot and Face Your Fears.

    Quest Competes With Nintendo Switch

    Oculus Quest is also a departure from earlier VR efforts at Facebook.

    Efforts like Oculus Share, Concepts, Gallery and the Mobile Game Jam encouraged widely sharing unfinished work. There’s also an Early Access section available on Rift for projects that are in active development. With Quest, though, Facebook aims to compete directly for time against the likes of Nintendo Switch.

    On Oculus Rift, it is a simple toggle in the menu system to allow unapproved content while on Oculus Go you need to sign up as a developer to activate “sideloading“. This is also how developers can distribute apps among friends and testers. In contrast, game consoles typically limit user access to the operating system. Console software releases also come from a single storefront. We’re still getting a picture of where Quest sits on that “openness” spectrum.

    “We haven’t changed our stance on the massive value of early experimentation. In fact, we’ve increased our investment in independent developers with programs like Oculus Start. We don’t intend to shut down sharing of builds amongst friends,” Pruett wrote in an email in response to questions. “Like Oculus Go, Quest builds can be shared easily to others who have Developer Mode turned on. The goal of this new policy is to ensure that the contents of our storefront are consistently high quality. We have a lot of quality on Rift, and much of that is thanks to experimentation. Many of those titles will make their way to Quest as well. That’s part of the reason we’re not changing the Rift store policy.”

    Facebook is still keeping the Quest launch lineup under wraps. The company is investing considerably, though, with partners in bringing titles to the system. We expect details in the coming weeks at the Game Developers Conference. In the meantime, though, the blog post from Facebook set some new expectations ahead of the VR console’s broader availability.

    “We’ve set a high bar for content quality on Quest, higher than we’ve ever enforced before, in order to build a platform where everyone has confidence in the quality of the titles they’re buying and developers know that their investments have a strong chance of success,” Pruett’s post states. “It’s important to submit a concept document for review as early in your development cycle as possible. Those titles that pass this early review unlock direct support and resources from Oculus to help you make your title as high quality as it can possibly be. This new process is specific to Oculus Quest: no changes have been made to

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  • Angry Birds VR and Bait! Dev Resolution Games Working On ‘A Few’ Oculus Quest Games
    angry birds vr Snowy Slopes

    Resolution Games, creators of Angry Birds VR and Bait!, announced today that they're working on multiple Oculus Quest games.

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  • Beat Saber’s First Paid Music Pack DLC Coming In March
    Beat Saber’s First Paid Music Pack DLC Coming In March

    Beat Saber announced today that the first paid DLC Music Pack will be releasing in March for both PSVR and PC versions of the game.

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  • Oculus Rift S Onboard Cameras Could Support Finger Tracking In Future
    f8 2018 finger tracking

    Comments made by Oculus CTO John Carmack at Oculus Connect 5 and Twitter suggest that the upcoming Oculus Rift S cameras could support finger tracking.

    To be clear, this doesn’t mean the software to do so would be ready by the time Rift S launches. But it does mean the headset could one day recieve the feature as a software update in future- the cameras are seemingly suitable.

    Rift S Onboard Cameras

    Rift S was first revealed in a TechCrunch report in October. The report revealed the headset would be an iterative update, increasing resolution and changing to the same inside-out tracking system as the upcoming Oculus Quest.

    Earlier this month we confirmed the TechCrunch report by discovering references in the Oculus PC software code to a ‘Rift S’ with onboard cameras.

    Carmack’s Comments

    During 2018’s Oculus Connect 5 conference, Oculus CTO John Carmack briefly spoke about a project to bring finger tracking to Oculus Quest:

    This seemed to suggest that the main limitation for finger tracking on the headset was the power & compute limitations of the mobile platform. He stated that Quest can be used as a platform to research finger tracking for future headsets with “the power and ability to do real time”.

    The TechCrunch report and our findings suggest that Rift S will feature the same Insight cameras as Quest. So given the enormous relative power of a PC, shouldn’t Rift S be capable of finger tracking?

    To verify we weren’t misunderstanding his comments, we reached out to Carmack on Twitter. Here’s how he responded:

    Carmack doubled down on stressing the power limitations of mobile as the main barrier. When asked about the featue in regards to PC, he confirmed it was possible. Requiring a reserved CPU core or two rules out this tech being usable in CPU-intensive apps. But it would be entirely possible for developers of apps suiting finger tracking to optimize for this limitation.

    These comments aren’t indicative of the feature actually being available at launch- or ever. But what they do suggest is that the camera hardware is suitable and PCs are capable.

    A Long Researched, Challenging Feature

    The first indication of Facebook’s interest in finger tracking for VR was revealed in late 2014. The company acquired startup Nimble VR, composed of four veterans of hand tracking technology. But upon this acquisition, Oculus was clear that this tecnology “may not even be used in the CV2 or CV3”.

    That’s likely because Nimble’s tech wasn’t just software, but a dedicated depth camera. Depth cameras deliver excellent finger tracking such as that found in the new HoloLens 2 AR headset. But the high end solutions are costly and the low end ones are bulky and relatively heavy, adding weight at the worst possible area of a headset (directly in front).

    Delivering high quality finger tracking on regular cameras is an entirely different level of challenge. However, if it can be done it allows finger tracking to be added at no extra hardware cost to headsets which already use cameras for other tracking.

    In 2016 at Oculus Connect 3, Chief Scientist

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  • The XR Attention Lab Takes Body Language To A Whole New Level

    Biometric algorithms enable your body to speak through immersive technology. Is this the next phase of human-machine integration? “It’s pretty common knowledge that body language plays a big role in how we communicate in real-life, and the fact is that behavioral studies have been validating the correlation between the body and mind for decades.” explains

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  • Impressive Looking VR Dungeon Crawler The Morrigan is coming to Steam Early Access in March It'll support both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
  • This Batman Experience Showed Me A True Mixed Reality
    Batman Mixed Reality Intel USC Scarecrow

    I really don’t like saying ‘mixed reality’. In my opinion, it’s a term that needlessly confuses two similar but separate technologies – VR and AR. HoloLens isn’t an MR headset, it’s an AR headset. Windows’ MR-based VR headsets are really just that, VR headsets. But at MWC this week I saw a glimpse of true mixed reality; something that combined both VR and AR.

    That would be Intel and the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Batman experience. This was a small slice of a wider experience built with help from AT&T, Ericsson and Warner Bros.. It was running off a wireless HTC Vive Pro as one of the many 5G showcases at the show. You can see pretty much the entire piece in action in the video below.

    It’s a piece of, quite literally, two halves. Look to one side and you’ll see the real world, as captured through Vive Pro’s cameras. Bat-baddy Scarecrow appears in front of you and litters the environment with spiders. Then he steps over to the other side, a fully-rendered VR environment where he does battle with Batman. Nothing about the AR or VR portions was separately special. But, combined together, they made for something intriguing.

    Again, this was just a slice of the main experience and the demo conditions weren’t perfect. I couldn’t hear what was being said over the noise of the show floor and the right earphone wasn’t working. Not to mention that it was weird to see Batman and Scarecrow fighting from one angle only to turn around and see MWC carrying on with little care.

    Still, it set my mind ablaze with possibilities for true mixed reality experiences. Imagine theatrical performances where you’d see real actors interact with virtual characters or games where the consequences of the virtual world spilled out into ours. You’d need conditions far more controlled than this, but the potential is definitely there.

    This felt more like a proof of concept; a technological achievement more than a creative one. But the truth of the matter is that VR headsets aren’t that great at doing AR (yet) and AR headsets aren’t very good at VR (yet). Until the pair inevitably merge, experiences such as this will remain decisively experimental.

    Tagged with: Batman, Intel, mixed reality, USC School of Cinematic Arts

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  • HTC Teases Cloud-Based VR With New 5G Hub

    Could 5G streaming be the future of VR entertainment? With the 2019 Mobile World Congress currently underway in Barcelona, Spain, HTC has been busying themselves with a slew of exciting announcements and demonstrations ranging from a smartphone aimed at cryptocurrency fanatics, to their HTC Vive Focus Plus VR headset. Yesterday, the company used MWC’s stage

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  • Review: PlanTechtor A wave shooter whose wave is more of a ripple.