• This 1992 Book Predicted Oculus Headset Specs And Inspired Facebook’s Chief VR Researcher
    snow crash book

    Snow Crash is a 1992 science fiction novel written by Neal Stephenson. The book has a deeply complex plot touching on ancient languages, religion, simulation theory, philosophy, computer science, and more. It was nominated for the infamous Arthur C. Clarke Award.

    But much of the novel doesn’t take place in the real world. Despite being released before even Wolenstein 3D and three years before the Virtual Boy, much of Snow Crash takes place in a massively multiplayer VR world.

    It Predicted Oculus Go & Quest’s Specs

    Here’s how Stephenson described the protagonist’s VR headset:

    By drawing a slightly different image in front of each eye, the image can be made three-dimensional. Ḅy changing the image seventy-two times a second, it can be made to move. Ḇy drawing the moving three-dimensional image at a resolution of 2K pixels on a side, it can be as sharp as the eye can perceive, and by pumping stereo digital sound through the little earphones, the moving 3-D pictures can have a perfectly realistic soundtrack.

    Oculus Go and Oculus Quest are the only announced headsets with a refresh rate of 72Hz. Some others have 75Hz, but Facebook chose 72. In fact, the Oculus DK2 back in 2014 even had a 72Hz mode. This can be expanined in that 72 is is a multiple of 24- the frame rate of film. But just how many people are really watching films on their VR headset? And why has no other VR company chosen this refresh rate? Perhaps Snow Crash inspired the decision.

    When the book was written almost 30 years ago, VR headsets were rare. The few which existed cost in exceess of $50,000 and had resolutions of a few hundred pixels “on a side”. The book’s description of a resolution of “2K pixels on a side” is eerily similar to the 2560×1440 resolution of Go.

    It Coined The Term ‘Metaverse’

    The term Metaverse is popular in VR today. It’s used to describe the concept of a massively multiplayer virutal world focused on social interaction rather than just gaming. Essentially, the metaverse is the spatial version of the internet.

    But where did this term come from? Snow Crash. Here’s how Stephenson described what Hiro is doing in his VR headset:

    So Hiro’s not actually here at all. He’s in a computer-generated universe that his computer is drawing onto his goggles and pumping into his earphones. In the lingo, this imaginary place is known as the Metaverse. Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse.

    ‘Meta’ means after or beyond, and ‘verse’ is taken from the universe. Thus a ‘metaverse’ is a new universe beyond & after the real one.

    And Popularized The Term ‘Avatar’

    We all know what an avatar is today. A digital character representing yourself in a virtual world. In some cases an avatar can be a representation of yourself, and in others intentionally not. While Stephenson didn’t invent the term, he did popularize it:

    He is not seeing real people, of course. This is all a part of the moving illustration drawn by his computer according to

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  • Beat Saber is Coming to Japanese PlayStation VR’s Next Month Soon Japan will see what all the fuss is about.
  • ParadropVR Creator Frontgrid Secures £100k Investment VR paragliding is going global.
  • Beat Saber PSVR Finally Comes To Japan Next Month
    Beat Saber PSVR Finally Comes To Japan Next Month

    Good news, Japanese VR fans! The long wait for Beat Saber on PSVR is very nearly at an end.

    The Japanese PlayStation Blog recently confirmed that Beat Games’ VR hit arrives on March 7th. There’s nearly four months after the western version debuted on November 20th 2018. No doubt the localization process and go-between with the Japanese division of Sony slowed the release down a little. A price for this version hasn’t been announced just yet.

    In Beat Saber you control two wannabe lightsabers. Notes stream towards the player in time with a song and you have to slash them using motion controllers. It sounds simple but it’s devilishly addictive. “Beat Saber on PSVR is exquisite,” we said in our review. “Overall it’s a more polished, feature-packed, and expanded version of the Early Access PC title, while still retaining the core of what made it a viral sensation in the first place.”

    An arcade version of the game, Beat Saber Arcade, is already running in some locations in Japan. You can also get the game on PC VR systems, but we’d bet PSVR is a much bigger platform in Japan that the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

    This is just one of many milestones down for the Beat Games team. Fans are also eagerly awaiting news on the game’s first premium DLC, which is said to be dropping soon. This will be the first of three planned packs that should add around 30 new songs to the game in total. Last week we also reported that the developer is working with Subpac to help deaf fans play the game with just as much efficiency as any other player.

    Tagged with: Beat Saber, japan, PSVR

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  • HoloLens 2’s Field of View Revealed
    microsoft hololens 2

    At MWC yesterday Microsoft announced the $3500 HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset. On stage the company boasted the headset’s “more than 2x” field of view compared to the original. However, no specific values were given.

    Today on Twitter Microsoft’s Alex Kipman clarified the details. The headset provides 52 degrees of augmented viewing when measured diagonally, according to Kipman. Given that the Microsoft website states the headset’s aspect ratio is 3:2, this would give a horizontal FoV of 43° and a vertical of 29° using the basic Pythagorean theorem.

    That 43°×29° is an impressive increase over the 30°×17.5° of the original. It’s now roughly equal to the 40°×30° of the $2295 Magic Leap One.

    But how is this “more than 2x” the field of view of the original, you might ask? Well it seems Microsoft was referring to the total FoV area — not the per-axis measurements. A 43°×29° FoV is actually around 2.4x the area of 30°×17.5°.

    This is an impressive leap forward and will make holographic objects feel much more immersive than before. But in perspective, it is still significantly narrower than even a typical VR headset. There is also a ways to go before either AR or VR headsets are capable of filling the entirety of human vision.

    HoloLens 2 is the state of the art in augmented reality — using a custom designed laser MEMS display system. However AR technology still has a long way to go before becoming consumer friendly. Just like VR 10 years ago, AR will need several breakthroughs before it is truly ready for consumers. But based on what Microsoft showed us at MWC, we’ve never been more excited for AR’s future.

    Tagged with: augmented reality, HoloLens 2, microsoft, microsoft hololens

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  • Community Download: What Do You Think Of The HoloLens 2 Announcement?
    Microsoft Hololens 2

    Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens 2 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this week and we want to know what you think of the device and its specs.

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  • ‘Desirium’ Packages 15+ VR Games Into One App

    Go on a spacewalk, relax at a New Years party, enter an arcade-style shoot-em-up, and much more. Desirium is an Oculus Go/Viveport app that packages 15+ VR experiences into a single portal. Offering a welcome mat to all users of mobile VR, Desirium offers its content in levels of intensity from “Beginner” to “Master”, with

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  • Facebook Files Patent For VR Finger Tracking AI Armband
    facebook AI armband

    Facebook filed a patent application for an armband which performs finger tracking by reading electrical signals inside the user’s wrist. Machine learning is used to convert these signals into finger positions.

    Two variations of the device are described. In one, an active signal is sent through the wrist. Based on how the signal changes passing through the tendons and muscles of the arm their position can be determined.

    In another variation no active signal is sent. Instead, the device directly reads the impedance of the arm without a probe signal.

    Facebook doesn’t seem to be the only company working on this interesting concept however. New York based CTRL-Labs posted a video on YouTube of a seemingly similar armband:

    The ability to directly use each of your fingers adds an entirely new level of interactivity to VR. However, that ability is absent from almost all consumer VR headsets today. Leap Motion shipped a finger tracking kit for the Oculus DK2 all the way back in 2014, but the tracking quality left a lot to be desired.

    Facebook is already heavily researching optical finger tracking. HTC announced finger tracking for the Vive Pro late last year, but that hasn’t shipped yet and the tracking quality is currently unknown.

    If the device described in the patent truly works, it could bring finger tracking to VR without requiring an array of power hungry cameras pointed at your fingers. Furthermore, since it doesn’t rely on cameras the tracking would work at all angles regardless of the headset’s orientation. We’re excited to see what finger tracking solutions VR companies will deliver in the coming years.

    Tagged with: facebook, Faceboook Reality Labs, finger tracking, oculus, patent, research

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  • Our First Look At Microsoft HoloLens 2

    Microsoft debuts their latest mixed reality device at Mobile World Conference 2019. OK, I will be able give a more definite verdict after I actually get a hands-on demo first thing tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are our first impressions from having seen the live demos on the stage here at MWC Barcelona. “When

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  • RoleplayU Is An Open Source VR App For Playing Dungeons & Dragons
    RoleplayU Is An Open Source VR App For Playing Dungeons & Dragons

    RoleplayU is an open source VR application created to make it easier than ever to jump into virtual reality and play D&D with friends.

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  • The Wizards – Enhanced Edition to get a Physical Release on PlayStation VR The boxed edition will arrive in April.
  • Firewall Zero Hour’s Fourth DLC Introduces Two New Contractors
    firewall zero hour jag

    Firewall Zero Hour's latest DLC pack includes new weapons, new trinkets, new camo skins, and two brand new contractors for the PSVR shooter.

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  • MWC 2019: HoloLens 2 Is An AR Headset I’d Actually Use
    MWC 2019: HoloLens 2 Is An AR Headset I’d Actually Use

    I considered myself a HoloLens skeptic. Microsoft’s first-generation AR headset was promising on paper, but the thing bit into my nose, was finicky to use and, well, we all know about the field of view. HoloLens was not, in my opinion, a usable device (I haven’t used Magic Leap One, for clarity’s sake).

    HoloLens 2 is.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is still incremental steps over the original. But they’re important steps all the same – HoloLens is slightly lighter (13g) and better-designed than the original and it makes a world of difference. During my MWC 2019 demo I regularly stopped to chat with the team guiding me through. At times I completely forgot that I was even wearing a headset. That’s also down to the more comfortable design that rested easier on the bridge of my nose, of course.

    My 10 minute demo consisted of the usual AR staples. I did a quick eye-tracking calibration (more on that in a bit) and then found several 3D models dotted around Microsoft’s idealized living room. I could pick them up and scale them to my liking, just as I could on HoloLens 1.

    But it’s how I did it that was important. HoloLens 2’s handtracking was able to recognize a variety of grabbing gestures, from clenched fists to pinches. It didn’t matter how I wanted to grab the corner of an object. Anything that I felt would work in real life simply. . .worked.

    This enabled a kind of intuition I hadn’t yet felt in AR. I was talking with my guide as I grabbed a miniature wind turbine, scaling it up and walking over to the center of the room with it, all without thinking about the actions. Aside from trying to do things outside of the hand-tracking sensor’s FOV (bigger than the display’s but still not without issue), there was no wrestling with the UI. It all felt completely natural, as if I was manipulating real-world objects. Imagine how effortlessly we grab and resize images with a mouse. HoloLens 2 made manipulating 3D objects feel just as easy.

    I was less impressed with Microsoft’s messaging on ‘feeling’ holograms, though. If you watched last night’s presentation, you might have got the impression that there was some sort of haptic feedback that allows you to sense when you were touching holograms. In reality the tech’s finger tracking just picks up when you’re touching the edge of an asset. It’s helpful information for sure, but don’t expect to ‘feel’ anything when you put on HoloLens 2.

    The next section of the demo had some cool eye-tracking implementation. I could look at different orbs and say ‘pop’ to get them to burst. More impressive was text-scrolling that worked like I was reading from an autocue. As your eyes reach the bottom of the page, text scrolls up. It’s not quite a seamless experience, especially for someone that reads text quite erratically, but it was a helpful addition.

    I’ll be interested to see what other uses Microsoft and partners come up with

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  • Firewall Zero Hour’s Fourth DLC Adds new Contractors and Guns Plus there are some extra little trinkets.
  • NextVR and Qualcomm to Demo 5G 6DoF VR Streaming at MWC19 Guests will be able to view 6DoF video Fearless for the first time.