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  • Coachella Debuts Its First Interactive AR Stage

    Festival-goers can interact with space-themed AR content before, during, and after performances. Today marks the first weekend of the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, and while festival-goers are knee-deep in the festivals usual helping of chart-topping music and A-list celebrities, those visiting the famous Sahara tent are experiencing a much

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  • The Outlook For Investing In A More Rational VR/AR Market
    The Outlook For Investing In A More Rational VR/AR Market

    Last week, I made my way to the Microsoft Reactor in San Francisco for the VR Arcade conference. I moderated a panel on investing in virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. It was a far different environment for that kind of conversation than in 2016 or earlier.

    The event itself represented a pivot. Since consumer VR hasn’t taken off as much as expected, companies have shifted gears in augmented reality on smartphones or the VR arcade market. We are holding our own GamesBeat Summit 2019 conference on April 23-24 in Los Angeles at a “micro-amusement park” dubbed Two Bit Circus. Such places are sprouting up all over.

    Do these VR arcades represent a good investment, or are seasoned investors looking into other opportunities. We asked that question on our panel.

    My panelists included Stephen Saltzman, founder of Saltzman Strategies & Alliances; Yasushi Komori, a partner at the GFR Fund; Angelo Del Priore, a partner at HP Tech Ventures; and Amy LaMeyer, a partner at the WXR Fund.

    Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

    Above: VR investment panelists (left to right): Angelo Del Priore, Amy LaMeyer, Stephen Saltzman, and Yasushi Komori.

    Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

    Stephen Saltzman: I first got into VR when I was at Intel Capital. I became managing director for VR, gaming, and location-based entertainment investments at Intel Capital. Starting in January, I became founder and principal and sole employee at Saltzman Strategies and Alliances, which is a consulting firm.

    Yasushi Komori: I’m at GFR Fund. We started looking into the VR area three years ago. On the whole, we’re an entertainment technology-focused fund, so we’re also looking into esports and other areas.

    Angelo Del Priore: I’m at HP Tech Ventures, where we do VC investments for Hewlett-Packard. I focus on the AR, VR, gaming, and education spaces. Our last investment in the space was Mojo Vision.

    Amy LaMeyer: I’ve been the spatial computing space for three years, first as an angel investor and now as a partner in WXR Fund. We invest in the spatial computing and AR spaces.

    GamesBeat: Can you talk about some of the more interesting investments you’ve gotten into?

    LaMeyer: One that’s somewhat potentially relevant to this space is Tribe XR. You can learn how to DJ in virtual reality. You have an array of equipment in the virtual space, and with that hardware you can actually DJ. They’re working on other experiences as well, but they’ve started with DJing.

    Saltzman: My last VR investment for Intel was SoReal. Sam Wong’s been on a few of the panels at this conference. After spending two years analyzing location-based VR, I thought it was not only the most exciting approach, but also the smartest business model. It’s showing th power of the founders, because of their position in the Chinese entertainment industry. They can get other people to build out their experiences for them.

    Del Priore: We don’t actually announce a lot of our investments, because why would we want our competition to know?

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  • Apple Hires Jaunt VR Founder And Multi-camera 3D Expert Arthur Van Hoff
    Apple Hires Jaunt VR Founder And Multi-camera 3D Expert Arthur Van Hoff

    Apple’s depth-sensing iPhone cameras have already enabled features such as Face ID and portrait mode photography — now the company has hired 3D camera expert Arthur van Hoff to serve as a senior architect for an unnamed project. The new hire was first reported by Variety today, with van Hoff’s LinkedIn account listing his start date with Apple as April.

    As founder of VR video company Jaunt and inventor of its Jaunt One camera system, a rig designed to bring 360-degree 3D to virtual reality headset wearers, van Hoff has decades of experience in developing dual- and multi-camera photography products. In an August 2018 interview with VentureBeat, he discussed a new depth camera-based capture system designed to easily create volumetric 3D selfies.

    Though it was known for its pioneering VR work, Jaunt began to offload some of its key assets last year, and dropped its VR projects and cinematic VR business in favor of focusing on AR and XR. Three months ago, van Hoff signed on to advise AI vision startup and RED partner Lucid on how to bring AI, machine learning, and 3D vision to an increasing range of mobile devices, though he apparently ended that arrangement before joining Apple.

    Van Hoff’s role with Apple is, as is the case with most of its new hires, unknown. While Variety reports that Apple previously hired former Jaunt engineers to work on varied projects ranging from AR and camera systems to computer vision, van Hoff could easily be involved with any or all of them. Apple is reportedly ramping up next-generation AR software and hardware, more sophisticated depth-sensing 3D cameras for iPhones, and computer vision/AI projects inside and outside the automotive realm.

    Given his expertise in creating cinematic VR video with Jaunt, however, the greatest likelihood is that van Hoff will assist Apple in developing consumer and/or professional applications for future devices with depth-sensing cameras. That could mean enhancing iOS’s Camera or FaceTime apps with volumetric 3D capture capabilities, or assisting participants in Apple’s new Apple TV+ video creation program with bringing 3D into their shows.

    This post by Jeremy Horwitz originally appeared on VentureBeat. 

    Tagged with: Arthur van Hoff, jaunt

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  • The VR Job Hub: White Elk Studios, Drifter Entertainment & More Jobs from the American West Coast this week.
  • Oculus Touch Controllers May Hold Accidental Hidden Messages

    Oculus co-founder confirms tens-of-thousands of devices may be affected. In a series of tweets made by Nate Mitchel, the Oculus co-founder and head of VR product at Facebook revealed that tens-of-thousands of Oculus Quest, Rift, and Rift S controllers have released with “easter egg” messages hidden within their internal components. Michel clarified on Twitter that

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  • Research Suggests VR May Help Patients Suffering From Parkinson’s

    Research into VR’s benefits on balance and motor control continue to reveal new information. More than 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and experience the neurological disorder that progressively affects their movement. Individually, the results can vary, but will usually include muscle rigidity, tremors, loss of balance, and changes in speech and

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  • PlayStation VR Version of Seeking Dawn Officially Cancelled The port is indefinitely on hold.
  • A Game Of Thrones Magic Leap Hands-on — Winter Is Coming To AR
    A Game Of Thrones Magic Leap Hands-on — Winter Is Coming To AR

    Experimental technology has become a part of the marketing campaign for the final season of A Game of Thrones. I checked out the Magic Leap One augmented reality and HTC Vive Focus virtual reality installations for A Game of Thrones at the AT&T store on Powell Street in San Francisco.

    I tried out Magic Leap’s experience, Game of Thrones: The Dead Must Die, first. It was upstairs in an area that was like museum for A Game of Thrones, complete with outfits from the show on display in glass cases. The Dead Must Die is a mixed reality experience, combining real world props and AR. The physical space was set up like a scene out of King’s Landing.

    An attendant helped me put on the Magic Leap One Creator Edition glasses, which come with a computing puck that you sling over your shoulder and glasses that enable you to see animated overlays on the real world. Before me, on the floor (as you can see in the picture), was one of the White Walkers, an undead creature that was sawed in half. But its animatronic arm was still moving.

    Above: The Dead are not quite dead yet.

    Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

    Then, another one of the virtual Walkers started busting out of a box. I had to pick up a flaming torch and light the creatures on fire. I did so, and they promptly burned back to death. Then an ice wall on other side of the room started to crack. I had to physically walk up to the wall. When I did so, a Dragon Glass knife appeared. I grabbed it, and then a Walker busted through the icy portal in the wall. I stabbed the Walker, and then the experience ended. It was a pretty quick, accessible, and immersive experience.

    The Dead Must Die experience is available at AT&T locations in San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago. It will arrive in Los Angeles and Dallas later in the month, and it will last until June 10.

    After that, I went downstairs, where they were still working on setting up the HTC Vive Focus experience with A Game of Thrones VR experience. It took a while to get it up and running. But I waited.

    Above: The Night King in A Game of Thrones.

    Image Credit: Magic Leap

    I put on the HTC Vive Focus, which is a standalone VR headset. I was standing on a mixed reality platform with a lot of plastic ice around it. And when I went into the VR experience, I was at the gate at the bottom of The Wall. A Ranger from the Night’s Watch was there in the icy corridor. He told me that I needed a sword, and he gave me his. Then he picked up his bow and opened the gate.

    In VR, snow blew in through the open passage. And in real life, I was hit with a blast of cold air. It was a pretty cool effect. Then he began walking ahead. I followed him, though I didn’t have to physically move or

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  • New Trailer Drops for Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series Oculus Rift and Rift S support have now been confirmed.
  • New ‘Vader Immortal’ Trailer Teases A Thrilling, Narrative-Driven VR Experience

    SNL’s Maya Rudolph is your trusty droid side-kick in this narrative-driven experience. Hello, all my fellow Star Wars fanatics!  Today marks the second day of the 4th annual Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, Illinois and things are heating up quick. Not only were we treated to the first official teaser for Star Wars: Episode IX

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  • Facebook Workers Put ‘Big Brother Is Watching’ Inside Oculus Touch Dev Kit
    new oculus touch controllers

    Oculus founder Nate Mitchell posted three tweets revealing people working on the Oculus Touch controllers buried “easter eggs” inside the housing of “tens of thousands of Touch controllers.”

    Here are the tweets:

    Unfortunately, some “easter egg” labels meant for prototypes accidentally made it onto the internal hardware for tens of thousands of Touch controllers.

    — Nate Mitchell (@natemitchell) April 12, 2019

    While I appreciate easter eggs, these were inappropriate and should have been removed. The integrity and functionality of the hardware were not compromised, and we’ve fixed our process so this won’t happen again.

    — Nate Mitchell (@natemitchell) April 12, 2019

    We confirmed with Facebook the text appeared on versions of the Oculus Touch controllers for Rift S and Oculus Quest. The text “This Space For Rent” and “The Masons Were Here” appears inside finished units which will ship with the headsets to consumers. Those are the only messages which made it into finished production, according to Facebook.

    While the messages are clear attempts at humor, one which appeared on dev kits states “Big brother is watching,” an obvious reference to global fears about the reach and influence of Facebook’s social platform. Reaction to the acquisition of Oculus by Facebook was swift and strong when it acquired the company in 2014 for roughly $3 billion. It was instantly apparent the social media giant would have access to more personally identifiable information through these headsets.

    Current VR headsets include microphones, sensors and cameras to facilitate communication and track head and hand movement. Over time, more VR headsets are likely to watch eye and facial movements too. Facebook’s leaders, for example, hope to create hyper-realistic avatars and transmit body movements anywhere in the world in an effort to “defy distance,” as Facebook defines the mission of its Oculus efforts in VR.

    Tagged with: oculus touch

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  • Watch The First Full Trailer For Star Wars: Vader Immortal For Rift + Quest
    Watch The First Full Trailer For Star Wars: Vader Immortal For Rift + Quest

    At long last, we have our first real glimpse of Star Wars: Vader Immortal Episode 1.

    The first proper glimpse of the game was revealed at the Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago today. There’s a lot to unpack but let’s start with the good news; the experience is coming to the Oculus Rift S too. It had previously been announced as a launch exclusive for Oculus’ other headset, Quest. It’s not clear if the app will launch on both headsets at the same time or come to Rift S a little later on.

    Anyway, let’s get to the good stuff. The trailer gives us a good look at the experience, which is set in the Dark Lord’s super secret lava base. You play as a prisoner inside the complex that launches a desperate escape. Accompanying you is a droid and some aliens we’re not too familiar with. Oh, yeah, and there’s a lightsaber.

    Vader Immortal isn’t a ‘game’ per say, but the footage shows combat with training droids, Stormtroopers and, at one point, a duel with droids that looks like it’s alongside Vader himself. Quick glimpses of space combat, sneaking and even environments outside of Vader’s base also feature. There’s a climbing segment too.

    Frankly, there’s a heck of a lot in here that we’ll need to digest over time. A full panel detailing the piece is happening right now and we’ll be sure to pick it apart piece-by-piece soon. A release timeframe for the experience isn’t included in the trailer, but we are expecting it to be out this year.

    Tagged with: Star Wars: Vader Immortal

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  • Pavlov VR Modding Community Welcomes Diversity Just In Time For 20th Update

    As developer Dave Villz and the team behind the popular VR FPS Pavlov VR wrap up their most recent patch, the title’s tight-knit modding community is pulling together to give representation to LGBTQ+ modders and players. As with all modular games like Pavlov VR—a title which celebrates and nurtures its homegrown community of diehard modders—it’s

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  • Here’s What Information Facebook Stores About Oculus Web Browsing Activity
    Here’s What Information Facebook Stores About Oculus Web Browsing Activity

    Oculus Quest and Oculus Go are bringing a lot of new buyers to VR headsets in 2019 and that means a lot of new people using the Oculus Browser to surf the Web.

    For those unfamiliar, the Oculus Browser lets you visit any normal web page while also including support for virtual worlds built with WebVR. The software includes most standard browsing features, including private browsing mode. We contacted Facebook recently to get explanations about what the company stores related to browsing activity.

    We received some interesting answers over email and are including them below. If you have any questions or additional information — please share in the comments or email tips@uploadvr.com.

    We’ll plan to update this post over time if we receive substantial updates.

    What data, if any, does the Oculus Browser transmit back to Facebook? Does it transmit browser history?

    The Oculus Browser does not share information with the Facebook family of apps unless you choose to log into Facebook via FB login (this would be the same information that Facebook would receive if you logged in to Facebook while using another browser). That said, as with using any browser, web sites themselves may collect information about you. What data is collected, how it is used, and who it is shared with is up to the web site and their privacy policy. Some web sites may share information about you with Facebook through Facebook Business Tools they use, including our social plug-ins (such as the Like button), Facebook Login, our APIs and SDKs, or the Facebook pixel (see the Facebook privacy policy for more information). This is generally true no matter what web browser or device you use.

    Has this data collection level been different in the past?

    No. nothing has changed with how the Oculus Browser has worked.

    What controls do users have over how much data Oculus Browser sends to Facebook?

    As stated above, what data is collected, how it is used, and who it is shared with is up to the web site and their privacy policy. Some web sites may share information about you with Facebook through Facebook Business Tools they use, including our social plug-ins (such as the Like button), Facebook Login, our APIs and SDKs, or the Facebook pixel (see the Facebook privacy policy for more information). This is generally true no matter what web browser or device you use.

    Facebook gives people controls for how their information is used to serve them ads which can be found here.

    UploadVR noted in a follow up email that “sharing” information is not the same a “collecting” or “saving” information. So we sent these follow up questions:

    If I’m using the Oculus Browser on an Oculus headset, is my browser history transmitted from the device to Facebook/Oculus servers in any circumstance?

    Oculus does not transmit your complete browser history to our servers. We, do, however, collect domain name data (like wikipedia.com) to assess how many unique users visit a specific website to help us prioritize what sites we focus on from a compatibility and performance standpoint. We disassociate this information from our users because we only care that a person visited a site, not that YOU in particular visited that site. We limit the storage of this data to 30 days.

    An additional point to add – one of the features of the Oculus Browser includes curated WebVR experiences that

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  • The North American Retail Edition of Ghost Giant Will Arrive in May for PlayStation VR The digital release takes place next week.