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  • SuperData: VR Grew 30% In 2018 Thanks To PSVR, Oculus Quest Will Be 2019’s Hit
    SuperData: VR Grew 30% In 2018 Thanks To PSVR, Oculus Quest Will Be 2019’s Hit

    After floundering in 2017, virtual reality hardware actually outperformed optimistic sales expectations last year, SuperData Research said today, with annual VR revenues reaching $3.6 billion — higher than the Nielsen-owned firm’s late 2018 forecast of $3.3 billion. That’s a 30 percent year-over-year increase in revenues, particularly noteworthy given holiday price drops for some of the leading VR devices.

    According to SuperData’s Q4 2018 XR market report, Sony’s PlayStation VRbecame the market leader during the holiday quarter, selling 700,000 units — the largest number of headsets sold across any category. By contrast, the standalone Oculus Go sold 555,000 units, with the PC-tethered Oculus Rift and HTC Vive selling 160,000 and 130,000 headsets, respectively.

    SuperData attributes the strong sales in part to appealing prices. Between Black Friday discounts and the release of games such as Beat Saber, the PSVR ended 2018 on its strongest note yet. For $199, the easy-to-use Oculus Go appealed to first-time VR headset buyers, though the firm says consumers “craved higher-end experiences in console, PC, and standalone headsets.”

    For 2019, SuperData predicts that Oculus’ next-generation standalone headset, Quest, will be a hit and forecasts sales of 1.3 million units, thanks to “high consumer interest.” While Quest will have to hurdle a somewhat challenging $399 price point and waves of recent bad publicity for Oculus parent company Facebook, SuperData believes that hardware tethering has impeded consumer VR adoption, and Quest’s better-than-Go performance will make it more compelling to consumers.

    Unsurprisingly, games are the biggest revenue generator for the extended reality category, earning 68 percent of XR software revenue. Niantic’s Pokémon Go alone generated 66 percent of the $2 billion in XR games revenue, demonstrating the cash-generating power of both mobile and AR technologies under the right circumstances. Location-based VR experiences helped grow XR revenues, as well.

    The future is bright for the entire XR category, SuperData suggests. When all of 2018’s hardware, software, and experience revenues are considered together, XR generated $6.6 billion in 2018, and the numbers are projected to grow steadily each year for the next four years. By 2022, the firm expects $34.1 billion in XR revenues — a 442 percent increase over 2018 — thanks in large part to growing sales of VR and AR hardware, with smaller but still substantial sales of software.

    This post by Jeremy Horwitz originally appeared on Venturebeat. 

    Tagged with: superdata

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  • Oculus Debuts Two VR Experiences at Sundance, One is an Oculus Quest Title The Under Presents and Traveling While Black were both presented at the festival.
  • The VR Job Hub: Fabrick Games, DeepQ, Fable New year, new job.
  • Scientists Use Yawning To Study Social Presence In VR

    New research by UBC highlights the similarities and differences in the way people interact in VR versus the real world. Contagious yawning is a well-documented phenomenon in which people – and even some non-human animals – yawn reflexively when they detect a nearby yawn. Another aspect of this is that when people are in company,

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  • Helping Fight Deforestation and Climate Change HTC Vive Releases ‘Tree’ on Viveport The VR project was showcased at the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos.
  • Blippar To Continue As A New AR Company After Selling IP Assets To Investment Fund
    Blippar To Continue As A New AR Company After Selling IP Assets To Investment Fund

    London-based augmented reality (AR) “unicorn” Blippar has found a buyer for its intellectual property (IP) assets, nearly one month after the company revealed it had started insolvency procedures.

    An investment fund called Candy Ventures, which is an existing Blippar investor based in London, has revealed that it bought numerous assets relating to Blippar, including its name and the platform’s underlying technologies, in addition to the assets of Layar — an AR startup Blippar bought in 2014.

    This will form the basis of a new company, also called Blippar, which will focus on developing an AR creation and publishing platform aimed at everyone, regardless of whether they have technical know-how. This will be operated as a software-as-service (SaaS) business, and appears to be based on the Blippbuilder platform launched for third-party developers back in 2016.

    The goal of the new business will be to “unify and standardize AR formats,” according to a statement issued by the companies.

    “We will bring together all of the invaluable R&D, technology capabilities, and key learnings gained from the past eight years and invest this in what we believe to be our most powerful asset and most sustainable revenue stream,” added cofounder and CEO Ambarish Mitra.

    By way of a quick recap, Blippar was founded in 2011 in the early days of Android and iOS. Its first product was aimed at advertisers, who could “augment” real-world objects (such as candy wrappers) with funky animations and videos when users pointed their phone at them. The platform expanded extensively through the years, evolving into virtual reality, computer vision and machine learning, facial recognition, and location-based AR.

    Although Blippar let many of its staff go due to insolvency, the new Blippar incarnation will in fact retain many of the original Blippar engineers — and Mitra will continue to lead the company as CEO.

    Money

    In 2015, Mitra claimed in an interview with the Financial Times that it had spurned an offer from an unnamed company to buy it out for $1.5 billion, which appears to be the basis of Blippar’s much-discussed “unicorn” status. However, at its series D funding round in 2016 it had a post-money valuation of “over” $500 million, which suggests it never really became a unicorn.

    The company had raised north of $130 million from such big names as Qualcomm, and back in September Blippar raised $37 million as it sought more runway to reach profitability by focusing on B2B. However, Blippar went in search of “an additional small amount of funding” that was ultimately blocked by one of its shareholders, eventually leading to the company’s demise.

    “It was a devastating disappointment when Blippar was forced into administration at the end of last year, but today’s news is a hugely positive outcome,” Mitra continued. “We continue to believe in the future of augmented reality and see a huge opportunity to create the best platform to allow our customers to seamlessly build and publish successful AR experiences, in the same way that WordPress allowed anyone to easily create and publish a website.”

    At the time, Blippar revealed that insolvency procedures meant all employees would be let go and its services likely terminated. However, the platform

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  • ‘The Under Presents’ Is A Theatrical Oculus Quest Project From Tender Claws
    ‘The Under Presents’ Is A Theatrical Oculus Quest Project From Tender Claws

    The Los Angeles-based creators of Virtual Virtual Reality and AR software Tendar just announced an Oculus Quest project.

    From Tender Claws, “The Under Presents” is a theatrically-centered VR project funded by Oculus Studios featuring a “vaudeville stage that exists in a special dimension outside time and space.” A sneak peek of the project is being shown at the Sundance Film Festival.

    According to a blog post announcing the project, this virtual theater will feature a loop of “different live and recorded acts coming and going” and it was produced in collaboration with NYC-based theater group Piehole. “And the experience is designed to take advantage of the untethered Oculus Quest, allowing the actors to join the experience in Oculus Quest too and conduct performances from different physical locations,” according to the post.

    Tender Claws co-founder Samantha Gorman says the narrative surrounds “fate and free will and as part of that we’re interested in playing with the change of feeling of interacting with both pre-recorded and live characters. As well as other players and past recorded versions of themselves.” Fate and free will certainly sound like normal questions for Tender Claws to grapple with, but both live and pre-recorded characters makes it sound like the developers are taking their exploratory work in VR and AR game design to the next level.

    We don’t know when The Under Presents will launch just yet. The $400 Oculus Quest headset is due to launch in the coming months, but this project’s release is just listed as later this year.

    Tagged with: Oculus Studios, Tender Claws, The Under Presents

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  • Leap Motion Showcase Latest Design Updates for Project North Star It's been redesigned for reliability, and to look more inviting.
  • Animated VR Story Gloomy Eyes Adds Colin Farrell As Narrator
    Animated VR Story Gloomy Eyes Adds Colin Farrell As Narrator

    Colin Farrell will narrate the animated VR project Gloomy Eyes.

    The visually striking project is premiering in the New Frontier section of the Sundance Film Festival from directors Jorge Tereso and Fernando Maldonado, produced by Atlas V and 3dar with a collection of co-producers and supporters including Ryot, HTC Vive, CNC, ARTE, Unity, and Rhone Alpes Cinema.

    A still from Gloomy Eyes by Jorge Tereso and Fernando Maldonado, an official selection of the New Frontier Programs at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

    It’s a love story between “a zombie kid called Gloomy and a mortal girl called Nena” set in a world “where the sun got tired of the humans” and “decided to hide and never rise again.”

    Here’s the official synopsis:

    It’s 1983 on a cold night in Woodland City. Being a zombie is against the law. The undead have been around for almost a decade now, but peaceful coexistence with the “normal” people continues to fail. They hide in the forest, away from the dangerous zombie hunters. Nights are calm and quiet, but Gloomy still tries to stay out of sight. Hunters are a real threat, but this zombie is hiding from something else as well…Truth is, he doesn’t feel too comfortable around others of his kind. But really, Gloomy not completely like other zombies. He has access to things we don’t see or understand. Nature knows he’s special.

    While zombies certainly sound like a spooky subject, Gloomy Eyes appears to have a lot in common with The Nightmare Before Christmas. Like last year’s Spheres, which debuted at Sundance, Gloomy Eyes might be the kind of project to get picked up at Sundance for release on VR headsets late in the year.

     

    Tagged with: Colin Farrell, Gloomy Eyes, sundance film festival

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  • EMBODY Brings Cooperative VR Well-Being To Sundance

    Transform a surreal digital environment with your own body while enhancing your well-being in this social VR experience. With a vast majority of VR titles focused on evoking powerful emotional responses from users – whether it be excitement, anger, or even disgust – with thrilling, action-packed immersive content, it’s easy to forget that virtual reality

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  • Fate/Grand Order VR feat. Mash Kyrielight to get a Western PlayStation VR Release The launch will take place next month.
  • Facebook Patents ‘Small Form Factor’ AR Display With ‘Large Field of View’
    facebook ar display patent

    Facebook won a patent for an augmented reality display “with small form factor, a large field of view, and a large eyebox”.

    Current augmented reality displays either have a small field of view or small form factor- but not both. The Magic Leap One for example is relatively compact with a horizontal field of view of 40 degrees. Leap Motion’s Project North Star design achieves 100 degrees, but is significantly bulkier.

    Just like all modern VR headsets on the market use the same display technique (lenses magnifying an LCD/OLED panel), all modern AR headsets use waveguides. For an explanation of how waveguides work, see this article by Chris Grayson.

    Typical approaches to increase the field of view involve using a heavier material with a higher refractive index. Facebook’s technique uses decoupling elements on each side of the waveguide. The patent claims it provides a diagonal FoV of “at least 60 degrees”- 52 horizontal and 30 vertical. Multiple possible designs are presented, the seventh having 72 degrees diagonal.

    The patent could be related to the recent Business Insider report of a source’s hands on impression at Facebook. The source claimed to have tried a prototype that “resembled traditional glasses much more closely than the bulky AR headsets offered by Microsoft (the HoloLens) or Magic Leap.”

    At Oculus Connect 5 Facebook Reality Labs Chief Scientist Michael Abrash expressed his priorities for AR hardware. At the top was social acceptability and low weight. A specific goal given was a weight of less than 70 grams. Engineering a display system that achieves a decent FoV without adding weight would be key to achieving this- and likely the research direction that led to this patent.

    Microsoft likely isn’t resting on its laurels, however. Hololens 2 is expected to be revealed just next month, and the company invests heavily in AR research. Last year the company applied for a patent for a MEMS scanner based display with FoV of “around 70 degrees”.

    It’s impossible to tell how far along Facebook and Microsoft are in commercializing these techniques. Companies patent many technologies that never make it to market. But combined with the Business Insider report, it does seem possible that progress is being made towards the AR glasses we all dream of one day owning.

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  • Why Resident Evil Still Defines VR Horror So where’s Resident Evil 2 VR!
  • GDC’s Annual Game Industry Report Reveals HTC Vive is Still Most Popular A high percentage are also developing for Oculus platforms.
  • MelodyVR Making New Version Of VR Concert App For ‘Forthcoming Oculus Device’
    MelodyVR Making New Version Of VR Concert App For ‘Forthcoming Oculus Device’

    It sure sounds like MelodyVR is coming to Oculus Quest at some point this year.

    In a recent update on the London Stock Exchange, MelodyVR owner EVR Holdings announced “an addendum to its distribution agreement” with Facebook. The update states that the company will release a new version of its platform for “a forthcoming Oculus Device.”

    No prizes for guessing what that probably is. It’s a very official way of announcing MelodyVR is probably coming to Quest but we won’t pretend to understand the businessy bits.

    The agreement also notes that the new version of the app will include “updated features and functionality”. MelodyVR is essentially a vast library of 360 degree concerts. Its aim is to provide experiences that make you feel like you’re attending live music. In recent months, the company has also experimented with live VR broadcasting. In December 2018 One Direction’s Liam Payne hosted the app’s first live concert.

    With that in mind, we’ll be interested to see what these new features might be. MelodyVR is currently only available on Oculus Go and Gear VR. If it does come to Quest, it’d be the first headset with six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking that the platform has appeared on. Could MelodyVR perhaps be looking to implement this feature into its video? The company could feasibly employ parallax technology, which allows you to move your head slightly in real-time video.

    Quest will be launching sometime this spring. Oculus says it’s lining up around 50 experiences for release. It certainly seems like MelodyVR could be one of them, then.

    Tagged with: 360 video, MelodyVR, Oculus Quest, VR Concerts

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