• Sansar To Host Live VR Comedy Series With YouTube Star Steve Hofstetter

    The platform is selling tickets and exclusive merchandise for a “Virtual Comedy Experience” like no other. Fans will soon be able to step into a virtual Sansar comedy club and enjoy live stand-up shows by well-known comics such as YouTube personality Steve Hofstetter – for a new event series called “Comedy Gladiators: a Virtual Comedy Experience.” The live comedy showcase will,

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  • Bose Frames Will Bring ‘Audio Augmented Reality’ To $199 Sunglasses
    Bose Frames Will Bring ‘Audio Augmented Reality’ To $199 Sunglasses

    When most people think of augmented reality, they picture digital words or objects overlaid on whatever real-world scenes they’re seeing through glasses. But Bose announced today that it will offer an “audio AR” alternative called Frames. Offered in larger Alto and smaller Rondo versions, the $199 sunglasses will use integrated speakers to give users location-specific sonic cues as they navigate environments.

    Each version of Frames looks largely like a typical pair of sunglasses, apart from oversized arms. Black plastic-framed with steel hinges and uniform gray lenses that promise 99 percent UVA/UVB blocking, the sunglasses weigh a standard 45 grams. Unlike Google’s Glass, users won’t look like weird cyborgs wearing Frames out in public.

    The tech inside isn’t as sophisticated as a visual AR headset, but it’s intriguing. Bose includes Bluetooth for 3.5 hours of battery-powered audio playback from your favorite phone. It also places speakers in the frame’s arms, notably doing away with earbuds by producing sound that’s directed towards the wearer’s ears. For phone calling and Siri or Google Assistant voice commands, Frames also include a microphone and multi-function control button on the right temple.

    Above: “Bose Frames Alto” is one of two pairs of Frames sunglasses.

    All that hardware basically gets you a somewhat discreet stereo Bluetooth headset, but Bose has gone further by including a nine-axis head motion sensor to determine the direction you’re facing in. The sensor pairs with your phone’s GPS to provide location services information, conceivably enabling “audio AR” apps that will know, for example, that you’re walking around an art gallery and facing specific paintings before playing information about what you’re seeing.

    Bose began a campaign in March to get developers interested in creating apps for an early prototype version of Frames, but it’s unclear how many apps are actually going to support the concept. The company plans to launch Frames in January 2019 without AR support, then provide an update on its AR progress in March 2019 at SXSW.

    Preorders for Frames start today through Bose’s website. Each pair will include a pogo pin cable promising full recharging in two hours, as well as a cloth cleaning bag and carrying case. Bose expects the first AR apps to become available next year.

    This post by Dean Takahashi originally appeared on VentureBeat.

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  • VR Veterans Found Artie Augmented Reality Avatar Company
    VR Veterans Found Artie Augmented Reality Avatar Company

    The migration of virtual reality veterans to augmented reality continues. A new AR startup dubbed Artie is coming out of stealth mode today in Los Angeles with the aim of giving you artificial intelligence companions in your own home.

    Armando Kirwin and Ryan Horrigan started the company to use artificial intelligence and augmented reality to build “emotionally intelligent avatars” as virtual companions for people. Those avatars would be visible anywhere that you can take your smartphone or AR gear, Horrigan said in an interview.

    The startup has backing from a variety of investors, including YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley, Founders Fund, DCG, and others. But Kirwin said the company isn’t disclosing the amount of the investment yet.

    Above: Artie’s AR avatars in action.

    Image Credit: Artie

    The company’s software will enable content creators to bring virtual characters to life with its proprietary Wonderfriend Engine, which makes it easy to create avatar-to-consumer interactions that are lifelike and highly engaging. Kirwin said the company is working with major entertainment companies to get access to familiar characters from famous brands.

    “Our ambitions is to unlock the world of intellectual property you are already familiar with,” said Kirwin, in an interview with VentureBeat. “You can bring them into your home and have compelling experiences with them.”

    The company hopes to announce some relationships in the first quarter, Kirwin said.

    Once created, the avatars then exist on an AR network where they can interact and converse with consumers and each other. It reminds me of Magic Leap’s Mica digital human demo, but so far Artie isn’t showing anything quite as fancy as that yet.

    “The avatar will use AI to figure out whether you are happy or sad and that would guide it in terms of the response it should have,” Kirwin said. “Some developers could use this to create photoreal avatars or animated characters.”

    Artie is also working on Instant Avatar technology to make its avatars shareable via standard hyperlinks, allowing them to be discovered on social media and other popular content platforms (i.e. in the bio of a celebrity’s Instagram account, or in the description of a movie trailer on YouTube).

    Horrigan said that the team has 10 people, and it is hiring people with skills in AI, AR, and computer vision. One of the goals is to create avatars who are more believable because they can be inserted in the real world in places like your own home. The team has been working for more than a year.

    “Your avatar can be ready, so you don’t have to talk to it to activate it,” Kirwin said. “It’s always on, and it’s really fast, even though it is cloud based. We can recognize seven emotional states so far, and 80 different common objects. That’s where the technology stands today.”

    Above: Artie will be able to detect your mood and react to it.

    Image Credit: Artie

    Horrigan was previously chief content officer of the Comcast-backed immersive entertainment startup Felix & Paul Studios, where he oversaw content and business development, strategy and partnerships.

    Ryan and his team at Felix & Paul forged numerous partnerships with Fortune

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  • The VR Job Hub: Vacancies From Phaser Lock, Force Field & VRWERX More immersive jobs from around the world.
  • Something for the Weekend: PlayStation VR Discounts Build that content library up with these latest offers.
  • Hands-On: Mini-Mech Mayhem Is A Strategic And Hilarious Ode To Tabletop Gaming
    Hands-On: Mini-Mech Mayhem Is A Strategic And Hilarious Ode To Tabletop Gaming

    Reassuringly, FuturLab knows what makes it FuturLab. This is a studio that’s rightly proud of its criminally addictive arcade titles like Velocity and its sequel, immaculately-produced gems with pinpoint mechanics that you can jump straight into but spend weeks attempting to master. Mini-Mech Mayhem is an interesting one, then. It’s entirely different to anything you’ll find in the company’s 15-year history and yet, without question, still a FuturLab game.

    Instead of tying your fingers in knots, Mayhem is more interested in getting your brain in a twist. It’s a tabletop multiplayer game that comes to life in VR; you command a little robot buddy across a square grid, telling him where to move and when to shoot. Each player does this, but the order in which each turn plays out is determined by how far the player wants to move and which body parts they aim for.  Want to sprint to the other side of the map and pop off a headshot? You’ll probably move last in the current turn if so and, by the time you’ve done it, your opponent might not be standing where you thought they’d be anymore.

    Taking out your opponent’s mech isn’t the only goal; you’re trying to collect points that will appear in random places on the map. You need to anticipate if your enemy is going to make a sprint for an area and how to stop him if so while they’re doing the exact same thing. Hitting certain body parts will cause enemy mechs to change direction and even be bumped back a square. It’s a game about prediction, risk-taking and, most importantly, the hilarity of unexpected chaos.  Above all, though, it’s a lot of fun.

    Mini-Mech Mayhem isn’t FuturLab’s first encounter with VR or multiplayer; the studio also developed last year’s Tiny Trax, a likable if somewhat inaccessible take on Scalextric on PSVR. It retained the team’s core design philosophy of arcade gameplay that’s hard to master, though perhaps adhered to that a little too much. Studio founder James Marsden tells me that game’s development marked a turbulent time for FuturLab, but it’s helped them to come out swinging with their next attempt.

    “We learned so much on Tiny Trax about what makes a good, immersive VR experience,” Marsden says. “What really worked was the idea that you’ve got your toys coming to life. And in Tiny Trax it was toy cars and we’ve all been fans of Warhammer, painting miniatures or collecting expensive figurines that aren’t just toys. Taking those pristine models that come to life was an idea that we all fell in love with.”

    As the name suggests, then, Mini-Mech Mayhem stars a cutesy companion you can fit in the palm of your hand. It’s fully customizable with hundreds of cosmetic options (as is the player’s own avatar), but it’ll also interact with you in adorable ways like giving you a fist-bump when winning a match or dancing for you when standing on a podium. Think Astro Bot or Moss (two games Marsden repeatedly references

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  • AltspaceVR Offers Social Reach For Organizers In VR

    Altspace, the popular social VR app that is most notably compatible with both 3DOF and 6DOF VR headsets, is becoming efficient for users looking to get groups of people to connect and organize within VR. On a technical level, AltspaceVR has received a series of updates designed for event organizers to host audiences on stages

    The post AltspaceVR Offers Social Reach For Organizers In VR appeared first on VRScout.

  • Harry Shotta’s Latest Track ‘Virtual Insanity’ Goes for a VR Tech Vibe His latest video mixes both 360 content with the virtual.
  • Get Some VR Excitement in Your Life With Forklift Simulator 2019 The Early Acces title currently supports Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
  • The Biggest VR Releases Of The Week Of 12/02/18
    The Biggest VR Releases Of The Week Of 12/02/18

    Whoever said the end of the year would be quiet? New releases are pouring on in as 2018 draws to a close and, while they’re not all home runs, there’s definitely some interesting stuff to check out here.

    What else is to come? You can find out right here in our December games list.

    Gungrave VR, from Iggymob
    Price: $39.99 (PSVR)

    The long-awaited next entry in the little-known Gungrave series is finally here and it’s, well, it’s not brilliant. Gungrave VR takes the ‘gun fu’ mechanics of the PS2-era originals and dressed them up in a brief new campaign that doesn’t really translate very well to headsets. If you’re a die-hard fan of the series you may find something to like here but everyone else best steer clear.

    Arca’s Path from Dream Reality Interactive
    Price: $19.99 (Rift, Vive, Windows VR, PSVR, Go, Gear)

    The debut VR game from DRI is finally here. Arca’s Path is an engaging VR marble maze with an enjoyable story and gorgeous presentation. You simply need to look in the direction you want your ball to travel but it’s not long before things get tricky with environmental obstacles and other issues. This is an enjoyable VR time-killer that does a great job catering to both newbies and veterans.

    Awake: Episode One, from Start VR
    Price: $7.99 (Vive)

    A brilliant new short film that makes great use of volumetric capture to tell an emotionally overwhelming story. Awake follows a tortured soul as he digs into his past to uncover the mystery behind his missing partner.

    Make Noise, from the BBC
    Price: Free (Go)

    The BBC’s latest VR experience is a vibrant celebration of the suffragette movement. You use your own voice to interact with the experience in clever new ways.

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  • StarVR Developer Program Officially ‘on hold until further notice’ Things are not going well.
  • VR Meditation Could Take The Misery Out Of Long-Haul Flying

    Using immersive tech for meditation is becoming more popular, but can it make flying in economy feel bearable? Keen to explore the potential of immersive technologies to enhance passenger wellness during long-haul flights, StoryUP has partnered with French-American company Skylights, which has recently utilized cinematic VR as premium passenger entertainment to work towards integrating its Healium

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  • StarVR Developer Program ‘On Hold’ Due To ‘Uncertainties With Shareholder’
    StarVR Developer Program ‘On Hold’ Due To ‘Uncertainties With Shareholder’

    Less than a month after StarVR started accepting applications for its $3,200 developer kit program, the company has confirmed to UploadVR that it’s putting the process ‘on hold’.

    Last month, StarVR stated that its first production units for StarVR One were ready. Developers could apply to purchase the headset, which featured 210° horizontal × 130° vertical field of view, dual AMOLED panels, integrated eye tracking and SteamVR 2.0 tracking (though no SteamVR base stations to actually track the device). Yesterday we also reported on the StarVR’s claims that its headset would be the first to support the new VirtualLink standard.

    But trouble was brewing surrounding the announcement. Ahead of the launch, StarVR announced that it was delisting StarVR from the Taipei Exchange Emerging Markets board, citing the current state of the VR industry as one reason. Then, earlier this week, we learned that headset creator Starbreeze, which now owns around a third of StarVR (the other two-thirds belonging to Acer), had filed for reconstruction with the Stockholm District Court. Its offices have been raided this week, leading to one arrest linked to insider-trading.

    Today a StarVR spokesperson provided UploadVR with the following statement: “We believe it is the most responsible course of action to put the StarVR Developer Program on hold while there are uncertainties with our key overseas shareholder, and also while our company is in the process of going private, which may entail some changes to our operations.”

    The same message has been sent to anyone that had enrolled in the program thus far. The statement certainly seems to refer to Starbreeze’s current difficulties.

    It’s uncertain what this means for the future of the VR headset, which had been designed for location-based and enterprise experiences. One thing is likely; developers will have to wait at least a little longer to get their hands on the hardware if it does indeed ever reach their doorsteps.

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  • Gungrave VR Review: Better Left Buried
    Gungrave VR Review: Better Left Buried

    I’m not sure exactly who was campaigning for a Gungrave resurrection, let alone one in VR but, judging by just how ludicrously detailed the game’s Wikipedia entry is, they’re out there. If you are one of the few waving that flag then best strap yourself in; this is not going to be pretty.

    Gungrave VR is probably the worst game I’ve played in VR this year. It’s a stripped back PS2-era shooter that can be beaten in less than an hour and has absolutely no reason to be in VR. It’s entirely incoherent, utterly devoid of intrigue and, despite releasing in Japan last year, plays like it’s half-finished.

    This isn’t a port of the original game, though it may as well have been. In the 14 year gap between releases developer Iggymob hasn’t made a single change to the way you control protagonist Grave, who uses all of the same animations from the 2002 original let alone the 2004 sequel. For the most part, you run around in third person, dodge incoming bullets and then return fire by holding R2. The only difference between playing in VR and the old games is that you now aim with your head.

    But what was an already-dated design is made worse here. At least the original Gungrave had a simple linear level structure and some impressive destruction, for the time. Gungrave VR’s three on-foot missions consist of, at most, three tiny areas in which you’ll just need to shoot enemies that pour in to set points until you’re allowed to move on. The destruction is completely gone and, aside from text-based mission briefings that you’ll miss if you don’t return to the main menu between levels, there isn’t any explanation for the different scenarios you’ll suddenly find yourself in.

    It was a random, lifeless hour I spent inside VR.

    There are missions that implement on-rails first-person shooting but they’re entirely unremarkable, lacking any sort of punch to its presentation and relying on the same basic set of enemies from start to finish. Perhaps the one level with some semblance of justification for being in VR is a mission on an air bike in which you face off against a massive blimp. But the game switches between fighting the blimp and fighting regular enemies at random. The blimp just suddenly disappears and then there are new enemies in front of you. It’s dizzying and disjointed nearly to the point of being unplayable.

    All of this might be forgivable if the core ‘gun-fu’ aspect of the game was at least fun to play. In reality, Gungrave VR is one of those ugly reminders that some games don’t play as well as you remember them. The controls are stiff and animations have to be seen through before you can attack enemies as they arrive. Though the entire campaign is quite easy on Normal difficulty, there are some boss fights that will lock you into cheap attacks that push you over, repeating them until you die (at which point you need to start the level over).

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  • Gungrave U.N. Review: Somehow Worse Than Gungrave VR
    Gungrave U.N. Review: Somehow Worse Than Gungrave VR

    I’m left somewhat lost for words by Gungrave U.N.. It’s a standalone ‘sequel’ to Gungrave VR which I just called maybe the worst VR game to release this year. That game comes and goes in 50 minutes without making any hint of an impression on you. U.N. does that all over again, this time in about half an hour.

    I couldn’t work out what twisted reality I’d stumbled into when I booted up U.N. to discover it recycling the same main menu. Oddly enough, the third-person gameplay that forms the bulk of Gungrave VR is given slightly more polish here; your attacks seem a little faster and more lethal and levels are actually linear environments you have to shoot your way through. It’s still largely pointless, stiff and pretty much without merit, but it is just an inch better than the main game.

    Just when I thought this expansion might come out on top over the original, though, U.N. introduces its side-scrolling sections.

    Yup, the game’s mainly comprised of a barebones side-scrolling shooter in which you use your headset as a cursor to aim. The controls remain exactly the same and you just fight the same type of enemies over and over again for another 30 minutes, aside from three more forgettable boss encounters.

    I really don’t know what to say at this point other than there is literally no reason to put yourself through playing these levels; they find even less purpose for being in VR that the traditional sections do. You slog through one side to the other, your brain wondering off elsewhere for the duration.

    Final Score: 3/10 – Bad

    Gungrave U.N. is a leaner version of an already short game with utterly vapid side-scrolling sections and the same dated design as its predecessor. Don’t do it to yourself.

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