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VR Digest: New Oculus bundle;
Marvel experience

The week's top VR news brought to you
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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by John Dewar (@jstarrdewar) Issue 129 – July 20, 2017

VR Digest: A Virtual Reality newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

Oculus Now Bundling Touch in the Box with Rift

Oculus announced a new all-in-one Oculus+Touch bundle. The devices are now packaged in the same box, and the new price point will be set at $499. The new combo does away with the bundled Xbox One controller and the Oculus Remote.

The move explains some of the reasoning behind Oculus’ “Summer of Rift” sale—it cleared out inventory of the old a la carte boxes. According to a tweet by Oculus cofounder Brendan Iribe, the discounted combination sold out faster than expected. As a result, the new, combined box will be sold for $399 while the sale continues, a $100 discount.

Oculus continues to sell the Touch separately for customers who already own a Rift.

The company has sent a loud and clear message to developers. Rift is no longer a Touch-optional platform and anyone relying on the Oculus Remote or Xbox controller needs to take that into account. (Incidentally, our Rapid Fire experience, which was designed around the Oculus Remote, can be controlled with Touch—read the last paragraph of the description for a list of commands.)

This development will please most developers, however, as encouraging the user base to buy Touch reduces fragmentation in the PC VR ecosystem and makes it easier to support both Rift and Vive.
 

Oculus Announces Big IP As Comic Con Kicks Off

There’s always a fair amount of VR content kicking around at the annual San Diego Comic Con, and Oculus got the party started with the announcement of Marvel Powers United VR, a big budget multiplayer co-op fighting game where players can embody Deadpool, The Hulk, Captain Marvel, and even Rocket Raccoon. There will be 12 heroes available at launch. UploadVR posted a hands-on video, playing as Deadpool. Comic Con attendees can try it out at the Marvel booth.

Oculus also announced three tie-ins to Blade Runner 2049, with the first slated for release on Gear VR this weekend (and also available to try at Comic Con).

VR Digest cofounder Ian Hamilton has a rundown of all the known Comic Con VR activations and panels over on UploadVR.
 

Trio of New AR HMDs


Mira Prism

The Mira Prism AR headset includes a hand-held controller and is powered wirelessly by an iPhone. The headset will cost $99. UploadVR posted some hands-on impressions.

Co-founder and CEO Ben Taft says, “As developers, we wanted a way to build and experiment in AR without the need for expensive equipment, and as AR enthusiasts, we wanted the opportunity to play and explore without limits. We challenged ourselves to build a mobile headset that would make AR accessible to anyone.”

The demos presented in their promotional video rely on fiduciary tracking markers for any semblance of position tracking, but the company hopes they can take advantage of Apple’s ARKit to enhance the experience. Overall the tech is very similar to the Aryzon “Google Cardboard for AR” project that we covered several weeks ago.


Glass Enterprise Edition

Meanwhile Google has resurrected Glass, this time aiming it at the professional market. The Glass Enterprise Edition is touted as a “hands-free device for hands-on workers”. Wired magazine has an in-depth article by Steven Levy explaining how the device is being put to work.


Lenovo Jedi Challenges

Disney held their D23 conference and one small bit of news that came out was a promo for a mysterious AR activation that—as far as we can glean from the video—will be set up in Best Buy stores and involve a heretofore unseen Lenovo AR headset.

If you look very closely at the video, you can see that on either side of the visor is a front-facing camera. This is similar to the setup on the Microsoft VR headset that Lenovo is bringing to market late this year, so it could be simply depicting a fantasy version of that product. However, the fine print at the end of the video says “compatible mobile device required”, which may be referring to a mobile phone powered product similar to the Mira Prism.

In favor of that possibility: the headset depicted is wireless, and the copy on the website reads “Awaken your inner Jedi with a new app‑enabled augmented reality experience.” Opposed: how is Lenovo going to get your random smartphone talking to their stereo tracking cameras?
 

Bits

Someone finally got around to using Apple’s ARKit to provide position tracking for a cardboard-style VR experience on the iPhone. London-based Nexus Studios created a gallery application that allowed users to stroll around a park, looking at Tilt Brush artwork in a VR experience “with unlimited boundaries”.

Bandai Namco posted short gameplay videos of all the experiences they created for the Shinjuku VR ZONE out-of-home venue. Road to VR collected them all in one place.

A Philadelphia-based restaurant chain called Honeygrow is using VR to train its new employees. The VR app created by Klip Collective blends 360 video with 2D and 3D interactive elements to educate new hires, giving them a chance to experience the job in VR before they embark on their first day. [Road to VR]

VR landed six Emmy nominations this year, three created by Oculus in the category of Outstanding Original Interactive Program. [Road to VR]

An Indiegogo project called ViveNchill has tripled its worryingly modest $5000 funding goal for twin, tiny, USB powered fans that attach to the top of the Vive and provide a cooling breeze to your forehead.

You can now apply to attend Oculus Connect 4.

VR Digest™ is a Virtual Reality Newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent, a producer of premium Virtual Reality experiences. We publish weekly on Thursdays.

 
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