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Hi Friends,

Welcome to the first issue of VR Digest! We find ourselves sifting through too many Reddit, Twitter and blog posts while searching for VR news. We thought a weekly email would be a nice way to stay informed.

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Now, to the latest in VR!

Aaron, John and Ian at Studio Transcendent

Microsoft Advertises Holograms

Wired got an “exclusive” hands-on with HoloLens and Microsoft is advertising the system — but don’t go looking for details. The field of view, cost, release window, and whether or not HoloLens actually produces something that could be termed a hologram are all open questions.

Also check out the Verge’s hands-on. “A ‘screen in your field of view’ is the right way to think about HoloLens, too. It's immersive, but not nearly as immersive as proper virtual reality is. You still see the real world in between the virtual objects.”

From the reports it sounds like Microsoft has nailed inside-out positional tracking with its HMD. That would be an achievement Oculus would doubtless love to match.


Interest In VR Soars At Sundance

VR was a major focus at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Oculus announced it will launch five short films this year along with Story Studio, its new in-house project for kickstarting VR movies by inventing and sharing best practices and techniques. They also publicly debuted their first short, Lost, which tells the tale of a giant robot's missing hand.

Specular Theory made a big splash at Sundance with their VR film The Party. Part of a planned "Perspective Trilogy", the 12-minute experience tells the harrowing story of an alcohol-enabled rape from both the perpetrator and victim's points of view.

Annapurna Pictures announced that it partnered with director Chris Milk to form a Virtual Reality division. This is exciting news as they are responsible for American HustleHer and Zero Dark Thirty.

What Is Holographic And What Isn’t? 

Last year Oliver Kreylos at UC Davis created a molecule while in virtual reality. Later, he gave himself an out of body experience. Now Kreylos, who maintains a blog called Doc_Ok, is trying to define what exactly Microsoft is promising when they talk about holograms. While Palmer Luckey has been working on laser holograms for years and prefers the technical definition, Kreylos argues that a more useful yardstick is how many of the six visual depth cues a given technology can reproduce.

By Doc Ok’s definition, DK2 is holographic but Gear VR isn’t.


News Bites

Rothenberg Ventures announced the first class in the River Virtual Reality Accelerator. They are DeepStreamVR, DISCOVR, Emblematic Group, Emergent VR, Fove, Innerspace, Psious, Reload Studios, SDK Lab, Solirax, Triggar, Thotwise, and Vantage.TV. Rothenberg is already taking applications for the next “Summer Batch”. The application deadline is Monday May 25, 2015.

Dates for the second SVVR Expo were announced as May 18-19. The first expo was terrific fun, and we’ll look forward to meeting y’all in person there this year.

A Valve engineer is giving a presentation on advanced VR rendering at GDC in March. “Valve has been creating advanced prototype VR HMD's since mid-2013 that are more advanced than other developers currently have access to.”

While Google is tied in with Magic Leap by way of its $500 million investment, their in-house mobile 3D sensing Project Tango technology is moving deeper into the company.

Apple is now hiring augmented and virtual reality programmers. Key qualification: “You have shipped a VR application, product, or game.”

Qantas partnered with JauntVR and Samsung to be the first to bring VR to in-flight entertainment. It makes a lot of sense, especially for passengers stuck in the middle seat of the middle row in the back of the plane. Unfortunately for those poor souls, the program is currently only offered in first class.

Epic updated the Unreal Engine Launcher with better styling and the ability to resize the window. If you’re an Unreal Dev you’ll want to grab the update.

Nvidia released a new driver v. 347.25, which fixes the double image issue afflicting many Oculus games as the driver was erroneously attempting to run the Oculus’ display at 120hz rather than the intended 75hz.


Introducing Oculus Story Studio

VisionaryVR (from the folks behind VRLA) lay out their “vision” for cinema in Virtual Reality

Hilarious compilation of VR newcomers being subjected to virtual pornography


Ben Kuchera of Polygon, Ben Lang of Road to VR, and Ben Gilbert of Engadget have joined forces to start a new VR-themed podcast eponymously christened 3Bens

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