VR Digest: Galaxy S8 revealed today;
HTC’s big announcements

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by John Dewar (@jstarrdewar) Issue 113 – March 29, 2017

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

Samsung Galaxy S8 Revealed Today

Samsung will take the stage at 8AM Pacific Time this morning to introduce their new high end device, the Galaxy S8. Discounting the failure and recall of the Note 7, it has been over a year since Samsung’s last flagship release, so quite a bit of anticipation has built up around the forthcoming phone. The S8 will definitely be an exciting release for VR fans, as it will be accompanied by a new Gear VR device with a Daydream-like handheld remote and promised improvements in resolution and performance, thanks to a larger screen and a new System-on-a-Chip (most likely the Snapdragon 835, which itself features VR optimizations).

CNET is offering a livestream of the event.

HTC Starts the Week with Big Announcements

HTC’s Vive Tracker is now on sale for $99, plus $26 shipping. Unfortunately, as of press time demand had exceeded supply and it was already out of stock, prompting a message saying that HTC would not be accepting any new orders at this time. You can sign up on the checkout page to be notified when the Vive tracker orders open up again.

Thirty-three new investments were added to HTC’s Vive X accelerator program.

Warner Bros. and HTC announced a strategic global partnership to create VR content around Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One adaptation and distribute it through HTC’s channels including Viveport and their Out-Of-Home VR arcade franchise.

HTC also announced a joint venture with the Shenzhen government, The International VR Research Institute, to be headed by Dr. Tom Furness.

The company has a Chinese software product called Vivepaper, which is interesting in that it uses the front facing camera on the Vive to track a fiducial tracking marker affixed to a paper folder, which simulates the experience of holding a magazine with VR enhancements: for example, you can tap an image in the magazine to bring up a 360 photo or video in the background. Qingdao Publishing Group will furnish educational content for a China-wide deployment in libraries and bookstores.

Viveport has sprouted an advertising SDK, allowing developers to incorporate advertising in their experience to generate additional revenue, which includes gaze-tracking analytics.


Facebook is hiring Michael Hillman as head of VR hardware at Oculus. A 15-year Apple veteran with his name on 62 patents, Hillman will work with Oculus COO Hans Hartmann to lead VR product development.

Oculus opened its digital storefront a year ago and is celebrating the milestone with an “Anniversary Sale” that runs through April 4th. Road to VR compiled a list of all the discounted experiences.

A white paper from the VFX Europe Conference & Expo examines the role of lighting in creating immersive VR. “Lighting has long been the linchpin of immersion. Whilst effective lighting can draw a user into a scene or game, poor lighting is all too often the first thing that causes the entire thing to fall apart.”

Three researchers from the University of Southern California will meet with the federal government about the potential dangers of immersive technology and the need for more research on the impact it might have on people. A Polygon article quotes Todd Richmond who leads USC’s Mixed Reality Lab: “I see a lot of people in tech saying that they’re not responsible for this technology; they’re just developing it. That it’s up to society to figure out what’s safe, ethical and moral. … I say, ‘No.’ The development community needs to accept some responsibility and be part of the conversation.”

Japanese developer hecomi posted an awesome video of a Hololens app that lets users intuitively control Philips Hue smart bulb colors with a holographic interface.

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

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