VR Digest: Facebook opens its platform to AR & VR at F8

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written by John Dewar (@jstarrdewar) Issue 116 – April 19, 2017

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

Hi Friends,

Thanks to those of you who stopped by our booth at VRLA this past weekend. We had a blast showing off our latest work and meeting all of you! And a big welcome to our new subscribers as well.

Aaron, John, Bowdy, and Elissa 
at Studio Transcendent

Facebook Opens its Platform to AR & VR at F8

Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address at Facebook’s F8 event focused heavily on AR and VR. It was pitched as more than an opportunity to tease some futuristic tech demos: Facebook is opening up its Augmented Reality platform and its Facebook Spaces social VR application as betas. The latter is now available on Oculus Home to download, and is fun to play around with if you can find a Facebook friend with an Oculus and Touch combo to join you in its cheerful little photobubble enclave.

The Augmented Reality platform is the more interesting announcement, and Zuckerberg teased a range of extremely advanced AR tech, implying the company has a bead on rock-solid markerless tracking and AI that can infer 3D depth from a single perspective photograph or occlude a digital object with a physical one. Zuckerberg made it clear that all of this is laying the groundwork for mixed reality head mounted displays---certain ideas, like an application that lets users leave notes attached to objects in the environment, would not be very discoverable with a purely mobile phone based solution. In the meantime, he’s hoping developers use the platform to experiment with potential applications and that users start generating content, so there will be something to look at once the HMDs do arrive.

We expect more announcements will be coming out of the second day of F8 today, and we will break those down for you next week as usual.

Google Earth Arrives on Oculus

Google Earth VR appeared on Oculus Home Tuesday. Although it could be accessed through SteamVR before, the new version is fully optimized for Oculus Touch.

“We made sure that navigating the planet in Earth VR on Rift with Touch feels natural, comfortable, and immersive, so that even more people can fly over cities and stand on top of mountains in VR. We thought a lot about the button mapping to make sure it was intuitive and took advantage of the Touch controllers’ precise analog sticks, which are a great fit for the way you move around in Earth VR.”

The app also got a new search feature as well as 27 new locations. The standard desktop app has also been completely revamped.

This is actually a bit of a milestone, as Earth VR is the first official Google app to appear on the Oculus platform.


Ridley Scott Associates (RSA) just launched RSA VR, a new division of filmmaker Ridley Scott’s production company. The creators of The Martian VR Experience and the upcoming Alien: Covenant experience stated that RSA VR is “dedicated exclusively to the creative development and production of VR, AR and mixed media.”

TheWaveVR is now available on Steam Early Access. Described as “the interstellar music festival of the future you can access at any time from anywhere,” the application is part digital instrument, part social network where users can “attend next level live concerts, discover mind-bending audio-visual experiences, and rave out with...friends at private dance parties.”

Having landed $6.5 million in seed funding, the company, co-founded by Aaron Lemke (who made a name for himself with gentle music-driven experiences for early versions of Oculus dev kits and Gear VR under the banner of Unello Design), is now one of the better-funded VR startups.

An article on TV[R]EV explores the need for serialized VR content in order to help the industry grow from “a series of one-offs and experiments” to more “compelling and addictive programming” that will help VR become a more mainstream form of entertainment.

Greenlight Insights released a new Virtual Reality Industry Report, estimating $7.2 Billion in global revenues in 2017 and predicting $74.8 billion by 2021.

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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