SteamVR signups are open
Valve opened up signups to request a Vive headset, game controllers and positional tracking base stations. The version for developers is being offered for free, but supplies are limited and the company is asking people to describe their project, including its launch date and the team size.
“Our goal is to support as many VR content creators as possible and, to that end, we will be distributing dev kits continually, with new units going out every couple weeks. However, supplies may be limited...commercial units will be available at a later date this year.”
Google updates Cardboard, hires developers
Patrick Hackett and Drew Skillman, the people behind Tiltbrush, were hired by Google to work on the company’s VR team. Tiltbrush is an impressive painting app (think Photoshop VR) enabling the creation of 3D scenes while inside a virtual space. There’s a gallery app for Google Cardboard to view things people have made using the technology. Google also hired an audio team from Trinity College Dublin to work on immersive audio.
In addition, Google published design guidelines with some basic suggestions for software designers building experiences for Cardboard, along with a certification program for manufacturers. There’s a system to generate a QR code that will tell the Cardboard software the specifications of the phone-holder. There’s also a “Works with Google Cardboard” badge manufacturers need to apply for to slap on the side of their viewer so users know it is compatible.
More health and VR effects studied
Venturebeat published a well-researched piece looking at the potential effects of VR on the eyes and brain. Among the research looked at was a study (PDF) of a single person subjected to a virtual environment, with occasional breaks, for 24 hours: “Several times during the experiment the participant was confused about being in the VE [virtual environment] or in the real world, and mixed certain artifacts and events between both worlds.”
Meanwhile, the association of eye doctors, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, published some work by researchers at UC San Diego using VR to study the relationship between glaucoma and the risk of falling. “With further refinement of this method, we hope that the approach could one day be used to identify patients at high-risk of falling so that preventative measures can be employed at an earlier stage.”
A new store for virtual reality apps, simply called V, has launched an early access beta. There are more than a dozen apps like The Battle of Endor and Windlands available in V. You can install and run apps without leaving VR, but it's still a little buggy, so expect to encounter a few hiccups. Signup is at startwithv.com (use beta code vrdigest).