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VR Digest: Oculus Ramping Up For Consumer VR

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

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

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Oculus Ramping Up For Consumer VR

Facebook is holding an Oculus event in San Francisco on June 11 (one week before E3) with invites heading out to press. “Step into the Rift” the invite teases, alluding to the original Kickstarter project which said, “Step into the Game.”

The invites come after the announcement of a release window for the Rift in the first quarter of next year as well as the required PC specifications needed to drive the goggles.

You'll need a PC (Mac and Linux development is paused) with a graphics card featuring at least the horsepower of a GTX 970 from NVIDIA or the AMD 290, as well as a pair of USB 3.0 ports and 8 GB of RAM, according to Oculus. The graphics card is the priciest component in a Rift-capable PC, currently selling for around $300, though prices are likely to drop by the time the Rift goes on sale.

Facebook's VR division also updated its PC software development kit to 0.6.0, bringing a number of major changes to its platform, including support for layers that should allow developers to optimize their VR experiences for increased performance and presence. Developers will have some work ahead updating to the new software and there are some helpful GIFs posted online to visualize the new features.

Oculus also announced finalists in the Mobile VR Jam, with 37 games and 24 apps or experiences making the cut, including Colosse, Crossover, NeoS, SMS Racing, Tactera, Technolust: Thought Crimes, Telescopic and The Night Cafe. Reddit has links to DK2 builds of some of the experiences.
 

Videos

Norm at Tested interviewed (video) Alan Yates, creator of Valve’s Lighthouse tech, with some in-depth explanations of how the position tracking technology works. “The idea of having more than one base station is primarily redundancy, not actually accuracy...it’s very difficult to occlude it.”

A three hour and 40 minute long recording of the live streamed sessions from the SVVR Conference is available here.

Hot Pockets released a humorous and unexpectedly intelligent take on room-scale at‑home virtual reality in the form of a 15-second commercial.

A teaser video released last week for “The Void” VR theme park has gone viral on YouTube, and does a good job of showing the potential of such a concept. Road to VR posted a hands on report as well.

Vice did a video on USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies exploring some of its facial capture and simulation technologies. “It was still possible at that point [in the late 1990s] to imagine that there was something magical, or ethereal or even spiritual about just the way that a human face looks that somehow technology would never be able to simulate.” If you’ve seen Digital Emily (video, 2008) or Digital Ira (video, 2013) you can see how they’ve crossed that line. There’s also a writeup.

Bits

AltspaceVR is now open for anyone to try out the VR communication platform. Sign up at altvr.com.

Eye-tracking VR headset FOVE went live on Kickstarter and quickly made it past the halfway mark on its $250,000 goal with a month and a half of fundraising left. We were able to try it yesterday and the eye tracking is impressive — a big leap compared to previous attempts at consumerizing the technology.

Oculus technical wizard John Carmack reviewed horror game Dreadhalls in the second of his public critiques of VR games. Most of it is highly technical, but useful, reading for serious developers. For a taste, he uses the word “gurple,” which he explains on Twitter is a cross between green and purple. He said the game legitimately scared him and that “someone is going to have a heart attack in a VR horror game, it is only a matter of time.” The father of the first-person horror genre ends with suggestions on how to to terrify users even more.

A VR enthusiast posting to Medium claimed to run for an hour in the Gear VR in a race across San Francisco. “At around mile 5, I began to feel like my arms and legs weren’t mine. I was becoming disassociated with my body.”

Penrose Studios started showing a beta version of “The Rose And I,” an adaptation of the modern French fable “The Little Prince.” The studio is founded by Eugene Chung, formerly of Oculus, who wrote a blog post suggesting VR could get derailed if enthusiasts become “territorial and narrow-minded.” Instead, “my hope is that we remain open and share.”

Vice wrote about EchoPixel, a company using medical scanning data to render 3D body parts for VR displays. “With the ability to see a patient’s anatomy from many more angles, doctors could more accurately diagnose the need for a colonoscopy.

Google moved a Google Search designer to its Cardboard project and has a session planned about building VR experiences at its developer conference coming up on May 28.

Fujitsu showed a glasses concept that beams lasers directly onto the retina. Planned to ship in 2016, “priced around $2,000.” It’s exciting because it represents real progress towards a practical virtual retinal display.

PixelRouter VR founder James Andrew posted on Road To VR about some intriguing experiments toying with how to show expansive space while in a small room. “I love this idea of using a virtual representation of your real surroundings as the gateway into other virtual places.”

Unity posted some insights into Owlchemy Labs, one of the earliest Vive developers. “If we spent our time developing another me-too mobile title, then we’d be putting the studio at greater risk. By being amongst the first movers on a new platform that we truly believe in, we’re securing the future of our business.”

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