VR Digest:  Oculus hires computer vision pioneers

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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

Oculus hires computer vision pioneers

Mixing real and virtual worlds will be easier for Facebook now that a team of computer vision researchers from Imperial College London are going to work for Oculus Research.

Richard Newcombe, Renato Salas-Moreno and Steven Lovegrove pioneered technologies like KinectFusion, DynamicFusion, DTAM, SLAM++ and Dense Planar SLAM that could be key to modeling the real world in real-time. The team goes by the name Surreal Vision and joins earlier computer vision talent acquisitions Nimble VR and 13th Lab.

We contacted UC Davis holodeck researcher Oliver Kreylos to see if he was familiar with their work:

“We're talking markerless inside-out – anywhere, anytime – tracking for mobile VR, and bringing real-world objects into the virtual world to have virtual objects interact with them. This is foundational work all across the AR/VR continuum. DynamicFusion would also allow ‘holographic’ real-time 3D video at a higher quality level than raw capture from Kinect-like cameras like I've been doing.”

At Oculus, Surreal aims to provide an “up-to-date model of everything in the environment including people and their interactions with each other...[to] reproject in real-time a model of reality back to the user in a way that feels real, creating a new, mixed reality that brings together the virtual and real worlds.”

The announcement of the acquisition comes ahead of a jam-packed few weeks in which Google and Apple will hold their developer conferences, and Facebook will likely show journalists the final design for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift.

Oculus Connect2 Announced

Oculus announced that their developer conference, Oculus Connect, will be held September 23-25 at The Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, California (the same location as last year). Registration will cost $495 and an application process is required due to limited space. Details will be announced in June.

Devs continue experience rollouts

Engadget got a hands-on with a “Director’s Cut” of the VR movie “Lost” from Oculus Story Studio. “Lost” is inspired by “The Iron Giant,” and the updated version represents a social VR experiment for Oculus, transforming two Rift-wearing users into fireflies in the same scene together. “We think the future of VR in cinema is social, that you're with your friends. You're not in the same room, maybe; maybe you're all going in together at the same time…”

We tried “The Rose And I,” inspired by the modern French fable “The Little Prince” and its animation is some of the best we’ve seen in VR. We’re honoring Penrose Studios’ request not to share the link to the download directly. If you’d like to try it on a DK2, tweet the hashtag #RoseAndI and follow the PenroseVR Twitter account. Look for the link on their Twitter page when they follow you back.

Meanwhile, Adult Swim worked with Venice-based WEVR to build a Google Cardboard VR experience called Virtual Brainload (Play link).

Upcoming summer movies “Insidious Chapter 3” and “Jurassic World” both have experiences related to the movies on tour as well.


Cubicle Ninjas CEO Joshua Farkas tweeted the above picture from a 1993 textbook estimating the future growth curve of VR headsets. The paragraph above the chart is worth noting too.

Joe Ludwig of Valve and others participated in an hour-long panel available on Youtube.  “We’ve pretty much gotten to the point where we won’t even talk to people until they get the demo first because the conversation completely changed...from sort of being where do I sign up?”

Production company UNIT9 posted some interesting thoughts to Medium about VR in comparison to movies. “If Blade Runner was being made today it would still result in a traditional film, but might also have a VR component. That’s what is exciting, the universe you can build as a creator is expanding.”

Convrge posted tidbits showing developers how to create a multiplayer Oculus Rift game using Unity.

Eye-tracking headset FOVE is well past its fundraising goal on Kickstarter with more than a month to add more money (or get acquired).

Castrol is trying to outdo the guy last week who said he ran for an hour across San Francisco in Gear VR. All to sell motor oil, Castrol made a video of a racecar being driven by a guy in a VR headset. There’s also a behind-the-scenes video and The Verge has a write-up about the stunt.

The Augmented World Expo is being held June 8 to 10 in Silicon Valley. Upload VR is organizing a Virtual Reality Experience, set to include “Bjork VR,” “Game of Thrones: The Wall,” and “Tiltbrush” on the Vive, among others. The experience opens on June 9th.

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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