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VR Digest: Vive kits ship;
Oculus CV1 details leaked

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written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) #19 - June 10, 2015
VR Digest: A Virtual Reality newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

Oculus CV1 details leak ahead of press conference

Oculus is hosting its pre-E3 press conference Thursday morning in San Francisco. However, in debuting a minimalist new logo as well as a countdown for the live-streamed presentation, the VR division of Facebook accidentally leaked “placeholder concept” images. Co-founder Palmer Luckey quickly responded, saying they depict “ancient” information and “don’t expect everything to carry through to the stream.”

That said, a screenshot of the leaked page reveals intriguing possibilities. It shows a small and simple handheld controller that looks like it could duplicate the touchpad and volume controls on the Gear VR, an outward-facing camera on the headset (not seen on previous images of the Rift), mentions of a VR operating system, and a partnership with NewEgg.com.
 

Contest winners announced

SteamCrew VR” won the $200,000 grand prize in the Oculus Mobile Jam. The game requires two Gear VRs on the same network for cooperative play, with each player controlling part of a steampunk submarine firing torpedoes at sea monsters. “The Night Cafe” won $110,000 with its van Gogh-inspired art scene and “DRIFT”, which won $100,000, turns the player into a bullet zipping through rooms in search of targets.

“Giving 61 experiences their due attention was more work than I expected,” wrote one of the judges, Brad Herman of Dreamworks Animation. “I would imagine many of them will come back in the oculus store as full products some day.”

Be sure to check out the full list of winners. We really enjoyed playing “Polo”, in which one user plays as a mouse named Polo filling up on cheese in the Gear VR while another player on the same network plays as Marco the cat using a top-down touchscreen control scheme.

Meanwhile, the May winners of the OTOY “Render The Metaverse” contest were announced.  
 

Valve begins shipping dev kits

A lucky few developers began receiving Vive kits from Valve to begin development in earnest for the SteamVR platform. The kit includes a headset, two Lighthouse base stations, two wireless (optionally wired) Steam VR controllers and supporting hardware. Vertigo Games posted an unboxing video.

The user guide (PDF) is chock full of humor portrayed by the stick figure people from “Portal”. For example, the guide says to “escort unpredictable, untracked objects from space” with an image of a cat being shown the door.
 

Bits

Executives from Magic Leap spoke at an MIT Technology Review conference revealing (at around 15:30 in the video) that the Google-backed startup is setting up a facility with “almost 300,000 square feet” to create a “photonic lightfield chip.” If you're confused about precisely what that means you're not alone.

“I think it's actually going to be an inspirational, everyday thing that you use and put on and it helps you throughout the day. I think gaming is a great place to start ... As we go forward in time we'll have software that makes you better as a human, smarter as a human,” Graeme Devine said.
 

Polygon put together a package of around a dozen stories in “The Race For VR” report, including a Q&A with the Morpheus team and a post about “interstellar sandbox” experience “Irrational Exuberance”.

“I've been going through a process of understanding VR as a very different thing, at least for my purposes,” creator Ben Vance says. “I struggled for some time thinking I should add more traditional [game] elements.”

Recode has a report on how useful eye-tracking is for social VR app Altspace.

“The eyes can focus on a very small pixel range, like a YouTube ‘play’ button,” said Bruce Wooden, head of Altspace developer and community relations. “We’re getting into territory where I don’t even know how to describe this stuff.”

Unreal developers will find FX Guide’s report on Epic’s Open World demo to be an enlightening look into how far the game engine can be taken. “...the Epic team put together both an open world and ‘Pixar’ style narrative piece that is very cinematic and natural.”

Unity released version 5.1 of its development platform with a number of improvements for VR devs. “You can plug in your Oculus Rift dev kit and playtest away, with Unity handling a number of VR/AR-specific features out of the box.”

ESPN reports the Dallas Cowboys are the first NFL team to adopt VR for training purposes, teaming with STRIVR Labs. 360-degree cameras attached to player helmets offers an up-close view from scrimmages. “This allows you to get a little closer (to the action) so you can coach better,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.

Tested checked out DJI’s new API by controlling an aerial drone’s camera using a Rift.

Gamasutra talked to VR developers about motion sickness and the efforts being made to eliminate the side effects.

“Rotation is often a particularly tricky problem,” said “Darknet” developer E McNeill. “Smooth, gentle, slowly accelerating rotation turns out to be the worst possible solution to this problem, which I'm proud to have discovered firsthand.”

Adobe bought 3D character animation company Mixamo and will be integrating it into Creative Cloud. Meanwhile, you can download their Fuse application and all of their characters for free.

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