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The week's top VR news brought to you
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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
Hi Friends,

Welcome to the second installment of VR Digest! In case you missed it, you can read our inaugural issue here. If you enjoy this, don’t forget to tell your friends.

If you have comments, suggestions, or tips for the next issue, please let us know at news@studiotranscendent.com. Now, to the latest in VR!

Best,
Aaron, John and Ian at Studio Transcendent

Google-backed Cardboard and Razer-backed OSVR are signing up new partners for their virtual reality platforms. The efforts come ahead of what’s shaping up to be an important series of conferences for VR: GDC from March 2 to 6, Microsoft Build from April 29 to May 1 and E3 from June 16 to 18.

Google’s mobile 3D-sensing Project Tango will be pitching "Transmogrified Reality" at GDC while CNET reports Mattel and Google are teaming up on something that looks to be ViewMaster-themed, which will be revealed on Friday. Also, Engadget reported that LG is teaming up with Google to unleash VR for G3, which is based on Cardboard.

Sounds like Google is moving beyond cardboard as a material for Cardboard, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see it rebranded. The ViewMaster announcement with Google brings to mind the Hasbro Viewer for iPhone, which has been on the market since 2011.
 

Advances in stereoscopic immersive video

NextVR is the Laguna Beach startup behind the Coldplay 180 degree concert experience available on Gear VR. Their differentiator is high-resolution live transmission of wrap-around content, which they’ve demonstrated publicly for the first time by streaming a view of sunbathed Laguna Beach to a GearVR in wintry Ann Arbor, Michigan for Engadget.

Next up: half-court seats at a basketball game?

Volumetric (position-tracking aware) pre-rendered video from PresenZ looks spectacular, but experiences are limited to 1 minute at 25 frames per second and it only works with computer generated imagery created with the Arnold renderer. No live video. Still, it’s impressive and there could be some great use-cases for the technology as it develops.
 

VRLA gets even bigger with “Expo”

Each VRLA has been noticeably bigger than the last, stretching each successively larger venue to the breaking point. The term “meetup” hardly seemed an adequate moniker anymore. So the organizers rechristened it a “quarterly exposition”. Tickets are on sale now, discounted to $15 on General Admission and $50 on Early Admission through February 16, after which prices rise $5 and $50 respectively. Also announced: VRLA Sphere.

 

Dev Talk

From our interview with Drash: "Have fun, enjoy the journey, but give yourself deadlines if you don’t already have them. Try to work on things that excite you, but always be pushing at the edge of your comfort zone."

USC VR researcher Mark Bolas on Upload VR: "You can personally feel guilty for example if you shoot someone in a virtual world. So there’s this new range of emotions that we can start authoring for, and I think that’s one of the highlights of it as a new medium."

VR architecture specialist Jon Brouchoud wrote his company has "been busier than ever" but "every single project we work on these days is strictly confidential (we even offer 20% discounts for projects we can share publicly, to no avail...)."

Sensics CEO Yuval Boger on the optics of OSVR: "Why doesn’t everyone use dual-element design? Because others might be focused on different constraints. For instance, dual elements roughly cost twice as much to make as a single element."

The latest post from the team behind Xing gives a window into their process and inspiration: “As is the status quo for a lot of independent studios, we each wear many hats for working in a variety of disciplines. I enjoy being at the intersection of art and engineering…”
 

New experiences from top developers

Titans of Space developer Drash is a bit of a brand name in VR these days, and his latest experience does not disappoint. Apollo 11 is a proof-of-concept demo he worked on for a new Kickstarter campaign from VR Immersive Education. The hope is to build out the experience to be a full on simulation of the entire Apollo 11 mission. Directed by Dave Whelan from Virtual Reality Reviewer, and developed by Drash, the demo will get your heart pumping and inspire you as few can.
BlazeRush is a favorite for its accessible gameplay and fun online multiplayer. We love the gorgeous graphics driven by Targem Games’ custom engine, particularly the spectacular particle effects. The VR experience is especially charming, as you can get in close and examine the great detail on all the vehicles (and the menacing crusher). Linux and Mac users have been left out till this week, but that has been fixed.
Kite & Lightning made waves with a boat ride along the river Styx in Senza Peso, and their latest project is now on Oculus Share. It’s a short submarine journey to the bottom of the sea to visit General Electric’s ambitious robotic seafloor oil extraction project off the coast of Brazil. Our digest’s editor and Studio Transcendent cofounder, John Dewar, worked on this experience while he was at K&L.
Technolust is one of the most atmospheric and immersive experiences available and its creator, IRIS VR, has now publicly released a quick tech demo showcasing binaural 3D audio and animated photorealistic 3D scans.
Proton Studio has released a new playable demo for their well-regarded Time Rifters puzzle shooter. It stands as one of the most polished interactive VR experiences available.
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