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VR Digest: Impressive Mixed Reality Concept;
New VR Scripting Language

The week's top VR news brought to you
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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 23 – July 8, 2015
Hi Friends,

We’ll be at the SoCal Virtual Reality Conference & Expo on July 12 at UC Irvine. Tickets are sold out with more than 800 RSVPs, so it should be a packed event. However, the organizers have reserved a limited number of early access tickets for VR Digest readers that will get you in at 11 a.m. to the demo floor. Use the promo code “vrdigestvip” at the link above. There’s also a separate kick off event on July 11.

Hope to see you there!

Best,
Ian, John, Aaron and Elissa from Studio Transcendent

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

Leap Motion’s Impressive Hackathon Winner

A video has been posted showing an impressive mixed reality concept from the winner of an internal hackathon at hand-tracking company Leap Motion.

Wearing a VR headset, the demonstration shows a pass-through stereoscopic view of the real world using a prototype “Dragonfly” sensor module and the company’s public software development kit. Using hand gestures and a mouse, the setup allows the user to see the real world and pull windows out of a traditional monitor, watch a Youtube video and dim the lights.

The company posted some details back in January charting educated guesses about the technology in upcoming generations of VR headsets, including some details about the “Dragonfly” module that’s key to the concept. Leap Motion writer Alex Colgan also posted some details about the demo on Reddit.
 

John Carmack’s New VR scripting Language

The chief technology officer at Oculus is working to create a scripting language for virtual reality. This would enable developers to test changes to their code without having to constantly stop their work to recompile and copy the latest version to their device, something that is currently a painful step with the Gear VR. The Software Development Times wrote about about the effort and, if you’re a programmer, the Google+ discussion about it might be worth reading.

“I have a not-so-large number of hours that I can possibly devote to this before it needs to stand on its own and provide real value to other developers, which means that it needs to be built on, and leverage, existing systems, warts and all,” John Carmack wrote.

“I'm only three weeks into this project. Give me a little more time to change the world. :-)”
 

Grants Available; Entries Accepted For VR Awards

Microsoft is offering five awards of $100,000 each to universities and research institutions in the United States in an effort to jumpstart HoloLens development. Two headsets are included with each award. Proposals should seek “to better understand the role and possible applications for holographic computing in society.” Microsoft suggests areas of interest might include data visualization, training, communication, experimental media and psychology.  The deadline for submissions is Sept. 5 and awards will be announced in October.

Meanwhile, Social VR startup High Fidelity “will be awarding up to three $5,000 grants” to people who use the platform to create something that can be experienced by more than three people together, is appropriate for high schoolers and is focused on science, technology, engineering and math education. Descriptions and concepts are due by the end of July.

Also, submissions are being accepted through July 15 for the second annual Proto Awards, a VR awards ceremony modeled on the Oscars. There’s a $50 submission fee for non-student entries. The ceremony will be held Sept. 22 alongside Oculus Connect. It is open to any VR experience “made available for public download between Sept. 20, 2014 and July 15, 2015.”
 

Bits

Microsoft Research posted a video mashing up a depth camera, mixed reality, and Microsoft Paint to show a person marking objects and surfaces in a room using simple gestures, which could make “labeling, segmenting and learning from the 3D world around us a fun and interactive process.”

“We see a user simply touching a surface, issuing a voice command ‘label floor’ to interactively segment and label the surface or object in question.”

Samsung created a series of experiences to showcase Team USA as it begins its year-long wind up to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The wraparound movies will be made available in the MilkVR app on the Gear VR.

“The average joe on the street doesn't know what I do. Samsung was able to capture that perfectly,” gold-medal winning diver David Boudia told USA Today. “They would put (the rig) over me, they dropped it along side of me, they got us under water. They got every single possible (angle).”

Silicon Valley-based 3D capture company Matterport raised $30 million to “accelerate development of mobile capture for VR and AR content.” The company sells a “Pro 3D Camera” for $4,500 to capture spaces and has raised a total of $56 million from investors to date. The Matterport website offers a showcase of 3D models if you want to see what a captured room looks like, and there is also an app available on the Gear VR.

Mozilla opened up its version of Firefox supporting VR headsets to more developers. You can check it out on a Rift development kit by following the instructions at MozVR.

“VR is too big to be left just to (gamers),” Mozilla’s Josh Carpenter told USA Today.

Seattle-based VRstudios partnered with Dave and Buster’s to debut a VR system open to the public at the Milpitas location in Silicon Valley, according to VRFocus. The system is called VRcade and offers a completely untethered room-scale experience via a custom-built wireless headset. A teaser video shows one of several titles available for players which makes use of a tracked gun-controller provided by TrinityVR, who produced similar tech for “The Walking Dead” experience that was shown at E3.

Oculus provided an update on its integration with Unity 5.1. Now that VR support is part of Unity itself, the scripts that were previously included with the Unity integration have been rolled into a separate “Oculus Utilities for Unity” package.

Oculus Chief Operating Officer Laird Malamed is raising money for charity ahead of a marathon he is running on July 12. More than $20,000 was raised through Tuesday (Malamed is doubling that with 1:1 contributions of his own) for three causes he supports including one that caught our eye, the Andrew Reisse Memorial Scholarship. Reisse was the 5th employee at Oculus and a long-time friend of several co-founders. He was killed while crossing the street in 2013. Donation link is here.

“There’s a lot of loss, a feeling of loss,” said Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe recently. “We think about him all the time.”
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