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VR Digest: Rift-exclusives explained;
Vive going on tour

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 24 – July 15, 2015
Hi Friends,

Our experience "Rapid Fire: a brief history of flight" got a nice mention in InnerRift's recap of Sunday's SoCalVR event. Find out more about it on our homepage.

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

Rift-exclusive game strategy explained

A Gamasutra post revealing Oculus “has about two dozen games it is fully funding” led to some blowback on Reddit. Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey took to the site to explain why titles like “Edge of Nowhere” are being developed exclusively for the Rift.

The discussion offers some insight into tensions between the Facebook-acquired startup, gamers and cash-strapped developers/enthusiasts. We’ve edited down some notable quotes from Luckey explaining the strategy:

“Many of these games would not even exist if we had not helped create them.”

“A lot of software is going to be cross-platform right from the start, including basically everything that has been developed on the featureset of DK1 and DK2. Some games that have been 100% funded by Oculus using our hardware, money, and software developers won't be. They were developed with our platform specific features in mind from the very start, not just what we have now, but what we have in the pipeline.”

“Once you sell a game to a customer, you have to support it for a long time, which is difficult to do when support is in the hands of another company with little incentive to help you.”

“VR games are an extremely risky bet right now, too risky for most publishers to bet significantly. Because the success of our company is directly tied to the success of VR, we have to make those risky bets instead.”

“Oculus lives and dies by the success of VR, we can't rely on others to do the heavy lifting required for mainstream success of the medium, especially companies that treat VR as a side project.”

“Some of our titles might end up on other headsets at some point, but I am not going to make any promises when we are still rushing to launch our own product.”
 

Bits

TechRadar got some details from a marketing director at HTC confirming the SteamVR-powered Vive headset is still on schedule for release at the end of 2015.

“We are targeting mid-October, but have not yet finalized the event details, venue, etc.,” said HTC executive director of marketing Jeffrey Gattis.

Meanwhile, HTC revealed a tour to see the Vive in the coming months, with planned demos including Navy Pier in Chicago from July 21 to 23, Kansas City from July 25 to 28 and Seattle from August 2 to 8. The BBC also went hands-on with the Vive.

We are closer to understanding what Microsoft's HoloLens headset feels like after a UC Davis holodeck researcher made a video simulating the field of view. The video is from a third-person perspective showing a variety of mixed reality applications with a full field of view and then a more restricted one estimated to match the HoloLens.

“I can now do more experiments...to see if there's a discrete usability threshold somewhere,” Oliver Kreylos wrote. “But as of now, I'd be using a wired 90+ degree VR headset over HoloLens any day.”

You can contrast the test with a new marketing video for Hololens Microsoft released with a partner university in Cleveland.

“I found the aortic valve and it was the first time I had actually seen the aortic valve in relation to all the other anatomical structures...it was a way of seeing it that you couldn’t do with an actual heart,” said Satyam Ghodasara, a medical student at Case Western Reserve University.

UploadVR hosted a demo day in Silicon Valley for VR startups and Recode reported on the nervousness expressed by venture capitalists during a pitch session.

“I see lots of founders comparing themselves to founders they know in other industries,” Boost VC partner Brayton Williams said. “But there’s no market there yet. We’ve been telling people, ‘Be a cockroach. Don’t die.’”

Who needs a movie trailer? Fans interested in an upcoming movie based on “World of Warcraft” got their first look at it inside Google Cardboard. The wraparound movie experience flies people over a city on the back of a gryphon. It is available alongside a VR promo for Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming “Crimson Peak” and last year’s “Pacific Rim” experience in an app from Legendary.

VR startups gathered in Irvine at SoCalVR for a day of demos, including an electric chair experience (video), and panels that drew the attention of The Hollywood Reporter.

“There are very few [VR experiences] I’ll try more than once or twice; that's an issue,” said Silicon Valley VR organizer Karl Krantz. “The ones I go back to are something unexpected. I think a lot of content is missing that. We need to figure out what will keep people coming back.”

The Wall Street Journal reports Steven Spielberg is advising the Virtual Reality Co., a Los Angeles-based startup raising $23 million. The company is developing virtual reality content including one called “Showdown” in which you investigate “near-future crime scenes” in “10- to 15-minute serialized segments.”

Google is learning to create new perspectives using Street View imagery. Check out the video on the effort and MIT’s Technology Review also has an in-depth article. “It takes 12 minutes on a multicore workstation to produce a single newly synthesized image.” This might be the technology behind Google Jump's stitching algorithm.

The Washington Post published a piece about how technology, including VR, might make it easier for patients to talk openly to doctors.

“She notices if you look away or fidget or pause, and she follows up with a nod of encouragement or a question: ‘Can you tell me more about that?’” Not bad for an interviewer who’s not human.”

The co-op bomb defusing game “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” will be available for Gear VR on July 16. A PC version with Rift DK2 support will be available this Fall.

A non-profit foundation showed an impressive-looking video merging motion capture and a wireless VR headset to create a tomb that can be explored with another person at the same time.

The Review of Ophthalmology posted a look at five researchers using VR to help people with limited vision.

“I see virtual reality as a way of testing things in a more realistic way that will allow us to assess how visual impairment affects our patients’ ability to do things,” said Dr. Felipe A. Medeiros.

Design decisions behind Robot Invader’s murder mystery VR game “Dead Secret” are broken down in a company blog post.

“While VR technology can open the front door, it’s still up to us to make the floorboards creak as you cross the threshold.”

French startup VideoStitch raised $2.25 million for its technology that allows 360 degree video from multiple cameras to be stitched in real time for live events.

New York-based IrisVR received $1.6 million to fund the creation of software to turn 3D models into VR experiences.

The Proto Awards is now accepting any experience shown to the public (e.g. at an event), not just those made available for download, and the submission deadline has been extended to July 30.

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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