VR Digest: VR innovations shown at SIGGRAPH;
Internet photoshops Time’s VR cover

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 28 – August 12, 2015

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

Important VR innovations revealed

Canadian VR developer Cloudhead Games revealed an intriguing and simple movement solution called “Blink” that, combined with other best practices, can give people confidence and freedom of movement inside VR. The software solution may allow for the exploration of vast spaces with little more than split-second teleports. A creative director at Cloudhead explains the solution in this video.

“One of the ways you actually make people move around in a compelling and freeing way, is you have to show them their bounds. And you have to do so by allowing bounds persistence at all times, so that a user feels really comfortable in their space when they are moving around,” said Denny Unger.

The reveal from Cloudhead came amid a week of research presentations at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles. USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies showed (video) how stop motion artists might be able to quickly create models that can be dropped into VR to provide impressive virtual objects that can be examined up close.

“The results are surrealistically captivating as they maintain a high level of geometric detail and surface reflectance properties of the rich hand-crafted puppets,” said USC’s Mark Bolas.

The Computer Graphics and Geometry Lab in Switzerland (video, paper) showed a facial animation software pipeline that could create expressive virtual avatars from little more than a few minutes of hand-held camera footage. Stanford researchers presented (video) their light field head-mounted display research.

Representatives from mobile headset Kickstarter project Impression Pi posted an update that does a good job of showing the potential of putting both augmented and virtual reality into a single product.


The Internet exploded with photoshopped images of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey after Time ran a cover story about VR (this video covers most of them).

Luckey told Road to VR that Oculus is adding social features to Oculus Cinema so going to the movies in VR doesn’t have to be so lonely.

“So we already have a lot of internal social functions in Cinema that are going to be rolling out in the next few months. Things like avatar systems, being able to communicate with people over long distances… rather than just local multiplayer, but having actual long distance multiplayer as well,” Palmer Luckey said.

HTC suffered a terrible quarter due to low demand for the company's Android phones. However, the company is “working with over a thousand developers on content" for the Vive headset.

The Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival will tour 10 cities featuring some of the top VR experiences beginning with Portland on August 22. General tickets are $20.

A VR experience set in the world of hit action film “John Wick” will be built through a collaboration between Lionsgate, WEVR, Grab Games and Starbreeze.

An expansion to VR space game “Elite Dangerous” called “Horizons” (video trailer) will include planetary landings.

A humorous ad for Dramamine suggests the over-the-counter treatment could help with simulator sickness.

With version 0.7 of the Oculus PC SDK releasing on August 20, the company is getting rid of the extended mode of the Rift, which allowed the operating system to see the headset as an additional monitor. Oculus is targeting version 1.0 of the SDK for November, “future will continue to support games and applications built using 1.0.”

An upcoming version of Android will support Vulkan, which could be very helpful for mobile VR platforms. Vulkan is “an open standard for 3D graphics and rendering” and it differs from the current OpenGL standard by allowing developers low level access to the graphics hardware, which is particularly effective at increasing the maximum number of draw calls. VR applications must contend with many more draw calls than normal applications because the scene is drawn twice — once for each eye.

A lawsuit by Zenimax will move forward against Oculus. Zenimax is Oculus CTO John Carmack's former employer, and the suit focuses on help Carmack gave the startup when he was at Zenimax.

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