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VR Digest: Palmer Luckey dispels rumors;
Jaunt gets $65 million

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 34 – September 23, 2015
Sponsored by Fish Bowl VR (@FishBowlVR) playtesting and analytics for VR. For your free trial of Fish Bowl VR services, email Geoff at geoff@fishbowlvr.com

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

Palmer Luckey dispels Oculus Connect rumors

The creator of the Rift took to Reddit on the eve of the Oculus Connect 2 developer conference in Hollywood to dispel rumors and manage expectations, noting “VR-grade inside-out tracking is not currently workable on mobile devices” and “we won’t be launching Rift pre-orders during the show.”

“Connect is a developer show first, enthusiast show second, consumer show third,” Palmer Luckey wrote. “There will be some consumer-facing announcements, but all in the context of their relevance to developers and the growing VR ecosystem. We will be announcing and co-announcing some really cool stuff.”

As a reminder, the Oculus keynotes should be livestreamed online beginning at 10 a.m. PST on Thursday, September 24. You should be able to watch them on a mobile device via Twitch. We’ll be in Hollywood meeting VR folks and checking out whatever Oculus has in store. Follow @hmltn on Twitter for a tidal wave of updates, or just check next week’s issue for the wrap up.
 

Jaunt gets $65 million

Palo Alto-based Jaunt became one of the most well-funded virtual reality startups after a $65 million Series C round, which included Disney among the investors. That brings total fundraising for the panoramic video startup north of $100 million. Jaunt uses camera arrays to capture 360 degrees of stereo video footage, similar to GoPro’s Odyssey and NextVR’s RED-based rig. The footage is stitched together using software and can be viewed in any VR headset. The money will help Jaunt “significantly grow their teams in both their Palo Alto headquarters and their new Los Angeles studio”. The startup is also building a forthcoming camera system called the Jaunt ONE, formerly known as “NEO”, and have announced a partnership with Google to use their Jump technology.
 

Bits:

“I Expect You To Die” by Schell Games won “Best Overall Experience” at the 2nd annual Proto Awards while Google's Tilt Brush won “Best VR Experience” in the Unity awards.

TechCrunch Disrupt is underway in San Francisco this week, and UploadVR has a guide to the dozens of mixed reality companies showing at the event. A lead Sony researcher was asked during a panel what the biggest misconception is about VR:

“People think it’s an isolating technology, but actually you can be very social in VR,” said Sony’s Richard Marks. “You can reach out and hand something to somebody.”

Valve provided a comprehensive guide to photogrammetry, “or using images from a conventional digital camera to create three-dimensional scenes, exploiting the differences in photos taken from different positions and angles.” It’s lengthy and is delivered in three parts (1, 2, 3) but represents a very helpful tip sheet for how to make impressive 3D models that are reconstructed from existing images. A Youtube user named rallatiraa has been using the technique to produce VR environments from long shots in movies like “Fury Road”, “2001”, “The Shining” and “Alien”.

NVIDIA debuted GTX 980 graphics cards for laptops that can drive a consumer Rift. Don’t confuse them with the “980M” cards that have been on the market for a while and don’t meet the minimum specification for VR. These monsters even come in configurations that have a “removable water cooling unit.”

Tomáš Mariančík shows in a video his latest work on “Neos”, which enables a quick way of creating a living/breathing scene while in VR. Compare it to a very different but still compelling creation system from Convrge that you can see in an updated video of “Stacks”.

Space-fighting game “Elite: Dangerous” will be coming to SteamVR (Vive) this year.

Husband and wife documentarians surpassed their goal on Kickstarter raising money to make a panoramic video of the nearly extinct white rhino.

Turbo Button released “Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games” (video trailer) for the Gear VR. Panoramic video service Vrideo launched its Gear VR app as well.
 

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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