VR Digest: Oculus Connect 2 Summarized

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written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 35 – September 30, 2015
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VR Digest: A Virtual Reality newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

Oculus Connect 2 Summarized

Samsung will launch a redesigned Gear VR costing $99 “before Black Friday” in the United States. The headset will work with four phones: the Note 5, S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+ and is 22 percent lighter than the current “Innovator Edition”.

An impromptu hallway talk with Oculus CTO John Carmack (video) revealed positional tracking on a mobile headset is a difficult problem requiring too much power.

Carmack also touched on cooperation with Google. “There’s just that sense of like, sooner or later, we’re going to be at cross purposes.”

Netflix and Minecraft were Carmack’s top priorities for the Oculus platform, and both deals were announced on Thursday, with the former already available on Gear VR. Other content partnerships include Hulu, Vimeo, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Twitch and Tivo.

Oculus is targeting December for the 1.0 version of its Rift SDK with features like in-app purchases, friend lists, achievements, and analytics in the works. Apps built for version 1.0 will see ongoing support going forward. Later this year Gear VR also gets Oculus Arcade, an app which lets you play classic video games from Sega, Midway and Namco like “Pac-Man”, “Joust” and “Sonic The Hedgehog” on virtual arcade cabinets.

“Bullet Train” from Epic Games (trailer) is a cool tech demo showing off the power of Unreal Engine when combined with Touch controllers, featuring teleporting for movement and Matrix-like slow motion bullet dodging and redirecting.

“I’ve never met a skeptic of VR who has tried it,” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney told Re/code in a wide-ranging Q&A.

Asus, Dell, and Alienware will ship PCs early next year costing less than $1,000 with ‘Oculus Ready’ stickers on the side. The systems meet the minimum specifications to drive the Rift.

More than a year of work by Oculus engineers was revealed with the announcement of Oculus Medium (trailer), a multi-user VR app allowing you to sculpt objects out of virtual clay using the Oculus Touch handheld controllers.

“Every great platform has to have a ‘paint’ app and this is gonna be our ‘paint’ app,” Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said.

Oculus Story Studio also released a trailer for the “Henry” short VR “film” as well as the Unreal Engine project assets. Oculus posted trailers on Youtube for its Gear VR content, Oculus Touch, Touch Demos and Rift games. Tested posted a 27-minute video talking to Oculus execs and testing the demos.

We found the touch controllers to be very impressive and more immersive than using the Vive wands, as they are much lighter and smaller. However, the tracking was not reliable when facing away from the tracking cameras, something that was most apparent in the demos that were originally designed with the Vive, like Final Approach.


Ivan Sutherland received an award and gave a touching talk at the Proto Awards about his pioneering work. He realized a computer could create a believable virtual environment and created the enormous “Sword of Damocles” head-mounted display system in the 1960’s.

“It feels very strange to me to accept an award like this for work that was done by a much younger man whose name I happen to share,” Sutherland said, referring to his younger self.

Last week we linked to a photogrammetry guide from Valve.This week there’s a jaw-dropping video of three of the demos in SteamVR.

Drash released a big update for “Titans of Space” on Gear VR bringing full stereoscopic 3D.

Video of a Vive demo shows how the SteamVR controllers can make for an effective bow and arrow.

A video by Nathan Beattie shows his progress creating a mini golf demo with Vive.

We hope this enormous cable-driven motion simulator from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics never malfunctions, and that we can have a go on it.

Google is launching its Cardboard-based “Google Expeditions” VR teaching tools in classrooms in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S.

“DMZ: Memories of a no man’s land”, a VR documentary of the demilitarized zone in Korea, is available on Gear VR for $3.

Former President Bill Clinton appeared in a panoramic video created by Felix & Paul, highlighting his work in Africa. It’s available on Gear VR as well as on Facebook with their new 360 video feature.
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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