VR Digest: Magic Leap posts footage;
Back To The Future's VR headsets

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 38 – October 21, 2015

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

Back To The Future’s VR headsets

Marty McFly travels to Oct. 21, 2015 in “Back To The Future Part II” in order to help his kids. In a scene that depicted a family dinner 30 years in the future, both of Marty’s kids use head-mounted displays with phones integrated into them. The depiction is not too dissimilar from the phone-powered Gear VR or Google Cardboard.

Marty’s son complains he happened upon “The Atrocity Channel” inside the headset while impatiently asking for pizza to be shoved into his mouth. In our real-world 2015, children uprooted by war are the subject of a panoramic film The New York Times plans to debut when it distributes 1 million Google Cardboards to home delivery subscribers with the Nov. 7 issue. The movie was made in collaboration with VR production company VRSE.

To commemorate the “Back To The Future” date, design agency Positron and Tesla are releasing a panoramic video depicting a race between a DeLorean time machine and the Tesla Model S.


Google-backed startup Magic Leap posted a 1-minute video showing its technology and claiming it was "shot directly through Magic Leap technology...without the use of special effects or compositing." Senior Software Development Kit Director Paul Reynolds said what’s shown is “nothing special except a camera in place of human eyes.”

In the video, position tracking is not perfect, but you can see the light field rendering at work when the camera switches focus between the background and foreground, and the 3D objects respond appropriately. You can also see the robot at the beginning occluded by a real desk in the scene, similar to Microsoft’s recent Hololens demonstration in which robots were occluded by a physical couch. Also interesting to note is that the view of the real world is quite dim, which is also the approach Hololens uses to prevent the background from being visible through the rendered objects.

New Zealand-based startup 8i raised $13.5 million in a Series A round to develop its 3D human capture system which uses multiple cameras to capture performances that can be imported into VR. A 1-minute video gives an idea what the footage looks like.

VRScout reports VR medical apps startup Surgical Theater raised $9 million from HTC. The maker of the Vive headset previously invested $10 million into Venice, California-based VR software startup WEVR.

A $700 suit called Salto promises an inexpensive motion capture solution. The Kickstarter project surpassed its $100,000 goal.

A forthcoming Kickstarter project promises a remote-controlled paper airplane with cameras that can be viewed through a VR headset. Wired has a write-up about PowerUp FPV, which is partnering with the drone company Parrot to build the system. There’s also a short video previewing the idea. FPV stands for “First Person View”, which is a rapidly growing part of the radio controlled aircraft hobby. Higher-end systems avoid digital streaming due to latency issues, which make it hard to control the drone.

The developer of “Night Cafe” wrote two posts (1, 2) outlining the tools and methods used to create the painterly look of the Oculus mobile jam winner. The app, now available for Gear VR, is a gorgeous immersive tribute to the painting by Vincent van Gogh.

A musical instrument in VR using Leap Motion’s hand sensor is seen in Zach Kinstner’s latest development video.  The virtual guitar is being built for Leap Motion’s 3D Jam.

A project from researchers at three universities shows the real-time transfer of expressions from one actor to another. The research is explained in a 7-minute video. “Imagine multi-lingual video conferencing where the face video of a participant could be altered to match the audio of a real-time translator.”

An app that can guide a person to capture a light-field of a scene for later viewing in VR using one or more standard smartphones is seen in a dense 4-minute video posted by the Johannes Kepler University Institute of Computer Graphics.

The creator of the Rift tweeted some thoughts about the high price of the first generation of consumer VR headsets and the computers that drive them. Palmer Luckey: “Everyone will want VR long before everyone can afford VR. It is going to be expensive at first, but the cost will drop over time....1st gen headsets are tasked with convincing the world that it wants VR. Many people will wait a gen or two to adopt, and that is okay.”

The first panoramic video from “The VR Report” went live, showing a 10-minute talk show-like conversation between David Oh and "Cymatic” Bruce Wooden of social VR platform Altspace. Episode 2 with Tony Parisi was posted as well and so was episode 3 with Technolust creator Blair Renaud.

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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