VR Digest: SteamVR at GDC, Magic Leap's
Rony Abovitz Q&A, Epic cash grants...

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Now, to the latest in VR!

Aaron, John and Ian at Studio Transcendent

SteamVR on the way from Valve

While Sony, Google, Facebook and Disney are slated to deliver talks related to augmented and virtual reality at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco from March 2-6, Valve may be preparing to steal the show with the announcement of SteamVR. “Steam is bringing the best games and user-generated content to exciting new destinations. At GDC 2015, we’ll be giving demos of the refined Steam Controller, new living room devices, and a previously-unannounced SteamVR hardware system.”

Rony Abovitz raises concerns about Oculus, citations lacking

The CEO of Google-backed startup Magic Leap did a Q&A session on Reddit offering vague insights into the company and how it differs from Oculus. There are a class of devices (see-through and non-see-through) called stereoscopic 3D... [that] can cause a spectrum of temporary and/or permanent neurologic deficits.” While calling digital light fields “the ONLY safe way forward” in another answer, Abovitz did not offer evidence to support his claim.

Oculus Chief Technical Officer John Carmack responded on Twitter: I'm looking forward to seeing their hardware. Our displays are certainly not the final word.

Epic offers cash for great Unreal projects

Epic Games started a $5 million fund to spur innovative development. The company will offer “grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to select projects being built with and around Unreal Engine 4. Any project that has reached the ‘working prototype’ stage of development is eligible for nomination, and all nominations will be considered based on merit.”

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney told Engadget that VR “[Is] going to change the world. The hardware is going to double in quality every few years for another decade, to the point where, 10 years from now, it's going to be hard to tell the difference between virtual reality and the real world.”

Paper-thin lenses key to personal holograms?

After getting the first public hands-on with Magic Leap’s technology last week, MIT Technology Review reported on an advance that could be ideal for that approach to augmenting reality. “The advance, described in the journal Science, could make it possible to shrink some professional-quality camera lenses to the thickness of a credit card. It might also enable lighter-weight, more compact full-color holographic 3D goggles.”


Epic Games launched the 4.7 update to its development tools, which includes a number of new features for VR developers. Foremost among them is support for the Gear VR and Oculus SDK 0.4.4. Also included is generic HMD support which should make it easier to add support for new headsets. A new Leap Motion plugin has been made available. Workflow enhancements allow devs to use the Rift directly inside the editor instead of having to launch a separate program to test changes.

Intel delved into the science of smarter rendering for head-mounted displays to talk about how to get the performance jumps needed for better VR. “Sixty-four megapixels need to be rendered, compared to the 4 megapixels we have in today’s best consumer head-mounted displays (HMDs). Getting the performance to render 16 times more pixels will not be straightforward.”

Lionsgate and Senza Peso creators Kite & Lightning have launched a new 360/3D experience to promote the upcoming movie “Insurgent.” The experience is called “Shatter Reality” and features performances by Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, and Mekhi Phifer. It will be exclusively available on Milk VR for the Gear VR from February 27-March 1. There will be a multi-city tour, and it can also be experienced at Best Buy March 7-8.
Who needs Google Cardboard when you can just strap a laptop to your head? One of the astronauts on the International Space Station, Terry Virts, tweeted out a photo of a laptop-based virtual reality simulator for the jetpack they use outside the station.
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