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VR Digest: Vive delay; Rock Band VR;
Google camera; Sony games

The week's top VR news brought to you
pre-digested and ready for assimilation!
VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 45 – December 9, 2015

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

HTC Vive delayed until April 2016

The consumer HTC Vive’s 2015 launch target has officially slipped, and the room-scale VR system is now slated to ship in April 2016. A new developer kit is coming at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, with “7,000 units available to developers.”

The delay is a huge blow to Valve’s VR efforts, which would have beaten Oculus Rift to market with nearly identical specifications and a bigger tracking area. Now it will arrive for consumers after the Oculus Rift but likely before the Oculus Touch controllers. HTC has endured a tough year with major layoffs and flagging sales of its Android phones.
 

Oculus announces Rock Band VR

Oculus is teaming with Harmonix to develop Rock Band VR. An endearing 2-minute announcement video shows Rift creator Palmer Luckey learning to be a rock star. If you look closely in the video, it appears that Oculus Touch tracked controllers are mounted to the end of the guitar accessory, suggesting a simple method to track the accessory and show its location accurately while immersed in VR.
 

Google 360 camera app

Google released an Android app called Cardboard Camera to take stereoscopic 360-degree photos to be viewed in Google Cardboard. You hold the camera steady and move slowly in a circle to record your surroundings. The app optionally records audio. It doesn’t record all of the sky or the ground, but enabling people to create a full 360-degree stereoscopic image so easily is no small feat. If you have a compatible phone definitely check it out.
 

Sony announces more VR games

Sony held a PlayStation-focused event and debuted a number of new titles, including Rez Infinite and a new Psychonauts game. The games join previously announced titles like Dreams, with 20 minutes of creativity gameplay shown in a new video, as well as Tekken 7, Gran Turismo: Sport, EVE Valkyrie, Battlezone and RIGS. A 1-minute trailer shows glimpses of many titles in development for PSVR. A 41-minute panel video offers an overview of Sony’s VR efforts, while a 4-minute video shows a problematic stage demo that may have created some negative impressions of VR’s readiness for the consumer market.
 

Bits:

Sony patented a Gear VR-like headset that uses a phone for the display, tracking and rendering but uses active shutter technology similar to some 3D TVs to provide a 3D VR effect.

Oculus made seven new apps available for Gear VR. At $15, Anshar Wars 2 is both one of the most fully realized games available for the headset and the most expensive app in the store.

A Redwood City startup called Baobab raised $6 million to become “the Pixar of VR” (not an uncommon goal for VR startups). A 1-minute trailer revealed its first project.

A series of videos are being posted by HoloLens engineers showing a variety of mixed reality concepts. The videos were captured directly from the Hololens, so they show exactly what is being rendered, but it’s still a bit difficult to visualize how it would look in the actual device.

Electronic Arts subsidiary DICE is hiring for several VR positions, suggesting the company is developing VR tools for its Frostbite game engine. The engine would join competitors Unity 5, Unreal Engine 4, Source 2 and CryEngine 3 with strong VR support.

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey posted a number of updates to Reddit and Twitter defending the company’s strategy of helping fund the development of titles for the Oculus platform. For example, “‘Only on Oculus’ does not mean ‘Only on Rift’.  Our platform and store already support both the Rift and Samsung's GearVR.”

The January issue of Game Informer carries the headline “The Year of Virtual Reality” alongside a stylish depiction of the Rift.

A 2-minute video gives an idea of how VR could help children in the hospital.

A fantastic 8-minute short film imagines a disturbing mixed reality future.

Kent Bye posted a 31-minute podcast with the creator of a gorgeous Vincent Van Gogh tribute app on the Gear VR.

A 5-minute 360-degree video from the Wall Street Journal posted to Vrideo looks at “Why Chicken May Be the Food of the Future.”

HoloLens is on its way to the International Space Station after an earlier SpaceX explosion vaporized the first attempt.
 

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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