VR Digest: Valve partners with HTC,
Free VR tools, Asynchronous timewarp...

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.
Hi Friends,

The biggest week in history for virtual reality news is unfolding at GDC in San Francisco. We’re here taking it all in, and if you’re around we’d love to meet you. There’s still a lot more coming. But before then, here is your weekly summary of VR news digested down into one email.

If you enjoy this, please tell your friends. Also, if you have a new software experience or some other news related to VR you’d like to see in the next issue, let us know at

Aaron, John, Ian, and Elissa
at Studio Transcendent


Valve partners with HTC for benchmark system

By year end, HTC is planning to ship the Vive VR system to consumers, powered by Valve's newly announced software and wireless controllers.

A Developer Edition of Vive is already in the hands of Vertigo, Bossa, Fireproof, Dovetail, Steel Wool, Owlchemy, Cloudhead, Skillman & Hackett and WEVR (formerly WemoLab). The Developer Edition is slated for availability to “select developers” in the coming months.

Early reviews suggest the quality of the experience beats anything public from Oculus. The “Lighthouse” positional tracking system can locate people in spaces up to 15 feet wide for walk-around VR. The headset is still tethered by a wire to a PC just like Oculus, and there's no word on the price.

Also announced: Sony's Morpheus headset is slated for early 2016, powered by Playstation 4.


Updated tools ease transition to VR content creation

Barriers keeping people from turning ideas into VR software experiences are coming down with each passing day, but this week was a doozy.

Epic dropped subscription pricing to develop with Unreal in exchange for a five percent cut of revenue, while Valve released a new version of Source, also for free. Unity 5 was launched as well, and the free version now includes all features and platforms. This means there are three strong contenders for VR content creation toolsets with zero upfront cost.

When it comes to rendering technologies, Oculus is backing LiquidVR from AMD, a “technology platform architected for immersion and responsiveness in virtual reality environments,” while NVIDIA and Valve are working with Vulkan, an “open standard API for high-efficiency access to graphics and compute on modern GPUs.”



UC Davis researcher Oliver Kreylos wrote about the power of minimalist avatars: “...our most basic avatar boils down to a floating head and a floating hand...but even so, our users have reported ‘seeing’ the other person...this bodes well for VR in the context of collaborative or social applications.”

Elaborating on his Reddit AMA, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz took to the company blog to say, “...when we ship our Magic Leap products - we want to know that our system Safe to use - safe for a kid to use. Safe for a teenager. Safe for your bro or sis. Safe for your Mom and Dad. Safe for you.”

Oculus chief software architect Michael Antonov unpacked “asynchronous timewarp (ATW)” on the company blog, “a technique that generates intermediate frames in situations when the game can’t maintain frame rate, helping to reduce judder. However, ATW is not a silver bullet and has limitations that developers should be aware of.”

NextVR is utilizing light fields to add some positional tracking to 360 videos.
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