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VR Digest: Free Gear VR; $800 Vive

The week's top VR news brought to you
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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 56 – February 24, 2016

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

We support Apple's position refusing to weaken iPhone security. There is a greater danger to all of us posed by weak security than by strong encryption. It will matter a lot to VR. Apple’s Statement and FAQ.
 

Gear VR Free With Samsung Galaxy S7

In an image that creates a bit of futureshock, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself strolling up to the Samsung stage in Barcelona as some 5,000 people, oblivious to his presence, simultaneously experience VR in Oculus-powered Gear VR headsets. The Samsung press event at Mobile World Congress crushed a record set only days earlier in Vancouver by VR filmmaker Chris Milk at TED, who gave around 1,200 people a simultaneous VR experience with Google Cardboard. Samsung also streamed its press conference to Gear VR and Cardboard owners at home in 360 degrees.

The press conference debuted the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones as well as the tiny Gear 360 camera for capturing 360-degree footage and photos with two fisheye lenses. While it was a huge week for VR overall, the biggest news was that the Gear VR would be offered free to people pre-ordering the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge before March 18. The offer includes $50 worth of some of the best games available for the platform, like space shooter Anshar Wars 2 and puzzler Land’s End.

Zuckerberg said VR would “become the most social platform” and that millions of people would get their hands on Gear VR. Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey tweeted:

“This is a huge step for mainstream adoption of VR. This is going to multiply the VR userbase by many times!”
 

HTC Vive is $800, Will Let You Answer Phone Calls in VR

Pre-orders begin Monday February 29 for the HTC Vive, which is officially priced at $800. The holodeck-like PC-powered system features interrelated technologies designed to keep people safe and comfortable in VR for longer periods of time while walking freely around a room. When it ships in early April the consumer headset will bring people’s hands into VR for natural gestures and feature Bluetooth technology to communicate with a phone so you can respond to calls from within VR without taking it off. It also has an outward-facing camera that can be activated so the person in VR can interact with others in the room naturally. To avoid collisions, the Vive also notifies people when they get close to a wall. Vive is billing the headset as “the whole package” in comparison to Oculus, which sells for $600 and is promoted initially as a seated or standing-only experience without the ability to see your hands in VR or walk around a whole room.
 

Bits

LG debuted a lightweight and almost stylish VR headset. It features its own screens and connects to the phone using a wired connection. However the device is not up to par with Gear VR. Gizmodo didn’t mince words.

The Virtual Reality Developers Conference is coming up March 14 and 15 alongside the Game Developers Conference later in the week. The event is shaping up to be chock full of VR news with an Oculus game preview event scheduled to kick off the week and a Sony press conference as well and more events likely planned.

The world got its first look at the Meta 2 AR headset at TED in Vancouver, with a person-to-person holographic call taking place live on stage along with natural hand gestures to collaborate. More details will be forthcoming next week.

OSSIC launched a pair of 3D audio headphones on Kickstarter that would be great for providing realistic sound in VR. The company successfully passed its fundraising goal in a few hours.

A series of short test videos on Twitter show progress toward eye-popping mixed reality capture. Given that the solution uses out-of-the-box Vive hardware to provide tracking data, the tests suggest a relatively low-cost way of showing a mixture of both the real world and a virtual world is on the way. Depicting what a VR experience actually feels like to the person inside it is a powerful technology.

A 4-minute 360-degree video with David Attenborough introduces viewers to the largest animal ever to walk the Earth.

NASA started using Microsoft’s HoloLens in space while researching technologies to help astronauts work more efficiently with help from the ground.

Samsung showed off a roller coaster simulation at MWC that includes movie-ride style seat movement, leading to a very entertaining Vine.
 

VR Digest™ is a Virtual Reality Newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent, a producer of premium Virtual Reality experiences. We publish weekly on Wednesdays.

 
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