VR Digest: HTC Vive ships;
Rift component shortage causes delays

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 62 – April 6, 2016

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

HTC Vive Ships, Powered By SteamVR

The $800 Vive room-scale VR system, powered by the SteamVR platform, started arriving at eager customers’ doorsteps this week. Steam is the app store for PC gamers, and with a strong expansion into general-use applications and cross-platform licensing, it has held back Apple and Microsoft’s platform-specific app stores. It’s very popular among the people most likely to buy a PC-powered VR system, and it’s made by Bellevue, Washington-based Valve Software.

SteamVR is an extension that powers the Vive by HTC, though the company’s impressive website notes that the Rift CV1 is fully supported as well — even linking to Rift-compatible games available from the Steam store. If Steam detects a Rift CV1, it will tell you to activate SteamVR with your headset. Be sure to watch the 4-minute video at the top of the SteamVR page. According to Valve, those aren’t actors.

The SteamVR site is chock full of mixed reality videos and Valve’s game-honed humor. Examples:

  • Abraham Lincoln once said “as radio is to television, as analog is to digital, as 2D is to 3D, mundane existence is to virtual reality”

  • Valve’s room-scale tracking works “because lasers”

  • Your head is included in the “what you need” section

Valve seems to be throwing its support behind a standardized way of recording or streaming mixed reality. A new spectator camera (seen in this 1-minute video) in the art tool Tilt Brush and other SteamVR titles makes it easy to capture a third-person perspective of VR, which is an easier way of sharing a VR experience than setting up a green screen.

More than 50 games are available on SteamVR, and it’s well worth your time to visit the website to see what a number of the games feel like to actually play. Both Job Simulator (1-minute video) and Fantastic Contraption (2-minute video) debuted cool mixed reality trailers this week.

WSJ wrote “Step 1 of the Vive’s setup ought to read, “Buy a bigger house.”” The NY Times wrote that the Vive’s setup “is more demanding than the Rift’s.” The Verge wrote “there’s a good argument that the Vive’s ideal customers are neither makers nor players of games.”

Rift Component Shortage Delays Shipping

Oculus told customers “we've been working through an unexpected component shortage, and, unfortunately, that issue has impacted the original shipping estimates for some early customers.” Oculus co-founder and CEO Brendan Iribe wrote on Twitter “so we're giving free shipping for all pre-orders, including international.” The free shipping offer does not apply to new orders.

Check out the iFixit teardown for an inside look at the Rift’s guts.


At GTC, Nvidia announced that it is adding VR support to its GPU-based IRAY renderer, including the ability to render stereo panoramas and lightfields, much like OTOY’s Octane render. The new version will be available in June.

Also at GTC, OTOY revealed that its Octane 3 renderer would be released on May 15th. Octane has led the charge in adding VR rendering capabilities and was the first commercial renderer to demonstrate lightfield rendering, although that feature has not made it to a public release yet.

If you want to embed 360-degree imagery and videos on your website or in your mobile app, you can use Google’s new VR view library just by pasting in a few lines of code.

Kent Bye interviewed Unity Labs’ Timoni West about the challenges of designing Unity’s in-VR editing mode for his Voices of VR podcast.

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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