VR Digest: Google I/O tomorrow

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 68 – May 18, 2016

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

Google I/O tomorrow

Google’s annual developer conference kicks off soon after this newsletter arrives in inboxes. The main keynote is at 10 a.m. PST. Check YouTube for the livestream (there should also be a 360 version available) on the Google I/O website.

Google is expected to make major announcements regarding its VR and AR ambitions, though a self-contained VR headset akin to the Rift doesn’t sound likely. That said, an interface in VR for launching experiences and anything that improves Android VR head tracking would help Google bring a wider range of phones closer in line with the feature set found in the Gear VR.


Disney released an HTC Vive app called Disney Movies VR that collects all of the experimental VR content the studio has released thus far inside a really well-produced content portal. The content itself mostly consists of prerendered 360-degree videos, such as the Jakku spy pieces from the Star Wars cardboard app and Weta’s King Louie video for The Jungle Book, but there is also a real-time rendered encounter with Kaa the snake from the latter film.

Disney Research created an amazing telepresence robot, which has a unique hydrostatic actuator system that provides fine-grained force feedback, allowing a user wearing a DK2 to remotely pick up a delicate egg, interact with a child, and play the xylophone.

Sketchfab added VR support, allowing users to examine a huge user-created library of 3D models within Vive, Rift, Gear, Cardboard, or WebVR.

Valve is adding a “knock knock” feature to the HTC Vive. When you want to gently get the attention of someone lost in the Vive, simply press the F1 key on their keyboard. The feature may improve relationships in the workplace but family and friends might prefer to continue pranking their VR-obsessed loved ones for the foreseeable future.

HTC will soon be offering replacement parts for Vive owners to purchase individually, but initial prices will probably be hefty, with a briefly-posted price list quoting $135 for a lighthouse base station and $130 for a single controller.

Tiltbrush 1.4 adds the much-needed ability to teleport around your sketch. There’s also a 5-minute video that will show you what it looks like when a Roomba uses the software and be sure to check out the first few minutes of another video to see how you can essentially add a pottery spinning wheel to the software.

Preliminary reviews of the GTX 1080 graphics card are in, concluding that the performance lives up to Nvidia’s promises, but that buyers should wait for third party cards rather than buying the first-party founder’s edition cards that go for an extra $100.

User Experience designer Max Glenister is collecting a great set of links to articles on UX design in VR.

Oculus revealed the Gear VR now has one million monthly active users. Separately, Oculus announced a “VR for Good” initiative that will provide funding and equipment to filmmakers and students to create social-impact focused films about their communities. Interested parties can sign up for more information.

Ninja Theory dev Gavin Costello provided some much-needed documentation for Kite & Lightning’s Unreal Engine 4 360 video exporter plugin.

Launched in 2013, Oculus ended an era by shutting down its Share portal. It was a planned move to put experimental content in a ‘Concepts’ section of the Oculus Store, but the end of the original Oculus repository for VR content marks a transition from developer to consumer market for the industry.

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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