VR Digest:  Vive Hands-On;
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Hi Friends,

Last weekend, 1500 tickets were sold to VRLA, a meetup group which formed only a year ago. Now it is time for Facebook's developer conference, F8. Mark Zuckerberg is speaking exactly one year after announcing the acquisition of Oculus VR. If there is news (and we bet there will be) we'll have it digested for you next week, but you can watch the keynote streaming live at 10 a.m. PST this morning (March 25th).


Aaron, John, Ian, and Elissa
at Studio Transcendent

Vive Hands-On

We went hands-on with an early SteamVR prototype at WEVR in Venice, California, traveling to the bottom of the ocean in WEVR’s theBlu and coming face to face with GLaDOS at Aperture Science in Valve’s own experience. Afterwards, we ogled the mysterious Lighthouse laser boxes and spent the week trying to figure out precisely how it works.

We’re still not exactly sure, but others are trying to piece it together. No matter; Vive was an outstanding demo that gave us virtual hands to pull levers and open drawers, crisp text to read inside VR and the chance to walk around in another reality.

Our editor Ian wrote an unconventional account of trying Vive, starting with his mindset heading into virtual reality and following through to his thoughts afterward.

Oh, and Vive officially rhymes with “five.” There has been some confusion.


Valkyrie video shows gameplay while Magic Leap makes a promise

“EVE: Valkyrie” is on a short list of games with the potential to drive people to buy headsets just to play. The game puts you in the cockpit of a space-fighter with Battlestar Galactica actress Katee Sackoff giving orders on the com. In development for two years now, Valkyrie has been shown on both Oculus and Sony developer headsets, and the level of immersion achieved banking between asteroids and a fleet of ships is unparalleled. Now, its creator, CCP Games, has released a trailer with impressive gameplay footage.

Magic Leap posted a concept video for its co-production with Weta that drew some criticism on Twitter and Reddit for showing technology that is thought to be infeasible. The controversy is underscored by a conclusion the MIT Technology Review made after trying both HoloLens and Magic Leap, namely that “commercializing augmented reality technology will be difficult.” Microsoft also released a slickly-produced concept video when they announced HoloLens that has been similarly questioned for depicting much better field of view and image opacity than the demo units could provide.



Studio Transcendent’s cofounder, John Dewar, was featured on a panel sponsored by Unreal Engine at VRLA. It also included Reload Studios’ Chetan Bedi, Kite & Lightning’s Ikrima Elhassan, Epic Games’ Ray Davis and JJ Hoesing, and was moderated by Visionary VR’s Jonnie Ross. They discussed the future of room-scale VR, how to manage viewers’ attention, and much more. You can listen to an audio recording of the panel here.

OTOY, a cloud-rendering company, plans to launch a VR rendering toolset in April promising “hyper-realistic cinematic experiences for VR and AR.” If you flip through the slides from a recent presentation or watch the video, you’ll see some eye-popping examples of the possibilities.

A company from England, Improbable, is looking to tackle ways to make large scale simulations run smoothly for “millions of entities.” The company got $20 million from the people who backed the Oculus Rift. Among other things, they will be providing the infrastructure to support scalable virtual worlds with a massive number of concurrent users who can then move freely from server to server alongside AI and physics driven actors.

The IEEE VR 15 conference is being held this week. The research being presented is pretty dense stuff, but there are some interesting ideas, like a pair of researchers who showed it might be possible to reposition people in VR by altering the landscape while eyes are moving.

NVIDIA's research into a cheap and compact method for creating a light field display in a head mounted display is intriguing; rather than expensive microlenses, it uses pinholes – the simplest possible optical system – and can achieve a much higher field of view than waveguides.

Research suggests that adding a nose to your experience’s avatar might help mitigate simulator sickness.

Epic Games and the Wellcome Trust are partnering to fund out-of-pocket expenses for up to six teams interested in using VR to visualize and interact with very large data sets. Applications are due by the end of the month, and the winning team will receive a further $20,000 prize.

Oculus CTO John Carmack's talk at GDC, “The Dawn of Mobile VR,” is available to watch on YouTube and well worth your time.

It's a little long, but this “5 Hidden Features Of The Gear VR” YouTube presentation offers useful tips for owners.

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