• Watch Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker Live In VR Today
    Watch Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker Live In VR Today

    Here’s an early festive treat for the anti-Scrooges among us; NextVR is going to be streaming the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker in VR later today.

    The show will be airing via the NextVR app and Oculus Venues at 7pm ET/4pm PT on both Oculus Go and Gear VR. You’ll get a front-row experience with 3D video streamed like from the Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo (that’s in Michigan, not Russia, I had to look it up).

    Following the livestram you’ll also be able to watch a recorded version on other headsets like Rift, PSVR and Windows VR, 30 days from today. Sadly we can’t move Christmas back another few days to keep you in the mood but, hey, it’s better than nothing isn’t it?

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  • Epic Games to Launch its Own Digital Store This Month The store will support VR games.
  • Swedish Railway Operator SJ Uses VR to Train Staff Vobling AB will be developing multiple experiences for the train company.
  • F8 Set For April 30, Could This Be Oculus Quest’s Release Date?
    F8 Set For April 30, Could This Be Oculus Quest’s Release Date?

    Facebook has announced today that its 2019 iteration of its yearly conference will take place on April 30th and May 1st. Facebook is the company behind the Oculus VR platform and headsets.

    Oculus Quest will be the company’s second all-in-one standalone VR headset. Its first, Oculus Go, was released earlier this year at F8 2018.

    Oculus has said that Quest will launch in “Spring 2019”. Given that F8 2019 will fall within spring, and that Oculus Go was launched at the last F8, it seems fairly likely that this is when Quest will be launched.

    Go’s release was not preceded by any preorders or prior announcement. The headset simply had an “early 2018” release window, and was launched at F8. If Quest receives the same treatment, we likely won’t hear anything concrete until then either.

    What we do expect before then however is a launch games lineup event. When Quest was announced in September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed that it would launch with other 50 titles. We haven’t seen the majority of those officially listed yet.

    Tagged with: F8, facebook, Oculus Quest

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  • Enjoy the Paintings of Vermeer Through Google’s AR Pocket Gallery The feature is found via the Google Arts & Culture app.
  • Facebook Wins Patent For Human-Eye ‘Retinal’ Resolution VR Headset
    Facebook Wins Patent For Human-Eye ‘Retinal’ Resolution VR Headset

    Facebook has been awarded a patent for a head mounted display (HMD) which combines a large low resolution display and small high resolution display projected to where the user’s eye is pointed to achieve ‘retinal’ resolution.

    ‘Retinal’ or “retina” is a term often used to describe angular resolution which at least matches that of the center of the human eye. Facebook is the company behind the Oculus brand of VR headsets and services. Originally purchased as a startup in 2014, Oculus is now a division of Facebook. This patent’s inventors are all listed as residents of Washington state, suggesting this idea comes from Facebook Reality Lab which has its main office there.

    Two Displays Per Eye, Merged

    The patent describes a headset which has eye tracking-driven foveated rendering. For those unfamiliar, foveated rendering is a process which renders most of the view into a virtual world at lower resolution except for the exact area directly in front of where the user’s eye is pointed. That area in front of the eye — where humans perceive the greatest detail — is rendered at a higher resolution.

    With this patent, instead of the image being sent to one display per eye, as in most headsets, the high resolution area is instead sent to a a second much smaller display called the ‘inset display’. A steerable mirror and optical combiner then project this display into the lens, at the position the user’s eye is pointed. Low resolution parts of the virtual world — parts not directly in front of the eyeball — go to the main display and are magnified directly by the lens.

    The result would a display that combines these low and high-resolution panels to provide an experience that roughly matches the level of detail that the human eye can resolve. If the eye tracking is good enough, the user would not even notice that the headset has variable resolution.

    Isn’t This Varjo?

    This patent may sound familiar if you’ve heard of the Finland-based company Varjo. Varjo’s current prototype also features an inset and background display, but the high resolution area is locked to the center of the display — it does not yet adapt to eye position. But Varjo’s end goal is to build a headset that sounds surprisingly similar to what Facebook describe in this patent, steering the display with mirrors.

    Varjo has also been awarded a patent for this technique. Facebook applied for its patent before Varjo’s, but Varjo’s was granted before Facebook’s. It is not clear how much these techniques differ from one another.

    The ‘Inset’ Microdisplay

    One diagram in the patent’s supporting documents mentions the resolution and potential supplier of the inset display. It is marked as a 1920×1200 microdisplay from eMagin. This is likely the eMagin WUXGA, which eMagin claims is the highest resolution production OLED microdisplay.

    OLED microdisplays use a more costly production method compared to regular OLED panels used in VR today, but are physically much smaller and consume less power. The peripheral display’s exact resolution is not listed, but is described “low compared to

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  • Little Red The Inventor Is A Charming AR Story That Helps Kids Learn

    Award-winning director creates voice-activated AR experience that boosts a child’s confidence. At first glance, Little Red the Inventor is a rather sweet-looking little AR app where you get to help out Little Red Riding Hood as she tries to make her way through the forest, out of trouble, and ultimately to her grandma’s house. But

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  • VR Industry Sees Positive Growth as Q3 Headset Sales Hit 1.9 million The current VR market isn't so gloomy after all.
  • How VR Is Changing College Tours

    VR is giving prospective students a glimpse of college life without having to travel across the country. When deciding which colleges to apply to, it is hard to know which campus will be the right environment for you if you aren’t able to explore the classrooms and quad. However, thanks to VR tour companies like

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  • Force Push Is A Star Wars-Style VR Interaction System Using Hand Gestures
    Force Push Is A Star Wars-Style VR Interaction System Using Hand Gestures

    Ever wanted to wield the power of a Jedi inside VR? This new system from Virginia Tech researchers lets you do just that.

    Force Push is a new object manipulation system for VR being worked on at the institution’s College of Engineering. It uses hand-tracking (namely a Leap Motion sensor fitted to the front of the Oculus Rift) to allow users to push, pull and rotate virtual objects from a distance, just like a Skywalker would. Run Yu, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Computer Science, and Professor Doug Bowman have been working on it for some time, as can be seen in the video below. The pair’s research was recently published in a new report.

    As the footage shows, objects are moved simply by gesturing in the way you want them to go. Motion towards yourself to bring an item closer towards you, flick your hand up to raise it off of the ground and, of course, push your hand outwards to have it shoot off into the distance. You can even raise your index finger and make a rotating motion to turn the object around.

    It’s a pretty cool system, though we’d like to see it working without the repeated gestures. Hand-tracking itself is some ways out from full implementation inside VR headsets, but laying groundwork such as this will help make it a more natural fit if and when it does get here.

    “There is still much to learn about object translation via gesture, such as how to find the most effective gesture-to-force mapping in this one case (mapping functions, parameters, gesture features, etc.),” the pair wrote in their report. “We plan to continue searching for improved transfer functions from the gesture features to the physics simulation. Further evaluation of Force Push will focus on more ecologically valid scenarios involving full 3D manipulation.”

    Now if only we could use this is an actual Star Wars VR game?

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  • A Mission: Impossible VR Experience is Coming to VR Arcades in 2019 Nomadic and VRWERX are currently developing the project.
  • Tim Sweeney: Games Released On Epic Games Store Can Support VR
    Tim Sweeney: Games Released On Epic Games Store Can Support VR

    The team behind Fortnite and the Unreal Engine which created it is going one level deeper and making a push for its own game storefront to challenge Valve’s Steam on PC and potentially Google Play on Android.

    The Epic Games store promises more revenue per sale to developers than other options and “will launch with a hand-curated set of games on PC and Mac, then it will open up more broadly to other games and to Android and other open platforms throughout 2019,” an announcement post states.

    Here’s the chart used to explain revenue split options to developers releasing virtual worlds made with Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 toolset or the leading competitor, Unity.

    In an emailed Q&A with Game Informer, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney wrote “the Epic Games store doesn’t have any sort of VR user interface, however, games released on the store can support VR if they choose.”

    We reached out to Epic Games representatives for more information about how VR support will be implemented, but we haven’t received a detailed response yet. Sweeney is quoted on the OpenXR website in support of the Khronos standard, stating “we’ll adopt and support the resulting API in Unreal Engine.”

    We’ll update this post with any new information from Epic about how its store will enable discovery of VR apps or how end users can make sure their system can run an app available through Epic’s store.

    Tagged with: Epic Games Store, Fortnite, Unreal engine

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  • Pokémon Go to Introduce PvP Trainer Battles The new system is due to arrive this month.
  • Location-Based Mission Impossible VR Experience Coming In 2019
    Location-Based Mission Impossible VR Experience Coming In 2019

    “Your mission, should you choose to accept it,” are words I’ve wanted to hear spoken to me through the earpieces of a VR headset ever since the Oculus Rift Kickstarter first got funded. I’m a big fan of Ethan Hunt’s adventures in the Mission Impossible franchise of films and was delighted to learn that Nomadic, the creators of this incredible Arizona Sunshine location-based experience, are teaming up with VRWERX, the developers of Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul, to make it a VR-reality. In fact, this appears to be the same Mission Impossible VR game they announced over a year ago.

    What makes Nomadic’s installations so amazing compared to other location-based experiences I’ve tried is just how interactive they are. Sure, you can carry a gun in Sandbox VR, or push some buttons in The Void, but with Nomadic the entire installation itself is mapped to the VR environment. I was opening drawers, walking across planks, hanging onto chain linked fences, and riding a moving, vibrating helicopter. They truly know how to make the virtual a reality.

    To be clear, this is old test footage. The actual experience and sets are far more elaborate now.

    Combine that with the game development talent of VRWERX, who really brought the Paranormal Activity IP to life in VR, and that’s a recipe for something special.

    To be clear we have not seen this VR experience for ourselves and we have no idea whether or not it lives up to expectations, but the potential for a high-quality escape room meets VR game is so perfect with this property it seems like a match made in VR heaven.

    According to a press release from a company representative:

    “Visitors can expect to literally step into the virtual shoes of an agent of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) and feel exactly what it would be like to go on a secret mission… The new Mission Impossible experience is set to open early next year and will allow players to reach out and feel their way around various locations that tie back into what they are seeing through their headsets.”

    That’s about all we know so far, but this is definitely exciting news. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out Nomadic’s debut location in Orlando to try their amazing cooperative Arizona Sunshine experience if you can. At the very least this news should tide us over until we find out more about Defector and Blood & Truth.

    Tagged with: Mission Impossible, Nomadic, vrwerx

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  • Tactical Haptics ‘Reactive Grip’ VR Controllers Are Now Production Ready
    Tactical Haptics ‘Reactive Grip’ VR Controllers Are Now Production Ready

    Tactical Haptics today announced the new production-ready design for their haptic VR controllers which adapt the shape of their grip to make using virtual objects feel more real.

    The company originated from a 2013 Kickstarter. While the campaign was unsuccessful, the company believed its idea was so good that they continued developing the project anyways. Since then, the company has been refining its technology and design. Today, it’s ready for full production.

    Whereas most VR controllers simply deliver vibration feedback, these controllers each have three metal plates inside their handles which move up and down to replicate motions and forces on the object you’re holding in that hand. For example the feeling of hitting an enemy with a club, opening a door by its handle, or just the weight of an object moving around in your hand should all feel more convincing than they do on Touch or Vive controllers. The controllers have been designed from the start to work with multiple tracking systems.

    In recent years affordable 6DoF controllers have become standard across much of consumer VR. As such, the company has pivoted to the location-based VR and VR training markets. Location-based experiences have higher budgets for hardware to create a more immersive experience than consumer VR, whereas training experiences often need better haptic feedback to accurately represent the real life object they’re training for.

    Last year, IMAX decided to use Tactical Haptics controllers for its Justice League location based VR experience, made in partnership with DC Comics. They have been using a “minimum viable product” (MVP) version of the controllers for this.

    Whereas the MVP controllers were designed to accommodate the specific tracking systems the company wanted to support directly, the new ones instead have a general magnetic socket. Third parties can make adapters for this socket to allow the use of tracking hardware like Oculus Touch, HTC Vive trackers, Windows MR controllers, OptiTrack, or future tracking hardware. The company tells us that this allows the controllers to be smaller, cheaper to manufacture, and more future proof.

    The company is currently seeking new partnerships with location-based VR and training VR companies, and will be announcing more details early next year. We’re excited to see advanced VR controller haptics spread to more VR locations, and hopefully one day the consumer market too.

    Tagged with: Haptics, tactical haptics, vr controllers

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