News

  • Trash the Internet in The VOID’s Upcoming Adventure Ralph Breaks VR The movie tie-in is due to launch next week.
  • 18 new Startups Selected for the HTC Vive X AR/VR Accelerator Programme This fourth round has an increased emphasis on enterprise VR technology.
  • Wonderscope Is The First AR App From Within
    Wonderscope Is The First AR App From Within

    Within is bringing its expertise in making experiential VR to the weird and wonderful world of augmented reality.

    The company this week launched its first AR experience, Wonderscope, as its own iOS app. Geared towards kids, the experience utilizes Apple’s ARKit to turn the spaces around them into virtually interactive environments designed to encourage early learning. It features several stories that children will be able to read aloud, with text being highlighted as they speak. They can even reach into the world in front of the camera to play with characters.

    Within hopes that encouraging early learning skills will make Wonderscope one of a new breed of AR apps that gets kids using their family’s tablets and phones in proactive ways. “Millions of kids use screens as much or more than adults, and they often do it alone,” Within CEO, Chris Milk said in a prepared statement. “With AR, we see an opportunity to change that dynamic. Rather than disappearing into our devices and shutting out the world, Wonderscope promotes a new kind of screen-positive experience, one that opens you up to everything and everyone around you.”

    Wonderscope is initially launching with one story, A Brief History of Stunts by Astounding People, which takes viewers on a tour of historic stunts. It’s available for free inside the app, but you can also download another story, Little Red the Inventor, for $4.99. As the name suggests, the story is a modern twist on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. More stories will be rolling out to the app in December.

    No word on an Android release just yet.

    Tagged with: Within, Wonderscope

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  • Titanic VR Sets Sail for PlayStation VR Next Week Explore the infamous shipwreck as well as a unique story-driven campaign.
  • VR/AR Adtech Startup Admix Secures $2.1m Investment The company helps developers monetise their content by placing non-intrusive ads.
  • HTC Vive, Vive Pro, And Wireless Adapter Sales All ‘Meeting Goals’
    HTC Vive, Vive Pro, And Wireless Adapter Sales All ‘Meeting Goals’

    Last week I attended an HTC press event in San Francisco where the company not only revealed the Vive Focus was launching in the US that day as an Enterprise-focused device, but they also presented hands-on opportunities with the Vive Focus 6DOF controller dev kit and revealed a new consumer-focused device based on the Vive Wave SDK known as the Shadow VR. The verdict’s still out on that one.

    At that event I also got the chance to sit down with Dan O’Brien, General Manager at HTC. As it turns out, the only thing more difficult than getting a hint of sales data out of executives at virtual reality tech companies is trying to get a room of VR enthusiasts to agree on a preferred form of movement inside VR games. But I tried anyway.

    “We are seeing year-over-year growth for both products, well not so much for Pro it hasn’t been a year yet, but the original Vive we continue to see that growth and adoption,” said O’Brien. “What we’ve learned with the price point of taking that down to $499 we have seen a very accelerated growth to the point that we were stocking out for the summer and had to update our supply chain and forecast.”

    Basically it’s the same sort of answer we’ve gotten in the past from Facebook regarding the Oculus Rift and Oculus Go. In fact, Oculus’ Nate Mitchell told us Go was “beating expectations” and that the Rift was “performing well” in an interview back from September.

    “We continue to see traction going into the holidays and with Vive Pro we continue to see accelerated growth of the full kit and adoption,” said O’Brien. “They want the larger tracking space and better headset. We are meeting goals overall. The Wireless Adapter is going great too.”

    To put things into context, the most recent Steam Hardware Survey results show that while more polled users are using Rifts than Vives at this point, the margin between the two is shrinking as the combined approach from Vive and Vive Pro gains ground.

    Unfortunately we still don’t know hard sales figures from HTC or Oculus. Sony on the other hand have revealed that over 3M PSVR units are out in the wild, which is huge, and it’s a number that is expected to keep growing as we enter the 2018 Holiday season. There are great deals out there for Sony’s headset and it has an excellent lineup of exclusive and cross-platform titles.

    Let us know what you think!

    Tagged with: htc vive, Vive Pro, Vive Wireless Adapter

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  • HP’s new Concept Opera Glass Allows for Quick VR Immersion What the company likes to term as 'VR snacking'.
  • The VOID’s VR Theme Parks Add Wreck-It Ralph Experience
    The VOID’s VR Theme Parks Add Wreck-It Ralph Experience

    The VOID out-of-home VR company is adding an official Wreck-It Ralph experience to four of their locations. It is named ‘Ralph Breaks VR’ and officially opens on the 21st of November (next Wednesday). The VOID describes the experience as:

    Shoot retro alien spaceships, squash pixel bugs, and fend off hordes of bunnies and kitties in the Pancake Milkshake Diner while you team up with Ralph and Vanellope in a race against time to see who can rack up the highest score! It’s all fun and games until an evil security system shows up and threatens to take you and your new buddies offline…permanently.

    The experience was jointly developed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and ILMxLAB (also owned by Disney). It was originally announced in September alongside an unnamed Marvel experience, which is expected in 2019.

    ILMxLAB were also behind the existing Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire at The VOID, which opened in January.

    The 4 locations Ralph Breaks VR will be available at are:

    Anaheim, California
    Glendale, California
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Orlando, Florida

    With Star Wars, Wreck it Ralph, Ghostbusters, and a future Marvel experience, the VOID now has an impressive lineup up content for their VR theme parks. It seems that major entertainment companies consider the ability to physically move around a large space (“warehouse scale VR”) to be a compelling case for bringing their content to VR.

    Tagged with: disney, ilmxlab, out of home vr, The Void

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  • Huawei Plans To Release AR Glasses Within ‘The Next One To Two Years’
    Huawei Plans To Release AR Glasses Within ‘The Next One To Two Years’

    Chinese tech company Huawei has told CNBC that it plans to commercialize augmented reality (AR) glasses within “the next one to two years”. Huawei is China’s largest consumer electronics company and is often described as “China’s Apple” due to its focus on high end products.

    One factor that could give Huawei an edge over competitors like Facebook and help them compete with Apple’s upcoming AR glasses is that they design and manufacture their own SoCs (system on chip) through their HiSilicon subsidiary. Whereas Facebook may have to purchase generic SoCs from Qualcomm (as they do for their VR headsets) Huawei can use their own. Not only would this allow them to lower cost, but it would also allow them to tailor the SoCs around the glasses.

    Huawei has already released two VR headsets, so the company has gained some experience with head mounted displays. The company’s first headset, the Huawei VR, was a Google Daydream powered smartphone based system for the Huawei P9 and Mate 10 phones, similar to Samsung’s Gear VR. It released in 2016 in China, and in early 2017 Google announced that it was coming to the West — however this did not happen.

    The company’s latest VR offering is the Huawei VR 2, a unique headset which can be powered by either a Huawei flagship smartphone (via the phone’s USB-C port) or a gaming PC via DisplayPort. The headset features dual 90 Hz 1440×1600 LCD panels with IPD adjustment, however the tracking for both the headset and controller is 3DoF only. Because it can connect to a PC, it now shows up in the Steam Hardware Survey.

    Current AR headsets from Microsoft (HoloLens) and Magic Leap (Magic Leap One) have high prices, a relatively small field of view, and are too big to be worn in public. Huawei told CNBC that the company will “bring a better user experience product”, but has not provided any specific details on exactly what they will improve on.

    With Huawei, Apple, and Facebook all now working on AR glasses, as well as the HoloLens and Magic Leap One both currently in the development kit stage, the early 2020’s is shaping up to be the beginning of the true consumer AR age. We’ll keep you updated on any further news of true consumer AR glasses.

    Tagged with: ar, AR glasses, augmented reality, Huawei

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  • Three-Part Cosmic Journey ‘SPHERES’ Arrives On The Oculus Rift

    Executive produced by Darren Aronofsky, the interactive series features narration by Millie Bobby Brown, Jessica Chastain, and Patti Smith. After a successful festival tour culminating in a Grand Jury Prize for Best Virtual Reality Immersive Story, as well as the first seven-figure VR acquisition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, SPHERES is now available for purchase

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  • AR Mobile Game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Delayed Until 2019 A new teaser trailer has now appeared.
  • Japanese Man Spends $17,500 In ‘Cross-Dimensional’ Wedding To Hatsune Miku

    Akihiko Kondo’s “marriage” to the 16-year-old holographic pop star is just the latest in an increasingly prominent trend of holographic marriages. This past month, Akihiko Kondo, a 35-year-old school administrator, “married” synthetic VR pop star Hatsune Miku in a fairy tale wedding ceremony which cost a total of $17,500. Around 40 attendees (an astonishingly high

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  • Google Spotlight Stories’ Age of Sail Now Available Find it on YoutTube and the Spotlight Stories app.
  • Age of Sail Review: Google’s Latest VR Short Is Worth The Sea Sickness
    Age of Sail Review: Google’s Latest VR Short Is Worth The Sea Sickness

    Age of Sail stayed with me in a way that no other VR experience has. I mean that quite literally; as I sit here typing up my thoughts on Google’s latest Spotlight Story, I can still feel myself bobbing up and down on the rough waves that you brave alongside Ian McShane’s world-weary sailor and Cathy Ang’s defiantly optimistic rescuee. Now that’s immersion.

    Directed by Oscar-winner, John Kahrs, Age of Sail is a 12 minute VR short that you can see as a 2D movie or inside a mobile VR headset, but it’s best viewed via a Steam download on Rift and Vive. It’s a piece about the changing of the guard and finding a place for yourself in the new world, two topics that it explores with an on-the-nose metaphor and a touch of warming affection.

    We join McShane’s William Avery on his modest sailboat, bellowing with laughter as he sings along with his full crew to an old sea shanty that’s cut short by the roar of a tiny steamboat signaling the beginning of a new age. The next moment, we’re several years into the future and another boat 20 times the size of that dwarfs a now isolated and considerably more haggard Avery. A girl falls from the side, whom he somewhat reluctantly rescues. Needless to say, Ang’s enthusiasm and sentimentality don’t make for a good fit on the cramped confines of the deck, seating you in the middle of a touchy pairing.

    There’s mood here unlike anything seen in prior Spotlight Stories. As the two clash and the wind begins to swirl you find yourself lost in the drama of both character and element. Waves rise and you go with them, the deck swings and sways as does your stomach. You get the sense that Kahrs deliberately embraced sea sickness instead of straying away from it in an effort to put you right there on the boat. At one point, lost amongst the waves, you can even dip your head in and out of the water as you’re tossed around by a violent sea.

    Internal conflict represented by grey skies and stormy seas might not be a new concept to traditional cinema, but Kahrs uses that immersion to find new layers for it here. It might work a little too well for some to handle.

    But there’s reason to endure. Age of Sail has some remarkable cinematography to it, especially in its opening minute when steamboats drag your head around as you try to keep up with the future. It’s a clever bit of scene-setting, which Kahrs continues to demonstrate, reminding you of the kind of efficient story-telling we’re used to seeing on the silver screen. It’s also a hint that filmmakers might be starting to really grasp the language of VR.

    All of that’s enhanced by a rustic art style worthy of its shaggy seadog of a protagonist. Spotlight Stories are known for being easy on the eyes and this is no exception, even with the largely dimmer color palette at work.

    Ultimately

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  • Owlchemy Labs Develops Avatar Customizer for Vacation Simulator, Launch Pushed to 2019 The team spent 2000 hours developing the feature for players to express their style.