News

  • Review: Déraciné Does a rich story and detailed setting override the inconsistent tone?
  • Oculus Rift Dips as Others Gain in Steam’s October Hardware Survey HTC Vive Pro now features alongside Huawei VR.
  • Google Patents Eye-Tracking System To Read Expressions For VR
    Google Patents Eye-Tracking System To Read Expressions For VR

    Google may one day make our virtual avatars more expressive by tracking our eyes.

    That is according to a patent published last week in which the company details a system for ‘Classifying Facial Expressions Using Eye-Tracking Cameras’. According to the description, the method uses “one or more eye tracking sensors implemented into one or more head mounted devices”.

    Eye-tracking is thought to be one of the next big things for VR, though that’s largely because an accurate, reliable system will enable foveated rendering, which only fully renders the area of a screen the user is directly looking at. Google, however, wants to use an algorithm to scan a user’s expression in real-time and then translate that into a virtual expression on their avatar.

    The patent also notes that these expressions could be personalized, which we’d guess means developers would be able to make reactions work with their style of avatar. The cheery little diagram below shows you how slight changes in the size and shape of an eye could change what others see when they look at your virtual avatar.

    If accurate, such a system could be revolutionary to social VR applications which, notably, Google doesn’t have yet. Of course, it also doesn’t have a VR headset with an embedded eye-tracking sensor just yet but, if it did, you’d have to imagine this was just one of a variety of potential uses for the tech.

    Given that Google only just released the Lenovo Mirage Solo Daydream headset (and is busy bringing 6DOF controllers to it), we wouldn’t expect to see anything come of this patent for a good while yet.

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  • Protect Your Oculus Go With the new Official Carry Case Perfectly formed of the headset and accessories.
  • Oculus Quest vs Vive Focus vs Lenovo Mirage Solo – 6DoF Standalone Specs Showdown
    Oculus Quest vs Vive Focus vs Lenovo Mirage Solo – 6DoF Standalone Specs Showdown

    As of the publishing date of this article, there are no standalone headsets on the consumer market with six degrees of freedom (6DoF) controllers.

    6DoF is relatively new to standalone VR. HTC was first to deliver it with the China release of its ‘Vive Focus’ in January, and Lenovo were first to bring it to the West, with their ‘Mirage Solo’ headset released in May. While these headsets are 6DoF, their controllers are not.

    Charts Based On Information Available As Of November 4th 2018

    If you’re confused by the terminology here, a ‘standalone’ (also called ‘all-in-one’) VR headset is one where the computing hardware, storage, and battery are all built into the headset itself. It does not require a PC or smartphone to use. Standalone headsets are important to VR’s success because relatively few people own a gaming PC, and smartphones tend to use too much power (or overheat too quickly) when used in VR mode.

    ‘6DoF tracking’, otherwise known as positional tracking, is when a device’s position can actually be tracked in space. When a headset isn’t 6DoF (also known as 3DoF) it can only track the rotation of your head, and thus they are only truly suitable when seated stationary. In 6DoF headsets, you can lean, duck, and walk around the room, just like in reality.

    6DoF Controllers: When?

    Standalone headsets currently on the consumer market include a single 3DoF rotational controller which essentially acts as a laser pointer for selection, or a simple tool for basic gestures such as flicking or slashing. This severely limits the interactivity of the VR experience, and means that most of PC VR’s most popular and interesting games & apps which rely on 6DoF controllers are not yet available on standalone VR systems. The $749 Pico Neo, launched earlier this year, was the first standalone VR system to feature 6DoF controllers, however Pico only sells this system to businesses.

    In late September, Oculus revealed the $399 Oculus Quest, the first consumer standalone VR system announced to include 6DoF controllers – the same highly praised ‘Touch controllers’ that come with Rift (just with the tracking ring upwards instead of downwards, explained in the next section). Just like on Rift, they each feature a thumbstick, 2 buttons, and separate triggers for gripping and interacting/shooting.

    Google (which provides the software for the Lenovo Mirage Solo) is not sitting idle either. A week before Quest was revealed, Google unvieled “experimental” 6DoF controllers for the Mirage Solo, and opened applications for developer kits. Neither Google nor Lenovo have said when these controllers are planned to be available to consumers, if at all. In fact, back when the headset launched in May Google told CNET not to “expect” 6DoF controllers on the Mirage Solo. Whether these new experimental 6DoF controllers from Google are intended to be a future add-on for the Solo, or an included part of a successor headset (“Duo”, anyone?) is a mystery for now.

    Less than 2 weeks ago, HTC also revealed a 6DoF controller developer kit for its Vive Focus headset. Like Google

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  • Watch David Attenborough Meet David Attenborough In VR
    Watch David Attenborough Meet David Attenborough In VR

    Hold The World, a brilliant educational VR app from Sky, features some of the best volumetric capture seen in VR today, bringing Sir David Attenborough to digital life. Need proof? Check out just how amazed the real Attenborough was to meet his digital self in the video below.

    This VR app has been on display at London’s Natural History Museum for much of 2018, but it finally launched on the Oculus Rift last week. Using hundreds of cameras, Attenborough’s been faithfully remade in VR with alarming photorealism. You’re given a one-on-one meeting with the broadcasting legend, in which you get the chance to inspect precious items, usually hidden away behind display cabinets.

    As you pick up objects, Attenborough points out areas of interest. You’re even allowed to resize items by stretching them out and, eventually, you’ll see them in action, too. It’s a tremendous example of the transformative power of VR education. You can get the experience on Rift for $3.99, though there’s no word on a release for other headsets right now.

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  • Spice and Wolf VR To Begin Crowd Funding Later this Month The title will be on both Campfire and Kickstarter.
  • Make It A (Virtual) Reality: Metro 2033 Take a trip to the post-apocalyptic Moscow metro system.
  • Scraper: First Strike Has An E-Book Prequel To Read In-Game
    Scraper: First Strike Has An E-Book Prequel To Read In-Game

    Interested in the world of Labrodex’s Scraper: First Strike? You’ll learn all about it via a new prequel e-book that you can read from within the game itself.

    Labrodex this month revealed that anyone that registers to ScraperNetwork.com by November 15th (just under a week before the game’s launch) will get a free prequel novel to the sci-fi shooter. But, instead of booting the book up on your Kindle, you’ll actually be able to read it from inside the game itself.

    As you can see from the above developer diary, at any point in the game you can find a nice spot to perch on before pulling up your virtual user-interface and digging into the book. You can adjust text size, place bookmarks and even hang your virtual window up so you can read it hands-free.

    In fact, the book ends exactly where the game picks up, so you might even want to make it the first thing you do when you boot it up.

    Scraper: First Strike is coming to Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows VR on November 21st. A PSVR version will follow up on December 18th. It’s the first episode in a wider game set to release in 2020.

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  • Tetris Gets the 3D Treatment With PolyCube An optional VR mode supports HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality headsets
  • Deracine Review: An Essential VR Oddity From The Creator Of Dark Souls
    Deracine Review: An Essential VR Oddity From The Creator Of Dark Souls

    Long before it became ‘the maker of Dark Souls’, From Software created, among various other RPGs and action games, adventures title like Echo Night. A far cry from the mechanical masochism of the series it’s now famous for, these story-driven experiments stood out from the pack with dark fantasy tales that took the somber tone of a Souls game in an entirely different direction.

    Deracine is very much a return to those roots, and it’s an utterly fascinating one.

    Your first impressions of From’s VR debut (directed by Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki) are likely to be conflicted. You play as a mystical faerie that stalks the halls of a painfully traditional boarding school, interacting with its cast of impossibly polite children. Scenes are frozen in time, allowing you to play games with the kids, swiping items from their pockets, over-seasoning their meals with an especially bitter herb and causing all sorts of other mischief. It’s all so very quaint; the kids talk in excited whispers and live wholesome lives, napping in trees, sharing out chores and planning a classical music recital to welcome their invisible new friend. There’s not a bad bone in their bodies.

    This is From Software by way of Enid Blyton. Puzzles are refreshingly light and encourage exploration of the meticulously-detailed boarding school, but it’s the interactions between the children that you’re really here for. From has done a great job giving each of the six kids their own identity; the snoozy Herman likes to steal a nap when no one’s looking and prides himself on the fedora he’s never seen without, whilst the rotund Lornic is clumsy, gentle but also something of a leader among the pack. Though they’re all so grotesquely whimsical, you can’t help but start to like them.

    Conversely, other elements of the game are Souls to the core. Deracine’s melancholic soundtrack makes exploring the boarding school comparable to a visit to Dark Souls’ Firelink Shrine, as if From had built it on top of the sacred ground. It’s got a rich sense of authenticity to it, from the brass pot-littered shelves of the kitchen to the airy confines of the built-in chapel, but it’s also so curiously eerie, especially when you step outside to marvel at a river suspended between seconds. Character models, meanwhile, are misty-eyed and uniform, giving each a somewhat mystic aura. It’s an odd mix, and one that initially makes the game hard to pin down; during the first hour I couldn’t get the slightest sense of where it was going, nor what From was hoping to achieve with its slideshow of practical jokes and archaic dialogue.

    But, if the thought of these pleasantries repels you, don’t let it; Deracine hides a darker, more memorable side.

    As you begin to explore the deeper effects of your misadventures, which also include the odd bit of time traveling by literally sucking the ‘time’ out of other beings, Deracine heads in directions that no other VR game has yet charted. This is a game that wants you to feel

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  • TD Ameritrade banks on AI, VR Many financial services companies are content to test new products and services within the cozy confines of innovation labs, where risks are minimal for a notoriously risk-averse industry. In today's digitally-obsessed, disrupt or be disrupted era, ...
  • TD Ameritrade banks on AI, VR Many financial services companies are content to test new products and services within the cozy confines of innovation labs, where risks are minimal for a notoriously risk-averse industry. In today's digitally-obsessed, disrupt or be disrupted era, TD ...
  • TD Ameritrade banks on AI, VR Many financial services companies are content to test new products and services within the cozy confines of innovation labs, where risks are minimal for a notoriously risk-averse industry. In today's digitally-obsessed, disrupt or be disrupted era, ...
  • Life In 360°: A Viking Spin Doctor’s Lie AirPano take us to the 'Land of the Kalaallit' - aka Greenland.