• From Power Slides to Blue Shells, HTC Vive Talks Mario Kart Arcade GP VR VRFocus talk with Graham Wheeler to learn more about Mario Kart Arcade GP VR now open in London.
  • Evil Dead: Virtual Nightmare Crawls onto Oculus Go The 1981 cult-hit horror film gets a VR reimagining.
  • Samsung Trademarks ‘Perfect Reality’, ‘Odyssey Z’ Ahead Of Note 9 Reveal
    Samsung Trademarks ‘Perfect Reality’, ‘Odyssey Z’ Ahead Of Note 9 Reveal

    It’s that time of year again; Samsung is getting ready to reveal its next enlarged smartphone, the Galaxy Note 9, at an Unpacked event on August 9th. But recent trademarks from the company suggest there might be some interesting VR news coming down the line, too.

    In the last week of July the tech giant put in trademark filings for both ‘Perfect Reality‘ and ‘Odyssey Z‘ at the European trademark office. Both filings have ‘virtual reality headsets’ tagged in their goods and services description.

    Odyssey Z might sound exciting initially, but it’s not likely to amount to much. Though Samsung has a (very good) Windows VR headset named the Odyssey, the company also revealed the Samsung Notebook Odyssey Z earlier this year, and this trademark almost certainly refers to its European release. It does at least suggest that the gaming-focused device could support VR, though.

    Perfect Reality sounds much more interesting, perhaps tying into a new marketing push for Samsung’s VR efforts. Back in July we reported that the company had also trademarked an ‘Anti-Screen Door Effect’ AMOLED display (which is likely the display we saw at SID Display Week) and we also know that it’s working on its own standalone VR headset with 4K resolution, inside-out tracking and eye-tracking. That sounds pretty perfect to us.

    We don’t know when Samsung will reveal these trademarks officially, but the thought of a Note 9 with a refined display has us excited about jumping back in Gear VR. We’ll have to see what the company has in store next week.

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  • London’s Barbican to Present Highlights From Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Alternate Realities Exhibition The exhibition starts later this month.
  • Mind Labyrinth Is An Idyllic New Fantasy Adventure Coming Soon
    Mind Labyrinth Is An Idyllic New Fantasy Adventure Coming Soon

    Update: Well it took a little longer than expected, but we now know that Mind will be touching down on PSVR, Rift and Vive at some point this month.

    Fans of Xing: The Land Beyond and other fantastical VR games might want to keep an eye on Mind Labyrinth VR.

    Announced last week by developer Frost Earth Studio, not much is known about Mind Labyrinth right now save for what you can see in the trailer below. This looks like the kind of VR experience that focuses on place and immersion more than it does action; you wander through several impossible landscapes, occasionally solving puzzles and interacting with the world around you. It looks almost meditative; encouraging phrases appear around you as you venture into the world.

    It looks like a nice antidote for those that are growing tired of all the shooting to be done in VR right now and are looking for something a little more calming.

    Mind Labyrinth will be arriving on “the most popular VR headsets” next month.

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  • Life In 360°: Goodwood’s Change Of Pace Ride on-board with Roborace's A.I. powered car.
  • HTC Vive Debuts New VR Apps, McLaren Shadow Project At ChinaJoy 2018
    HTC Vive Debuts New VR Apps, McLaren Shadow Project At ChinaJoy 2018

    ChinaJoy 2018 is in full swing, and HTC is there with a heck of a lot to showcase on its various Vive headsets.

    For starters, the company launched the McLaren Shadow Project at the show. Announced last month, this unique VR racing competition puts players in the seat of a McLaren F1 car using the Vive Pro headset. ChinaJoy attendees will be challenged to score the best lap times, the winner of which will take part in the finals at the McLaren Technology Centre in the UK next January. The overall victor will then be given a spot on McLaren’s eSports team.

    Elsewhere, HTC is showcasing new titles for both the Vive and the standalone Vive Focus at the show. For starters, former PSVR exclusive, Salary Man Escape, is on display ahead of a Viveport launch on August 28th. Resolution Games’ VR theme park, Wonderglade, is also being shown off on the Focus, as is a new Vive Studios game developed by Chesstar called Flashing Beat. It’s a music game that sees you using a cardboard guitar peripheral to hit notes to a beat.

    Online gaming company Netease, meanwhile, confirmed it would be launching a multiplayer open-world VR game on Viveport next year. Finally on the PC side, Ubisoft’s Space Junkies is being shown on Vive Pro at the show.

    Over on the arcade side of things, HTC is showcasing Viveport Arcade exclusive, Invaders, and a title for the Vive Focus Location Based Entertainment scheme called Infinity Racer.

    There’s a lot of stuff on the way to Viveport then, though we don’t know which if any of this content will land on Steam. As for Vive Focus, we’re still expecting a global launch for the headset at some point later this year.

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  • ESL’s VR League: Season 2 Grand Finals Taking Place at Oculus Connect 5 There are still plenty of qualifiers to go.
  • Hands-On: Furious Seas Is An Exciting VR Pirate Sea Battle Simulator
    Hands-On: Furious Seas Is An Exciting VR Pirate Sea Battle Simulator

    If you can think of something you’d want to do in a video game or fantasy life, then chances are there’s a VR app out there for you. Furious Seas, a new Early Access game from Future Immersive, was custom made for swashbuckling pirate fans: a pirate ship combat simulator that’s light on realism and heavy on fun.

    I’ve never considered myself a “big fan” of pirate stuff by any means, but I’d call you crazy if you ever went to Disneyland and didn’t ride the Pirates ride at least once…or twice if it’s really hot outside. In this VR game you get to be the Jack Sparrow of your very own ship as you steer across the open seas and blast cannons at enemy pirates that besiege you from all directions.

    Furious Seas is a thrilling game, no doubt. The water effects are absolutely gorgeous and I never once felt sea sick or motion sick while standing at the helm of my ship. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that this is the best looking water I’ve seen inside of a VR headset to date. Sorry, Skyrim VR.

    As of now there are only three chapters. Each chapter consists of setting sail, fighting a few pirates, then taking on a boss ship at the end of the chapter. As the captain you can’t move around the ship at all, but instead are stuck at the helm behind the wheel.

    To steer you have to actually physically spin the wheel around in whichever direction you want to go and two bells above your head tell the crew to either slow down or speed up. It’s a good system, but since you don’t need to worry about wind direction at all it feels a bit like you’re steering a slow-moving tank rather than an actual boat.

    Combat actually had a bit of nuance to it that I didn’t pick up on until I was in the middle of the third chapter. When you grab a cannon to shoot, the crew on that side of the ship will also shoot their cannons. If they’re ready and able, your trajectory indicator will be wider — to show the full breadth of all four or five cannonballs. If they’re not ready yet, then it’s a single straight line to show just your personal cannon.

    You can shoot your own cannon very quickly, but the crew has to reload between shots. Since this is just a single player game right now your crew interactions are quite limited, but there is a ton of potential to expand on the system. If you could have different crew members with different abilities/perks (such as faster reload speed, larger cannonballs, different types of cannonballs, etc) that’d help with the depth and customization a lot. I’d love to see actual ship customization features and various mission types (like treasure hunting, cargo delivery, etc) to mix things up.

    The voice over quality, across the board, is pretty low. Both the quality of the

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  • Nickelodeon In Development Of VR/AR Animated Series ‘Meet The Voxels’

    Nickelodeon’s Entertainment Lab sets its sights on their first VR/AR animated sitcom using virtual cinema technology. With a second screen AR experience, a multiplayer SlimeZone VR game, and a live Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VR Interview Experience at Comic Con, Nickelodeon’s Entertainment Lab has been working overtime to develop VR & AR experiences centered around

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  • Hands-on with Mario Kart Arcade GP VR: Leave Your Red Shells at Home A great start for Mario Kart in VR, but far from a pole position finish.
  • VR League Season 2 Finals Officially Slated For Oculus Connect 5
    VR League Season 2 Finals Officially Slated For Oculus Connect 5

    If I’ve learned anything over the past couple of years, it’s that VR is very likely the future of esports. Competitive gaming has taken the world by storm and it’s exciting to watch masters of their craft expertly play the hottest video games, but when you can see someone physically competing in virtual reality, it’s even better.

    Earlier this year Oculus, Intel, and the ESL teamed up again for Season 2 of the VR League with $220k in total prizes on the line and $120k total just for OC5 Finals. Now, the VR League Finals are coming up soon with live competitions at Oculus Connect 5 from September 26th – 27th at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. Live coverage of the VR League Finals will begin at 11:30AM PT on September 26th on Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube. The first day will feature Onward and The Unspoken with day two dedicated to Echo Arena and Sprint Vector.

    For Onward, competition has been heating up lately as VR League has partnered with VR Master League. One team has already secured a spot for the OC5 Finals through their domination at the Onward Invitational and starting on August 11th, the VR Master League will run its open qualifier tournament to award two teams spots at the Finals. The fourth and final team slot will go to the winner of the September 2nd Onward Last Chance Qualifier, which will be hosted live at ESL Studios in Leicester, UK. More details on all thins Onward here.

    Half of The Unspoken’s lineup for OC5 finals is already set, after an initially shaky period of uncertainty of whether or not it would even be included in VR League. The remaining four slots will go to competitors from the World Finals Qualifier on August 18th (following the preceding Last Chance Qualifier on August 14th). More details on The Unspoken here.

    There are still lots of chances to qualify for Echo Arena, including the Stage 3 Finals, Last Chance Qualifier, and World Finals Qualifier across multiple regions. And for Sprint Vector, rankings haven’t even happened yet. On August 17th during the World Finals Qualifier, the top eight players (based on points) will be selected to compete on-stage in San Jose for the VR League Finals. More details for Echo Arena and Sprint Vector can be found at each link.

    Seeing a VR platform manufacturer like Oculus continue to not only support — but invest in — the competitive VR esports landscape is extremely exciting. Hopefully this leads to more competitions down the line, including a VR League Season 3 for next year.

    To stay up to date on the latest with the VR Leage, make sure and follow their official Facebook and Twitter profiles. Let us know what you think of how the competitions have been thus far down in the comments below!

    Correction: We fixed a typo that originally stated the wrong prize pool amount.

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  • Canada Market Opens Up for In Virtuo The Government of Canada is providing $40,000 in funding to virtual reality company to treat anxiety disorders.
  • Disney Animation’s First VR Project ‘Cycles’ Debuts Next Month

    The VR short will take us beyond life as we know it. After nearly a decade of animated short films, this year Disney will premier its first ever virtual reality short film titled Cycles at Siggraph in Vancouver Canada. Addressing the topic of what’s held in the span of a lifetime, the Cycles VR experience will

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  • Facebook Built A Camera System To Capture Mirrors
    Facebook Built A Camera System To Capture Mirrors

    SIGGRAPH is just around the corner so that means research groups like Facebook Reality Lab are starting to reveal some of their cutting edge work. The latest from FRL (formerly Oculus Research) demonstrates a method to capture the appearance of mirrors from the real world.

    The new research opens up the door to capturing the look of complex real world environments which feature mirrors and reflective surfaces. Mirrors are the enemy of a number of computer vision applications and if Facebook’s research could be used to help solve that problem it might ultimately lead to a number of useful applications.

    “Mirror and glass surfaces are essential components of our daily environment yet notoriously hard to scan. Starting from the simple idea of robustly detecting a reflected planar target, we demonstrate a complete system for robust and accurate reconstruction of scenes with mirrors and glass surfaces,” the report reads. “Given the ease of capture, our system could also be used to collect training data for learning-based approaches to detect reflective surfaces. Besides our core application of scanning indoor scenes, we envision multiple extensions and applications.”

    The system finds mirrors by looking for a target that is on the camera rig, then refines the shape of the mirror by analyzing various features of the image.

    “Our key idea is to add a tag to the capture rig that can only be observed when the camera faces a mirror or glass surface,” the report reads.

    The most obvious application is easier to capture environments that are more realistic to experience in VR. The research could enable representations of real world locales to more realistically mix with digital elements, like your avatar, even if there are a number of mirrors and reflective surfaces.

    “Mirrors are typically skirted around in 3D reconstruction, and most earlier work just ignores them by pretending they don’t exist,” Research Scientist Thomas Whelan said in an Oculus blog post. “But in the real world, they exist everywhere and ruin the majority of reconstruction approaches. So in a way, we broke the mold and tackled one of the oldest problems in 3D reconstruction head-on.”

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