Reviews: With Touch Controller, Oculus Rift Is Now Complete

After months of anticipation, Oculus finally rolled out its Touch controller — years after PlayStation unveiled its Move controllers in 2010, and even after Vive began shipping two motion controllers. But reviewers who’ve gotten their hands on the Touch are giving it a thumbs-up, saying that its addition now “completes” the promise of the Rift VR headset for a sophisticated and satisfying VR experience. Among Touch’s features is that it tracks the positions of the user’s hand in 3D space. Continue reading Reviews: With Touch Controller, Oculus Rift Is Now Complete

Sony Pictures, Nokia Partner to Create, Distribute VR Content

Sony Pictures and Nokia have partnered to produce and distribute VR content. In addition to using Nokia’s OZO VR camera to produce videos, Sony will use the OZO’s Live VR broadcast feature to live stream 360-degree video of Sony Pictures events for fans. Sony will also add Nokia’s SDK to its Privilege Plus app, which is only available on Sony mobile phones. Nokia debuted the OZO a little over a year ago for about $60,000; the cost goes up with additional gear required to produce VR films. Continue reading Sony Pictures, Nokia Partner to Create, Distribute VR Content

Google Releases Daydream View Headset to Positive Reviews

Google’s first VR headset, the $79 Daydream View, started shipping, the first step in the company’s goal to make Android the dominant VR operating system. Daydream faces some stiff competition, however, including Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR for PC and mobile devices, and Microsoft’s holographic version of Windows. So far, reviewers are giving Daydream a thumbs-up, as simple to use, inexpensive and light, and one reviewer calls the content on YouTube VR the new headset’s “killer app.” Continue reading Google Releases Daydream View Headset to Positive Reviews

Sony Doubles Down on VR with ‘Billy Lynn’ and PlayStation VR

At his MIPCOM TV keynote, Sony president/chief executive Kazuo Hirai talked about the importance of virtual reality to the company, singling out its PlayStation VR headset; director Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which was shot in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second; and VR experiences tied to its movies, including “Ghostbusters,” “The Walk” and “Goosebumps.” Kando, the Japanese concept of stimulating emotional response in people, says Hirai, is at the center of what Sony wants to create in all its work. Continue reading Sony Doubles Down on VR with ‘Billy Lynn’ and PlayStation VR

Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Disavowing popular wisdom that it doesn’t pay to be too specific, Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash delineated what virtual reality tech will look like in 2021 at the Oculus Connect 3 conference last week. With the caveat that he would be proved “wrong about some of the specifics,” Abrash described a high-end VR future that includes 4K x 4K resolution per eye and 140-degree field of view displays, foveated rendering, personalized audio encoding, and “augmented virtual reality.” Abrash was the final speaker in a keynote session that stretched past two hours. Continue reading Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Sony PlayStation VR Launches Next Week with Slate of Games

On October 13, Sony will release its PlayStation VR headset to be used with the PlayStation 4 game console and PlayStation camera that detects body movements. Sony’s Move wand-like motion controllers allow the user to interact with virtual objects. Tech experts agree that one positive note is PlayStation VR’s $399 sticker price, which is less expensive than rival models from HTC and Oculus. They’re also enthused that Sony is debuting the hardware with a significant number of game titles. Continue reading Sony PlayStation VR Launches Next Week with Slate of Games

Presidential Race Gets Streaming Treatment Across Platforms

Election coverage focused on presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will get a major boost from social media, streaming technology and even virtual reality. Facebook plans to live-stream the upcoming debates with help from ABC News, while a Twitter-Bloomberg partnership will bring live streams of the debates to Twitter. YouTube, meanwhile, is slated to live-stream the debates from PBS, Telemundo and The Washington Post. And starting last night, NBC with AltspaceVR began streaming election coverage in virtual reality. Continue reading Presidential Race Gets Streaming Treatment Across Platforms

VR Games and Hardware Make Splash at Tokyo Game Show

The Tokyo Game Show, held by the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association and celebrating its 20th anniversary, featured 614 companies and more than 1,500 game software titles. Virtual reality received a great deal of attention this year, showcased in a dedicated area. Many experts believe that, although VR has many real-world uses, it will first find popularity in video games. Currently, a lack of content as well as bulky, expensive headsets and nascent technology are some of the obstacles to its uptake. Continue reading VR Games and Hardware Make Splash at Tokyo Game Show

Qualcomm and Goertek Develop High-Resolution VR Headset

Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon VR820, a reference platform for a standalone virtual reality headset, developed with Chinese electronics company Goertek and built on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 mobile processor and SDK. VR820, expected to be available by the end of 2016, offers higher resolution than the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, although a lower refresh rate. The Snapdragon 820 was also used for the Pico Neo, a $500 Android-based VR device with handheld controller co-developed by the same two companies. Continue reading Qualcomm and Goertek Develop High-Resolution VR Headset

Facebook Algorithm Ends VR Nausea for User-Shot 360 Video

After buying Oculus in 2014, Facebook furthered its ambitions in virtual reality last fall by creating a computational photography team made up of former Microsoft experts. They were tasked with creating photo and video features that bring virtual reality to the greater public. One of the first projects was to enable 360-degree photos on Facebook. Now, Facebook is offering automated video stabilization for 360-degree videos shot by consumer-level cameras, a big step in avoiding the nausea that VR can induce in some people. Continue reading Facebook Algorithm Ends VR Nausea for User-Shot 360 Video

Best Buy Bets Big on Virtual Reality with First Mainstream Test

Best Buy is going all out to promote sales of the Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR, with what’s regarded as the first mainstream test of VR products. The Oculus Rift demonstrations, which began their rollout in May, will be in 500 stores in time for the holiday season, with an added 200 demonstrations for PlayStation VR starting in October. The genesis of the push to VR began with chief executive Hubert Joly, who had a “mind-boggling” VR experience with a man-eating shark. He’s betting the U.S. public will be equally smitten. Continue reading Best Buy Bets Big on Virtual Reality with First Mainstream Test

The Wolfe Aims to Turn MacBooks into Virtual Reality Players

Apple’s laptops may not have the power to run many virtual reality experiences, but an upcoming Kickstarter campaign aims to change that. The Wolfe offers an external Thunderbolt-connected GPU as a simple solution for supercharging laptops. According to its creators, The Wolfe increases the MacBook Pro’s GPU processing capabilities up to ten times. The form factor is a tidy, largish box housing an Nvidia GPU that is currently the baseline for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Early Kickstarter backers will get one for $399. Continue reading The Wolfe Aims to Turn MacBooks into Virtual Reality Players

Intel Unveils Mixed Reality Headset, Drone, Joule Maker Board

At the Intel Developer Forum, the company showed several new technology projects, including Project Alloy, an unusual “mixed reality” headset; a quadcopter “ready-to-fly” drone aimed at software developers; and a new Joule maker board designed as a platform for computer vision products. The company, which plans to collaborate with Microsoft on the mixed reality headset, says it does not need to be connected to a high-powered personal computer, as do other headsets, most notably Oculus Rift. Continue reading Intel Unveils Mixed Reality Headset, Drone, Joule Maker Board

Facebook Touts Major Growth, Driven by Mobile Advertising

Facebook added 220 million monthly users in the past year, for a current total user base of 1.71 billion people. More than 90 percent of those users access Facebook via their mobile devices, where Facebook reaped 84 percent of its $6.2 billion in advertising revenue in the last quarter. The company saw 80 percent growth in Q2 from mobile ads, from an overall 59 percent growth rate in advertising. WhatsApp and Messenger, both of which have 1 billion users, are part of the company’s next move into video. Continue reading Facebook Touts Major Growth, Driven by Mobile Advertising

Facebook Open-Sources Designs for Surround 360 Camera

Facebook just put the blueprint and software for its 17-lens Surround 360 stereoscopic 3D camera on GitHub, fulfilling a promise the company made earlier to make the camera design, assembly instructions, control software and stitching software available for free. Facebook’s move is seen as an effort to enable more people to create 360-degree immersive videos. By open-sourcing the camera’s construction and operation, developers will be able to create products and speed up the development of the marketplace. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources Designs for Surround 360 Camera

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