Lucasfilm Shows Off ‘Star Wars’ VR Experience with HTC Vive

Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB R&D unit just did a limited demonstration of its new “Star Wars” virtual reality experience: “Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine,” using the HTC Vive headset. The user, by walking around in a 15×15-foot space, explores the planet’s surface, does some maintenance on a Millennium Falcon, meets R2-D2 and fight offs a group of attacking Stormtroopers with a lightsaber. After unveiling the experience to a group of journalists, Lucafilm plans to allow other “select audiences” to also experience it. Continue reading Lucasfilm Shows Off ‘Star Wars’ VR Experience with HTC Vive

GDC 2016: Your Brain on VR, The Psychology of Doing VR Right

Cognitive scientist, programmer, game developer, and senior technical designer for Riot Games and Radial Games Dr. Kimberly Voll took a packed house at the Game Developers Conference into the brain on VR, hailing the tremendous opportunities and flashing potential hazards this new medium presents. As someone who “engineers awesome experiences through understanding humans better, frequently in VR,” Voll’s latest project is “Fantastic Contraption,” a VR update to the popular 2008 building game, that will be shipping with the HTC Vive in April. Continue reading GDC 2016: Your Brain on VR, The Psychology of Doing VR Right

Cinematic VR Audio Discussed at Game Developers Conference

Varun Nair of Two Big Ears Ltd. and Jean-Pascal (JP) Beaudoin of Headspace Studio gave an excellent primer on “Audio for Cinematic VR” at this week’s GDC VR Developers Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Beaudoin started by making two overarching points: the sense of presence in VR is proportional to the amount of immersion, and it is important to understand the Field of Audition (FoA – the sound space). The session also addressed three key types of sound space designs: diegetic audio, acousmatic audio and non-diegetic audio. Continue reading Cinematic VR Audio Discussed at Game Developers Conference

Snapchat Working on AR, Gamer Developers Turn to VR Titles

Snapchat has been making hires and acquisitions in augmented reality that may signal development of smart glasses. The company has brought in key people from Microsoft HoloLens, PTC’s (formerly Qualcomm’s) Vuforia and Eyefluence, an eye-tracking technology company. Snapchat’s interest in AR dates back to March 2014, when it quietly acquired Vergence Labs, maker of glasses with an embedded camera, for $15 million. At the time, the acquisition seemed out-of-place but now appears to be part of a larger AR strategy. Continue reading Snapchat Working on AR, Gamer Developers Turn to VR Titles

Amazon Pursues Indie Film, Streaming TV and Virtual Reality

By foreseeing how the Internet would dramatically change the retail business, Amazon became the digital behemoth it is today. Now the company has turned its sights to the entertainment industry, volatile due to technology changes, and is taking a deep dive into prestige films, online shows and virtual reality. Amazon recently became a major player in independent feature distribution by spending top price for films at Sundance and elsewhere. Now it’s debuted a streaming TV show and is forming a team to build a VR platform. Continue reading Amazon Pursues Indie Film, Streaming TV and Virtual Reality

Intel to Leverage RealSense for Augmented Reality Headset

Intel is leveraging RealSense, its 3D camera technology, to develop a wearable headset for augmented reality, say sources knowledgeable about the chip maker’s plans. Those same sources report that Intel is more likely to license its headset design to other manufacturers rather than produce its own branded model. Intel’s RealSense could potentially help distinguish its technology offering in a field that already includes many major companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google and dozens of startups. Continue reading Intel to Leverage RealSense for Augmented Reality Headset

Pre-Orders for HTC Vive Headsets Top 15,000 in 10 Minutes

Within 10 minutes of accepting pre-orders from the U.S. and 23 other countries, HTC sold more than 15,000 HTC Vive VR kits, which will ship beginning April 5. The $799 Vive virtual reality package includes the headset, two controllers and two Lighthouse laser-tracking sensors, as well as three games that show off the technology of room-scale tracking and motion tracking. Those games are “Job Simulator,” an office destruction physics game; “Fantastic Contraption,” a puzzle game; and Google’s 3D painting tool “Tilt Brush.” Continue reading Pre-Orders for HTC Vive Headsets Top 15,000 in 10 Minutes

Netflix Reveals Content, Tech Plans at Mobile World Congress

In several meetings at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Netflix discussed plans for content and technology plays over the coming months, including the release of a large slate of original programs. The company revealed that it’s keeping an eye on virtual reality as a storytelling tool and is also about to launch a second screen experience, which has been in development for a number of years. The company has also been more forthcoming about its plans to acquire and distribute content in high dynamic range. Continue reading Netflix Reveals Content, Tech Plans at Mobile World Congress

At Mobile World Congress, Phone Makers Pitch Virtual Reality

Virtual reality now trumps megapixels in phone manufacturers’ pitches to consumers. Over the years, the biggest phone makers have boasted of bigger screens and better photos. But, at this year’s Mobile World Congress, many manufacturers are highlighting the use of their smartphones as an inexpensive mobile device for VR viewing. That’s particularly the case with new offerings from Samsung and its archrival LG, both of which are offering virtual reality capabilities. Even smaller manufacturers are getting in on the game. Continue reading At Mobile World Congress, Phone Makers Pitch Virtual Reality

Mobile World Congress Focuses on 5G, IoT, VR and Regulation

Although smartphones are becoming commodities, the mobile industry operators, developers, and Internet companies attending the 2016 Mobile World Congress aren’t worried. That’s because the focus is on the Internet, especially the upcoming 5G networks, which power not just mobile phones but all connected devices. The show is a hotspot for the new gadgets, licensing and partnership deals, frenzied competition and new entrants driving the industry to create services and devices that work seamlessly together. Continue reading Mobile World Congress Focuses on 5G, IoT, VR and Regulation

Samsung Demos Gear 360 Camera for Virtual Reality Capture

Slated for release in Q2 2016, Samsung’s new Gear 360 is a compact camera with two lenses designed to capture 360-video for its Samsung Gear VR viewing system. At 153 grams, the Gear 360 is one gram lighter than the new Galaxy S7 and includes a pair of microphones for audio capture, a microSD slot for memory expansion up to 128GB, and a removable battery for up to 140 minutes of active use. Unlike the Project Beyond 360-camera, with 16 HD cameras, demonstrated in late 2014, the Gear 360 appears to be aimed at consumer use. Continue reading Samsung Demos Gear 360 Camera for Virtual Reality Capture

Facebook Opens Toy Box and Looks to Make VR More Social

Just before the Mobile World Congress opened in Barcelona, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a new in-house team, led by designers Daniel James and Michael Booth, tasked with building “social apps” for the Oculus. The announcement comes weeks before the release of the long-awaited VR headset Oculus Rift, priced at $600 as a standalone headset and, paired with a PC, starting at $1,500. Facebook also launched a demo of “Toy Box,” with virtual shared games, all part of a move towards making VR more social. Continue reading Facebook Opens Toy Box and Looks to Make VR More Social

HTC Vive Ships in April, Pricier Than Facebook’s Oculus Rift

HTC announced shipping and price details of its highly anticipated Vive virtual reality headset during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. In conjunction with Valve, HTC will begin shipping the VR headset in early April. At $799, Vive will be $200 more than its rival Oculus Rift. Pre-orders for the goggle-like headset, two wireless controllers, and two room scale movement sensors will begin on February 29 on HTC’s website. The pre-order bundle also comes with two games: “Fantastic Contraption” and “Job Simulator.” Continue reading HTC Vive Ships in April, Pricier Than Facebook’s Oculus Rift

HPA Tech Retreat: VR Experts Talk Cameras, Workflow, Markets

Virtual reality was the focus of a panel I moderated at the HPA Tech Retreat, which included Phil Lelyveld, who runs the VR/AR initiative at ETC; Stuart English, head of worldwide sales for presence capture at Nokia Technologies; and Steve Schklair, producer, cinematographer and chief executive of 3ality/Technica. Lelyveld described the emerging virtual reality space, first noting the increasing number of VR cameras, from the consumer level (GoPro, Ricoh Theta, Kodak PixPro) to the high end (Nokia, NextVR, Headcase). Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: VR Experts Talk Cameras, Workflow, Markets

SpecOut Lists 99 VR, AR Headsets for Comparison Shopping

Product comparison site SpecOut.com provides “detailed information and specs on thousands of gadgets” for those researching smartphones, streaming media players, motherboards and more. Now the site has added a section on virtual and augmented reality headsets that features currently available and soon-to-be-released devices such as the Sony PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, Avegant Glyph, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens and 94 others. This is a great resource for those interesting in HMD product descriptions, pricing, and details such as refresh rate, processing source, and field of view. Continue reading SpecOut Lists 99 VR, AR Headsets for Comparison Shopping

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