Oculus TV Debuts as Smart TV for Viewing in Virtual Reality

Oculus officially debuted Oculus TV, a free app and dedicated hub for watching flatscreen video in virtual reality via the Oculus Go headset. By introducing Oculus TV, first announced at last month’s F8 conference, the company makes good on its interest in non-gaming uses of VR. Oculus TV features a virtual home theater with what Oculus says is the equivalent of a 180-inch TV screen, and supports access to streaming video services including Showtime, free web service Pluto TV, Red Bull TV, and Facebook Video. Continue reading Oculus TV Debuts as Smart TV for Viewing in Virtual Reality

Within Debuts WebVR-Enabled Site for Broad VR Distribution

Within, a Los Angeles-based cinematic virtual reality startup, just unveiled a website that allows users to have a VR experience on any device, from a desktop PC or mobile phone to a dedicated VR headset. The company relies on WebVR technology that avoids the need to download additional software to be able to play VR experiences in supported browsers. Users without a VR headset can navigate the content via the web browser, and those with VR headsets use hand controllers and tracking tools. Continue reading Within Debuts WebVR-Enabled Site for Broad VR Distribution

Theme Parks Look to Game IPs for New VR, AR Experiences

Theme parks have a history of adding mobile games and apps such as “Club Penguin Island” and “Disney Magic Kingdom” to allow visitors to continue their experiences outside the park and encourage return visits. Now, augmented reality and virtual reality are opening the door to other game experiences that may make a transition from peoples’ homes into shared immersive environments in the theme park. Currently, VR gaming, with spending set to exceed $7 billion in 2018, is the most popular use case for the new technology. Continue reading Theme Parks Look to Game IPs for New VR, AR Experiences

Manufacturers Show Higher-Res VR Headset Display Panels

During Display Week in Los Angeles, several VR headset displays were showcased by companies including Google, LG, Japan Display and Samsung. Google and LG developed a display panel with 18.1 megapixels of detail per eye, which was similar to those from Japan Display and Samsung. The Google/LG panel, at 18.1 megapixels, goes up against Oculus Rift’s 1.3 megapixel per eye and HTC Vive Pro’s 2.2 megapixel per eye. Facebook was also at Display Week, but wasn’t quite ready to show off its Half Dome varifocal prototype. Continue reading Manufacturers Show Higher-Res VR Headset Display Panels

Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Facebook has debuted Oculus Go, its standalone $199 VR headset that the company hopes will launch more widespread engagement with virtual reality. Unlike the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go does not require a high-end smartphone or computer, has no wires or cables, and is ready to use out of the box. Early reviews give the VR headset a thumbs-up for its simplicity and convenience, and such features as speakers built into the strap. Also at its F8 developer conference, Facebook debuted a new version of Oculus Rooms. Continue reading Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Google Honors Georges Méliès Today with its First VR Doodle

If you visit the Google search page today, you’ll see what Google is describing as its first VR Doodle. Clicking it takes you to a YouTube player for a 360-degree animated short called “Back to the Moon” that celebrates French filmmaker, illusionist, and sci-fi pioneer Georges Méliès. The YouTube version is a teaser for the mobile VR experience, which is available for Cardboard and Daydream headsets via the Spotlight Stories app. While other Spotlight Stories such as “Pearl” and “Buggy Night” have been featured on YouTube in the past, the Google homepage promotion is a first. Continue reading Google Honors Georges Méliès Today with its First VR Doodle

Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

As part of the company’s recent push to develop new hardware, Facebook is reportedly working toward designing its own custom chips to be used in its consumer devices, data centers and AI software. The social media giant is currently developing devices such as smart speakers and VR headsets, and building its own chips could provide more control over design and development of these projects. Facebook’s strategy follows similar approaches by other tech giants, including Google and Apple. Continue reading Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

Apple Submits VR Patents for Next-Gen Autonomous Vehicles

According to Patently Apple, “There have been a series of very smart and very cool patent applications surfacing of late covering a future mixed reality headset that could one day be a part of a virtual desktop system designed to edit 3D documents” and a “detailed invention covering an advanced gesturing control system for a heads-up-display system of an autonomous vehicle.” For the latter, the official patent application by Apple reads that the invention could lead to “safe, smaller, and less expensive autonomous vehicles.”

Continue reading Apple Submits VR Patents for Next-Gen Autonomous Vehicles

Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

Continue reading Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook is getting ready to release Oculus Go, a new phone-free VR headset at a price point of $199. According to CNET, the standalone Oculus Go represents “entry-level accessibility” to virtual reality, an area of technology innovation they hope to see grow at a consumer level. While the games and apps available on Oculus Go seem similar to what’s already available via Samsung’s Gear VR, the design is “less clunky, and the integrated, cleaner, softer and smaller construction here is better,” writes CNET.

Continue reading CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Next-Gen 5G Will Unlock VR, Autonomous Vehicles and More

Improved latency is the biggest selling point for next-generation 5G wireless technology. Verizon, Vodafone and Huawei are demonstrating the impact on wireless video, video games and virtual reality. With 5G, latency will plummet to 1 to 2 milliseconds, versus 4G’s average 50 milliseconds, positively impacting many markets, from medicine to self-driving cars. But, although the U.S. will see the first commercial 5G sometime this year, many emerging markets are still limping along with 3G and hoping for 4G connections. Continue reading Next-Gen 5G Will Unlock VR, Autonomous Vehicles and More

Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

ETCentric subscribers and their friends are invited to participate in the Creating Reality Hackathon, being held March 12-15 on the USC campus. The organizers are seeking forward-thinking industry storytellers, game designers, coders, and other creative artists. The teams that produce the top AR and VR submissions will each be awarded $5,000. This event will also be an opportunity to get a hands-on preview of the HTC Vive Pro and Intel’s Vaunt AR glasses. If you wish to participate, please submit your request via this special link (the deadline has been extended to March 7). Visit the event website for more info. Continue reading Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

New York City Invests $6M in Augmented, Virtual Reality Hub

In 2016, a Goldman Sachs report predicted that AR/VR sales could reach $182 billion by 2025. Now, New York City, home to at least seven virtual reality centers, is committing $6 million to a 15,000-square foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that will serve as a “hub for virtual reality and augmented reality.” The de Blasio administration says the hub will create more than 500 jobs. One of the existing centers, VR World, is equipped with a bar and dance music and lets users sky dive, rock climb or wield a samurai sword. Continue reading New York City Invests $6M in Augmented, Virtual Reality Hub

Huawei VR2 Headset Lauded for Comfort, Res, Sound Quality

At CES 2018, Huawei made the U.S. debut of its Huawei VR2 headset, which had been announced in October in China. The standalone unit resembles the Oculus or Vive rather than the Gear VR; the user attaches a phone, tablet or PC via USB-C and then enjoys the VR experience at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,440 per eye. The unit also features a 90Hz refresh rate, which reduces eyestrain and motion sickness. The controller, made of the same bright white polymer as the headset, offers a clickable touchpad. Continue reading Huawei VR2 Headset Lauded for Comfort, Res, Sound Quality

Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

Virtual reality made a strong showing at CES 2018 in Las Vegas last week. Among those highlighting products were Facebook, which promoted new features in its $200 upcoming Oculus Go, a Google/Lenovo designed headset that will sell for half the price of an iPhone, and HTC, which will debut a new-gen Vive headset with more robust graphics. All of this, however, is a prelude to what many companies are planning: an entrance into augmented reality. One of those companies is Amazon, which sources say is exploring AR headset technologies. Continue reading Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

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