VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

For those looking for an affordable VR alternative, RiftCat has been busy developing an app called VRidge that streams virtual reality games from a PC to a smartphone over Wi-Fi. The beta is currently available for Android, but the company is also working on an iOS version. The most recent update added support for SteamVR and Razer’s open source OSVR project. The implications could be significant, especially when considering the cost of investing in a high-end VR headset, such as the $600 Oculus Rift or $800 HTC Vive, both of which still require a powerful PC starting in the $1,500 range. Continue reading VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

What Began as April Fool’s Day Joke is Now $49 VR Headset

Google Cardboard is no longer the only inexpensive VR headset around. From Oakland, CA-based hardware collective Next Thing Co. comes Pockulus, a $49 portable game console that consists of a palm-sized computer and 3D-printed facemask. The tiny computer that runs Pockulus is CHIP, which was the company’s successful seller at $9 per unit. The idea to repurpose CHIP as a VR controller was an April Fool’s Day joke that is now a real product. It requires some DIY, mainly 3D printing the bezel that fits the display on the face. Continue reading What Began as April Fool’s Day Joke is Now $49 VR Headset

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

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

Google Updates Cardboard, Develops Standalone VR Headset

Google is doubling down on its virtual reality investment with a new $20 version of Cardboard, which uses the smartphone as a screen and a standalone, all-in-one headset that doesn’t need to be tethered to a smartphone, computer or game console. Up until now, Google, which has sold five million Cardboard VR viewers since late 2014, has been seen as experimenting with VR. With the new VR headset — and appointment of Clay Bavor as its first VR chief, Google is entering the VR arena in earnest. Continue reading Google Updates Cardboard, Develops Standalone VR Headset

Sundance 2016: VR’s Coming-of-Age as a Storytelling Medium

At the recent Sundance Film Festival, virtual reality was a big hit for the second year running. But the changes in just a year were also evident: rather than the conversation focusing on the technology enabling the VR experiences, the focus was on storytelling. Virtual reality, in other words, has become a medium, as demonstrated in projects such as “Grease” director Randal Kleiser’s sci-fi VR drama “Defrost,” which tells the story of a woman just awaking from a coma. The series is a full season with another in development. Continue reading Sundance 2016: VR’s Coming-of-Age as a Storytelling Medium

Apple Steps Up Its VR Efforts with Acquisition of Flyby Media

While Facebook, Google and Microsoft have already invested significant resources in developing virtual reality and augmented reality, Apple is just getting started. The tech giant acquired an augmented reality startup called Flyby Media, which develops technology for image-recognition on smartphones. Flyby Media previously worked with Google on “Project Tango.” Apple also hired Doug Bowman, an expert in human-computer interaction and immersion in virtual environments. Continue reading Apple Steps Up Its VR Efforts with Acquisition of Flyby Media

Oculus Rift the Most Popular VR Platform Among Developers

Today’s game developers are most interested in creating virtual reality projects for the Oculus Rift headset, according to a new survey from the Game Developers Conference. Nineteen percent of the 2,000 respondents said they were currently working on a new game for the device and 20 percent said their next VR project would be for the Oculus Rift. Only 8 percent of respondents said they were working on VR projects for Samsung’s Gear VR, the second most popular VR headset. Continue reading Oculus Rift the Most Popular VR Platform Among Developers

Google Expands Access to its Educational VR Field Trip App

Google has released a beta Android app for its Google Expeditions Pioneer Program that allows educators to bring their students on a virtual reality field trip. The VR content includes immersive educational experiences in locations such as Machu Picchu, Mars, the Great Barrier Reef and Buckingham Palace. Students use Google Cardboard headsets to view the content while the teacher can use a tablet to guide their students through the location and monitor where each student is looking. Continue reading Google Expands Access to its Educational VR Field Trip App

Zeiss VR One GX: Superior Optics in a Well Designed HMD

Zeiss, known for high quality lenses, has applied its knowledge of optics to the VR One GX, a phone-based head mounted display featured at CES this week. The HMD looks like the Samsung Gear VR, but there are a number of key differences inside. The lenses are designed to be distortion-free over the full field of view. They are designed to accommodate a wide range of interocular distances (so there is no need to adjust the lenses side-to-side). The ‘eye box’ is large and deep enough to accommodate eyewear, so anyone who wears glasses can leave them on when using the VR One GX. Continue reading Zeiss VR One GX: Superior Optics in a Well Designed HMD

CES 2016: Virtual Reality Headgear, Platforms, Ecosystems

Virtual reality began to dominate headlines last year at CES, and that drumbeat will only grow louder this year. Falling at the beginning of the proclaimed release window for two of the flag bearers of the VR renaissance, Oculus and Sony, and accompanied by a bumper crop of hardware and software suppliers, VR is ready to emerge from the shadows of the early adopters and meet the general consumer. We expect to see innovative products in January from companies such as Google, GoPro, HTC, NextVR, Sixense, Yezz and others. Beyond gaming and 360-degree video, we’ll be watching for new approaches to live streaming sports and music events. Continue reading CES 2016: Virtual Reality Headgear, Platforms, Ecosystems

ILMxLAB Debuts ‘Star Wars’ VR Series Ahead of Film Premiere

If you can’t wait until December 18 to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” you’ve got a brand-new 360-degree immersive video series to enjoy. Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB studio, partnered with Google and Verizon, just created a virtual reality experience, “Jakku Spy,” which is available on the official “Star Wars” Android and iOS apps and viewed via Google Cardboard. The VR experience puts the user in the desert world of Jakku, as a Resistance secret agent. New “vignettes” will be available every few days until the film’s debut. Continue reading ILMxLAB Debuts ‘Star Wars’ VR Series Ahead of Film Premiere

New York Times Debuts VR App, VR Film on Refugee Children

The New York Times debuted its second, and most ambitious VR film, “The Displaced,” along with its NYT VR app, which can be viewed with Google Cardboard. Produced in partnership with VR studio Vrse, the 11-minute documentary, which focuses on the daily lives of three refugee children across the world, was directed by Ben Solomon and Imraan Ismail and shown at a premiere that included a panel discussion that included participation of Vrse chief executive Chris Milk, who characterizes virtual reality as “the last medium.” Continue reading New York Times Debuts VR App, VR Film on Refugee Children

YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

YouTube is introducing 360-degree VR videos as well as a virtual movie theater for all YouTube videos. Anyone with a Google Cardboard headset and the Android app can begin viewing the ten or so VR videos that YouTube produced; the iOS app is coming soon. YouTube’s VR features come just before The New York Times ships 1.3 million Google Cardboard sets and its own VR documentary, “The Displaced.” YouTube’s assertive move into VR is widely seen as a way to stay a step ahead of the competition, Facebook in particular. Continue reading YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

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