Mythical Games Blockchain Strategy Gets $19 Million Boost

Los Angeles-based Mythical Games raised $19 million to pursue its mission of creating games with blockchain and allowing players to benefit via ownership. The company, which has dubbed this strategy “player-owned economies,” is at work on its first game. Javelin Venture Partners was the lead investor, joined by new investors Avon Ventures, Alumni Ventures and Hashed. Galaxy Digital, via its Digital EOS VC Fund and Struck Capital, are other current investors. Mythical Games raised $16 million last year in two rounds. Continue reading Mythical Games Blockchain Strategy Gets $19 Million Boost

Facebook Turns to Robots to Advance Artificial Intelligence

Humans learn from experience to not “do dumb things,” and Facebook chief AI scientist Yann LeCun is trying to create a version of that for robots, saying that systems that learn “models of the world” are our best shot at advancing artificial intelligence. Unlike a rewards/demerits-based reinforcement learning, Facebook’s tack is to instill curiosity, by giving the robot freedom to try new things. With New York University, Facebook also dramatically reduced the number of tries to teach a robotic arm to grasp an object. Continue reading Facebook Turns to Robots to Advance Artificial Intelligence

Oculus Reveals its Upcoming PC-Connected Rift S Headset

Oculus unveiled a new version of its Rift VR headset at GDC 2019 yesterday. The $399 Rift S, available this spring, will feature a new design, higher resolution display (up to 1280×1440 per eye), two updated Oculus Touch controllers, and embedded sensors for tracking (rather than cameras). The current $349 Rift relies on an array of external webcams to sense the environment. The new Rift S will require a PC in order to power its high-res graphics, while the wireless Oculus Quest, also available this spring for $399 will not need additional power. Continue reading Oculus Reveals its Upcoming PC-Connected Rift S Headset

Facebook Watch Courts Content Creators at VidCon London

Facebook is increasing its efforts to boost content on Facebook Watch, promising content creators they can connect with communities and make serious money via ads. Even though Facebook is behind powerhouse YouTube, the company has also staked out an impressive presence at the first VidCon London, running February 14-17, and is holding an invitation-only Facebook Creator Day in London just prior to that. Self-help guru Jay Shetty, who has 20+ million Facebook followers, is the platform’s face at the event. Continue reading Facebook Watch Courts Content Creators at VidCon London

ILMxLAB, Oculus to Bring ‘Vader Immortal’ to Oculus Quest

Facebook’s Oculus VR announced that its new Oculus Quest wireless virtual reality headset will debut in spring 2019 with an original Star Wars VR story from Disney’s ILMxLAB. “Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series,” which will have three parts, will be led by executive producer/writer David S. Goyer, who wrote “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” Other participants include ILMxLAB director of immersive content Mohen Leo and Oculus head of experiences Colum Slevin. Continue reading ILMxLAB, Oculus to Bring ‘Vader Immortal’ to Oculus Quest

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

Facebook Offers New Price Reduction for Oculus Rift Bundle

For the second time this year, Facebook is hoping to jumpstart sales of its Oculus Rift VR headset with a price reduction. Facebook’s Oculus VR unit will offer the Rift, Oculus Touch motion controllers, seven VR games and more as a $399 bundle over the next six weeks. The bundle was earlier offered for $598, which was $200 less than the combined launch prices. According to Jason Rubin, head of content at Oculus, the new bundle price is meant to leverage the increased number of apps and games available for the Rift (700+ today, compared to 400 in March). Continue reading Facebook Offers New Price Reduction for Oculus Rift Bundle

Palmer Luckey Backs VR Tool to Run Oculus Games on Vive

CrossVR’s campaign on crowdfunding site Patreon intends to raise money to fund the ongoing development of Revive, a so-called hack that allows HTC Vive users to play content that is exclusive to Oculus and not released on Steam. Now, Oculus Rift inventor and co-founder of Oculus VR Palmer Luckey reportedly pledged $2,000 per month to support the CrossVR effort. Luckey left Facebook (which acquired Oculus) in March, the aftermath of a legal battle over the VR technology. The PR team for Oculus has already stated that it doesn’t condone Revive. Continue reading Palmer Luckey Backs VR Tool to Run Oculus Games on Vive

Startup Lightform Readies Release of Inexpensive AR Scanner

Augmented reality startup Lightform has come out of the stealth mode it’s been in for three years, announcing a $2.6 million funding round from former Oculus head scientist Steven LaValle, Lux Capital, Seven Seas and NSF. What Lightform has been working on is a device that can scan the environment and create a high-resolution mesh, which it then combines with very precisely targeted digital projections of light. That makes it capable of creating augmented reality in any environment, without the need for a headset. Continue reading Startup Lightform Readies Release of Inexpensive AR Scanner

Facebook Drops Price of its Rift VR Headset to Spur Adoption

In an effort to jumpstart sales, Facebook-owned Oculus VR is slashing $100 off the price of its Rift virtual reality headset and its Touch motion controllers. The Rift headset will be lowered to $499, while the Touch drops to $99. Consumers will still need a computer with enough power to support the Rift. When the headset launched last spring, consumers were surprised by the $599 price tag. According to Jason Rubin, Oculus VR head of content, recent surveys indicate that cost has been the primary obstacle to sales. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes VR will take at least 10 years to become our next computing platform. Continue reading Facebook Drops Price of its Rift VR Headset to Spur Adoption

Facebook Loses Oculus IP Lawsuit in $500 Million Jury Verdict

Facebook lost its intellectual property lawsuit with video game publisher ZeniMax Media yesterday and was ordered to pay $500 million in damages. ZeniMax had contended that a former employee helped develop the Oculus Rift VR headset with knowledge that he gained while working for the game publisher, and that the company had developed a prototype prior to Facebook acquiring Oculus VR for $2 billion. While Oculus was not found guilty of stealing trade secrets, the jury determined the company was guilty of copyright infringement and violating a confidentiality agreement. An appeal is expected. Continue reading Facebook Loses Oculus IP Lawsuit in $500 Million Jury Verdict

Facebook and Unity Team to Build Desktop Gaming Platform

Facebook is working with game engine Unity to build a dedicated, downloadable desktop gaming platform. The new platform will not require the intensive coding of Facebook’s previous SDK, making it easier for game publishers to offer iOS and Android games on the desktop. Developers now have until August 31 to get “instant access” to an alpha version of Unity 5.4 needed to build and export games to Facebook’s Web and desktop app. Facebook’s move is seen as an attempt to regain gaming revenues lost to the mobile platform. Continue reading Facebook and Unity Team to Build Desktop Gaming Platform

Study Examines the Significant Impact of Kickstarter Projects

Research out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, led by Professor Ethan Mollick, revealed that, since its 2009 founding, Kickstarter has been used to raise $5.3 billion, leading to the creation of 8,800 new companies and non-profit organizations and generating 29,600 full-time and 283,000 part-time jobs. The study, funded in part by the Kauffman Foundation, relied on data from Kickstarter and only looked at successfully funded projects. Kickstarter had no involvement in the study. Continue reading Study Examines the Significant Impact of Kickstarter Projects

Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance to Support VR Startups

HTC helped put together the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance, a coalition of 28 venture capital firms committed to investing $10 billion in virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality startups. Among the companies joining the consortium are Sequoia Capital, well known for investing in tech giants Apple and Intel; Matrix Partners; and 500 Startups. Prior to this, HTC — which created the Vive VR headset — had pledged more than $100 million to the nascent VR industry. HTC has since spun off Vive into its own separate company. Continue reading Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance to Support VR Startups

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

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