Study Shows Restricting Field of View Alleviates VR Sickness

For some users, virtual reality creates motion sickness, with the result that they either avoid VR completely or limit their time with VR experiences. Now, two engineering professors at Columbia University say that they’ve come up with a solution to VR sickness that can be easily applied to the current array of consumer VR headsets, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR and Google Cardboard. The solution is simply a matter of dynamically changing — sometimes quite subtly — the field of view (FOV). Continue reading Study Shows Restricting Field of View Alleviates VR Sickness

Facebook Launches 360 Photos for Sharing Immersive Images

Facebook just introduced a new way to view panoramas and VR photos on smartphones. Rather than zooming in and out, the new feature, dubbed 360 Photos, will allow the user to simply upload a panorama or photo from an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, 360 app or the Ricoh Theta camera and its ilk, which Facebook will then convert. Via a compass icon, the user can then scan the photo by tilting the phone or click/tap-and-dragging. A Gear VR user can tap the “View in VR” button to scan the 360 photo by moving his head. Continue reading Facebook Launches 360 Photos for Sharing Immersive Images

Google Develops Tango and 3D Mapping for VR, Advertising

Google’s Project Tango, which will be showcased at the company’s I/O developer conference May 18 to 20, consists of cameras, depth sensors and software in Android devices to gather images and depth information to recreate a space in 3D. Sources say that the company plans to put more resources into expanding the technology and using it for virtual reality applications. The ultimate goal is to become a ubiquitous source for the world’s buildings, similar to Google Maps, which is used by one billion people a day. Continue reading Google Develops Tango and 3D Mapping for VR, Advertising

Oculus and Valve Have Yet to Open Tracking to Third Parties

A year after going on record that they would open up their tracking systems to third party developers, neither Oculus nor Valve have done so. So called ‘6DOF’ (degrees of freedom) tracking allows for head and body tracking, as well as mapping of physical objects like handheld objects and furniture, into the virtual world. Oculus’ Constellation tracking system uses a collection of IR-LEDs tracked by an external camera. Meanwhile, Valve/HTC’s Lighthouse tracking system uses photodiodes that track lasers from base stations. Continue reading Oculus and Valve Have Yet to Open Tracking to Third Parties

Applications Being Accepted for HTC VR Accelerator Program

HTC has allocated $100 million to fund a ‘Vive X’ accelerator program with the goal to “help cultivate, and grow the global VR ecosystem by supporting startups and providing them with expertise, special access to advanced VR technology, financial investment, mentorship and unmatched go-to-market support.” The fund will support a wide range of startups. This differentiates it from the Oculus fund, which is one-tenth the amount and has an emphasis on the game industry, explains Road to VR. The program is open to companies that are creating content and tools that enrich the VR ecosystem and end-user experience. The global accelerator will initially open offices in Beijing, Taipei and San Francisco. Continue reading Applications Being Accepted for HTC VR Accelerator Program

Hulu Unveils its First VR App, Content for Samsung Gear VR

Hulu debuted an app for Samsung’s Gear VR now available in the Gear VR Oculus Store, the first of several VR apps for different platforms that the company plans to unveil. The app allows users to watch Hulu’s 2D TV/film content library in a 360-degree immersive environment, choosing from several settings (a living room, a big screen movie theater, a beach). Among original content is Hulu’s first VR film, “The Big One,” produced in partnership with Lionsgate and featuring Freddie Wong and his RocketJump brand. Continue reading Hulu Unveils its First VR App, Content for Samsung Gear VR

Sky Opens VR Studio to Produce Virtual Reality Video Content

European pay-TV company Sky launched Sky VR Studio to create immersive video content for VR platforms. The first content will involve sports and, later, entertainment and news. Majority-owned by 21st Century Fox, Sky, which was an early investor in VR startup Jaunt, has 21 million subscribers. Sky’s VR content will first be ported to third party platforms such as Facebook 360, Oculus and YouTube 360, for users with Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR. Its ultimate goal is to develop its own VR app and host and stream VR content. Continue reading Sky Opens VR Studio to Produce Virtual Reality Video Content

GDC 2016: Sony PlayStation VR to Launch in October for $399

At the Game Developers Conference, Sony announced that its anticipated PlayStation VR headset would cost $399 when it is released in October (a $499 launch bundle will be available for preorder beginning Tuesday). The headset connects with Sony’s PlayStation 4 console and features a 5.7-inch screen and multiple sensors that enable 360-degree head tracking. Sony hopes its PlayStation VR — which Tom’s Guide awarded Best of Show — will help bring virtual reality to the mainstream. While competitors such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive will be available sooner, they require powerful PCs to run their software. Continue reading GDC 2016: Sony PlayStation VR to Launch in October for $399

GDC 2016: Oculus Plans to Debut 30 Games with Rift Headset

At GDC 2016 this week, Oculus demonstrated its retail headset with 41 games, 30 of which will launch with the Rift. The headset already has a pre-order list backed up to July, four months past its initial March 28 release. Over four generations, Rift has improved, says one journalist, although the “screen door effect” still exists in games that are heavy in fine details such as “Project CARS” and less so in games with fewer details and more abstraction. The Rift’s head tracking and overall latency was also deemed “spot on.” Continue reading GDC 2016: Oculus Plans to Debut 30 Games with Rift 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

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

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

Facebook Launches Live Video, Starts to Develop VR Network

Facebook is turning on live streaming video broadcasting to what is potentially a nearly 1 billion-member base. With 934 million customers worldwide, Facebook will offer the live streaming capability first to iPhone users, with a global rollout over the next few weeks. The company has been testing this service with a handful of public figures for the last two months. At the same time, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s strong belief in the future potential of VR, Facebook is making strides in developing a network for it. Continue reading Facebook Launches Live Video, Starts to Develop VR Network

Facebook Makes Decision to Shutter Services Platform Parse

Facebook announced yesterday that it plans to shutter Parse, its toolkit and support platform for mobile developers the company hoped would serve the Internet of Things and lead to a cloud business that could compete with Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Parse provides developers with support and tools that enable programmers to write code rather than spend valuable time maintaining the back end. Users of the platform include developers at productivity app Quip and Expedia’s travel website Orbitz. The social giant paid a reported $85 million to acquire Parse in 2013. Continue reading Facebook Makes Decision to Shutter Services Platform Parse

Predicting the Five Biggest Changes in Social Media This Year

A look back at 2015 reveals memorable trends in social media: the birth of live social streaming, with Periscope and Meerkat winning over early adopters; the growth of Snapchat, with its more than 200 million active users; and video, with Facebook users logging about 8 billion video views a day (possibly even more than on YouTube). Looking ahead to 2016, it appears that new technologies will change how we interact with social media, creating new options for everything from shopping to sharing real-time experiences. Continue reading Predicting the Five Biggest Changes in Social Media This Year