Facebook Unveils Three Prototype Holographic VR Headsets

Facebook just revealed a holographic optical architecture for a future VR headset that will be both thinner and lighter, replacing the current bulkier glasses and headsets. The technology, described in “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” a Siggraph 2020 research paper, uses a “pancake optics” design that combines layers of holographic film with a laser projection system and directional backlights. The results can be either flat imagery or volumetric holograms. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Three Prototype Holographic VR Headsets

Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Spatial lets its enterprise customers use VR or mixed reality headsets to meet in virtual spaces. The company now plans to launch support for desktop web browsers, Android and iOS — open to all and free. That support means virtual meetings can include participants who do not have a headset. According to Spatial co-founder and chief executive Anand Agarawala, “in light of COVID, we’ve actually had an intense amount of demand — about a 1,000 percent increase.” He added that, unlike Zoom, “something like VR gives you that level of presence and personification.” Continue reading Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Apple has purchased NextVR, a virtual reality video service that offered 360-degree access to live events, including sporting events from NBA, WWE and NHL. With a VR headset, users could enjoy the feeling of “presence” in NextVR’s panoramic stereoscopic 3D scenes. The company also offered 2D smartphone access and planned to support augmented reality devices. The service never became popular, however, and a failed 2019 funding round followed by the coronavirus-related cancellation of sporting events left it struggling to survive. Continue reading Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Facebook’s 3D Photos Now Available for All Latest Handsets

Facebook’s 3D Photos feature — which uses depth data to create images that can be examined from different angles via virtual reality headsets — is now available on any of the latest handsets with a single camera, including Apple iPhone 7 or higher or any midrange (and above) Android phone. According to Facebook, the latest in machine learning techniques has made this feature possible. The company first unveiled 3D Photos in late 2018, when it required either a dual-camera phone or a depth map file on the desktop. Continue reading Facebook’s 3D Photos Now Available for All Latest Handsets

HTC Debuts Modular Virtual Reality & Mixed Reality Headsets

After introducing the PC-driven Vive Cosmos virtual reality headset last year, HTC just debuted four new VR headsets: the Cosmos, Cosmos Play, Cosmos Elite and Cosmos XR. The headsets are similar to the original Vive Cosmos in terms of technology and modular design, the latter aimed at encouraging widespread distribution. According to HTC, Cosmos Play is the entry level headset, a basic model that will be the least expensive, and the Vive Cosmos will be HTC’s latest flagship product, a successor for the original Vive. Continue reading HTC Debuts Modular Virtual Reality & Mixed Reality Headsets

Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing. Continue reading Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

After five years of work, California-based Mojo Vision demonstrated Mojo Lens, a smart contact lens that is still in research and development. For now, the demonstrations are via a virtual reality headset rather than an actual contact lens. But Mojo Vision’s goal is to create a means of “invisible computing,” which will provide an interface that enables consumers to reduce their use of screens. Co-founder/chief technology officer Mike Wiemer explains that Mojo Lens will be “very discreet.” Continue reading Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

CES Features the Latest Advances in VR and AR Headsets

During CES we saw a number of VR and AR headsets that illustrate the emerging trends and most recent developments in this space. LetinAR showcased its PinMR optical solution with glasses that leverage 11 pinhole micromirrors per eye in order to deliver a clear and bright image. Panasonic demonstrated a prototype of its new VR headset with micro OLED 2,048 x 2,048 resolution, HDR and spatial audio. Human Capable presented its lightweight and affordable glasses expected to ship Q2 this year, while Pimax showed an updated tethered HMD with native 4K per eye display. And Nreal showed significant improvement to the brightness of its AR display. Continue reading CES Features the Latest Advances in VR and AR Headsets

CES: Developer Finally Launches the Pimax 8K X Headset

Chinese developer Pimax first announced an 8K VR headset in 2017, but missed its initial 2018 release date. At CES 2020, the company made good with the launch of the Pimax 8K X, tapped by Digital Trends as its AR/VR top trends winner. The Pimax 8K X headset offers 8K resolution and a 200-degree field of view, beyond the specifications of Oculus Quest and the Valve Index. Reviewers have noted that the 8K resolution makes a “noticeable different in image sharpness,” including “crystal clear” fine text and other details. Continue reading CES: Developer Finally Launches the Pimax 8K X Headset

Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

Immersed in a virtual world, the user can be at risk for bumping into real-world objects, such as walls and coffee tables. Microsoft has filed a patent application for a technology to address this issue. With its “virtual reality floor mat activity region,” the user has a designated safe space to explore, with so-called fiducial markers that help the VR headset recognize the mat as well as the possibility of pressure sensors in the mat. Some VR players have used their own rubber mats as a physical cue to be safe. Continue reading Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), producers of January’s CES tech confab in Las Vegas, recently projected CE trends for 2020 and beyond after updating its semi-annual U.S. Consumer Sales and Forecasts report. According to Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP), a new division of Variety, key takeaways from the report most relevant to the entertainment industry include subscription video streaming services, smart TVs, 4K tech, gaming and 5G Internet (in addition to related networking options and VR/AR products). CTA anticipates consumer tech retail revenue will reach $415 billion in the U.S. next year, up 5.7 percent from 2018.  Continue reading CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer With Video Chat

For the holidays, Facebook plans to unveil a Portal TV streaming device that will feature a camera and far-field microphones and offer video chat with TV viewing and augmented reality. Rather than competing directly with Fire TV or Roku, the device focuses more on video chatting. It is also likely to run Android, as does most Facebook hardware including Oculus Go and Oculus Quest VR headsets. By being based on the Android operating system, the Portal device will synch seamlessly with Android-based TV apps. Continue reading Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer With Video Chat

Vive Cosmos: HTC Offers Details of Next-Gen VR Headset

HTC is set to debut the Vive Cosmos next-generation VR headset that aims to simplify VR for gamers. The PC-compatible Cosmos is portable, featuring a single cable from the left side of the headset. It relies on four cameras located on the headset, one on each side and two on the front, plus two others that can be added via a removable faceplate with cameras on the top and bottom. Removable speakers are integrated on either side of the headset. By being self-contained, the Vive Cosmos can be used in more play environments. Continue reading Vive Cosmos: HTC Offers Details of Next-Gen VR Headset

Firms Pursue Frontline Workers, Walmart Expands VR Use

Microsoft, Google and Salesforce are now targeting the use of their technologies to an estimated two billion workers who don’t sit behind a desk. Microsoft, with its HoloLens, has been the most aggressive in pursuing so-called frontline or firstline workers who do production, sales and service work. Its chief executive Satya Nadella noted the potential growth in this sector. Walmart now uses virtual reality to assess the skills of an employee and determine if she is ready to move up to middle management. Continue reading Firms Pursue Frontline Workers, Walmart Expands VR Use

Vegas Casinos Launch Free-Roam VR Games, Experiences

On the Las Vegas strip, The LINQ Hotel & Casino just opened up six virtual reality bays operated by VR startup Survios. Surrounded by glass walls, the bays are set up with comfortable couches, big screen TVs, Xbox Ones and Oculus Go VR headsets. They offer visitors access to VR games including “Creed,” “Raw Data,” and, soon, “The Walking Dead: Onslaught.” Guests can visit a bar with a wrap-around touchscreen to play casual social games, an AR version of “Rock Paper Scissors” and watch the goings-on inside the VR bays. Continue reading Vegas Casinos Launch Free-Roam VR Games, Experiences

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