Obsessed with Virtual Reality, excited how it will shape our future and dedicated to helping to bring it to the mainstream community. Follow me to read my weekly VR news round up, to hear about some extremely interesting start-ups, the latest from the industry's thought leaders along with a bit of 'banter' (Scottish slang for having a laugh)
What you waiting for? Let's dive into this immersive pool of awesomeness!!!
My good friend Christian Long passed away a week ago. I had sent Chris a message a few days before, because I realise that I haven’t been able to say goodbye to him. I wanted to send a personal thank you, and goodbye. I knew nobody would read it, and he was long gone. It seemed like saying goodbye digitally seemed fitting in our tech-heavy digital world. However what better way to say goodbye to somebody who was dedicated to virtual reality (VR) than holding a memorial in VR?
I’d like to add some personal experience to this story for context first. I used to be a pretty hardcore PC gamer. I would game long into the night, and would be part of clans and chat groups. It’s led me to attend ‘virtual’ Christmas parties on chat groups organised by members of the group. It was a strange opportunity to chat…
#QuestCountdown is a closely followed hashtag amongst the Virtual Reality community just now. We are only hours away now from hearing potentially crucial information about the much anticipated Oculus Quest release date. Many of us are hoping that we will be able to purchase them immediately especially as it has been such a long drawn out marketing campaign from the team at Oculus. Mark Zuckerberg first announced the Oculus Quest (previously Project Santa Cruz) at OC5 on 26th September 2018 and since then we have been drip fed snippets of details along the way. 7 months later I write this blog post and I believe that we are less than 24 hours away from being able to pre-order this latest headset and I am HYPED!
Announced on 18th March:
Shadow Point (*Designed specifically for Quest)
Journey of the Gods
Dead and Buried II
Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series
Announced on the 25th March:
Space Pirate Trainer
Announced 3rd April (Oculus Blog controversially title copy includes ‘Welcome to week x minus 1′ resulting in some criticism):
OrbusVR Reborn (*imaging designed specifically for Quest)
Announced 10th April:
I Expect You To Die
Face Your Fears II
The Exorcist: Legion VR
Announced 17th April:
Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs
Fruit Ninja VR
Chris Jurney Head of Development Strategy at Oculus said in this week’s blog due to the continued frustration of this long drawn out piece of marketing – ‘I thought I’d clear everything up on our plans for launch of the device, when you can finally get all these great games in your own hands. We’re still targeting Spring! We’re actively working with all these developers and more who are frantically squeezing beetles, birds, fish, fruit, and air into tight binary packages for you to enjoy on Day 1 of Oculus Quest. I’m looking forward to that specific, tantalizingly close day in the future when everyone can enjoy these great games’.
Announced 24th April: (Comments from the public on the Oculus blog are getting progressively more impatient this week. There is also concern brewing that there may be no news about when everyone can finally get their hands on one during the F8 announcement at this rate!)
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
VR Karts: Sprint
The night before Christmas…? With only hours left until we hear more from Oculus and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg we can only hope to hear something much more satisfying than the weekly snippets we’ve been used to over these last few very loooong weeks. Ultimately the only piece of the puzzle missing is when. When can we buy it, when can we receive it, when can we try it out for ourselves, just when?!
F8 keynote will begin on (tomorrow!!!!!) April 30, 2019 at 10AM PDT/6PM GMT. You can watch the livestream online or in VR via Oculus Venues (so long as you have an Oculus Go Headset). Links to register below. I’m powering up my Go as I type -)
Sometimes some of the VR community host livestream events themselves so you can interact/chat whilst cool and interesting things are announced. If I see anything like that taking place then I will tweet them out for you via @TheHappyLass.
Sleep well (if you can…) and I’ll you in the Metaverse tomorrow my friends! #QuestCountdown
Hi! I promised to show you how to cast virtual reality to a TV from your Lenovo Mirage Solo standalone headset. I’ve made a very short tutorial to show you the steps you need to take to do this. I also cover the benefits of using this function.
To be able to cast you will require a Google Chromecast. If this changes in the future then I will update this blog post and the tutorial video so that you are kept up to date.
I’m happy to answer any questions on this subject or any other Virtual Reality related questions you may have – just get in touch 🙂
I have some more interesting videos coming down the line where I review new pieces of VR Hardware as well as a handy Virtual Reality headset 2019 guide to hopefully help you understand all the choices that you have available to you in the market space. If these sound like something you want to watch then subscribe to this blog or my YouTube channel to be notified of all new publications.
The Oculus Rift S was announced at the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday 20th March 2019. It was a surprising announcement for the virtual reality community to hear as most were expecting details of the anticipated new Oculus Quest standalone VR headset instead. The hype had been building for wanting to know the details of this new Quest headset as well as the release date which wasn’t helped by Oculus creating the hashtag #QuestCountown. So for many, this announcement was an instant disappointment. In hindsight that marketing strategy was a poor decision because I don’t think that most of us gave the Oculus Rift S a fair chance to blow us away as a result of the Quest hype that surrounded us.
Whilst on the subject of a poor marketing strategy, Oculus decided not to host a livestream of the announcement for a more global audience. The previous day at GDC gamers were blown away by Google’s Stadia announcement that was livestreamed for all to enjoy. (For those unsure: Stadia is a platform for game streaming using Google’s infrastructure meaning you can stream from browsers or even join live games by clicking a link to join via YouTube streams).
However, VR YouTuber Nathie came to the rescue and decided to host a gathering of hyped up fans who were fit to burst for more Quest news. Nathie hosted a live chat, social media scavenge and revealed the latest news from the Oculus Blog via his YouTube channel. It was actually amazing being together at a virtual gathering and having the ability to chat with one another pre, during and post announcement. My insight of mixed reactions absolutely came from this experience. Brands who care about product launches and seek genuine ‘in the moment’ feedback would be wise to consider this communication style for themselves in the future. Anyway, Nathie deserves a pat on the back for picking up the mantle and for doing a pretty impressive job of it!
Introducing the Oculus Rift S
First of all, the immediate headline here is that the Oculus Rift S is brought to us through an Oculus and Lenovo partnership. I for one am extremely impressed by this collaboration! For those of you who don’t know, I am a Lenovo ‘Super Champion’ meaning that I am an ambassador for their products. I have the upmost respect for Lenovo in the immersive product space as they are the only company in the world to have brought a mixture of hardware products to us across the spectrum of Augmented Reality (Jedi Challenges), Virtual Reality (Mirage Solo and now the Oculus Rift S) and Mixed Reality (Lenovo Explorer) not to mention their high end gaming Lenovo Legion products. I am also a fan of Oculus and part of their Oculus Start programme for the work I am doing in the VR for dementia space with Pivotal Reality. The Oculus and Lenovo partnership in itself is immensely respectable as I think it sends a strong message to others that we must all work together in order to help bring VR to the masses.
Let’s take a look at the Oculus Rift S video and then discuss 1st impressions:
(‘Introducing the Oculus Rift S’ video from Oculus YouTube Channel)
Will the Oculus Rift S help VR go mainstream?
Don’t get me wrong I completely understand some of the feelings around this headset not giving us more experienced VR users the mind blowing wow factor that we were expecting. BUT, let’s not forget there’s more to come from Oculus on that front! So in the meantime let’s look at the Oculus Rift S for what it is. It’s an evolutionary version of the Oculus Rift CV1 that was released just under 3 years ago. It is a single tethered headset (meaning you have to connect it to a compatible computer) that has improvements for a more enjoyable gaming experience. The improved optics, lenses and pixel density sound more pleasing to the eyes and the field of view has been said to be marginally larger than the tradition Rift experience. Initial reactions from the VR community is divided in those last areas but everyone who has tried it out haven’t complained about the realism of the graphics or said that it is a bad immersive experience so I am optimistic about them. The built in sensors coupled with the Passthrough+ technology is exciting because this takes away the hassle of setting up external sensors or risk of bumping into something in the real world environment. In other words, it removes a barrier for accessibility allowing first time users to have confidence with an easier plug and play approach to VR whilst still enabling a safe roomscale experience. Which I think it awesome! To think that many of us had our first VR experiences on the DK1, Google cardboard or a Samsung Gear then this headset absolutely betters those experiences for first timers. Another good thing in my book.
The new ‘Ergonomic halo headband’ with adjustable fit wheel for greater comfort is a smart choice of design. I suspect that with the popularity of games such as Beatsaber where gamers are likely to spend a longer duration wearing headsets than ever before has been taken into consideration here. HMD (Head Mounted Displays) in general have to become versatile to suit a wide range of user needs. We need headsets that we can trust, are not heavy, will not slip, will not cause discomfort and can handle sharp/sudden movements. I have yet to see or hear any feedback on this subject so I am led to believe that the Oculus Rift S must feel natural and live up to expectations here. The weight balance has also been focused on by the Lenovo design team so I am assuming this was another contributing factor for this product design partnership. The adjustable fit wheel is something that we currently use on the Lenovo Mirage Solo for example, as well as the PSVR headset of course. Light blocking improvements have been made to the Rift S too.
Another positive for accessibility is the cross platform compatibility for the Oculus Store. Meaning that owners of the original Oculus Rift can still enjoy their purchased VR experiences using the new Oculus Rift S and vice versa. As a side note and speaking of cross platforms, it is an interesting fact that Lenovo have now worked with Google and their Daydream platform and now Oculus and their Oculus Store platform too.
The Rift S has 5 cameras to provide the insight tracking and many are reporting that the new touch controllers work great with this feature. Ultimately your hands are tracked throughout your experience even when positioned behind you meaning that even if simulating a bow and arrow gesture it would be picked up in-game. Very cool! The cameras on the front of the headset looks distinctly like a Lenovo design and resonates that of the Mirage Solo’s design too.
Let’s talk specs: I haven’t saw anything official from Oculus that clarified this for certainty but there are details being reported elsewhere for this information. I’m not confident or in the know so therefore I encourage you to look elsewhere for this information. From my research I can see that the Rift S appears to have the following:
Resolution: 2560 x 1440 (compared to Rift 2160 x 1200)
Pixel Density: approx 600ppi (compared to Rift 456ppi)
Refresh rate: 80Hz (compared to Rift 90Hz)
(Source: Road to VR)
Not sure if your computer or laptop supports the new Rift S? Here’s a handy table with the specifications required to operate the Rift and Rift S:
Specifications required for Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S (Source: Oculus Support)
Intel i5-4590/AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater
Intel i3-6100/AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater
NVIDIA GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater
NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti/AMD Radeon RX 470 or greater
Alternative Graphics Card
NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater
NVIDIA GTX 960 4 GB/AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater
8 GB+ RAM
8 GB+ RAM
Windows 10 or newer
Windows 10 or newer
USB Ports Rift
3x USB 3.0 ports, plus 1x USB 2.0 port
1x USB 3.0 port, plus 2x USB 2.0 ports
USB Ports Rift S
1x USB 3.0 port
1x USB 3.0 port
Video Output Rift
Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
Video Output Rift S
Compatible DisplayPort video output
Compatible miniDisplayPort video output
If interested, the Oculus Rift S will be released in Spring 2019 and will cost $399 for the headset including the controllers.
The only thing left to do now is to excitedly wait for further details of the Oculus Quest and see how it compares to its tethered brother!
It’s been a while since I was here! I’ve been busying myself with the VR Startup (Pivotal Reality) and learning to upskill myself in the VR dev space too!!!
Having said that, I am conscious that my blog has been getting a tad dusty… So here I am to change all that!
I have created a video to talk about the Lenovo Mirage Solo standalone VR headset. I wanted to share my insight and hopefully help any confused consumers out there 😊
The video is just under 12 minutes long – enjoy!
I will post the How to Cast using Mirage Solo video here once completed. It’s completely up to you whether you would like to follow this blog, my YouTube channel or my Twitter (@TheHappyLass) for news of when that video is available.
It was Virtual Reality Day on Saturday 17th November 2018. People from all across the globe organised, facilitated or participated in events both in the real and virtual worlds. The purpose is to promote VR, allow people to try it for the 1st time for free, share specialist knowledge or topics or perhaps even sell your VR products for half price – all to help raise awareness and adoption in the industry. Activities and events took place across 74 cities – check out VR Voice for the details! I didn’t plan anything in Scotland and sadly neither did any of my other country-people (that I knew about anyway). However, all was not lost as an amazing gentleman of the name Bob Fine organised a Social VR agenda for everyone to take part in the metaverse! Collaboration between AltSpaceVR and High Fidelity platforms meant that there was an action packed agenda for everyone that lasted 24 hours in some cases!
#VRDay is a special day that aims to bring the magic of #VR to 72 cities around the world. Pop on your headset anytime and meet thought-leaders, musicians, and other VR-lovers. #VirtualRealityDay@TheVRVoice
It was a day of 1st’s. We had the first single dropped into VR (Miro Shot), the first live performance Futvre Lands thanks to Thomas Dolby via High Fidelity, it was the 1st time I personally entered High Fidelity (despite registering for the most number of people in VR events previously), the 1st time I observed collaboration between Social VR platforms and not only that – my personal favourite – the 1st time that I witnessed jumping into a portal between VR Worlds thanks to an amazing space that I will cover later. It may have been the 1st time for some to be ‘in’ Virtual Reality too. It may have been the 1st VR Day celebrations for some too. It may have been the 1st time for some to meet their VR role models or members of the community. One thing we know for sure is that it will not be the last! The only way is up from here. We will see more becoming involved, more collaboration, more advancements and more of a people movement!
Today we played a live set from an album that has not been released in a place that doesn’t exist. Shout out to @AltspaceVR , and to the incredible @bobfine for making it all possible. Also to the strange bumble bee avatar that danced it’s pixels off during the last song. #VRdaypic.twitter.com/J8jXGKTHM6
AltSpaceVR had an agenda of talks from pioneers in the industry covering a range of topics. People like Alan Smithson, Cathy Hackl, Steve Bambury and Chris Madsen who are a few of my personal faves who were there alongside a heap of others! I can’t share anything specific here as I had log on and charging issues with my headset and missed a lot of the talks 😦 I did encounter a few technical issues when using the Oculus Go in AltSpaceVR and found myself kicked out of the platform a number of times throughout the day. I wanted to try to use my Mirage Solo headset whilst waiting for my Go to charge but had password issues and still waiting on my password prompt email to arrive. But once I was charged up I was able to enjoy Miro Shot’s single, Futvre Lands with Thomas Dolby and The Hive After Party with Vivian.
After taking the pictures above of Philip Rosedale (Founder of High Fidelity and Second Life) and hearing Thomas Dolby playing I decided to take the leap into High Fidelity via desktop for a while to try it out and join the party! It was a good excuse to come out of the headset and rest my eyes for a little bit too… I was a complete newb and couldn’t see where I had to go and felt a little lost. Turns out there were a few issues with some folks seeing white orbs instead of avatars. My experience on the desktop was that I didn’t see anybody at all until I was literally walking into them. I felt a little embarrassed that I wasn’t adhering to personal space rules and tried to come away only to bump into someone else as the place was mobbed lol! So massive apologies if I accidentally walked in, through or over you!!! I feel that using an HMD (headset) would be an amazing experience for High Fidelity and I would like to try that next time I visit. I’m just a graphics card away from that being possible so hopefully that will be remedied over the next couple of months 🙂 Below is how things should have looked and did look for other attendees:
Next I jumped back into the Oculus Go (now that it had another charge) and straight in to AltSpaceVR for The Hive After Party with Vivian Chazen. VR Apps that were showcased and demonstrated were Anyland, Big Breezy Boat, OrbusVR, Onward, Somnium Space, and VR Chat. The app that I mentioned earlier that had the portal to the various Social VR spaces was Somnium. I had never heard of it before and it looked amazing! Vivian was able to jump from there to AltSpaceVR and VR Chat I believe. Sadly I was kicked out again and decided enough was enough for one night given it was the early hours of the morning. However, you can join me and watch the replay to get caught back up again.
#VRDay 2018 was a blast! It would be amazing to hear about your experiences, what did you do this year? Has it inspired you to take on a new VR goal of any kind? Let us know! My VR Day 2018 takeaway is to organise an event in Scotland for next year. Don’t worry, I’ll still be virtual world space hopping but it is important to be inclusive and accessible so that everyone has the equal opportunity to find out what all the fuss is about 😀
Special shout out and well done to Bob Fine, VR Voice, AltSpaceVR, High Fidelity, Miro Shot and Thomas Dolby (and the many others who contributed behind the scenes to make VR Day 2018 a success).
Special shout out and well done to Mike McCready (Lethbridge College) and Kathy Bisbee (publicVR Lab and Northampton Film Festival) for their real world efforts and everyone else who made the effort for real world activities across our planet.
Special shout out to VR livestreamers: Official VR Girl, Nathie, UK Rifter, VoodooDE VR, JadeKVR and everyone else in this space and thanks for all of your efforts every. single. day.
And finally to everyone else who either did something on VR Day or continues to all year round, well done and keep going! You are amazing and we need you!
The World’s 1st Global VR Summit took place during 27th – 30th October 2018 thanks to Dextra. It was an online & virtual reality conference with the purpose of hearing from VR pioneers and professionals. The ability to access via desktop, tablet, mobile or VR headset so there was no need to travel. The virtual reality platform used was AltSpaceVR (I first introduced you to AltSpaceVR at the beginning of this year in my 1st ever blog post re WXR’s Pitching event in VR). As a result of using this social VR platform, you could network, chat and mingle with both presenters and attendees. You had the immersive experience of being at a traditional conference but with additional benefits such as your convenience and for a mere fraction of the costs normally associated with attending prestige events.
The speakers were the perfect balance between industry, software, hardware and specialists. We heard amazing insights from thought leaders and futurists. Listened to pioneers stories of hard work and determination to play their part in growing the XR (includes Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities) landscape. Professionals from industry and cross industries making the atmosphere all the more heightened for collaborative innovative brilliance. I cannot stress the sparks that are flowing in this space thanks to the energetic, thoughtful and determined community. Any event that brings these pockets of amazing individuals together like this is sure to explode into something spectacular! Especially when you focus on having an inclusive environment that allows folks to attend regardless of geographical location or financial circumstances.
The list of speakers are as follows: Vinay Narayan / VP, Product and Strategy / HTC Vive
Jonathan Nafarrete / Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief / VRScout Colleen Flanigan / VR Artist in Residence / Google Ted Schilowitz / Futurist / Paramount Pictures Dominic Eskofier / Head of VR, EMEAI / NVIDIA Collin Bradford Bishop / Senior Product Manager / Crytek John Bucher / Writer/Producer, Cultural Mythologist / Sideshow Media Group Jim Malcolm / General Manager / HumanEyes Marisa Erven / Art Director / Hyperspace XR Gregg Katano / Partner & VP of US Operations / Hologate Mike McCready / Instructor / Lethbridge College Jeremy Casper / Co-Director / Los Angeles Film Studies Center Dr. Sana Farid / Co-Founder / Munfarid Devora Mason / Program Director / The Hive Accelerator Daniel Sproll / CXO & Co-founder / realities.io Saswat Panda / Co-Founder & CTO / LiveLike Jérémie Lasnier / Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer / LiveLike Ryan Atkins / Producer / Shake-N-Bake Productions Paul Chambers / Artist Evangelist / Sketchfab Alice Bonasio / Editor-in-Chief / Tech Trends Ulla Engeström / Founder & CEO / ThingLink Valeriy Kondruk / CEO / Ascape VR Suzanne Lee / Founder / Pivotal Reality David Jagneaux / Games Editor / UploadVR James McCrae / Founder & CEO / JanusVR Dr. Gijs JD van Acker / Co-Founder / MDLinking.com Clément Merville / President / Manzalab Luis Paolino / Art Director / Gree VR Studio Matouš Tlapák / Chief Operating Officer / Lifeliqe Dr. Marsha Maxwell / Educator & Researcher / Atlanta International School Steve Bowler / President / Cloudgate Studio Sami Ramly / Entrepreneur-In-Residence / Outpost Capital Sandy Hammer / Co-Founder / AllSeated Cathy Hackl / Futurist / You Are Here John Kuruvilla / Co-Founder & CRO / Kalpnik Scott Bennett / VR Artist / Scobot
The Global VR Summit Highlights: 6 live panel discussions Q&A sessions 5 hours of interactive on demand content 40 VR speakers 24 VR companies 15 countries (I’m delighted to have represented Scotland!)
Still not too sure what a VR conference looks like? Then check out Dextra’s post event highlights video below:
This may be the 1st Global VR Summit but I am pretty confident that Dextra will continue to bring this to us annually so hopefully see you there next year!!