VR Awards 2019 – The Virtual Reality Event Showcase

Gratitude to the organisers, hosts & sponsors for bringing these awards to the community

The VR Awards was held in London on 11th November 2019 and I had the privilege of being there… in virtual reality thanks to AltSpaceVR! I will share my video footage with you as soon as I can.

An excited me attending a VR Awards ceremony whilst in virtual reality at AltSpace VR!

Rising VR Company of the Year

Winner: Fable Studios

Finalists: KageNova, Immotion, HOLOGATE, Maze Theory, Periscape VR, Lume, Enduvo and Atlas V

VR Education & Training of the Year

Winner: Working At Height by Vodaphone and Make Real

Finalists: Breaking Boundaries in Science by Filament Games, IsReality by Isbank, Virtual Training Ship Simulation (VTS) by Orka Informatics, Training: Replace low valtage fuses without life-threatening skills by Nanopixel & Fluvius, BODYSWAPS by Somewhere Else, Class VR by Avantis Systems, DHL: Gamification of the Cargo Loading VR Training Process by Immerse & DHL, Exoplanet Explorers 2 by Engine House VFX and Mighty Masters by MOYOSA Media

VR Healthcare of the Year

Winner: Fundamental Surgery

Finalists: GE Healthcare: Increasing training opportunities for radiographers through VR by Immerse, Oxford Medical Simulation by Oxford Medical Simulation, Augmented Baseplate Shoulder Simulation & Patient Specific Planning by Precision OS Technology, Fear of Heights (clinical acrophobia) by Oxford VR, VR for Psychosis Research and Treatment by Virtualware & King’s College London

Love that social vr events allows you to customise your event location like this! Allowing your audience to interact with your theme like this is fantastic!

VR Enterprise Solution of the Year

Winner: Virtualware Immersive Room by Virtualware by VIROO

Finalists: Lloyds Resilience & Vitality by Make Real & Lloyds Banking Group, MixCast VR Marketing System by Blueprint Reality, Autodesk VRED – VR Collaboration by Autodesk, Athena by Goodpatch and VR Command Center by Elara Systems

VR Social Impact Award

Winner: The 100% – Maggie’s Story by Springbok Entertainment

Finalists: Dementia Yn Fy Nwylo I / First Hand by Galactig, Anne Frank House VR by Force Field Entertainment, X-Ray Fashion by Vulcan Productions, RSA Consequences by BBDO DUBLIN, Children Do Not Play War by VILD Studio, Ghost Fleet VR by Vulcan Productions, Common Ground by East City Films, Mercy by Oculus For Good & Mercy Ships and The Right Choice – ICRC by Visualise, Don’t Panic & ICRC

Standing beside some of the most innovative immersive companies

Innovative VR Company of the Year

Winner: Emblematic Group

Finalists: Make Real, Fundamental Surgery, AmazeVR, Backlight, SpinView, Ballast Technologies and Avantis Systems.

Out of Home Entertainment of the Year

Winner: War Remains by MWM Immersive & Flight School Studio

Finalists: Ralph Breaks VR by ILMxLAB & The VOID, VRSlide by Ballast Technologies & Wiegand.Maelzer, Golem VR by DIVR, Chained: A Victorian Nightmar by MWM Immersive, Curse of the Lost Pearl: A Magic Projector Adventure by Dreamscape Immersive, FaBIOS Fantastic Fun Factory by Holocafe, Sol Raiders by Zero Latency, Arizona Sunshine LBVR by Vertigo Games & Jaywalkers Interactive, TOYLAND : CRAZY MONKEY by Ymagis & Backlight Studio, Beyond Medusa’s Gate by Ubisoft Blue Byte and HUXLEY 2 – THE ADVENTURE BEGINS by EXIT Adventures

VR Marketing of the Year

Winner: The Infrunite Slide by Oasis Pocket Adventure

Finalists: Porsche “Hall of Legends” VR Experience by UDG Ludwigsburg, Nerdindustries & Porsche, Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit 2018 Invitations by Qualcomm Technologies, S 1000 RR VR by NUMENA & BMW, Ledvizor VR-presentation spac by Proektmarketing +1 & Ledvizo, VR experience for Santos de Cartier launch by LR Studio & Cartier, Lone Echo II: Trailer Experience by Ready At Dawn and Ford ‘WheelSwap’ VR by Happy Finish, H+K Strategies & Ford

VR Film of the Year

Winner: Wolves in the Walls by Fable Studios, Third Rail Projects and Oculus Story Studio

Finalists: The Bond by Axis Studios, Crow: The Legend by Baobab Studios, Cycles by Walt Disney Animation Studios, The Great C by Secret Location, Lucid by Breaking Fourth Limited, Traveling While Black by Felix & Paul Studios, Aripi by Simpals Studio and Grenfell: Our Home by Parable, Channel 4 & 59 Productions

VR Experience of the Year

Winner: Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series – Episode 1 by ILMxLAB & Oculus Studios

Finalists: Awake by Start VR & Animal Logic, Curfew: Join The Race by REWIND & SkyVR Eleven Eleven by NBC Universal & Digital Domain, The Scream VR by Cinétévé Experience & ARTE France and Where Thoughts Go by Lucas Rizzotto

This photo will be a historic tribute one day showing us how far we have come with VR Headsets

VR Hardware of the Year

Winner: Oculus Quest by Oculus/Facebook

Finalists: Reverb VR Headset by HP, Rift S by Oculus/Facebook, Teslasuit by VR Electronics, Vive Pro Eye by HTC and XTAL 5K HMD by VRgineers 

VR Game of the Year

Winner: A Fisherman’s Tale by Innerspace VR & ARTE France

Finalists: Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs by Resolution Games, ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission by JAPAN Studio & ASOBI Team, Blood & Truth by Sony London Studio, CREED: Rise to Glory™ by Survios, Falcon Age by Outerloop Games, FREEDIVER: Triton Down by Archiact, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition by Ninja Theory, PROZE: Enlightenment by SignSine, Shadow Point by Coatsink , Transpose by Secret Location and Vacation Simulator by Owlchemy Labs

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: John Carmack

Yeay! Standing beside an incredible pioneer and creator or the virtual reality movement! The outstanding, one and only John Carmack
A selfie with all of this year’s winners – sorry my big head blocked quite the section out…

Well there you have it, an amazing achievement for all nominees, finalists and winners. Congratulations everybody! It’s inspiring to see the industry growing further every year.

OC6 – Oculus Quest Is The Next Computing Platform

The Highlights of today’s Facebook’s Oculus Connect announcement

I attended Oculus Connect via Oculus Venues in Virtual Reality rather than the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in California. It felt engaging to be part of the crowd even though I was only there as an avatar. Before we dive in to the highlights let’s cover off what we didn’t hear… Mark Zuckerberg has been very vocal about aiming to have 1 billion virtual reality users by 2020. That’s only 3 months away or 1 year 3 months away if we are going to stretch it out until the end of the year in 2020. We were told today how much they’ve made from VR Oculus Store content during its lifetime yet (spoiler alert) we weren’t told any numbers around how many HMD units have been sold overall, no breakdown of how well Rift S or Quest is doing. Well other than we are selling Quests like hot pancakes and struggling to meet the demand. Why then were we not told any numbers? We’ll go through some of these points later on in detail but how come when we are looking to support developers with building content & aiming for “critical mass adoption” of virtual reality we are not told how many players are in each team or even what size the playing field looks like in general? If virtual reality is now then share those numbers please.

As it so happens, I do believe that virtual reality is now even if I don’t have the corporate figures to back it up. I’ve been watching the market and community grow with a keen interest this year. The hype for the Oculus Quest and Rift S was the instigator for most of the new faces but we have had other hardware companies come along for their debuts this year too. Social media communities have bloomed too, there’s a handful of communities all around the Oculus Quest by itself, not to mention VR in general or other VR devices. Stepping outside the Oculus bubble a second, other external evidence to show that VR is now is all the amazing work that is being done! It is actually overwhelming now and I feel we are at a point for anybody joining us at entry level, will struggle to know which direction to focus their attention on with what platforms targeting what device. Its an amazing problem to have because it is a side-effect of this recent growth spurt but you get what I’m saying, there is evidence if you look. It would just be more compelling to be backed up by the various headset sales numbers is all…

Perhaps a reason for not mentioning the hardware sales figures is because the Rift S hasn’t been doing so well or as well as expected? I would be surprised if that were true but then again the standalone capability of the Quest is a pull point for most people. Perhaps the difference between the sales figures was too shocking to call-out? One thing we do know is that the Oculus Quest appears to be favoured by customers: “Oculus Store has made over $100m dollars in its lifetime and Oculus Quest accounted for over 20% of that!” That’s an extraordinary stat considering that the Quest is only 4 months old!

First up, we had the announcement of the new Oculus Link which will be released in November this year. This update will allow for Oculus Quest owners/users the ability to play Oculus Rift S games on their Quest simply by connecting to a compatible gaming pc using USB. Oculus will have a customised USB cable for this use too that you can buy and expect to be delivered in November too. Who remembers the controversy around Virtual Desktop’s ability to stream & play games from other platforms to Quest? And what does this mean for SideQuest? There’s still plenty of unique games in platforms outside of the Oculus Store I guess. To me this is the 1st aggressive competitor/market closing manoeuvre I’ve seen from Facebook and one that I am now switched on to. In fact, this triggered me into being alert for the rest of the 2 hour long keynote. Unfortunately, you will see other industry wide similarities and stake claims being announced as we proceed.

Mark Zuckerberg during OC6 Keynote

Hand Tracking coming to Oculus Quest early 2020!

That’s right! The Quest has the 4 cameras at the front for sensing your external environment as well as picking up the sensors on the existing Touch controllers. Well now it looks as though the research & development team have cracked the Machine Learning requirements for real time hand tracking using the Quest. Although, we have seen real time hand tracking in the industry already so this is not groundbreaking or new, however, absolutely a step in the right direction for complete immersive embodiment. Leap Motion being the most obvious, it was reported that Google and Media Pipe had cracked it too and Vive Cosmos is going to support finger tracking soon as well.

The ability to use simply your hands instead of controllers will open the accessibility door too. I work with elders who sometimes struggle mentally to grasp the concept of working controllers not to mention physically being able to grasp them. Speaking of which, I was hugely excited about hearing more about CTRL-Labs! I had only learned about this company a few hours earlier by watching this mind-blowing interview before the Facebook acquisition was announced. I recommend giving it a watch, it’s truly incredible! They use electrical signals from the nervous system and their modelling systems to make muscle movements through your thoughts! Perfect for accessibility as well as general evolution of interacting with computers & machines. The interview below really brings it to light and their dev kits are already shipping (be prepared to be on a waiting list for a while though given the interest in this groundbreaking technology).

Social VR comes to Facebook through Horizon

I’m a huge fan of social VR and I have never tried Facebook Spaces before. I’m not sure what has happened to Spaces but Horizon is the new thing. A social VR place where you can connect, create, interact and play games all within your VR headset. Learning to build things without coding is always appealing. Would I prefer this to existing platforms? Not sure. The intro video was quite cheesy for my taste… There were similarities to everything that is working well currently within the social VR sector of the industry. There were cross-overs with AltSpace VR and Rec Room with a particular focus on creating art. VR artists are making their way into the spotlight with their outstanding creations. Again I can’t help my thoughts turning towards Facebook taking the things that are working well and incorporating those for themselves. It is how business works I guess but I would be upset or lost if these other platforms were to be swallowed up as a result. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun especially given how early stage Horizon is.

Source: Oculus

The Evolution of Avatars

My words wouldn’t do this any justice so I found a tweet with a video clip so you can see for yourself

Credit and source: Robert AKA @webjournalist

Mixed Reality Capture Shared Spaces and Passthrough+ upgrade

It was briefly mentioned that we will be able to capture not only the VR gameplay footage but also ourselves playing in VR too. The mixed reality Beat Saber videos are extremely effective for sharing fun & engaging content. The ability to do this is coming. So is being able to have shared spaces virtually such as the basketball game photo below were 2 people are physically located separately but are together virtually.

The Passthrough+ on the Oculus Quest will have the ability to switch on and off so that you can flip back between real world and VR whenever you choose to. This is such a simple but useful function to add.

Oculus Media Studio

Media Studio sounded fantastic for content creators, developers and users alike. I’m not entirely sure I grasped all of this correctly though… So in essence for creators/developers it is a dashboard to help you to market your work through word or mouth because users will be able to see their friends playing your stuff through the ‘location’ section. Content creators will have the ability to use the media studio to stream and reference your work. But there will be dashboards to show numbers relative to your product & users. Next was the reason I can’t be sure of the detail beforehand relating to Media Studio. Next was, the newer style Oculus TV. I got lost in my thoughts again at this point, completely lost in my thoughts so can’t report on this other than saying it sounded exactly like Bigscreen VR. It was the ability to watch things together in virtual spaces – so perhaps this was the how the basketball example above worked or how you do that? Not sure, but yeah Oculus TV is being revamped into shared spaces to watch & stream content to. Another reason for Virtual Desktop to be told not to be compatible with streaming on Oculus platforms.

VR for Business

A smarter API and ability to manage multiple headsets simultaneously. Amazing case studies shared about working in virtual environments from remote locations. But the headliner was from Johnson & Johnson, Osso VR and partner’s surgical training outputs. They shared that 83% of newly trained surgeons who used VR training were able to carry on with surgical procedures unguided afterwards compared to 0% of students who received traditional training methods! The evidenced source or published research would be much appreciated if anybody could share that please.

Source OC6

AR Strategy at Facebook

Were we expecting Facebook to make AR glasses? I guess so, I mean AR is all over the many platforms and probably the driver behind the growth in mainstream awareness there too. Spark AR was only mentioned by name during the keynote but nothing more. However, aside from the glasses, we heard how Facebook are looking to do live maps. It works by using crowd source info from connected devices eg smart phones or AR glasses. The video looks impressive but I told you I was triggered and in that moment couldn’t help think about 6D.ai and the amazing work they are doing for smart phone photogrammetry real time mapping. What was exciting was the hologram AR part of their explanation video. Again, it’s nothing new but it is exciting. Yet, another way that Facebook are enforcing themselves as the tech giant that they are in the immersive space.

Game releases!

We heard a Beat Saber announcement about a new Panic At The Disco music pack being released next week and 360 degree gameplay being released next year. Stormland, Asgard’s Wrath, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond and Vader Immortal 2 all announced. Vader being the only one released with immediate effect & the others can be pre-ordered (not sure Medal of Honor release date). Incidentally, Medal of Honor looked intense!!! You saw a lady pulling the pin out of her grenade controller with her real world TEETH before chucking it into the enemy line. It looks to be so immersive and as close to a war like simulation as you are going to get without getting hurt in real life.

The Future of Hardware

There was quite an interesting talk about the evolution of Half Dome’s. I’ll be honest, I had never heard of these before this talk. The level or detail in the research and prototyping is quite remarkable. Essentially, it the next gen HMD with specific sharp verifocals/lenses for clearer vision within an immersive experience. We watched footage of some of the basic VR intro programs with and without these specially adapted lenses. The Half Dome 3 (the newest one) was crystal clear – there were 6 lenses altogether that help to achieve this result. I listened to this intently but I’m sorry I can’t articulate how genuinely interesting it was!

Summary

This was an action packed keynote speech with many different things to take in and digest! The Oculus Quest came out best throughout the messages by being upgraded quite significantly I felt. The Rift S, I actually feel sorry for and think it’s being overlooked – could that be because of the Half Dome coming even though we’re being told that it’s not there yet? Well, what about the Oculus Go? The Go didn’t get mentioned really – only when it was said that we will be able to play our Go games in, yep you guessed it, Quest… I don’t think Go games were coming to Rift S? Surely they must, it’s just through the Oculus Store right? Hopefully you Rift S users will have that at least, not much of a party bag but at least you didn’t go home empty handed… like the Go users have… I dunno what to make of it all. Great to be able to experience all of these technology elements with my Quest – especially hand tracking and easier content creations BUT mixed feelings about the dominating strategy. With any luck I’m just being over-sensitive to it all because I was initially triggered…

Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas if you want to get in touch @TheHappyLass

Evolution at Oculus (Minus the Go)

Immersive News Round-Up August 2019 (part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of August’s Immersive News Round-Up!  If you read part 1 you will know how action packed the month began!  So this time I thought it would be helpful for you if I categorised this blog into sections.  I will call-out that this is subjective to what I would term as items belonging to each category so scan the other areas in case something of interest to you is hiding elsewhere because of my sorting skills!!!

Alrighty then, let’s go []-)

Immersive Market News:

Holographic content company investment success via Tipatat

VR is a turning point for the Spa & Wellness industries via Forbes

Rec Room is now accessible via iPhone and iPad via Shawn Whiting

6D.ai are partnering with Qualcomm to create shared experiences between HMD & Smartphones for the first time (including ability to support android devices now!) via 6D.ai

AltspaceVR comes to Oculus Quest on 12th September via AltspaceVR

SideQuest has more active users reported than that of the Rift.  Developers and players alike are flocking to this store for content via SideQuestVR

Respects:

Nate Mitchell, last remaining co-founder at Oculus leaves via Nate Mitchell

MRTV YouTube Kickstarter campaign is a success 

Jaroslav Beck (Co-Founder of Beatsaber) gives back to the community via Jaroslav Beck

AR Content:

6d.ai 3D model advancements via Matt Miesnieks

Can you tell the difference between a real sandwich and an AR one via Helen Papagiannis, Ph.D

Interesting use of LightSpace AR app to retrace your steps via Bobby Carlton

VR Content:

No Man’s Sky released in VR via Loki Eliot

West World Awakening comes to VR via West World HBO

Community member Phased Dragon manages to get Google Lens to work inside VR via Educators In VR

Immersive Art & Design Content

Rec Room Marker creations via Shawn Whiting

Rec Room 2D art Contest via Shawn Whiting

VR Chat user created space via Lakuza

VR Artists share their processes via Kent Bye

VR Dev:

How to build virtual worlds as a new form of self expression via Ryan Schultz

Google Sign language AI turns hand gestures into speech via Optomize Ltd

VRTK version 4 needs your support via The Stone Fox

Oculus Insight AI Tracking explanation video via Oculus

VR Hardware:

VR treadmill via Evan Kirstel

Feel Real sensory mask breaks their silence with an update via Feel Real

Sad news that the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10 doesn’t support the Samsung Gear VR Headset.  This could see the beginning of the end for the Samsung Gear VR.

In the same article, from UploadVR, the same scenario has happened with the new Google Pixel 3a not supporting Daydream either.

VR Events:

This month I attended & presented in virtual reality Disneyland thanks to Chuck Webster’s Disney Data Analytics & Immersive tech event in Altspace!

Bigscreen releases a Modern Cinema with launch party via Bigscreen VR

Lindsey Stirling performs live as a virtual reality avatar thanks to WaveXR via Andy Fidel 

Opportunities:

HTC Vive The Global Accelerator Program accepting applications until the end of September

Panel opportunity to showcase use cases in enterprise & beyond via Myra B

Unity Student Ambassador Program accepting applications via Unity

Showcase your Start-Up at SXSW Pitch 2020.  Deadline 15th November via Amy Peck

Podcasts & Talks

John Carmack appears on the Joe Rogan Podcast via John Carmack

XR for Business – publishing 3 podcasts a week now so you are spoiled for choice here!

Further reading/resources:

Using Immersive Tools & Spatial Networks (Social VR & Social AR) for Education & Remote Teaching by Andy Fidel

Walmart CEO says that VR Training saved lives in El Paso shooting via Stanford VR

Female Disruptors Site Launched via Navah Berg

Research:

How do we further advance the science of therapeutic VR? via Brennan Spiegel, MD

Bit of personal news as well from me – I’m a published author!

How VR helps with Mental Health via Kier Simmons

Other news:

Women who are long serving, respected, talented and admired in the gaming/tech industry have made serious accusations of sexual harassment & assault dating back several years.  The Gaming industry is experiencing its own ‘Me Too’ movement.  Sadly the virtual reality community is not untouched as Oculus Co-Founder, Michael Antonov, is also accused too.  This is NOT OK.  Although I am pleased to see the reactions of the entire community coming together to comfort and support the brave women who are voicing what happened to them.

A number of job vacancies this month have started to specify a need for virtual & augmented reality market awareness for their candidate required skills via Suzanne Lee & Cameron Brown

Phew – fantastic to see so much hard work, collaborations and progress happening across the industry!  I’m seriously going to have to figure out how to anchor sections in this blog or perhaps even break these fortnightly blogs down into sub sections eg go back to a category a page again!!!

Thanks for reading!  Take care and see you again in 2 weeks time []-)
Suzanne

Immersive News Round-Up August 2019 (part 1)

The schools might be out but the immersive community are definitely in!  Everyone is working hard to bring us some action packed updates this month!  There’s actually so much going on that I’ve decided to split this monthly round-up into 2 parts – a mid-month update and then another end of month update.

(AR Hardware) NReal AR glasses due to launch early 2020

(VR Market) BigScreen VR to launch on Playstation VR in 2020:

(AR Content) DoodleLens 1.2 is released so now you can animate your drawings in AR too!  Nice work!

(AR Content) A really cool looking AR Book Effect

(Health VR: Research) VR Memory palaces – “We found that virtual memory palaces in HMD condition provide a superior memory recall ability compared to the desktop condition.” I (Suzanne)  quoted this research paper in my Springer Series contribution called Biomedical Visualisation volume 3 which is due for release later this month.  Its such a fascinating area and my VR for dementia work that I do with Pivotal Reality falls into this perfectly.

(Virtual Reality equipment/hardware) VR bungee is now a thing and it looks like fun!

(VR Content Creation) YouTube’s VR Creator Lab is open to applicants!  I looked at this when it came to London last month.  Note that one of the conditions is that you need to 10k subscribers to apply…  On that note… don’t forget to check out & sub my YouTube channel…!  ;-D ty

(Immersive Market) 5 Ways Technology is Transforming the Healthcare Industry [Infographic]

(AR Hardware) Leap Motion’s North Star is the DK1 of AR: hands-on preview and how to buy it!

(AR Filters/content) Body Tracking AR filters

(VR Hardware Market) Zuckerberg to Shareholders: ‘Quest is selling as fast as we can make them’

(AR design/hardware) AR Glasses could offer hands-free communication without saying a word

(VR Software) Couple of months ago a metaverse working group did a field test for traversing disparate virtual worlds to see how they interconnect.  I absolutely love this and think it is an important design mechanic that we should be looking at for connectivity & accessibility purposes!  It’s a fascinating read []-)

(VR Event) OC6 registration is now live!  I can’t go so if you are going to attend then make sure you all tweet content out for me… pretty please!  I’ll look to see if there will be a VR event somewhere to cover the livestream and join in that way for now perhaps…

(VR Event) So Tenacious D went a played a live concert in VR thanks to Oculus Venues and I went along!!!  What a belter, loved it and yes, I will be going to more concerts & events like this in VR.  So should you too!

If you are interested in a re-cap of the Tenacious D concert then I create this YouTube video.  No actual concert footage was allowed but I felt it was important to document this special moment in history in some fashion so that was the rationale behind this video.

(Immersive Resources & Insight & advertising) The Immersive Directory launched the first wave of their blog series!  I am totally honoured to report that I was one of the first contributors alongside so many talented others!

(AR Developer Support) I honestly like the personal touch of this next piece.  The MagicLeapers are lending out a helping hand to the developer community by providing their Open Hours with Developer Relations Programme.  I know of some others who could perhaps benefit from adopting that style of relationship building and support.

(VR Design) Embodying taller avatars can make us feel more confident in real life

(AR content creation) Facebook wants Quill to be a one-stop shop for VR animators

(VR use case) The Future of Virtual Reality in the Workplace – a topic close to my heart!  The ability to connect with people as an embodied presence within a virtual environment is pretty magical.  That’s the reason I am such an advocate of social VR!!  Being able to connect with you wherever you are whilst I am sitting in Scotland is mind-blowingly awesome!!!

(AR Content) AR being used at the Tate Museum to help bring the stories about the pieces of art to life for attendees

(AR Content) Can we bring back famous scientists from history as virtual tutors telling us about how they thought about their discoveries?  Sooooo cool right?!

(Immersive Market Insight) Apple has posted job vacancies for AR & VR positions!  Speculation is for Apple branded AR Glasses to be released in 2020/2021 but we will see… 

(AR Hardware) Startup Human Capable’s ‘Norm Glasses’ AR Smartglasses Are Like Google Glass in a Regular Pair of Shades

(VR Content) A VR comic experience coming soon! I’m interested in seeing this a) because I think the idea of a virtual comic experience is ace and b) because they  mention that they use Quill 2.0 and I only recently found out about Quill from the tweet quoted above in  this blog.  So that’s quite exciting!

(VR Health: Research) How VR is helping a girl with chronic pain in having a better life

(VR Content) Man oh man, I love this next one.  Differently Fast is a competitive game that you need to check out.  It is indeed different but absolutely beautifully different in that you are competing to be the fasted at wheelchair racing.  I love this so much and don’t even get me started on the inclusive side of things ❤

(Immersive use cases) How AR VR will disrupt the travel & photography industry via Tech for Travel’s How Smart Tech is Improving Your Travel Blog

(VR Health: Research) Surgical Training Validation Study at UCLA

(VR Market) Sad to hear that Vreal has shut up shop.  Wishing everybody involved all the best with their next steps.

(VR Creation, Design & Developer Resource) VR Production considerations, questions to consider, UX, costs

(VR Showcase/Use Case) Acadicus is a virtual learning platform that allows anyone to teach and learn in VR by providing everything needed to access, create and share content created by instructors.

(VR Health: Research) Future of Neuroscience & VR report that was compiled by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

(VR Hardware/Controllers) The etee VR controllers from a company called TG0 can detect where a user’s fingers are and how much pressure is being applied

(AR Market / Use case) Google AR Maps has started rolling out on Android and iOS

(VR Metaverse / Software / Design) Kim Nevelsteen wants to create the Metaverse by offering the glue to connect already existing online virtual worlds

(VR Research / publication opportunity) Submit your research to a forthcoming special section of the British Journal of Educational Technology

(AR Market / Insight) Snap to raise $1 billion to invest in AR, possible acquisitions

(AR Hardware) Moving beyond traditional fitness trackers that you wear on your wrists, the FORM Swim Goggles actually bring AR to you during your swim

(AR Content / Creation) Create a VR tour of your classroom using a regular phone + Google Street View App + Google Tour Creator

I told you this month has already been action packed!  Is there anything here that particularly caught your eye?  I purposely embedded the tweets to share my sources with you so that you can pursue more out for yourself.  If, however, you ever want to get in touch so that readers can hear about your immersive product, service, tools, tricks, resources, publications then by all means please do get in touch!  I am here to showcase the immersive industry after-all, well VR is my passion but I do love it’s cousins too and to be honest, I don’t see too many other places helping to shine a light on immersive tech so why not me, right?!

Thanks for tuning in, take care & see you all again in 2 weeks time.
Suzanne

Immersive News Round-Up July 2019

The Immersive Industry, like the weather, is heating up!  It’s been a while since I created and published a News Round-Up blog post but this month, or last week really I have noticed a spike of activity that I feel is worth sharing with you all.

(Accelerator) WXR Accelerator closes at the end of this month
If your XR/Spatical Computing or AI company has a female founder or gender diverse leadership team then you should check out this 12 week accelerator opportunity out!

I’ve followed this initiative from the beginning, my 1st blog with Suzanne Showcasing VR was about attending the live pitching session for the 1st Cohort in AltSpaceVR! I applied for the 2nd Cohort myself and would recommend submitting an application because even if you are rejected you receive valuable feedback that helps you to improve.

(VR Content) Amazon launches Prime Video VR for Oculus Go, Quest & Gear

(VR Content) Rejected Oculus Quest game, Jigsaw360, becomes the 1st paid side-loaded Quest game.

(Social VR) Bigscreen VR releases 50+ new free VR channels plus has 6000 users registered for the live streaming of the SpaceX Dragon launch

(Social VR) Oculus Venues comes to Oculus Quest with new events such as Tenacious D live in concert

(VR Gaming) World Cyber Games VR Championship – 18th-21st July 2019

(Dev) Launch of Nreal’s platform in beta for developing mixed reality experiences

More information can be found using this link

(Accelerator) Oculus Launch Pad applications are open
For more information and to apply check out this link

(Book) Creating Augmented & Virtual Realities book released

(Events/SocialVR) I co-hosted Sharing Memories in Virtual Reality with Andy Fidel in AltSpaceVR

(Art) Rosie Summers publishes her amazing Tiltbrush ‘My Reality’ masterpiece

(Funding) Knight Foundation offers $750k in Grants for Immersive Tech in the Arts

More information and to apply please see this link

(Tools/Dev) Gravity Sketch now available on Oculus Quest

(Podcast) XR Business with Alan Smithson and Tony ‘SkarredGhost’ Vitillo

Listen to this inspiring podcast to hear more about the XR/Spatial Computing market and the wonders of haptics using this link

(Soon to Launch) VR for Education’s Engage platform to coming to the Oculus Quest

I had the honour of trying it out prior to the public Quest release and made a virtual tour for you!

Bigscreen VR Brings 50 Free Channels To Enjoy Inside The Metaverse!

Exciting news this week from our friends at Bigscreen who have announced an amazing 50+ channels to enjoy in their virtual reality app either by yourself or with friends.  For those who don’t know, Bigscreen was founded in 2014 and publicly launched in March 2016.  I first tried it out using my Oculus Gear headset but the platform has grown in every single way since then!

So, what exactly is Bigscreen VR?
It is a virtual reality experience that allows you to watch TV shows, films, play games or ability to share your desktop for streaming purposes to view on their massive IMAX style cinema screens.  Meaning that you are able to enjoy shows and movies with your friends and family from anywhere in the world.  You can also play games together, work together or just hang out together.  Making it a very cool social VR experience!

If you have never tried any social VR platforms then experiencing things like this can be a little daunting at first.  However, when you first log in to Bigscreen (after registering etc) you are brought into your very own private living room.  It’s big luxurious space that is welcoming with noticeable signs of bling such as your robotic hoover doing the rounds but the massive flatscreen TV on your wall is the main focal point.  Obviously!  In other words, as a first time user you will not be thrown in at the deep end with anybody else.  It’s relaxing and quite exciting to see your new space!  Once you are accustomed and ready to explore outside your living room you bring up your menu to search the options available to you.

From here you are able to browse through the various shows/movies, how many people are in each room already or you can jump through the different locations available to get even more accustomed by yourself if you wish.  The choice is yours.  For those who are a dab hand, perhaps scheduling your own VR screening event is something that interests you, well of course you can do that using this menu option too!

Sounds amazing but how do I do it?
Bigscreen VR can be accessed by all major virtual reality HMDs (Head Mounted Displays/Headsets) – eg Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear, Valve Index, HP Reverb, all SteamVR & Windows Mixed Reality headsets are supported.

How much does it cost?
It’s all free!!!  There’s no subscription costs, no ticket prices, no upfront lump sum, nothing!  Plus you are guaranteed the best seat in the house every single time!  Don’t want to sit in a house?  Fine, then choose the movie theatre, the campfire or even the nebula if you so wish!  No, I am not kidding… you can head into outer space, in fact, multiple locations are available so chilling on Mars with a movie can be done in 2019.

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Ta Da!  Mars in Bigscreen

What can I actually watch there though?
Great question!  Streaming apps like Netflix & Twitch from your desktop is popular within Bigscreen.  When I jumped in I could see the following channels available (subject to change due to user geographical location):

Featured – Lobby, 3D Trailers, Pluto Movies, Pluto Spotlight, Twitch, Overwatch League, CBS Sports, CNN, Rifftrax Commentry, Bloomberg, Shout TV and Anime.

Movies & TV – Pluto Spotlight, Pluto Movies, Pluto Movies 2, Pluto Action Movies, Classic Movies, Comet, Rifftrax Commentry, Shout TV, Pokemon, Anime All Day and Anime All Ages

Games & Sports – Bull TV, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, RIU 41, Trivia Flash, Nerdist, Twitch and Overwatch League.

News & Finance – CNN, Bloomberg, NBC, Sky News, Newsy, C/Net, Cheddar News, CBS News, Crypto TV, RT America and Weather Nation.

Random – NASA, Monstercat, Chillhop, Fail Army, Hungry, Cats, 3D Trailers, Comedy Central, Stand Up and Bigscreen 2019 Update.

Featured: 3D movies

For me the showstopper and something that was completely new to me was experiencing a Star Wars Movie Trailer in 3D whilst in virtual reality!  I was sceptical because, well, I wasn’t wearing any 3D glasses (lol!) but by golly that was fun!  I watched and initially thought ‘yeah, that’s ok, it’s pretty good given we are in VR’ then my eyes completely adjusted and I was like WOW, that’s the real deal!  It really was in 3D whilst I’m sitting in a virtual reality IMAX theatre with other virtual avatars sitting a few rows in front of me.  It was so bizarre but also so magical!!  I’m not sure if it takes a few moments for eyes to adjust like mine or because I am a glasses wearer who doesn’t use the glasses spacer for Oculus Quest or whether that is something unique to me.  It’s not a common thing for my eyes to take time to adjust like that, however, I watched a Star Wars movie on Netflix last year and my eyes did take time to adjust then too.  So perhaps it is unique to viewing real world motion footage inside VR that my eyes can’t instantly compute.  Actually, thinking about it, I can take a few moments when in a real IMAX theatre watching a 3D movie. I remember Tron taking my eyes a few minutes before they could properly focus on the large screen and the 3D effects before I became naturally immersed into that too.  So, if you are short-sighted like me, you may also experience a few moments of eye adjustment… or may not….

Anyway, I was blown away by how realistic this experience was in Bigscreen.  I was actually disappointed that the movie wasn’t about to start immediately afterwards!  I’ve yet to watch a full feature film in Bigscreen or a full episode for that matter.  Both of which are now on my ‘To Do’ list.

Social VR surprise
I was pleasantly surprised by seeing folks interacting with drawings during a show, demonstrating a level of social interaction that I didn’t expect to see at all.  It looked quite heartwarming from where I was sitting that folks would play around with art/pens whilst at the movies – not something you see in a regular IMAX movie theatre anyways!  I loved it.

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As a fan of Social VR experiences I will be personally re-visiting Bigscreen to join more viewings.  I want to observe more avatar interactions during different situations to learn more about the impact that Bigscreen VR is having on social VR too.

Hopefully I will see you there next time []-)

Popcorn and movies

Virtual Reality AWE conference – #AWECORE 2019

As a follower of this blog you will already know that I enjoy attending social VR events.  This time I was asked to participate in one!

AWE is an annual event held in San Francisco that is attended by industry pioneers with their latest hardware and software solutions.  It is THE event to attend for anybody who is interested in the immersive technology industry.  In fact Forbes describe the event as ‘The most essential AR/VR Conference and Expo’.  This year is was AWE’s 10th anniversary and thanks to a VR Community initiative it was the first year that it was brought all over the globe thanks to the power of virtual reality – summary below take from MATRIXCORE’s website:

The #AWECORE Mobile Matrix Experience + Global Immersive Events:

AWE is going virtual with a jam-packed calendar of social XR events conceived of and organized by MATRIXCORE. The experience is highly accessible, supporting mobile, desktop and VR platforms. Connect with the global VR/AR community. Learn more and view the schedule of panels, masterclasses, live AWE keynotes, exclusive Q&As and networking events at https://www.matrixcore.co/ 

AWECORE Social VR HQ
The amazing Andy Fidel running the show at AWE’s Social VR AWECORE HQ

Accessible with cross-platform collaborations

Not only could attendees join using virtual reality headsets, desktops or mobile devices but there was also a mixture of virtual reality platform hosts helping out too.  This is the first time that I have attended an event in VR that spread itself out across the industry.  In other words, you could attend x session in platform 1 then attend another session in platform 2.  The Social VR platforms that were included in this 3 day virtual reality #AWECORE conference were: AltSpaceVR, Rumii, Facebook Spaces, Mozilla Hubs, High Fidelity, Rec Room, VRChat, The Expanse VR and NeosVR.  Major kudos to each of them for coming together and making this epic inaugural conference possible.

What’s the point?

Having a virtual reality conference in parallel with your real world conference is such a beneficial use of time.  Not only does it open the doors to new attendees but it also allows for vast brand marketing.  A win win in my book.  As an attendee you are able to be in the same virtual room with extremely inspirational pioneers in the field.  You are able to learn.  You are able to put up your hand and ask a question using your own voice.  You can connect with the speakers.  You can network and meet other audience members as you would in a real world event.   You can come and go and not distract other attendees or speakers.  As a speaker, it allows you to share your story with people who have previously not heard of you before.  Again brand awareness and association is a pretty huge benefit too.  It has just the same benefits as a real world speaking opportunity – great for your reputation & ability to speak in front of an interested audience.

For both attendees and speakers – you can be there regardless of your geographical location.  You save money on travel (flight) costs, accommodation costs, tickets costs, childcare costs, insurance costs and save yourself the stress & time that is involved in all of those steps too.  You arrive on time, focused and ready to start.

AWECORE Topics and Talks 

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The Hosts and Speakers

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The VR Health panel & Experience

I was honoured to participate in a panel discussion alongside Sarah Hill from Healium by StoryUp XR and Veena Somareddy from Neuro Rehab VR and hosted by Chuck Webster from Health Systems Chat in AltSpaceVR.  I attend a lot of social VR events, meetings and occasional conferences so to be able to be part of the panel in Virtual Reality was a personal milestone for me.  Chuck had created a VR space that was a replicate of the AWE location to help us feel like it was the real deal.  I of course took the obligatory selfie as a keepsake!

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AWECORE Buzz

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AWECORE and Social VR (meetings, events & conference) Benefits

The most obvious is that you are opening the global accessibility doors by hosting panels and events in virtual reality!  I, for example, could not have made it to Santa Clara at short notice.  Attendees can save time, money and stress of attending an event if it is hosted in VR.  Locations can be fully customised, branded and created entirely as you wish!  You are able to learn and rub avatar shoulders with the experts in the industry.  Some of which you may never have the opportunity to meet otherwise.  You can ask your questions directly because you are there, you are present.  It doesn’t matter what you are wearing in real life!  It doesn’t matter where you are in the real world!  You can be yourself and not need to worry about, well, anything*.  You can access events by fully immersive channels with a VR headset or in pancake mode via a desktop, tablet or even mobile phone.

Stats and impact – coming soon…

Thank You to the AWECORE organisers, contributers, participants and attendees!

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The amazing Andy Fidel was the Social VR event lead on this with a small team – Donna McTaggart, Jay W, The Outsider from Neos VR helped organise alongside Andy and I played a tiny part in that too.

Thank you to all the Social VR Platforms for providing Metaverse Spaces for us all to connect and enjoy these events.

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Roundup

I believe this medium is the future of events and conferences.  I say it time and again but it truly is magical.  Being able to pull a headset on and be part of engaging educational sessions with other people from all over the world is best experience aside from being there in real life of course.  Next best is being in attendance using a pc, laptop, tablet or mobile device.  History has been made with this event.  We have seen VR events in varying duration (Merging Realities being the longest of my knowledge being a full day event & also last year’s VR Day celebrations which was also cross platform) but #AWECORE has been 3 days of interactive events that was mindful of accessibility, gender equality and meaningful content.  Well done again to all those involved or who participated or attended!

Hope to see you in the Metaverse again real soon []-)

 

* Should caveat that you should be aware of your real life surroundings whenever wearing a VR headset for health & safety reasons.