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.

Showcasing VR October 2019

I love October! The ever changing colours of the leaves high upon the trees or low on the ground fill me with so much joy at this time of year. A tree making the transition to its autumn colours reminds me that change occurs one leaf at a time. A timely reminder as those dark nights start to set in and when you may question if your efforts will ever start to become noticed. Well, if you can relate then I say to you, keep going!

This has been another action packed month for me but let’s start off with some fantastic news!

We’re now officially a Top Blog!

We feature in the Top 75 Virtual Reality Blogs & Websites to follow in 2019!

Can you believe it?! We’re not even last, not that last is a bad position in this case but I automatically figured that’s where we would sit. Suzanne Showcasing VR is ranked at 55th position on a list with all the major players and my role models such as Road to VR, VR Scout, VR Focus and my good pals Tony with The Ghost Howls and Tom with Virtual Perceptions! It’s such an honour to be featured alongside such high prestige, it really is. I would like to thank Anuj Agarwal for including us and for thinking so highly of us too 🙂 Make sure you go check out the full list because it is a fantastic resource for keeping up to date and hearing from so many different perspectives in and around virtual reality.

Being a Special Guest on a VR chat show!

A dream come true appearing on Steve Bambury’s #CPDinVR event as a special guest

I love Steve and everything he does for VR Education. I’ve regularly attended his events for the last few years now and learn so much from them every time I am there. His guests are always inspiring and engaging so to be part of his last show was a massive compliment to me. I featured alongside some remarkable pioneers in the industry and will share the recording on this blog as soon as it becomes available. Check this video out to give you a flavour of the epic’ness of these events: Steve speaking with the one and only Godfather of VR himself, Tom Furness

Check out Steve’s YouTube channel & subscribe to see more like this – or better yet come along to his event next month in VR []-)

Learning To Build VR Content & Experiences

I parked aside the Blender course because the Oculus & Unity course that I mentioned last month started. I’m only on Unit 3 of the Design, Develop & Deploy course, which is about 3-4 hours of the way through and my oh my… I 100% recommend this course to EVERYBODY who is interested in developing a VR app, game or experience! This course covers EVERTHING. We’re talking the pre-production, through to marketing, developing, the Oculus approval process (which is valuable insight in itself as so many developers have voiced their frustration at having work being rejected for the stores). This course is approx 23 hours long, it’ll take me longer because I’m note taking along the way. It’s in beta mode and it’s all FREE!!! You learn through pre-recorded videos but there is a community around this course on Unity that you can interact with, connect with tutors, ask questions etc. Definitely check it out, sign up and see you in class soon []-)

Completed TTA lessons & coursework

Learning Business Skills

The Transformative Technology Academy that I mentioned last month is now finished. We learned loads about how to create a successful technology for good business. It was an intense 4 weeks so I have had my head down a lot this month – if you follow me on Twitter you will have noticed a significant drop in my tweets. This was why. It was a great use of time and so much to digest. Your have virtual lessons to attend, mentor sessions, live pitch sessions then there’s the community side too with personal 1:1 meetings, sharing & learning as a group. I’d recommend this to anybody interested in starting up a company that uses tech to improve humans/society. Again it’s a free initiative which is amazing especially when you are learning about the inner workings of famous tech companies from their founders & CEO’s! Here’s the link again for good measure.

I managed to find some time to complete a site refresh for my start-up company, Pivotal Reality. Now is the time to be brave and push myself forward and let the world know what it is I do! Then came a bit of bad luck… I broke my Samsung S7 phone! Yes I know it’s an old phone but it was the only phone I can use alongside the Samsung 360 camera as a kind of preview mode before filming. I was working on a project to film a children’s home that one of our elderly residents grew up in and wanted to see again but couldn’t visit it because of mobility restraints. Luckily I had filmed enough to complete this project for her 🙂 But I’ll be on the market for a new 360 camera so please let me know what you would suggest. I was probably long overdue an upgrade to be fair anyway because my videos were not as clear & detailed as I would have liked. I like the look of the Insta360 or perhaps the Vuze but need to do my research and budgeting to see what would be best. If you use any yourself and can tell me your thoughts on any 360 cameras then I would be so extremely grateful to hear those from you 🙂 Thank you

Raising VR Awareness

Team Meetings in VR

Team meetings in Virtual Reality have become a bit of a regular thing for me at my day job. My boss is super cool and has the patience of a Saint listening to me harp on and on and on about virtual reality… Well he’s only gone and upgraded from a Samsung Gear VR to an Oculus Quest!!! Totally skipped out the Oculus Go that he initially planned and went for it. He’s not looked back. Buuut, this means that we can explore various Social VR locations, we previously always used AltSpace VR for our meetings for accessibility eg we could both log on to that cross devices/using different branded/makes of headsets. We tried Rec Room and he beat me at basketball so I’m not that keen on going there again… ha! Kidding! We’ve started to dabble in how to create your own Rec Room spaces. I want to check out Facebook Horizon so perhaps that could be our next location. It’s worth noting that if you love VR and want to introduce it into your business but feel like there’s not really a use case yet, VR Meetings is an easy one to pilot to give it a go 🙂

VR Content I Have Tried This Month

I sadly didn’t have much time to be in VR this month at all because of all the lessons I was to attend outside of my full-time day job & family life. Not making excuses but it has been a demanding month. I only really have 2 experiences that I tried out (aside from Steve’s customise VR Chat Show) was an immersive storytelling experience called AfterLife and Stunt Runner in Rec Room.

Interactive ‘you can choose the path to follow’ story experience

Afterlife was an exciting concept and I was most psyched about the possibilities of choosing your own path/story based on decisions that you made in the experience. I knew it was going to be heart-tugging story and if you watch the video you will learn why I was nervous about it being especially raw for me to play. If you do decide to play this then make sure your headset it fully charged ahead of playing (especially if you are using an Oculus Go to avoid overheating), sit down/do not stand and for heavens sake try moving the controller around more often than I did… ha!

Had the honour to be taught how to scale Stunt Runner by a Pro []-)

I accidentally stumbled across Stunt Runner in Rec Room. This is a cross between Ninja Warrior & Total Wipeout but in virtual reality. I was just messing around with the obstacles outside and having a bit of a giggle to myself tbh but this guy was flipping all over the place. I saw that he and another went through to a door and thought sure why not. Headed in and was put in front of a starting line with these guys ready to race. I sooo wasn’t ready for this but couldn’t back out now. We were off! Running along beams, scaling rope ladders, dodging moving parts, bouncing on trampolines and occasionally falling to our doom, ok that was just me.. and it was quite frequently rather than occasionally. This one guy was like the Flash! I didn’t get it, I was running as fast as he was but was falling a lot or getting hit by the moving obstacles until I seen him do it. A sneaky wee mario like short cut route. They must’ve felt sorry for how rubbish I was or perhaps they sensed I knew, I did try to follow them but fell so perhaps they saw all that lol! We did about 4 rounds or so of different courses and then the 3 of us teamed up. DrPovertyShoes spent so long with us and showed us how to do double jumps, triple jumps, where to jump jumps. DrPoveryShoes was amazing and such a cool wee person. They managed to beat their own personal best whilst with us so I said to take a selfie, glad I did or I wouldn’t have been able to shine a light on them like this.

What’s happening in November?

Virtual Reality Day is on Saturday 23rd November so I will be sure to write a post about all the publicised events that you can join. I haven’t signed up to do anything yet but I will definitely do that. I was disappointed that there wasn’t anything irl (in real life) based in Scotland and had hoped to arrange something this year but didn’t have a lot of interest at the time of approaching folks. It would be cool to host a Social VR hopper and just bounce about the various platforms. I might do something like that and livestream it as I imagine there should be a lot of people hanging around the different venues this year! I wonder if any of the 1st time virtual reality users/owners are even aware of this day? Make sure you help spread the word this year so folks know about it.

I’ll also be checking out Facebook’s Horizon and researching some Escape Room experiences so stay tuned for videos and written content on those soon.

I’m still waiting on further news about the FeelRealSensory Mask but it should be with me to test and show you by the end of this year at the latest. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

What will virtual reality smell like I wonder?

Thanks so much for sticking with me & reading this month’s blog. I hope you found it interesting? Have great fun Trick or Treating (Guising or Galoshan in Scottish terms) this Halloween!

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube for more updates

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 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

Oculus Quest – Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

(Source: Oculus)

#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!

(Source: Oculus)

Announced on 18th March:
BeatSaber
Shadow Point (*Designed specifically for Quest)
Journey of the Gods
Dead and Buried II
Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series
Sports Scramble
Robo Recall
Dance Central

Announced on the 25th March:
SUPERHOT VR
Space Pirate Trainer
Vacation Simulator

(Source: Oculus)

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)
Moss
Vacation Simulator

Announced 10th April:
Apex Construct
I Expect You To Die
Face Your Fears II
The Exorcist: Legion VR

Announced 17th April:
Google TiltBrush
Thumper
Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs
Bait
Fruit Ninja VR
Rush
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!)
Ballista
Rec Room
VR Chat
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
PokerStars VR
VR Karts: Sprint

26th April:
National Geographic Explorer VR

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 []-)

(Source: F8.com)

More info and how to register for Oculus Venues here

Register here to watch F8 online

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Oculus Rift S

(source: picture from Oculus.com)

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).

Google Stadia livestream image
(source: screenshot taken during the live announcement on Google’s YouTube channel)

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)
Component Recommended Spec Minimum Spec
Processor Intel i5-4590/AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater Intel i3-6100/AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater
Graphics Card 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
Memory 8 GB+ RAM 8 GB+ RAM
Operating System 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!