Showcasing Virtual Reality – September 2019

Hi! I hope you are good ? You’ll probably noticed that his blog is a few days late in being published so let me explain what is going on… Last month’s summaries were extremely time consuming and I ended the latest blog by saying that I needed to rethink the layout a bit because there was soooo much activity in the industry. Well, the increase in activity is absolutely AMAZING and is only going to increase as the days, weeks, months and years approach us. As a result I have taken deep consideration into what I actually want the purpose of this blog to be. What value is it going to add to your time spent and my time spent. Historically, I’ve just summarised all of the most interesting news & stories which I did by reviewing, differentiating and then literally copying and pasting the items I wanted to share on this blog from my twitter feed. It took me hours to do! But I realised that this was just a duplication of effort, I didn’t provide any opinions or anything over an above the original tweet from my feed. If you follow me on Twitter, then why would you bother reading my blogs? If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you may read that content and think ‘Oh cool, I’ll follow you on Twitter’. However, my purpose isn’t to grow twitter followers, my purpose is to Showcase VR!

With that in mind, I am pleased to let you know that my new blog strategy is to share with you what activities I have been involved with or how I am personally helping to Showcase VR with the aim to support you with awareness or share the learning. I am confident that you will gain insight into a broad spectrum of the VR industry by continuing to read my monthly updates. You will read about people, companies, games & experiences, opportunities as well as how to create XR in this blog. My blog will accompany my existing Twitter feed and the YouTube channel, each serving their own purpose. Twitter for news & updates, YouTube for showcasing game-play as well as a soon to be released Showcasing VR video series that I am currently working on. Having said that, I am keen to hear what you think of this new strategy, new blog layout and the content that I am about to share with you.

Learning To Build VR content & experiences

This month I completed a fantastic free course that teaches you a terrific foundation for building VR content using Unity. VR Software Development is available through Udacity and is beginner friendly. I had some previous experience with Unity before starting this course so I found it be useful and an OK pace. Had I not had any Unity experience though and was completely brand new to the layout, coding or interactions then I think this would have been quite a stretching course. Having said that, this touched upon the explanation side quite a lot which I found valuable for my own understanding of being told not just what you can do but how and why are covered off too. My goal for starting this particular course was to help me understand C# scripting better for a specific project that I am working on. If like me, you haven’t any experience with coding or making any software projects then this is a course you should seriously consider investing your time in. Alternatively you can refer to a previous blog post I wrote called Where can I learn more about immersive technologies and content creations?

Taking the time to learn your craft is one of the best self-investments you can ever make!

I’ve just started a Udemy course to learn how to make a Blender scene for VR. There’s also an interesting looking course that you can sign up for just now too from Unity & Oculus that looks to use the VRTK. I’ll share more about both of those over the coming months – or even better see you there!

Learning Business Skills

As a 1st time entrepreneur working on an immersive health-tech service to say I have been on a steep learning curve is the understatement of the century! However, I stumbled across an amazing community of innovators and entrepreneurs who are all working on ideas that uses technology to improve or support humanity. Being based in Scotland makes it kind of tricky to feel part of the Silicon Valley bubble and nearly impossible to learn the ropes from fellow startups or stereotypical tech giants. The Transformative Technology Academy is a 4 week programme where the lessons are streamed online so you are able to join from anywhere in the world. Hurrah! I joined last year under the Innovator cohort and this year I am in the Entrepreneur cohort. We have learned the basics of building a company, how to change your mindset from founder to leader, investment advice, building a software company, building a hardware company, mentoring, collaboration opportunities and so much more! Oh and did I mention it is free? If this sounds like something you feel you could benefit from joining then I say go for it!

Another incredible use of time for anybody working with technology to service humanity #TechforGood

Supporting the VR community

I answered a request from a local university who were looking for participants to take part in a research study. They were looking to measure the differences in a Virtual Reality experience when using VR controllers vs using a traditional Xbox gaming pad. I didn’t know any of that ahead of helping out nor did I know anything about the virtual experience that they were using as their case study. Turns out it was Skyrim 🙂 I read & felt the buzz around this whenever it was announced and later released but had never tried it before myself. Holy Moly! The part of the game that I was to test was butchering folks at some sort of fort looking place. It was intense! I was incredibly immersed in there but knew it was a game but because I was using my controllers to swing my sword & shield, it felt so adrenaline rushing real! Once I completed the test I was to re-do it using the Xbox controller. Well, it was more traditional game like to me in that mode even though my body was still present in the immersive experience, it just didn’t feel like I was actually chopping anybody to bits this time… Another element that made me feel tremendously guilty was that the 2nd time round I could hear cries from people pleading & begging for mercy before the final chop. Flippin heck. Grim. That was an eye opening experience for me and a learning that I came away with. I wanted to show my support to the local immersive community so didn’t expect to learn anything myself – they also gave me an amazon voucher for participating! I’ve bought some business books with that to invest it back into the immersive industry (or at least once I’ve learned from the books then the value will come back to the industry!). Full circle baby!

I backed Low-Fi (a cyberpunk world for VR) through Kickstarter this month too. I’m not a cyberpunk fan, I’m not not a fan either but the appeal for me was the open free VR environment for the community. It concerns me that existing tech giants are the ones who can afford to buy up or build their own social VR environments. Most of which are closed off in terms of the ability to merge and connect to a bigger Metaverse. The industry is still working on the foundations (in my eyes) that will be the grounding of tomorrow. In other words, we need to think about not only how we are building each person or companys’ immersive environments but how we are going to connect that with others. For example, if I visit AltSpace VR I want to be able to ‘open a door’ to visit Facebook Horizon but the question is: are Microsoft and Facebook considering this? I believe the answer to be for those and other tech companies, no.

Low-Fi: A cyberpunk world for SteamVR, Oculus Home, Windows MR and Next-Gen PSVR . Kickstarter ended with 1628 backers and $108,191 raised of it $60,000 target!

So when I saw this Kickstarter I thought this team have been here before. They have learned lessons. Their environment looks really attractive, I do love the Low-Fi graphics, the concept, the freedom, the hint of story being shared and the idea of a grass roots multi-user VR space so I jumped on-board. They promise it is freedom of choice, freedom to roam, freedom to do as you wish with no linear story-line to follow. Stay tuned for more blogs and/or videos about Low-Fi once I have the chance to experience it for myself next year.

Raising VR Awareness

I spoke at a panel event where the topic was how volunteering can not only help your community but is also a great way for you to grow your own personal skills & experience. My work colleagues shared stories about volunteering at Loaves & Fishes (a charity for feeding homeless people in Glasgow) and Walk the Talk where they are going to be trekking through the Cambodian rain-forest to raise funds for Mental Health UK. I shared my story about volunteering via Pivotal Reality and how I am using virtual reality for people living with dementia in care home environments. By doing so I raised awareness of virtual reality and how it can be used for good. In addition to that I shared how anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be easy! Nothing worth doing is ever easy, it is meant to be hard but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative with how you learn. Compared to the other voluntary activities talked about I probably came across a little wacky but that’s ok with me 🙂 Planting seeds about VR at the very least is better than no seeds being sown at all, so I am comfortable with looking like the odd one out during those times.

This month there has been an increase in requests to learn more about virtual reality. I’ve been approached to produce content for 2 separate industries and with any luck I will be in a position to share more about that soon…

Back on the panel theme again – I’m mega excited to share the news that I will be a guest on Steve Bambury’s CPDinVR event in a few weeks time! If you don’t know who Steve Bambury is or his work then you should check him out, especially if you are in the VR Education sector. This upcoming panel event will be held in virtual reality using the Engage platform – sadly all of the tickets are now gone so you can’t attend this time but do keep your eyes open for future events. The Engage platform is accessible by using a VR headset or desktop PC. Its quite remarkable for all the various rooms and social vr avenues that it can be used for. I’ve linked a YouTube video I made when I got to tour it for the 1st time in VR mode! Prior to this video I attended in desktop mode, for like 2 years, so entering in VR and being completely immersed was a precious moment for me! Genuinely it was! I have nothing but admiration for the full VR Education team 🙂

Thoroughly enjoying my fully immersed exploration of the Engage social vr platform!

VR Content I Tried This Month

As I was exploring VR for empathy & storytelling themes I tried Anne Frank’s House, Afterlife and Traveling While Black. All of which are effective in their story and each different with their delivery. Breaking down the components and providing overviews is worthy of a separate blog or video but check them out if these are themes you are immediately focused on and can’t wait on my summary content. For a promotional piece of work I played and created content for Touring Karts. I tried to be a bit of a smart ass and use this Steam game as an excuse to try out Virtual Desktop using the Oculus Quest but as you will see from the start of my video below… I failed at that pahahaa! The second part of the video is in desktop steam mode because a) I had to show you all that the game is in fact AWESOME and b) had to show you that my driving game skills aren’t as lame as the first part of the video suggests… []-) I enjoyed playing this as a solo player but look forward to playing it as a multiplayer and giving VR mode another go – wish me luck!!!!

I truly hope you enjoyed reading this new format to my Suzanne Showcasing VR blog. If you miss the news summaries I am sorry and can only suggest signing up to Twitter to connect with the amazing community there. Please do share your feedback with me though as I am keen to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy your October and I’ll see you again after the spooky holidays!

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

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!

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

 

 

 

 

 

How To Cast Mirage Solo Virtual Reality Content To A TV

Hi!  I promised to show you how to cast virtual reality to a TV from your Lenovo Mirage Solo standalone headset.  I’ve made a very short tutorial to show you the steps you need to take to do this.  I also cover the benefits of using this function.

To be able to cast you will require a Google Chromecast.  If this changes in the future then I will update this blog post and the tutorial video so that you are kept up to date.

I’m happy to answer any questions on this subject or any other Virtual Reality related questions you may have – just get in touch 🙂

I have some more interesting videos coming down the line where I review new pieces of VR Hardware as well as a handy Virtual Reality headset 2019 guide to hopefully help you understand all the choices that you have available to you in the market space.  If these sound like something you want to watch then subscribe to this blog or my YouTube channel to be notified of all new publications.

Thanks and speak again soon!

 

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!