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Oculus Standalone Prototype Santa Cruz Now Has 6DOF Controllers

Oculus may have just revealed a brand new standalone VR headset, Oculus Go, but work on its Santa Cruz prototype continues, and it’s got some big updates today. Santa Cruz development kits are going to be shipping out next year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed today. It’s also got six degree of freedom controllers (6DOF) to complement its own inside-out tracking. A short trailer showed people using the headset much like they would the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers, only with no PC connected.
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Valve Develops Custom VR Lenses For Next Generation VR

Valve Software, the technology partner that made the HTC Vive possible, is offering “new core components” to VR hardware manufacturers, including new custom lenses “designed to support the next generation of room-scale virtual reality.”...Valve has spent years working closely with display manufacturers to adapt their technologies to the unique challenges of VR. Recent advancements in Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technology combined with VR specific calibration now make it a viable technology choice for high end VR systems. LCD manufacturers have demonstrated fast-switching liquid crystals, low persistence backlights, and high PPI displays that, when calibrated and paired with the right software, are well matched to the highest quality VR experiences. ...In addition, Valve has developed custom lenses that work with both LCD and OLED display technologies and is making these lenses available to purchase for use in SteamVR compatible HMDs. These lenses and Valve’s unique calibration and correction software are designed specifically to be paired with several off-the-shelf VR displays to enable the highest quality VR visual experiences. These optical solutions currently support a field of view between 85 and 120 degrees (depending on the display). The lenses, which are designed to support the next generation of room-scale virtual reality, optimize the user’s perceived tracking experience and image sharpness while reducing stray light. Valve is including the custom lens calibration and correction software within the SteamVR technology suite.
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Google, Facebook and Microsoft Line Up For VR Standalone Push

Over the next two weeks we are expecting major announcements related to VR from Microsoft, Google and Facebook. It couldn’t come at a better time for VR developers who spent the summer reading headline after headline about how VR is dead, fulfilling the prediction of Unity CEO John Riccitiello that journalists couldn’t stop themselves from writing negatively about the gap between analyst estimates and actual sales in the first year or so of VR’s mainstream adoption. The so-called “gap of disappointment” was made possible by analysts who model the growth of the industry in a straight line whereas Riccitiello suggested it is far more likely to see more of a curve to adoption — a slow start that suddenly ramps at an accelerated pace.
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Pimax 8K VR headset Kickstarter shoots past funding goal to $680,000 in 24 hours

Shanghai-based Pimax Technology Co. Ltd. announced the launch of its new 8K resolution headset for virtual reality yesterday with the unveiling of a Kickstarter project asking for $200,000. Less than 24 hours later and the Kickstarter has been fully funded, tripling its original ask to over $680,000 from 1,063 backers. The Pimax 8K headset is designed to greatly upgrade the VR experience by providing a much larger field of view – approximately 200-degrees compared to the FOV of the current standard which is 110-degrees – and the highest resolution of any headset at 3840×2160 on two screens (one for each eye). “Pimax 8K offers 200-degree field of vision, which is far closer to matching the natural human FOV of 220-degrees,” Pimax wrote on the Kickstarter page. “Users can simply use their peripheral vision instead of constantly moving their head, making for a more intuitive experience.” The company says that its design for an 8K resolution VR headset represents the first of its resolution to enter the market.

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Looxid Labs is combining brain waves and VR to build an analytics super engine

Virtual reality is having a tough time breaching consumer markets and it’s not clear where the demand is exactly. But when it comes to research and analytics, gathering emotional responses could be huge to custom tailoring content and gaining important insights. There are a few companies that are doing the whole track your emotions in VR thing, but the products from VR unicorn MindMaze and demos from Samsung rely on tracking facial muscles and inferring overall emotions while others are using computer vision sensors to track your lips. Meanwhile Looxid Labs is using EEG partnered with eye-tracking to actually track your emotional responses using its proprietary algorithms that infer how you’re feeling. EEG tech always seems to be a bit nebulous in what it can actually deliver in a product, but Looxid Labs isn’t rushing to consumer markets, instead they’re focusing heavily on research and analytics applications that can track insights based on your emotional reactions to VR experiences. The startup’s product, LooxidVR, is a system to interpret all the sensory input it’s gathering. Their research kit and analytics product will allow tons of industries that have already shown interest in VR to more capably capture user reactions. For medical use cases surrounding pain management or physical therapy, tracking emotions has some readily apparent use cases. Detecting traits like confusion could be really important to educational and training apps, preventing important concepts from escaping users.
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Microsoft to hold Mixed Reality event on October 3rd in San Francisco

Microsoft is planning to hold a special Windows Mixed Reality event next month. The software giant has started inviting members of the press to an event on October 3rd in San Francisco, and the invite teases an “opportunity to hear where Microsoft is headed next.” Microsoft’s Kinect and HoloLens inventor, Alex Kipman, will be speaking at the event. Microsoft is likely to focus on its range of Windows Mixed Reality headsets, ahead of their availability on October 17th. Mixed Reality headsets will start launching next month alongside Microsoft’s Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. The first headsets include pricing at $299 from Acer, HP pricing its own at $450 (with motion controllers) and Dell / Lenovo pricing theirs at $349. Asus won’t be releasing its Windows Mixed Reality headset until Spring 2018, despite showing off its unique polygon design at IFA earlier this month.
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Google Earth VR app gets support for Street View

Google Earth VR is getting a little update today that brings your views to street-level in the world-exploring virtual reality app. The app is adding Street View into the app so that users can easily transition between 3D satellite views and 360 camera captures on the ground level. It’s pretty easy to navigate the new feature, users can zoom into a location using the VR controllers and can pull up a lens to take a look directly into the 360 sphere. It doesn’t look like you’ll be able to do anything too crazy like walk around the photos, but this update get you a little closer to the action. Users on Cardboard and Daydream have already been able to get some of these views in VR thanks to the Street View VR app, but Google Earth VR is available on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift currently. It’s a bit surprising the company has yet to release a pared down version for its own platform, but as the company prepares to add partners with headsets running on its new positional tracking system, we may see more robust apps like Earth VR get support.
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Google & Song Exploder Create ‘Inside Music’ VR App to Help You Better Appreciate Songs

Song Exploder, the popular music podcast that lets musicians explain every part of their songs, has gotten some help from Google to create a new app that throws you in the middle of song so you can experience it like never before. Called Inside Music, the WebVR app lets you turn individual pieces of a song on and off, giving you a little more insight into just how it’s made. The project, which Song Exploder reiterates is “an experiment, not a Google product,” lets you select a song from the menu, presenting you with little orbs that represent parts of the song, or ‘stems’. Viewable in both VR and flatscreen mode on desktop and mobile, Inside Music lets you toggle the orbs on and off, something that helps you pinpoint exactly where any given sound is coming from within the song.
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Google's ARCore Bests Apple's ARKit with Tracking for Walls, Ceilings, Even Ramps

This morning Google announced ARCore, an SDK for Android devices that will allow augmented reality developers to add new functionality to Android 7.0 and up, all without any special hardware other than the camera of a phone. While Apple released ARKit into beta at WDCC a few months ago, it is worth noting that the capabilities of ARCore already surpass what ARKit offers. With the ARKit, developers can track a horizontal surface. This is great for putting things on tables or living room floors but leaves out about half of the surfaces in the world. ARCore, can not only track upward facing surfaces but it can track ceiling — or downward facing surfaces — multiple vertical surfaces, and even slanted surfaces like ramps. Built with Unity and ARCore, Portal Painter by Jane Friedhoff opens up windows to cartoonish worlds on walls with the swipe of a finger. On top of that, the API adds a light detection capability that will help solidify the presence of the holograms being viewed. Looking through the API reveals an intent to extend its capabilities further, and track more than one surface, which will further widen the gap between Apple's and Google's versions of the software. Of course, Apple likely has the same intentions, but they just have not let it be known.
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Google's ARCore is a direct response to Apple's ARKit

Augmented reality is about to get its big, mainstream moment thanks to Apple's iOS 11 and the new iPhone, but another player intends to grab some of the mainstream AR action, too: Google. To that end, Google is introducing ARCore, a platform for developers that will allow them to build augmented reality apps on Android. Today's release is a preview version for developers who want to get started on using the ARCore software development kit (SDK), with an official release coming in the winter. A few early ARCore demonstration videos show off the kind of AR virtual object interactions via smartphone we've seen in many Apple ARKit demo videos.
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