Author: vrcreators

PlayStation 4 Pro Media Player Update adds Support for 4K VR Videos

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) is ensuring its new PlayStation 4 Pro console can handle whatever 4K content users will be able to throw at it with a new media player update that’s set to go live tomorrow. This will also include playback of 4K virtual reality (VR) video content for PlayStation VR.

With the update PlayStation 4 Pro will be able to handle 4K videos in mp4 format saved on a users USB stick or home server – so long as they have a 4K TV of course.

As for PlayStation VR, SIEE’s product manager, Jayne Murphy explains on PlayStation.Blog: “PS VR’s display resolution is 1920 x RGB x 1080, therefore 4K VR videos will be displayed in a higher image quality compared to HD VR videos.”

So if you’ve got the ability to capture 360-degree 4K footage you’ll now be able to watch it on the headset. There’s not many consumer grade cameras that can record in 4K, the recently launched Vuze VR Camera for example can record 4K still images, just not video.

But streaming video apps such as Netflix and YouTube have 4K content available, and more creators will likely be shooting at the higher quality setting so expect more experiences to slowly become available.

Earlier this month SIE released version 4.50 for the console, with PlayStation VR getting support for Bluray 3D discs and an enhanced Cinematic Mode.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of PlayStation VR, reporting back with the latest announcements.

National Science Foundation Grant won by Touch-based VR Company Tactai

Tactai

Tactai, a specialist in creating life-like touch for virtual reality (VR), has announced its been awarded the Phase I & II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Technology Enhancement for Commercial Partnerships funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The funding – which totals over $1,000,000 USD – came from a proposal called: “Touch and feel virtual objects with life-like realism.” Tactai will use the funds to continue development of its Tactai Touch interface and Haptic Object Properties (HOPs) platform.

Tactai developed its own proprietary touch-enabling technology for VR, recreating how users perceive the presence of objects and their surface characteristics. The company has already released a developer kit comprising Tactai Touch Controller which has legacy buttons and a joystick, Tactai Touch Wearable with no buttons, Tactai Touch plugin and license for use with one instance of Unity, and the Tactai HOPs SDK, a library of common surface textures used for control interactions and basic touch experiences

“It’s exciting to see the researchers and reviewers at NSF share our assessment of the potential impact that our technology can have for the new immersive computing paradigm”, said Steven D. Domenikos, founder and CEO, Tactai Inc. “There is not a single area of human expression where touch is not essential. The opportunity to introduce for the first time a commercial product that brings sense of natural touch into the digital world, will enable powerful new experiences and change the current paradigms of human-machine interaction.”

VRFocus will continue its coverage of Tactai, reporting back with further developments.

Apple Veteran Hired as Head of Oculus Hardware

OculusRift_Header101

Over the last few months Oculus has gone through several internal changes, with the previous heads of the company moving to different roles whilst fresh blood has been brought in by parent company, Facebook. That trend continues with the recent reveal that Apple veteran, Michael Hillman, has been appointed as head of Oculus hardware.

Bloomberg reports that Hillman has been hired to push the company’s virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD), Oculus Rift, into the mainstream. He’ll be working with Hans Hartmann, Oculus’ chief operating officer, said spokeswoman Andrea Schubert.

Alongside senior engineering and design roles at Apple, Hillman also worked on the iMac computer.

This appointment follows on from ex Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra heading Oculus itself. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg made that announcement via a post on his own account in January.

Oculus’ previous CEO Brendan Iribe will helm the PC focused arm of the business while Jon Thomason will lead the mobile division. There’s still been no word on where original founder and previous face of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, will fit in.

Facebook has been seriously shaking things up at Oculus, most likely due to the recent Zenimax lawsuit which found in the latter’s favour to the tune of $500 million USD. This hasn’t been clear cut with Zenimax filing an injunction to block Oculus from using its VR code, and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of Oculus, John Carmack counter suing.

On top of all this, to aid in Oculus’ mainstream ambitions the company recently dropped the price for its Oculus Rift headset and the Oculus Touch controllers. This saw $200 slashed from the bundle cost, as well as individual savings including a $100 reduction on Oculus Touch. Intern the company released a $50 credit to consumers who’d recently purchased at the higher price.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of Oculus, checkout the Oculus Rift Rundown to see some of the titles coming in 2017.

VR Comes to Indian Theatres Thanks to HP

HP India has launched a new facility that brings virtual reality (VR) to cinema customers at the Mall of India in Noida.

The new VR lounge was created in partnership between PVR Cinemas, and is part of the PVR ECX multiplex complex. Customers who buy a cinema ticket at PVR ECX will be able to experience a range of immersive VR content in genres such as science-fiction, horror and drama. The lounge will be free to PVR ECX customers for fifteen days, after that a small fee will be payable.

The VR lounge was opened by Bollywood star Ranbit Kapoor, who told reporters at the opening event: “It is a mind-blowing experience to go through the VR experience. But being an actor, I fear that it might take away audience from movie theatres as they may get hooked to the VR experience,”

The VR Lounge comes equipped with four pods that contain an OMEN gaming laptop provided by HP.

“Being the innovators in the realm of cinema, it is our continuous endeavour to be in sync with world’s latest technologies and VR is the next big thing that we have brought for the Indian audience,” said Ajay Bijli, Chairman and Managing Director, PVR Ltd, reports Errabus. “We are delighted to partner with HP given their unmatched expertise in the technology domain. VR is the reigning trend in the entertainment industry and we are sure our patrons will have a great time exploring it.”

“HP’s innovation in the area of VR is yet another first from us where we continuously strive to provide the latest technology and world class experience to our customers,” added Ketan Patel, Senior Director, Personal Systems, HP Inc. India. “Our partnership with PVR will bring the best of technology for PVR patrons to touch and feel virtual reality.”

New VR facilities are popping up all over the world. From the VR experience at Madame Tussauds in New York, to the facility just announced in Leeds, UK.

VRFocus will continue bringing you the latest news regarding VR adoption from around the world..

Get Rock Band VR for Free When Buying Oculus Touch from Microsoft Store

RockBandVR07

If you’ve been putting off purchasing Oculus Touch for your Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) Microsoft might just have an enticing deal for you. For a limited time, if you order the motion controllers through the Microsoft Store you’ll get Rock Band VR for free.

Continuing Oculus and Microsoft’s long term collaboration, the latter made the promotional announcement today enabling those that buy the controllers online or in store to receive the newly released title completely free. This offer isn’t available forever, it is limited. You’ve got until 5th April or while supplies last to grab yourself a copy.

Harmonix released Rock Band VR last week exclusively for Oculus Rift and Touch for $49.99 USD/£39.99 GBP. 60 songs feature including bands like Avenged Sevenfold, blink-182, David Bowie, The Foo Fighters, Maroon 5 and Rage Against the Machine.

Alongside the announcement Microsoft also revealed four new virtual reality (VR) videogame demos would feature at its brick and mortar stores. These are: Rock Band VR, Fruit Ninja VR, Lumiere’s Dress Rehearsal and Robo Recall. Demos are free, with no appointment needed, but those under 18 – minimum age is 13 – will need parental consent.

Oculus Touch saw a worldwide launch in December, pricing the controllers at $199/£189. Then at the start of this month Oculus made the surprise announcement that the device would now be half the cost, dropping to $99. Expecting a backlash from those that had recently purchased, Oculus issued a $50 store credit for users to put against any software they may want.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of Rock Band VR and Harmonix, reporting back with further updates.

HTC’s New ‘VR Ad Service’ Can Tell If You’ve Looked at an Ad or Not

In-game advertisement (IGA) is a pretty divisive issue; on one hand it provides needed incentive to developers who otherwise wouldn’t have the funds, on the other hand its … advertisement, something most people try to avoid on principle. Now that virtual reality is coming to a wider audience, it seems the medium is mature enough to open the conversation about funding games with ads, something HTC is letting developers enable in a big way with their newly announced VR Ad Service—and VR ads are different. Very different.

Launched today at 2017 VIVE Ecosystem Conference, a new HTC event centered on the future of the Vive platform, the VR Ad Service will make it easier for developers to integrate a number of ad styles into their games hosted on Viveport. Viveport is the company’s digital distribution platform intended for both at-home service and the ever-growing out-of-home arcade market proliferating across China.

The new program offers a number of ad styles that can play on both PC and a still unnamed HTC mobile VR headset. These include loading scene banners, big screen video, and both 2D and 3D in-app placement advertisements. A full list is available on the Vive developer site.

The VR Ad Service is an opt-in program, so only developers that wish to include ads can do so, however HTC says that by opting in “all of your free apps would be automatically put on the list which can be used to integrate VR Ads.”

But because of VR’s integrated head tracking technology, gaining revenue from ads is going to be a bit different. People actually have to look at the ads.

“Ads that appear in immersive VR environments can not only provide more effective impressions, they can also track whether the users have viewed them or have turned away their gaze,” writes HTC on the VR Ad Service site. “Accordingly, the multiplied effect of effective impressions and verified viewings will bring you higher advertising revenue!”

While in-game VR ads tracking your very gaze may sound like something out of a Neal Stephenson novel, it’s really a double-sided coin. By integrating more data points into the equation, advertisers can better determine what ads are actually relevant to you, so the likelihood of you seeing ‘dumb ads’ or ones cast out to the general public, decreases. The same theory applies to in-game analytics like Aladin Dynamics’ Ghostline tool used in Waltz of the Wizard which revealed some interesting information about what users did in the space, for how long, and what they found most interesting.

“Compared to ordinary Ad impressions, Ads that are seen by users in an immersive VR environment can not only meet the user’s needs by means of precise re-targeting, but can also be detected if they are viewed effectively by users. Therefore, promotion of your applications would have much more effective impression, which not only arouses the attention of potential users and enhance brand image, but further attracts interested users directly to download your apps in the VR environment!”

Vive’s VR Ad Service was announced alongside the news that the company will be an exclusive partner for all VR content related to upcoming film Ready Player One and a new HTC-led initiative called International VR Research Institute (IVRI), which has struck partnership with Shenzhen’s local government in order to “make Shenzhen a global center for VR research, development, and applications.”

The post HTC’s New ‘VR Ad Service’ Can Tell If You’ve Looked at an Ad or Not appeared first on Road to VR.

Amazon Considers Bringing AR to the High Street

Amazon continues to expand. In addition to its bookstores and grocery stores, Amazon has also begun looking into going into business with appliance and furniture stores, only with a technological twist – using augmented reality (AR).

According to reports from the New York Times, Amazon is considering setting up electronics stores in shopping centres and high streets that would bare some resemblance to Apple Stores. The interesting innovation comes in the form of allowing customers to use AR or virtual reality (VR) to see exactly what a new item would look like when placed in the home.

As the New York Times points out, considering possibilities is a long way from building stores. Nor is Amazon the first retailer to bring the idea of VR to high street stores. American hardware store Lowe’s has been using VR and AR to help customers navigate their stores, compare products and even use VR teaching applications to show customers how to tackle tricky DIY projects.

Recently, a company called Morph 3D began working with high street stores to bring AR technology in the form of AR avatars. Car company DS Automobiles has been engaging customers with VR, also, by allowing customers to view and configure a potential new car in details before deciding on purchase.

Amazon has spent over a decade seemingly aiming to make brick-and-mortar stores obsolete, but some items do require the ability to touch and see the product in the real world before a decision is made. Particularly for high-ticket items or items expected to last a long time, such as furniture.

Whatever Amazon decides, VRFocus will be there to bring you the updates.

Oculus Rift Exclusive Wilson’s Heart Release Date Confirmed

Today Twisted Pixel, the developer behind psychological thriller Wilson’s Heart, has announced a release date and price for the experience.

Originally announced during E3 2016 in June, Wilson’s Heart will launch on 25th April 2017, priced at $39.99 USD exclusive to Oculus Rift and Touch.

Wilson’s Heart is a first-person thriller putting players in the body of Robert Wilson, a 1940’s hospital patient who makes a grim discovery upon waking up. His heart has been replaced by a mysterious device. As players wander the hospital they’ll discover increasingly maddening corridors, environmental hazards, and sinister inhabitants whilst trying to recover their heart and the reasons for this craziness.

Described by the developer as having a “one-of-a-kind visual and narrative style”, Wilson’s Heart fully implements Oculus Touch support, allowing players to utilise natural hand gestures to interact with the people and patients they come across.

Last year Wilson’s Heart also won Best Virtual Reality Game at the Gamescom Awards 2016.

For the latest updates on Wilson’s Heart, keep reading VRFocus.

HTC Vive Gets a New Bundle in China

Vive BE

While many are discussing the next iteration of the HTC Vive, HTC itself is looking to expand the development network for the existing device. In addition to a series of new partnerships announced earlier today, the virtual reality (VR) product manufacturer has announced a new bundle aimed at large development studios and consumer-facing businesses.

Intended to ‘serve the needs of the entertainment, enterprise and education markets’, the HTC Vive Group Edition Bundle (set to be known as the Vive GE), will offer 10 sets of the HTC Vive Business Edition head-mounted displays (HMDs) and two lighthouse base stations for 49,999 RMB. This new bundle will enable multi-user scenarios well suited for cinemas, arcades and schools, at a more affordable price for business owners.

This new bundle comes hot-off-the-heels of the official launch of the HTC Vive Tracker puck, now available to order, and the announcement of exclusive Ready Player One content coming to the HTC Vive alongside the theatrical release of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the novel.

The Vive GE is available for order in China markets from today at http://groupedition.vive.cn. There’s currently no word on an international release, however VRFocus will of course keep you updated with all the latest details.

The Virtual Reality Company is Raising a Rukus

Raising a Rukus

The Virtual Reality Company (VRC) has announced that its working on an original virtual reality (VR) animated series to all major VR platforms called Raising A Rukus.

The animated series will be about the adventures of a brother and sister and their dog, Rukus. Robert Stromberg, winner of two Academy Awards and current Chief Creative Officer of VRC is producing the new immersive series.

“VRC’s vision for ‘Raising a Rukus’ was to create an experience that allows viewers to step into this world and connect emotionally with these lovable and endearing characters and their stories in a way that only VR can make possible,” said Stromberg. “VRC is working to bring thrilling VR worlds to life through stories that will be memorable, thought provoking and entertaining to people around the world.”

VRC said that Raising A Rukus will feature branching narratives that allow the audience to follow the story of a specific character in order to see a story from differing perspectives. The creators hope this will allow the audience to better bond with the characters in a way that will keep them returning for further adventures.

“VRC has brought together the best artists, storytellers, filmmakers and technicians who are working to create impactful and immersive VR experiences that will bring people face-to-face with imagination,” said Guy Primus, co-founder and CEO of VRC. “‘Raising a Rukus’ is one of many milestone VR experiences we will announce and release in 2017. This is the premium VR experience that people have been waiting for, and we know they will be thrilled.”

A firm release date has not been set, but VRC say it should begin distribution to all major VR platforms, both high-end and mobile VR in the Spring.

VRFocus will bring you further news on Raising A Rukus as it becomes available.