This isn't a surprise to me, as I can feel it in my bones that Apple is working on AR/VR/MR technology - but thanks to an unfortunate injury at the Apple campus recently, we now kinda know that Apple is working on a new headset.
An incident report from last month made its way onto the internet, with Gizmodo reporting a story titled "Impact Descriptions Reported in [Santa Clara Valley] from Last Month". The report had some new details on the hotly-rumored AR project, something that UploadVR founder and one of the most finger-to-the-pulse of AR/VR/MR movements in the industry, Robert Scoble, has been talking about for ages now.
Apple's purported headset has been designed, at least so far, to overlay a 3D image onto your eye. The report said: "After BT4 user study, user advised study lead, that she experienced discomfort in her eye and said she was able to see the laser flash at several points during the study. Study lead referred her to optometrist and secured prototype unit for analysis".
Facebook held its F8 conference yesterday, with founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg opening the F8 developer conference with the announcement that the social media giant is making the camera "the first augmented reality platform". Zuckerberg added: "We see the beginning of a new platform".
How does it work? Well, the camera is the first AR platform that has new AR features that will be baked into Facebook's apps as camera options, with Zuckerberg showing off virtual images popping up off of the breakfast table. Zuckerberg also teased "showcased object recognition, adding steam to a coffee mug, and placing a virtual rain cloud above a planet. Then we saw information about a wine bottle on-screen. Gaming, meanwhile, is another consideration that will be coming later this year", reports UploadVR.
Facebook promises that their new AR platform will be "open", with Zuckerberg adding that the closed beta is available today, but "It's going to take a while for this develop". More exciting things are coming, with Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer also discussed the process of creating the AR tech, with algorithms that let camera identify basic moving objects, and more.
AMD and Bethesda Softworks recently teamed up in a "long-term strategic partnership to rapidly advance game technology development, fuel new PC game experiences, and reshape the gaming landscape," meaning AMD is privy on some of the "big and crazy projects" Bethesda is working on, including Fallout 4 VR. From what AMD has seen so far, Fallout 4 VR is a total game-changer.
A few weeks ago I predicted that Fallout 4 VR would be the "killer app" that virtual reality so desperately needs; that must-have game that sells VR headsets the way Halo Combat Evolved sold original Xboxs back in 2001. According to AMD corporate vice president Roy Taylor, Fallout 4 VR is to virtual reality what Super Mario Bros. 3 is to NES, or Sonic the Hedgehog is to SEGA Genesis.
"[Fallout 4 VR] is a ground-breaking VR title. It will change the way we think about VR. It will be an industry changer," Taylor told MCVUK at this year's VR World Congress.
Xiaomi has launched a new VR headset Mi VR Play 2. The headset is the successor to the original Mi VR Play, which was launched in August last year.
The headset fits 4.7 - 5.7-inch smartphones and it allows you to watch 360-degree videos or VR apps.
According to the official announcement, the Xiaomi Mi VR Play 2 comes with a material more comfortable for wearing, and it is significantly lighter than its predecessor.
Facebook is solidifying itself against HTC and Valve with the securing of an ex-Apple veteran to run its Oculus VR division, with the social network hiring Michael Hillman, a 15-year veteran of Apple.
In his position at Apple, Hillman had senior engineering and design roles, working on consumer products like the iMac. With Oculus wanting to get into a better swing of things with its VR headset platform with the Rift, hiring an ex-Apple veteran who launched consumer products to run your VR division is a good idea.
Facebook has been acquiring key VR talent for a while, recently acquiring Hugo Barra from Xiaomi to oversee their VR division. Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that VR is the next big thing after smartphones, an interesting statement considering Rift sales haven't been too good yet - even though the hardware is actually quite high-end considering its a first-gen device.
Warner Bros. Pictures has just signed an "strategic partnership" with HTC Vive, that will see HTC being the "exclusive VR partner for all content, online and offline activities" for the upcoming release of 'Ready Player One' from legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
Ready Player One has been one of, if not the most anticipated movie to be shifted into the VR realm - and is teased as a "sci-fi action thriller that unfolds largely within the virtual reality space", making for perfect VR content. HTC will provide "multiple pieces of VR content tied to the world of Ready Player One" in VR, with the VR content available through HTC's software portal, Viveport.
There will be location-based entertainment for Ready Player One, as well as high-end PC-based VR and mobile versions. Blair Rich, President of Worldwide Marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures explains: "The virtual reality world within Ready Player One is extremely advanced, sophisticated and engaging, and with Vive, we chose the best system to represent the future of VR. Vive is the perfect partner to bring that to life and also has the broadest reach to global markets for the use of VR in home, mobile and offline channels. We're delighted that HTC Vive will be partnering with Ready Player One and very excited to work with them leading up the movie's release in Spring 2018".
Rikard Steiber, President of Viveport said: "Ready Player One is one of the most anticipated movies in the world, and has tremendous potential to engage and entertain the worldwide market, showcasing the transformative nature of VR, and what it can and will be. Vive is delivering on the promise of VR and continues to be the most advanced and immersive VR experience available to consumers, and we're thrilled to be partnering with Warner Bros. to bring these experiences to consumers, on all platforms, around the globe".
Warner Bros. Pictures, Amblin Partners, and Village Roadshow Pictures will be releasing Ready Player One on March 30, 2018.
Keen on trying VR, but put off by the price? Newegg has your back with a special offer.
PC-powered virtual reality, while the definitive way to experience VR, is quite expensive. An HTC Vive costs $800, and an Oculus Rift will run you $599--and those are just the headsets. That price doesn't count the VR-ready PC you need to experience the new frontier. But Newegg's new promotion gives you a free GIGABYTE Radeon RX 480 GPU with the purchase of an HTC Vive.
AMD's Radeon RX 480 is two video cards above the Vive's minimum Radeon R9 290 requirement, but it's worth mentioning the free GIGABYTE RX 480 is a 4GB model and not the more expensive variant with 8GB of VRAM. Still, though, it's a pretty sweet deal for anyone who's on the fence about VR adoption, and the free GIGABYTE RX 480 is valued at $185 MSRP.
NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference is always a massive technology overload, something I love more and more every year - but at GTC 2017, the company will be awarding $30,000 in cash and prizes for the winners of its VR Content Showcase.
NVIDIA's upcoming VR Content Showcase will see submissions of VR content that isn't gaming, and either has plans to - or already uses NVIDIA GPU technology, including GameWorks, DesignWorks, or VRWorks. Submissions will be accepted for another week, ending on March 15.
There will be 10 teams participating in NVIDIA's VR Content Showcase, with each developer receiving space on the show floor to show off their VR content at GTC 2017 - not only that, but they will need to make a presentation in front of a set of judges, for the consideration to win the prizes on offer.
GDC 2017 -Acer is one of the many OEMS who partnered with Microsoft to make cheap and accessible VR/AR headsets, and now the company has unveiled the fruits of its labor.
Acer's new Mixed Reality headset is now ready for developer testing, and the company has revealed the specs of the HMD:
- Two high-resolution liquid crystal displays at 1440 x 1440
- Display refresh rate up to 90 Hz (native)
- Built-in audio out and microphone support through 3.5mm jack
- Single cable with HDMI 2.0 (display) and USB 3.0 (data) for connectivity
"We are pleased to be working with Microsoft to deliver these first-ever Windows Mixed Reality development kits, to help developers realize the potential of the Windows Mixed Reality platform, and to further enrich the experience when Acer's Windows Mixed Reality headsets for consumers and commercial customers ship later this year," an Acer spokesperson told us.
MWC 2017 - Samsung has announced the next generation of their VR headset powered by Oculus.
The new Gear VR comes with a Controller (yes, capital "C"), similar to the one that is used in Google's Daydream. The company stated that the Gear VR with Controller expands Samsung's virtual reality ecosystem and makes it easier for consumers to enjoy Gear VR experiences.
The Controller has a touchpad and a number of buttons (trigger, home key, back key, volume key) allowing the user to "point, drag and drop, tilt, shoot, among other actions, while the Trigger allows for enhanced gaming experiences."