Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 10:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, Samsung, pc gaming, microsoft
The upcoming Fall Creators Update will be Microsoft’s launch into XR with headsets from a variety of vendors. You can now add Samsung to that list with their Odyssey VR headset and motion controllers, which is important for two reasons. First, Samsung has a lot experience in VR technology as they lead the charge (with their partner, Oculus) in the mobile space.
Second, and speaking of Oculus, the Samsung Odyssey actually has a higher resolution than both it and the HTC Vive (2880x1600 total for Samsung vs 2160 x 1200 total for the other two). This doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s actually 77% more pixels, which might be significant for text and other fine details. The refresh rate is still 90 Hz, and the field of view is around 110 degrees, which is the same as the HTC Vive. Of course the screen technology, itself, is AMOLED, being that it’s from Samsung and deeper blacks are more important in an enclosed cavity than brightness. In fact, you probably want to reduce brightness in a VR headset so you don’t strain the eyes.
According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica, Microsoft is supporting SteamVR titles, which gives the platform a nice catalog to launch with. The Samsung Odyssey VR headset launched November 6th for $499 USD.
Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2017 - 08:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, VR
So this is a bit of a weird one. As our readers are probably well aware, Google Maps offers Street View, which allows you to see 360-degree images from a car as it travels as many roads as it can... since, like, 2007. Also, this year, they are beginning to upgrade the quality of these images with new cars. Now that VR is taking off, it would be kind-of cool to see this data around you. Daydream (and apparently Cardboard) have an app that offers a few locations that you can view... sort-of like you would see in QuickTime in the 90s. Meanwhile, on Oculus, you had Google Earth, which let you see a view that was based on their new 3D Google Maps Satellite view, but it wouldn’t pull in the Street View data.
Image Credit: Google
Now it will. A couple of days ago, Google updated Google Earth VR to allow teleporting into that spherical image. You will see a preview in a sphere atop your left hand. The weird part, though, is that you can’t travel while within street view. As far as I can tell, you need to jump back to the satellite view, move, then drop back down into street view any time you want to go anywhere. This... makes little sense to me, unless they plan on adding that feature but it just didn’t make this release schedule. It seems like they have all of the pieces scattered across existing software, but it's obviously next-to-impossible to tell for sure from the outside. Perhaps the data linked into the web-based Street View is insufficient for some reason?
Rant aside, if you have a compatible headset (which Steam says is an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive) then it’s worth a free download to check it out.
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2017 - 02:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: wigig, Intel, 802.11ad, VR
News of the impending demise of Intel WiGig hardware, originally touted as a way to transmit various signals such as PCIe or HDMI wirelessly arrived over at The Inquirer today. Some companies adopted the hardware into docking stations, monitors and external storage however the flexibility of WiGig was offset by transmission limitations which competing standards such as Bluetooth or WiFi do not suffer from. The improved performance offered by Thunderbolt 3 also prompted companies to choose wired connectivity over Intel's WiGig, the outcome of which has been a refocusing of Intel's resources to VR headset development. This move could hurt a VR incumbent, the HTC Vive incorporated WiGig into a recent wireless headset prototype. Companies have until the end of the month to order hardware.
"Just days after announcing plans to discontinue its 6th-gen Skylake processors, Intel that it's ditching almost all of its current WiGig, or 802.11ad hardware by the end of 2017, including antennas and controllers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft says it won't fix kernel flaw: It's not a security issue. Suuuure @ The Register
- Tesla Temporarily Boosts Battery Capacity For Hurricane Irma @ Slashdot
- iPhone 8 release date, specs and price: iOS 11 mega-leak confirms 'iPhone X' name, Face ID support @ The Inquirer
- Equifax mega-leak: Security wonks smack firm over breach notification plan @ The Register
- Cougar Armor Gaming Chair @ techPowerUp
Subject: Mobile | July 27, 2017 - 01:12 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: htc, vive, VR, virtual reality, qualcomm, snapdragon, snapdragon 835
During the ChinaJoy 2017 event in Shanghai, VR pioneer HTC announced its standalone VR headset aimed at the China market. This marks the first major player in the virtual reality space to officially reveal a standalone product intended for the broad consumer market that requires a more affordable, portable VR solution.
Standalone VR headsets differ from the current options on the market in two distinct ways. First, they are disconnected from a PC and don’t require attachment to a desktop for processing or display output. The current HTC Vive product that ships in the market, as well as Facebook’s Oculus Rift, require a high-end PC to play VR games and use HDMI and USB connections to power the headsets. This new standalone design also moves away from the slot-in design of the Samsung Gear VR and doesn’t require the user to monopolize their smartphone for VR purposes.
Though mobile-first VR solutions like Gear VR have existed for several years, selling on the market before the PC-based solutions were released, the move of HTC from tethered virtual reality to a wireless standalone unit signals a shift in the market. Consumers see the value and quality experiences that VR can provide but the expense and hassle of in-place configurations have stagnated adoption.
HTC is using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform to power the Vive Standalone VR Headset, the same chipset used in many high-end smartphones on the market today. Qualcomm and HTC can modify traits of the processor to improve performance without worrying about the sensitive battery life of a consumer’s phone. Though we don’t know the specifics of what HTC might have modified for the configuration of this standalone unit, it likely is a mirror of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR hardware development kit that was announced in February. That design includes the capability for six degrees of freedom tracking (moving around a space accurately without external sensors), high resolution displays for each eye, and a full suite of graphics and digital signal processors to handle the complex workloads of VR experiences.
Though HTC is the first to announce and a complete standalone VR product, HTC and others announced their intent to release standalone units in the US later this year through Google’s Daydream program. Lenovo plans to build a VR headset using the same Qualcomm reference design for the Daydream platform.
Facebook-owned Oculus has not officially announced its intent but rumors in July point us to another Qualcomm-powered headset that will sell for around $200. Facebook plans to reveal the hardware in October.
HTC’s decision to target the China market first is driven by its ability to promote its custom Viveport software store in a region that does not offer Google services like the Android Play Store or Daydream. HTC will leverage a customer base that is larger than North America and Western Europe combined, and one that is expected to grow rapidly. IDC statistics show VR headset shipments reaching 10.1 million units this year and target 61 million units by 2020 worldwide. iResearch Consulting estimates Chinese VR market revenues to reach $8.1B in that same time frame.
Growth in VR and AR (augmented reality) is driven by the consumer markets but it is the enterprise implementations that provide the push for expanded usage models. Medical professionals already utilize VR technology to analyze data and mechanical engineers can dissect and evaluate models of products in a virtual space to improve and speed up workflows. Target fields also include factory workers, emergency personnel, the military, delivery drivers, and nearly all facets of business. As VR technology improve usability, comfort, and general societal acceptance, the merger of virtual and augmented reality hardware will create a new age of connected consumers.
Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2017 - 11:53 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: zenbook, z270, wireless charging, water cooling, VR, video, Vega, TSMC, thermaltake, SILVIA, podcast, Pacific, Oculus, Kabby Lake-R, corsair, Contac, asus, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #459 - 07/20/17
Join us for Threadripper Pricing, Liquid Cooled VEGA, Intel Rumors, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous
Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2017 - 01:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: oculus rift, VR, Pacific, xiaomi, snapdragon
Coming right after the announced reduction in the price of the Oculus Rift is a rumour about a new VR headset from the company which will cost significantly less than the current model. The Oculus 'Pacific' will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon of some description and will be manufactured by Xiaomi. The smaller headset will sell for around $200, and be announced in October, likely during the Oculus Connect 4 event. From what The Inquirer has learned, the headset will not require additional hardware to run which will make this VR headset much more accessible to the average consumer.
"FACEBOOK-OWNED Oculus is reportedly working on a standalone virtual reality (VR) headset that'll cost just $200 (around £155)."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- PC sales still slumping, but more slowly than feared @ The Register
- Viking Technology launches 'world's highest-capacity' 50TB SSD @ The Inquirer
- Kerberos bypass, login theft bug slain by Microsoft, Linux slingers @ The Register
- World’s Worst Bitcoin Mining Rig @ Hack a Day
- iPhone 8 release date, specs and price: 3D laser system tipped to enable 'better AR' @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 06:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, razer, osvr
Last night, we reported on Oculus dropping the price of their Rift + Touch being reduced to $399 USD ($549 CDN). In the comments of that story, mLocke, who is a regular in our IRC chat, mentioned that Razer’s HDK2 is also $399. Even better, if you are a developer or involved in an educational institution, you can also apply to receive an addition 20% discount, which would bring the cost down to about $319 USD. There is also something about a “2 for 1 promotion” for academics and researchers, but you need to email them for that.
That said, the OSVR HDK2 doesn’t come with a controller, unlike the Oculus Rift + Touch. Also, while OSVR is expected to form the basis of OpenXR, because Razer donated the API to the Khronos Group, it doesn’t support as much as Oculus or the HTC Vive. That said, if you’re a developer that only cares about your own content, it works with Unreal Engine 4 and Unity, and you can probably add support to other engines yourself. (Update @ 7:47pm: I just realized that this previous sentence doesn't mean what I intended it to. There's a lot of engines that already support OSVR, including Lumberyard and CryEngine. I meant that if you're working on your own, then the SDK is available as well. I didn't mean that Unity and Unreal Engine were the only ones with available plug-ins.)
So, for a consumer that is torn between both deals, I would probably point you to the Oculus one. If you’re a developer, educator, or researcher, then you might want to reach out to OSVR and see. It might be your best option.
Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, Oculus
For a limited time (UploadVR claims six weeks although I don’t see where that listed on any official source) Oculus has reduced the price of the Rift + Touch VR system from $598 to $399 USD. For us Canadians out there, this translates to $549 CDN, which is about on par with the exchange rate these days. Their hope is to bring VR into the price range of a gaming console, which multi-platform gamers are (obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t be multi-platform) willing to accept.
This also puts it at almost exactly half of the price of the HTC Vive in both countries, which makes for an interesting comparison. They both offer about the same level of hardware, albeit with some minor differences, and Oculus has been pushing quite a bit of exclusive, free content, like Robo Recall. One concern that I have, however, is whether Oculus can maintain stock levels throughout the entire period, since availability was one of the areas that HTC got right, and did so long before Oculus.
The cynic in me also wonders how long it will be before HTC and Oculus VR release their second-generation consumer VR kits. All we’ve heard about from HTC is accessories, like the wireless upgrade kit and the tracker, alongside a Daydream-based standalone unit, which is a much different market than PC VR.
Either way, $399 is quite cheap for what you’re getting, so it seems like a good deal if you're interested.
Subject: Mobile | June 27, 2017 - 08:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: xr, VR, qualcomm, google, daydream, AR
Qualcomm has put forward steady work on creating the vibrant hardware ecosystem for mobile VR to facilitate broad adoption of wireless, dedicated head mounted displays. Though the value of Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View cannot but overstated in moving the perception of consumer VR forward, the need to utilize your smart phone in a slot-in style design has its limitations. It consumes battery that you may require for other purposes, it limits the kinds of sensors that the VR system can utilize, and creates a sub-optimal form factor in order to allow for simple user installation.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR Reference Device
Qualcomm created the first standalone VR HMD reference design back in early 2016, powered by the Snapdragon 820 processor. Google partnered with Qualcomm at I/O to create the Daydream standalone VR headset reference design with the updated Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform at its core, improving performance and graphical capability along the way. OEMs like Lenovo and HTC have already committed to Daydream standalone units, with Qualcomm at the heart of the hardware.
Qualcomm Technologies recently announced a HMD Accelerator Program (HAP) to help VR device manufacturers quickly develop premium standalone VR HMDs. At the core of this program is the standalone VR HMD reference design. It goes beyond a simple prototype device, offering a detailed reference design that allows manufacturers to apply their own customizations while utilizing our engineering, design, and experience in VR. The reference design is engineered to minimize software changes, hardware issues, and key component validation.
- Hugo Swart, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.
As part of this venture, and to continue pushing the VR industry forward to more advanced capabilities like XR (extended reality, a merger of VR and AR), Qualcomm is announcing agreements with key component vendors aiming to tighten and strengthen the VR headset ecosystem.
Hugo Swart, Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.
Ximmerse has built a high-precision and drift-free controller for VR applications that offers low latency input and 3DoF (3 degrees of freedom) capability. This can “provide just about any interaction, such as pointing, selecting, grabbing, shooting, and much more. For precise 6 DoF positional tracking of your head, tight integration is required between the sensor fusion processing (Snapdragon) and the data from both the camera and inertial sensors.”
Bosch Sensortec has the BMX055 absolute orientation sensor that performs the function that its name would imply: precisely locating the user in the real world and tracking movement via accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer.
Finally, OmniVision integrates the OV9282 which is a 1MP high speed shutter image sensor for feature tracking.
These technologies, paired with the work Qualcomm has already done for the Snapdragon 835 VR Development Kit, including on the software side, is an important step to the growth of this segment of the market. I don’t know of anyone that doesn’t believe standalone, wireless headsets are the eventual future of VR and AR and the momentum created by Qualcomm, Google, and others continues its steady pace of development.
Subject: General Tech | May 27, 2017 - 10:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xr, VR, mr, istaging, AR
iStaging is virtual-, augmented-, and mixed-reality company that focuses on the real estate, interior design, furniture, and related industries. The news that lead to this post is that Yungching Realty Group, based out of Taiwan, has partnered with iStaging to enhance their real estate business with VR and AR. The demo that they are showing at their press conference was a virtual street, which presented information about restaurants, schools, and other points of interest for someone researching the neighborhood.
I’d expect our audience is more interested in the technology side of this, although let us know in the comments (or via email – my address is in my author page linked on the byline) if you’re interested in the enterprise / real-estate side. From the technology standpoint, it’s interesting to see applications like these push high-end graphics into more and more businesses, large and small. Likewise, these applications give a stable income that XR technology companies (ex: HTC Vive) can rely upon while they find a foothold in fickle, but potentially lucrative consumer market.
Lastly, I’m curious what applications will be possible when another round of innovation learns from this generation. What does this enable, even if only by expanding what people think is possible?
Definitely something to think about.