A walrus on virtual rollerskates

Subject: General Tech | November 9, 2017 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: hyneman, roller skates, VR, Vortrex Shoes

Jamie Hyneman is pitching a project to build prototype VR roller skates; not as a game but as a way to save your shins while using a VR headset.  The design places motorized wheels under your heel and a track under the ball of your foot which will move your foot back to its starting position if you walk forward.  If all goes as planned this should allow you to walk around in virtual worlds without running into walls, chairs or spectators and perhaps allow games to abandon the point and teleport currently in vogue.  There are a lot of challenges as previous projects have discovered but perhaps a Mythbuster can help out.  You can watch his pitch video over at The Register.

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"Hyneman's pitch video points out that when one straps on goggles and gloves to enter virtual reality, your eyes are occupied and you therefore run the risk of bumping into stuff if you try to walk in meatspa ce while simulating walking in a virtual world. And bumping into stuff is dangerous."

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Source: The Register

zSpace and Unity Announces XR Resources for Education

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2017 - 08:14 PM |
Tagged: Unity, zspace, xr, AR, VR

The Unity Educator Toolkit was created by Unity3D to integrate learning game development into the K-12 public curriculum. Now zSpace, which we’ve mentioned a few times, is joining in to the initiative with their mixed-reality platform. The company is known for creating displays that, when viewed with their glasses, track where you are and make the object appear to be in front of you. They also have a stylus that lets you interact with the virtual object.

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They are focused on the educational side of VR and AR.

It’s not entirely clear what this means, because a lot of the details are behind a sign-up process. That said, if you’re an educator, then check out the package to see if it’s relevant for you. Creating games is an interesting, albeit challenging and somewhat daunting, method of expressing oneself. Giving kids the tools to make little game jam-style expressions, or even using the technology in your actual lessons, will reach a new group of students.

Source: zSpace

Samsung Odyssey VR Headset Announced

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 10:00 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: Microsoft

Street View Added to Google Earth VR Desktop

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2017 - 08:57 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: Google

Intel goes WiGiggy for VR

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2017 - 02:52 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Source: The Inquirer

HTC Vive Standalone VR Headset to expand VR market with low cost, dedicated hardware

Subject: Mobile | July 27, 2017 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: htc, vive, VR, virtual reality, qualcomm, snapdragon, snapdragon 835

This article first appeared on MarketWatch and Shrout Research.

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.

Caption - VIVE Standalone VR headset designed for the Chinese market and....jpg

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.

Podcast #459 - Threadripper Pricing, Liquid Cooled VEGA, Intel Rumors, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2017 - 11:53 AM |
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!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous

Program length: 1:46:03

 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:36:30 Jeremy: Deal on a Ryzen 7 1700
    2. 1:41:04 Allyn: Still using WMC? You need EPG123!
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source:

The Oculus Pacific, bringing VR to the masses?

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2017 - 01:12 PM |
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.

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"FACEBOOK-OWNED Oculus is reportedly working on a standalone virtual reality (VR) headset that'll cost just $200 (around £155)."

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Source: The Inquirer

Razer HDK2 Is $399 (and Even Less for Some)

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: Razer

Oculus Rift + Touch Short-Term Price Reduction to $399

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
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.

Source: Oculus