XR for Media Newsfeed – October 27, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

Digital Bodies: David Attenborough’s Fascinating Look at Insects in VR

The Ghost Howls: Google 6DOF videos review: move inside VR videos!

The Ghost Howls: Kevin Williams: LBVR is not dead, it is rising again

UploadVR: Apple Announces 5G-Capable iPhone 12 Pro With LiDAR-Enhanced AR

RoadToVR: Facebook’s Expanded VR Policies Disallow “invading personal space” and “sexual gestures

UploadVR: The Business Of Showbusiness: How Atlas V Is Producing Some Of VR’s Best Movies

VRFocus: The Virtual Arena: The Ascendance Of Arena-Scale Entertainment – Part 1

VRFocus: The Virtual Arena: The Ascendance Of Arena-Scale Entertainment – Part 2

Polygon: The VR revolution has been 5 minutes away for 8 years

PC Gamer: Facebook VP of VR recommends checking your account is in ‘good standing’ before buying a Quest 2

Business Insider: The ousted founder of Facebook’s virtual-reality unit Oculus is paying a bounty to anyone who can hack his former employer’s new virtual-reality headset

GlobalNewswire: Felix & Paul Studios and TIME Studios Debut Episode One of Space Explorers: The ISS Experience, the Largest Production Ever Filmed in Space

VRScout: Amazon Introduces AR Packages In Celebration Of Halloween

TIME: Space Explorers: The ISS Experience Previews

VRScout: Building The Future Of Immersive Theater Technology With The Musical Theatre Factory

CNBC: The NBA made it through its pandemic season, now it looks to 5G and VR in a post-Covid world

VRScout: Spotify Launches 8th Wall Powered AR Experience For New Sam Smith Single

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XR for Media Newsfeed – October 10, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

VRScout: NYC VR Center, VR World, Re-Re-Opens Its Doors To The Public

VR Focus: David Attenborough’s Micro Monsters Comes To Life On Oculus TV

Variety: ‘Amy’ Director Asif Kapadia Debuts in XR Space With ‘Laika’ (EXCLUSIVE)

UploadVR: London Film Festival VR: Free New Experiences To Check Out From Today

VRScout: The Weather Channel Uses Mixed Reality To Explain The Dangers Of Fire Tornadoes

VRScout: Virtuix Reveals Omni One At-Home VR Treadmill

VRScout: VR Steampunk Opera ‘Miranda’ Is Visually Stunning But Needs Improvement

Digital Bodies: The Festival Collection: A Platform for Creative VR Projects

Esquire: The Artful Opulence of Watching Netflix With the Oculus Quest 2 Proves VR Isn’t Just for Gaming

AR Insider: Did Nintendo Just Reinvent AR?

RoadToVR: NVIDIA to Launch CloudXR Streaming on Amazon’s Cloud Platform Early Next Year

TIME: Camera Designed by Felix & Paul Studios and TIME Arrives at ISS to Capture First-Ever Virtual Reality Spacewalk

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XR for Media Newsfeed – September 27, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

Digital Bodies: Oculus Rift S Gone – The End of PC-only VR Headsets?

Slate: The Race to Map Reality so Silicon Valley Can Augment It Is On

Auganix.org: VRStudios launches Virtual Reality sports platform to integrate players’ at home and LBE VR gaming experiences

Variety: VR Content Producers Eye Online Distribution Opportunities

Variety: Michel Reilhac on How Festivals Are Launching a Joint VR Platform

Variety: NewImages Festival Seeks to Be a ‘Lab for New Forms of Visual Storytelling’

The Verge: Facebook is turning VR into a platform – but some indie developers fear its power

Page Six: Stars are lining up for Van Jones’ virtual reality-TV experiment

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Blast from the Past – Oculus Rift Prototype (2012)

Way back in 2012, John Carmack (one of the original creators of the video game “Doom”) took an interest in Palmer Luckey’s prototype for the first Oculus “Rift” headset. Carmack eventually went on to become the CTO of Oculus after Facebook acquired the technology from Palmer for $2 billion. See excerpt below from Carmack’s “A day with an Oculus Rift” (May 17, 2012):

I am going to be giving several demos in the next month, and Palmer graciously loaned me one of his test HMDs to go with the other things I have to show. Here are my impressions after a day of working with it:

When I first powered it up, it looked like the screen was badly offset, but this turned out to be a problem with the analog VGA input that Palmer had also seen before. Making a custom display mode with different horizontal timing parameters got it fixed up. The plan is for the kits to have a panel with a digital interface, which will properly resolve the issue.

The USB cable for power was also finicky – it wouldn’t work on a USB hub or over an extension cord, only plugged directly into my computer. When I put it on a bench power supply I found that I had to give it 5.2v to get it to come up, it apparently was voltage limited rather than current limited.

There still seems to be a tiny offset in either the optics or the nose cutout, because I can sometimes just glimpse the edge of the right eye view in the left eye. Interestingly, this happens when you are looking to the left with your eye, which moves it a few millimeters to the left, allowing it to look farther over to the right in peripheral vision. This is particularly distracting when the left and right sides of the view are at very different brightness levels. I experimented with different amounts of physical blanking on the lens and leaving a gap in the rendered image, but making the flash of view completely go away required giving up too much resolution. The right solution to this is to have a thin physical divider mounted directly on the display to prevent eye view crosstalk.

I measured the horizontal field of view as a bit under 90 degrees per eye (full binocular overlap), but when you first look through the lenses you clearly feel the edge of the screen on the sides. The vertical field of view is plenty, and you really have to push into the lenses to catch a glimpse of the screen edge. With only 640 pixels horizontally versus 800 vertically per eye and symmetric optics, the vertical FOV is 33% greater than the horizontal, and all of the loss is on the outside edge. I wound up covering the outside parts of the lenses with tape to block off the edges before the optics, which maintains immersion much better than seeing the edge of the screen out at the optical focal plane. This arrangement makes the best use of the limited panel resolution, but it might be better to ignore 160 scan lines and only use 1280 x 640 with a completely symmetric field of view, if that is achievable with available lenses at the same eye spacing.

Interesting commentary from Carmack in the early days of the Oculus Rift. It’s also fascinating to look at Palmer Luckey’s early progress report as he was about to launch a Kickstarter to fund development of the headset. See below for “Oculus ‘Rift’: An open-source HMD for Kickstarter” (April 15, 2012):

Hey guys,

I am making great progress on my HMD kit! All of the hardest stuff (Optics, display panels, and interface hardware) is done, right now I am working on how it actually fits together, and figuring out the best way to make a head mount. It is going to be be out of laser cut sheets of plastic that slide together and fasten with nuts and bolts. The display module is going to be detachable from the optics module, so you will be able to modify, replace, or upgrade your lenses in the future!

The goal is to start a Kickstarter project on June 1st that will end on July 1st, shipping afterwards as soon as possible. I won’t make a penny of profit off this project, the goal is to pay for the costs of parts, manufacturing, shipping, and credit card/Kickstarter fees with about $10 left over for a celebratory pizza and beer. 

I need help, though!

1) I need something that illustrates the difference between low field of view HMDs and high FOV HMDs, probably some kind of graphic illustrating the difference in apparent screen size. Would probably want to compare the rap 1200VR, the HMZ-T1, and the ST1080. Maybe throw in a few professional HMDs like the SX111 for good measure.

2) Logo/s. I am listing the organization as “Oculus”, I plan on using that name on my VR projects from here on out. The HMD itself is tentatively titled “Rift”, if you have better ideas, let me know. I based it on the idea that the HMD creates a rift between the real world and the virtual world, though I have to admit that it is pretty silly. 

3) Ideas for what I should show off in the Kickstarter video.

4) Ideas for Kickstarter rewards. The obvious one would be a full HMD kit, but I want to have some lesser monetary options for people who just want to show support. Laser cut badges? Some kind of software? On the other end, it seems like it would be a good idea to have some more expensive options that net you stuff like a wireless battery/video pack, or a motion tracker.

5) Anything else I am forgetting!

The help is appreciated! Really excited about this, I think it could be the kind of thing that jumpstarts a bigger VR community, and hopefully shows that there is a big demand for wide FOV, truly immersive displays.

Amazing how far VR has come in the past eight years! With Facebook’s launch of the new Oculus Quest 2, the era of “tethered” VR headsets will be coming to an end. Standalone (wireless) HMD’s are clearly the future of the VR ecosystem for 2021 and beyond.

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Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.

XR for Media Newsfeed – September 19, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

Variety: Oculus Unveils Next-Gen Quest 2 VR Headset Aimed at Broader Market, Will Phase Out Rift S

Variety: Facebook to Launch Line of Smart Glasses in 2021, Starting With AR-Enabled Ray-Bans

VRScout: Facebook’s Project Aria Will Pave The Way For Consumer-Friendly AR

VRScout: The Oculus Quest 2: Price, Release Date, Accessories Announced

VRScout: Oculus Quest 2’s ‘Infinite Office’ Lets You Create Your Own Virtual Workspace

RoadToVR: Oculus Quest 2 Review – The Best Standalone Headset Gets Better in (Almost) Every Way

VRFocus: Oculus Rift S Is Being Discontinued In Spring 2021

Axios: NYT, Facebook launch multi-year augmented reality reporting project

Vox.com: We’re closer to holographic meetings than you think

AR Insider: Facebook Connect: The AR Angle

Immersive Shooter: Facebook Connect: The 5 Biggest Announcements for Immersive Journalists

VRScout: Miranda: A Live Steampunk VR Opera Where You Play As Judge & Jury

ASUNow: Dreamscape Immersive, ASU launch bold partnership to bring cutting-edge virtual reality to learners worldwide

VRScout: Venice VR Curators Offer A Behind-The-Scenes Look At This Year’s Incredible Projects

UploadVR: Best Of Venice VR 2020: Oculus Quest Impressions

Animation Magazine: Venice Film Festival Crowns Animated VR Winners

UploadVR: Venice VR: Players Are Joining Live Performances, Not Just Games

VRFocus: Baba Yaga, Paper Birds, Paper Beast & More Make Raindance Immersive’s 2020 Selection

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XR for Media Newsfeed – September 12, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

VRScout: Powerful VR Documentary ‘The Choice’ Awarded Two Kaleidoscope Grants

VentureBeat: Spaces is one more tile in Apple’s incomprehensibly large AR/VR mosaic

Forbes: Social VR, Facebook Horizon And The Future Of Social Media Marketing

VentureBeat: The AR/VR ecosystem — Are we there yet?

VRFocus: 5G Operators Using Felix & Paul Studios’ Upcoming Space Explorers Series To Showcase Tech

Animation Magazine: HBO Launches VR Event Series ‘Lovecraft Country: Sanctum’ Spotlighting Black Artists

Wired: Covid Snuffed Out Burning Man—but the Festival Goes On in VR

VentureBeat: Jon Favreau’s Gnomes & Goblins VR game debuts on September 23 after 5 years of work

FastCompany: I was skeptical about attending Burning Man in VR, but it’s great

Variety: Taiwan’s TAICCA Bets Big on VR Content at Venice Film Festival

UploadVR: Baba Yaga VR Review: A Star-Studded, Sweet But Safe VR Movie From Baobab (Venice VR)

VRFocus: Oculus Venues Expands Beta Access Ahead Of Facebook Connect

The Ghost Howls: The MetaMovie review: Theater meets Virtual Reality in a fun adventure

VRFocus: Venice VR Expanded: A Festival Of Immersive Imagination

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XR for Media Newsfeed – August 30, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

VRScout: Unofficial VR Burning Man Event Will Feature Live Music, Art, And Workshops

UploadVR: Report: Apple Acquires VR Startup Spaces

VentureBeat: Oculus Connect becomes Facebook Connect, goes virtual on September 16

Deadline: ‘Fortnite’ Publisher Epic Games Is Denied In Legal Bid To Get Game Back In Apple App Store

SyFy Wire: Google Arts & Culture adds augmented reality Apollo 11 module, Armstrong suit

Variety: Apple Buys Spaces, VR Startup That Blends Avatars Into Videoconferences

The Guardian: Napster sold to London startup MelodyVR in surprise $70m deal

New York Times: To Fight Apple and Google’s Grip, Fortnite Creator Mounts a Crusade

Animation Magazine: Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson & Glenn Close Join Baobab’s ‘Baba Yaga’

UploadVR: Facebook’s VR/AR Division Renamed Facebook Reality Labs, Oculus Branding Remains

SyFy Wire: HOW APPLE TV+ IS BANKING ON AUGMENTED REALITY TO WOO FANS TO ITS STREAMING SERVICE

Electronic Frontier Foundation: If Privacy Dies in VR, It Dies in Real Life

Tech Crunch: The pandemic has probably killed VR arcades for good

Broadway World: Jonathan David Martin, Pamela Winslow Kashani and More Star in Virtual Reality Production FINDING PANDORA X

Engadget: Inside Facebook Horizon, a social VR playground

 

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Facebook and the Future of Virtual Reality

For the past week or so, there has been a great deal of distress in the VR community, after Facebook announced on Aug. 18th that they would begin to require a Facebook account login for all Oculus devices starting in October.

Many VR enthusiasts (at least the vocal ones) have expressed that THIS IS A BAD THING. Facebook already has a nefarious plan to take over the world, steal our private information and identities, and spy on everything we do. Requiring a Facebook login for VR now means that all of this nefariousness will extend into VR. Now everything we do in virtual worlds, games, and media will be tracked and sold for advertising dollars. Our physical movements in VR will allow Facebook to build a biometric profile of each of us, which will risk our identities being impersonated by malicious agents. All of this will result in the downfall of society as we know it.

Exhibit A

Let’s talk about the source of all the hubbub. Up to this point, Oculus users could use a separate Oculus ID (not a Facebook account) to login to Oculus VR headsets (such as the Quest and Rift). This will begin to change in October, when users who purchase a new Oculus device will be required to use their Facebook account to enjoy all the features of the headset. Existing Oculus ID users will need to merge their accounts prior to 2023.

From the Facebook announcement:

Starting in October 2020:

  • Everyone using an Oculus device for the first time will need to log in with a Facebook account.

  • If you are an existing user and already have an Oculus account, you will have the option to log in with Facebook and merge your Oculus and Facebook accounts.

  • If you are an existing user and choose not to merge your accounts, you can continue using your Oculus account for two years.

Starting In January 2023:

  • We will end support for Oculus accounts.

  • If you choose not to merge your accounts at that time, you can continue using your device, but full functionality will require a Facebook account.

  • We will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though some games and apps may no longer work. This could be because they require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased.

Facebook’s rationale for making this change

Facebook has been up front about their reasons for making this change. If you believe what they are saying, their goal is to improve the user experience and enable the use of upcoming social features such as Facebook Horizon, which will enable connecting to friends and family in VR. Since most Oculus users are also Facebook users, it makes a lot of sense and helps to streamline the management of applications under the Facebook umbrella. The company elaborates on this in their announcement:

Giving people a single way to log into Oculus—using their Facebook account and password— will make it easier to find, connect, and play with friends in VR. We know that social VR has so much more to offer, and this change will make it possible to integrate many of the features people know and love on Facebook. It will also allow us to introduce more Facebook powered multiplayer and social experiences coming soon in VR, like Horizon, where you can explore, play, and create worlds. The majority of our users are already logging into Oculus with a Facebook account to use features like chats, parties, and events, or to tune into live experiences in Oculus Venues. We’re also making it easier to share across our platforms if you’d like. For example, people already have the option to livestream or share their VR experience on Facebook, and soon you’ll be able to use your VR avatar on other Facebook apps and technologies.

When you log in with a Facebook account, you can still create or maintain a unique VR profile. And if you don’t want your Oculus friends to find you by your Facebook name, they won’t—just make it visible to ‘Only Me’ in your Oculus settings. You can also choose what information about your VR activity you post to your Facebook profile or timeline, either by giving permission to post or by updating your settings. And we plan to introduce the ability for multiple users to log into the same device using their own Facebook account, so people can easily share their headset with friends or family while keeping their information separate.

Using a VR profile that is backed by a Facebook account and authentic identity helps us protect our community and makes it possible to offer additional integrity tools. For example, instead of having a separate Oculus Code of Conduct, we will adopt Facebook’s Community Standards as well as a new additional VR-focused policy. This will allow us to continue to take the unique considerations of VR into account while offering a more consistent way to report bad behavior, hold people accountable, and help create a more welcoming environment across our platforms. And as Facebook adds new privacy and safety tools, Oculus can adopt and benefit from them too.

What does this really mean?

Well, it means different things to different people.

Many VR users are already Facebook users, so for most of them it doesn’t matter. They have already sold given their souls to Facebook and probably don’t care if this extends to their identity and behavior in VR. For the average user, it’s probably no big deal.

On the other hand, many VR enthusiasts are also privacy advocates and rightly concerned about Facebook’s history of misleading their user community. For these people, there is good reason to dislike this new development, as it only offers more evidence of Facebook’s dishonesty and tendency to manipulate users for its own gain. When Facebook originally acquired Oculus, they promised that users would never have to login with a Facebook account.

Those in opposition to the use of a Facebook account for VR are concerned about their ability to remain anonymous in VR, to protect their personal information and behavior in VR, and to maintain at least some sense of democracy by having a choice in what information they provide to Facebook.

As Facebook has evolved as a company over the years, the ability for users to manage what information is shared with others has continued to evolve along with it. Most of the time, users have been given the ability to control what information is public vs. private, by updating their profile and content settings. As long as this customization is also allowed in VR, users should be able to maintain their privacy at the level they want.

Facebook and the future of VR

Along with the news about merging user accounts, a few other interesting VR developments occurred at Facebook this week. First of all, the long-running user conference known as Oculus Connect has been renamed to Facebook Connect. In addition, Facebook’s entire VR and AR team has been renamed to Facebook Reality Labs.

Is the Oculus brand going away? Will future Oculus VR headsets be known as “Facebook VR” devices? This appears to be a likely scenario, if not for the immediate future then perhaps within the next few years.

Mark Zuckerberg strongly believes in the future of VR. Facebook has invested a lot of money into its own hardware and software, continues to acquire other developers, and continues to make improvements in its flagship device (the Oculus Quest). Will the next version be called the Facebook Quest? This remains to be seen, as it’s expected to launch before the end of 2020.

When Facebook Horizon finally launches, it will provide a new way for users (yes, only Facebook users) to socialize and play games in VR. Does this mean Facebook wants to own the Metaverse? Will it result in the demise of other social VR platforms like AltSpace, VRChat, and BigScreen?

Perhaps users who prefer not to use their Facebook ID to socialize in VR will flock to these other platforms, assuming the platforms can survive long enough to compete. Or perhaps they will just migrate to another Big Brother, Apple (when they finally launch a VR device and the inevitable need to login with Apple ID.)

Thankfully, there is some good news: VR users will still have the ability to choose which Big Brother they want to sign up with.

 

Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.

 

XR for Media Newsfeed – August 23, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

360 Rumors: Supermarket uses consumer 360 camera to shoot viral ad with social distancing

RoadToVR: Facebook Signs Multiyear Deal with NBA, Making Oculus Its Official VR Marketing Partner

VR Focus: Felix & Paul Studios To Create AR Book Of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: The Seven Ravens

VentureBeat: Apple’s response to Epic threatens the future of VR, AR, TV, and films

Financial Express: NBA onboards Facebook’s Oculus as virtual reality headset partner

ARPost: Ceraadi Teams Up With AmazeVR for a Fall Virtual Reality Concert

VRScout: How Epic Games’ Lawsuit Against Apple Could Impact The Future Of VR/AR

RoadToVR: New Oculus Users Required to Use Facebook Account Starting in October, Existing Users by 2023

UploadVR: Oculus To Introduce Multiple Users Per Device Using Facebook Accounts

UploadVR: Editorial: Facebook’s Quest For World Domination May Have No Real Competition

Forbes: Why This Russian Billionaire Is Creating A Virtual Reality World For Music Festivals And Concerts

Auganix.org: SIGGRAPH 2020 announces its immersive programming, including several Virtual Reality experiences

PR Newswire: AARP Introduces Alcove Virtual Reality App on Oculus Quest to Help Families Stay Connected

The Verge: Facebook is making Oculus’ worst feature unavoidable

Ars Technica: Why the Facebookening of Oculus VR is bad for users, devs, competition

Animation Magazine: Baobab Studios, ‘Jojo Rabbit’ Star Join ‘Paper Birds’ VR from 3DAR, Oculus

Animation Magazine: Eight VR Projects to Compete at Bucheon Animation Fest

 

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XR for Media Newsfeed – August 16, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

Deadline: Netflix Unveils Virtual AR Experience For Emmy FYC Campaign After Scoring 160 Nominations

VRScout: Interactive VR Comedy Has You Staging A Fake Moon Landing For The Taiwanese Government

VRScout: Visit The Coldest Place On Earth With Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Antarctic VR Experience

Audience of the Future: Immersive Audience Journey Report

VentureBeat: Google uses crowdsourced photos to recreate landmarks in 3D for AR/VR

Animation Magazine: Uncharted Virtual Journeys: 2020’s VR Animation Continues to Explore New Territories

RoadToVR: Oculus Social VR App ‘Venues’ to Get Overhaul in Preparation for ‘Facebook Horizon’

UploadVR: Muse Simulation Theory VR Concert Experience Coming Exclusively To Oculus Quest

RoadToVR: Celebrity-backed VR Destination ‘Sandbox VR’ Falters as US Subsidiary Files for Bankruptcy

 

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