Recapping the top stories covered on the VRScout Report, a weekly podcast discussing the best in VR, hosted by Malia Probst. Google wants you to play with Blocks, this smartphone wants you to get rid of your headset, a new marketplace connecting content creators with funding, the price of the Oculus Rift is slashed, the investment & funding wrapup, and more…
1. GOOGLE WANTS YOU TO PLAY WITH BLOCKS
Google understands that the future of computing is 3D—and the computers of tomorrow will need lots of 3D objects to populate just about everything. With that end in mind, Google is making it super simple for anyone to create 3D objects with their hands (instead of complex programs that use 2D screens, a mouse that is limited to a flat x/y axis of movement, and require specialized training). Currently available for free on the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift (sorry, mobile VR users), Blocks is a new app from Google that lets anyone create 3D objects without training. These 3D objects can be exported as an OBJ file and easily be plugged into VR or AR projects. When considered in context of Google’s VR painting program Tilt Brush, this new structured 3D creation tool seems to indicate that Google could be putting together a suite of accessible VR/AR creation tools… which is good news for their Google Daydream platform.
2. THIS SMARTPHONE WANTS TO MAKE HEADSETS OBSOLETE
The billionaire founder of Oakley and RED Digital Camera, Jim Jannard, has announced that for the last 3 years he has secretly been working on a VR/AR smartphone that will natively play holographic content without the need for a head-mounted device… but we’ll have to wait until next year to get our hands on it. Although few details have been released, we know that it will be a 5.7-inch phone that will run on Android OS and there will be devices at two price points: aluminum at $1,195 and titanium at $1,595. Called Hydrogen One, this super device will also reportedly plug into the existing RED camera ecosystem… and hints at some sort of holographic image launch from RED on the horizon as well.
3. CALLING ALL CREATORS: HERE’S A MARKETPLACE FOR YOUR VR CONTENT
First launched in the spring of 2015, Kaleidoscope emerged as a global virtual reality festival — bringing audiences all over the world premiere VR content. Now, the company is doubling down on the deep network built over the past two years and connecting content creators with capital. Kaleidoscope establishes a marketplace where artists can get their premiere work in front of a select group of people/companies/groups who want to license, buy, or distribute their content. Referring to themselves as the “AngelList for the VR entertainment industry,” the company hopes that this proves starter fuel for eventual crowdsourcing of VR art.
4. GET YOURSELF A RIFT WITH THIS SWEET SUMMER DEAL
If you’ve been debating with yourself about getting a sweet VR rig, this might be the time to hop off the fence and into the Rift. Oculus just announced a short term, six-week sale that bundles the Rift and the Oculus Touch controllers for $399. Of course, you still need a robust PC to power your new virtual world (and the current cost of graphics cards is not cheap—thanks cryptocoin miners!), but this means that the cost of the Rift + Touch bundle has been slashed in half over the last quarter. This puts the Rift + Touch in (almost) the same pricing ballpark as the PlayStation VR (although still higher — PSVR’s required console is less expensive than a PC). Now, what does this mean—does Oculus want to stick it to HTC Vive (which has stuck to its original $800 launch price point), are they anticipating that the ZeniMax lawsuit could possibly halt sales, or do they see more competitors on the horizon and want to capture market share? It’s all speculation at this point, but one thing is for sure: this price reduction could be just the thing to knock a few people off that fence.
5. INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP
For the fourth year in a row the Walt Disney Co. is launching its incubator program, which supports tech and media companies with resources and capital. Although Disney has not disclosed the amount of funding, the companies will retain the rights to the IP developed while part of the incubator. Out of 11 companies, there are 3 VR/AR-related: Ambidio (immersive sound), Epic Games (creator of Unreal Engine and several VR titles), and The VOID (fully immersive location-based VR entertainment—they did the Ghostbusters activation in Times Square in NY).
…and just a few more…
FUNDING IN Q2 RESULTS ARE IN
GO SKYDIVING SAFELY… AND INDOORS!
APPLE IS HIRING FOR VR/AR POSITIONS
NOKIA AND XIAOMI, SITTING IN A TREE…
3 TRENDS IN AUDIO TO LISTEN FOR
JUMP INTO THIS HAPTIC SUIT AND FEEL ALL THE FEELS
INSIDE PETER JACKSON’S NEW AR STUDIO
AUGMENTED REALITY ON YOUR FEET