Recapping the top stories covered on the VRScout Report, a weekly podcast discussing the best in VR, hosted by Malia Probst. Live stream your cartoon virtual avatar on Facebook, Slate launches new live show in Facebook Spaces, join your friend to play with art together, Facebook’s standalone headset is coming, the investment & funding wrapup, and more…
1. NOW YOU CAN LIVE STREAM YOUR CARTOON AVATAR ON FACEBOOK
If you jump into Facebook Spaces with your Oculus Rift, now you’ll be able to live stream your virtual world to your regular Facebook feed. Spaces lets people don headsets and be together in a virtual room—and you can also make a call to the outside world so that your friend who doesn’t have a VR headset can see and talk to your cartoon avatar via Messenger. Now, you can actually broadcast your Facebook Spaces sessions directly to Facebook Live. It works just like a regular Facebook Live, except the streamer is an avatar. As a streamer, you can see all your friends’ comments—and you can even grab your favorite comments right out of the air to highlight them. Obviously this announcement has excited a lot of creators, entertainment, and media companies… and Slate is already jumping into this content creation opportunity.
2. SLATE’S NEW SHOW: LIVE STREAMED ON FACEBOOK FROM VR
Right out of the gate, Slate jumped on the opportunity to premiere a new live stream show using Facebook Spaces. Called, Conundrum, the gist of the show is that celebrities join Slate Culture Editor Dan Kois in the virtual world. Dan and the guest will be in VR together, and you can watch their avatars interact (as well as drink virtual beer, in a nod to the show’s sponsor) the way you’d watch any Facebook Live show—on your phone or laptop. The first guest was Carrie Preston (True Blood, The Good Wife), who was quizzed with ridiculous questions like “Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?” Slate had been considering a VR show for a while, and were planning to build their own VR video environment. Of course, as with all first experiments, there were technical difficulties. Stay tuned to this space, as there are likely going to be plenty of other experimentations.
3. PLAY WITH ART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
You can now sculpt with your friends in Oculus’s Medium…or at least be in the same space with one friend while you each work on your own art. Leaping ahead of Tilt Brush, Quill, and the recently-released Blocks app from Google, Medium joins MasterpieceVR in offering artists the chance to create using multiplayer functionality. Medium is free for owners of Oculus’s excellent Touch controllers, and they also released a few new tools like reference meshes. It would be even more exciting if you and your friend could alter each other’s art, but I guess we’ll just have to wait for that feature.
4. FACEBOOK’S STANDALONE HEADSET: IT’S COMING
We’ll have to wait until next year to get a look at the goods, but Facebook is releasing a standalone VR headset. Serving as a bridge between the Samsung Gear VR (that requires a phone) and the Oculus Rift (which requires a PC), it reportedly will be a step up in quality from mobile-powered headsets but not as robust as PC-powered headsets. Code-named “Pacific,” it will be wireless but will not have positional tracking—so roomscale experiences are out of the question, but for $200? That’s a pretty sweet deal.
5. INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP
UK-based VR game studio nDreams has raised $3.5M to continue development of VR experiences (makers of The Assembly, Danger Goat, etc.). The company currently has 5 games in production, and will also be expanding into VR arcades and other out-of-home locations. $2.3M of the round comes as a follow-on from Mercia Technologies.
Newport Beach, CA-based VR game studio inXile Entertainment has raised $4.5M from Japanese firm gumi VR Inc. The company created VR dungeon crawler The Mage’s Tale, and the fresh capital will be used to continue a stealth open world RPG game for VR.
Los Angeles, CA-based Hutch Interiors has raised a $10M Series A round, lead by Zillow (this is the Zillow Group’s first time investing in a startup). Although it is currently being framed as “strictly a financing deal” at this time, there could potentially be an opportunity for Zillow to integrate Hutch into their app in some way. As Hutch specializes in using augmented reality for interior design, integration with Zillow could be a natural eventual fit.
…and just a few more…
A SCOTTISH LAB IS USING VR TO TRAIN WORKERS FOR WIND TURBINE TECHNICIANS
BILL GATES WROTE A THING ON HOW VR CAN HELP FIGHT DISEASE
PLAY STAR WARS GAMES ON LENOVO’S AR HEADSET
MIXED REALITY ON THE IPAD THANKS TO ARKIT AND HTC VIVE
HACKERS USE ULTRASONIC WAVES TO MESS WITH YOUR VR HEADSET
MARVEL ANNOUNCES VR CO-OP TITLE “POWERS UNITED VR”
ROLLERCOASTER USING VR HEADSETS IN MADRID INVOLVED IN COLLISION