Recapping the top stories covered on the VRScout Report, a weekly podcast discussing the best in VR, hosted by Malia Probst. Feel heat and the wind on your face in virtual reality, new immersive technology products help the visually impaired, professional golfing tees off in VR, a dream team of developers leave Sony to form their own multi-platform studio, the investment and funding wrapup, and lots more…
You can enjoy the full audio recording below:
NOW YOU CAN FEEL THE WIND ON YOUR FACE IN VR
Researchers at the National University of Singapore first showed us how face electrodes can simulate food in virtual reality– and now they are bringing wind and heat to your virtual world. Called the Ambiotherm, the apparatus hooks onto the VR headset and blows air in your face with rotating fans and has a neck-mounted unit that heats up or cools down to simulate temperature. It’s too bad this just exists in a lab and we can’t play with it.
HOW DO YOU HELP THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED WITH VR/AR? LETS COUNT THE WAYS
Virtual and augmented reality technology is being used to help people who are blessed with perfect vision – and lots of interesting solutions are out there. VR is being used to correct conditions like amblyopia (sometimes called “lazy eye”) by San Francisco-based company Vivid Vision; instead of a childhood-scarring eyepatch or invasive surgery, virtual reality is the prescribed treatment. For the legally blind, the eSight 3 is a $10,000 headset that uses high-speed cameras to display an algorithmically-enhanced view of the world in real time. A startup out of Oxford, OxSight is building AR glasses that described as “hearing aids for the blind.” A developer out of Portland, OR named Javier Davalos has made an Hololens app that utilizes audio feedback for real-world navigation help for the visually impaired. If you have terrible eyesight like me, stay tuned to these sorts of developments – perhaps I can eventually get VR treatment to correct my vision instead of LASIK!
THE PGA TEES OFF IN VR
In November 2016, Intel acquired virtual reality company Voke whose 360 replay technology has been widely used in the sports world (the company also counts the Sacramento Kings among their investors). Voke calls its main product TrueVR, which is a proprietary stereoscopic camera and software that can deliver content across various devices– not just virtual reality headsets. Now, Intel is using Voke to bring professional golf to virtual reality with an emphasis on interactivity and the unique ability to zoom into the action.
EX-HEAD OF SONY PLAYSTATION LONDON FORMS CROSS-PLATFORM VR GAME STUDIO
A hot spot for development, London has birthed a new VR-focused game studio – but not just any game studio. Formed by Dave Ranyard, who was the lead at Sony’s London Studio during PSVR’s creation, it includes a handful of early-days development of the PlayStation VR– back when it was still a code name (Project Morpheus was one of my favorite code names). This dream team chose a fitting moniker— Dream Reality Interactive might just be one of the most seasoned VR game developer teams out there.
MONEY, MOVES AND FUNDING
Birthed in New Zealand and raised in Los Angeles, CA, volumetric capture company 8i has announced a Series B round of $27M. The funding disclosure coincided with other big news: 8i will release a smartphone app called the Holo app later this year. Although Google Tango-style software that enables smartphones to sense their surrounding environment is required, you can choose from premade holograms and position the 3D model in your real world room (ICYMI here’s a primer on Google Tango). The funding round was led by Time Warner Investments, Baidu Ventures, with participation from Hearst Ventures, Verizon Ventures, and others– and brings 8i’s total funding to $41M (oh, and Ashton Kutcher is one of their earlier investors).
The Mountain View, CA-based light field capture company Lytro just received $60M in a Series D funding round that was led by Blue Pool Capital (associated with the co-founders of Alibaba), which brings its total funding to $210M. Lytro also announced a content partnership with Within, headed by Chris Milk and formerly known as Vrse (keep an eye out for the Q2 release of their first co-production). Another update from the company: Lytro is updating their previously-360 degree light field sensor system to a 180-degree system, in order to allow for more creative control and a traditional “behind-the-camera” real life perspective for the director and crew.
India and U.S.-based Imaginate has raised $500,000 to continue development of its collaboration platform, NuSpace, which aims to be the Webex of VR/AR. The collaboration platform is device agnostic (so you could use a Microsoft Hololens while communicating with someone wearing an Oculus Rift), and the B2B company is focusing on the training and education space. The round was from SRI Capital, which is a seed stage venture fund in Philadelphia.
The notoriously secretive mixed reality company Magic Leap has acquired parts of Dacuda, a B2B computer vision software company. The company disclosed that it is divesting its 3D scanning assets which could be used to facilitate inside-out positional tracking (which does not require external sensors) for Magic Leap’s product. The covert product still has not been publicly shown, and the well-funded Magic Leap ($1.3B in investment from companies like Alibaba and Google) has undergone quite a bit of bad press recently. Unsurprisingly, the terms of this acquisition have not been disclosed.
SNAP, INC. FILES TO GO PUBLIC – REPORT: “THE NEXT FACEBOOK OR ANOTHER TWITTER?”
FIRST IMAX VR CENTER IS OPEN IN LA AND READY TO GIVE VR A “JUMP START”
SEE BATMAN’S VIEW FROM INSIDE THE BATMOBILE WITH AUGMENTED REALITY
TOYMAKER HASBRO TO RELEASE A HEAD MOUNTED SIMON SAYS GAME
THE NBA ALL STAR WEEKEND BROUGHT TO YOU IN VIRTUAL REALITY
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA GET THE VIRTUAL TREATMENT
THE LOS ANGELES NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM IS SHOWING OFF VR
AUGMENT YOUR CLIMBING WALL
DOCTORS USE VR TO HELP KIDS GET OVER THE FEAR OF MRI MACHINES
BEEFEATER’S VR EXPERIENCE IS RAD
EVER WANT TO BE AN ASTRONAUT? NOW YOU CAN FEEL LIKE ONE
HTC VIVE LEADS THE CHINESE MARKET
GET YOUR FEELS IN VR: NEW HAPTIC VEST ABOUT TO LAUNCH ON KICKSTARTER
VIRTUAL TRAINING PUT TO THE REAL WORLD TEST – ON A CRANE
FACEBOOK’S UPCOMING DEVELOPER CONFERENCE WILL HIGHLIGHT SOCIAL AND WEBVR
ALMOST 40% OF GAME DEVELOPERS ARE WORKING ON VR