Recapping the top stories covered on the VRScout Report, a weekly live video show and podcast discussing the best in VR, hosted by Malia Probst. You can enjoy the full audio recording below:
Mindshow, updated Samsung Gear VR, Samsung 360 camera release date, GoPro, HTC, mobile tracking innovation from Chinese developer Deepoon, Microsoft Hololens, investment wrapup, and more!
1. SEIZE THE SPOTLIGHT WITH MINDSHOW
One of the most memorable demos that debuted at the recent VRLA conference, Mindshow is a platform being developed by Los Angeles-based Visionary VR (who also happen to be the people behind VRLA). As the goal is to make “simple and fun story creation [VR] software accessible to anyone,” Mindshow allows users to embody three-dimensional virtual characters and utilize their own voice and body to record the action. If I would have had access to this as a kid, I would have lost my mind: it looks so fun.
2. THE SAMSUNG GEAR VR GETS A FACELIFT AND GOPRO DOUBLES DOWN ON 360
A shiny new Samsung Gear VR is coming out – and it’s black (let’s be honest, why was it ever in white?). Although not too much has changed, the new Gear VR will have a USB Type-C connection. Don’t worry, a micro USB converter is included. The increased field-of-view (an additional 5 degrees puts it at 101-degrees FOV), will no doubt pair well with content captured with the $349 Samsung 360 camera that is finally being released in the U.S. on August 19th.
Compared to the very consumer-friendly Samsung Gear 360 camera, the price point on GoPro’s upcoming camera release could be a sticker shock for some: $4,999. Known as the OMNI, it is a six synchronized camera rig that utilizes their proprietary stitching program Omni Importer. As regular GoPros jimmy-rigged together in an outward facing circle is currently the go-to capture solution for creators, this end-to-end solution is a welcome addition to the industry. Not satisfied to stop there, GoPro has also created GoPro VR – their content distribution platform solution. Time will tell if GoPro’s commitment to the 360 degree space will help out the company in a big enough way; their tanking stock price reflects the low sales of its action cameras.
3. HTC VIVE STEPS OUT SOLO
HTC Vive, creating a distinction from the Steam store, has announced VivePort: a new content platform that will be first released in China and then globally available this fall. Remember, HTC Vive is a collaboration between HTC, the Taiwanese hardware manufacturer, and Valve, the American video game developer and publisher. Valve owns Steam – an enormous game distribution platform with a community of 65M+. By launching a separate content platform, HTC Vive is attempting to provide non-gaming focused content with new categories like social media, 360 degree video, news, travel, shopping, sports, health, and edutainment. Valve is also additionally making their room-scale 3D tracking system open source (ending their exclusive license with HTC Vive). If you’re interested in developing for the system, you’re required to attend an in-person training workshop in Seattle – classes start in September and it’ll cost you $3,000.
4. DEEPOON WRANGLING LARGE-SPACE MULTI-USER MOBILE VR EXPERIENCES
Positional tracking is crucial to great immersive VR experiences, but has only been possible on PC-powered VR systems because mobile VR is limited by the lower processing power of smartphones. Leading Chinese developer Deepoon VR claims that they have solved this issue and forged a strategic agreement with G-wearables, another Chinese VR developer. Stay tuned on this – when large-space multi-user mobile VR applications are a reality, it will be of enormous impact.
5. MICROSOFT OPENS UP SALES OF HOLOLENS
You can now buy the developer version of Microsoft’s augmented reality headset the Hololens – even if you’re not a developer. Somewhat unexpectedly, the “Development Edition” can now be purchased by anyone in the United States and Canada for $3,000 (but not too fast, Slick Rick on eBay – you’re capped at 5 devices). As companies typically reserve developer editions for developers, and just a few months ago the application process to purchase the Hololens was quite strict – many people are scratching their heads on this decision. Here’s my bet: Microsoft is quickly learning from the “lack of content” complaints around the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Despite the fact that Microsoft is strongly positioning the Hololens as an enterprise solution first, on a macro level they know that consumers need to be involved for faster adoption. By relaxing the approval requirements on who can purchase and experiment with a Hololens, Microsoft is clearly opening the door to imaginative creators: watch for unexpected use cases and content here.
Netflix releases their first original VR content to pair with smash hit series Stranger Things (do yourself a favor and immediately binge on the show if you haven’t yet!)
Disney launches a $500 Star Wars augmented reality experience
Samsung and Reuters, sitting in a tree… or at least teaming up to produce news content
Step inside the world of the Olympics, guaranteed Zika-free in virtual reality
Neurosurgeons are using virtual reality-integrated microscope tech in New York
Crytek enabling universities to teach VR development with VR First Initiative
Tilt Brush enables audio-responsive VR functionality, and it’s awesome