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:
In this weekly VRScout Report, the Touch controllers for the Oculus Rift are finally here, Google’s Daydream has impressive lineup of video content, controversy surrounding the secretive augmented reality company Magic Leap, HTC Vive launches in-house content studio, funding wrapup, and more…
OCULUS TOUCH CONTROLLERS ARE HERE AND THE CREATORS TOOLS ARE RAD
When the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift was launched in the spring, it was disappointingly bundled with a Microsoft Xbox controller – and we’ve eagerly been awaiting the native Touch Controllers. Now, the day is here, and the wait was… worth it? The Touch controllers feel like little magical half-doughnuts and are smooth and intuitive. The tracking system leaves something to be desired, with two sensors that track only 180 degrees of motion (as opposed to the laser-powered Lighthouse tracking system from the HTC Vive, which tracks in full 360 degrees). Although the performance of intense games suffers from the limited front-facing tracking abilities, creators tools like Quill and Medium are incredible. We are truly looking forward to seeing what artist are going to build with these tools – like this mind blowing Quill creation from Goro Fujita.
GOOGLE DAYDREAM SCORES NETFLIX AND HBO APPS
Google Daydream has exclusive access to YouTube’s considerable 360 video library (although admittedly curation could be better) as well as its massive 2D video archive. All this YouTube media gave the platform a sizeable chunk of content at their recent launch, and now Netflix VR and HBO VR have both joined Daydream as well. However, let me clarify: the Netflix VR app (which has been available on Samsung Gear VR since September 2015) and the new HBO VR app (exclusive to Daydream) are 360 degree virtual reality living rooms in which you can watch any traditional 2D media from each platform’s library… on a virtual television hanging on your virtual wall. Although this setup is obviously not as incredible as being inside your favorite movie, it’s still pretty cool. Streaming video in a VR headset is the best travel accessory, by the way: it almost seems like this setup was invented for airplanes and hotel rooms. In addition to Netflix, HBO, and YouTube, Daydream also has the Hulu VR and Google Play Movies & TV apps – making Google Daydream’s video content quite impressive (as a sidenote, when is Amazon going to release a VR viewing app to stream their flat content???).
MAGIC LEAP’S CONTROVERSY
The secretive augmented reality company Magic Leap has been very successful at keeping a tight lid on their product development… until now? A reporter from The Information has published a contrarian view of the supposedly-revolutionary technology – which has been recognized by investors as so advanced that it has garnered $1.4B in funding (with a $4.4B valuation) from huge names like Google, Alibaba, and Andreeson Horowitz. The report alleges that not only are some of Magic Leap’s tech demo videos faked (like tiny elephants held in the palm of hands, life-size virtual whales jumping out of real gymnasiums, or an alien office takeover game), but their core technology is years away from a consumer release – and is currently less viable than other major competitors such as the Microsoft Hololens. Want to dive deeper into the details? Check out the Reddit AMA from The Information reporter… and the rebuttal from Magic Leap itself.
HTC VIVE LAUNCHES VIVE STUDIOS
HTC Vive is helping the big issue of the state of virtual reality today: lack of content. Taking notes from traditional video game publishers, HTC Vive is creating an internal development and publishing group called Vive Studios – similar to Oculus Studios, in fact. They will work on content internally as well as work closely with outside studios on publishing, marketing, and funding support. Vive Studios is not just focusing on gaming content, and like their Viveport VR app platform, are continuing to focus on other applications – such as education, cinematic, design, real estate, sports, retail, healthcare, and social.
MONEY & FUNDING
Visbit – $3.2M: the Sunnyvale, CA-based team has been working on patented 4K streaming technology for VR. Presence Capital, ZhenFund, Colopl Next, Amino Capital and Eversunny Limited have invested to complete the closed beta of its patented Visbit View-Optimized Streaming (VVOS) technology. Your data plan will thank you.
Axon VR Haptics – $5.8M: based in Seattle, WA and San Luis Obispo, CA, Axon VR garnered the biggest investment ever in a haptics company. The round was led by NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES), a leading internet technology company in China, and Dawn Patrol Ventures, and includes former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and seeks to bring the company’s haptic textiles that simulate lifelike touch and enable users to feel real-world physical properties from the virtual world.
Zero Latency – $7M: Melbourne, Australia-based Zero Latency will use its funding to set up new sites for its untethered multiplayer games in the the US and Japan. Investment was raised from existing backer Carthona Capital and clients of Bell Potter.
IMAX COMPLETES FIRST ROUND OF $50M FUND
FACEBOOK TO LAUNCH LIVE STREAMING IN 360 DEGREES
VISUALIZE DATA IN VR
BIG PLAYERS PUSH FOR OPEN STANDARDS
ALL-IN-ONE HEADSETS COMING IN 2017
NEW YORK TIMES APP & HOLLYWOOD ACTOR SERIES AND DON CHEADLE IN VR
SURVEY SAYS BRITISH WOMEN WANT VR SEX
TOUR NY’S HOLIDAY WINDOW DISPLAYS
AUGMENTED REALITY APP TURNS THE $1 BILL INTO WHITE HOUSE TOUR
SAMSUNG AND VICE PARTNER FOR 360 DOC RE: SYRIA
VIRTUIX CANCELS OMNI INTERNATIONAL SHIPMENTS