ROCKBAND VR COMING TO OCULUS RIFT Q1 2016!

Last night at The Game Awards 2015, Palmer Luckey announced something, that I had been hoping for ever since I saw Guitar Hero take the first person perspective, Rockband VR.

In the video below, we get a glimpse of gameplay towards the end.  Straight away, we can see what looks to be a tracked guitar, and the first person view on stage as if you are actually in the band.  When social gameplay elements are added,  I really think this will be a big hit for Oculus. It would be great to be playing the greatest rock anthems on an arena sized stage, and knowing somewhere in that crowd, are your friends also in VR cheering you on.

On the Oculus sub-reddit, this announcement seems to have been met with mixed reactions, but I am under no doubts, when more gameplay and features are released, this will be a fantastic addition to The Rift.

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OCULUS RIFT CONSUMER SHIPPING EARLY 2016 CONFIRMED

Finally the long awaited news has been confirmed!.

Today Nate Mitchell VP of product at Oculus, confirmed on his twitter account that the Oculus rift consumer version will be shipping the first quarter of 2016.  

Oculus further confirmed that updates on hardware, software and input will all follow in the coming weeks ahead. 

"In the weeks ahead, we’ll be revealing the details around hardware, software, input, and many of our unannounced made-for-VR games and experiences coming to the Rift,".  It is widely considered the HMD will be similar to Crescent Bay, but things I can't wait to get further news on, are input what exciting software is just around the corner.

I'm extremely excited we have something of a release date after waiting what feels like forever.  Better start saving now then!.

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CONSUMER OCULUS RIFT MIGHT HAVE FACIAL TRACKING

Above is a concept image of a facial tracking rig produced by a student of Hao Li, University of Southern California Department of Computer Science.  While admittedly not the most aesthetically pleasing design, the existing tech is looking promising. 

Dr. Martin Breidt, a research technician at the Max Plank Institute for Biological Cybernetics, recently spoke with VoicesofVR about face tracking in real-time, adding that some researchers, several of whom work for Oculus Research, have been developing interesting ways of achieving it in VR.  Although this information is unconfirmed, he added “Anyone’s face can be instantly tracked and the users can be switched without an extra calibration step,”

“During tracking, we explicitly segment face regions from any occluding parts by detecting outliers in the shape and appearance input using an exponentially smoothed and user-adaptive tracking model as prior.”

Below is a video showing off the currently technology.  Interestingly the users face seems to be tracked consistently no matter what the action, whether covering their face with their hands, drinking for a cup or putting their hair in front of their face.

Personally, I'd love to see this a reality to use within socialVR applications such as AltspaceVR. You could imagine it would take a shared online experience to a whole new level.

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OCULUS RIFT COULD BRING PEOPLE BACK FROM THE DEAD

A new project currently in development named 'Project Elysium', is aiming to get you to 'the afterlife' before your time.   Many people imagine being reunited with their love ones and friends when their time comes.  But this experience, which was entered in to Oculus VR Jam 2015, could mean otherwise.

The developers from Paranormal Games describe their VR experience as "A personalized VR Afterlife experience reunited people with loved ones who have passed".  This sounds very interesting, although a few questions remain for instance, could you create a 3D model of someone from a photograph?.  Then there is also the question of accurate personality.

They are careful to stress that this is not a game as such, “This experience is not a game. Not at all. It's a very serious heart felt project with a lot of meaning to us and is being made respectfully.”   This could be one of many interesting uses for VR, and is an area that could be worth keeping an eye on.  Personally, I think it'd be interesting to try this out once it's ready.

You can see the video below for some background info on this project.

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GOPRO GET IN TO VIRTUAL REALITY

GoPro announced yesterday their purchase of Kolor, a startup company from France that specialize in 360 degrees videos.

The company will be embedded in to the GoPro business model as of May 2015, with a new emphasis on spherical content.  Their software allows users to stitch together 360 degrees videos, that have been shot with a rig similar to the one above.  It will allow creation of immersive videos, from rock climbing, snow boarding, and even team sports such as football.

Although initially planned to operate on Google Cardboard, GoPro have plans to increase compatibility to other VR systems such as Oculus Rift soon..

The video below from GoPro gives you a glimpse in to 360 video, if you do not have a VR HMD.  If you watch on a desktop, the controls on the top left allow you to adjust your view.

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OCULUS RIFT VIRTUAL DESKTOP NOW SUPPORTING CUSTOM ENVIRONMENTS

Following up from our previous story featuring The Simpsons in Virtual Desktop,  support for custom environments has now been added to Virtual Desktop.

In an announcement on our favorite Sub-Reddit r/Oculus, it was stated the upon installation of Virtual Desktop, you will now have the addition to install an Environment Editor.  Popular model formats are supported including '.3ds, .fbx, .obj, .blend'.   Environments from a Skybox, or from 360 panoramas are also supported.

 

Additional themes on Virtual Desktop where always an addition that were in demand.  Now that it's possible to create your own environment to spend time in, we can't wait to see what weird and wonderful places the community come up with.

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OCULUS RIFT HACK TAKES YOU INSIDE THE SIMPSONS

This has to be one of the main concepts, that gets me very excited about VR.

A recent hack still in progress, developed Myles Johnston shows an Oculus Rift user inside the home of The Simpsons, while sitting on the sofa next to Homer, watching The Simpsons on TV. Did someone say The Simpsons-ception?!.

It's all working as a custom theme within Virtual Desktop.  Although still a work in progress, this looks very fun, and we can't wait to binge watch The Simpsons with a beer, sat next to Homer. Wow...how lucky are we to be alive at this time.

You can see the theme in action below:

The developer is also working on the entire house, which will be explore-able too.  Again, still a work in progress, you can see how it's coming along in the video below.  

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RICE DEVELOP HAPTICS GLOVE TO TOUCH IN VIRTUAL REALITY

Engineering students from Rice University, are developing a glove that allows the sense of touch, within a virtual world.

The glove is different from other ideas we've seen, such as the exo skeleton, that is attempting to get the sense of touch into VR.  Exactly how the glove functions, is under wraps for now. But what we can see from the video below, is that it uses small inflatable pockets of air around the glove.  It is an interesting take, on trying to overcome the issue of haptics.  Once overcome, that final hurdle will have been cleared and you will feel true presence in a virtual world. 


You can see more information about the glove below.

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WILL OCULUS RIFT & VR MAKE US MORE EMPATHETIC

In a recent TED talk, film maker Chris Milk explored the topic of virtual reality and empathy.

Throughout the talk, Chris Milk explains his aim as a film maker, was to try get people 'in the frame' to tell a more compelling story.  Standing next to a 360 camera, he plays the audience 'Clouds over Sidra', featuring a young girl and her family who fled Syria to Jordan, and now live in a refugee camp.   With the use of VR, Chris speaks of a time his company played the film at the World Economic Forum, where the audience are people who's decisions affect millions.   Suddenly thanks to this film and VR, they found themselves, sat on the floor of this refugee camp in Jordan.   

He also makes a very interesting point, that VR is a very experiential media.  This is true, and got us wondering how effective will traditional marketing campaigns be, in the weeks before launch for Oculus, HTC and more.  Do you think the companies, will be developing alternative marketing campaigns in time for launch?.   

You can view the fascinating TED talk below

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A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE OF AIRLINE SAFETY

A new demo recently uploaded to Oculus Share, could be an insight to our future procedures before taking off to the skies.

Emergency Landing VR, simulates what it would be like if your aircraft got into a problem, and how you can keep yourselves and others alive.  You can see the demo in action in the video below.  The video also claims the results of a user study, found that a VR experience such as this, resulted in better knowledge retention results, than traditional aviation materials.  Personally, having a more visual memory I would believe this to be true.  I would much prefer something like this, as I would imagine I'd take in much more information.

Do you think we are looking at the future of safety education?.  Let us know your thoughts at our social media links below!.

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INTO THE FURTHER WITH INSIDIOUS 4D EXPERINECE AND OCULUS RIFT

A brand new 4D experience has been created, featuring the Oculus Rift, as promotion for the upcoming Insidious movie.

This is a trend we are starting to see grow.  Last year we saw Interstellar and X-Men: Days of Future Past, both use the Oculus Rift, creating relevant experiences as part of their promo campaign.   ‘Insidious: Chapter 3 – Into The Further 4D Experience‘  differs from the previous two, as The Rift is just a section of the overall experience.  After walking through a haunted house with scares coming in all directions, participants then strap on the HMD (Head - Mounted Display), to then 'Enter The Further', a real of tormented souls that exists within the Insidious world.

Currently on tour across the U.S until May 31st 2015, we hope we might be able to experience this, or some similar promo campaigns, in the U.K sometime soon.  [On second thoughts, after viewing the trailer below, maybe we can send someone on our behalf!.] 

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MOZVR BRING THE WEB TO VR

Mozzila Firefox, famed for it's popular web browser recently launched their bid in to the world of VR.

MozVR enables HMD users to view and play a range of demos, including simple games and 360 videos direct from the web.  As of writing this, there are a few additional steps before hand to get this working. You must have the latest Oculus runtime installed on your machine, and also have installed Firefox Nightly, a browser featuring the most recent features. However, this is only recommended for using within VR, or for testers as it can be unstable at times.    It is not mandatory, but using Virtual Desktop with The Rift, allows for a more streamline experience when switching between demos.

In total there are 6 different demos live on MozVR.  Currently live for example, there is a simple point and go game,  two trippy experiences featuring sea monkeys, and the another putting you inside a cube with a manipulative liquid  face, when Leap Motion is added.  There is also a fly through experience, where you cruise over a visualization of the coast of British Columbia.

And Lastly, a 360 mountain top photo view, and a 360 video which takes you to the arctic. Presently in all but the 360 video, latency is an issue, and noticeably not low enough as a desktop application.  The 360 video performs significantly better, than any of the other application currently live on the site.  

However, this is still early days in webVR content, and we think the user experience will only get better from here on in. We think it should be very interesting, to see how things develop within the webVR space.

EvrydayVR has a great overview of MozVR, in the video below.

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GLAUCOMA PATIENTS STAY BALANCED USING OCULUS RIFT

It is almost certainly recognized that virtual reality, will be brought to the mainstream with a helping hand from the gaming community.  From then it's predicted VR will sweep across our lives in many other areas.  The medical field, just one of many areas.

A recent study published in the journal Ophthalmology, states that virtual reality works best to test balance control.  People with and without Glaucoma, where recently invited to participate in this new study.  

While wearing the Oculus Rift headset and standing on a platform that simulates movement, the patients reactions were monitored by researchers.  Results concluded that patients with glaucoma, made a 40 percent increase in effort to regain balance, compared to patients without the eye disease.

Dr. Felipe A. Medeiros stated that traditional ways of testing, does not mimic everyday movement of ordinary people, however the Oculus Rift does.  It is hoped that in the future with the use of VR, it could be used to prevent people at high risk falling.

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CRYTEK BRING JURASSIC PARK IN VIRTUAL REALITY A STEP CLOSER

Games development studio Crytek responsible for graphically groundbreaking titles such as Crysis, have now took their first steps into virtual reality.

'Back to Dinosaur Island' which debuted at GDC 2015, is a short proof of concept demo, currently only available in a direct feed.  It features the player stationed next to large dinosaur eggs.  The player initially gets some time to take in the surrounding environment, which looks graphically very nice.  Everything looks alive, with small dinosaurs in the distance walking, and some bugs flying around you, to the birds and tall trees above.  Suddenly, every creature around scatters, in the distance a huge figure appears and stood in front is a T-Rex.

The whole experience seems to last just over 3 minutes.  We can only imagine how scary but great this would be on The Rift.  Hopefully with the growing excitement and enthusiasm surround this, maybe we will eventually see a full game set in the Jurassic period, made for VR.

View the entire demo feed in the video below.

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GRAND THEFT AUTO 5 IN VIRTUAL REALITY IS REAL!

Now this is something most people dreamed of, after their first play of GTA 3 back on PS2. What would it be like to actually be there?, well now we can find out.

Videos have started to surface online, of people playing GTA 5 in VR using VorpX.  VorpX allows you to play your regular PC titles, using the Oculus Rift.  However, there has been mixed results in doing so, as most if not all games are currently not Oculus Rift native.

We haven't had the chance to test this out just yet, but believe us we cannot wait!.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see our overview, when we do test this.

You can see ImmersiveGamer83's video below, showing off GTA 5 working in Virtual Reality.

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RUN WINDOWS ON OCULUS RIFT

Thanks to Virtual Desktop, you can now run Windows in VR.

The fantastic application, allows you to preview your monitor in real time.  You also have the option to scale up and down size the monitor, and have it curved or flat.

Another amazing addition, is the themes.  You can have your monitor floating in space, a void and even your own personal cinema room.  I had this surreal experience, or running a PS1 emulator, within the cinema room of Virtual Desktop, gamepad in hand, whilst wearing the Oculus Rift.  Yes it wasn't super smooth, partially due to the standard spec system I use at home.  BUT STILL!.  It was pretty cool if I say so.

It's also great for relaxing watching videos, 2D,3D,360 videos it pretty much covers them all.

Lastly, being able to launch VR applications from within virtual desktop, eliminates having to switch between monitors, and makes life a lot simpler.

A must have.  See the Video Below to see Virtual Desktop in action.



OCULUS RIFT CONSUMER VERSION RELEASE DATE, NEWS & PRICING

We finally have some new information, on the Oculus Rift Consumer version 1.

Recently in a interview speaking to the telegraph,  Oculus founder Palmer Luckey estimated The Rift first consumer version, will be available by winter of 2015.   To further back the claim, Techandgamer added,"Palmer Luckey said the rift would be available by Winter. My sources can confirm that the rift can be bought on November."

It has also been reported that  CV1, will be a massive leap from their DK2 develepment kit. Boasting a higher resolution, and an all round smoother user experience.

A source from TechRadar said,"Co-founder Palmer Luckey also stated that the consumer system's resolution would get a 'significant increase' over the DK2's 1080p display, with a refresh rate that will hit 90Hz or higher."

The price range still remains the same, within $200 - $400 (£136 - £273).

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STEP INTO HOGWARTS

Now everyone can grab their letter of invite, and head to Hogwarts!.

Recently added to Oculus Share, was Ghosts of Hogwarts.  This great experience, allows you to  explore the mysterious corridors of Hogwarts in VR.  But as expected, nothing is plain sailing in the wizarding world.  The Ghosts are out to get you!.

A must try for any HP fan, or even if you are on the lookout for what film studios, could bring to VR in the future.  The chance to explore all your favorite film sets...Jurassic Park anyone?...I'll sleep on that one. (Dinosaurs and I as a kid have a history.)

Highlights include the ever changing staircase.

CHEVROLET BRING THE SHOWROOM INTO 2015

Chevrolet recently partnered with digital marketing agency Isobar, to create a new show room experience they call, CoDriver.  A very first of it's kind for the car sales industry.

The experience is designed to allow potential buyers, to simulate riding in the passenger seat driving the new 'Chevrolet Colorado Pick Up Truck', across various locations in New Zealand.  

Mainly focusing on country roads and rocky mountainous terrain, the car vibrates as it would actually being there.  The experience also makes use of 3D audio, combined with stunning visuals, similar to those found in the Lord of The Ring movies.

Chevrolet premiered the experience at the Bangkok motor show earlier this month, and plan on bringing the experience to showrooms later in 2015.