If the Paradise was in China, its name would be Qingdao. I’m for the second time in this beautiful city, writing this newsletter while I see an amazing seaside full of colored lights from my window (before I had a walk there and I was astonished).
You know, I’m here for the Sandbox Immersive Festival that will begin tomorrow and I’m ready to tell you all my experience here! Stay tuned on my blog for updates about this new adventure of mine.
But for now, let me do a recap of the best news of the past week in AR and VR!
Top news of the week
HTC has revealed the design of the Vive Cosmos
HTC has finally unveiled some information on the Vive Cosmos. As it promised the previous week, on Friday it has revealed something about the new device, but without spoiling everything. All the info will be revealed during the upcoming weeks, every Friday. The number of these episodes is unknown, but according to a little bird that talked with me, they will be four (not official info, though, so take it with a grain of salt). So in one month, we will discover everything about the Cosmos, including price and release date.
The most important info shared Friday is a (weird) video with the external new design of the device. The Cosmos faceplate features a new pattern… and apart from the aesthetics, the crux is that it is now possible to see that the headset now features even 6 tracking cameras for positional and controllers’ tracking: two on the front, two on the sides, one on the top of the Faceplate, one on the bottom of the faceplate. This configuration is interesting because:
- 6 cameras in those positions allow for a very big tracking cone for the controllers;
- The two front cameras are in the same position of the eyes and this will allow mixed reality applications using the SRWorks framework.
The top and bottom cameras are actually anchored to the faceplate. And since it has been unveiled that the faceplate can be removed, this means that they are optional. So only 4 cameras are actually built in the device. What is interesting is that a removable faceplate means that HTC may release a whole set of different faceplates for different purposes and this would make the Cosmos very powerful (especially if the specs of this faceplate will be made public, so hackers can mod the Cosmos as they want).
The Cosmos is very intriguing, but its success will depend on the price. HTC has told in the past that this is a headset more consumer-oriented, but Sebastian Ang of Mixed Reality TV has reported that, according to a reliable source, the price will be 899. HTC has immediately answered that 899$ is a too high estimate of the price. Sebastian answered that the price won’t be 899$, but 799$ for US and 899€ for EU (we have VAT). HTC has not answered with further clarifications, but I hope that the price will be much lower…799$ still sounds too “enterprise” to me. I hope for at least $100-$200 less, so the device can compete with the HP Reverb and similar headsets in a pro-consumer range.
More info (New Cosmos design)
More info (Cosmos price rumor)
More info (Cosmos price rumor clarification)
Other relevant news
Oculus has teased the OC6
Oculus has just announced the dates for the Oculus Connect 6. It will be held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on September, 25–26th. What is interesting the most of this announcement is that in the invitation to the event it is stated “Join us to begin a new chapter of virtual and augmented reality”.
Yes, you’ve read it well. Augmented Reality. Oculus is going to announce something not only about VR but also about AR. This is very intriguing: Oculus has just finished announcing its full line of first generation Virtual Reality headsets (Go, Rift, Quest) and now it has to start talking about its next generation. At the same time, it has already officially stated that it is working on augmented reality glasses. And according to rumors, it is also building a full metaverse that should substitute the unsuccessful Facebook Spaces.
So, what can we expect from OC6? For sure some surprises: we don’t know anything about the 2nd gen of XR that Oculus has in mind. I think we could see:
- The announcement of a pair of augmented reality glasses by Facebook. Maybe they will work with a phone, exploiting the new Qualcomm reference designs. This would be a very good move to come to the market before Apple, that will likely announce its AR glasses from Q4 2019 on;
- The announcement of a new generation of VR devices that will also be capable of providing AR, a bit like the VRVANA headset (whose company has been acquired by Apple as well). This could also be a move to counteract the probable future actions of Samsung, that is rumored to announce an amazing AR/VR hybrid standalone headset;
- The showcase of a new pro device based on the Half-Dome prototype, to fight the Valve Index… and that will become the Rift Pro;
- The announcement of a new Facebook Metaverse. This could also be a nice testbed for the new Libra cryptocurrency created by Facebook;
- New info on the AAA VR game that Respawn Entertainment is making for Oculus and that has been teased months ago (this is actually the only confirmed news).
In any case, I’m sure this OC6 will set the beginning of a new era for Oculus/Facebook, so I’m very intrigued.
More info (Official announcement)
More info (UploadVR article)
More info (Respawn teaser)
Magic Leap is suing nReal
Magic Leap has sued Chi Xu, the founder of nReal. nReal is one of the most interesting AR startups of 2019 and is offering very light and very cheap augmented reality trendy glasses that you can attach to your phone. According to Magic Leap, the company has been able to create these intriguing devices so fast only because Chi Xu was a former Magic Leap employee. Magic Leap believes that Xu has stolen some technologies that Magic Leap was working on, with the only purpose of building his own company. After his ML experience, Chi Xu has flown to China, where he has founded his AR company.
Honestly, I don’t know where is the truth and will be the judges the ones that will tell us what has actually happened. What is sure is that:
- Actually, the nReal glasses are completely different from the ML1, so either the claims are not true, or nReal are based on a technology that ML has behind the curtains. According to some people, nReal are actually based on Qualcomm reference designs above all else;
- For sure Chi Xu has used some of the expertise gained in Magic Leap while running his new AR company. What the judges will have to decide is if he has only used his experience or also some secret technologies;
- If the claims will be found true, ML will have hard times prosecuting nReal in China, were Western patents are basically ignored. But it can create troubles to nReal in selling the device abroad;
- The biggest part of the community is against ML in this case. Some people claim that ML is suing nReal because it is afraid of a startup that has been able to create a better product with much less funding; others say that if ML had that technology, it should have released cheap AR glasses as well; others remember how Magic Leap may have de facto killed its other competitor ODG to buy its patents for a cheap price. Anyway, everyone is waiting for an official sentence.
nReal has also been sued by Epic Games for its name that is too close to “Unreal”. I think that what is happening in this period will also decide if this company may actually succeed or not. We’ll discover it in the upcoming times.
More info (Magic Leap suing nReal)
More info (Magic Leap maybe killing ODG)
Valve is actually launching the Index
The launch of the Valve Index is approaching and actually the American company has already started shipping some devices. For this reason, the Index icon now appears on the side of compatible games on SteamVR.
This is the right moment for a marketing push, and that’s why Valve is releasing a series of “deep-dive” content marketing articles on the Index. This week, Valve has released a very interesting technical article about the Field Of View of its headset. It is content marketing, but it has been written very well and explains you all the principles behind the field of view. For instance, I’ve learnt that every person perceive a different FOV of the same headset based on the shape of his/her face (that’s why my friend Rob highlighted so much the importance of ergonomics in VR in a post here on this blog), because even 1mm more of distance of the eyes from the lenses can make an important difference in FOV perception. Thanks to this post, I have also finally understood the importance of the canted optics of the Index. I suggest you to read this article, because it is very interesting.
More info (Deep dive articles on the Index)
More info (Deep dive article on the FOV of the Index)
More info (Index icon in SteamVR)
More info (Index shipping started)
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has been launched
Harry Potter Wizards Unite is now available for Android and iOS.
It is the new AR+geolocation game from Niantic, the company behind the huge hit Pokemon Go. It is basically a game that is based on the same framework of Pokemon Go (so, Ingress), but that lives inside the Harry Potter ecosystem. You have to go around your city and find some beasts against which you can fight with magical spells. When it has been announced, analysts predicted huge success for the game, even if I was actually skeptical… because it sounded too much like a Pokemon Go clone and so there wouldn’t have been the novelty factor that made Pokemon Go so disruptive.
According to the first reviews, I was right. The game seems not bad at all, and features also some interesting upgrades over Pokemon Go (e.g. the spell combats are much more intriguing than just launching pokeballs, there are now classes of characters, etc…). But it still remains too similar to its predecessor. Furthermore, this game now introduces a new feature about “the energy”: to cast spells you need energy, but it drains pretty fast and if you want more, you have to pay real money for it. The game looks at the moment too based on this kind of microtransactions and also lacks some very compelling features (like full character customizations). Furthermore, the Harry Potter story doesn’t fit that well into a game that makes you move around a city.
The first feedback I got from the community are In line with “nice, but it could be better”. Popular journalist Robert Scoble has told that it is not bad, but that it prefers playing Beat Saber. I think it summarizes everything.
We’ll see how it will perform in the upcoming months when the game will also be probably updated. Personally, I think it will have a decent number of downloads, and nothing more. I’m more intrigued by the originality of Minecraft Earth.
More info (Game launched)
More info (1st review)
More info (2nd review)
More info (3rd review)
More info (Game sales performance)
News worth a mention
The finalists of the VR Awards have been announced
And I’m very proud of being one of the judges of this amazing initiative. The Winners will be announced in the upcoming months.
Airbus is improving its production processes with HoloLens 2
Airbus is using HoloLens 2 in its production processes, gaining huge advantages. Thanks to Mixed Reality, it is now able to validate the designs of new parts of airplanes in a time that is 80% less than the one needed with traditional methods.
The company is now a very close partner for Microsoft and has already in mind more than 300 scenarios where MR can be applied to improve its production, that thanks to this is expected to grow fast in the upcoming years.
This shows once more how XR in general has an amazing potential in the industrial environment (and if you need help in integrating AR/VR into your business, let me know how I can help you).
Defector is going to be released soon
Defector, one of the most awaited games for the Oculus ecosystem will be out on July, 11th for 20$.
Youtube is going to launch a very interesting AR feature
On iPhone, you will be able soon to try a new amazing AR feature on the Youtube app. When watching a review/tutorial on a makeup product, you will be able to activate a split view and see on half of your screen the video, and on the other one your face taken from the front camera of the phone with a virtual try-on feature of the product you’re watching.
I found an interesting article about DataViz in XR
I found this very interesting article that talks about data visualization in virtual and augmented reality. It is split into two parts: the first one explains some basic concepts of optics, many of which you probably already know (vergence, accomodance, etc…) and a few ones that you probably don’t know (like the Horopter plane). The second one gives a series of pieces of advice on how to create the UI and UX of a DataViz XR experience. If you want to create some data visualization framework in AR/VR, I really advise you to give it a read.
Viveport is slowing getting interesting
HTC Store, once known as a nightmare by VR users, has actually become better, and according to Road To VR, it is now worth activating at least the free trial. It is interesting to know that now there are discounts to buy games and subscriptions.
More info (Road To VR review)
More info (Viveport discounts)
Oculus is getting some little troubles with its PC users
With its latest software update, Oculus has created a bit of a mess, with lots of people not being able to launch (or even install) the Oculus runtime. This has to be summed to the fact that many people owning a Rift S claim seeing some kind of white noise appearing on their visuals.
Oculus is investigating all these PC-related issues and is releasing various fixes for these problems.
More info (White Noise issue)
More info (Workaround to install 1.38 version of Oculus)
More info (Oculus has fixed the OVRService issue)
Mixed Reality software LIV is now out of early access
LIV, the company working on the Mixed Reality recording tool for games, has just announced a very interesting update for its framework that lets you record promotional videos of your game. Now you can easily shoot videos where you are represented not by your real body, but by the virtual avatar that you wish. And it works with and without Vive Trackers.
Experiments with body tracking of ARKit are damn amazing
I have seen two that have captivated my attention:
- An app that shows like a trail of your hand while it moves;
- An experience that lets you cancel (blur) some people from your vision (this is also a bit creepy):
Oculus Quest with a Bender sticker on looks so cool
See the image and agree with me.
Some XR fun
The Argus mod is the best Quest mod you will ever see Funny link
Support me on Patreon
This newsletter has been possible thanks to the support of my Patrons:
- Ilias Kapouranis
- Jason Moore
If you found this roundup useful, support me on Patreon to keep this column alive! Happy VR
The post The Ghost Howls’s VR Week Peek (2019.06.23): HTC teases the Vive Cosmos, Oculus announces AR at OC6 and much more! appeared first on The Ghost Howls.