Interesting articles about VR this week


Apple reportedly has hundreds of people working on a secret virtual reality team

Apple’s latest acquisition is Flyby Media, an AR startup focused on helping phones “see” the world that worked closely with Google on Project Tango, its mobile 3D mapping division. Other key buys include startups MetaioFaceshift, and PrimeSense, which gave Apple expertise into virtual and augmented projection techniques, computer vision, and motion capture. Apple has reportedly been building prototype VR headsets for several months. It’s unclear right now whether those devices would encase an iPhone, like Samsung and Oculus’ Gear VR and Google’s Cardboard, or be a standalone unit like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.




Samsung is Giving Away Far More Gear VR Units Than We Expected


The Samsung representative wasn’t specific as to the actual figure, but said that 300,000 is “only portion of the available units in the promotion in the US,” and “grossly understates” the number of units being given away in total, which includes additional stock in other territories.




Mobile virtual reality on track to hit $861M in revenues this year

People wear Samsung Gear VR devices as they attend the launching ceremony of the new Samsung S7 and S7 edge smartphones during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 21, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People wear g the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 21, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea






“Mobile VR is on track to reach $861 million in revenues this year, according to data firm SuperData Research. That is a big increase for a market that is only just getting off the ground thanks to Samsung’s Gear VR (which it makes with Oculus VR) and Google’s Cardboard casings, which enable smartphones to power virtual reality games and apps. While Samsung and Google are not jumping out of bed each morning to fight over less than $1 billion, both are treating this as a chance to establish themselves as leaders for early adopters and developers.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is predicting VR will grow to $110 billion by 2020 if you also include the related augmented reality space that combines virtual imagery with the physical world. With that kind of money up for grabs, Google and Samsung see an opportunity to control how you download VR software. The Google Play store already has dozens of VR apps, and keeping that library growing is one of the key ways that the companies could stand to profit.”


Google’s secret VR weapon is Project Tango

In one of the craziest demos I’ve ever tried, I strapped an Android tablet to my face in a room and started walking around in VR, untethered to a computer. Without the aid of cameras, the tablet automatically mapped the room I was in and let me explore an ethereal space with a white tree and floating heads. But the crazy bit was that Google’s employees, including Tango lead Johnny Lee, were also in that same space. I could see their heads in VR and they could see me, and their position in VR was exactly the same position in real life. I reached out to one of those virtual floating heads and my real hand tapped Lee’s real shoulder. It was wild.




“HTC Vive is the second major high-end VR headset to go on sale this year. In January, Oculus VR — a subsidiary of Facebook — starting selling its Rift head-mounted display for $600. The company didn’t share any numbers about that performance, but the first shipments sold out in a matter of minutes. That pushed new orders from March into April and then into May by the end of the first day. Today, new Rift preorders won’t ship until July.”



VR Will Make Science Even Cooler

Hands on: Minecraft for the Oculus Rift may be the best VR game to date

“Minecraft’s exploratory nature, however, feels particularly suited to the Rift headset. Aside from the odd minute or so of combat, you’ll probably be exploring your surroundings in a leisurely manner, rather than trying to keep an eye on dozens of enemies.

I say this because I did feel a real sense of vertigo when playing Minecraft on the Rift, especially when perched on a “glass” bridge high up in the Minecraft landscape. I say this as someone who has happily peered over the edge of both the Burj Khalifa and Taipei 101, and weathered the original Rift rollercoaster demo with no problems. Microsoft ran the demo on a PC, and Microsoft’s PR representatives specifically told me the framerate was locked at 90 frames per second, the minimum level for “good” VR that eliminates motion sickness.You may have a completely different experience, but it might be something to think about before buying a Rift.”

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