After Easter weekend, we were all relaxed, digesting all chocolate eggs we have eaten. When, suddenly, Tuesday came and gave us a hard wake up with a bazillion of virtual reality news! Here you are a small digest if you missed something!
At F8 conference, Facebook has announced Spaces, its social VR environment.
So, what is Spaces? Spaces is that cool application that Facebook showcased at Oculus Connect 3 …the one we believed it was pure fluff.
Well, it seems that it is not fluff… since now it has been released! With Spaces you will be able to cartoonize yourself and then meet all your friends in VR!
What are the advantages of Facebook Spaces wrt other social VR platforms?
- It is completely integrated with Facebook, so you will automatically have your friends, your photos, etc… in there;
- Since it is integrated with facebook, you can share content you create with it (e.g. virtual selfies), with all your facebook friends;
- Using facebook photos, you can automatically create a cartoon avatar of yourself using your facebook profile picture (or another fb picture). Facebook guys have done an amazing work in trying to make a funny character starting from a photo of yourself;
- You can enter 360 photos and videos with your friends (and now you can share 360 photos and videos within facebook…). I don’t think people has millions of 360photos to share (360-cameras are not so common), but it is surely a cool feature to watch together a 360-video (like Gorillaz‘s one);
- It is backed by an enormous company;
- You can write objects with your hand (like if your finger was a 3D printer) and then use them in VR with your friends! Amazing;
- It makes you communicate even with people that don’t own VR! This has been the true genius feature, in my opinion: one of the greatest problems of current VR social apps is that few people have VR headsets, so we don’t have friends to meet in the metaverse. Thanks to Facebook Spaces, we can videocall people from VR to a standard phone: we’ll see them as a videostream, while they would see us on their smarpthones as our VR avatars. This is the bridge between old and new tech that people need to become involved in social VR.
So, summarizing: advantage is integration with facebook. And disadvantage is… integration with facebook, with all that privacy stuff we’re already worried about.
Here you are a cool video of facebook Spaces. It seems really an amazing product!
Spaces is still in beta… in fact, I’ve read some people commenting about some buggy behaviours now… but we VR passionates are used to initial malfunctioning, aren’t we?
If you’re wondering why has been Facebook announcing it and not Oculus, well…. ahahahahahahaha are you really asking that? Oculus doesn’t exist anymore… it’s just a division of facebook, now.
Facebook is betting hard on AR. We already read about some plans, but now it’s official. But it is not creating an augmented reality headset like HoloLens: it is primarily investing in software, to add augmented reality effects to smartphone images and videos.
Why not a headset? Well, we’re too early for an augmented reality headsets market (and HoloLens sales numbers are a proof of that) and Oculus is already investing in a risky technology like virtual reality.
Smartphones are still the leading technology and Facebook, while shaping the future with awesome tech like VR, has to think about the present. Snapchat is the leader social network when comes to add augmented reality effects to photos and videos and Facebook had to fight this. Considering that Snapchat is maybe the most dangerous competitor for Facebook, they had to do something to supersede competition…. and they did it. They launched a platform for developers offering super-duper-computer vision algorithms to add AR effects to video… a lot of work has still to be done, but initial results are pretty amazing. The algorithm will be able to recognize stuff like cups and tables and add AR effects to them (like adding fake steam to the video of a real cup in the real world)… pretty impressive, considering that it is done using a single RGB camera!
Anyway, I’m sure that all these algos that they’re developing for phone will be reused in the future for some AR glasses made by facebook… or for some AR platform that will make facebook to run amazingly on AR glasses. But we’ll have to wait to see these implementations…
Google Earth Update
Google Earth VR is finally available for Oculus Rift + Touch. Finally we don’t have to use FakeVive anymore to try this awesome product. Thanks to this update we’ll be able to navigate all the world inside VR using our comfortable Touch controllers.
Google Earth has also been improved and now features an amazing search functionality: we can easilty search for a place and then enter into it in VR… cool, isn’t it?
Do you remember the cheap virtual reality headsets announced by Microsoft about which I talked some times ago? Well, VP of Lenovo North America told in an interview that by the end of summer its Windows10 headset will be released.
We have finally a release period for one of these headsets that, due to low price, have the power to disrupt the market. Acer headsets should be released even earlier, but we still don’t have a clear date.
Bonus: Free Starcraft
Original Starcraft & expansion Brood War are now completely free at this link! Starcraft has been one of my most beloved games ever… mmh… I’m thinking about throwing my VR headsets and going back playing with it! Kerrighan, I’m coming!
And that’s it… hope to have done to you a good resumée of this hot tuesday. If you liked it, please like and share!
(Header Image by Facebook)