I have to say that this week in VR has not been that amazing. Maybe it is just that most people are thinking about vacations, but we had no breathtaking announcement or news. The most interesting news of the whole week has been the presentation of the hard work of Neuralink by Elon Musk, that is technically BCI and not VR, that I have detailed in this post of mine.
Anyway, I’ll promise that you’ll find something worth reading even in this weekly roundup! So, keep on reading…
Top news of the week
Oculus Rift and Gear VR have sold 10M units
At the beginning of the week, Jack McCauley, one of the founders of the Oculus startup, had claimed in an interview with CNBC that Facebook VR will never succeed. Of course, he was not only talking about Oculus but about VR in general. He said that VR is cool to try for one day or two, but then people don’t know what to do with headsets. To prove his claims, he put on the tale the sales numbers of the Oculus devkits: “The original DK1, released in 2013 sold 70,000 units while the follow-up DK2 from 2014 sold 150,000”, he said. These numbers are of course far away from mainstream adoption.
Since this article was going to foster a new wave of “VR is dead” articles from mainstream media, one of the other cofounders of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, has answered sharing some of the secret numbers of virtual reality headsets’ sales. According to him, summing the sales of Oculus Rift and Gear VR, we obtain more than 10 million units sold. That’s, of course, an interesting number: even if we all know that Gear VR accounts for at least 80–95% of that amount, I personally thought that the sales were much lower. This proves to me what various people already told me: the sales numbers of analysts are all wrong (and no, I don’t even believe to SuperData saying that the Quest has sold 1 million units in one month).
VR has potential, but it still needs time.
Other relevant news
Oculus wants to trade exclusive games with Sony
This has been an interesting week for what concerns content for the Oculus platform.
The bombshell comes directly from Jason Rubin, that interviewed from Kotaku, has clearly said that he wants to trade exclusive games with Sony. This would mean that some great Oculus exclusive games (e.g. Echo VR) could be ported to PSVR and some amazing PSVR games (e.g. Resident Evil 7) could be played on the Oculus platform.
This would be really exciting: we people with an Oculus headset really want to play Resident Evil 7 (I am a big fan of the saga) or Blood&Truth, and the fact that it could be available on my Rift, would mean an instant-buy for me. Also, this would also signal a more open approach by Facebook, to open a bit its walled garden.
In the same article, Rubin states that Oculus is working on a system to let players record mixed reality games of them playing without the need for a green screen. That would be awesome for marketing, I can’t wait.
The article is great also because finally Kotaku, that is a general indie game magazine, says positive things about VR, saying that is going to succeed (yay!). This is important for the reputation of the technology.
In the same period, Ubisoft CEO, answering to a question made by his investors, has released an answer that makes us think that he’s really discussing with Facebook about a possible porting of some popular games like Assassins’ Creed to VR.
I want to close this chapter about Oculus games talking about Jigsaw 360: this is the first unofficial game for Oculus Quest, that you have to download and install through SideQuest, that you must actually buy to play. This may mean the beginning of a parallel market for Oculus Quest games, external from the Oculus Store. Will it be successful? Will it be profitable? We will discover it in the upcoming months…
Facebook Reality Labs has released two interesting research results
FRL is the R&D department of Facebook that works on immersive realities. This week, it has released information about two intriguing experiments of its.
The most interesting one regards the correlation between the sense of haptics and the other senses perceived by the human body. When you touch an object in VR, you must feel the related haptics, hear an associated sound and see your virtual fingers touching the objects. In the article, it has been explained how the processes in our brain mix this info so that they become correlated. For instance, if the sense of haptics is perfect, but the related audio is delayed, the brain will also feel the sense of haptics as being delayed like the audio. This is mind-blowing. Further studies will tell us how to mix all the senses in a believable way.
The other project is called Tasbi, and it is a wrist that reminds a lot the Myo, that is able to not only detect the pose of the fingers but also to provide good haptic feedback. All of this while staying on the wrist, so it could be combined with existing controllers (like Oculus Touch) to increase the sense of the presence of your hands in VR.
SparkAR is an interesting tool for creators and marketers
When talking about AR in business, Tom Emrich is for sure one of the best thought leaders. And he has just published a very interesting article about SparkAR, the tool to create filters for Instagram and Messenger in an easy way.
In the article, he details how it is easy learning how to use SparkAR and the community is great.
These filters are also becoming very popular (MILLION of views), and this means that it is possible to create a business out of them. You can create these filters for your customers, or you can put them online yourself and become popular (so that later you can start selling them), or you can use them to attract people to your business. Currently, it is not possible to use SparkAR for commercial activities
PSVR 2 will be cool but don’t overhype it
This week there have been various rumors about PSVR 2. Some claimed it will be wireless, others claimed it will be wireless, with eye-tracking, high resolution, 200° FOV, and other cool stuff… all for $250.
Luckily, serious journalists still exist. Jeremy Horwitz of VentureBeat has clarified that the above statement is not possible: either the headset will cost $250, or it will have amazing specifications. Both are not possible.
According to his analysis, PSVR 2:
- Will be launched in 2021
- It will feature eye-tracking
- FOV will be around 120°
- The compound resolution will be 2,560 by 1,440
- Wireless support will be included, but in a parallel Pro model, more expensive than the base one
- Will costs $300 for the base model and $4–500 for the Pro one.
These seem more reasonable statements to me.
News worth a mention
You can celebrate the Moon Week in VR and AR
50 years ago, the first man has landed on the moon. To celebrate it, it is possible to experience some AR and VR applications, like the one just released for the purpose by Time magazine (and that has been appreciated by lots of my XR peers).
Submissions for Sundance festival are now open
Sundance is one of the most important storytelling festivals of the year, and every year it features a lot of amazing AR and VR experiences. The applications for the 2020 edition are now open: if you have an interesting idea for a storytelling XR content, it is your time to make it shine!
SIGGRAPH is going to show some amazing XR tech
Upload VR has selected some interesting XR technologies that will be showcased at SIGGRAPH at the end of July. There are the experiments of NVIDIA on AR foveated rendering and AR prescription lenses, but also a weird tail that you can wear in VR to change your balance! Check them out.
DigiCapital has released a new report on XR investments landscape
In it, you can read some interesting insights, like for instance:
- Probably the inflection point for the XR market will be late 2020 (with Apple entering the AR market);
- Chinese XR companies have raised 2.5x the money of US ones;
- Number of early-stage deals is the lowest in the last 4 years. This means that investors can bargain a better deal with startups. This is an opportunity for investors… since the inflection point near, and they can have a better deal, it is the right moment to make an investment
- On the contrary, startups raising Series A and B rounds got bigger evaluations with respect to last year;
- – The categories in which investors are investing more are:
- Core XR tech (hardware)
- Creators’ solutions (e.g. game engines, software to create XR applications easily, etc…)
- AR/VR games
- Number of M&A (Acquisitions) remains low.
Lenovo ThinkReality A6 headset seems disappointing
Some months ago, Lenovo has announced ThinkReality A6, an AR headset a bit similar to HoloLens, but cheaper. This week, I have finally found a review about it on Next Reality, but it claims that it is actually a headset with a quality that was acceptable in 2016 but now in 2019. The FOV is still little and the holograms appear transparent as ghosts. My friend Micah Blumberg has confirmed that it is disappointing. What a pity!
Qualcomm announces Snapdragon 855 Plus
This new chipset is an evolution of the previous 855 model and adds functional improvements in all areas that we like: AR, VR, and AI. No 5G though… this is still a model for LTE. I hope that some standalone headsets will start using it!
Knight Foundation grant helps XR creators
If you like mixing AR and VR with art, you should check out this new grant by the Knight Foundation. Its purpose is funding projects that mix creativity with immersive realities. The total funding amount is $750,000 and you could take a share of it to realize your project.
A future update may fix Rift S’s biggest issue
One of the biggest issue haunting Rift S’s users is the “static noise” that sometimes appears on the display. According to Oculus, a new update that will be released soon will solve this problem. A good news for all Oculus users.
Microsoft has showcased a great holographic translating technology
Microsoft has just made a public demo where Julia White was talking on stage, while a holographic copy of her (recorded as a volumetric video) translated everything in Japanese.
I have to say that it is an impressive demo, that shows a lot of expertises that Microsoft actually owns. But I agree with my friend Alex Coulombe when he says that it can create unrealistic expectations on the technology. First of all, it is a staged demo and I’m not completely sure it is translating in real time. Then, recording a volumetric video is very expensive. In the end, all the scene, seen from a Hololens, that has a limited field of view, is surely not that great as portraited in the video.
Some interesting articles if you are into enterprise XR
This week I’ve found three interesting articles for what concerns enterprise use of XR:
- A list of 15 XR applications used for remote assistance in industrial environments;
- The fact that Audi is preparing the industrial processes for the new e-Tron GT all in VR;
- Some examples of use of AR/VR experiences to sell stuff in the beauty and fashion industry.
Since I am a B2B AR/VR consultant… if you need help in developing AR/VR experiences to improve the productivity of your company, feel free to contact me!
Some interesting articles if you are into XR gaming
The great news is that Humble Bundle has a new bundle all focused on VR called “VRy Positive” and the discounts it offers are insane. Do you want some examples? Doom VFR at 9.40$, Skyrim VR at 18.80$, Space Junkies at 6.29$! It’s time to buy some VR games, baby!
Some other interesting news:
- Gadgeteer is coming to Early Access: it is a very original game that makes you create Rube Goldberg machines;
- Sony will offer a free demo of Blood&Truth on PSVR!
- Tea for God is an upcoming free game for Quest that really exploits roomscale in an original way;
- At Comic-con, the Batman VR experience has been much appreciated. You fly like Batman while you are in an indoor skydiving tunnel! :O
Some XR fun
Why it is better to buy a Rift S to substitute the Rift CV1
When the Rift is broken, but you want to play Beat Saber anyway
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(Header image by Oculus)
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