We were all getting bored in this ecosystem until finally someone leaked the new Quest and made this week a lot more exciting!
Before starting this roundup of news, I want to also announce you that in few hours, at 8pm CEST, 11am PT time, I will have a live chat with the famous technologist Robert Scoble! You can watch it live at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kqX3EqI7SQ&feature=youtu.be See you there!
Top news of the week
The Oculus Quest 2 has been leaked
The famous leaker WalkingCat did it again, leaking this time a new model of the Oculus Quest, in the beginning with some renders, and then with true pictures of a pre-production device (that had been originally shared by redditor CallThePlumber). The visible differences with the Quest 1 are:
- It is all white, with some little black parts;
- The shell of the HMD is all made in plastic, and there is no fabric anymore;
- The tracking cameras are in a slightly different position, maybe to track better the controllers when they are on the side of the head;
- There is only one 3.5mm audio jack;
- The headset seems a bit smaller;
- The IPD slider has vanished;
- There seems to be a switch between the lenses, and it is not clear what it is about. Maybe is to select between two IPD configurations;
- The lenses seem to have a different shape from the ones of the Quest 1, but it is not clear from the pictures;
- The back fitting strap is very different from the one of the Quest, it is made in fabric, and it looks a lot like the one of the Oculus Go (but improved);
- The controllers look like a mix of the ones of the CV1 and the Quest 1. They are more round, and look more comfortable;
- There are tiny design tweaks here and there.
Things that we have no clue:
- Display: my speculation is that it will have a slight increase in resolution and will feature 90Hz;
- Processing power: I imagine a slight evolution with a Snapdragon 845 or 855;
- Price: it’s hard to say, probably in the range $249-$449.
It is clear that it is not a Quest 2, since it doesn’t feature mind-blowing features like big FOV or eye-tracking or full-fingers controllers, so it is something like a Quest S. The community is divided among who thinks that this is a Quest Pro, that is a slight improvement of the previous Quest, or a Quest Lite, that is a cheaper alternative to Quest, or a Quest S that substitutes current Quest. Due to the light color, that is similar to the one of the Go, I have speculated that it can be both options: it could be sold as a cheap media consumption device without controllers and as a great 6DOF headset with controllers.
The leaker WalkingCat says that the announcement date is Semptember, 15th, so we have just to wait some weeks to know the truth! In the meanwhile, many people are holding their purchase of the Quest waiting for more news, so this leak is not good for Facebook’s business…
Other relevant news
Dreams compatibility for PSVR has been released
The day has come and finally, the sandbox to create games without coding that is Dreams on PlayStation has released a patch to be used with virtual reality. That is, from now on, creators from all over the world will be able to express themselves in virtual reality on PlayStation without any particular technical knowledge.
Dreams is an application that lets you develop experiences easily, and then share them with the community. The community can play the games you created, and can also remix them and create better ones upon them. After its release, the VR community has already begun playing with it. In just more than one day, a creator has released a clone of Beat Saber developed entirely on Dreams. It is quite clunky and slow, but it works. Think about it for one moment: someone has made a Beat Saber clone in one day, without knowing how to code. And other members of the community now can expand that game. This is impressive.
Developers like me dislike this kind of systems, we are the nerd guys who like to write lines of code, because they are very powerful. But all the other people that have a headache every time there is a “copy constructor” somewhere, that is all the creatives, the tech enthusiasts, the gamers, they really prefer visual solutions, that are maybe less powerful, but are easier to understand. Dreams give these people exactly what they want, empowering all of them to express themselves, to create new kind of experiences. Dreams can transform everyone into a game developer, and I’m very curious to see what its community will create with it. Now that is VR-compatible, we may have lots of new VR experiences that will be enjoyable in PS, all made in Dreams.
I can’t wait to see this to happen, or I’ll see another time VR wasting a big opportunity. Time will tell.
More info (Dreams for PSVR released)
More info (What happens to current non-VR content on Dreams)
More info (Watch a sample of Dreams used in VR)
More info (11 pieces of info about Dreams in VR)
More info (How to get started with Dreams in VR)
More info (Beat Saber made in Dreams)
Lynx-R1 launches in September with a new design
Do you remember the Lynx-R1, the first headset based on the Snapdragon XR2 reference design, teased by French startup Lynx? If not, well, let me make a recap: startup Lynx opened the preorders some months ago about a new standalone headset all focused on having both virtual reality and passthrough augmented reality, and featuring amazing capabilities like eye tracking, hand tracking, a new lens design, and 5G connectivity (through an add-on). After the preorders opened, the coronavirus scrambled all the plans of all tech companies and we had little news on Lynx.
The news is now that after having got some millions of investment, Lynx is almost ready to launch its product in September. In these months, the headset has also had a complete redesign and it appears incredibly slim to be a VR headset. Its 1,600 × 1,600 LCD display per-eye, together with eye tracking and 5G make me dream of great experimentations, especially in the enterprise sector. What is a bit disappointing is the price, $1500, that anyway is inline with other enterprise hardware, the quite strange design and the fact that it doesn’t support controllers, but only hands tracking.
I appreciate that Lynx is trying to propose something different, and I can’t wait to test it to see how good it is!
IDC says that AR/VR is growing less because of the pandemics, but the outlook is great
The market analysts at IDC have started analyzing the XR market after the coronavirus outbreak and has given us a clear picture of what is happening. A not so happy picture.
As we had predicted months ago, actually the pandemics is having a double effect on AR and VR. The first effect is negative and it is the one that we are seeing in the short term: companies have less money to spend and so they are investing less in research projects with augmented and virtual reality. Also, consumers are spending less because the economic situation is pretty confused. The supply chain of XR products has been affected by the pandemic and devices like the Oculus Quest were always out of stock. For these reasons, the growth of the XR market in 2020 is only being of 35.3% if compared to 2019. It is still a growth, but much smaller than expected.
The good news is that the pandemic is at the same time putting the spotlight on themes like remote working, digital events, remote assistance, all fields in which AR and VR can be very useful. The interest in AR and VR is actually growing, and this has actually accelerated the awareness on immersive technologies and also the development of some kinds of immersive solutions. So, at the end of the day, when in 2021 the worldwide economy will hopefully rebound, XR will grow even faster than expected. IDC estimates a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in AR/VR spending of 76.9% worldwide in 2019–2024 to reach $136.9 billion by 2024.
The report from IDC contains other interesting details. One of them is that China is now the biggest market for XR, followed by the United States. Another one is that in 2021 enterprise spending in VR will overtake the consumer one, so VR will mostly become a business technology. This will especially happen because of the important role that has VR in training and education.
Read this and much more in the reports that I’m linking you here below.
Digital and virtual are the new way of providing events
The coronavirus has lead us to a “new normal”, where things are all different from before. We had to adapt to a new way of living, and even in the regions where now the virus is under control (like here in Italy), all the industries that made business by many people collecting together (e.g. sports, events, discotheques, etc…) are still heavily affected by the pandemic. For this reason, they are looking for new ways to provide their solutions.
The music sector, for instance, is very interested in AR and VR. I have lived it on my skin, since we of NTW organized together with VRrOOm the VR concert of Jean-Michel Jarre on VRChat. But we had many other examples, like the Lost Horizon festival on Sansar, and now the TomorrowLand festival, with many top-notch artists playing in a virtual environment and streamed to the users. It was not a VR concert, but a CGI one, made with impressive graphics, that you all should watch.
The popular “game” Roblox has just announced that it is open to collaborations with music studios, to create installation similar to what Fortnite has made with Travis Scott. Since Roblox is incredibly popular among Gen-Z, it would be a huge market for artists that can’t have concerts in real life anymore.
Sports events can’t have the audience anymore, and now NBA has partnered with Microsoft so that big screens next to NBA matches will show people connected with Microsoft Teams that will watch the match and comment it, to let the players feel less alone.
Also, all industries have been hurt in the sense that companies can’t have big keynotes where they launch new products. Some of these companies are using Zoom, some others like HTC are using VR tools (like ENGAGE), while others like OnePlus have used AR made by Blippar. The Chinese smartphone manufacturer has just performed all its keynote for the launch of its new NORD smartphone in augmented reality for everyone with a phone to watch. The quality is pretty good, with the CEO speaking recorded volumetrically, and some visual effects, photos, videos, and 3D models of the new phone popping up around him, all in 3D, all on your desk. The result is great and I think that everyone should enjoy now keynotes this way.
It is great seeing all companies trying to adapt to this new terrible situation with solutions that are both innovative and cool.
More info (Tomorrowland Festival)
More info (A tiny shot inside TomorrowLand)
More info (Roblox entering the music business)
More info (Microsoft and NBA partnering)
More info (Official page with the launch of the OnePlus NORD)
More info (A little excerpt of the keynote for the OnePlus NORD)
News worth a mention
NVIDIA should release its 3000 series in September
Gamers of the world, prepare your wallets! According to various rumors, the new NVIDIA graphics cards could be unveiled in August, and released in September. We are talking about the RTX30 series, based on the new Ampere architecture. And just to make you understand why you should be excited, the rumors also say that the new GPUs based on Ampere architecture should be up to 75% more powerful than the ones based on Turing architecture. PC VR games are going to look incredible!
(Thanks to Massimiliano Ariani for the tip)
Facebook R&D finds a way to make holographic displays more practical
Facebook Reality Labs has just found a way to increase the field of view of Holographic displays, that can be one of the components used in the VR headsets of the future. This method paves the way for creating such kind of displays in a way that they could be used in actual products, because they have enough FOV but don’t require a huge amount of computational power.
Roomality opens a virtual window inside your house
Roomality is a very interesting startup, offering a product that is like a big window that you install in your house. This window doesn’t let you see the outside world, but it is like a big display that can show you whatever you want, in very high resolution, in 3D, without you having to wear any glasses. Its display is like the one of the Nintendo 3DS, just bigger.
I would love to have something like that in my house, that makes me dream of seeing outside alien planets or crazy things like that, and it is interesting that the company is working in improving it, for instance, to support multiple people in the room.
Ghost Pacer wants to bring AR to runners
Ghost Pacer is a set of AR glasses to be connected to the smartphone, plus a companion app, that helps runners in training. You can set the path for your running session and the time in which you want to complete that path, and then on your glasses you can see in front of you a hologram of someone running following exactly the path you chose, at exactly the pace you chose. This way, training becomes much more efficient.
The Kickstarter for Ghost Pacer is going to run from August, 5th at 10.00AM ET. If you like running, keep an eye open for it!
Oculus introduces new Party features
Oculus Quest owners can now finally launch games together. Thanks to the new Party Together feature, friends can decide to launch a certain multiplayer game together and then play it. If your friends are not online, you can also start a public party and meet new people with which you can play.
The feature seems limited to Quest, since there are no words on a possible usage on Rift.
Researchers keep working on hands tracking
This week I’ve read about two interesting research projects regarding having your hands inside virtual reality:
- FingerTrak, a wristband that can track your full hand pose by just using some low-res thermal cameras (with pretty mediocre results for now);
- A research project by EPFL about soft actuators that can simulate the feeling of touching a virtual object with your fingers. These actuators are very tiny and can grow and shrink to simulate the texture of an object touching the hand. They could be useful for the haptics devices of the future.
Some info on content
- MaskMaker is the new game from the creators of A FisherMan’s Tale and from the trailer it already seems original and cool;
- We’ll have a first look on Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge tomorrow July, 28th;
- Steady is a nice and simple game for VR that in my opinion can be fun;
- In Death: Unchained releases on Quest and from the reviews it is pretty nice;
- Landlord Go is a game similar to Pokemon Go where you must buy and control the real buildings in your town;
- Resolution Games’s Cook-Out is going to launch on September, 3rd;
- Into the Radius gets released and its reviews are positive;
- Immersed, an application that is a mix of BigScreen and Virtual Desktop launches on Quest. The good news is that it has a free tier, so that you can use it for free to control the desktop of your PC from your Quest. If you pay, you can also share it with your friends, and work together with them in VR.
News from partners (and friends)
No news to share about friends… so just let me do a shoutout for GamerTag VR and his Youtube channel!
Some XR fun
VR sometimes is very realistic…
These photomontages with my face are getting out of hand…
I never thought that one day I could read a developer happy about its new vomit system in VR :O
When VR makes you cry
What VRChat truly is
Sometimes in PokerStars new unexpected things happen
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(Header image by CallThePlumber)
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