Etee Kickstarter Launches for Finger-tracking Controller with SteamVR Tracking

London-based hardware startup TG0 has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Etee dev kit, a VR controller with integrated SteamVR Tracking. TG0 positions the controller’s button-less design and finger tracking as its main attractions.

TG0 has launched the Etee Kickstarter campaign with the hopes of raising £45,900 (~$56,000) for its VR controller dev kit. The Etee dev kit will come in two versions, one with 3DOF tracking starting at £200 (~$265) for a pair and another with 6DOF SteamVR Tracking starting at £240 (~$315) for a pair. There’s a range of higher tiers available with more unique rewards, including a version with advanced haptics and another with a cool transparent shell.

Based on a thesis that sounds… downright wrong to the ears of any VR gamer, TG0 says that “buttons are way out of date,” and touts the Etee controller’s button-less, trigger-less, and joystick-less design as its major selling point, alongside finger-sensing, which the company says detects proximity, touch, and pressure.

This is in contrast to the rest of the VR industry which has steadily coalesced around VR controllers and games which make use of use of buttons, triggers, and joysticks for key gaming interactions. TG0 says that Etee supports gestures which can be used in place of buttons.

While removing the reliance on binary controls sounds great on paper, in practice it has proven difficult in the VR gaming space because of the need for precise and highly reliable inputs.

But VR gaming isn’t the only use-case the company is touting for the Etee controllers. As a dev kit, they could of course be used for any application where motion input is useful. Indeed, VR content that doesn’t demand the binary precision of hardcore game experiences—like training, art, therapy, social, remote control, and more—could definitely leverage Etee as a more intuitive means of input than a VR controller covered in unfamiliar buttons, triggers, and sticks. We’ve made a similar point about Oculus Quest’s experimental hand-tracking feature (which of course also lacks buttons, triggers, and sticks).

Image courtesy TG0

Though the controllers are a dev kit at this stage, thanks to integration with the SteamVR Input system, the Etee controllers should be technically compatible with SteamVR games out of the box, though we’d expect the need to experiment with custom bindings for many games to reach a point where things are truly playable with the controllers given the need to remap buttons and other controls to Etee’s unique inputs.

Image courtesy TG0

TG0 says developers can expect battery life up to 6 hours of continuous use and 14 hours of standby, and that the 3DOF version of the controller weighs 75 grams and the SteamVR Tracking version weighs 120 grams.

The Etee Kickstarter campaign runs until May 11th and the company expects the first ‘Early Bird’ controllers will begin shipping in December 2020.

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‘Iron Man VR’ for PSVR Delayed Indefinitely Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Camouflaj, the studio behind PlayStation VR exclusive Marvel’s Iron Man VR, had initially intended for its high-flying super hero adventure to arrive on PSVR February 28th, 2020. The studio had subsequently delayed to May 15th, however now Sony says the delay will be until further notice due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Update (April 2nd, 2020): Sony today released news that Iron Man VR and The Last of Us Part II will be delayed “until further notice,” as the publisher says the global coronavirus pandemic is preventing the company from “providing the launch experience our players deserve,”

The Last of Us II was slated to release on May 29th, 2020, while Iron Man VR was headed to PSVR users on May 15th.

Update (January 20th, 2020): Camouflaj recently tweeted that Iron Man VR will arrive on May 15th on PSVR. Here’s the studio’s full statement below:

‘In order to deliver on our vision and meet the high expectations of our amazing community, we’ve made the difficult decision to move Marvel’s Iron Man VR to a May 15, 2020 release. We truly appreciate your patience and understanding. You’ll be hearing from us again soon!”

Original Article (October 15th, 2019): The game tosses you into the boots of Tony Stark where you fend off attacks from the mysterious anti-corporate hacktivist Ghost, the game’s main nemesis who wants to dismantle Stark’s empire by using his own technology against him.

“In our game, Ghost is a great foil for Tony Stark—she not only holds a grudge against our hero, but holds a mirror up to him,” said Brendan Murphy, the game’s lead writer. “As a witness to the damage caused by Stark-made weapons years earlier, Ghost’s fight against Iron Man is both ideological and personal. Because of Ghost, our complex and fascinating hero must reconcile his troubled past, both on and off the battlefield…”

Image courtesy Sony

We’re sure to see more of Iron Man VR in the weeks leading up to its February release, although from our hands-on this summer, it’s clear there’s some serious potential for it to become an excellent VR game. Road to VR’s Ben Lang says it’s thanks to the game’s innovative flying mechanics that do a pretty remarkable job of making you feel like you’ve stepped into the iconic hero’s super suit.

Iron Man VR is already available for pre-order through the PlayStation Store, and is slated to arrive in two specific flavors:

Standard Edition: $40 USD / $50 CAD (physical & digital copy)

Digital Deluxe Edition: $50 USD / $60 CAD (digital only):

  • Marvel’s Iron Man VR Game
  • 4 Deluxe Edition Deco Armors (Golden Avenger, Black Centurion, Sun Stinger, Stealth Armor)
  • 12 Research Points – Research Points are gained by analyzing combat data from Iron Man’s performance in the field. This research and analysis allows Friday to develop new technology (weapons and augments) for the Impulse Suit. Use these Research Points to unlock some weapons and augments early and customize to play style.
  • Marvel’s Iron Man VR Digital Deluxe Soundtrack
  • Digital Deluxe Edition Iron Man PS4 Theme

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‘Lies Beneath’ Review – A Nightmarish Shooter Oozing with Comic Book Style

Lies Beneath is a single-player survivor horror from Drifter Entertainment, the studio behind Gunheart (2018), Rise of the Gunters (2018), and the Quest version of Robo Recall (2016). Departing somewhat from its previous VR titles, Drifter has delivered a gritty, stylish standalone tale that serves up equal doses of violence and fear, making for a unique offering in Quest’s still fairly demure library of games. A few issues keep me from truly loving it, but Lies Beneath still proves to be a super stylish and serviceable shooter.

Lies Beneath Details:

Developer: Drifter Entertainment
Publisher: Oculus Studios
Available On: Oculus Quest (Rift coming soon)
Reviewed On: Quest
Release Date: March 31st, 2020
Price: $30

Gameplay

The car has gone off the side of the road. Your dad has disappeared, and the trail of blood leading into the cave beckons you to enter. A shadowy figure is watching, and that’s when the break in reality begins—and you’re not sure where it ends.

You can imagine with that description alone that playing Lies Beneath was a pretty daunting task. At the beginning, the game sets the stage by suggesting users wear headphones for complete audio immersion. It’s not a bad idea if you want to shut out anyone else in the house who’s idly bumping around, because after a while you’ll begin to tune into every directional audio signal for signs of your imminent demise from the game’s ghoulish creatures.

While keeping out those random outside jostles can be important to maintaining your sanity, I still opted to go with Quest’s default audio because I kind of instinctively wanted some semblance of separation from the game’s gritty melange of vibes, which felt like equal parts Tales of the Crypt, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Sin City.

Image courtesy Drifter Entertainment

Firstly, Lies Beneath is a Quest game that’s punching above its weight class. It cleverly hides its mobile roots with a hand-drawn, cell shaded style that plays out in an extremely dark and super claustrophobic swath of environments. As a result, loading new areas is invisible and instantaneous, enemies are always lurking around each corner, and you’re left with very little break in pacing as a result. Pressure on the player to move forward is at a near constant, which in part justifies the game’s singular gauntlet; there’s little exploration to be had outside of the main pathway, but you may easily be fooled into thinking otherwise with how long and truly winding the game’s levels are.

The game’s constant pressure is relieved only momentarily at generic rest stops, which oftentimes includes the same set of ammo supply crates, weapons, food for mobile health regen, and a fire that cures any wounds you may have. Outside of these periodic stops, there are also save points scattered throughout the game in the form of lightable lanterns.

Image courtesy Drifter Entertainment

These stops add a much more ‘gamey’ feeling than I would have preferred, as you’re basically fed all of the kit you need (or accidentally drop along the way) at painfully obvious moments, and in the same predictable format. There are some tiny bits of exploration as you run across found items that allow you to find more loot at your rest stop, but like I said, you’re basically funneled through a very linear pathway.

As for making your way through the narrative, you’ll find a modest variety of weapons along the way, including things like pistols, shotguns, and bladed weapons such as axes, butcher knives, and machetes. Shooting, I think, is purposefully meant for mid to short-range kills; there are no iron sights, and virtual recoil makes shooting feel a little unpredictable at longer ranges, which puts most of the action a few meters away at any given time. Ammo is rare on all but the easiest of the three difficulty settings, making your shooting skills especially relevant as you default to keeping baddies at arm’s length.

Image courtesy Drifter Entertainment

Melee is a big part too, but it feels more like a simplistic last resort than a true alternative to shooting, as you can’t appreciably block or dodge incoming attacks, leaving you to swing frantically and hope for the best.

In all of this, your lighter provides you with a dim light as well as a constant hint as to where you need to go next, as the flame waves in the direction of your next objective. Not only that, but it also injects a simple reticle for your pistols, and also reveals enemy weak points for one-shot dispatches. The reticle helps cover up some of my shooting woes, but I’d rather have functional sights personally.

 

This, as you’d imagine, using all of these items keeps you on your toes, as you need to quickly juggle between bladed weapons, pistols, food, and two-handed weapons such as shotguns. The inventory system is minimal, relegating you to holsters; two points on your hips, two on your shoulders, and a single one on your chest reserved for the lighter. Playing seated can be a pain in the ass if you have arm rests, so you should either play standing or on a flat surface like a couch so you can easily reach down to holster and unholster items.

Image courtesy Drifter Entertainment

One of the bigger gripes I have with Lies Beneath is variety of enemies; it’s functionally on the low side even despite a dozen or so different character models. The game’s 20 levels are littered with interesting-looking baddies, although they’re effectively variations of weak or strong bullet sponges with a few weak spots sprinkled for good measure, which is underlined in a few wave-style battles that show them for their true colors. There are boss fights however to break up moments when complacency inevitably sets in, and thankfully a majority of bosses felt like they were designed with the expectation of the player using a previously learned skill. There was one in particular that threw a complete one-off curve ball which was an interesting turn of events.

In the six and half hours it took me to finish, I never ran into what I’d call a puzzle. There are obstacles, sure, but nothing that didn’t take some instruction that I’d learned only a few minutes prior. That doesn’t really bother me, although I think Lies Beneath could have gone the extra mile and inserted some interesting brain teasers to chew on amidst the never-ending howls and gnashing of teeth.

Immersion

Where combat fails to truly impress, the atmosphere takes the reins. It’s like stepping into a graphic novel, replete with comic book text bubbles littering the game at key points to tell the lion’s share of the story. The drab, unforgiving color palette reminded me of Sin City, albeit without the pop of pure momentary color among the game’s grey, black, brown, pale blue, and dirty shades of red. Some may accuse it of being repetitive and maybe too dark, but in the same breath the art style does an admirable job of suffocating any hope of reprieve.

Image courtesy Drifter Entertainment

As a result of the comic book motif, at times I felt the story was a bit difficult to process. The word bubbles seem more artistically driven, and not necessarily what the player would actually need after they’ve just been chased through a maze by a machete-swinging demon. I personally would have liked voice overs here to reinforce the narrative at key points when reading what essentially is a floating sign board, although to each their own. Although it’s not the most deep, or engaging of stories, it is undeniably stylish.

Pet peeve incoming: force grab is the only way to interact with objects, which at times can be a bit unnerving when you simply want to grab a nearby magazine, box of ammo, what have you. This is a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but I firmly believe you should be able to grab something if your hand can ‘touch’ it. To that effect, reloading is pretty much a constant pain. Running out of bullets auto-ejects your mag and replaces it with a new one. Snapping the revolver closed or shoving in the mag into the pistol can be done one-handed, but it’s not super intuitive since both the mag and revolver’s chamber aren’t physics-based. More often than not you have to holster an item in your non-dominant hand to reload a gun in your other, which in the heat of battle may leave you flailing around and cursing.

My last sore point: guns don’t double as melee weapons. No amount of flailing with an empty shotgun or bare fists will do any damage, although you can technically block incoming objects thrown from baddies.

Comfort

I found Lies Beneath to be a bit challenging comfort-wise in my standard default playing style, which is free locomotion and snap-turning. Everything is so twisty and turny that I found myself rushing around past gads of near-field objects, stopping, turning, and basically making myself feel queasy in the process.

Thankfully you can teleport and look around naturally, although you’ll really have to overcome the primal urge to get through to the next save point as fast as possible. I don’t hate teleportation, but free locomotion is so much easier and immersive, so I tended to stick to my preferred movement style and just take the game in smaller chunks.

If you’re a smooth turning fan, Lies Beneath has you covered too, although you should be aware that only a minority of players seem to be unaffected by what essentially is one of the least comfortable locomotion options.

The post ‘Lies Beneath’ Review – A Nightmarish Shooter Oozing with Comic Book Style appeared first on Road to VR.

‘Half-Life: Alyx’ Update Improves Support for Left-handed Players

The latest Half-Life: Alyx patch, Update 1.2, brings a handful of adjustments and fixes, as well as improved support for left-handed players.

When you start a new game in Half-Life: Alyx, the game asks you to select your ‘Weapon Hand’ which becomes the hand to which weapons are attached. At launch, the implementation of the ‘Weapon Hand’ selection meant that if you picked the right hand then you’d wield your weapon with that hand and your movement controls would be on the left hand (as expected), but if you picked the left hand, the weapon would go in your left hand and the movement controls would go on your right hand.

This is odd compared to how most modern VR games handle locomotion, which is to always put the movement controls on the left hand and the rotation controls in the right hand, regardless of which hand the player wants to hold their gun with.

Valve apparently got the message that tying the movement and rotation controls together with weapon-handedness made things feel off for left-handed players, and the latest version of Half-Life: Alyx, Update 1.2, now makes these options independent from one another.

The update also added an option to display subtitles only on the spectator view, which will be helpful for streamers and local spectators who can’t hear the sound in the headset. Additionally, Valve changed the Height Adjust accessibility options to be clearer and improved the default Height Adjust button binding for some controllers.

SEE ALSO
9 ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ Mods We’d Love to See

The update also brought performance and UI adjustments, and a handful of crash fixes. See the Update 1.2 patch notes for full details.

With this update Valve also published a Half-Life: Alyx Performance Tips page to help players tune their computers and the game for the smoothest performance; it’s worth going over if you’ve been having performance issues with the game .

The post ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ Update Improves Support for Left-handed Players appeared first on Road to VR.

How to Connect With Consumers on LinkedIn: 5 B2C Examples

Does your business sell consumer goods? Looking for alternative ways to reach your B2C customers? In this article, you’ll discover how businesses in five B2C industries are using LinkedIn to connect with individual prospects and consumers. The Case for B2C Outreach on LinkedIn Although LinkedIn has traditionally been known as a B2B network, the platform […]

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Science Packing, Robotics Work Ahead of Spaceship Traffic

The space station flies into an orbital sunset
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship (at right) and a pair of the space station’s main solar arrays foreshadow a trek into an orbital sunset.

A U.S. cargo craft is being packed for its return to Earth next week while robotics controllers get ready to install a new European science platform on the International Space Station. The Expedition 62 crew also continued its ongoing human research activities.

The reusable SpaceX Dragon space freighter is being loaded this week with thousands of pounds of science experiments and station hardware. Robotics controllers will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to remove Dragon from the Harmony module after its hatch is closed early Monday. Dragon will be released back into Earth orbit Monday at 9:52 a.m. EDT for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later.

NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan will wrap up the science packing late Sunday. The duo will be transferring live mice, plant cells and other time-critical research samples into Dragon so scientists can understand how genetic expression changes in space.

Human research continued on board the station today as Meir examined and captured imagery of Morgan’s eyes with a fundoscope to learn how space-caused upward fluid shifts affect vision. Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos measured the station’s radiation environment then explored how future crews could pilot spaceships and robotic rovers on planetary expeditions.

Bartolomeo, an external science payload from the European Space Agency (ESA), will soon be installed on the outside of the Columbus laboratory. The complex installation work is being choreographed from the ground as flight controllers remotely command the Canadarm2 and the Dextre fine-tuned robotic hand. The ESA science device will enable the command and control of numerous external investigations on Columbus.

Back on Earth in Kazakhstan, the Expedition 63 crew continued reviewing its mission procedures today then took a break for traditional pre-launch activities. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will launch to the station April 9 aboard the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. After a six-hour ride to their new home in space, the trio will begin a 195-day mission aboard the orbital lab.

How To Play Gamecube & Wii Games Natively On Oculus Quest

Players will need a bluetooth controller and their own ROM files.

Those familiar with the world of video game emulation are no doubt familiar with the open-source console emulator Dolphin. Originally released in 2003 on Windows, this brilliant piece of software allows players to run Nintendo Gamecube and Wii console games on their Windows, macOS, and Android devices.

Last year a user going by the name Pixelacos on YouTube posted a video of Dolphin running natively on an Oculus Quest headset. The VR emulator, while rough, does a commendable job at running Gamecube and Wii games in 2D on the Quest, especially considering the standalone headsets’ limited processing power. Some games work better than others according to Pixelacos, though to get any Nintendo game running natively on Oculus hardware is a feat in its own right.

Here’s how to get started playing Gamecube and Nintendo Wii games on your Quest headset today:

  1. Download and install SideQuest to your Windows PC or Mac. Be sure you have your Oculus Quest headset set to Developer Mode.
  2. Download and sideload the modified Dolphin emulator to your headset via SideQuest.
  3. Gather your ROM files and copy them to your Quest.

Those interested will need a Bluetooth controller and a computer capable of running SideQuest. You will also need to provide your own ROM files for the games you wish to play.

Feature Image Credit: Pixelacos Gameplays

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From Brain-Computer Interfaces To Digital Humans: How These Technologies Are Bringing Us Closer To The Metaverse

Just how far away is full-dive VR?

Technology can augment the world around us, it can enhance the human experience, our capabilities, and also extend our reality to digital and virtual worlds. As people flock online during quarantine we now find ourselves experimenting with new platforms, pushing immersive technologies to the limits, and collaborating in new ways; from eye-tracking technology and facial tracking to biometrics and brain-control interfaces. But just how far are we from becoming one with the metaverse and what can we learn about ourselves through sensory technologies?

Brain-Computer Interfaces

Brain-computer interface systems like Neurable’s VR game Awakening uses an electrode-laden headband, connected to an HTC Vive HMD, to track brain activity. The software analyzes the data to figure out what should be happening in a game. In 2017, the MIT Technology Review wrote that only one year later this technology could be mainstream and picked up by VR arcade companies. It was an optimistic estimate as consumers and hardware alike have required a transition and adoption phase.

CTRL-Labs takes another approach to HCI (human-computer interfaces), using a simple electrode-studded wristband to read neural signals from the arm. In June 2019, CTRL-Labs acquired patents from Myo, a similar wearable created by North that enables control of robotics and PCs via gestures and motion. Shortly after in September 2019, CTRL-Labs was acquired by Facebook, becoming part of the Facebook Reality Labs team to build the technology as a consumer product. With Oculus having launched hand-tracking on the Quest this past December, I wonder how far we are from consumer-ready mind-control systems.

Perhaps more widely known in mind-control systems is Elon Musk’s Neuralink. It’s by far the most invasive technique, one that involves inserting 96 threads into the brain with micron precision. It’s a risky business, but also an absolute reality. “An integrated brain-machine interface platform with thousands of channels,” by Elon Musk and Neuralink offers great insights into how it can replace typing, clicking, or even talking as a form of digital telepathy.

Haptics

Moving from mind to body, the Teslasuit is a non-intrusive HCI system centered around a suit material that uses a piezoelectric EAP (electroactive polymer) to record electrical signals generated by players’ muscles to animate avatars in VR. As new haptic and biometric sensory technologies become more refined, more sophisticated interfaces will begin to emerge. 

Low profile tactile, haptic, and thermal displays that can be used in a variety of applications are already in development. At the Cutaneous Sensory Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, researchers are conducting a variety of psychophysical studies to determine how users perceive these various forms of stimulation. The 2019 study “Closed-Loop Haptic Feedback Control Using a Self-Sensing Soft Pneumatic Actuator Skin,” published in Soft Robotics, also presented a solution for wearable haptics as a soft, flexible artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes that self monitors to provide accurate haptic feedback to a user’s body. 

In the market today, with an acute level of tactile feedback, the HaptX gloves have remained an all-time favorite of mine for realistic touch in VR. It enables users to feel the shape, texture, and motion of virtual objects with 130 points of force feedback. Size, weight, impact, and even temperature (with a bulkier version than the standard enterprise glove) is possible and truly astounding. In January 2020, Haptx announced a Series A financing round of $12M. 

AR Lenses 

AR glasses like Nreal and MAD Gaze indicate a shift away from clunky VR HMDs to a viable consumer option for day-to-day applications, public, and collaborative use. Nreal’s recent partnership with Clay AIR, announced March 2020 to integrate hand-tracking and gesture recognition, indicates another greatly anticipated movement to intuitive interactivity that blends the real and virtual world beyond the Oculus ecosystem. 

Just as we see with the miniaturization of haptic products, AR headsets are also seeing their next-generation counterparts enter the consumer market in the form of AR contact lenses. These include InWith Corporation’s blinking-powered lenses, and Mojo Vision’s contact lenses, which raised $58 million in a Series B investment round in March 2019. 

While VR can be traced back to the mid- 20th century, it was only in 2010 that Palmer Luckey launched the Oculus Rift Kickstarter. Ten years later, we have a healthy immersive ecosystem where AR is quickly becoming a ubiquitous and omnipresent application. 

Eye-Tracking 

Recently, Antony Vitillo of The Ghost Howls spoke with Lars Bergstrom, Mozilla’s Director of Engineering Mixed Reality, on the subject.

‘“Eye-tracking has the potential to expose an individual’s intrinsic characteristics, such as race, age, gender, and sexual preferences, as well as revealing sensitive health characteristics such as whether they have autism or disorders like anxiety and depression,” said Bergstrom. “We have very little conscious control over our eyes, so the idea of providing unfettered access to data that can reveal all of this information (as well as provide unique user fingerprinting) is antithetical to our values of treating privacy as a first-class citizen. Instead of providing access to raw gaze data, the web browser can act as an opinionated user agent — an intermediary between the application and the device sensors and resources. In this example, perhaps we would only reveal that a user had looked at an element on a page if they’ve dwelled on it for a certain period of time.”

How will this type of data affect employment, healthcare, relationships, and broader life matters? What is your immediate reaction to the above in the hands of private corporations and public individuals? What is the solution to data privacy?

Digital Humans 

As we stroll confidently through pixelated grassy fields, feeling, seeing, hearing and interacting with environments as if they were real, we are beginning to encounter more advanced NPCs and bots that could be either human or machine. In January 2020, Soul Machines announced it had raised $40M towards their AI-powered customer-facing digital avatar technology, described on their site as “a Digital Brain that provides Digital Humans with the ability to sense, learn and adapt.” We are already encountering these digital humans worldwide, and witnessing massive funding moves in this vertical during the recently announced pandemic. I include digital humans in this list of immersive and multisensory technologies because, like the way we interact with one another, the way we interact with digital humans (whether they are known to be so or not) is another telling tale of our own character. 

Synesthesia, Data & Dopamine 

Frans Evers’, The Academy of the Senses, describes synesthesia as the ability for our senses to be “rerouted” via neuroplasticity, aka the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of new situations. This means that we can feel through sound, hear through touch, and see through our taste. Our senses are a fascinating playground for experiences that inform our sense of reality. Even if we don’t use all of the above technologies concurrently, there are endless possibilities of how our perception can be altered and enhanced. 

As we move towards a much more personalized online experience with sensory and immersive technology, we will soon be able to achieve the most incredible human experiences. While we are largely desensitized in the consumption of media today, multisensory immersive technology will forever change the way we measure the success of online campaigns and engage with the digital world.

Building Our Future 

As global movements begin experimenting more heavily with online worlds and virtual meet-ups, we are beginning to see the groundwork for the next era of digital humans (ourselves).

A shoutout to all those who have been actively collaborating with others in VR on multiple WhatsApp XR chat groups.

The post From Brain-Computer Interfaces To Digital Humans: How These Technologies Are Bringing Us Closer To The Metaverse appeared first on VRScout.

More Than 1 Million Steam Users Now Have A VR Headset: Here’s Which Ones

Valve’s Steam Hardware Survey now includes any VR headset used in the past month, revealing that 1.16% of users have a SteamVR compatible headset.

Steam Hardware Survey March 2020

That may not sound like a lot. But comparing it to other currently niche items on the Hardware Survey shows PC VR is off to a great start.

In April 2019, Valve reported Steam reaching 90 million monthly active users. If we assume that figure has now grown to roughly 100 million, we can estimate the number of Steam users with a VR headset as roughly 1,160,000.

More Steam users have a VR headset than an RTX 2080 Ti or than use Linux. At current growth, it shouldn’t be long before more Steam users use a VR headset than have a 4K primary monitor.

Consumer VR is still a relatively new technology. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive were released just four years ago, with the latter launching at $800 including controllers. Today you can get a similar experience for $400 or even lower. As hardware gets cheaper and better and more must-have VR games emerge, this percentage should steeply rise throughout this decade.

VR Headsets On Steam

Using the March Hardware Survey data and the estimate of 100 million Steam active users, we can arrive at what should be a decent estimate for how many of each headset are in use.

For newer headsets, this number should be somewhat close to how many were sold. Older headsets are more likely to be in storage or inoperable.

Just under half of the headsets on Steam are from Facebook’s Oculus Rift brand. The company’s newest PC headset Rift S is the most popular headset on Steam, used by more than a quarter of SteamVR users. The original Rift, once the most popular on Steam, is now used by 15% of SteamVR users.

HTC’s Vive brand is in second place, with almost a third of users. The vast majority of this comes from the original Vive launched back in 2016- the first consumer headset to offer room scale tracking & positionally tracked controllers. Today, roughly one quarter of VR headsets on Steam are still the original Vive.

HTC’s latest consumer headset, Vive Cosmos, is used by just 1.23% of SteamVR users. That’s less than than half the number for the Oculus Quest (2.9%), which isn’t even a native PC VR headset.

Valve’s premium Index HMD now represents over 1 in 10 headsets on SteamVR. This is an impressive feat given the $1000 pricetag for the full kit. It could be seen as proof against Facebook’s product positioning which suggests they believe consumers aren’t interested in hardware at that price.

Microsoft’s Windows MR platform took an opposite approach, with many low cost headsets from different manufacturers. However despite continuous aggressive price cuts as low as $150, consumers just don’t seem interested, so they make up less than 1 in 12 headsets.

Pimax headsets now show up on the survey- specifically the 5K Plus and 8K, thought to be the most popular of the company’s many offerings. As suspected, these are fairly niche products, with even both together making up less than 1 in 300 SteamVR users.

In fact, more Steam users are rigging their PlayStation VR using third-party drivers to work with PC VR- roughly 1 in 200 SteamVR users. This is achieved with drivers like Trinus or iVRy. But unless you’re just using it for cockpit games, you’ll also need a third party tracking service such as PSMoveService or Driver4VR. Keep in mind the quality of tracking often won’t be as good as on a PlayStation 4.

Inside-out tracking has enabled lower cost headsets and easier setup, accounting for the majority of VR headset growth since May 2019 thanks to the Rift S. However, 6 in 10 headsets on Steam are still tracked with external hardware thanks to the huge numbers of Oculus Rift and HTC Vives still in use.

The SteamVR “Lighthouse” tracking system enables interoperability between headsets and controllers. Owners of the original HTC Vive are able to purchase & use Valve Index controllers, for example. This could explain why the Vive is still used much more than the original Oculus Rift, for example.

We’ll Be Keeping Track

Because of the improvements to detection, the 1.16% can’t be compared to previous Steam Hardware Survey data. But UploadVR will continue to track the data over this year. We’ll keep you updated on the growth of PC VR over time.

Over the next few months, Valve’s “flagship” AAA title Half-Life: Alyx, and its incredibly positive reception across the games industry, may be a primary driver of this growth- assuming Facebook & Valve can ramp up to produce enough headsets to meet demand. We won’t, however, see the effect of Alyx on PC VR usage until the next report in May, according to Valve.

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How To Check For Firmware Updates For Your Oculus Quest

The Oculus Quest update system works a bit differently to normal operating system updates that you’re used to with other devices. We’ve put together this guide to clearly explain when and how you’re able to update your Oculus Quest to receive new firmware builds and the latest features.

With most modern day electronics, updates become available at a certain date and then everyone can choose to immediately update to the latest version or wait until their device updates the software automatically. However, the Oculus Quest system updates work a bit differently.

Facebook rolls out Oculus Quest updates gradually, meaning not all users receive the software straight away. The software will begin to roll out from a certain date, after which some users will find their headsets have automatically updated or they will be able to manually start the update process themselves.

For some users, this can happen instantly and for others, it can take a week or even longer. There’s really no telling exactly when a Quest software update will be available to you – as far as we can tell, it seems to be entirely random.

However, there are a couple of steps you can take to check which software version your Quest is running and ensure that you install updates as soon as they’re available to you.

Checking Your Software Version

Sometimes, if you’re not savvy with Oculus Quest firmware changes, you might not be able to tell what software version your Quest is currently running. To check your Quest’s software version:

1. Click ‘Settings’ on the bottom navigation bar on your Oculus Quest

2. Click on the ‘See All’ button on the navigation bar. This will bring up the full menu.

3. Locate and click on the the ‘About’ tab.

4. The first item listed in the ‘About’ tab will be your software version (for example, V15).

To check if this is the latest version available, go take a look at the Oculus Release Notes page. On the page, Oculus will list the version number of the latest Oculus Quest software release (for example, build 15).

If the build number matches the software version number on your Quest (for example, build 15 on the Release Notes matching V15 listed in your Quest settings menu), then your Quest is up to date.

If the build number is lower or out of date compared to your Quest, you might be able to manually update (see below). If not, then the latest firmware update is likely just not available to you yet, as per the gradual rollout system.

Automatic Updates

If your Quest firmware version matches the latest build listed in the release notes, then your Quest probably automatically updated the firmware itself. The Quest will do this automatically when not in use and in standby mode (the default ‘sleep’ mode when you just quick press the off button on the side of the Quest).

If you want Quest to update itself whenever possible, without any manual input, then your best bet is to ensure it has enough charge while in standby mode and not in use. If you’re Quest is running low on battery, you can just leave it plugged in while on standby as well. Given your Quest probably needs a certain minimum amount of battery power to update in the background, this isn’t a bad practice to keep up in general.

You Quest will not update automatically if it is fully powered down (by holding down the power button and selecting ‘Shut Off’) when not in use.

Checking For Manual Updates

While the Quest should automatically update shortly after a software update is made available to you, it is possible to check for updates manual before the Quest has a chance to automatically update.

In some cases, you might find that an update is available to you before the Quest started the automatic process. This will allow you to install the update instantly and ensure you don’t have to wait fo the Quest to decide to start the process on its own.

To do this:

1. Click ‘Settings’ on the bottom navigation bar on your Oculus Quest

2. Click on the ‘See All’ button on the navigation bar. This will bring up the full menu.

3. Locate and click on the the ‘About’ tab.

4. Across from your software version listed at the top, a button on the right should appear.

5. The button will check for updates and then either say ‘No Updates Available’ or ‘Update Available’

6. If an update is available, you will be able to start downloading it.

7. When the download is finished, your Quest should automatically restart and install the software update.

If no updates are available, you will sadly just have to continue waiting and checking for updates periodically. There’s no telling when an update will be made available to you.


Do you have any questions about Oculus Quest software updates and the update process? Chuck them down in the comments below.

The post How To Check For Firmware Updates For Your Oculus Quest appeared first on UploadVR.