Flooding An Office In Mixed Reality Looks Pretty Terrifying

Using the Vive Focus Plus to alter real-world environments.

Imagine your standing in your bedroom, office, or any other comfortable interior of your choosing. You look down at the floor and watch as the ground begins to move underneath your feet; a thin layer of water slowly starts to rise above your ankles.

Before you know it, the water has reached your waste, then your head. Now you’re totally submerged, your vision skewed to the point you can only make out vague silhouettes of large furniture; even your own to hands have become a blur.

That’s just a taste of what one developer is working on using HTC’s new Vive Focus Plus 6DoF standalone VR headset. Harnessing power of the dual front-facing passthrough cameras featured on the device, Tony Vitillo—VR/AR developer and owner of Skarredghost.com—developed a simple, but intriguing, mixed reality experience that can best be described as my personal hell on Earth.

In a video released as part of a series of tweets documenting the experiments, Tony shows himself using the upgraded Focus headset to virtually flood his personal office.

The digital water can be seen rising out of the floor and steadily increasing in height as it encapsulates everything within the room. As the water level reaches his waste, you can begin to see the movement of the water’s surface add realistic distortion to various “submerged” objects, including Tony’s own hands and feet.

In terms of potential use-cases, the possibilities are exciting. Tony goes on to provide his own prospectives, such as an underwater escape room that uses real-world locations to educate users on how to handle dangerous flood scenarios. For a less stressful approach, he frames the experience as a potential relaxation tool that could bring calming, beachside visuals to soul-crushing office spaces.

Seeing as the HTC is labeling the Vive Focus Plus as a professional-grade headset for enterprise use, Tony’s deceitfully simple experiment could serve as an excellent tool for a variety of educational training purposes.

The Vive Focus Plus was originally scheduled to launch earlier this week. However, due to shipping delays, several regions—including the US—will be receiving staggered rollouts throughout May.

The standalone headset features many of the same properties as its original counterpart, save for several improvements to tracking, including dual 6DoF controllers.

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ich wünsche allen Leser/innen des Online Magazin Immersive Learning News ein schönes Osterfest.Verbringt viel Zeit mit und ohne VR/AR und schöne Momente mit der Familie. Geniesst das Wetter und die Natur.

I wish all readers of the online magazine Immersive Learning News a happy Easter.
Spends a lot of time with and without VR / AR and nice moments with the family. Enjoy the weather and nature.

Immersive Learning Institute – Torsten Fell, Founder

Oculus zeigt Facebook F8-Keynote in Virtual Reality

Mit der Oculus Go und Samsung Gear VR könnt ihr in VR dabei sein, wenn Mark Zuckerberg auf der Entwicklerkonferenz F8 spricht. Wann geht es los?

Ende April wird die Facebook F8-Keynote von Facebook-Gründer Mark Zuckerberg live in Virtual Reality für die mobilen Headsets Oculus Go und Samsung Gear VR gestreamt. Die Konferenz feiert damit eine Premiere im Silicon Valley in San Jose, Kalifornien.

Live-Übertragung der Facebook F8 in VR

Wenn ihr ein Oculus Go- oder Samsung Gear VR-Headset besitzt, dann könnt ihr live dabei sein, wenn am 30. April 2019 die diesjährige Facebook F8 Konferenz eröffnet. Um 19 Uhr (10 Uhr PT) startet die Entwicklerkonferenz mit einer Eröffnungskeynote, auf der Mark Zuckerberg selbst sprechen wird.

Dieses Event wird als erstes in der Geschichte der F8 live in VR über die Oculus Venues-App gestreamt. So könnt ihr direkt in der ersten Reihe sitzen, wenn Zuckerberg über die Zukunftspläne von Facebook spricht. Natürlich könnt ihr die Präsentation auch über einen Desktop-Livestream verfolgen.

Erwartet werden unter anderem Ankündigungen zu hauseigener VR-Hardware. Dazu zählt das neue autarke Headset, die Oculus Quest, die noch kein festes Releasedatum hat, aber noch im Frühjahr erscheinen soll.

Auch für die angekündigte Oculus Rift S werden neue Informationen erwartet. Der Nachfolger der Oculus Rift wurde am 20. März 2019 ebenfalls für das Frühjahr angekündigt.

Facebook für Datenlecks in der Kritik

Die Facebook F8 ist eine Konferenz, die seit 2007 in unregelmäßigen Abständen stattfindet. Sie richtet sich vor allem an Entwickler, die für und rund um Facebook arbeiten. Dabei wird über große Ankündigungen wie das hauseigene  Flirtportal (2018) gesprochen, sowie über Detailfragen zur Integration neuer Werbemöglichkeiten.

Außerdem hat Facebook in den letzten Jahren immer wieder Lösungen für Probleme mit unsicheren Nutzerdaten präsentiert. Im Jahr 2014 etwa sollte die Möglichkeit entfernt werden, über FacebookApps die Daten von Freunden der Nutzer zu ziehen.

Der Online-Riese gerät wegen unsicherem Umgang mit Nutzerdaten immer wieder in die Kritik. Dazu gehört auch aktuell das Analysieren von Internetnutzern, deren Account deaktiviert ist und Personen, die nicht einmal ein Facebookkonto besitzen.

Erst 2018 musste Mark Zuckerberg dem US Senat und dem EU Parlament Rede und Antwort stehen, als die Daten von 87 Millionen Nutzern unerlaubt an Cambrige Analytica weitergereicht wurden.

Zusätzlich möchte Facebook weiterhin die Verknüpfung zu Whatsapp und Instagram ausbauen und hat angekündigt, Statusmeldungen aus dem Messengerdienst heraus direkt auf Facebook teilen zu können. Vielleicht erfahren wir auf der F8 Neigkeiten zu diesen Features – diesmal sogar in VR.



von Kathleen Hellbarth


Virtual Reality Is Making Surgeon Training Safer

Have you ever wondered how the surgeon operating on you learned how to do your surgery? It used to be it was mostly hands on, operating on a patient, but as CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez found out recently virtual reality is making surgeon training safer, and he tried it himself.

It looks a little odd, a surgeon seemingly flailing around, unless you realize that he’s working in a virtual operating room, handling virtual instruments and about to do a virtual knee replacement. Think of it as the surgical equivalent of a flight simulator for pilots, with just as much safety at stake.

“Patients can be sure that their surgeon or their trainee has gone through a simulation many times and has quantitatively shown that they can perform the procedure safely,” Dr. Peter Sculco said.

Sculco is the co-chair of the BioSkills Education Lab at the Hospital for Special Surgery. He said virtual reality, like first-year resident Dr. Christopher DeFrancesco was using, is particularly well-suited for orthopedic surgery because many procedures have well-defined steps that a budding surgeon must master.

“From my perspective, as an early trainee, there’s a good value in this for just me learning how things go together,” DeFrancesco said. “At least knowing I’m putting my hand in the right place, I’m picking up the right instrument, helps me to be confident for the first time I’m doing it in real life.”

It had been a very long time since Dr. Max assisted in surgery, so he felt compelled to give virtual reality a try. It took some getting used to but he said could see how valuable it would be for training.

Sculco said it’s also valuable in deciding when a resident is proficient enough to move on to more complex procedures. The company that designed the virtual reality system said this is just the beginning. “Doctors will be able to do mission rehearsal, actually practicing a difficult procedure before doing it on a patient,” said Dave Howe of Osso VR.

Next generation virtual reality will include tactile feedback, so the surgeon can actually “feel” tissues, an important skill in surgery. After that will be “augmented reality,” where X-rays and other data can be superimposed right on the surgical field in a live procedure.


Next-Generation Video Compression Enables 360 VR Streams Over 5G Networks

Next-Generation Video Compression Enables 360 VR Streams Over 5G Networks

Known worldwide for its contributions to the MPEG format — the compression technology used in MP3 audio files and MP4 videos — Germany’s Fraunhofer has recently turned its attention to the next frontier in media: virtual reality. After unveiling affordable VR headset microdisplay hardware last year, the company is now showing off next-generation video compression software using the new MPEG-OMAF standard, the first VR specification enabling 360-degree videos to stream over 5G networks.

Based in “significant” part upon Fraunhofer video compression technologies, MPEG-OMAF breaks wraparound videos into grids of tiles encoded at multiple resolutions. The explanatory image above uses red tiles to indicate areas that are being streamed at low resolution, versus normally colored tiles that are being streamed at high resolution.

Unlike traditional videos, which stream from servers at one user-selected resolution, these VR videos dynamically use high-resolution tiles where the viewer is currently looking, and low-resolution tiles for parts that are out of sight. As the user’s head position changes, the headset or display device requests a different mix of streamed tiles optimized for the user’s current focus area.

This trick enables the entire 360-degree video to continue streaming while devoting maximum detail to whatever the user is viewing. It parallels the recent use of foveated rendering to maximize real-time 3D graphics for VR users, guaranteeing that head-moving viewers will always be able to see something through their peripheral vision, even if it’s lower in fidelity.

International cellular standards organization 3GPP has adopted the MPEG-OMAF standard for 5G VR streaming, so it will likely underpin plenty of 360-degree virtual reality video streams — just like MP3 and MP4 defined prior generations of digital audio and video. Current 360-degree VR videos streamed over 4G and even Wi-Fi networks tend to suffer from low overall resolutions, across-the-board compression artifacts, and high latency, all of which the new standard and higher bandwidth networks could eliminate.

Fraunhofer is demonstrating the new technology using a combination of JavaScript, Apple’s Safari web browser, the WebGL API for rendering, and HEVC video support; a technical video is available here. Source code for the JavaScript player and instructions on creating standards-compliant content are available now on GitHub.

This article by Jeremy Horowitz originally appeared in VentureBeat.

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Sony Promising PS5 Support For PSVR Gives VR A Clear Future

Sony Promising PS5 Support For PSVR Gives VR A Clear Future

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the best-selling consumer electronics products aren’t necessarily a company’s latest or highest-end products; mass-market customers often gravitate instead towards affordable models with good enough performance. That’s the reason game console makers keep last-generation models around after launching superior sequels: as long as there’s a promise of at least token continued support, “old” hardware is still viable.

Yesterday, Sony officially embraced that strategy for its 2.5-year-old virtual reality headset PlayStation VR, and in so doing may have saved a great device from an unnecessarily early death. PSVR has spent almost half of its relatively short life clouded by premature discussions of a sequel, and it’s clear that many potential PSVR customers considered the investment a leap of faith — particularly at the tail end of the PlayStation 4’s life cycle.

Even so, PSVR managed to become the world’s most popular tethered VR headset: over 4.2 million units had been sold as of last month, with continued sales attributable to price drops and an increasingly spectacular software catalog. Yet with an installed base of over 90 million PlayStation 4s, the VR headset clearly could be selling even better. With a mass-market-friendly $199 price tag, the only thing it was missing was a guaranteed future.

PS4 Pro box contents

By confirming earlier this week that the PlayStation 5 won’t arrive this year, and that it will continue to be PSVR-compatible, Sony’s senior PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny effectively threw the PSVR the lifeline it has needed for at least a year. While the announcement doesn’t preclude Sony from launching a more powerful PSVR 2 in the future, it makes clear that the 80-plus-million PlayStation 4 owners without PSVRs can buy in now without fear of wasting their money.

As an impulse buy for PS4 owners with extra cash sitting around, PSVR is almost perfectly priced; you can get the mandatory PlayStation camera with any $250 hardware-software bundle, and choose to skip the highly optional Move controllers without missing much. Even at that price level, it’s competitive with other options bored PS4 users might consider — a $300 Switch (with or without the so-so $40 cardboard Labo VR goggles), a $400 Oculus Quest, or a $250 Xbox One, none of which have the VR software chops to match the PSVR.

Importantly, Cerny went even further, promising that the next PlayStation will be able to play PS4 games — an explicit promise that PSVR software purchased today will work on next year’s machine. Since PS3 owners didn’t get that sort of guarantee with the PS4, it’s a big deal for PS4 users to get that assurance with the PS5, and gives everyone reasons to continue spending money on Sony software.

Imagine what might have happened in the absence of preemptive announcements like these. Sony wouldn’t have shown up for E3, leaving customers to speculate further over the timing of the PS4’s and PSVR’s discontinuation, and inevitably, both hardware and software sales would have slowed. Developers working on PSVR 1 software would have had to consider cancelling or cutting short their projects, and despite still being priced below most Oculus and HTC VR gear, Sony’s headset might have struggled to pass the 5 million sold mark.

Instead, Cerny’s words alone were enough to keep PSVR going strong through the 2019 holiday season, and perhaps beyond. Just as the PlayStation 5 will offer users a newer and more powerful alternative, the higher specs and commensurate price will likely leave room for the older model to stick around.

Having tested everything from Nintendo Labo VR to Oculus Quest and PSVR, I think Sony has the year’s best overall VR value proposition, and I’m glad that my investments in the platform will continue to yield dividends next generation. We’ll have to see whether Nintendo and Oculus can deliver the same continuity with their latest products, but it’s great to see Sony setting a high bar like this for its VR platform, and hopefully it will be rewarded for the effort.

This article by Jeremy Horowitz originally appeared on VentureBeat.

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Facebook is Working on an AI Voice Assistant for Oculus Headsets

Oculus-parent company Facebook is currently working on its own artificial intelligence-based digital voice assistant that may rival the likes of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the Google Assistant.

The news, first reported by CNBC, says that the company has been developing a new AI assistant since early 2018 and is intended to support Oculus VR headsets—in addition to Portal, and other future projects.

“We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus, and future products,” a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters in an email statement.

The company did not offer any other specific details about this new initiative. But according to the CNBC report, the team developing the new AI Assistant is working out of Redmond, Washington, and reportedly the development efforts are being led by Ira Snyder, director of AR/VR and Facebook Assistant at the company.

While it still remains unclear how Facebook plans to integrate the AI assistant into Oculus devices, the use of artificial intelligence with advanced voice recognition could certainly allow for greater accessibility and ease-of-use for VR users across the platform. In fact, the use of voice to navigate on the headset was first introduced back in 2017 when Oculus released a feature called ‘Oculus Voice’ to allow users to perform basic voice searches from Oculus Home to navigate games, apps, and experiences. However, it’s a feature that is not on par compared to an advanced AI assistant. Facebook is likely aiming to address these limitations with an AI voice assistant that can provide VR users with more useful capabilities to handle a wide variety of complex tasks.

We’ll likely learn further details about Facebook’s AI voice assistant plans at its upcoming annual developer conference, F8, that is scheduled to take place at the end of the April.

The post Facebook is Working on an AI Voice Assistant for Oculus Headsets appeared first on Oculus VR News.

Oculus Accidentally Hid ‘Inappropriate’ Messages in New Touch Controllers

If you’re one of the early buyers of the upcoming Oculus Quest or Rift S, you may find an unintended Easter Egg message hidden inside the Touch motion controllers that come bundled with the new headsets.

Nate Mitchell, Oculus co-founder and head of VR product at Facebook, revealed via Twitter that the hidden messages were meant only for internal prototypes, but somehow managed to accidentally make its way onto the internal hardware for “tens of thousands” of Touch motion controllers that will soon be shipped to consumers.

These so-called Easter eggs are printed only on components inside of the Touch controllers, so users will not be able to see them unless they decide to crack open the hardware. The phrases you might find printed inside include somewhat creepy messages like, “Big Brother is Watching” and “The Masons Were Here”, as well as silly ones like “This Space For Rent” or “Hi iFixit! We See You!”—referring to the popular hardware teardown and repair website.

Mitchell goes on to apologize for the hidden messages that slip past the prototype phase and into production, calling them “inappropriate” and also noting that internal processes at the company have changed prevent this issue from happening again. While the affected Touch controllers have not yet shipped, the company says it has no plans to recall the hardware before they go out to consumers alongside the upcoming Rift S and Oculus Quest headsets.

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Cygnus Cargo Craft Attached to Station Until July

April 19, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
April 19, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 and 72 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-11 and MS-12 crew ships.

After its capture this morning at 5:28 a.m. EDT, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 7:31 a.m. At the time of installation, Cygnus was flying 255 miles above the Indian Ocean just south of Singapore.

Cygnus will remain at the space station until July 23, when the spacecraft will depart the station, deploy NanoRacks customer CubeSats, then have an extended mission of nine months before it will dispose of several tons of trash during a fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings close to 7,600 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Highlights of NASA-sponsored research to advance exploration goals and enable future missions to the Moon and Mars include:

Models for growing increasingly complex materials

Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-10 (ACE-T-10) will test gels in a microgravity environment. This research could aid in the development of increasingly complex materials that may serve as the building blocks for a range of applications on Earth including foods, drugs, and electronic devices. The process also may provide an efficient method to build new materials and equipment in space.

Better life science research in a few drops

Although the space station is well equipped for health and life sciences research, the equipment available for cellular and molecular biology still is limited compared to capabilities found in laboratories on Earth. To address this limitation, CSA designed Bio-Analyzer, a new tool the size of a video game console that astronauts on station easily can use to test body fluids such as blood, saliva, and urine, with just a few drops. It returns key analyses, such as blood cell counts, in just two to three hours, eliminating the need to freeze and store samples.

Analyzing aging of the arteries in astronauts

The Vascular Aging investigation uses ultrasounds, blood samples, oral glucose tolerance tests, and wearable sensors to study aging-like changes that occur in many astronauts during their stay on the space station. It’s one of three Canadian experiments exploring the effects of weightlessness on the blood vessels and heart, and the links between these effects and bone health, blood biomarkers, insulin resistance, and radiation exposure. Increased understanding of these mechanisms can be used to address vascular aging in both astronauts and the aging Earth population.

Testing immune response in space

Spaceflight is known to have a dramatic influence on an astronaut’s immune response, but there is little research on its effect following an actual challenge to the body’s immune system. The rodent immune system closely parallels that of humans, and Rodent Research-12: Tetanus Antibody Response by B cells in Space (TARBIS) will examine the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory. This investigation aims to advance the development of measures to counter these effects and help maintain crew health during future long-duration space missions. On Earth, it could advance research to improve the effectiveness of vaccines and therapies for treating diseases and cancers.

Big buzz for new robot

A fleet of small robots is set to take on big jobs aboard the space station. Building on the success of SPHERES, NASA will test Astrobee, a robotic system comprised of three cube-shaped robots and a docking station for recharging; the first two are aboard Cygnus. The free-flying robots use electric fans for propulsion and cameras and sensors help them navigate their surroundings. The robots also have an arm to grasp station handrails or grab and hold items. Astrobee can operate in automated mode or under remote control from the ground as it assists with routine chores on station, and requires no supervision from the crew. This has the potential to free up astronauts to conduct more research.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronaut Commands Robotic Arm to Capture Cygnus Cargo Craft

The Cygnus spacecraft from Northrop Grumman
The Cygnus spacecraft from Northrop Grumman approaches the International Space Station for a robotic capture

At 5:28 a.m. EDT, Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Next, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Roger Chaffee, on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The station was flying over northeast France at an altitude of 254 miles when it was captured.

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7 a.m., and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed later this morning. Cygnus will remain at the orbiting laboratory for a three-month stay.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.