Game developers interested in creating games in virtual reality will get an upgraded set of tools from the Oculus Rift team this summer, the company announced Wednesday morning.
The second-generation Oculus Rift development kit is available for preorder starting Wednesday for developers. The virtual reality headset, which began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, now has 50,000 units in the hands of developers interested in creating games for it.
Oculus VR Vice President of Product Nate Mitchell said doesn’t resemble anything like consumers will eventually see, but is much farther along the company’s vision for virtual reality than the previous Oculus Rift model. A consumer version is still not under discussion, he added.
“We’ve learned a lot of lessons from our original vision,” Mitchell said.
The new Oculus Rift headset solves many users’ latency issues; it eliminates the motion blur problems that were easy to spot if you moved your head too quickly. It features a brighter, higher-resolution OLED screen with a 960 x 1080p resolution over each eye, rather than a 640 x 800p resolution over each eye on the current kit.
The new headset also boasts improved positional tracking, part of the Crystal Cove prototype the company showed off during CES 2014. Mitchell said that such new features will allow developers to bring many more complex elements into games they produce for virtual reality, including text and UI layouts. Previously, both were previously very difficult to add.
The new headset will cost $350 for developers and will ship sometime in July of this year.
Virtual reality may be the belle of the ball at the Game Developers Conference this week. Sony also used the conference to announce its own virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4, currently called Project Morpheus. Sony remained mum on setting a date for its headset to reach consumers.
The creators of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset are spending E3 showing off games instead of new hardware, as the company looks at producing and publishing games for its platform.
The company showed off new titles from third-party developers that it was planning to publish, meaning it would provide financial and marketing support to games built for the Oculus Rift. It’s part of the continued growth into also ensuring quality games are available for the Oculus platform, despite the headset having no commercial release date yet.
““http://mashable.com/2014/06/07/girls-make-games-summer-camp/”” is not a valid see-also reference
The company most recently brought on Jason Rubin, co-founder of studio Naughty Dog, to handle its expansion into first party content.
Three of the games being shown at E3 — all by third-party development teams — all represented very different virtual reality experiences. One was for Super Hot, a game currently on Kickstarter that experiments with the perception of time. When the player moves, time moves regularly; when they stand still, time moves at a crawl, allowing them to dodge bullets.
A more whimsical virtual reality game was Lucky’s Tale, a third-person platformed where players hovered over the shoulder of a plucky fox. While virtual reality experiences usually offer a first-person camera view, Lucky’s Tale’s camera choice gave players a unique perspective over the fox’s shoulder.
On a darker note, Sega’s upcoming horror game Alien: Isolation announced virtual reality support at E3, and a playable demo was also on display. Players had to avoid being attacked by an alien on a derelict space ship, armed only with a monitor that showed them the monster’s presence.
While Oculus VR may be ramping up publishing without a firm release date, Vice President of Product Nate Mitchell said the company wanted to minimize risk to developers by promising a release date it couldn’t totally commit to — until it was absolutely sure it was the right time.
Mitchell did say that Facebook’s acquisition of the company in late March was instrumental in bringing on many hires, like Rubin, who could focus solely on what first-party development and publishing would mean inside of Oculus.
BONUS: This Oculus Rift Game Will Scare the Crap Out Of
From deep space to wildlife parks, there are few places that virtual reality cant take you. And while that may all be fun and games, scientists are beginning to find uses for it that may offer solutions to real world problems. Its already helped surgeons carry out complex operations, and now it may have another place in the clinic: helping patients with depression.
A complex and poorly understood condition, depression often goes hand-in-hand with excessive self-criticism, whichrepresents a major obstacle to recovery. Having a bit more love for yourself could therefore help instigate long-term change, altering negative thought patterns that contribute to the maintenance of low moods. And thats whatresearchersatUniversity College London and ICREA-University of Barcelona hope to achieve with virtual reality (VR).
Described in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open, the researchers wanted to see if identifying with a virtual body in immersive VR could increase self-compassion in patients with depression. To do this, they designed an 8-minute scenario in which a participant comforted a virtual child in distress. To make it more life-like, the virtual room was set up exactly like the actual room they were sat in, aside from the addition of a mirror that allowed the participant to see their virtual self, thus helping generate the illusion that the virtual body is their own, something called embodiment.
The virtual child was programmed to respond positively to the compassionate words ushered by the volunteers, making them feel like their actions are helping the child. Next, the adult was embodied as the child and their compassionate words were played back to them from a virtual adult, giving them a different perspective.
We conducted an earlier study in which we used exactly the same scenario but recruited healthy volunteers who were high in self-criticism, lead researcher Professor Chris Brewin told IFLScience. We had a control whereby participants watched from an outsider perspective, not through the childs eyes, and we didnt see changes in self-compassion.
Here you can see the adult comforting a virtual child.UCL.
For a small group of 15 adult patients with depression, the sessionswererepeated three times at weekly intervals before a follow-up assessment of self-criticism, self-compassion, and depression one month later. Encouragingly, they found that the VR experience not only boosted self-compassion, it also significantly reduced self-criticism and the severity of depression. Of the nine who reported a reduction in symptoms of depression, four showed clinically significant improvement. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the study an open trial rather than a random-controlled trial it cant be concluded that any improvements were definitely due to the intervention.
Self-criticism is a huge vulnerability factor across a wide range of disorders, said Brewin. So its not inconceivable that if you can reduce that, this technique could be an effective standalone treatment for a proportion of people, where self-criticism is the main driving factor.
In addition, VR is becoming more widely available to the consumers and at a low cost, meaning that this method could be used as a way to reach a significant number of people who wont admit that they are having problems or seek help. Thats one of the main reasons we think this is such a promising development, Brewin said.
Back in my day, youd be lucky to get a miniatureBeanie Baby with your Happy Meal. Nowadays, you get a kit to make your own virtual reality (VR)headset.
Starting on March 5, McDonalds will be dishing out Happy Goggles at14 of their restaurants in Sweden. The good old-fashioned plastic toys will continue to be part of the Happy Meal.
The VR gogglescan be created by simplyfolding up the limited-edition Happy Meal boxes. After folding it up, you can place a smartphone (not included in the deal, unfortunately) in the goggles.Using specifically designed apps and videos, you can enjoy your own virtual reality experience.
To accompany the foldable Happy Meal boxes, McDonald’s isreleasing a game called Watch Out on the Slopes to use with the headset. The game is endorsed by two leading child psychologists and the Swedish alpine ski teamin the hopes of teaching kids how to stay safe and alert while skiing.
The project also has another interest in promoting technology and digital skills among kids andperhaps more importantly, their parents. In a statement, McDonalds said: New generations are growing up in a world where smartphones and tablets are a part of our ordinary life. The VR goggles open the door to virtual worlds, which of course is very exciting. This step might come more natural for children than for adults. It creates an opportunity for adults to learn from the childrens knowledge and experience.
At the moment, the VR headset will only be available in some restaurants in northern Sweden, although McDonald’s have said theyre interested in rolling it out to other countries soon.
Alternatively, if McDonalds isnt your thing, Google hasreleased a guideon how to make your own cupboard VR headset.
Despite the endless gaming and interactive potential of augmented reality, the technology has been moving slow in terms of widespread awareness and adoption. But a new system called castAR aims to push augmented reality into the mainstream, starting with a Kickstarter campaign that launched Monday.
Founded by veteran developers and former Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, Washington-based company Technical Illusions is offering a product that delivers both augmented-reality and virtual-reality experiences.
First introduced in May as a prototype, the castAR system is centered around a pair of glasses that house two micro-projectors over each lens. Each projector receives its video stream via an HDMI connection, and then beams a portion of a 3D image to a flat surface made out of retro-reflective sheeting material.
Situated between two the two lenses is a small camera that scans the surface for infrared markers. This dynamic allows the castAR to accurately track your head movements in relation to the holographic representations on the surface.
The product also comes with a clip-on attachment that allows the wearer to experience private augmented reality, layering virtual objects onto the real world, or virtual reality, during which all the imagery you see is computer-generated. Also included is a device called a Magic Wand that serves as a 3D input device and joystick.
Some of the potential applications for the castAR system include board games, flight simulators and first-person shooters; but the developers believe that it could also be used for interactive presentations in business.
While many companies have promised to deliver impressive augmented-reality experiences, video of the commercial version of the castAR (above) is impressive. “It’s gonna deliver on the dream of the holodeck,” Bre Pettis, CEO of Makerbot, said in the video.
For $355, early adopters can get their hands on the entire package of components, which includes the castAR glasses, the retro-reflective surface, the Magic Wand and the AR and VR clip-on. There are also several other packages offered at lower prices for those only looking to try the basics of the system.
Launched with a goal of $400,000, the team’s Kickstarter campaign has already earned over $210,000 as of this writing. Those who order the device now can expect to get it next September, according to Technical Illusions.
Image: Technical Illusions
If you get hitin a video game, you feel it in real life. At least, this is the effect promised by a new technology developed by the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) lab at Germanys Hasso Plattner Institute.
The device, called Impacto, has a vibration motor combined with electrodes encased in a light plastic box. Impacto delivers both stimulation to the muscle as well aspressure tothe skin. It’s attached to a band that can be worn on the arm, leg or foot.
The device is self-contained, wireless, and small enough for wearable use, thus leaves the user unencumbered and able to walk around freely in a virtual environment,said Pedro Lopes from the Hasso Plattner Institute, who developed the technology, in apaperdescribing Impacto.The device is of generic shape, allowing it to also be worn on legs, so as to enhance the experience of kicking, or merged into props, such as a baseball bat.
The device is combined with a VR experience and the HCI ad hoc software, soitallows the wearer to feel objects and interactions in the virtual world. Impacto can produce a sensation of pushing and pulling, delivering a realistic experience. The team was also able to assemble multiple impacto units into a basic tactile suit. One example sees the users boxing someone in virtual reality, and feeling the punches as their arms are hit.
The key idea that allows the small and light impacto device to simulate a strong hit is that it decomposes the stimulus,added Lopes. It renders the tactile aspect of being hit by tapping the skin using a solenoid; it adds impact to the hit by thrusting the users arm backwards using electrical muscle stimulation.
The device is a proof of concept designed to show a different approach to makingthe virtual feel real. By relying on muscle stimulation, it goes one step further than technologies that usepressure to simulate touch. Although effective, the devicecan only provide stimulation for a very short time (200 milliseconds or less), so can only mimic impulses rather than interactions.
As this is only early research, there’s no news of commercial availability just yet. But for now, you can check out a video of Impacto in action below.
After much sweat and toil, Taylorveltrop has finally unveiled his complete project. Using a Microsoft Kinect, a Nintendo Wii, a treadmill, and computers, he created a quasi virtual reality remote control robot avatar. To test his project, he successfully brushes a kitty in another room with only virtual reality control.
Paul Rivot‘s grandma has become a viral video star after footage of her reacting to wearing a virtual reality helmet hit the web. The 90 year old granny was blown way by the impressive visuals by the Oculus Rift 3D gaming VR helmet.
“Is it my eyes, or are the leaves blowing?” she asks as she views a virtual grassy field. To add to the virtual effects, gyroscopes on the helmet constantly measure her movements to dynamically change the canvas she sees as she ‘looks around.’
The makers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset are being sued by game publisher ZeniMax, best known for owning id Software and Bethesda, for allegedly infringing on the company’s trademarks and patents for the virtual reality technology.
ZeniMax filed the lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, a few weeks after it sent a letter to both Oculus VR and parent company Facebook alleging ownership of some of the key technology in the Oculus Rift. Defendants include Oculus VR and founder Palmer Luckey.
In a briefing to press, the company described its basis for the suit:
The suit arises from the defendants’ unlawful exploitation of intellectual property, including trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and technical know-how relating to virtual reality technology that was developed by ZeniMax after years of research and investment. ZeniMax provided this valuable intellectual property to defendants under a binding Non-Disclosure Agreement that specifies such intellectual property is owned exclusively by ZeniMax and cannot be used, disclosed, or transferred to third parties without ZeniMax’s approval. ZeniMax’s intellectual property has provided the fundamental technology driving the Oculus Rift since its inception. Nevertheless, the defendants refused all requests from ZeniMax for reasonable compensation and continue to use ZeniMax’s intellectual property without authorization.
Oculus VR released a statement in response, saying “The lawsuit filed by ZeniMax has no merit whatsoever. As we have previously said, ZeniMax did not contribute to any Oculus technology. Oculus will defend these claims vigorously.”
On May 5, shortly after the first letters were sent to the company, Oculus VR released a statement that said, “There is not a line of ZeniMax code or any of its technology in any Oculus products.”
The fight centers around game pioneer John Carmack, who joined Oculus VR as its Chief Technology Officer last August. Carmack remained at id Software, which he co-founded, for some time, but then chose to leave and devote all his time to Oculus VR. ZeniMax claims Oculus technology uses some of its code, a fact Carmack disputes.
No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don’t own VR.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) May 1, 2014
We’ve reached out to Oculus VR for new comment on the suit, and will update the story as it develops.