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Multiple Tech Companies are Aiming at VR Olfactive Technology


Nowadays, although VR (virtual reality) can create virtual world and provide very immersive and real experiences to the users, it is only based on sense of sight and hearing. For the purpose of breaking this limitation, plenty of technology companies are currently focusing on the research and development of the smelling sense.

HTC are Announcing Brandnew Vive 3D Headset


Seems like somebody at HTC HQ has been flipping through the pages of future-gazing virtual reality bible Ready Player One, if the latest news surrounding its next-gen Vive headset is to be believed.

Eye-tracking Embedded Headset Fove Announces Launch Time and Details


Fove showed off a new design for their eye-tracking VR headset in an announcement on their company blog. The Disrupt SF Battlefield 2014 alum is aiming to have headsets start shipping in fall 2016 for its Kickstarter backers.

Facebook Details Social VR Avatar Experiments and Lessons Learned


Facebook says they want to launch an official social VR experience “as soon as possible;” to get there the company has been experimenting with various approaches to find out which avatars work best for social VR interaction.

During the opening keynote at Oculus Connect last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg excitedly showed the latest version of the company’s forthcoming social VR experience. As he put on the headset for a live demonstration, one of the first things he said to his virtual friends was “your avatars look a lot better than the last time that you showed me…” He was referring to an older Facebook social VR demo showed off earlier this year which featured more ‘holographic’ style avatars which had elements like glasses and hair hand-drawn onto them.

Michael Booth, Facebook Social VR Product Manager and one of the two virtual friends virtually on stage with Zuckerberg, was among the team that evolved Facebook’s social VR avatar design to what we see in the latest demo. Speaking later that day in a presentation at the conference, Booth walked through a number of experiments the company has done in an attempt to find the most believable way to represent users in a social VR space.

In the video heading this article, Booth showed that the company clearly aimed to stay away from ‘realistic’ avatars, citing the uncomfortable feeling of the Uncanny Valley as something to be avoided until it can be effectively crossed. That means dropping back to a stylized avatars, but Booth says that even stylized representations of humans can be unsettling and uncomfortable to engage with while in VR.

While avatars in VR could be literally anything (a dinosaur, spider, a building, etc), Booth says that Facebook’s policy of “authentic identity” (using your real name and photos of yourself) constrained the avatar design to something necessarily human, and something that could be identified as ‘you’ by people around you.Booth summarized what the company has learned so far and what they think makes for a believable avatar in VR:

  • Speech – with positional audio
  • 1:1 Tracking – don’t break it with animations
  • The importance of hands– for gesturing while you speak and interactions with the environment
  • Eye contact/blinking – procedural blinking works fine, as long as blinking is happening
  • Gaze following – creates the connection of someone looking at you and allow lets you natually follow their gaze to others
  • Lipsync– an important visual queue to show who is talking
  • Emoting – helps add emotion and emphasis while we wait for more advanced facetracking technology
  • Arms and body– avatars seen in a third-person view should have arms and rather than just a floating head and hands (the first person view should not show arms and body because the tracking is not precise enough)

So while the cute ‘Rabbitar’ that the team developed was surprisingly effective as a believable avatar, it didn’t quite fit the prompt. However, lessons from the Rabbitar, specifically its simple eyes and mouth, carried over to other experiments, and ultimately found their way into the latest avatars that Zuckerberg showed off on stage.

That’s not to say that Facebook’s social VR team has dusted their hands and called their work on avatars complete… Booth says even about the latest avatars, “this is still a work in progress, we still are experimenting and we plan to continue to evolve these avatars over time.”

Curiously, despite being owned by Facebook, Oculus is taking its own approach to avatars, and in fact debuted an entirely new avatar paradigm at the same conference, which the company says can be persistent between apps and cross platform between Rift and Gear VR. Their approach is even more stylistic and doesn’t aim for “authentic identity” as the Facebook avatar system does.

Though we’re learning more about what types of avatars feel comfortable to interact with in VR, the problem is far from solved for those looking for one consistent representation of their virtual selves across all social virtual spaces.

Reference: http://www.roadtovr.com/facebook-details-social-vr-avatar-experiments-and-lessons-learned/

Multiple Tech Companies are Aiming at VR Olfactive Technology


Nowadays, although VR (virtual reality) can create virtual world and provide very immersive and real experiences to the users, it is only based on sense of sight and hearing. For the purpose of breaking this limitation, plenty of technology companies are currently focusing on the research and development of the smelling sense. In this year, Ubisoft Entertainment published a smelling equipment called Nosulus Ri. This equipment used two capsule of smelly gas to achieve the sense of smelling feature. Recently, a Japanese researching group developed a new technology that can make people taste without actually eating anything. This technology used electric current to shake the tongue, in order to activate people’s taste-bud for achieving saltiness. According to reports, this researching group extended sweetness in their technology, and they are planning to use this technology in VR headset. At the same time, The researchers from National University of Singapore and Tokyo University used the method of installing electrode on human’s faces to achieve the feature of chewing and tasting in VR environment. Although these two projects are still in scientific research process, these VR smelling and tasting technologies can strongly help the group of people who cannot absorb sugar and salt. We can believe that when these technologies combine with highly-immersive VR headset, it will bring people amazing smelling and tasting experiences.

HTC are Announcing Brandnew Vive 3D Headset


Seems like somebody at HTC HQ has been flipping through the pages of future-gazing virtual reality bible Ready Player One, if the latest news surrounding its next-gen Vive headset is to be believed. According to reliable HTC leaker @LlabTooFeR, a HTC Vive 2 headset is currently under development with a codename that'll be familiar to readers of Ernest Cline's best-selling novel about a future obsessed with VR: Oasis is a fitting name for any potential HTC Vive 2 then, seeing as it's the name of the metaverse that players inhabit in Cline's advanced virtual reality world. Though it's unquestionably the best virtual reality headset commercially available at the moment, the HTC Vive's prohibitive cost and space requirements, paired with only a slow trickle of software, has made its uptake relatively slow. But it's not the first time we've heard HTC might be working on an upgraded version of the Vive. Bulgarian company Quark VR revealed back in Septemberthat it was working alongside HTC to build a prototype headset that would work wirelessly, using a Wi-Fi connection. First revealed back at MWC in March 2015, all eyes will be on Barcelona for MWC 2017 to see if our next peek into HTC's virtual world will be unveiled again there too.

Eye-tracking Embedded Headset Fove Announces Launch Time and Details


Fove showed off a new design for their eye-tracking VR headset in an announcement on their company blog. The Disrupt SF Battlefield 2014 alum is aiming to have headsets start shipping in fall 2016 for its Kickstarter backers. The headset design has lost much of the wispiness of its Kickstarter prototype design. This was done in an effort to reduce the weight of the headset and improve its wearability. The company also noted that the more understated design will boost production efficiency. Production has been a bit of an issue for the small startup aiming to build a high-quality HMD that rivals efforts from Oculus and HTC. Due to delays caused by part-sourcing, the company was forced to push back their expected delivery date from spring 2016 to fall 2016. Perhaps more critically, Fove also announced that the headset would be losing integration with Valve’s Lighthouse system which powers positional tracking on the HTC Vive in favor of its own system. What distinguishes this headset from all the nerd face computers though? This is the first VR headset to directly integrate eye-tracking sensors into the headset to monitor a user’s gaze. The technology can revamp processes for how users navigate interfaces, but it also has the potential to alter gameplay and in-headset communication. In the future, ridiculously high-resolution headsets will see performance boosts from eye-tracking by way of foveated rendering, a technology that allows the display to simulate depth-of-field and keep the highest resolution images confined to the center of a user’s gaze. Eye-tracking is generally seen by most in the industry as a key feature for the next-generation of high-end headsets so Fove may not be the only VR player with the distinguishing feature for long. Eye-tracking tech veteran SMI has already shown of an eye-tracking dev kit for the HTC Vive and there are a number of other eye-tracking companies including Tobii and Eyefluence who claim to be working with VR headset manufacturers on next-gen devices.

Adobe New Features allowing Editing 3D Panorama Video within VR


Adobe have down off their solution for editing immersive 360 VR videos within VR itself as they took to the stage at their annual ‘MAX’ event last week to demonstrate their prototype in-VR editor for Premiere, ‘CloverVR’.

Virtual Reality in Real Estate: Blind-spot free experence


Panorama VR Technology is becoming one of the most popular tool used in real-estate industry in recent two years. Through Virtual Reality technology, real-estate developers and agents can show their properties to their clients without the clients actually be there. Recently, a British high-level real estate agent company started using VR and caught lots of clients’ attention.

BMW Introduces VR Techniques into Automobile Development


BMW has become the first car manufacturer to introduce a mixed reality system into vehicle development that has been devised entirely using components from the computer games industry. This offers some significant advantages over the VR systems that have existed to date, and is the first step towards making virtual reality a very real part of many developer workstations in the not-too-distant future.

Adobe New Features allowing Editing 3D Panorama Video within VR


Adobe have down off their solution for editing immersive 360 VR videos within VR itself as they took to the stage at their annual ‘MAX’ event last week to demonstrate their prototype in-VR editor for Premiere, ‘CloverVR’. Adobe Premiere is almost ubiquitous in video editing circles, from hobbyist user all the way through to industry professional. Who better than Adobe then to try and tackle the not insubstantial issues and challenges facing video editors as they’re increasingly asked to tackled immersive video, shot to be viewed in VR? The challenges are multitudinous of course and with such an early and developing format of filmmaking (already split into various sub formats), but the primary problem is the same a developers working on VR games and applications – you need to be ‘in’ the experience to understand and from there build or edit it. Adobe is clearly acutely aware of these issues and are keen to tackle them, so they demonstrated a short sneak peek session at the annual Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas last week. Adobe’s Steven DiVerdi took to the stage armed with an Oculus Rift and two Oculus Touch controllers to who off ‘Project CloverVR’, a prototype in-VR video editor for Adobe Premiere which allows the assembly of 360 video from within virtual reality. DiVerdi aptly demonstrates first the issues with sniping 360 video in the traditional 2D toolset. If you’ve ever looked at a 360 YouTube video outside of a VR headset you’ll know the problem too, that they don’t make a lot of sense to the human eye. Providing context and direction in 360 videos then becomes challenging as the editor has to continually preview the video within VR to ensure things are making sense. Functionally, CloverVR does indeed look early, but DiVerdi showed off a feature to help tackle that issue of context but flipping between two adjoining scenes to from a preview interface overlaid onto the active video view. No word was given as to the timeline for CloverVR appearing in products we can actually use and it certainly looked like the interface has some way to go to match the overwhelming plethora of options in the standard Premiere interface. But, should Adobe manage to pull off a motion controlled, intuitive UI they may reduce headaches for the growing number of VR video editors out there.

Virtual Reality in Real Estate: Blind-spot free experence


Panorama VR Technology is becoming one of the most popular tool used in real-estate industry in recent two years. Through Virtual Reality technology, real-estate developers and agents can show their properties to their clients without the clients actually be there. Recently, a British high-level real estate agent company started using VR and caught lots of clients’ attention.

That British real-estate agent company choose to use VR to show their properties because it is much faster and convenient to clients, comparing with publishing traditional brochure and booking appointments for open house. In fact, plenty of clients did not understand this technology and they asked what is Virtual Reality? This situation is understandable since VR technology is still in developing process and did not involve in people’s daily lives yet.

Then, what is VR technology? A London real-estate agent company JLL Residential told us the fact that if a client want to visit a local property, it will averagely spent 45 minutes one-way by car. Also, the cost of each paper-brochure is around 2 to 3 GBP (17.72 to 26.58 RMB).

After using VR panorama technology, clients just need to pick the properties that he interested in, wear the VR headset, and start his visiting tour in 360 degree.

VR panorama technology performed much better than flat brochure. People can open every door, gaze on each single detail point, and visit multiple house in one time in any location. Beside that, for those non-exist and pre-sell buildings, panorama can use 3D modeling and rendering to create a virtual environment for providing the potential buyers direct senses.

Virtual Reality technology provided convenience and efficiency to both real-estate companies and clients. VR panorama technology maybe still not mature enough in real estate industry currently, but due to the continuous working and improvement, we can believe that VR technology will be much more strong and popular in real estate field.

Reference: http://news.expoon.com/c/20160912/15581.html

BMW Introduces VR Techniques into Automobile Development


BMW has become the first car manufacturer to introduce a mixed reality system into vehicle development that has been devised entirely using components from the computer games industry. This offers some significant advantages over the VR systems that have existed to date, and is the first step towards making virtual reality a very real part of many developer workstations in the not-too-distant future. The adoption of this computer system makes it possible to save a great deal of time and effort, especially during the early stages of development. VR investigations could previously only be conducted at costly specialised facilities. By incorporating consumer electronics, the developers gain an unprecedented degree of flexibility, because any modifications can be implemented and tested very quickly. In addition to this, developers around the globe will be able to take part in the decision-making process from their own office without having to travel too far. Only once the draft designs have been approved with the help of the 3D headsets will they actually be built for further testing. BMW has been employing VR systems in the development process since the 1990s. It is now reaffirming its pioneering status by systematically implementing technology from a sector which has not previously been the focal point of industrial applications. Since this spring, components from the computer games industry have been allowing engineers and designers to immerse themselves more and more often in virtual worlds that are increasingly realistic. The shorter innovation cycles of consumer electronics result in a far wider scope of functions together with lower costs. This thereby enables more vehicle functions to be translated to a VR model in ever more realistic fashion. It is furthermore possible to scale the system to many different developer workstations with little effort. This lends itself ideally to the BMW strategy with its focus on innovative technologies and digitisation. Vehicle functions and new interior designs can quickly be modelled with the aid of the visual experiences. This makes it possible to simulate drives through a city while testing what the all-round view of the surrounding area is like or whether a display is poorly legible or awkward to reach depending on the viewing angle or seat position. All the time, the development engineer has the impression of sitting in a real car in a real driving situation. Following thorough evaluation over the course of 2015, BMW has opted to implement the most powerful solutions currently available. Thanks to the timely support provided by mobile computing manufacturer HTC, several HTC Vive developer kits have already been in use in pilot projects since autumn 2015. This headset’s core components consist of two high-resolution screens and a laser-based tracking system that covers an area of 5 x 5 metres in the BMW application. The graphics are computed by software that normally serves to produce the very best computer gaming graphics. BMW uses Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games for this task. This enables stable rendering of 90 frames per second while achieving photo-realistic quality too. The computation is performed using high-end gaming computers with water-cooled, overclocked components (including Intel Core i7 and two Nvidia Titan X graphic cards). Further advances are expected in terms of both the headset hardware and software, and these will be evaluated at regular intervals. Visual sensations alone are not enough though. For this reason, BMW employs a reusable interior assembly which, thanks to the use of rapid prototyping, further enhances perception by producing a mixed reality experience. Precise, stereoscopic acoustic playback, e.g. for the characteristic BMW engine sound, further intensifies the immersive experience. This, combined with the VR model enables to experience the vehicle in different environments. The completely realistic vehicle impression produced by this method is so far unique in the automotive industry. The HTC Vive Lighthouse tracking system that is used floods the room with an invisible light field that is tracked by sensors on the VR headset and the controllers. The system’s lasers refresh the tracking field at intervals of just a few milliseconds, thereby enabling ultra-precise tracking of every body movement and even the slightest alteration in the viewing direction. It is thanks to this supremely accurate and stable tracking that the wearer is able to move around in the virtual environment with zero interference – this is essential not just for creating a spatial impression that is as true to life as possible and maximising the level of immersion, but also for making the VR headset easy to get accustomed to. The overall mixed reality system that was developed in-house by BMW ensures optimum interaction between the individual devices and components, such as the VR model, rapid prototyping, VR headset and tracking.

SteamVR Home Beta Adds Social Features In Major Update


by JOE DURBIN • MAY 18TH, 2017
 

SteamVR is an essential platform for virtual reality and, starting today, exploring it is about to get a whole lot better.

In a community post published today, Valve Software is announcing a major update that will vastly improve the way users can interact with VR content and friends. SteamVR Home is the name of a new beta program that will bring a wealth of new options to users including new environments, avatars and social capabilities.

According to Valve:

“Today we are updating SteamVR with a new home experience that is richer, more interactive, and more social than the existing launch area. SteamVR Home is currently in beta and will appear for everyone who opts in to SteamVR Beta…

We’ve also heard loud and clear that creators want the ability to make more detailed home environments, with sound, animation, interaction, and social elements. All of these features and more are now available with the new SteamVR Home update.”

Environments are the first thing getting a major makeover in SteamVR Home. The sterile background and basic menus of the previous iteration will be replaced by spaces that “can now be higher resolution and support animation, sound, games, and interactivity.”

New environments can be made by users inside the SteamVR Workshop.

You’ll also now have the ability to create a personal avatar from a selection of pre-loaded pieces and parts. You can “choose your avatar’s head and accessorize it with wearables and props. Additional avatars and wearables can be found by completing quests in other SteamVR environments.”

Invite Friends To Your Virtual Home In Steam

VR social interactions will also be possible with your Steam friends for the first time:

SteamVR Home has social functions built in, making it easier than ever to connect to friends and other players. Invite friends to join you in your home space, or open any environment up to friends or the public. Voice chat with other players, interact with tools and props, and explore different SteamVR environments with others.

Lastly, this all may look familiar to longtime SteamVR users. This is because the entire thing is essentially an updated version of another SteamVR application: Destinations. Valve explained the future of Destinations in a separate posting which states that:

“The short of it is that we are building the core functionality of Destinations into SteamVR as SteamVR Home (Beta). This means that richer environments, props, tools, multiplayer, and avatars will be available to all players by default…Once this update is out of SteamVR Beta the Destinations application will no longer be updated.”

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