High Fidelity announces the ability to track eye movement in a modified oculus rift headset!
They released the following statement: “We believe that eye tracking, with it’s potential for both enhancing live communication and controlling/interacting in VR environments, is very likely to be a part of second generation HMD’s. So we’ve gotten a pair of custom Oculus DK2s modified by SensoMotoric Instruments to include hardware capable of fast, accurate tracking of the eye. This video shows the first results. The experience of making eye contact with another person is remarkable and can’t be described in a video – but you get the idea.”
I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZoHa Islands Blogger/Social Media
Now that the new platform is well underway, Linden Lab is giving us a glimpse into this other platform and what it means to Second Life residents, as well as new users of virtual worlds.
In an article published on the Xconomy.com website, and in an interview Ebbe Altberg gave in world at the SL12B celebration, more is being revealed about the timeline, the economy of Project Sansar, and more.
In an article on xconomy.com, Linden Lab is preparing to test this “parallel universe.” This article emphasizes again that Project Sansar is not a different version of Second Life. While Linden Lab has been making improvements to Second Life, “It would take more than just tinkering to retrofit it for current virtual reality hardware while keeping the site up and running,” stated Ebbe Altberg. Project Sansar is being created to be used with the virtual reality headsets, such as Samsung’s Gear VR and Oculus Rift (those two companies are still duking it out to see who becomes King of the VR).
The article states, “Although Second Life is still a popular online meeting place, as well as an e-commerce marketplace with a GDP greater than $500 million, Altberg says Linden Lab’s leadership team decided last year it needed to build a new world from the ground up if it wanted to succeed in the future.”
Alpha testing for Project Sansar will begin toward the end of July. Handpicked, eager to build something in the new virtual reality medium will be invited to the alpha testing, Altberg says. These guests, (they are not going to be Linden Lab staffers) will use each other’s games and other invented environments, trade feedback, and tweak their own work, he says.
About a year from the alpha release, Linden Lab will begin inviting ordinary users to explore Project Sansar, with a more public beta testing sometime during the first half of 2016, Altberg says. A version 1.0 might be ready by the end of 2016.
Quoting directly from the article:
“While Linden plans to do many things differently in Project Sansar than it does in Second Life, it will also draw on its dozen years of experience operating a pioneering site in several different fields: virtual reality, user-generated content, e-commerce, and virtual currencies. In Second Life, users can buy its currency called Linden with their credit cards at an exchange rate of 250 for one dollar. They can also earn Linden as participants in the Second Life economy, and cash out their virtual currency. Altberg says users redeemed a total of $60 million in 2014.
“Among the products and services for sale are makeovers for one’s avatar. Second Life’s standard-issue, free avatars all look like minor Marvel Comics characters—maybe to appeal to the male fans of digital games who flock to virtual reality sites. But users have also used Second Life for more diverse activities—to host meetings, offer college classes, teach each other languages, open fashion design houses, and set up real estate businesses. (The pirate ship with dirigible shown above is a Second Life creation.)
“Linden [Lab], which is profitable, earns revenues by renting “land” where users can build their virtual homes, museums, shops, or racetracks, at the rate of for $295 per month for a plot of a little over 16 acres. Users who only want to pitch a tent or open a taco stand can rent smaller spaces from virtual real estate businesses that lease large properties and then create subdivisions, Altberg says.”
Linden Lab continues to state emphatically that Second Life will live on after Project Sansar opens its doors as a parallel universe, probably under a new name.
“It’s still very popular and very successful, so we have no plans to discontinue it,” Altberg says. Second Life now hosts about 900,000 active users a month—a bit lower than its peak of about a million years ago. As a private company, Linden Lab doesn’t disclose its revenues. It had raised a total of about $30 million in equity financing by 2006.
The article on xconomy.com goes on to state:
“Linden’s employee count is now more than 213 “and we’re hiring as fast as we can,” Altberg says. Most of the new hires will support Project Sansar.
“Linden plans to make it easy for Second Life denizens to migrate their virtual activities to Project Sansar. But the alternate virtual world will have new features, and will operate by somewhat different rules.
“Altberg says the company is looking to scale up on a number of fronts, including the size of events that can be held in Project Sansar, the number of avatars participating, and the amount of money users can make through their projects.
“For example, Linden wants users to be able to make an unlimited number of “copies” of profitable constructs they’ve created. If an entrepreneur builds a virtual chemistry lab for a college class, that lab could also be sold to other colleges that want to teach chemistry, Altberg says.
“Competition within the virtual community might heat up in Project Sansar, because Linden wants to lower the barriers to entry for creators and entrepreneurs. The company is working on tools to make it easier to build something for advanced virtual reality hardware without being a professional developer. It’s also changing its revenue model.
“Rather than making most of its money renting land, Linden would make land cheaper, but charge taxes on users’ revenues from in-world businesses once they’ve succeeded. This could open up the site to new kinds of businesses, Altberg says.
“Some businesses in Second Life may not have the same success in Sansar,” Altberg says.
Living In a ModemWorld by Inara Pey posted a blog post about the future of virtual reality (VR) in Linden Lab’s newest platform, Project Sansar.
Ebbe Altberg gave a 20-minute talk titled “The future of VR is user-created” at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) Conference, which opened on May 18th, 2015.
“Those who may have been hoping to gain more of an insight into the Lab’s Next Generation Platform (aka Project SANSAR) will perhaps be disappointed by this presentation. As the title suggests, it isn’t so much focused on the Lab’s NGP, but rather on user generated content (UGC).” says Inara in her post.
Ebbe touched on SANSAR during the third part of his speech, but he really didn’t give much more away about the platform than has already been revealed by the Lab in statements made about it to date: That it is in development, that it will be running in a closed alpha from summer 2015, etc.
Oculus has announced their plans to debut their highly-anticipated VR (virtual reality) headset in the first quarter of 2016, saying that it hopes to “transform gaming, film, entertainment, communication and much more.”
It is anticipated that VR headsets will revolutionize virtual environments such as Second Life (it is my understanding that the “Second Life II” is being built with virtual reality in mind) and High Fidelity, the VR virtual world project currently in alpha testing by former SL CEO Philip Rosedale.
Oculus is probably the most well-known name in the pool of Virtual Reality headset makers, as their Rift headset has been in development for several years. Until now, most virtual reality technology has come in the form of prototypes and development devices shown at trade shows and high-profile announcements. Rift’s launch has been highly anticipated, with some analysts speculating that if Oculus didn’t hurry up and launch, that other companies such as the Vive, a brainchild of a collaboration between Valve and HTC, would edge them out as a contender.
Meanwhile, Sony announced intentions to launch its own virtual reality headset for its PlayStation 4 video game console, called Project Morpheus. Samsung has also thrown their hat in the ring, with their announcement that they plan to launch Gear VR, a version of the headset made to be compatible with Samsung smartphones.
Oculus itself was the brainchild of a virtual reality enthusiast Palmer Luckey, who co-founded the company in 2012 after a mix of money and encouragement from industry veterans. Oculus held a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter that generated more than $2.4 million in pre-orders for its prototype. Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014.
According to an article on CNET.com, “Analysts say they aren’t worried which company launches first. Part of the reason is that the resources and investment necessary to attract game developers to make specialized content, as well as the cost of research into next generation technology, leave a lot of opportunity for deep-pocketed companies to duke it out for a while.”
Here is C|NET’s review of the Oculus Rift headset.
Move over, Oculus, there is a new virtual reality (VR) headset in town. Valve and HTC have officially announced their partnership to produce the Vive, a VR headset that will launch later this year. It will feature pretty much the same specs as the Oculus Rift, while adding a couple of features, such as room mapping. The biggest difference between the Vive and the Oculus Rift however, is that the former has an official release date this year, while the latter is still muddled in rumor and speculation.
Oculus is facing the prospect of becoming pushed aside, similar to the way that Oreos did with Hydrox. Hydrox was a sandwich style cookie nearly identical to Oreos and was first introduced in 1908, with Oreos arriving in 1912. However, due to fancy marketing and a slightly sweeter taste, Oreo took over and Hydrox was pushed to second place. This is exactly the scenario that Oculus Rift is teetering on at the moment.
According to an article on the Attack of the Fanboy blog, Oculus Rift is about to be left in the dirt by Vive. The question that remains to be seen is the quality of product that Vive plans to release. Is the reason that Oculus is late to the table with a release date because it needs refinement and development before being released to the public? Perhaps Vive is rushing to produce a product that isn’t fully tested or developed?
The article states:
“With Valve entering the fray, Oculus is on the verge of becoming the Hydrox to Valve’s Oreo. Players who have been primed to buy thanks to Oculus Rift will flock to the Vive if it offers even a fraction of the experience that the Oculus Rift has promised. If it ends up being on the market for months ahead of the Oculus Rift, and offers a better experience in any way, then it will have cemented itself as the premiere VR headset.
The big question for Valve at the moment is how easy will it be to move from Oculus Rift development to the Vive. Can you simply take the work you’ve done and pop it onto the HTC developed headset? If so, it is easy to see how developers will push their game for both devices, at least until one becomes the market leader. If additional work is required then they’ll likely develop for whichever hits the market first, which for now looks to be the Vive. This isn’t to say that there is no room for a second, or even third competitor in the VR game. But Oculus Rift has had the market to themselves for years now, and they have unfortunately not taken advantage of it.”
“None of this is to say that the Oculus Rift will be a bad product, on the contrary it might be the best VR headset out there once it releases. But it’s that last part that is the major sticking point, and it always has been for Oculus. With no official release date for the consumer edition of the Oculus Rift, and multiple competing VR headsets heading to the market soon, the Oculus is in grave danger of missing its window of opportunity. If the Vive hits the market first it is pretty easy to see how consumers a few years from now might look on it as the great innovator of VR. Fans can argue all they want, but once that feeling sets in, there is very little that can change it. If that happens then the Oculus Rift could, like Hydrox cookies before them, fade quickly into irrelevancy.”