VR With Eye Tracking!

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

VR Gear

I saw a photo on the Second Life Facebook page of someone wearing VR gear and a headset for chatting. This all looks very cumbersome and heavy to me. It reminds me of the early days of cell phones.

VR headset

Don’t you know that someday, we will look back at this picture and shake our heads, saying “Oh can you believe we ever had to wear something that clunky???” I mean just look at the evolution:

First cell phones:
early cell phone

Cell phones now:
iPhone 7

Old Virtual Boy Set
Virtual boy

Will this be the future ???
Future Virtual Reality

We live in exciting times!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZoHa Islands Blogger/Social Media

Oculus Announces Rift Launch in 2016

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.

Click here: C|NET’s First Look at the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay Prototype

Click here for complete article on cnet.com: Oculus to launch long-awaited Rift virtual reality headset in 2016

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Blogger/Social Media.

Is Vive the Oreo to Oculus Rift’s Hydrox?

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.”

Read the full article by clicking here: The Oculus Rift is in danger of becoming irrelevant

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media

High Fidelity Raises $11 Million

One of the biggest things to hit virtual worlds is the idea of being able to experience it in the immersive Virtual Reality, or VR. High Fidelity is open source software for shared Virtual Reality, and they are the first to move forward with this technology in the virtual world environment. Second Life 3, or whatever it is going to be called, is going to be geared toward that kind of technology also, using the still rather clunky VR headsets such as Oculus Rift. While we are still in the early stages of the development of this technology, it is exciting to watch it grow and develop.

It was announced yesterday in an article posted on the techcrunch.com website, that High Fidelity, the San Francisco-based startup from Second Life founder Philip Rosedale, has raised another $11 million in funding in a round led by Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital. The funding was noted in a SEC filing recently, and was confirmed to the TechCrunch website by Rosedale himself. Hi Fidelity is clearly a forerunner and a big player in this exciting, developing technology.

I’m quoting directly from the article below. But you can find the original posting by clicking on this link: Hi Fidelity Raises $11M

“Founded in 2013, High Fidelity is building deployable virtual worlds, combining the ease of rolling out a VM instance on a modern cloud platform with the interactivity of Minecraft and the immersion of virtual reality. Over the course of several hours at High Fidelity HQ yesterday, Rosedale demonstrated the state of the startup’s tech and the vision he has for turning it into a viable business.

“The main idea driving High Fidelity forward is the ability to quickly generate a virtual space to meet in and interact with. While the interface is far from final, it’s already at the point where you can pick a template, choose a name, and instantly have a space accessible by others. Each space is essentially a small video game world, filled in with the same 3D models you’d build for a game built with Unity.

“The startup has built enough logic that you can jump in with friends, have a quick virtual chat, and interact with the virtual space. If you want more stuff to do, you can grab or sculpt your own models and create logic in JavaScript to tell the world how interaction should work. Rosedale showed off this capability by dropping a billiards table he’s been working on in his free time into a world. Using two Razer Hydra controllers, you could pick up balls, roll them around, or throw them at one another and see them react with realistic physics. Similarly, the studio has invested a ton of time into naturalistic facial/gesture capture and 3D audio, making it the closest thing to the ideal virtual reality chatroom.

“If you can code it, you can build basically anything into High Fidelity’s worlds. Between alpha users and the team’s developers messing around in their own time, people have built procedurally generated cities and AI-powered animals that wander around realistically — and that’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible.

“As with Second Life, High Fidelity doesn’t plan to sell you a one-time license in exchange for unlimited play. In fact, the base of the experience is open source, letting anyone host worlds on their own machines with less of a hassle than even the kid-friendly Minecraft.

“Rosedale plans to monetize High Fidelity at the points where the community provides value to itself. While you can generate a temporary name to send to friends so they can quickly jump into a world with you, you’ll also be able to pay a fee to keep a distinct name for longer-term use — kind of like reserving a good URL for your site or username on Twitter.

“Since users can make all kinds of content for their worlds, High Fidelity also wants to host the go-to repository for models and code in a digital store resembling Unity’s Asset Store. Given the product’s open source approach, generous users can give out their offerings for free if they’d like, but if they want to charge money, High Fidelity will take a small cut.

“As I’ve noted before, advertising is probably going to be common in virtual reality. Some might hear that and groan, but in “contemporary” virtual settings, ads done right can actually contribute to immersion. Rosedale says the startup is looking to make ads not only feel natural in High Fidelity, but helpful: while there might be ads for “real” products on in-game televisions or billboards down the road, in the near-term you’re more likely to see ads for cool objects you can pick up from the asset store.

“Virtual reality allows for an infinite range of experiences, and the studios and hobbyists working on content for headsets from market leaders Oculus and Samsung have barely touched on what’s possible. For now, the majority of development in the space happens in traditional game engines like Unity and Unreal. High Fidelity’s deployable worlds put it somewhere between those professional tools and the most customizable video games, opening up innovation in the space to those who are willing to get technical but don’t want to build something from the ground up.:

We are on the cusp of some exciting developments!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZoHa Islands Social Media

Captain Oculus Tests Oculus Rift in Second Life

oculus rift logo
As Oculus Rift continues to grow and develop, it is interesting to hear about experiences people are having with it in Second Life. Kate Bergdorf, who has a blog called “The Bergdorf Reports” recently had a fascinating guest blogger who posted about his experiences with Oculus Rift in SL.

Recently, Kate bumped into a noob named Captain Oculus, and ended up having a discussion with him about Oculus Rift. Captain Oculus commented to Kate that he had just about run out of places to visit to test Oculus Rift. Kate gave him a list of places, and he agreed to do a post about it for her blog.

As Captain Oculus states in his opening paragraph, “My Second Life name is Captain Oculus and I am a Software Developer who spends free time in Second Life with the Oculus Rift Developer Kit 2 (DK2). I am not affiliated with Oculus, Facebook, or Linden Labs in any way, and merely provide a third party opinion about various things in the virtual reality.”

Since Captain Oculus apparently has no agenda to promote, his observations and experiences can presume to be unbiased as far as a corporate affiliation. Obviously no one is completely unbiased; we all come to the table with our own life experiences and thoughts and feelings, but Captain Oculus does an excellent job. He writes about his own personal experiences in SL using Oculus Rift, and he describes his experiences in depth and detail. It is well worth the read to learn more about Oculus Rift and this fascinating way of interacting with a virtual world.

His post can be found by clicking this link: The Experience of Oculus Rift.

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZoHa Islands Social Media