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The Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) platform has partnered with more than 20 research institutions and universities for its OSVR Academia program. As part of the initiative, OSVR Academia provides hardware development kits and support to universities, so they are able to develop VR-based software.
Universities and research institutions include facilities in the United States, UK, Canada, Italy, Poland, Spain, Germany and Austria - with US institutions including Johns Hopkins University, University of North Carolina, and Virginia Tech.
"OSVR is an important piece of the emerging consumer VR ecosystem," said Eric Hodgson, director of the Smale Interactive Visualization Center at Miami University. "The ability to make so many devices and software interfaces standardized, interoperable, compatible, and interchangeable has the potential to change the way people interact with their hardware and software."
Former Epic Games president Mike Capps is hesitant to believe virtual reality is going to find its way to a widespread audience, as the technology must overcome numerous hurdles. The first issue is price of VR headsets, as there are only a few different models currently available for consumers to choose from.
"There's so little tolerance at the consumer level for that kind of an investment," Capps said during the GamesIndustry International. "And I like one of the things I'm most curious about - you look at 3DTV as a super easy-to-use technology that is really unfettered. Just a pair of polarized glasses and people didn't use it because it wasn't worth the trouble."
Another issue is that the headsets might provide an environment that is too immersive, distracting users from other activities.
SoftKinetic has announced that the DepthSense Close Interaction Library (CILib) has been modified so it is adapted for augmented and virtual reality environments. Based on its middleware, SoftKinetic hopes this is the first piece of the puzzle for 3D technology custom designed for the AR and VR markets.
The ability to physically use your hands while interacting in a VR or AR environment allows for gesture recognition and physical interaction. The CILib ReachVR toolkit will be released in Q2 2015, and will allow developers to use the SoftKinetic tracking library if they have the company's 3D depth-sensing camera.
"Virtual reality is incredibly exciting for the gaming community, as it provides a truly magical engagement with the world around us," said Eric Krzeslo, chief marketing officer of SoftKinetic. "SoftKinetic's CILib, coupled with our advanced 3D Time of Flight depth sensing camera, is uniquely suited to the demands of both the AR and VR environments, and provides the 'feeling of presence' gamers crave."
It looks like Apple is interested in developing some type of virtual reality head-mounted display or projection system, after new job listings appeared on the company's website. Specifically, there is a need for Optical Display Engineers, Sr. Display Software Engineers, and other roles pointing towards virtual reality.
Considering VR is a booming business, and has great future potential, it shouldn't be surprising if Apple wants to begin seriously developing its own product. In 2014, Apple started recruiting employees to develop "virtual reality experiences," including specialists in augmented reality and 3D graphics.
Microsoft, Facebook, Razer, Steam, and other major companies are throwing down in the augmented reality and VR markets, so Apple will have some competition to deal with in the future. However, Apple has the time and resources to make sure it is able to launch a large-scale development of VR hardware for consumers.
Virtual reality still has numerous problems to overcome before it goes fully mainstream among gamers, but already has greatly influenced the video game market. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week, game studios, developers and influencers are expected to discuss VR-focused hardware and software.
At GDC, Oculus will show off Rift, Razer is expected to promote its OSVR headset, while Steam is going to unveil the SteamVR headset.
"Nobody buys a piece of gaming hardware because they think it looks cool," said Lewis Ward, analyst at IDC, in a statement published by CNET. "Until there's a great experience to go along with it, the hardware simply opens the door."
Augmented and virtual reality devices will drastically increase in popularity, rising from 3 million units in 2015 up to 55 million in 2020, according to ABI Research. Head-mounted displays (HMDs) will lead the way, but mobile-reliant devices will see early success, with tethered solutions needing a bit more time to mature.
"There is a lot of excitement and hype focused on getting consumers to try out virtual reality, including the LG G3 shipping with an HMD in some markets, and Mattel's View-Master AR toy," said Michael Inouye, senior analyst at ABI Research. "These early experiences will be like any new toy-novel for a while and then fall off in use, with new content potentially driving periodic re-engagement."
It's unknown if gaming and movies will help drive VR, even though hardware developments are being made. Meanwhile with AR, which is increasingly popular in the enterprise, consumers find a lack of apps difficult to help embrace the technology - and ABI Research thinks it may be a matter of time:
It's going to take a while before 3D printers go mainstream, but consumers have shown a genuine curiosity about 3D-printed food.
3D food printers operate by printing out layers of edible materials, capable of creating pastries, chocolate, pasta, pizza, and other delicious snacks and foods. Unfortunately, supporters are struggling to find ways to turn this curiosity into a long-term business model - and whether this is an ideal strategy for home cooks or restaurants.
"The really exciting thing is the food we can't even imagine today because we don't have any way to make it," said Hod Lipson, Cornell University Creative Machines Lab director, in a statement to the AP. "That's the part I don't think anybody has really figured out."
3D printing technology has evolved at a fast rate over the past few years, but 3D printing still struggles to go mainstream among consumers. Prices for 3D printers and filaments are dropping, but consumers simply don't need one, even as more 3D-printed products and foods are introduced.
A wider selection of consumer 3D printers are available, but most consumers appear willing to wait for the market to develop further.
"Other than some of these cool examples, when does 3D printing go mainstream?" questioned Guy Kawasaki, tech analyst and former Apple chief evangelist, in a statement to CNBC. "I understand you can 3D print food. That's kind of a stretch for me. The fact that someone can 3D print a car doesn't mean you're gonna do it. So it may be that we're just a little bit too early to see what's really gonna happen there."
The Oculus VR Story Studio, an in-house laboratory, will be focused on creating movies and other content designed specifically for VR. Facebook opened up the checkbook to acquire Oculus, and while VR continues to impress many consumers, the company understands there must be an incentive for users to adopt the Oculus Rift.
"Oculus is getting focused on films," said Edward Saatchi, producer for Story Studio, in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. "Story Studio is designed to inspire and educate - inspire by making awesome movies and educate by sharing our information with the community."
Story Studio consists of about 10 people, and includes Pixar Animation Studios and Lucasfilm veterans, to help streamline film production.
Microsoft's recent unveiling of its HoloLens has generated a lot of interest from consumers, but developers understand it will be up to them to create appealing apps for the new platform. Microsoft is promoting HoloLens as something different than Oculus Rift or Sony Morpheus, and will likely try to build its success piggybacked on Windows OS and Xbox One integration in the future.
"I think [HoloLens], for me, more exciting than even VR but it shares a similar problem as VR does and that is: what is the application going to be?" said Peter Molyneux, creator of Fable, in an interview with Gamesindustry.biz. "This is the problem with VR - the applications that we think are going to be great on it quite often are exhausting or very challenging. My hope is that their concept video doesn't over promise what the technology can deliver."
Molyneux is basing his opinion on a HoloLens prototype that was tested more than two years ago, however.