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During an interview with Japanese site AV Watch, Xbox boss Phil Spencer had some interesting things to say about Xbox, and more. There was a question thrown in about VR, which is the most interesting part of this interview.
When asked about the potential and rumored spin off of the Xbox brand from Microsoft, Spencer replied with: "Creating the appropriate tools, finding the right developers, we have gathered such a great community. With Xbox 360, our efforts were crowned by considerable success. And I'm committed to the success of Xbox One. In the past six months Xbox One has changed. We introduced to gamers the version without Kinect and broadened the choice. We will continue to update the system, and starting with Japan we're launching in new markets. The launch in Shanghai in China will happen next week, and I believe that by such changes we'll gather an even bigger audience".
Spencer also talked about VR, where he said good things about the competition in Oculus and Sony, but teased that Microsoft is working on its own VR tech for Xbox, but isn't ready to talk about it just yet. Spencer said: "The industry as a whole continues to invest in research and in new elements. New technologies invite us to explore new gaming world's. I believe that Kinect, voice and virtual reality are those key new elements. That's why I'm glad that Sony and Oculus are investing in VR. We're also working on an investment of our own, but it's not at a stage in which we can talk about it yet".
Samsung is soon to launch its Gear VR device, alongside the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, but what about the software and games that will float onto Samsung's first VR device? That will be controlled by Oculus.
First, you'll need the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, followed by (of course) the Gear VR headset itself, and finally, in order to get it all working, the software will be coming from Oculus. Oculus' vice president for Mobile told Polygon: "On Gear VR, there will be an Oculus store and that's how you'll get Gear VR applications". This means that there is no way for developers to release games through the Google Play, or other Android stores for Gear VR. Cohen added: "No. You'll need to go through Oculus storefront for mobile VR".
While this might sound strange, it gives Oculus the control to keep the quality of the content at a much higher grade. Second, it provides Oculus, and Facebook, with profits from the sales, in the same way Valve takes a cut of profits from each game sold on Steam. Cohen added: "We'll have a lot more details about this later, but it's going to be something that's very developer friendly. Our goal is to be the platform, to provide the tools that developers need, and to bring the users in," he stated. "And that it will be as painless as we can make it".
While Oculus VR is on its fourth headset before it even goes retail: DK1, Crystal Cove, DK2, Crescent Bay, Sony is still tinkering away with its Project Morpheus headset. Sony Worldwide Studios' President, Shuhei Yoshida, spoke with The Wall Street Journal recently, about the company's adventures in VR.
Yoshida said that Sony "finished 85 percent of the work needed to make the product available" but didn't elaborate on when Project Morpheus would launch, or what type of price to expect. Yoshida did say that most of Project Morpheus' components are found in smartphones, which would help keep the price from floating up.
From what we can expect, Sony's Project Morpheus headset offers a 1920x1080 display with a 90-degree field of view (FOV) and full 360 degrees of head tracking. Considering Oculus just announced, and showed off, Crescent Bay, with an improved display, less latency and full 360-degree head tracking, Sony has its work cut out for it, big time.
The rush of companies into the smartwatch market will provide consumers with a wide selection of product choices, with affordable entry-level devices to pricier products with enhanced features. By 2016 smartwatches will make up around 40 percent of wristworn consumer products, according to the Gartner research group.
The push by Chinese OEMs using Google Android on smartwatches could drop prices as low as $30 in 2015, however, many U.S. and western Europe consumers will want to snap up products from Samsung, Apple, and other vendors. Despite much criticism during recent Apple's recent press conference, the three introduced Apple Watch models will help set a higher bar in the smartwatch market.
"We are currently seeing two opposing trends in the market with regards to form factor evolution," said Annette Zimmerman, Gartner research director, in a press statement. "On the one hand there are vendors offering smart wrist-wearables in a familiar watch-like form factor. On the other hand in the past six to nine months, we have seen vendors launching products that resemble the early fitness wristbands, but come with displays that add significant functionality, including message and call alerts."
Oculus Connect is all but wrapped up now, with Oculus announcing that it is making it easier to access VR software. Before today, Oculus Share was where developers and early adopters would go to access VR content, with Oculus Share now becoming Oculus Platform.
Oculus Platform is your one-stop shop for VR content, which offers up everything from 'Home', 'Cinema' and '360'. Home would be your usual place for software, Cinema is where you would watch your movies, and 360 would be left for your 360-degree content, such as panoramic shots from your smartphone. Oculus thinks that Platform will be easier for the startup to offer great games and apps to the future two billion VR users.
Platform will also allow developers to publish content, and once the Rift is off the ground and into the land of consumer reality, developers can make money from their content. This will work the same way that iOS and Android developers make money, but we don't know what split the profits will be, as I'm guessing Facebook would also be involved in this department.
Hot on the heels of announcing its new Crescent Bay prototype, Oculus has made its Rift DK1 peripheral code and engineering schematics open source, available to all. This release allows programmers to get as deep as they want into Oculus' code, giving people the ability to make a clone of the Rift.
Nirav Patel from Oculus, talked about this open source release, where he said: "we don't want everyone to have to take the same risks we took. We just want to share the things we learned so you don't have to do that". Remember that this is the DK1, and not the still-new DK2 unit. The schematic's components aren't ready for 3D printing just yet, but it's a great step of transparency for the Facebook-owned VR company.
Oculus Connect is currently underway in Los Angeles, with Oculus VR announcing the latest prototype of the Rift, known as Crescent Bay. Crescent Bay features numerous improvements and new tricks even over the just-released, and still-shipping Rift DK2 unit, such as 360-degree head tracking.
Not only do we have 360-degree head tracking (which is done by having sensors on the back of your head, something completely new), but we have a higher resolution screen (no exact numbers, but most reports and hands-on use point to it being better than Samsung's Gear VR which uses the QHD or 2560x1440 panel from the Galaxy Note 4), lower latency, and a built-in headset.
Crescent Bay has been working out, dropping a little weight, with Oculus providing improved ergonomics so it feels better when wearing it, and with the integrated audio, 3D audio can now be something big thanks to Oculus' collaboration with licensed technology from the University of Maryland, and RealSP. Oculus' Brendan Iribe explains: "We're working on audio as aggressively as we're working on the vision side". For the various reports on the latest VR headset from Oculus, most have said that it is much closer to what is expected from CV1 (the first consumer, or retail Rift).
There's no word on whether Oculus will release a DK3 to the public, but with Crescent Bay offering up so many new things (360-degree head tracking and 3D positional audio are big new features on their own) so we shouldn't be surprised with another Developer Kit.
NVIDIA Editor's Day 2014 - There were two stations to play with the Oculus Rift and Maxwell-powered GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 GPUs at NVIDIA's Editor's Day 2014, with the first being the EVE: Valkyrie station, and the second Epic Games' "Car Flip" VR demo. It's hard to explain, so watch the video below.
As you can see, it's an on-rails VR demo that plays out in slow motion, with a blend of 'The Matrix' meets 'F.E.A.R.'. It was one of the more impressive demos I've witnessed, and while there's nothing you can do during the game with it being on-rails, the experience is like nothing else. Watching bullets fly past you makes you feel like you're in The Matrix, and watching the explosions take place in front of you while the car flips over you, is simply awesome, there's no other word to explain it.
Samsung has been supplying Apple with quite a number of parts for its devices over the years, but it looks like it won't be involved with the AMOLED displays for Apple's upcoming Watch, according to DigiTimes.
The site is reporting that LG Display has won the contract, with around five million displays a month being shipped to Apple for its Watch. Over the course of 2015, Apple expects to sell a mammoth 50 million Watches, meaning Samsung has lost out on a considerable chunk of manufacturing profits for the AMOLED panels, with LG picking up some big business.
Samsung may have Oculus powering its Gear VR headset, but what about Apple users? Fear not, as AirVR has just hit Kickstarter, requesting $20,000 in funds to convert your iPad mini (Retina) or iPhone 6 Plus into a VR headset.
All you have to do is slot in your Retina iPad mini or iPhone 6 Plus into the AirVR, something that costs just $49, for portable, iOS-powered VR goodness. Metatecture is behind AirVR, which will go on sale 'early 2015'. The Kickstarter campaign explains: "AirVR brings the magic of Virtual Reality with you everywhere you go. Ditch the tangle of cables and experience VR anywhere in the world".