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If you've ever wondered what the world of South Park would feel like in VR, check out this VR project that was developed by Tool. Tool explains: "We started with three goals in mind for the experiment".
The developer continues: "One, from a tech point of view, to sharpen our Unity and Oculus Rift development skills-two, from a creative point of view, to reimagine a well known story by allowing the user to experience it in the first person and-three, to finish the project in time to share with our friends at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival".
Tool are fans of South Park, but chose to build a VR demo thanks to South Park's simplistic visuals. Tool's rendition of South Park was inspired by Obsidian Entertainment's South Park: The Stick of Truth, and the intro to Season 17. The developer explains: "felt that a combination of flat cutout characters and more dimensional paper-textured buildings was the way to go".
What happens when you blend the world's of a camera strapped to your back and a VR headset on your face? Well, you can view yourself in the third-person perspective, something that a development team based in Poland has done.
The team used the Oculus Rift as the VR headset, of course, and a couple of GoPro cameras mounted above the user's head. The GoPro cameras were attached onto a 3D-printed arm, which then provided the user with a view of themselves in the third-person. mepi, the development team behind the project, used a small joystick which simulated the ability to move the camera in third person, just like it works in games.
The system is running from a basic laptop, with the joystick using an Arduino to communicate between the GoPro and mount. The system is a rough prototype according to the team, something that was assembled in just two days. The team calls this the "Real World Third Person Perspective", which seems like a pretty nifty demonstration.
Oculus VR promised that it would begin shipping its Rift Developer Kit 2 units in July, something that it has started to do. The Facebook-owned VR startup has said that "The first batch of official DK2s have left the manufacturing facility and are making their way to our distribution centers now".
This news comes from "cyberality" on Reddit. Oculus VR says that it should see half the units through distribution centers and on their way to eager Rift DK2 owners before the month wraps up. As soon as the shipment has been processed by the distribution center, DK2 owners will receive their tracking numbers.
Something more interesting, is the amount of DK2 units that Oculus VR had pre-orders on. There were over 45,000 DK2 pre-orders, which is a massive number. With this many pre-orders, manufacturing can't quite keep up, so some people wont' get their DK2 units until August. Oculus VR has told its team in China to ramp up production at its factory, something nit will continue to do until every DK2 has their headset. I've pre-ordered one myself, and was one of the first, so you can expect an unboxing video and articles written up on it as soon as it hits my doorstep.
Epic Games has been working with Oculus VR closely on the Rift, seeing its Unreal Engine 4 as a showcase demo for its VR tech. Epic Games has now teased that it has something 'cool' for the VR community coming soon.
Nick Whiting, the Lead Engine Programmer for Epic Games has teased that the developer has some "cool surprises in the coming months in the VR scene". We don't know what it could be, but as I said above, Epic Games has been working with Oculus VR on its demos as of late, with Oculus VR's DK2 unit launching alongside Cough Knight, which is one of the more impressive demos on the DK2 unit.
I'd like to see Epic Games pledge full support of Oculus VR, and VR gaming in general, but we'll have to wait and see.
Google I/O 2014 - Google unveiled a super cheap way of allowing Android smartphone owners to enjoy the world of VR, by showing off a new DIY cardboard viewer, dubbed Google Cardboard.
Along with the Cardboard app, you can watch YouTube content, walk through Google Street View, or use Google Earth, as well as other interactive demos, all in the VR world with the piece of cardboard. The kit comes with cardboard, velcro, magnets and lenses (with NFC tags being optional). Brent Rose of Gizmodo tried it out, and was quite impressed with what Google could do with a simple piece of cardboard and an application.
Rose said: "I was using a Nexus 5 which is 1080p, but it's split between your two eyes, so it's definitely not quite retina. It's certainly on-par with the first version of the Oculus Rift, though. As phone become higher resolution (like the 2560x1440 LG G3 this will just look better and better".
We only just reported on the truly astounding VR device from BlackRock VR, but now the company has removed everything from its website, leaving a short message to everyone.
This message reads: "At the request of the VR community, all advertising and pre-orders for the V have been stopped until further notice. HorizonVR". So there are only a few things that have happened here. People have felt like they're not going to see this device come out, as it did have some truly mind-bending specifications, or it was a scam.
We're not saying it was a scam, but from what I've read online, this is the opinion of a few. For the entire site to be ripped down after they were asking people to pay $300 pre-orders on a $1,199 virtual reality HMD that might not ever make it to the market... well.
Google I/O 2014 - There's a meme here, surely? I don't always order pizza, but when I do, it's from my smartwatch. Well, Google did just that at Google I/O when it showed off the Moto 360 smartwatch.
The Moto 360 smartwatch is powered by Google's upcoming Android Wear OS, which has some nifty tricks up its sleeve. Whenever you update an application on your smartphone, the smartwatch will update the counterpart app on your smartphone. But ordering a pizza from what your watch? Now that is something I've never seen before.
The Moto 360 will be available for sale later in the summer, but Google also took the time at the event to announce that LG's G Watch will be available to order later today from the Play Store.
With the Oculus Rift taking most of the VR glory right now, even before we have a consumer edition in our hands, it's hard to get noticed in the world if you're a VR headset. Well, that's not the case for BlackRock VR, which just announced the Horizon V - the "world's first true 4K virtual reality headset".
The 4K Horizon V uses dual 7-inch 4K low-persistance OLED panels, which will take up 96% of your eye's FOV, which according to BlackRock will take "over the brain's neuro-optical system". The dual 4K displays will be pumping out over 8 million pixels of content to your eyes, with a massive 629PPI for crystal clear VR.
Better yet, the Horizon V will feature dual 4K front-mounted pass-thru cameras. These two cameras are activated by pressing the one-click "X-vision" button that is found on the top of the VR HMD, allowing you to see the world in front of you in 4K 3D. The Horizon V has a 17-point motion-tracking system, a proprietary system called V-motion. This will work well with the low-persistance screen, as there will be no ghosting, motion blur or motion sickness according to BlackRock.
Google only just announced it was launching its Glass Explorer program in the UK, but now we have news that the Mountain View-based search giant has refreshed the hardware in its Glass headset.
Glass now features 2GB of RAM, double the RAM from its previous iteration. The company has been pushing out constant software enhancements that have been slowly increasing battery life, but the refreshed Glass headset also sports a slightly larger battery. Google says that with the blend of software enhancements and the increased battery, we should expect an additional 15% charge on Glass.
The extra RAM on the other hand, according to Glass' Product Manager, Steve Lee, "will allow for more Glassware [apps] to run in parallel and for each Glassware to start more quickly. You'll notice the device generally feels a bit faster and more reliable". The new software baked into Glass will pave the way for a voice-activated viewfinder that will help users frame photos better - something that has been needed since Glass was released.
Whithings is the company that has rolled out some interesting health products over the years. Withings is the firm behind the web-connected scale that will share your weight loss via social media. The company is back with a new product that is part fancy Swiss watch and part activity tracker.
Unlike some activity tracking smartwatches, the Withings Activite isn't able to offer you notifications from your smartphone for calls or texts. What it is able to do is track progress towards your daily fitness goals as well as your sleep. Activite connects to iPhones only via Bluetooth and syncs data with an app running on your smartphone.
The watch has a smart alarm clock that vibrates to wake you up at the lightest point in the sleep cycle. All of the tech is packed away inside a round analog watch that looks very nice. The Withings Activite will sell for $390, comes with brown or black leather bands, and was announced this week.