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Now that the Oculus Rift DK2 is here, Valve has announced that the SteamVR beta now supports Oculus' latest VR headset. Thanks to the increased resolution and added features in the DK2 headset, the latest SteamVR beta has been updated to better support the Oculus Rift DK2 unit.
Valve's official change log for the updated SteamVR beta sees that it is still a beta of course, but it has full support for the Oculus Rift DK2, with positional tracking also being supported on both Windows and OS X. The latest SteamVR beta also includes a fix for an issue that saw the middleware application itself, vrserver.exe, to run even if there is no HMD detected, slowly increasing its load on the CPU time until the entire system was under pressure.
Linux and SteamOS don't have positional tracking support just yet, something that should arrive in a future update. The current SteamVR beta also requires Oculus Rift DK2 owners to have their DK2s in 'Extend Desktop to the HMD' option enabled, and not the 'Direct HMD Access from Apps' option.
Palmer Luckey, the 21-year-old founder of one of the most exciting companies in the world, Oculus VR, has high hopes for the future of technology. With Oculus VR shipping its Development Kit 2, or DK2, Rift headset to consumers and developers over the last month, Palmer has had some interesting things to say in a recent interview with Kotaku UK.
Palmer said: "We see one in every home. [But], just at launch we need to be realistic. The people who are going to be buying this initially are going to be gamers, probably hardcore gamers, and they're going to be the ones with PCs most capable of running it". Palmer wants to see VR become something that expands past just pure gaming, with the Rift and VR in general becoming something for everyone. He continued: "As time goes on it'll become more and more mainstream, but at launch we're going to be targeting that core. Basically let's target it to the people whom we know are going to be buying and then let's go for the people who are going to take some convincing".
After testing out the Rift DK2 myself, I'd have to agree - I think VR will take off like smartphones did, selling tens of millions within the next five years. One in every home is a big statement, but there's a TV in most homes, isn't there? The Oculus Rift is cheaper than a cheap TV, so that statement, while it might sound prosperous to most, could happen - especially with the financial backing of Facebook.
Oculus VR had a strong presence at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany this year - but they walked away with a massive win from the gaming event. With over 140 submissions for the awards at Gamescom 2014, 54 of them made it to the group of nominees, Oculus VR was one of these.
Oculus took out the Best Hardware of Gamescom with its Oculus Rift DK2 unit, with four other devices against it: the Cyberith Virtualizer, Sony's VR headset Project Morpheus, Nintendo's Amiibo, and NVIDIA's latest Shield Tablet and Shield Wireless Controller. We've only just received our Oculus Rift DK2 and we are in love with it, so it comes as no surprise for Oculus to be awarded Best Hardware of a gaming show like Gamescom.
Sixense's STEM System is something we've been excited about since it was announced, but the company has just shown off its own Shooting Gallery, where it provides an excellent example of what STEM can do in the VR world with full-simulation weapon mechanics.
With a STEM in each hand, the right hand acts as if you're holding the gun, while the second can reload your gun with a new magazine. The video above shows off how incredibly well this works, with smooth animations and detailed parts where you can load bullets into the magazine, and then the full magazine into the gun in your right hand.
For Star Wars fans, there's also a Lightsaber Demo that Sixense posted, that shows off another use for the STEM. In this demo, the STEM System becomes a Lightsaber, and thanks to the one-to-one motion tracking system in VR and its low latency, the experience in the VR world blends into the real-world thanks to you holding something in your hand that feels like the handle of the Lightsaber.
As we get closer to IFA 2014, we're hearing more and more about Samsung devices, one of which is the upcoming Gear VR. The Verge has a nice exclusive, with some details on how Gear VR will connect to a Samsung smartphone.
Gear VR has a detachable lid that will hold your Samsung smartphone in place, living up with users' eyes with focus dial on top. There seems to be a micro-USB connection that will tether the VR headset to your smartphone, with the photo above showing off the Galaxy S5 alongside Gear VR. Samsung is poised to launch its Galaxy Note 4 soon, so we should expect it to be compatible with Gear VR - we hope.
Considering the Oculus Rift DK2 unit uses the display panel from Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, we should expect some good things from Gear VR. Remember that Samsung is working closely with Oculus VR, and obviously now Facebook, supplying them with early access to their display technology, while Oculus provides help with the VR side of things.
For a very long time the only baby monitoring system available for parents were the sort that are like walkie talkies to allow mom and dad to hear baby. Some of those have video, but they are all very similar. A new type of baby monitor has been unveiled called Sproutling. It's a smart wearable device that attaches to the baby's leg.
The monitor is connected to a soft and hypoallergenic strap that can be machine-washed. The system is intended to be worn by kids from 0-2 years of age. When worn, the Sproutling system can monitor the temperature of the child, heart rate, and motion. It charges via a charging dish that can monitor temperature in the room and ambient noise.
An app runs on the parent's smartphone and offers an easy to use system for showing how the child is doing at any time. A line that fills in around a circle on the app shows how long your baby should sleep. One cool aspect of the device is that parents can monitor baby while they aren't home. That will make it easier to leave junior with a babysitter for the first time.
Now that Facebook owns Oculus VR, it has been setting up meetings with various studio executives and directors around Hollywood, where it wants to see special content created for the Oculus Rift.
We've already seen a few examples of how this would work, but now from massive Hollywood directors, with tens of millions of dollars behind them. People may have bad words to say about it, or doubt, but I think we're going to see more content for the Rift created and bigger success for true VR in movies than 3D ever did. Maybe not today, or next year, but within the next five years.
Just how many Oculus Rift DK2 units has Oculus VR shipped so far? A lot. 'cybereality' on the Oculus VR developer forums answered a question from a user wanting to know 'why is shipping taking so long' on the DK2.
'cybereality' responded with: "Shipping is actually going pretty good, at least compared to DK1. We've already shipped more DK2 units in about 2 weeks than the entire DK1 Kickstarter. I'll see if I can put together a quick update in a bit". The original DK1 units on Kickstarter was at around 7,500 units according to cybereality, which took the company "several months to ship them all".
Timex is stepping into the smartphone market and it's with a product that isn't like most of the others on the market today. Timex's entry into the smartwatch market is called the Ironman One GPS+ and it doesn't need a smartphone to offer GPS and data connectivity. The watch is targeting runners and uses GPS for speed, distance, pace, and other work out details.
There are a lot of GPS watches aimed at runners on the market today that can offer that sort of tracking. What sets the Timex offering apart is that it has internal GPS and doesn't require the runner to have a smartphone with them while they run to gather the data.
The watch has its own connection to the AT&T 3G cellular network and the first year of data on the watch is free. It's unclear what exactly you can do with that AT&T data connection. Timex will sell the watch for $399.95. It's unclear what the price for data after that first year will be. A version of the watch with an integrated heart rate monitor will sell for $439.95.
After just a few days on Kickstarter, Cyberith has reached its goal of $250,000 for the Virtualizer. The Virtualizer still has 26 days to go, so we could see this be another large Kickstarter success story.
The Virtualizer is "an award-winning locomotion device for Virtual Reality that allows the user to move freely in virtual environments. Step inside the game and become one with your character". It is one of the biggest talked about devices that is coming soon, especially when the world's of the Virtualizer and the Oculus Rift combine.
Cyberith had 150 of its 'Virtualizer Early Bird' pledges up for offer, at $699, with them now all gone. There were also 750 of the 'Virtualizer Standard (Full Package)' that were all sold out, priced at $799 each. The $949 pledge, which is known as the 'Virtualizer HT (Early Bird)' still has 56 left of 150. There are plenty of other levels available on the Virtualizer Kickstarter, but with its $250,000 funding goal met and 26 days to go, I think we might see this edge closer to $500,000 without a problem.