Inside XR - July 13th, 2016

Inside XR (Jul 13th, 2016)

Unity raised a $181 million monster round of funding, putting the company at a reported $1.5 billion valuation. Unity Technologies has become indispensable to the gaming industry — Pokemon GO was developed on their game engine, and about 90% of the content for Gear VR, one of VR’s most widely adopted headsets, was developed on the Unity platform. Much of Unity’s success is based on a rapid embrace of a diverse swath of platforms. - TECHCRUNCH

Pokemon GO players in Washington D.C. are engaged in a secret battle to claim the White House. After the White House was designated as a Pokemon “gym” where digital creatures can train and compete against each other, players keep trying to steal control of it for their teams, using Pokemons with names like “MERICA” and “Thanks Obama.” - KOTAKU

Virtual reality took the field at this year’s Home Run Derby. NextVR partnered with Major League Baseball Advanced Media to deliver the Home Run Derby in virtual reality 15 minutes after conclusion of the event. The VR experience used seven camera angles throughout the stadium and a live audio commentary by analyst Mike Petriello. - SVG NEWS

Formula One fans could soon be viewing its high-octane action in virtual reality. F1 has partnered with Tata Communications to create live VR broadcasts of races, part of an influx of new technologies that’s transforming the racing experience. - FORBES

We're tempted to say the new Koski game is like Lego with augmented reality, but that description doesn't quite do it justice. The building blocks game combines wooden blocks, magnets and AR on an iPad to allow players to create digital worlds with trees, ladders and waterfalls that characters can interact with. - THE VERGE

Acer is gambling on virtual reality to turn its struggling company around. The company, which made a name for itself in Taiwan mainly by under-cutting rivals, is putting a new twist to the VR market by selling headsets to IMAX theaters, theme parks, cinemas and other public venues, rather than individual consumers. - BLOOMBERG

Relive the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in virtual reality. The festival in Manchester, Tennessee is over, but a VR recap of the event using Samsung’s Gear 360 camera sums up the performances, featuring Borns, Purity Ring, The Internet and M83, along with shots of the crowd. - MASHABLE

Last week we asked readers what they thought was the single biggest misconception consumers have about VR. As expected, we got some interesting and diverse reactions. Here's the round-up of the most fascinating responses:

Sam's quick reply was a common refrain: "That (VR is) for fantasy purposes, primarily in video games…"

James adds, "I think the biggest misconception... is that VR is just for gamers and porn really. They don't realize how much VR is going to change their world."

Bernie says "The second preconceived anecdote around V/AR is that it is a resource for specialized fields, surgeons, mechanics, etc."

Curtis writes, "The biggest VR misconception is ... that it will have the effect of narrowing the opportunity gap. Like all major technologies, this will benefit the 'haves' sooner and to a much greater magnitude than the 'have nots' who will end up either slowly adopting the good stuff (however that materializes) or will quickly adopt the garbage VR platforms."

Danny says, "The biggest misconception about VR is that people will be using VR headsets for long periods of time. Anything above 15 minutes is a huge stretch for the average person. Try 1-4 minutes. Anyone trying to create extended VR experience (i.e. movies) and anyone financially banking on prolonged headset use is in for a rude awakening."

Jim writes, "Right now I'm not putting a lot of attention into VR because it's expensive and we're far away from it being great or widely adopted. It reminds me of the pre-iPod MP3 player days."

So, my takeaway is that those of you readers who are ahead of the curve tend to know how much potential there is for VR (or AR?) to change the world, and you're frustrated that all that potential is so often reduced to the pitch of "video games and porn" for public consumption. Makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the responses, gang, it makes us feel great (and makes for great content) to have you sending us your passionate opinions and ideas.

At Virtual Reality and The Metaverse, user BlinksTale talks about measuring out the field-of-view on Microsoft's Hololens, coming to the conclusion that the FOV represented an area of about four "camera hands." Silverstance notes "that seems too small to be useful." BlinksTale responds, "Sure, arms fully extended, the size of an 8.5"x11" piece of paper isn't that big, but I thought it was closer to the size of a postage stamp with how people were describing it." Keylimesoda (great name, btw) says "I think the tradeoff that significantly higher DPI (dots per inch) may be more useful than FOV for highly technical work." 

Over at the augmented realty subreddit, the Pokemon GO conversation continues, with a number of responses to Sean Curry's piece, "Pokemon GO Is The Future Of... Well, Everything." bit_krab says "I kinda find this disappointing.  I see the game as a lame gimmick." Curry responds: "I disagree, but that's a valid reaction to have. The point I'm trying to make in the article... is that this has brought AR to the masses in a completely unpredictable way. It has become so popular and it's so much fun to play that it has completely changed the way the public at large thinks about AR." The response from bit_krab: "You're totally right. I have some kind of prejudice against the game but you are right, it is having a positive impact for AR." Curry adds, "Don't you love it when two people disagree like civilized people on Reddit?" Yes, we certainly do. 

And on the Oculus VR subreddit, members discuss Unity's payment policies after today's news that the company has closed a $181 million Series C round of funding, putting the company at reported $1.5 billion valuation. Ghs2 says, "I'm kind of heartbroken that Unity has gone to a subscription-only payment plan." SweepTheLeg responds to Ghs2: "It's free if you bring in less than 100K per year. If you're doing up to 200K, it's $35/month. Not bad for the engine that runs your entire game." Sector_two writes, "You can still pay upfront for a year or two so it's not really that different from the old perpetual upgrade. For hobbyist personal edition or Unreal is better choice however."

Digital ArtForms is hiring a MakeVR programmer for a 7-month project that will likely continue beyond, in Los Gatos or working remotely.

Eyefluence in Silicon Valley is looking for an embedded software engineer for wearables, working with electrical, mechanical and optical engineers.

Eyefluence is also looking for a senior Unity engineer to work on the next generation of wearable headsets.

Google is looking for an interaction designer for Cardboard and VR in Mountain View, California.

Hasbro in Pawtucket, Rhode Island is hiring a team lead for design and development in augmented play, creating new ways to engage kids in immersive brand-focused experiences.

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