Inside XR - July 21st, 2016

Inside XR (Jul 22nd, 2016)

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VR in drivers ed and marketing, Samsung rumored to be working on a new headset, a VR extra for "Mr Robot" fans, Pokemon Go at Auschwitz, how to simulate weight in VR, new role for former Samsung exec

Virtual reality car crashes are coming to the classroom for UK students. A new road safety scheme in Leicestershire, England has students experiencing car crashes in a VR simulation designed to be as close to real life as possible. The experience is delivered through a Samsung Galaxy Gear VR and highlights the dangers inexperienced drivers face. - NEWSWEEK

Move over, Oculus: Samsung may be working on a secret “Odyssey” VR headset. Trademark filings in Korea indicate that Samsung may be about to release a headset that won’t need to be connected to a smartphone, PC or games console. If this is true, Samsung could beat rivals like HTC or Oculus whose headsets require extra hardware. - DAILY MAIL

San Diego Comic-Con attendees got one chance to watch a “Mr. Robot” VR experience. US-based fans of the show were able to see the 12-minute experience, written and directed by series creator Sam Esmail, through the Within app. It disappeared immediately following the showing but will be permanently uploaded next week. - THE VERGE

Virtual reality showrooms may soon be part of the car-buying experience. A new VR app from Evox Productions features about 20 vehicles in various settings, and has the potential to cut inventory costs and provide an enhanced experience for potential buyers. - THE DETROIT NEWS

Virtual reality is changing how we market products in insanely cool ways. VR’s value doesn’t stop at gaming — it’s also become a game-changer to marketing as the technology evolves. VR is more accessible and consumers are more accepting of it, experiences are becoming easier to create, and VR offers massive marketing ROI boosting potential. - INC.COM

Should augmented-reality games like Pokemon Go place limits on the real-world locations they include? The hit VR game is sending players to all kinds of public places — including busy hospitals, funerals, Arlington National Cemetery, the September 11 Memorial, and even Auschwitz. This is raising pressing questions for developer Niantic about how to deal with inappropriate or dangerous locations. - LA TIMES

Conveying “heaviness” in virtual reality poses a unique challenge for developers. VR company B-Reel explored several methods for simulating weight, including physical interaction models that change the speed of a user’s actions depending on the virtual object, studying the laws of physics, and using sensory cues and other visual feedback. - MEDIUM

Google has hired former Samsung VR exec Matt Apfel to work on Daydream. Google’s next-gen VR ecosystem aims to provide a better experience than Google Cardboard and challenge Samsung’s grip on the VR market. Apfel is the latest in a rather hefty team Google is forming to tackle smartphone-based virtual reality. - TECHCRUNCH


At the Virtual Reality subreddit, users are discussing this New York Times article “Chasing Pokemon, a Baby Step Toward Virtual Reality,” in which a reporter demonstrates the game for the uninitiated. “Pokemon Go really points out how much the battery problem is holding back VR and AR,” points out Redditor MobsterKadyrov. “If these technologies are going to break away from computers we need lighter, smaller and more energy dense batteries.” aboba_ responds, “We aren’t likely going to see a significant jump in lighter/smaller/denser batteries any time soon. More realistically we will see significantly faster charging, like 5 minutes from 0-99%. That will allow us to extend our usage window with minimal downtime.”

Redditor tylercoder couldn’t resist a bit of gloating over the article: “It’s funny how all these bloggers that were s***ing on VR and saying AR was dead are now praising Pokemon.”

At the Oculus subreddit, there’s some excitement over the news that SMI revealed an eye-tracking developer kit for HTC Vive, which would allow VR experiences to know where the user is looking and make it even more immersive. 

“This will be a nice option for those of us running VR studies and want to incorporate eye tracking,” says Redditor twist4. “I need more average fixation duration in my VR life!” 

Others are considering the potential of foveated rendering, where virtual reality details outside the user’s direct focus are rendered at a lower resolution, saving energy and increasing speed. “Technically, if you had working foveated rendering inside a HTC Vive that provided a 30% speed up, you could make games 30% more GPU intensive," writes cegli. "Basically, you could make games prettier with more effects and polygons at the same resolution.”


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