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Inside VR (Sep 19th, 2019)

1. The Vive X accelerator will accept applications until Sept. 30. HTC announced that start-ups and developers working on any facet of the AR/VR industry can now apply via the Vive X website. Since starting the initiative in 2016, the accelerator has spread out across Asia, North America, Europe, and the Middle East, with physical locations in Beijing, London, San Francisco, Taipei, Shenzhen, and Tel Aviv, with more planned according to the company. Previous alumni include brain-computer interface startup Neurable, South Korean haptic wearable creators bHaptics, and mixed reality capture and streaming software startup LIV, which back in july raised $1 million from a group of investors that includes Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey.– ROAD TO VR  

2. A Unity plugin called Normcore lets developers turn VR apps into multiplayer experiences. Benjamin Formaker-Olivas relates that this 2017 video from Normal VR was the reason why he started writing about the immersive space, as it is still one of the most compelling examples of how immersive technologies could work together to enable social interactions across realities, as he puts it, "a glimpse of the interconnected metaverse of the future." The company has now released a multiplayer networking plugin for Unity, which allows for the addition of voice chat-enabled multiplayer VR functionality for games and experiences in minutes. This means teams can meet and collaborate instantaneously inside a build. – VRSCOUT  

3. Throwback Thursday: Telesphere Mask

If they know the name, most people associate Morton Heilig with the iconic Sensorama machine. But the inventor created a number of VR innovations, including the Telesphere Mask in 1960. This innovation came eight years before the Sword of Damocles, which is widely credited with being the first-ever VR headset.

The Telesphere Mask, which to me looks much like an aluminum version of the Gear VR, and in a very real way, it actually was. The only real difference is that instead of connecting to a yet-to-be-invented smartphone, it linked to miniaturized TV tubes.

Heilig describes it in the patent filing as  "a telescopic television apparatus for individual use where the spectator is given a complete sensation of reality, i.e. moving three-dimensional images which may be in color, with 100% peripheral vision, binaural sound, scents, and air breezes." 

The amazing device was (unlike the Sword of Damocles) light enough to wear on your head, with adjustable ear and eye fixings. Like Sensorama, the mask proved a commercial failure that was way ahead of its time, and even as the second coming of VR dawned in 2016 it remained an obscure footnote in the history of immersive tech. 

His widow, Marianne Heilig, repeatedly tried to donate the historic piece to a museum that would display it, but was flatly rejected by places such as the Hollywood museum even when she offered it for free. In an interview for Tech Radar she said the whole thing made her feel very sad and demoralized: 

"I've almost given up on this whole thing, but I'm not just going to give it away after a lifetime of struggle. I'm still working just to pay interest on the debt because I refuse to go bankrupt," she told Holly Brockwell at the time. 

4. Hulu's streaming service has withdrawn support for Google Daydream. Although Hulu was a launch partner for Google’s Android-based Daydream VR platform when it launched in 2016, it will no longer support the system in new versions of the app. This is part of a broader declining trend for the platform which has also seen HBO drop its support in January in addition to Google's own Play Movies & TV. That is also not the end of the company's snubbing its own system, since the Google Pixel 3A also didn’t support Daydream, The Daydream mobile headset is still listed as available through Google’s store and Walmart, but not through any of the other retailers or on Google’s own site, so it is difficult to be anything but pessimistic about its future viability. – THE VERGE  

5. Jamie Feltham published his preliminary list of must-see events at the upcoming Oculus Connect 6. With Oculus' flagship developer event fast approaching on Sept. 25-26, we can look forward to some interesting sessions such as "From Lightspeed to Lightsabers: The Making of Vader Immortal,"  "Facebook’s Future in Social VR" and a workshop on using Vulkan for mobile VR. Facebook says the keynotes will be aired live on its Oculus page as well as in VR via Bigscreen and Venues, while the videos of individual sessions will likely be released on YouTube at a later date.– UPLOAD VR   

6. From the Forums: Journeys in VR.  Cartoon Network's "Journeys" VR experience will be launching on Steam October 1st, 2019, with its protagonist traveling wizard Gormlorm - voiced by comedian Reggie Watts - guiding users in an adventure through virtual multiverses and alternative dimensions. It will be compatible with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. One of our "Women in VR" alumni, the amazing VR artist Estella Tse tweeted about her role in the project, saying: "I'm *SO* excited to FINALLY announce this!I was invited to@cartoonnetworktwo years ago to experiment with a creative VR pipeline, to explore a new form of storytelling. I'm THRILLED this shipped and is available on 10/1 for everyone to try out!"  –  TWITTER

7. You can play around with a Michael Graves design in VR. Design company Kilograph released a new Virtual experience called “Imagined Landscapes,” which lets you explore the unbuilt work of the famous architect through his personal paintings. Users can, for example teleport to (and interact with) a wide range of different areas in the Barranco de Veneguera resort which Graves designed for the Canary Islands in 1999. There will be a public premiere of the project at Woodbury University's WUHO Gallery on October 2. – ARCH DAILY

This newsletter was written and curated by Alice Bonasio, a journalist and consultant obsessed with the immersive technology space, including AR/VR/MR/XR and any other acronyms that fit into the realities spectrum. Over the past 15 years, Alice has advised a wide range of start-ups and corporations on digital transformation and communication strategy and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tech Trends. She also regularly contributes to publications such as Quartz, Fast Company, Wired, Playboy, The Next Web, Ars Technica, VRScout and many others. Follow her on Twitter @alicebonasio


Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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