Inside VR - January 9th, 2020

Inside VR (Jan 9th, 2020)

5 Million PSVR Units Sold / Panasonic and Pimax HMDs at CES 2020 / How to Avoid VR Injuries

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The present and future of virtual reality news and technology

1. Sony Interactive Entertainment announced that it has sold 5 million PlayStation VR units in the past 3 years. Although these numbers make the PSVR the most successful tethered VR headset to date, there is still a long way to go before such devices can claim mass consumer adoption. To put it in context, the same announcement revealed that 106 million units of PS4 and PS4 Pro console had been sold so far. Sony seems committed to continuing investment in immersive tech and content, having announced PSVR compatibility with the upcoming PS5. It is expected that the yet-to-be-announced PSVR 2 will bring significant new developments, including possible wireless connectivity. Ben Lang writes that competition from the likes of Facebook’s Oculus Quest will mean a much more challenging landscape for the games giant to continue asserting its dominance going forward. – ROAD TO VR

2. Pimax says its long-awaited 8K VR headset is currently in production before unveiling a new $449 HMD at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The company first announced its Vision 8K X headset back in 2017, but as Venturebeat's Jeremy Horwitz points out, it has so far not always delivered on promised shipping dates. At this week's CES show, Pimax also revealed an entry-level device called Artisan VR which will retail at $449 (as opposed to the $1,299 price point for the 8K X). The Artisan VR will use a similar "hammerhead" housing to its higher-resolution counterpart, but with lower specs at 1,700 x 1,440-pixel display resolution and 170-degree field-of-view, yet still enjoy the same 120Hz, 90Hz, and 72Hz refresh rates as the 8K X. – VENTUREBEAT  

3. Panasonic is also showing off its new compact VR glasses at CES 2020. Developed in partnership with Kopin, the company claims the glasses are the first to offer HDR (High Dynamic Range) capability to attain a full UHD (Ultra-high Definition) “screen door-free" resolution via its micro-OLED display. The devices also boast immersive high-quality audio delivered with ultra-low distortion reproduction. It is, the company claims, a HMD designed to deliver "VR on the go" via super-fast, low-latency 5G networks. – MS POWER USER  

4. The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association has created a 360-degree Virtual Reality experience that puts you in a jockey's saddle. The footage for each experience was shot during races at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville and The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington using a 360-degree, high-definition camera mounted on the helmets of jockeys and drivers. Attendees at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg were the first members of the public to access the experience while sitting on an Equicizer, which mimics the motion of a 1,200-pound horse galloping at top speed. The developers' next plan is to create a custom bike that will mimic the feel of a harness race."Before, most people could only imagine what it feels and looks like to guide a magnificent racehorse through the curves and down the backstretch," says Pete Peterson, president of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association, adding that he hopes the first-hand experience will encourage more people to visit the races in real life. – BLOOD HORSE  

5. Artec 3D has developed handheld scanners capable of capturing real-world environments, objects, and people in a matter of seconds. VRScout's Anne McKinnon first tried the company's 3D capture technology at VRX San Francisco last month, when a representative used the “Artec Leo” (a wireless device weighing around 5 lbs and costing $25,800) to turn her into a 3D asset. The scanning process, she explains, works with a method known as triangulation, which projects a laser onto an object to measure its distance to the surface based on an internal coordinate system. Evgeny Lykhin, VP of Software Development at Artec 3D, says potential applications for the tech include preservation of historical artifacts and sites, crime scene investigation, medical training and research, prosthetics development, and CGI for entertainment purposes.  – VRSCOUT   

6. The Phoenix police force is implementing Virtual Reality de-escalation and empathy training. The scenarios are shot in a first-person perspective, giving officers the chance to place themselves into the shoes of individuals going through a crisis, with different simulations for schizophrenia, autism, and suicide. “We’re specifically training them on states of being or conditions that you may not be verbally responsive to commands,” explains Laura Brown, a senior trainer with Axon, the company providing the training. She adds that the company worked closely with clinicians to make everything as realistic as possible, with the immersive training including hearing voices and seeing shadows, for example.  – KTAR

7. Researchers are trying to determine best practices for avoiding injuries caused by prolonged use of Virtual Reality technology. In a recent study published in the Applied Ergonomics journal, researchers from Oregon State University and Northern Illinois University assessed how some common virtual reality movements contribute to muscle strain and discomfort. Wearing an Oculus Rift VR headset, participants were tasked with performing common VR gestures with sensors placed around their joints and muscles to record their movements and measure electrical activity. “There are no standards and guidelines for virtual and augmented reality interactions,” said researcher Jay Kim of OSU’S College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Kim adds that the goal was to gain insight that would allow for better interface design that reduces the risk for potential musculoskeletal injuries such as "gorilla arm syndrome," rotator cuff injuries, or neck strain caused by the heavy HMD. “Based on this study, we recommend that objects that are being interacted with more often should be closer to the body,” Kim said. “And objects should be located at eye level, rather than up and down.”  – SCI TECH 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.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, staff writer at Inside.

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