Inside | Real news, curated by real humans
Inside VR

Inside VR (Jan 16th, 2020)

1. Disney's VR short film based on Frozen 2 will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival this month. "Myth: A Frozen Tale" is the second venture into VR storytelling by Disney, based on their blockbuster Frozen 2. Last year, Disney's first VR film, "Cycles" also showed at Sundance, when Director Jeff Gipson hinted Disney was planning another "top secret" VR short. Nicholas Russell, another veteran of 'Cycles', commented at the time that Disney's quick green light for a 2nd VR production was proof that although the company might not know what direction it wants to take in VR, it is committed to continuing to explore the possibilities of immersive storytelling. – CNET

2. Valve's Index packages are sold out almost worldwide, thanks to mounting anticipation of the Half-Life: Alyx release. Out of the five configurations available for the HMD  – a full kit including a headset, controllers, and base station, headset plus controllers, the headset only, controllers only, and base station only – most have sold out in all 31 regions where these are sold. This could signal a pivotal moment for consumer VR, proving that significant hardware sales can be driven by compelling content.  – SLASHGEAR   

3. HTC's first official announcement of 2020 was about Virtual Reality, and that might be significant. Ralph Jennings argues that the introduction of the multiplayer fantasy-adventure game Sanctum (made while introducing to visitors at its Taiwanese Viveland VR gaming centers) is indicative of a broader strategy to shift focus away from its traditional core product line of smartphones and play up VR gaming gear. According to Eddie Han, a senior industry analyst with the Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute in Taipei, HTC is expected to continue to launch new smartphones and 5G networking devices, but there will be no flagship smartphones. “This is because HTC is set to focus on emerging application services built around augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain, and artificial intelligence," asserts Han.  – FORBES

4. Triton VR shows off the Oculus Quests' growing potential as a location-based VR device. Triton VR  is a multiplayer VR experience that allows up to four players to occupy the same VR space and do battle with a variety of weapons, both ranged and melee in real-time. Kyle Melnick describes the experience as "rough," but also some of the most fun he's had in a Quest HMD so far, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set up a multiplayer game by using the device's guardian boundary system to calibrate their real-world positions. Melnick reflects that as this type of content becomes more widely available,  at-home LBE will soon be a reality. Triton VR is available for free in alpha on Oculus Quest (users need to first download the necessary files and install them on your Quest headset via Sidequest) – VRSCOUT

5. XR4ALL has published a map of funding opportunities, including close to 500 investors in the EU XR industry. XR startups looking for funding can search the resource by category to match with the most suitable investors for their business segment. Last summer, the organization launched the XR4ALL fund to distribute €1.5 million EUR (about $1.7 million USD) to European XR Startups. The XR4ALL project is an initiative funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 (H2020 is the largest EU Research and Innovation program) to strengthen the European XR technology industry and to accelerate its growth by connecting startups, companies, and investors (angels, corporates, and VCs) active in XR. – XR4ALL

6. In addition to announcing its new haptic gloves, Teslasuit also won over pundits who were able to try their electro-stimulation haptics at CES2020. "Stripping down to my skivvies and putting on a skin-tight suit wasn’t something I’ve ever done before on a trade show floor," writes Road To VR reporter Scott Hayden, who was impressed at the range of sensations the garment delivered. "The very minimum level felt like a gentle tickle while the max amperage delivered a genuinely surprising jolt that instantly contorted each underlying muscle," he added. According to Teslasuit co-founder and CRO Dimitri Mikhalchuk, this mild form of electrocution can prove very useful in VR training, not only to get the trainee's attention, but also to make them better remember the virtual training experience. "It’s about creating higher fidelity recall and better skill transfer," Mikhalchuk explains. – ROAD TO VR

7. The BBC's Technology of Business reporter Eleanor Lawrie asks what "went wrong" with Virtual Reality. Lawrie looks at the fact that even avid gamers who enjoy regular visits to VR arcades are still hesitating to buy a system to use in their homes. Meanwhile, big-name adopters such as Google (and the BBC itself, which shut down its VR Hub last year) have been phasing out their VR projects because of that lack of consumer enthusiasm. James Gautrey, a portfolio manager at investment firm Schroders, says the reason for this is probably the lack of compelling use cases for VR beyond certain games, but says that currently its greatest value lies in areas such as training. "There are clearly benefits using it to train people where real life 'on the job' training is dangerous, such as pilots, surgeons, deep-sea divers," he concludes. – BBC  

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.

Subscribe to Inside VR