@UploadVR @Heaney555 @Oculus | Inside XR - February, 26th 2020

Inside XR (Feb 26th, 2020)

Facebook Acquires Sanzaru Games / Qualcomm Unveils Designs for XR2-Powered HMDs / New Whitney Houston Holographic Tour


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1. Facebook has acquired Sanzaru Games, the makers of popular VR title Asgard’s WrathIn the latest move in the company's ongoing immersive technology acquisition spree, Facebook confirmed on Tuesday that the “vast majority” of Sanzaru’s nearly 100 employees, including its founders, will join Oculus while operating independently out of their existing offices. “We’re exploring many ways to accelerate VR,” a Facebook spokeswoman told Bloomberg in an email, adding that while it is great for content to be developed outside of Oculus and Facebook, there "are instances where it will make sense for us to have a deeper stake in order to more fully support content development and enhance the user experience.” – BLOOMBERG

2. Qualcomm has revealed its latest VR and AR headset reference designs that include the new Snapdragon XR2 chip. The working XR2 reference design (also known as the VRDK) is a larger headset that serves as a testbed for partners to evaluate different capabilities. Although bulky and quite basic on the looks front, it is easy to produce and is crammed full of features (such as Ultraleap controllerless hand-tracking to Tobii eye-tracking) to enable partner testing and give them a clear idea of the specs and capabilities of standalone headsets that we’re likely to see over the next couple of years. The company already has its Snapdragon chips in more than 30 headsets such as the Oculus Quest, Oculus Go, HoloLens 2, and Vive Focus, yet it is focused on building the foundation for the next generation of XR devices and experiences, also touting a “comprehensive, end-to-end solution” for cloud-rendered VR delivered over a 5G network. – ROAD TO VR

3. Prableen Bajpai, founder of FinFix Research and Analytics, gives an overview of how immersive technology is impacting the healthcare industry. The global VR in the healthcare market is projected to reach $30.40 billion by 2026, with a CAGR of 42.4 percent during 2019-2026, Bajpai writes. From being leveraged  for rehabilitation in stroke cases and other neurological conditions, to increasing empathy among medical students by enhancing their understanding of age-related health problems, VR is proving a useful tool in a variety of health-related verticals, especially in training and education. A study from Harvard Business Review showed that VR training improved participants’ overall surgical performance by 230 percent when compared with traditional training methods. This is important, since in the U.S. alone, there will be an estimated shortage of up to nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). – NASDAQ

4. Base Hologram has announced a new tour of its holographic version of the late Whitney Houston. The UK-based company collaborated directly with the Houston family to produce a digitally constructed 3D hologram of the singer, who died in 2012. In a statement, Pat Houston, the singer's former manager and CEO of the Estate of Whitney E. Houston, said: "We know we made the right decision partnering with Base because they understand how important it is to produce a phenomenal hologram." Writing for Next Reality, editor Adario Strange believes this is a sign that holographic performances are going mainstream, since "An Evening With Whitney Houston: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour" was produced without the advanced volumetric scanning techniques that have since become available. – NEXT REALITY  

5. Hardcore gaming fans can buy a "Golden Ticket" for a tour of Valve's Headquarters. The notoriously secretive games developer is opening the doors of its Bellevue, Washington, Valve Corp Studio in the name of charity, welcoming up to four guests for an hourlong tour of the facilities that will include a meet-and-greet with Valve Software Product Designer Lawrence Yang and a demo of the highly anticipated "Half-Life: Alyx" VR title. According to the Charitybuzz listing, the prize does not include airfare or accommodation costs and must be booked six weeks in advance before March 4, 2021. The current estimated value of the package is $2,500, with bidding starting at $500 and proceeds to benefit nonprofit Elemental Music. – VRSCOUT

6. Purdue University students will be able to attend their graduation ceremony virtually. The pilot program, which is a collaboration between the Purdue Global online school and Purdue‘s Research Computing Envision Center, provides students unable to come to Los Angeles for tomorrow's commencement ceremonies with cardboard-style Purdue-branded VR headsets. According to Purdue, 75 students (from the institution's online Concord Law School, and the schools for Health Sciences, Business, Technology, Nursing, Education, and Social and Behavioral Sciences) will attend the event in VR alongside their 400 in-person peers. An operator will carry an InstaPro 2 camera to provide live 360 views and help create a real sense of presence for the students joining remotely. "The virtual graduates will walk onto the stage, hear their name announced and see their picture displayed before returning to their seat,” confirms Patti Pelletier, director of Purdue Global’s learning and leadership community. – THE NEXT WEB

7. The upcoming v14 Oculus Quest update will add microphone functionality to the Oculus Link. For those not familiar with it, Oculus Link is a functionality released back in November in Beta, which basically lets you tether your standalone Quest headset to a gaming PC with any high-quality USB 3.0 cable. This allows users to access the Oculus Rift library and SteamVR, but until now the audio only worked one-way (from the PC VR apps to the headset). If you wanted to use an application such as a social VR platform - where you'd also like people to hear what you're saying - it was necessary to use an external microphone attached to the computer. While that problem has already been fixed on the Oculus Rift side, according to the v14 release notes, users will also need to install v14 on the Oculus Quest HMD for the microphone feature to work. According to the latest comments on Facebook's developer forums, that  “hasn’t started rolling out yet.” – UPLOADVR

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 Beth Duckett, staff writer at Inside.

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