All posts in “Vr”

How archaeologists used VR to make an ancient capital come to life

Explore the ancient Nea Paphos' Theatre during its heyday in 150 AD.
Explore the ancient Nea Paphos’ Theatre during its heyday in 150 AD.

Image: university of sydney

Now you can travel back to ancient Cyprus, thanks to a VR app developed by researchers. 

The Paphos Theatre in VR app, available on Google Play and iTunes, is the result of 20 years of excavation by University of Sydney archaeologists, and lets you explore the ancient Nea Paphos’ Theatre during its heyday in 150 AD.

Nea Paphos was the capital of Cyprus, located off the coast of Turkey, during the Roman and Hellenistic periods (c. 300 BC-400 AD) until an earthquake destroyed everything in 365 AD. 

University archaeologists, led by Dr. Craig Barker, and Melbourne digital technology firm Lithodomos created a 360-degree experience which lets you check out Nea Paphos’ epic theatre. Able to host 8,500 people and 100 metres in diameter, the theatre boasted imported Mediterranean architecture, including a grand Roman façade, imperial statues and marble columns.

Image: university of sydney

Dr. Barker has been at the helm of the university’s excavations of Nea Paphos for two decades, working with his fellow colleagues, volunteers and students to uncover the capital’s theatre, along with paved Roman roads and an ancient nymphaeum (water fountain). 

He’s already been using the app at the actual site when giving Cypriot school children tours, and with school groups at the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum.

Image: university of sydney

“We have brought history to life and used modern technology to examine a 2,000 year old building,” said Dr Barker in a press statement. “Past physical restorations of archaeological sites have been based on knowledge of the day. The beauty of digital restoration is that it can be changed as new evidence comes to light.”

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f83670%2f3e175e43 d78a 4a55 99d9 66d5915e1113

Save nearly $200 on this HTC VR headset bundle in time for the holidays

If you’re in the middle of holiday shopping, then that means you’ve been scoping out some big deals on awesome stuff, and that includes this HTC Vive VR headset bundle for nearly $200 off.

Image: HTC

This special bundle of the day from Amazon includes three hot items. The first is the HTC VR System, which includes an immersive VR headset, a 360-degree controller, and a front-facing camera to keep your aware of your real-world surroundings as you play. This normally costs $599.

Image: HTC

The second is the VIVE Deluxe Audio Strap, which features adjustable padded earphones with 360-degree sound capabilities for a more immersive VR experience and normally goes for $100.

The bundle also includes a $100 Amazon gift card that you can use for just about anything. Might we suggest some VR games, perhaps?

This entire bundle costs nearly $800 altogether, but you can pick up everything today for only $599 — a 25% savings.

Save big on this best-selling VR headset today on Amazon

If you haven’t yet joined the VR gaming revolution, then this best-selling headset for your smartphone could be your proper introduction and it’s 71% off today.

The 3D VR Headset from VRidium is padded, lightweight, and comes with adjustable straps. It’s compatible with most smartphones and supports iOS and Android. The adjustable focus technology also allows you to adjust the clarity of your VR vision and the distance control allows you to adjust your focal distance as well.

This VR headset costs $69.99, but you can save $50 and grab your own set for $19.99.

Microsoft expands HoloLens headsets to 29 new markets, now up to 39


Nearly three years on from Microsoft unveiling its HoloLens augmented reality headsets, the company today announced a major expansion of its availability: 29 more markets in Europe, nearly tripling the total number of countries where you can buy the device up to 39.

The news shows that while we don’t have a firm number of how many units have been sold, we do know that Microsoft is banking on the device, a non-immersive experience that lets you interact with visual digital images while still being able to see a room as you would normally, as a core piece of its future hardware and software efforts in a bid to compete against the likes of Apple and Google.

“This is where we believe computing is going,” said Lorraine Bardeen, general manager of Microsoft HoloLens and Windows experiences, who announced he expansion today at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event in London. “We can bring all your apps and programs right into your world, but you can still see all the things in your world that matter to you.”

No details so far on when devices in the expanded list will ship, or what local prices will be (we are asking and will update as we learn more). Currently, Microsoft sells a “Development Edition” of the device for $3,000 and a “Commercial Suite” with added enterprise features for $5,000.

The new countries — Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey — come one year after Microsoft first took the HoloLens outside of the U.S., when it launched it in Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It has since then also expanded it to its first Asian country, Japan. A reported launch in China earlier this year seems not to have materialised yet.

There has been some debate about Microsoft’s strategy of being an early mover in AR — specifically whether banking it primarily around hardware rather than software for readily-available devices (as Apple and Google have done respectively with ARKit and ARCore) has been the wisest move for the company. For now, it seems that it’s the route that Microsoft will continue to take.

If the first wave of international rollouts helped Microsoft hit all Europe’s largest markets, today’s news underscores how Microsoft is now entering a wider, scaling phase for its mixed-reality hardware, and points to the company’s intention to keep it at the center of its future hardware plays, particularly as Microsoft continues to push into enterprise tools and services.

“At Microsoft we are on a mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more,” said Bardeen. “Mixed reality has the potential to help customers and businesses across the globe do things that, until now, have never been possible. Mixed reality experiences will help businesses and their employees complete crucial tasks faster, safer, more efficiently, and create new ways to connect to customers and partners.”

As of March 2017, Microsoft said that there were 150 apps built to work on HoloLens, and the expansion will potentially see that number growing. Microsoft has also been working on HoloLens hardware: a second generation of the device (which has yet to be released) is slated to feature its own AI chip, which will move some of the computing power off the cloud and localise it on the device.

The HoloLens is built to run with Windows 10, which natively supports holographic interfaces at the the API level. This lets developers program actions through gaze, gesture, voice and “environmental understanding” (that is, making sure that an object doesn’t pass through a wall, but bumps against it); and also more easily translate Windows 10 apps into apps that can work on the HoloLens.

While the majority of the world has yet to sign on to using and embracing augmented and virtual reality applications, these are important steps in making mixed-reality applications and devices less awkward and part of the more seamless continuum of consumer electronics and computing.