All posts in “Vr”

This is how Mark Zuckerberg’s Oculus VR gloves actually work

Those mysterious virtual reality gloves Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed off back in February still aren’t available to the public, but now we have video of exactly how they work. 

Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash published a blog post on Monday with a few notes from his recent speech at the Global Grand Challenges Summit in D.C., and along with those notes he included video of Zuckerberg’s secret Oculus gloves in action. 

The post is full of powerful technical insights on current and future VR, but the real stand out is a video showing the white VR gloves in action. 

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When Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself trying them out months ago, he said, “Wearing these gloves, you can draw, type on a virtual keyboard, and even shoot webs like Spider Man. That’s what I’m doing here.” Now, we finally have an idea of what he was talking about.

Looking at the precision accuracy of the gloves on the user’s hands in the video in concert with the person’s virtual hands indicates Zuckerberg wasn’t exaggerating. Among some hardcore VR users, Oculus’ current Touch controllers are viewed as the best on the market. 

But if Oculus manages to introduce a mainstream version of these retroreflector-covered VR gloves in the near future, it would it represent the absolute cutting-edge in hand presence on any commercial VR system. 

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Abrash’s blog post also showed off a video of how future VR headsets will track facial expressions, capturing everything from a mild frown to a huge smile. Alas, this is all still skunkworks lab stuff, and not scheduled to hit stores in the near future, as far as we know. 

But if VR manages to survive the oncoming wave of AR, pairing these gloves with an inside-out tracking, tetherless headset like the ones shown off by Google earlier this year would suddenly make commercial VR a lot easier, more immersive, and even harder to separate from reality. 

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Oculus Rift and Touch get price drop to $399, finally making high-end VR accessible

Price — one of the biggest hurdles to widespread adoption of high-end virtual reality devices — just got a temporary cheat code for anyone considering the Oculus Rift. 

Starting Monday, the price of Oculus Rift and the Oculus Touch controllers will be reduced, for a limited time, to $399 at all stores (Best Buy, Amazon, and all others where it’s available). 

This represents a huge price cut that suddenly puts the VR device on a par with popular gaming consoles like the PlayStation and the Xbox. And while the Rift isn’t solely a gaming device, that comparison may help some who have been teetering on the edge of diving into VR esports, but are put off by the price of the Rift. 

The price drop also goes a long way toward dramatically reducing the overall price of VR set-ups when you factor in the additional price of buying a VR-ready PC, which is necessary when using the Rift. 

Just last year, the Oculus was being sold for $600, which rose to $800 overall when you added the cost of its $200 Touch controllers (in my opinion, the Rift is only truly worth it when you use Touch). 

Then, four months ago, Oculus decided to reduce the overall price of the Rift and Touch, allowing users to buy the entire set-up for $600. 

That price drop not only eased some of the cost of entry into high-end VR, it also put more pressure on Oculus’ main competitor, the HTC Vive, which costs $800. 

But now, with this temporary price drop making the Rift and Touch literally half the cost of the Vive, picking the bulkier, more developer friendly device will be that much harder to justify for regular users who are new to VR. 

Your move, HTC. 

“Now is a good time for us to drive that next tranche of users into the hardware.” 

Of course, some VR skeptics will take this move as a signal that Oculus is desperately reaching for a quick solution to boost sales on a device that still hasn’t cracked the mainstream in terms of widespread popularity. Those views are only bolstered by the fact that Oculus has yet to reveal sales numbers for the device. 

“We couldn’t stop the hype train, and we also can’t stop the flip side of that coin,” says Jason Rubin, the vice president of content at Oculus. 

“We’ve said for a long time that we think VR is going to take a while to get to the mass market. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’re following exactly the game plan that we said we were going to follow from the start. 

“I would also point out that Sony PlayStation also went on sale over the summer, and they’re not in desperation to sell hardware. Sales are not always negative. We have a lot of multiplayer games coming out, we need more users in to play those multiplayer games. Now is a good time for us to drive that next tranche of users into the hardware.” 

Some of those multiplayer games include Echo Arena (think Ender’s Game in VR), Star Trek: Bridge Crew, and The Unspoken, which sparked its own esports league

Alas, the Oculus price reduction will only last for six weeks, as it’s being promoted as part of the company’s “Summer of Rift” sale. When I asked Rubin about possible Rift bundles with a VR-ready PC during the upcoming Amazon Prime Day, he said he had nothing to announce, but advised that I “pay attention.” Whether this temporary price cut will boost the profile of the Oculus remains to be seen. 

Aside from sales, it seems high-end VR hardware makers aren’t doing much marketing to pull non-techie users into the VR fold, instead relying on the small, but passionate early adopters in the space to pull in more users. 

But as things like Apple’s ARKit ramp up augmented reality interest, relying on hardcore VR users alone to get the word out may not be enough. 

In the short term, it seems like the more aggressive efforts of location-based ventures like IMAX VR will be where most people get their first taste of high-end VR. Nevertheless, bringing Oculus to price parity with popular gaming consoles, even briefly, is a good start toward truly cracking mainstream VR adoption. 

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This mixed reality room is so trippy it might leave you questioning reality

THÉORIZ studio is bringing an empty room to life with motion tracking and augmented reality. Projections in the room change as you interact with them. They offer environments like walking up stairs, pushing down walls, jumping on to surfaces or walking through doors that look like a portal. This could end up being one trippy ride.

This gadget can make you feel heat, cold, or even pain in virtual reality

Image: Shutterstock / sakkmesterke

There’s now another element to add to your VR experience.

This startup has created a device that is meant to “drastically heighten” your VR game — by letting you experience elements like heat, cold — and even pain.

The ThermoReal, created by TEGway — a spin-off of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology — is a thermo-electric device that can go from 4 to 40°C (39.2 to 104°F), according to a report by Engadget.

Image: thermoreal/tegway

The device can even produce heat and cold on different areas at the same time, which, apparently,  replicates what a pinch feels like.

Here’s how the device would work in real life:

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So if you’re wandering through a flame in a VR game, you’ll feel heat build up in your hand.

Or if you jump into a freezing cold lake, that sensation of coldness will start to spread across your palms accordingly.

Image: thermoreal/tegway

But how exactly does this work? The company uses flexible thermoelectric devices, that are able to convert body temperature into electrical energy. Electric currents can also be run through the device, which can either cool it down or heat it up.

Image: tegway

Image: tegway

Tegway also adds that it has filed numerous patent applications in these areas. 

It might be a while before this is actually adopted by VR manufacturers, but we’re looking to experience heat, cold — though maybe not pain — in our future games.

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SpaceX rocket lands in swimming pool — in Apple ARKit-powered augmented reality

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We’ve seen Elon Musk’s Tesla being virtually driven in augmented reality, so it’s only right that we also get a look at his SpaceX rockets in the amazing platform. 

Another person experimenting with Apple’s ARKit showed off the Falcon 9 rocket returning from space and landing on a drone platform not at sea, but in the middle of his swimming pool in his backyard. From the sound effects to the shadows and perspective, it looks surprisingly real. 

Yes, people are getting a little crazy with all these ARKit demos, but this one is too exciting to write off as just a cool AR trick. This looks like the future of AR, and we’re just getting started.