In this new segment, we bring you the last week’s highlights from within the immersive tech industry.
This week saw an update from HP on an addition to their growing lineup of VR headsets, the HP Reverb Omnicept Edition. This is a souped-up version of the Reverb G2. This new variation is designed with developers and enterprise clients in mind and centres around four specific use-cases - Training, Collaboration, Creation and well-being.
The headset comes with a number of features such as built-in eye-tracking which monitors a user's eye movements. It also has what HP is referring to as ‘the first” built-in face camera. This camera is capable of reading various lip and mouth movements as well as facial expressions, these can be applied directly to an in-game avatar so that the movements of the mouth match that of the dialogue, increasing the realism. And finally, it has a sensor that sits near the user’s forehead that’s able to monitor the user's heart rate. When all of these individual data streams are pulled together developers will be able to monitor a user's overall stress level. This will be especially useful when recreating training and well-being experiences.
A software development kit is available for free that gives you full access to the biometric data, however, if you plan to use it commercially there will be a one-off licence fee. The product is due to land in Spring 2021. The price for the headset hasn’t been published just yet, however, based on the standard Reverb G2 coming in at around the £640 mark you can expect this to be a little higher.
Next up it’s another Quest related story, however, this time it’s more of an anti-facebook feature. As it currently stands if you want to create a game and release it for the Quest or the Quest 2 you have to go through a rigorous approval process that can take up to 10 weeks and there’s absolutely no guarantee that your hard work will be rewarded with a spot on the store.
So along came Shane and Orla Harris who spotted an opportunity to give developers a platform to showcase their games without the need to do this. They created SIDEQUEST which has become an extremely popular VR app store that’s seen roughly 800 new apps launched within 6 months.
In order to increase their efforts, Orla and Shane took part in the BoostVC accelerator programme and as a result raised $650,000. Among the investors is the original founder of Oculus - Palmer Luckey who has always maintained the view that there should be a fair and open VR ecosystem, with no single company controlling the industry and more importantly controlling what people can and can’t access. And it’s good news for developers as sidequest pays out 100% of the sale back to its creators. To find out more head on over to sidequestvr.com
And finally this week the UK has proved once again that it is a force to be reckoned with in the world of immersive technology with the announcement of MARS, a brand new state of the art Mixed Reality studio based in London, It’s said to be the most ambitious of its kind in Europe. MARS which stands for Mixed Augmented Reality Studio is the brainchild of Bild Studios. It features an LED stage where 3D mapped environments can be displayed and it brings together game engines with leading camera tracking technology which together can enable impressive real-time mixed reality content.
The setup is designed with game designers, broadcasters, filmmakers and experience designers in mind and has already produced its first project. Masterpiece Nighthawks was a collaboration between Bild and The Experience Machine and sees BBC presenter James Fox placed inside Edward Hopper’s oil painting Nighthawks.
If you would like to see what it's capable of, then please head over to marsstudios.one