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  1. Walmart shuts down its VR shopping subsidiary Insperience The startup shuttered less than two years after its acquisition. As one of its first projects for Walmart, Insperience cooperated with Dreamworks on a "How to Train Your Dragon" VR experience. | GIF: Walmart Walmart has shut down Insperience, the Los Angeles-based VR startup formerly known as Spatialand. The retail giant acquired Spatialand in early 2018, and operated it as a subsidiary out of its Store No. 8 incubator. A Walmart spokesperson confirmed the closure, but did not comment on any layoffs. "After nearly three years of successfully testing, learning and building, we've decided it's not the right time to continue to invest in Insperience, our v-commerce startup inside Store No8," a Walmart spokesperson said via email. "What we have learned about virtual reality, [its] applications in retail, and the current opportunity for VR-enabled commerce has been invaluable. We will continue to explore opportunities within mixed reality, among other areas, while keeping the Walmart customer at the center of our explorations." Spatialand was hired by Walmart in 2017 to produce a VR showcase for Store No. 8's Innovate conference. In February 2018, the retail giant acquired Spatialand to explore VR shopping solutions. In early 2020, the startup rebranded as Insperience, promising to forge "deep relationships between brands and consumers through immersive, personalized shopping experiences," according to its now-defunct website. While the pandemic has resulted in a growing interest in new ways to shop online, Insperience at least initially focused more on in-store use of VR. In 2019, the company teamed up with Dreamworks to bring a VR experience based on the film "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" to select Walmart locations, complete with Positron motion chairs. Walmart was just one of many companies to bet on location-based VR as a way to give consumers who don't yet own VR devices access to immersive experiences. However, the prospect of sharing VR headsets with strangers has been a lot less appealing to consumers since the beginning of the pandemic, with VR centers and arcades shutting down for months across the globe. U.S.-based VR startups have been hit especially hard by the crisis. Sandbox VR filed for bankruptcy this summer, and location-based VR pioneer The Void recently had its assets acquired by a lender. Source: Walmart shuts down its VR shopping subsidiary Insperience
  2. Apple’s VR headset will launch with limited AR features in 2022 Apple is reportedly working on a virtual reality headset that will launch in 2022. Reported by Bloomberg Technology, Apple’s first stab at entering the headset space will reportedly focus on providing a high-quality virtual reality experience instead of augmented reality. While Apple has incorporated multiple AR technologies into their mainstream product lines – such as LIDAR – the company’s first headset will only feature limited AR functionality in its first generation release. The report states that the upcoming Apple Headset is “a mostly virtual reality device” that will join the fight against Facebook’s Oculus, Sony’s PSVR, HTC’s Vive and Valve’s Index line of headsets. The Apple Headset is expected to be “far more expensive” than its contemporaries as the company believes the device to be a niche product that will sell roughly “one headset per day per retail store”. With the low number of worldwide Apple Stores, Bloomberg believes that estimated sales figures land around 180,000 per annum. Many believed that Apple’s headset would focus mostly on providing a high-quality Augmented Realty experience, rivaling that of the Microsoft Hololense line. However, it seems that the company is planning on slowly evolving that form of interaction in the future. Source: Apple’s VR headset will launch with limited AR features in 2022
  3. Here’s what Hitman 3 will look like in virtual reality Right here’s what Hitman 3 will appear to be in digital actuality IO Interactive launched a trailer that reveals off what the VR mode in Hitman 3 really seems to be like. In brief, it’s most likely like what you imagined in the event you’ve performed the current video games — which implies it seems to be like lots of enjoyable. The hands-on look reveals Agent 47 doing lots of taking pictures and trap-setting, in addition to an array of mundane duties used to remain disguised throughout missions. There seem like a number of immersive moments created only for the digital actuality element, like tapping an enemy on the shoulder and rapidly getting out of sight to idiot them. And similar to the bottom recreation, there appears to be a load of interactable objects, which ought to translate effectively to digital actuality. One factor I’m interested in with this VR mode is its issue. Hitman is a notoriously robust recreation, particularly if you wish to full each goal with out alerting enemies. There are often enemies coming at you from all angles, and there’s only a lot to concentrate to. Although, like all trailers, this one launched at the moment makes the VR mode appear much more like an motion romp. Not having the ability to see Agent 47’s shiny, barcode-laden noggin makes it appear to be a correct James Bond recreation, which, paradoxically, is the studio’s subsequent challenge. Because the developer promised when the mode was introduced in 2020, each location from the current Hitman titles will likely be playable in digital actuality through PlayStation VR. To be clear, you’ll must already personal Hitman and Hitman 2 to play these ranges in VR, and Hitman 3 will supply a option to import these environments. For now, this mode is coming solely to the PS4 and PS5 variations of the sport through a PlayStation VR headset. However for the reason that recreation is releasing on PC, it’s attainable that we’ll see this mode make its approach in some unspecified time in the future to different platforms, like Steam VR or Oculus. The bottom recreation may even launch on January twentieth for the programs talked about above in addition to Xbox One, Xbox Sequence S and X, Google Stadia. It’s additionally coming to the Nintendo Change through cloud streaming tech. #Heres #Hitman #digital #actuality Source: Here’s what Hitman 3 will look like in virtual reality
  4. 10 great games to play on your new 2020 VR headset Enjoy your virtual reality gaming If you received a virtual reality gaming headset this holiday season, congratulations! Whether you’ve got the newly released Oculus Quest 2, one of the last few units of the now discontinued Oculus Rift S, or another headset like the PlayStation VR, there are a ton of video games for you to explore with your new head mount display. Here are ten games I personally enjoy and think are worth your time and money. We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used games, apps, and entertainment. Check out our app picks for iPhones, Android phones, Windows PCs, and M1-equipped Macs; our favorite mobile games from Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass; and our top choices for gaming PCs, the PS5, Xbox One and Series X / S, Nintendo Switch, and VR. We’ve also listed our favorite streaming shows on Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN Plus, and Netflix; some great sci-fi books; and exciting new podcasts. (Note: pricing was accurate at the time of publishing but may change.) HALF-LIFE: ALYX Half-Life: Alyx Image: Valve Yeah, it’s not Half-Life 3. But the fact that Half-Life: Alyx even exists is truly a blessing and is a great addition to the Half-Life franchise. Set five years after the events of Half-Life 2, you control Alyx, who is tasked with taking a super weapon that belongs to an alien empire. STAR WARS: SQUADRONS Star Wars: Squadrons Image: EA When I was a little girl, I always wanted to pilot an X-Wing. I thought it was so cool to be soaring through space and blasting Tie Fighters out of the sky. So when EA announced that Star Wars: Squadrons would have VR support, I knew I could finally fulfill my childhood dream. It’s a very difficult game, and you don’t need a VR headset to play. But it’s also a very rewarding game that fully immersed me when I strapped on a virtual reality headset. REAL VR FISHING Real VR Fishing Image: Miragesoft When I was growing up on the eastern shore of Maryland, fishing was (and is) a very popular activity in the summer. There’s something great about casting your line with a cold drink in hand while on the water, and the challenge and patience it takes to reel in a fish. Now that it is winter, I needed something to fill the void until the warmer season returns once again, and Real VR Fishing does not disappoint. VOID RACER: EXTREME Void Racer: Extreme Image: Coplanar Games Void Racer: Extreme is a sci-fi racing game that gives me the same adrenaline rush that I get from games like Wipeout or Sprint Vector and combines it with an aesthetic like that seen in the film Tron. If you are looking for a fast-paced racing game and love sci-fi vibes, this is the game for you. DREAMS Dreams Image: Media Molecule Sure, there are no true PS5 games released yet, but the PlayStation VR still has a solid library of PS4 titles that you can check out, including Media Molecule’s 2020 game creation title Dreams. It’s not a video game in the traditional sense — it's more of a game about creating games. Dreams strongly encourages players to embrace their creative side, and you would be surprised by what type of user-generated content you can create. REZ INFINITE Rez Infinite Image: Enhance Experience Rez Infinite is a techno-fueled shooter with sublime and trippy graphics that is truly a breathtaking experience. It’s released on practically every virtual reality gaming headset, which makes it very accessible to play. BEAT SABER Beat Saber Image: Beat Games Although Beat Saber was originally released in 2019, this is still one of the best VR games around, and it’s one that every VR headset owner needs to experience. A rhythm game where you use lightsaber-like drumsticks to slice through musical beats? You can’t beat that. The game has also expanded to a slew of content packs, which include original songs and some licensed songs from bands like Linkin Park and BTS. VR SHOOT AROUND VR Shoot Around Image: BoninblueDesignLab Among the many things I missed this year because of the pandemic is sports. Namely, the ability to go to a basketball court and shoot some hoops. After some asking around, I heard about a really decent VR simulation title called VR Shoot Around, and it did not disappoint. Oh, and did I mention this game is only $5? TROVER SAVES THE UNIVERSE Trover Saves the Universe Image: Squanch Games Like a few games on this list, Trover Saves the Universe was not released in 2020 (though it was released this year for the Oculus Quest). Developed by Squanch Games, this game is one of the goofier titles available on VR headsets. And if you are a fan of Rick and Morty, you will surely get a kick out of this game — in fact, it was created by Justin Roiland, one of the co-creators of that series. PIXEL RIPPED 1995 Pixel Ripped 1995 Image: ARVORE Immersive Experiences Like its predecessor, Pixel Ripped 1995 is a love letter of sorts to the decade it is set in: the ‘90s. It’s a sequel to Pixel Ripped 1989 and will make anyone who grew up during the 16-bit or 32-bit era of gaming feel nostalgic. Source: 10 great games to play on your new 2020 VR headset
  5. Virtual reality is either an important, transformative technology or a niche innovation that’s destined to be subsumed into “mixed reality” — no one’s quite sure yet. But two of the industry’s biggest players are now taking opposing positions on the subject, as executives from Microsoft and Sony have shared thoughts on whether users are actually interested in VR, and fans are weighing in with their own views. The flashpoint was a comment from Microsoft’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer, who reportedly downplayed VR as an “isolating” experience, and said that “nobody’s asking for VR” — at least, from his customer base. “The vast majority of our customers know if they want a VR experience, there’s places to go get those,” he explained, though he also said “nobody’s selling millions and millions” of VR headsets. For these reasons, the company isn’t planning to support VR on its next Xbox console, codenamed Project Scarlett. Spencer’s take apparently didn’t sit well with Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida, who led the company’s worldwide studios through much of the growth of PlayStation VR — a headset that has, in fact, sold well over 4 million units. This morning, Yoshida tweeted that “we oftentimes work hard to make things that no customers are asking for,” a fairly gentle retort that recalls the supposed quote from car pioneer Henry Ford, “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” On one hand, the companies’ respective positions are hardly a surprise at this point. Microsoft has placed its largest mixed reality bets on AR, releasing two Hololens headsets — solely for enterprise customers — while providing lukewarm support for Windows VR, and killing a nascent VR initiative for the Xbox One X. By contrast, Sony completely embraced VR for both its current- and next-generation PlayStation consoles. The company has promised that the existing PlayStation VR and its software will work on the new console, as well as teasing a next-generation VR headset for release after the PlayStation 5’s 2020 launch window. The easiest way to square Spencer’s comments with reality is a literal but properly in-context interpretation of his words. He wasn’t necessarily saying that no one wanted VR — just not Xbox customers. And although his claim about “millions and millions” of headsets is inaccurate for Sony, it’s true about Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform, which opened PCs to any company interested in creating a VR headset. So many headsets were released as a consequence that consumers didn’t gravitate to just one model, leading virtually every company to fall short of the multi-million mark. Judging by responses on social media, VR fans aren’t pleased with Spencer’s take. Many of the replies to Yoshida’s tweet are praising Sony for having taken risks with virtual reality, and saying that regardless of consumer interest, PSVR “sparked an interest” in VR that will pay off in the next generation. “I’m asking for it and millions of others are,” said @JRPyznar. “VR is going to storm the gates next gen and Sony already has a massive foundation.” Tweets directed at Spencer’s “nobody’s asking” claim express similar sentiments. “How can you look at the data and say that?” asks @Slashim. “Have you not seen Oculus rise over the last decade? It’s the next frontier.” And numerous others are undercutting the suggestion that Xbox fans don’t want VR. “While I’m still getting the Scarlett, this is really frustrating,” says @iN7trepid. “I’m definitely one of those ‘nobodies’ who wants VR on my Xbox.” But not everyone disagrees with the Xbox head’s views. Some Xbox fan tweets have written off VR as unappealing or impractically priced for the console market. Similarly, Redditors on r/Xboxone are generally lining up behind Spencer, though there are some dissenters — and one commenter who reminds us that “Reddit is not a good indication for the mass market.” Regardless, it appears that Sony will have the console VR market largely to itself in the upcoming generation — unless, of course, Nintendo opts to take its VR efforts beyond the experimental (and largely mediocre) Labo VR to a better level in the future. Thus far, the demand for VR hardware has depended considerably on compelling VR games, a point reinforced by the heightened interest in PC VR following the announcement of Half-Life: Alyx, so if Valve’s title gets people to buy VR headsets, perhaps that will be enough to change Microsoft’s mind. Source
  6. People interact with an Apple iPad in Chicago. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg Apple Inc. is working on a range of augmented and virtual-reality devices underpinned by a new 3-D sensor system, according to people familiar with the plans. A new iPad Pro for release as early as the first half of 2020 will feature a new module with two camera sensors, up from one on the current model, and a small hole for the 3-D system, letting people create three-dimensional reconstructions of rooms, objects and people. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant also plans to add the sensor to new high-end iPhones later in 2020, along with 5G networking capabilities, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced products. In 2021 or 2022, Apple aims to release a combined VR and AR headset with a focus on gaming, watching video and virtual meetings. The company intends to roll out a lightweight pair of AR glasses as early as 2023, one of the people familiar with the plans said. Apple had originally intended to have the technology for its initial headset ready in 2019 for a release in 2020, but recently decided to push that back, the person added. The Information earlier reported that Apple told employees it is aiming to launch its first headset by 2022 and the glasses a year later. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has talked up AR for some time, and the technology is the core of Apple’s next big hardware push beyond the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. The new 3-D sensor system will be the centerpiece of this. It has been in development inside Apple for several years, and is a more advanced version of the Face ID sensor on the front of Apple’s latest mobile devices, said the people. Augmented reality mixes the real world with the virtual world, letting a user interact with other people while also seeing digital information such as text messages and directions in a maps app. Virtual reality is all-encompassing, gluing humans to headsets, like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift with high-resolution lenses used for gaming and video. Engineering teams for the iPhone and iPad have begun work on connecting important applications and software features to a new operating system, dubbed “rOS” internally, that will let current devices work with the future headset and glasses. Apple has about 1,000 engineers working on the AR and VR initiative, which is led by vice president Mike Rockwell, Bloomberg News has reported. The multi-disciplinary team is part of Apple’s hardware engineering division, but has its own leadership with executives who have worked on Apple’s gaming software system, earlier iPhone hardware, software engineering and manufacturing. The team also has ex-NASA engineers, former game developers and graphics experts. It is based in a nondescript area of Sunnyvale, California, not far from Apple’s main campus in Cupertino. When the devices launch, they will likely become part of Apple’s growing wearable devices segment, which currently includes the Watch, AirPods and Beats headphones. This is one of Apple’s fastest growing businesses, and has helped offset a slowdown in iPhone unit sales and revenue. Source: Apple plans standalone AR and VR Gaming Headset by 2022 and Glasses later (via Bloomberg)
  7. There are a number of ways you can view your desktop PC in virtual reality (VR), with apps like Bigscreen Beta or Virtual Desktop. But what if you run Linux software? Today, global consultancy Collabora which specialises in delivering the benefits of Open Source software for commercial use has announced xrdesktop, a project enabling interaction with popular Linux desktop environments, such as GNOME and KDE, in VR. Sponsored by Valve, the virtual desktop project integrates into existing Linux desktop environments, so that window managers are aware of VR connectivity, able to use VR runtimes to render desktop windows in 3D space. This gives users the ability to manipulate them with motion controllers like the Valve Index units shown as well as generating mouse and keyboard input. Several interaction methods have been created to aid window manipulation, from simple grab mechanics by holding the trigger where they can also be rotated freely in 3D space to altering scale by using the analogue sticks. These techniques can be used singularly or with both controllers at the same time. If the windows get a little too muddled the option to reset is always available. “For our initial release, we focused on integration in the most popular Linux desktops, GNOME and KDE, but xrdesktop is designed to be integrated into any desktop. This can be done with Compiz-like plugins as for KWin or patches on the compositor in the case of GNOME Shell,” said Collabora’s Lubosz Sarnecki in a blog posting. “This integration of xrdesktop into the window managers enables mirroring existing windows into XR and to synthesize desktop input through XR actions. xrdesktop can be run as a dedicated scene application, but it also features an overlay mode, where desktop windows are overlaid over any other running VR application.” The launch today is just the start of a long list of updates in xrdesktop’s roadmap. Further improvements include OpenXR support, improved Scene app performance and UX when running as overlays, plus a 3D widget library. For further info including downloading xrdesktop head to the gitlab page here. VRFocus will keep you updated on further improvements. Source
  8. This soundtrack slaps — Ten minutes of Half-Life: Alyx: The biggest VR goosebumps we’ve ever had Half-Life: 3 videos. That is, of how March 23's HL:A will look and feel in VR. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 9+ images. On Monday, three weeks before its retail launch on Windows PCs, Half-Life: Alyx received its most revealing look yet. This new video series, weighing in at 10 minutes, is an incredible summary of the upcoming VR game's three pillars: puzzles, action, and creeping dread. I can confirm that this footage is spliced from various moments through the campaign, with only one scene, labeled "Gameplay Video 1," taking place within the game's earliest section. Based on what I've learned from multiple sources, this video series has been very carefully curated, because it focuses more on how Alyx's VR movement and beat-by-beat gameplay will look and feel, as opposed to spoiling its storytelling or more complicated puzzles. The three-part series has one huge component in common: the Gravity Gloves. This new control system appears to work exactly as I'd learned ahead of last year's reveal: Need to grab or pick something up? Point at whatever that object is (whether it's close or far away) with an open hand until it glows orange, then close your hand and flick your wrist toward yourself to fling the item in your direction. At this point, you get a moment to physically "catch" the object in question. Point, clench, flick, catch. Sure enough, this series shows a player repeatedly pointing at relatively distant objects, then gesturing in a flick-like motion to call the item towards them, thus saving them the real-life trouble of bending to a knee or reaching awkwardly with their hands. We also see a couple of slightly tricky moments where the Gravity Gloves aren't good enough. In one case, a locked door with bulletproof glass requires a creative solution; in another, an attempt to flick an item toward the player is interrupted by a familiar menace from above. Of course, the Gravity Gloves also prove compellingly overpowered in one cool moment. A grenade is lobbed in the player's direction, and they proceed to catch it in mid-air with their high-tech gloves, then toss it right back at a crowd of Overwatch forces. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 3 images. One of Alyx's most compelling VR-specific elements received a brief spotlight in the form of a single, spherical puzzle. I've taken care to include illustrative images in the above gallery, but it's a tough concept to sell without seeing it in action: rotating a floating, transparent sphere with one hand while drawing lines through its center with your other hand. It's arguably the three videos' best evidence for any "this would only work in VR" conversations. From what I've heard, Valve is keeping most of these examples close to the chest before the game's launch. Each of the three videos differs in a key regard: how players walk. As Valve has advertised, players will get to choose their favorite control method, and these will likely vary both in usefulness and comfort level. Two of the videos include different types of teleportation movement: "blink" (where the screen blacks out until your movement is complete) and "warp" (where your presence shifts abruptly forward). In both cases, players hold a button to bring up a pair of glowing feet in the near distance, and this not only shows where players will teleport but also which direction they'll face when they land. We also see a smooth-walking sequence, where players are seen slowly walking as if they're holding a joystick down. This one conveniently lacks any combat. It remains to be seen whether the hectic gunfights in the teleportation videos will translate well to a walking-pace experience. In terms of combat, we see the player throw everyday items to stun foes, though guns seem to be much more effective at downing Combine soldiers and Headcrab-afflicted grunts. When these demos' players aren't using their hands to reload guns or stick attachments to their barrels, they're slotting extra items and ammo into a high-tech inventory "pouch" lodged in their wrist (or occasionally grabbing a loose stimpack and jabbing its needle into their other hand). There's also a hefty helping of teleport-and-crouch action, aided by the player's use of a free car door as a piece of cover. The above galleries only tell part of the story. That's partially because it's easier to understand the actions of shooting, reloading, throwing, and Gravity Glove-ing by seeing them in action, but it's also because the natural movement of a VR camera changes the way these videos' beautiful and series-allegiant scenery plays out. And that's saying nothing about the immaculate backing music in each sequence, which already has me itchy to buy Alyx's official soundtrack whenever it goes on sale. Hence, I've embedded all three videos below, and I strongly encourage any interested Half-Life fan—or, honestly, any doubtful VR haters—to see what's about to land in three weeks on all major PC-VR systems. Half-Life: Alyx Gameplay Video 1 Half-Life: Alyx Gameplay Video 2 Half-Life: Alyx Gameplay Video 3 Listing image by Valve Source: Ten minutes of Half-Life: Alyx: The biggest VR goosebumps we’ve ever had (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image galleries, please visit the above link)
  9. We look at recent advances in the field of artificial intelligence and also addresses some of the issues surrounding the use of facial recognition. We try out the latest in virtual reality hardware and look at a camera system that could change the way that we watch football.
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