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US Legislators Form VR-centric “Reality Caucus” to Guide Immersive Technology Policy

Yesterday five US congressional representatives announced the formation of a ‘Congressional Caucus on Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality’. The bipartisan caucus will be co-chaired by: Yvette Clarke (D-New York) Suzan DelBene (D-Washington) Bill Flores (R-Texas)’ Darrell Issa (R-California) Ted Lieu (D-California) The reps issued a joint statement about the caucus: As these technologies continue to advance and grow, this ‘Reality Caucus’ will work to foster information sharing between Congress and our nation’s world-leading technology industry. These technologies have shown tremendous potential for innovation in the fields of entertainment, education and healthcare. As these technologies develop, questions will inevitably rise in privacy, intellectual property and other areas. This is an opportunity to educate our colleagues and others to ensure Congress is…

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Exclusive: Baobab’s ‘Rainbow Crow’ is Pushing VR Film Visuals into Beautiful New Territory

By now it’s trite to call any CG VR film studio “the Pixar of VR,” but one reason for that pervasive comparison is that Pixar’s waxy-textured, brightly-colored, hard-edged geometry has become a dominant style for big-budget CG films. But we hear over and over about how ‘VR is a completely new medium’; doesn’t it deserve a new look? Baobab Studios‘ latest work, Rainbow Crow, is starting to branch out from that style with a unique new look that taps into VR’s strengths. Executive-produced by and starring the voice of John Legend, Rainbow Crow is Baobab’s latest CG VR film project following shorts INVASION! and ASTEROIDS!. The piece is an interpretation of a Native American folktale about how the modern day crow came to be. The video you’ll…

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Vive Deluxe Audio Strap Gets June 6th Release Date

HTC announced a serious looking upgrade for its Vive headset earlier this year at CES 2017. The ‘Deluxe Audio Strap’ replaces the original device’s harness and upgrades it with integrated headphones and a new, more robust adjustable head assembly. Update (5/2/17, 3:16PM PT): HTC has confirmed both the price and release date of the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap: the accessory will launch on June 6th for $100. The company has also confirmed that all new purchases of the Vive ‘Business Edition’ headset will come standard with the Deluxe Audio Strap. Original Article (1/4/17): At CES 2017, HTC may not be announcing the next generation of the Vive headset, but it is concentrating very hard on giving the existing Vive owner every…

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Here’s the 10 Companies Competing at GTC’s VR Content Showcase for $30,000 in Prizes

With over 120 applications, Nvidia has announced the 10 companies that will compete at the VR Content Showcase during GTC 2017 for $30,000 in cash and prizes. Nvidia’s GTC 2017 conference next week has a heavy focus on broader business uses of AR and VR, including healthcare, education, architecture, and more. The event’s VR Content Showcase is designed to highlight those non-entertainment use-cases by bringing together leading startups focusing their efforts to make AR and VR useful across industries. From 120 applications, Nvidia has announced the 10 companies that will participate in the VR Content Showcase, showing off their wares in front of a panel of judges who will decide who walks home with $30,000 in cash and prizes. Those…

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360 Short Film ‘Step to the Line’ Published as Part of Oculus’ VR for Good Initiative

Mark Zuckerberg recently posted the 360 film Step to the Line on his Facebook page, which highlights the challenges of living with the criminal justice system in the US, on both sides of the prison wall. The short documentary is an emotionally powerful 360 degree video production, funded by Oculus’ VR for Good initiative. Created and directed by Brazilian filmmaker Ricardo Laganaro, Step to the Line was shot in a California maximum security prison, using a Nokia Ozo rig. The film documents an exercise regularly run by Catherine Hoke, founder of Defy Ventures, who provide a six-month non-profit entrepreneurship program for inmates at over 20 prisons in the United States. It involves a group of inmates, referred to as ‘entrepreneurs…

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6 Companies Aiming to Cut the Cord on High-end VR Headsets

Today’s most immersive virtual reality systems, like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, rely on a bothersome tether to send power and high fidelity imagery to the headset at low latency. But everyone agrees a dangling cable is not only annoying, it’s an immersion detractor. The demand for a solution to this issue has spurred the creation of no less than seven solutions (and counting) hoping to make a wireless link between the high-end host PC and the headset. Update (4/28/17, 1:31PM PT): When this article was originally published we hadn’t heard back from TPCAST. The company has since reached out to tell us more about their approach to wireless VR in their own words, and we’ve added that information…

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Conan O’Brien Plays ‘Wilson’s Heart’ in Latest ‘Clueless Gamer’ Segment

Wilson’s Heart, the latest exclusive on the Oculus Rift and Touch, has launched to much fanfare, including a funny take on the game (and VR in general) by Conan O’Brien. Conan O’Brien is the long time late-night talkshow host of Conan which includes a segment called ‘Clueless Gamer’ where Conan tries his hand at playing anticipated titles, despite not being a gamer himself. In the latest segment he tries Wilson’s Heart, a story-driven VR title that puts players a black and white world that takes on the feel of a ’40s horror film. See the video heading this article. See Also: ‘Wilson’s Heart’ Review – A surreal, violent and visually intense trip through ’40s pop culture This isn’t Conan’s first time with VR however. Recently…

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Adobe Shows Method to Create Volumetric VR Video From Flat 360 Captures

With a new technique, Adobe wants to turn normal monoscopic 360-degree video into a more immersive 3D experience, complete with a level of depth information that promises to give the user the ability to shift their physical vantage point in a way currently only possible with special volumetric cameras—and all with your off-the-shelf 360 camera rig. Announced by Adobe’s head of research Gavin Miller at National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) in Las Vegas this week and originally reported as a Variety exclusive, the new software technique aims to bring six degree of freedom (6-DoF) to your bog standard monoscopic 360-degree video, meaning you’ll not only be able to look left, right, up and down, but also be able to move your head naturally…

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‘Gears of War’ Creator Cliff Bleszinski Wants to Make a Big Budget VR Game

If you don’t already know Cliff Bleszinski from his involvement with the Unreal Tournament and Gears of War franchises, you may remember him from Oculus’ 2012 Kickstarter video. Now under the banner of his own studio, Boss Key Productions, Bleszinski says he’s been seeking funding to develop a big budget VR title. According to Gamasutra, who watched long time game designer address attendees of the Reboot Develop conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, Bleszinski says he’s been into VR since the ’80s and hopes that this latest resurgence of the tech will be the time that it succeeds. Bleszinski indeed believes in the technology. In fact, he personally invested in Oculus, and was among a number of high-profile gaming industry vets to…

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‘Batman: Arkham VR’ Launches on Vive and Rift

Batman: Arkham VR (2016) is one of PlayStation VR’s top games, and an exclusive too. Now, developer Rocksteady has announced that it will soon launch the game on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Update (4/25/17, 2:53PM PT): Batman: Arkham VR has launched on both SteamVR and Oculus Home. The SteamVR version supports both the Vive and Rift, while the Home version (of course) supports the Rift. Initial customer ratings on SteamVR indicates much the same as we found in our review of the PSVR version: very good content but much shorter than we’d have liked, with a number of buyers unhappy with the length:price ratio. On Steam, the game presently holds a 79% positive rating, while on Oculus it…