In This Issue: CES 2017 and Veer VR app review

Reports from CES 2017

written by Jessica Lacombe, VRKiX.com

Technology is always changing. To stay on top of things, we sent Joe and Lisa, VR KiX owners, and their friend Kris, to the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2017 in Las Vegas. There was a little bit of everything present from drones to VR to auto manufacturers. Take a look at just a few of the standouts on their trip!

Take a seat! Honda's Dream Drive puts you in the seat of a Honda Pilot. They showcased their new in-car solutions using virtual reality!

Take a seat! Honda's Dream Drive puts you in the seat of a Honda Pilot. They showcased their new in-car solutions using virtual reality!

Honda was just one of many auto manufacturers at CES. The company came to show off their recent collaboration with DreamWorks Animation. They used Vive VR headsets to put users in the passenger seat of a Honda Pilot. The Honda Dream Drive project is intended to give passengers entertainment, education and general information while driving around. In the demo video that anyone can now view on YouTube, you can see where users select their personal interests and then are alerted to extra details and information when they are approaching a given location.


For example, the user in the demo selects eateries as an interest and sees info on a heads up display about coffee shop reviews as they are approaching. They can even make reservations! Honda intends for this to be used by passengers only at this time, and later by all occupants of the vehicle when autonomous driving becomes common.


There was no shortage of drones at CES, as companies were striving to show off their best work. From all the photos and information Joe provided upon his return, the real standout here, to me, was SkyViper's Drone Hunting Challenge.
 

A user controls the drone while another user armed with a CO2 ball gun tried to take it down!  

A user controls the drone while another user armed with a CO2 ball gun tried to take it down!
 

The exhibit let users arm themselves with a CO2 ball gun and asked them to shoot down drones for prizes. The take away? SkyViper Drones are durable, and this looks like a ton of fun! Skip to 1:45 to see it in action!


Osram presented their take on the future of car lights at CES using VR. By placing users in a virtual environment, they showed the work that they are doing with LiDAR, or light detection and ranging technology. The technology generates laser pulses that bounce off objects and return to the detector on the car.
 

OSRAM demo in progress at CES 2017

OSRAM demo in progress at CES 2017

The vehicle is then able to create a 3D rendering of the car's surroundings and can use this to determine driving conditions. This can then be used to alert drivers to something in the road that shouldn't be. Ultimately, they intend for it to be used when autonomous driving becomes popular, as it will help the on board computer determine when it should brake, turn, etc. They also have had success in creating headlights that will not glare and rear lights that use OLED to reduce energy consumption.

So you weren't able to make it to CES? Check out the video here. Remember to hit the "Cardboard" icon on the video to be able to view the video in your VR KiX.

VeerVR App Review

written and reviewed by Jessica Lacombe, VRKiX.com

One of the more common questions we receive is where to find good content. This, of course, is going to be different for everyone. I prefer to watch cool videos and documentaries in VR. In my search for a recommendation, I found VeeR VR (iOS / Android) and now prefer it over most other VR video sources.

VeeR VR is a global VR video network that allows creators and consumers share and interact. Basically, it is a VR version of YouTube. Just like many video apps, VeeR allows you to create an account, save and comment on videos. The app allows you to view the content with or without a headset. If you are using the app with your VR KiX, remember to scan our QR code! (For more info on why the QR code matters, take a look back to issue 17's article on app optimization.)

I believe what sets them apart is the selection of high quality videos and points of view I have not seen anywhere else. Through their Activity tab, you can view updates from accounts that you follow as well as from VeeR VR themselves. They will publish the previous week's top 10 videos as well as grouping videos by theme. For example, check out their recent post of 10 adventures to try, including POV skydiving and speed racing. 

When browsing through videos you can sort them by top creator, featured playlists, trending content and categories. The categories include everything from horror to gaming to beauty. One of my personal favorite playlists right now is "Virtual Reality Abstract Art", but there is something on VeeR VR for everyone! 

Let me know what your favorite is and I'll check it out! 

Have you heard the news? WebVR is now available in Chrome for Android!

In this issue: WebVR and CBBhacks 2017

Issue 33  February 22, 2016

by Jessica Lacomb

Have you heard the news? WebVR is now available in Chrome for Android! WebVR takes data from your phone, like phone position, orientation and input device feedback and communicates it to your mobile browser.

But what does that mean for you? 

This will allow you, as a VR user, to access VR content directly through your Chrome mobile browser rather than having you download or install any other programs. This could eventually do away with the need to have several VR video apps installed directly on your phone.

Any user can access VR content now using Chrome on their mobile phone or desktop without a headset. Google Daydream owners are the first to be able to experience in-browser VR content with a VR headset. Google does have plans to expand WebVR support to it's Cardboard platform which will allow iPhone users and all other mobile users to experience in-browser VR in a VR KiX headset!


Do you have a Daydream headset? Give WebVR and Chrome a try! Sketchfab, a 3D/VR content sharing company, recently added Daydream support. Now viewing your favorite Sketchfab video is as easy updating your Chrome mobile browser to the latest version, opening the video and popping the phone into your headset. WebVR takes over from there and allows you to access all of Sketchfab VR without downloading anything!

Other VR ready sites include MatterportBear 71Within, and WebVR Lab. Happy browsing! 

Source: https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/vr/

CBBhacks 2017

Joe from our parent company, Adaptive Designs Inc, is headed out to CBBhacks 2017 from February 24-26. This will mark the third annual CBBHacks event hosted at Bowdoin College. He will be there with virtual reality headsets (including VR KiX of course!) for participants to play around with and to witness innovation at work.

What is a hackathon?
A hackathon is an event in which teams are given a certain amount of time (in this case, 36 hours) to create something. Final products are then typically presented to a panel of judges and awards are given in various categories.

Create “something”? That sounds vague.
It is, and for good reason! The organizers of CBBhacks have stressed that there is no experience necessary and welcome first time learners. They have given awards in the past to hardware hacks, mobile apps, even great business plans! Your job is to come ready to meet, learn, create and see where it takes you. 

Great, sign me up!
Unfortunately registration for this year’s CBBhacks has closed. To find another upcoming hackathon near you, check out Major League Hacking, the official student hackathon league. They put on over 200 weekend long hackathons each year that you can participate in!

Stay tuned for the first week of March when we can hear more from Joe on what he saw!

Pokemon Go and Flintstones in VR? It's my childhood all over again!

Issue 20 - July 13, 2016 

 

Issue 20 - July 13, 2016

In this issue of The VR KiX Weekly Newsletter:

Pokemon GO!

written by Jessica Lacombe, VRKiX.com

How does one report the news without mentioning Pokemon Go!?

By now you've likely at least heard of the game that is taking by the world by storm. In the event you haven't already downloaded the app, Android users can get started here, iOS users here

Pokemon Go is a mobile app/game that appeals to much more than just the 90s kids that started playing the well known video and card games. Each player creates an account and then customizes and names their own avatar. As players walk around with their phone in the real world, their avatar also moves along the game map with them.

 


The in-game map displays Pokemon that are nearby, and approximately how far away they are. When you are close enough to a Pokemon, you click the creature and he will appear in front of you using augmented reality technology! Have you seen friends post screenshots of a Pokemon in their room or at the bus stop? This is what they were doing!

 


With a simple swipe of your finger, you throw a Pokeball at the creature to catch them. Each Pokemon caught will also give you stardust and candy which act like a form of currency to level up and purchase new items for your collection.

Also on the map, you will find Pokegyms and Pokestops. Both are typically located in well known, frequently visited areas like parks and museums. Users can visit Pokegyms to battle their Pokemon against friends and enemies alike. At Pokestops, users will find useful item drops like more Pokeballs to keep catching Pokemon, medicine and snacks!

Although the game is only a few days old, it has surpassed Twitter's daily users and has more user engagement than Facebook. Users have complied lists of cheatshacks and Pokemon locations. Nintendo will also be releasing a Bluetooth device called Pokemon Go Plus. The wearable device is shaped like a Pokeball and allows users to play the game without having to look at their phone. A small light blinks blue when a Pokemon is nearby and with a push of a button, the Pokemon is yours!

What does the future hold for Pokemon Go? I would love to see a way to battle my Pokemon in virtual reality while wearing my VR KiX! If you haven't started playing yet, now is a great time to start. Gotta catch 'em all! 

VRLA Summer Expo

written by Jessica Lacombe, VRKiX.com

Virtual Reality Los Angeles, or VRLA, is the largest VR expo in the world. The expo brings together VR professionals and consumers and has a reputation of being independent and welcoming for all in the VR community, whether you are a newcomer or a company looking to exhibit products. This summer's expo will take place on August 5 and 6 at the LA Convention Center, their biggest venue yet! They will need the space, as their last expo featured just 33 sponsors. This summer will feature 111!

If you're in the LA area on August 5 and 6, stop by and say hi! Joe (right) and Troy (left) will be exhibiting our VR KiX headsets at the event. Look for our booth featuring our redesigned logo!

      

If you've been wanting to try mobile VR, now is your chance. Come see what sets us apart from the rest, whether it be our easily cleanable face padding to keep other expo visitors germs off your face, our secure, spring loaded phone tray or our "pillow back" head straps. 

We can't wait to see you!

Ads in VR? Yabba Dabba Do!

written by Jessica Lacombe, VRKiX.com

Virtual reality - the Flintstones were on to it before we were! 

VirtualSKY created a platform that allows companies to advertise and target their products and services while a potential customer is viewing VR content in a headset. The ads themselves are 360 degrees and immersive, allowing advertisers to transport viewers into their brand's world. Their ads tracks where a user is looking for the duration of the ad and feeds back to the advertiser. By knowing where users eyes are drawn, advertisers can measure effectiveness of their campaign.

Feedback from users has been positive, as they are taking great care to make sure that ads will only be placed in natural breaking points of games and videos, rather than allowing them to play at any time.

Can you remember back to 1996? Post Cereal released an ad for Fruity Pebbles featuring Barney and Fred from the Flintstones. In the ad, Barney brings a VR machine to Fred and Fred finds himself in a Fruity Pebbles wonderland, only to return to reality and find that Barney has eaten his bowl of cereal while he was away!

     


Post teamed up with VirtualSKY to create their first VR ad - Yabba Dabba Do. The ad is a 30 second campaign that is running on all major VR platforms including Google Cardboard. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to run into the Fruitasaurus like Fred, but being showered in Fruity Pebbles was nearly as good. 

 


Check it out for yourself! Are you ready to start seeing ads in VR?

A 360 camera so small it fits in your pocket!

Issue 21 _ July 20, 2016

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Co-founders Jim Hang and Serneg He began design work on the Nico360 in Q1 of 2015 and launched their product July 2016. Nico360 is a "nano-sized" waterproof 360 degree camera that is a fraction of the cost and, at just 96 grams, size of others on the market.

Not only is this camera pocket sized and financially accessible, it boasts one of the highest resolutions on the market. It is also the first 360 camera to have live streaming capabilities, making live VR streams on Facebook Live and YouTube 360 Live simple. Your friends could easily watch your live feed in virtual reality with their VR KiX! 

Hang and He designed the Nico360 to be extremely user friendly. There is no photo or video editing needed, as the camera stitches the shots into a complete 360 shot by itself. There are no complicated buttons, just one that functions as a power button, to take photos and videos and to switch between camera modes.

 


The campaign still has a month left to go and they have reached 276% of their goal at the time of publishing. Because of their success they have established "stretch goals" that include making a case for deep sea diving and later adding support for 4K videos. They will begin shipping to backers in December of 2016. 

You can take advantage of the reduced pricing during the campaign with the early bird twin pack ($229 for two) or reseller packs ($1999 for 20). You'll want to act quickly, as they are selling out of each reward level fast!

appliedVR - Transforming Patient Care

written by Jessica Lacombe, VRKiX.com

Imagine the next time you walk out of your doctors office, you are holding a prescription for gaming rather than one for narcotics. Mathew Stoudt ofAppliedVR hopes to make this scenario a reality. 

Applied VR is a startup that has been building a library of VR content specifically made for coping with anxiety and pain relief for before, during and after medical procedures. The platform is used now for pain management, in clinics during blood drawing, doctors offices and hospitals. The content distracts the user from their pain and anxiety as they are drawn more into the games.


a look at appliedVR's content library


Technology and research of the past has supported VR for pain relief, but it was impractical for doctors and hospitals to spend the $35,000 average price for VR. AppliedVR has not given a price for their bundle yet but did say that it will cost more than a Gear and Samsung headset, but much less of the VR of the past.

Applied VR provides the medical facility with a Gear VR headset and the content library. They currently have three VR experiences for pain management and one for anxiety. Bear Blast, an app that has a player move their head around to throw balls at cartoon bears, is their most popular content so far.

Lets have a little fun!

We've all seen it before - sometimes things just get lost in translation! During the process of testing and evaluating many headsets directly from China, we came across tons of user guides and product inserts that were translated to English. What did we notice? Some translations were downright hysterical, while many made no sense at all! 

Do you have an example of a translation that just doesn't fit? Send them our way