Oculus quietly drops DRM from its VR systems

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In May, Facebook division Oculus broke its longstanding promise not to use DRM to limit its customers' choices, deploying a system that prevented Oculus customers from porting the software they'd purchased to run on non-Oculus hardware. Read the rest

Speed-running E3

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It’s just gone E3 time, the industry-only videogame showcase...of the year? Argue that one out with PAX fans. Tuesday was opening day, and rather than go to cover the games per se - because all those announcements and videos were already out and all over, you can’t have missed ‘em- we decided to speed run it.

Mixed-reality demo displays C-3PO and R2-D2 in any room

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Magic Leap continues to roll out tantalizing demos of their mixed reality technology, this time imposing the "lost droids" scene into a typical room. Read the rest

How to make an edible virtual reality headset

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Caleb Kraft used the Google Cardboard design to make a working VR headset from graham crackers and icing. It's entirely edible, except for the lenses.

"Making an Edible Virtual Reality Viewer for Your Phone" (MAKE:)

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Making an edible Google Cardboard VR viewer out of graham crackers and icing

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Caleb Kraft used overlapping graham crackers and icing/glue to piece together a functional, edible Google Cardboard viewer whose only inedible components were the lenses (which Kraft says he could have made from edible material -- sugar? -- but lacked the time for). Read the rest

Explore The Shining in 3D

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Claire Hentschker's virtual reality trip through The Shining is even more unsettling than it sounds: thirty minutes of scenes from the movie extruded into 3D, so you can look around in all directions as the camera slowly takes you along. Yet the models are all incomplete, taken as they are from Kubrick's footage, leaving the impression of looking into the Overlook and its surrounds from a timeless, warped, supernatural viewpoint. Which is to say: it's perfect.

Shining360 is a 30-minute audio-visual experiment for VR derived from the physical space within Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘The Shining.' Using photogrammetry, 3D elements are extracted and extruded from the original film stills, and the subsequent fragments are stitched together and viewed along the original camera path.

Many thanks to the Studio for Creative Inquiry. All content derived from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

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Second Life's Trump army lays siege to Bernie Sanders's virtual HQ with swastika cannons

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Bernie Sanders's fans in the venerable virtual world Second Life have established a HQ, "a Roman-themed hangout space in a peaceful meadow, where Bernie supporters often gather to share news of their favorite candidate," but their peace was shattered when Second Life's Donald Trump supporters laid siege to the building, firing virtual guns whose rounds exploded into swastika flags at Sanders central. Read the rest

Experience solitary confinement in VR

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The Guardian has recreated a 6x9 solitary confinement cell in VR, designed to be viewed with Google's cheap cardboard VR viewers, which uses your phone for screens. Read the rest

Fantastic radio show about virtual reality, c. 1992

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Media artist Michael Naimark writes:

In 1990, right as the first VR wave was swelling, Stewart Brand and Grateful Dead manager Jon Mcintyre concocted a scheme to produce an invitation-only 24-hour VR event modeled after the Electric Cool-Aid Acid test. They convinced Colossal Pictures, the largest soundstage in San Francisco, to host it. Dozens of demos and scores of talks were presented, by far the largest and most prominent VR event of its kind. I directed the video production. In total, 66 hours of video, both from a pro crew and a “basket full of prosumer cameras”, was shot.

Shortly after the event, David (Lawrence), Jim (McKee), and Earwax received an NEA grant to make a radio show. The funding enabled all of the video to be logged and transcribed. From it they made several versions, organized in short 1-4 minute themed sections. Their style was very “pre RadioLab”. From the New American Radio website:

Virtual Paradise—The Reality Tape (1992-93)

Earwax Productions with David Lawrence. An exciting production created in the spirit of the technology it focuses on. Virtual Paradise examines the ideas, issues, and attitudes that currently surround virtual reality. As this technology evolves, it brings with it the potential for redefining our most basic assumptions about media, experience, and reality. Virtual Paradise features many voices recorded at Cyberthon, a 24-hour virtual reality event presented by Whole Earth Institute in 1990. It also includes interviews with such visionaries as science-fiction author William Gibson, VR architect Jaron Lanier, artificial reality pioneer Myron Krueger, and Timothy Leary—all intercut with music and sound effects and shaped into a highly entertaining and insightful "virtual" tape composition.

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Oh This Crazy VR Hype

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A few weeks back, I was at the annual Game Developers Conference. GDC kicked off this year with its first-ever VRDC, two days of all-VR, all the time. On top of that, there was VR programming sprinkled across the main event schedule, too: it’s launch year for the much-touted Big Headsets.

The magical future of virtual reality

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In Wired, BB pal Kevin Kelly wrote a definitive feature about the current (and future?) state of virtual reality, technology that many of us first tried in the late 1980s but took nearly thirty years to be ready for prime time.

I first put my head into virtual reality in 1989. Before even the web existed, I visited an office in Northern California whose walls were covered with neoprene surfing suits embroidered with wires, large gloves festooned with electronic components, and rows of modified swimming goggles. My host, Jaron Lanier, sporting shoulder-length blond dreadlocks, handed me a black glove and placed a set of homemade goggles secured by a web of straps onto my head. The next moment I was in an entirely different place. It was an airy, cartoony block world, not unlike the Minecraft universe. There was another avatar sharing this small world (the size of a large room) with me—Lanier.

We explored this magical artificial landscape together, which Lanier had created just hours before. Our gloved hands could pick up and move virtual objects. It was Lanier who named this new experience “virtual reality.” It felt unbelievably real. In that short visit I knew I had seen the future. The following year I organized the first public hands-on exhibit (called Cyberthon), which premiered two dozen experimental VR systems from the US military, universities, and Silicon Valley. For 24 hours in 1990, anyone who bought a ticket could try virtual reality. The quality of the VR experience at that time was primitive but still pretty good.

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Watch a 4-year-old girl experience virtual reality on Oculus Rift for the first time

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“Is he going to eat me? I thought he was. Ahhh! I thought he was real! Is he real? Go away. You go away I say, dinosaur.”

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Uncanny Valley, a short film about VR "addiction" with a sting in its tail

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The short movie Uncanny Valley is a beautifully made, effects-heavy science fiction film about virtual reality "addicts." It starts a little slowly, but just as soon as you think you've got the gag, the movie veers off into some extremely interesting territory. (via JWZ) Read the rest

The unique complications of playing VR games as a trans person

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I've heard VR users often say that inhabiting other bodies and other spaces is uniquely liberating, but my colleague Laura Kate Dale sheds light on the fact that embodiment may be complicated for some.

Game publisher's lawsuit against VR headset maker Oculus proceeds

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A judge has refused to dismiss ZeniMax Media's claim that Oculus VR stole code and expertise from it when it hired famous coder John Carmack from its iD Software subsidiary.

Nick Wingfield, writing in The New York Times:

The lawsuit centers on help that John Carmack, then a ZeniMax employee and the designer behind iconic games like Doom and Quake, provided to Mr. Luckey as he was starting Oculus. Mr. Carmack later joined Oculus as its chief technology officer and ZeniMax contends that the assistance that Mr. Carmack gave to Mr. Luckey was illegal.

These things often look rather like well-timed retaliation; VentureBeat's Jeff Grubb wrote about the details of this case last year. Read the rest

Kickstarting a 6-lens spherical 60fps VR camera

Jeffrey Martin writes, "I have been working for the last couple of years on this camera, and we have launched today on Kickstarter. It is a beautiful, small device (the size of a tennis ball) with six cameras that make a 4K-resolution, 60fps, spherical video." Read the rest

Watch Minecraft become holographic in Microsoft Hololens E3 demo

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Amazing gameplay footage: Minecraft through the Hololens. The VR demo from Microsoft executive Sax Persson today at the annual E3 games convention completely transforms the experience of Minecraft.

Microsoft acquired Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5 billion last year.

From PopSci:

“This is a live demo, with real working code,” Persson said, before donning the HoloLens and projecting a Minecraft map onto a wall, and then a table onstage. Microsoft announced Minecraft would be a main attraction of the HoloLens earlier in the year, but this is the first working demo the company has shown to the public.

Viewers were able to see Persson’s augmented reality through a “special camera” outfitted to show the HoloLens display in real time, as he played the game on the wall with an Xbox controller.

Persson then walked over to the table, said, “create world,” and watched as the Minecraft world poured onto the table. This was met with perhaps the loudest applause of Microsoft’s presentation, as he continued to use voice commands and gestures to manipulate the world. The virtual projection constrained itself to the edges of the table well, and the camera was able to look inside of structures by moving through the virtual walls.

No HoloLens release date yet.

More at Boing Boing's OFFWORLD: “The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event

[Kotaku on YouTube]

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