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Accuweather VR Review – Experience Different Weather Conditions At Home

accuweather vr app

Slowly but surely, new applications are coming to virtual reality headset owners all over the world. The team responsible for creating AccuWeather has put together their VR version of this application, under the name of “AccuWeather – Weather for Life”. Time to delve deeper into this app and what it has to offer!

AccuWeather – Weather For Life Is Nifty, Of Sorts

One thing most people ask themselves is whether or not they need a weather app in the virtual reality environment. The Accuweather VR app makes a good case in this regard, as it is about much more than looking at still images depicting the current weather situation in your location. While users can still see a nice overview of their own region, the main selling point of this app is exploring other weather animations.

To be more specific, Accuweather – Weather for Life provides an option to experience different weather conditions. Ranging from stormy rain to thunderstorms and clouds to snow, everything is at your disposal in the virtual reality environment. Accessing these conditions can be done through the current daily forecast or by making use of the WeatherScape feature.

Moreover, the app also provides users 360-degree videos for users to enjoy. Every video displays different weather conditions, giving users an idea of what life would be like in such a scenario. Users can travel to locations with different weather conditions in a matter of mere seconds. A nifty feature, although it remains to be seen who will use it more than once in their lifetime.

Luckily, the AccuWeather – Weather for Life app is completely free of charge. Unfortunately, it is only accessible for Samsung Gear VR headset users right now. It is a very nice application that offers exactly what one would expect. Being able to determine weather conditions before leaving the house is always good, yet most consumers will use their smartphone for that information. All things considered, Accuweather -Weather for Life is a solid application, yet not necessarily something people will use every single day either.

TheVRBase Accuweather VR

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This Guy Set the New Guinness World Record by Spending 36 Hours in VR

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On April 2nd 2017, Jack McNee set the new official Guinness world record for the longest time spent in a Virtual Reality environment. The previous record, was set by Derek Westerman who spent 25 hours immersed in VR.

The requirements for the record specify that the player must spend all the hours in a single application. Meaning that record setters must choose wisely as the wrong choice of a game may make the experience more miserable than it already is. Both record setters used the same application – Tilt Brush.

Tilt Brush is a VR painting platform which allows users to create pretty incredible masterpieces in the virtual environment. The unlimited possibilities for the creations and the amount of hours that can seemingly fly by when playing Tilt Brush makes it the perfect choice for setting this record.

vr world record

During the course of the marathon, Jack’s team even fed him pizza to keep him going through the seemingly endless experiment. After the full 36 hours passed Jack said he couldn’t really feel anything below his neck and how most of his sensation was in his head. He said:

“I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel nothing from like my neck down. It’s just all in my head.”

As Virtual Reality becomes more and more immersive and realistic, spending dozens of hours wearing a headset may be as common as those 24 hour gaming streaming marathons you may find on twitch.

Rest assured that Jack McNee isn’t the first or the last person that will attempt to break this record. In fact, Berlin-based Thorsten Wiedemann already spent 48 hours immersed in VR. However, Thorsten’s record was never made official so the current record still sits at 36 hours.

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VR Rider Review – Upgrade Your Indoor Cycling Experience

vr rider

If you have ever been to gym with brand new equipment you may have noticed that some exercise bikes have large LCD screens. It is common for the screen to display a simulation which translates your time on a bike into a virtual bike course of your choice. Imagine upgrading that experience by immersing yourself in a virtual reality game simulating the bike ride. Not only would it take your mind off of the dreaded pedaling, but it would make for a fun experience at the same time.

VR Rider can be downloaded for free. Simply turn on your headset, download the zip file, run the program and you can start cycling in VR. The cool thing is that you do not need to use any sort of controllers or move from one spot in order to get the full experience out of VR Rider.

The menu selection is done simply by looking at the options you would like to choose. Furthermore the basic commands such as drive, stop, and jump can all be done by moving your head.

In order to cycle simply move your head left and right, to stop simply pull your head back, and to jump move your head forward. One thing to keep in mind is that all the head movements can cause some simulation sickness. While cycling myself I felt a bit lightheaded after taking off the headset. However, I tried the game while sitting on a chair and not while exercising on a gym bike as the directions suggest.

A nice feature of the game is that it allows you to go off the designated path and explore the terrain. As shown in the video, you can go 30+ MPH on a rocky mountain terrain which is fun in itself. However, those that are new to VR may experience some motion sickness form the fast movements of the simulation. Check out this video which gives an overview of what the simulation is like:

Overall, the game could use some improvements to its frame-rate and the jerkiness of the virtual world, however the idea behind the concept is great and could be of great fun to indoor cycling enthusiasts. If you have a VR headset and a stationary bike, you have no excuses not to try out VR Rider.

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Top 6 Virtual Reality Startups Worth Keeping an eye on

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It is evident the virtual reality sector is of great interest to both consumers and investors right now. The list of VR-oriented companies on platforms such as Crunchbase continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. While not all of these companies are successful, it is not hard to find the market leaders either. Rest assured the “rankings” can change at any given moment as startups and enterprises continually jockey for a better position.

6. NextVR

One of the many companies focusing on bringing top-notch virtual reality content to the masses goes by the name of NextVR. The company is focusing its attention on both live and on-demand VR content. This extends to sporting events, concerts, and even cinematic productions. The company has been around since 2009, which makes them well worth keeping an eye on. To date, NextVR raised $115.5m over the course of three funding rounds. The company’s Series B funding brought in US$80m in August of 2016.

5. Virtuix

A handful of companies focus on building a virtual reality interface so people can move freely in their favorite games. One of those companies goes by the name of Virtuix. Since its inception in February of 2013, the company has raised $16.08m in equity funding. Its most successful round of funding was the recent equity crowdfunding campaign in August in 2016, bringing in US$7.7m. Virtuix is currently developing the Omni interface for virtual reality, allowing players to fully immerse themselves in a virtual reality environment rather than sitting down while wearing a VR headset.

4. Linden Lab

Most gamers will be familiar with the name Linden lab, as the company created the massively popular Second Life gaming platform several years back. Ever since that time, Linden lab has been working hard on making a name for themselves sin the virtual reality sector. A new platform for virtual experiences – codenamed Project Sansar – is in development as we speak. The end goal is to use virtual reality as a creative medium moving forward. Linden lab has raised $19m in two separate funding rounds since its inception in 1999, the latest of which took place in March of 2006.

3. Livelike

Most people may not have heard of the Livelike platform just yet, but that is only a matter of time. This company specializes in on-demand sports content in the virtual reality world. Broadcasters and teams can deliver immersive live sports viewing experiences. The platform powering this concept has been developed already and the company conducted a successful trial by broadcasting an MLS Cup game in VR on December 10, 2016. Livelike has raised $5.91m in funding so far, with US$5.01m coming in through their September 2016 Series A funding round.

2. Matterport

One of the more intriguing companies in the VR scene to keep an eye on comes in the form of Matterport. The company’s business model revolves around creating realistic 3d models of the world around them. Their technology will herald a new era of engaging photography that keeps costs to a bare minimum and provides a lot of convenience at the same time. Matterport raised $61m over the course of 6 different funding rounds and even acquired the Virtual Walkthrough company for an undisclosed amount in July of 2016.

1. Lytro

It has to be said, Lytro has been quite successful when it comes to raising large amounts of funding over the past few years. In fact, they raised $210.75m in 6 rounds, with the Series D funding, bringing in US$60m in February of this year. The company expanded into virtual reality as of 2015, with a strong focus on cinematography and industrial applications. All of their efforts are powered by the company’s proprietary Light Field imaging technology.

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What is Simulator Sickness?

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vr simulation sickness

Although a lot of people are very excited about virtual reality, the technology also has its drawbacks. Simulator sickness is a very real problem affecting hundreds of people who venture into VR. As a result of this experience, VR users will suffer from symptoms very similar to motion sickness. The technology will need to overcome these issues before virtual reality can go mainstream, that much is certain.

Do Not Underestimate Simulator Sickness

People who venture into the world of virtual reality for the first time will often suffer from nausea and sweating. That is only normal, as our bodies are not used to wander around in virtual reality and experience a brand new interactive environment that responds to everything we do without being “physically there”. Other side effects of simulator sickness include postural instability, drowsiness, disorientation, and sometimes even apathy.

The bigger question people have is why simulator sickness occurs in the first place, especially when dealing with a virtual reality environment. There are quite a few theories floating around regarding this occurrence, although sensory conflict seems to be the most logical explanation at this point. When entering a simulator, it takes some time for our senses to get used to the new environment.

In fact, one could argue the mainstream adoption of virtual reality will provide valuable insights into simulator sickness as a whole. As strange as that may sound, scientists want to figure out how simulator sickness occurs and how it can be addressed moving forward. That being said, certain conditions have already been identified as factors that will influence the occurrence of simulator sickness, especially in the virtual reality world.

So far, it appears the refresh rate of images in a simulator can easily throw off the brain. To be more specific, if this refresh rate is slower compared to what the brain processes, the user may perceive glitches resulting in motion sickness. Moreover, the resolution on animation experienced within a simulated environment can also cause the simulator sickness. Poor animation combined with graphics not keeping track of users’ head movements can lead to a very uneasy feeling, to say the least.

Luckily, it appears newer generations of technology induce less simulator sickness than before. This is evident in the virtual reality world,  with more powerful head-mounted displays being able to address discrepancies related to refresh rate, poor animations, and tracking user movements. Do keep in mind there is still a very long way to go before simulator sickness becomes a thing of the past, though.

In the end, it is important to note anyone in the world can experience simulator sickness. There is no viable way to prepare for being thrown into a simulated environment, as everyone’s brain responds to these impulses in a different manner. Especially people who venture into virtual reality for the first time are more susceptible to experiencing simulator sickness, although future generations of technology should – hopefully – be able to address these concerns.

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Head Tracking vs Eye Tracking

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tracking eye vr
Photo: getfove

What makes Virtual Reality so immersive is how it tracks and responds to our motion. The traditional VR headsets like the HTC Vive and the Occulus Rift track the motion of your head and adjust the image as necessary, however there is another class of VR headsets which track eye motion.

Your Eyes Become Weapons

With Eyetracking technology you can turn into Cyclops and shoot lasers wherever you look. The technology uses the reflection of infrared light off the user’s eyes in order to track their line of sight. Combined with head tracking, tracking where one looks can create a much more immersive environment.

While playing Paranormal Activity with my HTC Vive I would often find myself looking down in order to avoid facing some of the scary parts – or atleast alleviate the intensity of each encounter-. However, with eye tracking in place it would be impossible to avoid the scare traps set by the developers. Furthermore, imagine making eye contact with a character and it reacting to it directly, would be quite creepy for the newcomer.

While none of the top VR headsets have implemented eye tracking quite yet, it is evident the technology is in the works. If you are a developer or simply can’t wait to try out the technology check out FOVE. For $599 you can order a headset with the developer toolkit and immerse yourself in eye tracking VR.

Nothing Wrong With Head Tracking

Head Tracking is the bread and butter of every virtual reality experience, without it there is no way for VR to feel realistic. While eye tracking may bring another dimension to the experience, it may introduce a whole host of complications for developers which could further slow down game production.

Head tracking uses various components such as a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a magnetometer. Sony’s PlayStation VR even uses LED lights to track a user’s head as it utilizes a camera facing in the direction of the player.

Furthermore, with head tracking the software does not need to generate an expensive 360 degree FOV image, it can get away with generating a 100 degree field of view and change it based on the user’s head position.

It is no surprise that the amount of great content for VR is still pretty limited, the technology advanced so fast that the game developers still need time to catch up. There is still a long way to go before head tracking can be perfected and the VR content creators figure out the kinks in providing a great user experience.

For example, if you have limited space when playing a game and an alien is attacking you right where you are standing it may be awkward to look down and shoot because you would see the inside of the alien animation. That is just one example of the various bugs and artifacts that game developers have to figure out before eye tracking technology can be implemented.

In conclusion, while eye tracking technology can intensify the VR experience, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker when choosing the right headset.

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Everyone Can Now Check Out Drake’s Drizzy Manor in Virtual Reality

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One of the main selling points of virtual experience is how it immerses people in a different environment. In most cases, the average consumer wants to wander around different places and get an impression of the location in question. Celebrity homes are well-suited for this type of activity, by the look of things. In fact, one can now take a look around rapper Drake’s Drizzy Manor in virtual reality.

Gawking At Celebrity Estate In Virtual Reality

A lot of consumers enjoy their portion of gossip and looking how wealthy people live. This is why any news related to celebrities if gobbled up quickly by the masses these days. Virtual reality has its role to play in this regard as well since the technology would allow anyone to walk around a famous person’s home. Whether or not this will prove to be successful in keeping stalkers out, remains to be seen.

Drake, a well-known rapper, has opened up his Drizzy manor to anyone who owns a virtual reality headset. Toronto-based VR studio OPIATS is currently creating a virtual reality replica of Drake’s million-dollar home. Considering how this is a 21,000 square foot surface it will take a lot of work to create this virtual reality rendition.

As one would come to expect from such a mansion, it will include a basketball court, a huge pool, and a driveway for luxury cars. Additionally, a lot of people will be interested in checking out his kitchen, as it is something most mortals can only dream of right now. It is well worth noting this VR experience will be rendered in real-time by using the Unreal Engine 4. Speaking of which, creating VR renditions of existing places is an excellent use case for video game engines such as the Unreal Engine 4, to say the least.

There will be a lot of interactive additions to this virtual reality experience. Just walking around the property would not be so appealing, after all. Visitors will be able to pilot a drone, play basketball, record tracks, and even ride a hoverboard around the property, among other things. It is possible to take the tour on the Windows platform already, or by using the far less impressive browser version. OPIATS is currently still working on the full release for Steam, Oculus Home, and Viveport.

It is interesting to see concepts like these come to fruition, especially considering there does not seem to be a hefty price tag associated with the VR experience. OPIATS plans to explore the possibilities of video game engines to create virtual reality environments in the coming years, although they did not announce any specific future projects just yet.

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Top 4 VR Headsets

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top vr headsets

For those new to Virtual Reality, the amount of options available when it comes to choosing a headset an be overwhelming. This article will go over some of the top VR headsets on the market and how they compare against each other.

4. Google Cardboard

As the name suggests Google Cardboard is a simple cardboard box with a few lenses. Combine that box with your smartphone and the right app, and you can begin experiencing VR for only $15.

Obviously, you won’t have the same experience if you were buying a premium headset, but Google Cardboard is a great cheap alternative if you want to simply get your feet wet in the technology.

3. Sony PS VR

The Sony PlayStation VR is an affordable device which hosts dozens of games on the PS4. It requires the console itelf, a PlayStation Camera, and PlayStation Move Controllers to get the full experience. The VR packages range from $399 for the basic system, up to $499 for the full hardware.

Setting up the PS4 VR is a breeze since there it utilizes it’s camera to track lightpoints on the headset and the controller. The downside to that implementation is that using a single camera rather then multiple, means the VR software will loose track of you if you move too far away from the focal point of the camera. As a result, most PlayStation VR games reccomend that you stay in a single position either by sitting or standing.

If you have a limited amount of room where you plan to play VR, the PlayStation headset is perfect for you. It is both affordable and includes a great selection of games on the PSN store.

2. HTC Vive

The HTC Vive is a premium VR experience which comes at a hefty price. If you are looking for a high definition, a high performance, and a highly customizeable VR experience look no further. HTC Vive is partnered with Steam VR and allows you to play all types of games ranging from Horror, Driving, Action, and Sports.

The Vive does require a good quality GPU as it connects to your PC in order to deliver the VR experience. It comes with two controllers and two base stations which allow for a full scale experience. By mounting the base stations on opposite sides of the room one can turn an ordinary room to an extraordinary VR play station.

Setting up the platform can be a bit confusing when one first opens the box and sees dozens of wires, however online instructions make it pretty clear and pretty easy to get setup. If you are looking for a premium full scale VR experience, and own a decent gaming computer HTC Vive is a must have.

1. Occulus Rift

The Occulus Rift and the HTC Vive are direct rivals, the main difference being the Occulus is a bit more ergonomic and comfortable. Furthermore, the controllers have better touch sensors and have a pseudo-finger tracking technology. Coming in at the price tag of $499 you can’t go wrong with this product.

Furthermore, the Occulus rift was designed for 180 degree tracking, you can purchase a third sensor which would allow for the full 360 degree experience however it still doesn’t match Vive’s full room scale VR.

What the Occulus excels in, is the fast variety of content that is available for the platform. As the pioneer in the VR industry, the variety and quality of games that are available for the Rift are unbeatable.

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Google Extends WebVR Functionality To Cardboard VR Headsets

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google cardboard vr

Google has been working hard on making their VR solutions more accessible to consumers. Not only has the company launched a very affordable VR headset, but they have also implemented WebVR in the Google Chrome browser. To keep the momentum going, Google has introduced another update that allows the WebVR standard to be used by Cardboard headset owners.

Google Cardboard Becomes More Useful

Ever since the inception of the Google Cardboard VR headset, consumers have been waiting to experience more content in virtual reality. The headset requires users to put their mobile phone in the cardboard holder, allowing them to venture into the world of VR at a very low price. So far, this venture has worked out quite well, even though Google is always looking for ways to make their Cardboard headset more appealing to consumers.

In a new update, the technology giant has extended WebVR support to their Cardboard headsets. To be more precise, anyone using a Google Cardboard headset can now launch a VR environment without using a specific application. That is quite interesting, considering there is still a shortage of proper virtual reality apps on mobile platforms right now. While it is true that developing a virtual reality experience for mobile is neither cheap nor easy, one would have expected the market to be more competitive right now.

Moreover, extending WebVR support to Google Cardboard may entice more developers to venture into the world of creating virtual reality experiences. It is also important to note this new functionality will work on any phone, regardless of it being DayDream capable, which is a more than welcome addition. Users will still need an Android phone to use WebVR, though, as it does not work on iOS as of right now.

It remains to be seen how successful this new venture will be, though. Google Cardboard remains a very limited VR platform, even though things may turn around in the coming months. The fact WebVR does not work with iOS is a problem, though. Google Cardboard is mainly used by iOS users right now, which means this new feature will have less of a market appeal than the technology giant would want.

In the end, it is good to see Google has not given up on the Cardboard platform just yet. Anyone who does not own a Google Cardboard headset can make use of the WebVR functionality as well through the Google Chrome browser. All things considered, WebVR can be the convenient and affordable gateway into virtual reality consumers are looking for. It is now up to Google and other developers to build new experiences for Cardboard in the future.

Flipside is a Full-Fledged Animated Video Content Creation Platform In Virtual Reality

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Virtual reality is making a big impact on the consumer sector as of right now. Video games are seeing an influx of VR support already. Now it appears the very first virtual reality TV studio has been created, which goes by the name of Flipside. The goal of this project is to allow for the faster generation of animated programs.

Virtual Reality TV Studios Are Quite Intriguing

It is quite interesting to note The Campfire Union has successfully developed a VR environment specifically tailored toward video content creators. Particularly those individuals and businesses active in the world of animated video content will be able to reap the rewards from what this project has to offer. All it takes is a regular PC-based VR system to enter the world of Flipside.

This particular VR environment allows users to create animation shows and even watch them in real-time. Rather than dealing with somewhat boring video editing software, producers will be able to see their creations in a VR environment and make adjustments on the fly. Moreover, the creator becomes a live-acted character of their own creation in the process. Flipside is designed to accommodate both 2D and VR/AR content. It is worth mentioning all 2D content can be streamed to popular platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

Moreover, two separate shows have been created through the Flipside VR TV studio already. Super Secret Science Island focuses on two failed science experiments. The interesting twist is how the failed science projects will have to look for their original scientist on an abandoned island. It sounds like a whacky animation show, yet it goes to show how versatile the Flipside platform can be when it comes to creating unique content.

The second animation show to be created through the Flipside platform goes by the name of Earth From Up Here, as you can see in the video below this article. It is a weekly news program, but with a slight twist and in a very interesting setting. Once again, it is a testament as to how powerful this VR platform can be for content creators.

Animated video content has been a major success over the past few years. Projects such as Flipside can help in producing content faster and reduce costs at the same time. Virtual reality provides a lot of new opportunities for content creators to explore and experiment with. It will be interesting to see whether or not animation studios will decide to give the platform a try moving forward.