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Two Major Nintendo Game Franchises Will Receive VR Support on the Switch

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TheVRSoldier Nintendo Switch VR Mode

Nintendo continues to push ahead with its VR plans. In a recent statement, the company confirmed VR support for Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Odyssey. This is a remarkable decision, but one that also makes business sense. This different type of gameplay can only be accessed through the Nintendo Labo VR kit. That unit is expected to go on sale in a week from today.

VR Support Comes to Nintendo Games

It is no secret Nintendo sees a lot of merit in VR technology. More specifically, the company recently announced its Nintendo Labo VR Kit. This unit costs between $40 and $80 and is expected to go on sale late next week. This unit will bring VR capabilities to the Nintendo Switch. It allows enthusiasts to play and create their own VR games using this platform. However, it will also enable VR functionality for existing Switch games, by the look of things.

In a surprise statement, Nintendo confirmed VR support is coming to two key franchises. Both “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Super Mario Odyssey” are slated to receive VR functionality in the coming days. The first game will be fully playable in VR, whereas the other will receive three additional mini-missions. It is a big gamble on behalf of Nintendo, as virtual reality isn’t on too many consumers’ radar at this time.

Without the Nintendo Labo VR Kit, this functionality will not be visible for users. While the kit costs a fair bit of money, the additional “game content” is provided free of charge. Depending on the success of these VR additions, Nintendo may implement more similar content for other key franchises. Developments like these can help put VR on the global map, albeit it will remain difficult to convince consumers in this regard.

How the community will respond to these offerings, remains to be seen. It is evident this move is primarily targeting a younger audience. However, the addition of VR content might make these games more appealing to players of all ages. Nintendo’s VR kit is also a lot cheaper compared to most VR headset son the market today. Despite the potential benefits, the company is still taking a big gamble on virtual reality in the end.


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SunExpress Taps Inflight VR as its VR Headset Partner

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movement vr

A few rather interesting trends involving virtual reality have come to surface recently. SunExpress is looking into ways to make inflight VR more mainstream. Anyone who flies with this Turkish airline can experience VR for an extra fee of eight euros. It is evident more and more companies will try to explore this innovative technology moving forward.

A Bold Move by SunExpress

Although SunExpress is not the biggest airline in Europe and Asia, the company notes its fair share of success. So much even that the company wants to experiment with different types of inflight entertainment. Using virtual reality headsets is one way of achieving that goal. Announced this week, the company has confirmed passengers can enjoy VR for a minor additional fee of eight euros.

The headsets in question will be provided by Inflight VR. That company has made a name for itself among European airlines in recent months. Their mission to revamp inflight entertainment on a global scale. So far, the progress has been rather notable, as SunExpress is its latest strategic partner. This also shows there is a genuine interest by airlines to explore this particular option.

Inflight VR CCO Raphael Baumann adds:

“We believe in the tremendous potential of VR to change the way passengers experience media, explore places and spaces, as well as in the added value and opportunities it creates for airlines to interact with customers in new ways and generate additional revenue streams.”

The main reason for this increased interest in Inflight VR’s services is the result of the company’s flexible integration options. At the same time, safety remains a top priority for the company and its partners. The recent trials with Small Planet Airlines, Iberia, and Star Alliance show other airlines are willing to put VR headsets to the test.


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Can the Valve Index Make VR Appealing to Consumers?

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standalone vr headset

A surprise announcement in the VR industry can create plenty of buzz. Valve surprised the industry by suddenly announcing its Index VR headset. With a tentative release date of May 2019, this new unit will go toe-to-toe with Oculus and Sony. How successful this headset will prove to be, remains a big unknown.

The Valve Index VR Headset

Big was people’s surprise when Valve put an image online of what appears to be the company’s VR headset. Known as the Valve Index, there are still a lot of unknown factors at this time, Most of the specs remain a mystery, and the price point has not been provided as of yet. More information is expected to be made available in May of 2019. A shipping date is expected near that period, although further details have yet to be revealed.

According to Valve, their new VR headset will rival both Oculus and PlayStation. The decision to release this product is rather unexpected. Valve has been working with HTC to build the Vive headsets. Additionally, they also incubate technology to power HTC’s headsets. Building a new product without HTC’s involvement seems like an unusual deviation from the norm.

Given the recent influx of VR headsets, Valve will be facing an uphill battle. Numerous units are available on the market today. Most of them are also priced fairly low, given the technical specs they provide users with. Once more information regarding this product is released, consumers will be able to make a well-informed decision.

This new product can be rather significant for Valve. As the company still tries to push adoption of SteamVR, this headset may lock more people into this ecosystem, However, consumers have shown a keen disinterest for virtual reality hardware in general, Even Valve’s involvement may not be sufficient to make VR seem more attractive to consumers at this time.


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Two Scientific Studies Show Viaiblity of Treating Autism With VR

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TheVRSoldier Motion Scikness Science

The potential number of use cases for virtual reality remains unclear. In the scientific sector, it seems a few new options are being explored. One option comes in the form of treating autism. Two separate studies have confirmed VR can be of great help in this regard. Especially where autistic children are concerned, major breakthroughs can be expected.

Treating Autism With Virtual Reality

Researchers at both Newcastle University and the University of Waterloo have high hopes for treating autistic children with virtual reality. It can aid in altering patients’ perceptions of time, which may be of great help when dealing with neurological disorders. Autism is just one potential disease to be treated. The same technique can be used for schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease as well.

Kinesiology post-doctoral fellow Seamas Weech explains:

“The ability to estimate the passage of time with precision is fundamental to our ability to interact with the world. For some individuals, however, the internal clock is maladjusted, causing timing deficiencies that affect perception and action. Studies like ours help us to understand how these deficiencies might be acquired, and how to recalibrate time perception in the brain.”

By making use of a specific VR “game”, the researchers were able to readjust people’s perception of time. As such, it could also affect the patient’s estimate of time by up to 15%. Proving the perception of time is flexible has proven rather difficult so far. Virtual reality technology can help recalibrate the perception within the patient’s brain accordingly. Although more research is needed, the preliminary results seem rather promising.

When two independent studies seem to confirm VR has potential in this regard, an interesting breakthrough has been achieved. once the necessary research has been conducted, the viability of this approach will be determined. Virtual reality is no longer just a consumer-oriented industry by any means. Breakthroughs in science and B2B can elevate virtual reality to a whole new level. It is these developments which may keep VR relevant for many years to come.


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No Man’s Sky VR is Free and not a Port of the Existing Game

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TheVRSoldier Sony PlayStation VR

Most people will readily agree virtual reality is a medium designed primarily for video games. Without games across multiple platforms, the consumer interest in VR would be even more lackluster than it is today. No Man’s Sky, a game which has finally entered a playable state a few months ago, will now receive a VR “update”. Exploring space in an immersive environment is something plenty of people will give a try.

Playing No Man’s Sky in Virtual Reality

Video game enthusiasts will remember when No Man’s Sky launched. This game had a lot of initial promise, yet it took the developers over a year to turn it into a decently playable game. Now that No Man’s Sky is effectively being talked about in a positive manner, the developers are looking for ways to improve upon the existing gameplay. The next step is introducing support for VR-based gameplay, which will put a completely different spin on exploring space.

This upcoming change was introduced during Sony’s first PlayStation State of Play. Although no official release date has been announced at this point, it is expected to be launched fairly soon. It will also be made available free of charge to players who already own the game. This is a pretty interesting turn of events, although it is only the right course of action. The VR “makeover’ will also be made available to Steam VR users over the course of this Summer.

Although the VR update will be introduced, it is not necessarily required to enjoy the game in its current form. While it will improve upon the first-person perspective of the game, users can still explore space without wearing a VR headset as well. The VR update is part of No Man’s Sky Beyond, which will introduce a lot of additional functionality to the game. How this new functionality will affect the multiplayer aspect of the game, will be interesting to keep an eye on.

It is also important to note No Man’s Sky VR is not an extra game mode being introduced. Instead, the entire game will be brought to life in virtual reality for those who want to explore it that way. It is good to see the developers offer a true experience instead of “porting” the existing game. The developers also have high hopes this game will blow all other VR games out of the water in terms of immersion and fun factor.


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Alibaba Acquires Infinity Augmented Reality in VR and AR Push

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erleben experience

The future of virtual reality still remains relatively uncertain. Despite the involvement of major companies, the technology still isn’t catching on in the consumer segment. Alibaba’s recent acquisition of Infinity Augmented Reality may help change that fact. Both companies have been collaborating since 2016m allowing them to work on AR, computer vision, and AI projects.

What is Alibaba Planning for VR and AR?

A new chapter is written in the Alibaba – Infinity Augmented Reality book. After multiple years of successful collaboration, the giant has successfully acquired this VR startup. Although the Israeli firm is best known for its AR glasses, they seem to tackle VR aspects and use cases as well. Their current model of glasses allows developers to integrate augmented reality into their applications. For some time now, experts have predicted AR will overtake VR fairly soon.

It now appears Alibaba is thinking along the same lines. Although the firm is looking at AR, VR, and mixed reality alike, this is a decisive step in the right direction. Their main objective in the past year is to incorporate virtual reality into its native e-commerce platform. By acquiring this startup, the goal is to double down on these efforts over the coming months and years.

Alibaba’s Israel Machine Laboratory head Lihi Zelnik-Manor adds:

“Alibaba is delighted to be working with InfinityAR as one team after three years of partnership. The talented team brings unique knowhow in sensor fusion, computer vision and navigation technologies. We look forward to exploring these leading technologies and offering additional benefits to customers, partners and developers.”

More specifically, the InfinityAR team will work at Alibaba’s Israel Machine Laboratory. What their exact task will be, has not been disclosed at this time. As the Laboratory works with universities around the world for video analysis and machine learning purposes, a lot of potential use cases can be explored. This new acquisition shows there is a future ahead for virtual and augmented reality. What that future will look like, has yet to be determined at this point.


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New Nintendo Labs kit Offers Templates for Creating VR Games

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TheVRSoldier Nintendo Switch VR Mode

In the world of virtual reality, a few interesting developments are taking place. Nintendo labs has shown a keen interest in exploring VR opportunities. Their latest Labo kit now lets users create their own virtual reality games. It is a different take on getting people more excited about this technology. Whether or not this will be beneficial to the VR industry as a whole, remains to be determined.

Nintendo Labs Tries a Different Approach

It is commendable to see Nintendo try something different when it comes to virtual reality. More specifically, the company has released a new Nintendo Labo kit. This cardboard accessory line for the Switch has been well received by the community so far, although there is always room for further improvements. It is also a  viable attempt by the company to transforming “isolative” VR into a more engaging industry as a whole.

As part of this renewed effort, it would appear as if the main objective is to ensure people pass their VR headset around more often. So far, six Toy-Con creations can be made, which will offer different kinds of experiences to its users. Ranging from a blaster, to a camera, and a pedal, there are many different options to explore. The new goggles are made of plastic and glass lenses, which can be combined with the IR stickers and rubber bands.

What is also rather interesting is how all of these games which can be created work both within VR and outside of virtual reality. Although that may appear to be somewhat counterproductive first and foremost, the end result is rather promising, all things considered. By being able to create for VR and also being able to play the creations outside of virtual reality, the Nintendo Labs kit will get more people excited about creating games. As such, it seems beneficial to the VR industry both in the short and long term.

According to official statistics, it would appear several dozen additional minigames are built within Toy-Coin Garage. Most of these games will serve as a starting point for aspiring developers. With these templates already as part of the package, it would appear there are plenty of options to explore moving forward. Nintendo seems to be on to something in terms of getting more people excited about virtual reality.

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The Oculus Rift S Comes out This Spring and Costs $399

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occulus facebook
Photo: Kotaku

In the virtual reality industry, there is a strong focus on current and future hardware. Facebook recently introduced the Oculus Rift S. While there was some concern regarding this unit, it seems the device providers everything users had hoped for. It is clearly an upgrade for PC users, and there is no external sensor requirement.

The Oculus Rift S is a Game Changer

It is commendable to see Facebook not give up on its VR headset dreams. While the Oculus Rift S is a powerful device, convincing consumers will remain somewhat difficult. Despite the advanced features and improved experience, virtual reality remains relatively unappealing to most people. However, these updates also show there is still plenty of progress to be made in this industry. Once units begin shipping in the Spring of 2019, it will be interesting to see if consumers show any genuine interest.

Among the new features are an improved display resolution, inside-out tracking, and no further need for external sensors. It is a co-creation between Oculus VR and Lenovo. While it is an upgrade tot he original Rift, it is not necessarily a mandatory upgrade for owners of the first iteration. Users who want to benefit from a higher-quality VR experience may want to check out the device. Additionally, the improved ergonomics will undoubtedly get some fans excited as well.

It is also worth noting the Oculus Rift S is “backward compatible’ with content created for the regular Rift. There are no major PC requirement changes, as both devices seem to have the same requirements for the most part. That is a smart decision by the company, as no one enjoys shelling out even more cash for a device they might not even need. The built-in tracking system is similar to the one of the Oculus Quest.

It is expected the Oculus Rift S VR headset will cost $399. That is not a low price, but it is not necessarily the most expensive unit on the market either. There may very well be a surge in second-hand original Oculus Rift headsets being sold through auction sites and the likes. That unit will still be supported by Oculus moving forward, although it is evident the new unit will get most of the attention in the near future.


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Microsoft Brings OpenXR to Windows Mixed Reality Devices

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TheVRBase Windows Mixed Reality Boring

Microsoft seemingly has big plans for VR, AR, and mixed reality. As part of this ongoing effort, the technology giant has introduced OpenXR to Windows Mixed Reality. The main purpose of introducing this new standard is to facilitate the porting of VR apps and games between different platforms. If successful, a far more versatile ecosystem will be created in the process.

Another big Step Forward by Microsoft

It is evident competition in the VR and AR industry will only work for so long. Instead of opposing other manufacturers and content creators, creating a cross-platform solution will yield far better results in the end. Microsoft confirms this is the right approach at this time. By adding OpenXR to its Windows Mixed Reality devices, the porting of VR offerings between platforms will become a lot more straightforward.

Unlocking the true potential of virtual reality will remain an ongoing challenge first and foremost. Despite a growing ecosystem, both the software platforms and hardware tend to make mass adoption virtually impossible. As some games and apps are exclusive to certain types of hardware, it is far better to create a more robust ecosystem all around. Removing the “dodgy workarounds” is also a good way to bring more legitimacy to the VR ecosystem as a whole.

For those unfamiliar with OpenXR, it is a royalty-free platform standard which lets developers create apps and games. However, these creations will work on any specific type of hardware, as well as ensuring they are cross-compatible. In the long run, this helps developers save a lot of time. They no longer need to rewrite apps and games for every individual platform. This is made possible thanks to OpenXR’s API and device layer.

Although Microsoft is enabling this solution, the OpenXR standard is a collaboration with Sony, Google, and others as well. One notably absent company is Apple, even though they too have an interest in VR and AR at this time. Whether or not the technology giant will join this initiative, remains to be determined at this time.


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VR Startup Co-founder Spent an Entire Week in Virtual Reality

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TheVRSOldier Dreamscape Immersive

The impact of VR technology on the human body and mind remains unclear. Prolonged exposure to new technology often yields negative long-term consequences. One individual recently spent a week in VR without any breaks in between. A very dangerous concept, although it seems to be quite “enjoyable” for some.

Don’t Live in VR Just yet

When virtual reality headsets were first introduced, many people had high expectations. It is an immersive technology which allows people to get lost in VR without too many problems. Fast forward to today and the average consumer is still not convinced this technology is worthwhile. Jak Wilmot, co-founder of StudioDisrupt VR, thinks otherwise, as his recent experiment confirmed.

While there was no reason for this trial, he spent 168 hours immersed in virtual reality. By doing so consecutively, he took serious risks in terms of physical and mental health. He also went as far as streaming this exercise over the internet for everyone to enjoy. It is evident this got a lot of attention, although there are still some serious concerns over doing so. Researchers remain on the fence as to whether or not prolonged exposure to VR can be problematic.

By actively working, eating, and exercising in VRm Wilmot had a very different VR experience compared to most individuals. While sleeping with a VR headset will remain problematic for the foreseeable future, the overall experience was not that bad. There are many things to do in VR to keep one occupied. However, most of these tools and experiences are far from perfect.

Surprisingly, Wilmot has not experienced any physical side-effects. Although some dizziness was to be expected, the transition back into the real world was less jarring than expected.  That doesn’t mean everyone else should attempt to replicate this experiment, but it can seemingly be done. Until VR technology and content matures, however, efforts like these will luckily remain an exception rather than becoming the norm.


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