This week’s (5/24/17) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (5/24/17) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

1)WATCH YOUTUBE IN VR… WITH YOUR FRIENDS!

With over 1B of hours of video content watched per day, YouTube certainly has quite the content as well as community-- and the next update to Google’s Daydream platform will make a solid social one-two punch of the two. Later this year, you’ll be able to watch YouTube content in VR and be able to chat with your friends--  and you’ll all be customized avatars. This announcement is hot on the heels of the release of Facebook’s social VR push with Facebook Rooms, and there are already plenty of social VR applications out there (like Rec Room, VRChat, Altspace, and High Fidelity, just to name a few)... but YouTube certainly owns the giant gorilla in the room: a robust library of content.
Related Stocks: Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG), Facebook, Inc. ($FB)

 

2)...AND GOOGLE LEANS INTO SOCIAL SHARED VR EXPERIENCES

You’ll soon be able to broadcast your Daydream VR experiences to a Chromecast device or a smart TV, so that your friends can watch on the VR on the big screen while being in the same room. You’ll use your remote to pan around the 360 video on your flatscreen (which is, admittedly, nowhere near to the experience in a headset), but this will also support live 360 video--  which will probably be pretty cool to watch content like live concerts or sporting events.
Related Stocks: Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)

 

3)NO MORE FALLING OVER CORDS WITH UPCOMING WIRELESS HEADSETS

The race for standalone headsets is officially heating up. Google recently announced that they are partnering with HTC Vive and Lenovo to build new wireless headsets which we can look forward to later this year. The devices will use positional tracking (which will not require any external sensors) developed from expertise learned through creating Google’s Tango mapping technology and optimized for virtual reality. They are calling this VR-specific positional tracking WorldSense, and the headsets will also utilize the current Daydream Bluetooth remote so you can control your virtual world… with no cords to trip over!
Related Stocks: Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG), HTC Corporation ($2498.TW)

 

4)THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE DISAPPEARING STORY APPS CONTINUES

It’s almost predictable at this point-- as soon as Snapchat announces something, Facebook has to roll out something similar either through its native Story function or through its Instagram property. Snapchat recently announced more options for advertisers through its new Sponsored World Lenses features, which allows brands to augment your surroundings with your phone’s outward facing camera (first used by Warner Bros. to promote their movie “Everything, Everything”). Then, like a soap opera, the very next day Instagram announced face filters that will augment your face with crowns, sparkles, and koala and bunny ears… taking yet another play directly from Snapchat’s book.
Related Stocks: Snap Inc. ($SNAP), Facebook, Inc. ($FB)

 

5)INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP

The beloved Austin, TX-based virtual reality content studio Owlchemy Labs has been acquired by Google. Makers of Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality and Job Simulator (which earned $3M in sales), it seems like Owlchemy will continue releasing the slate of original games already in their pipeline and will be able to distribute that content on platforms other than Google’s Daydream. The financial details of the purchase has not been disclosed.
Related Stocks: Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)

 

UK-based startup Improbable has raised $502M in a Series B funding round led by SoftBank of Japan-- which puts the company in the $1B+ tier of tech company valuations. Founded in 2012, the company’s mission empowers developers to build enormous and detailed environments utilizing machine learning and distributed via cloud computing infrastructure.

 

San Francisco-based Vivid Vision has raised a $2.2M seed round to expand its vision-correcting virtual reality software program, which currently is available at more than 90 clinics and has treated more than 6,000 patients for ocular issues like amblyopia (sometimes referred to as “lazy eye”). The company was founded in 2014 by a programmer named James Blaha who suffered from amblyopia his entire life and suddenly found himself seeing in 3D for the first time when experimenting with an Oculus Rift developer kit. The Venture Reality Fund, CRCM Ventures, SOS Ventures, Anorak Ventures, and Liquid 2 Ventures (fun fact: Liquid 2 Ventures was co-founded by NFL great Joe Montana) participated in this seed round.

 

...and just a few more

 

UPLOAD VR SUED OVER “RAMPANT” SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IN THE WORKPLACE & WRONGFUL TERMINATION

LET’S PROVE THE FUTURE IS FEMALE AND ALTER REALITY

MICROSOFT’S UPCOMING MOTION CONTROLLERS

MICROSOFT SHOWS OFF A NEW AR GLASSES DESIGN

WEIRD OR AWESOME? OR JUST GROSS: HAPTIC SKIN

WHAT THE CLUCK? CHICKENS IN VR

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TO LIVE STREAM IN VR

INTEL TO LIVE STREAM THE PGA TOUR IN 360

BJORK DIGITAL COMES TO LA

MICROSOFT GETS PATENT FOR AR GLASSES THAT WILL TELL YOU TO STOP EATING

THE HEAD OF GOOGLE VR OPENS UP ABOUT THE PATH OF THE INDUSTRY

This week’s (5/10/17) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (5/10/17) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

1.) SNAPCHAT PATENT POINTS TO AUGMENTED SPECTACLES CONTENT

Filed all the way back in 2015, Snapchat’s patent for an augmented reality database has finally been published. Although companies often file patents that go unused, it points to how Snap, Inc. is thinking about the next steps for how people will publish content captured with Spectacles. Although the trendy product’s surprise rollout via a Snapbot treasure hunt was marketing gold, their functionality is limited: they just record 10 seconds of video. By using a GPS-based system that gauges your location, the system would pull from an existing database to add 2D virtual objects to your videos and photos taken with Spectacles. We can’t wait to see if (when?) Snap, Inc. is able to shrink the form factor to add a display to Spectacles, so you can make your surroundings spicier just by looking through your Specs.

Related Stocks: Snap Inc. ($SNAP)
 

2.) OCULUS STORY STUDIO SHUTS DOWN, BUT MONEY GOES TO THE CREATORS

Facebook has shut down its internal VR production arm Oculus Story Studio. Creators of phenomenal early VR cinematic pieces like Lost, Henry (which won an Emmy!), and Wesley Allsbrook’s Dear Angelica, it seems that the studio’s purpose was to be an example of how to make great non-gaming content. Now that the industry has caught up a bit, and there are plenty of hungry and talented VR creators out there, Facebook is earmarking $50M to fund other people’s projects. “We’re now entering the next chapter of VR development, where new creators enter the market in anticipation of adoption and growth, and we’ve been looking at the best way to allocate our resources to create an impact on the ecosystem,” said Oculus’ VP of Content Jason Rubin-- who will be the one allocating those funds. Speaking of funds…

Related Stocks: Facebook, Inc. ($FB)
 

3.) OCULUS SAYS YES TO YEAR 2 OF VR FOR GOOD

Oculus is funding their VR for Good and Creators Lab programs for the second year in a row (and will be supported by that $50M which Facebook earmarked for externally developed content). VR for Good brings new creators to different global causes to highlight the need for social change and tell the stories of specific missions. Some highlights from 2016’s program are See Beyond Labels (Sarah Hill and Story UP Studios with Kamal Sinclair from Sundance New Frontiers) and One Eighty (Erin Aksu + Commonwealth Rights Initiative with Jess Kantor, indie filmmaker). Applications are open until May 15th, so sign up now!

Related Stocks: Facebook, Inc. ($FB)
 

4.) CONGRESS GETS INTO VR… AND MILWAUKEE GETS SUED

If you’re concerned with the surrounding implications of VR and AR on our society, now you know who to call: The Reality Caucus. Formed by 5 members of Congress, the initiative is focusing on sharing information between Congress and the U.S. tech industry. The Caucus specifically calls out privacy and intellectual property as areas of concern, as well as heat mapping analytics and biometric data as particular examples. No word on how they’re thinking about free speech-- which is one thing that an AR company feels Milwaukee is infringing upon with a recent ordinance that requires an interesting permit process for VR or AR apps (watch this story for legal precedents).

 

5.) INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP

In their Series B round, Ultrahaptics has raised $23M for their tech that utilizes ultrasound to essentially push vibrations to your hands--  resulting in a touchless interface that would let you feel like you were actually turning dials or flipping switches. One of the industries on which the company is aiming is automotive (control your dashboard with hand gestures!), and Dolby Family Ventures, Woodford Investment Management, Cornes and the IP Group participated in this round (which brings Ultrahaptics’ total funding to $40M).

Led by NVIDIA, a group of investors has funded fastdata.io with $1.5M for continued development on their real-time stream processing engine. Promising to increase processing speeds by three orders of magnitude while decreasing power requirements by almost 100%, these boosted efficiencies could potentially mean big things to VR/AR.

Absentia VR has raised $1.2M in pre-Series A from Exfinity Venture Partners and private investors to combine AI and virtual reality. The capital will be used to progress the development of Norah AI, which aims to create virtual reality content in the media and entertainment space with artificial intelligence (which gives an entirely new meaning to bot content).

Related Stocks: NVIDIA Corporation ($NVDA)

VRScout Report:: Highlights from Unity's Vision Summit

VRScout Report:: Highlights from Unity's Vision Summit

This week we cover Unity's Vision Summit and key highlights from the conference. We then feature a few hallway-style conversations with attendees, all of whom have different perspectives on the industry as well as varied takeaways from the expo. Featuring Brandon Bray (Microsoft), Matt Liszt (castAR), Niv Fisher (Racket:Nx), Berkley Frei (Morph 3D).au

This week’s (5/2/17) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (5/2/17) Top5 VR&AR news

1)IT’S NOW WAY EASIER TO COMBINE 360 VIDEO AND ANIMATION

Now you can easily integrate computer generated images and animations into your 360 videos, as well as create inexpensive interactivity. The process is simple, and creates two layers of spherical video played simultaneously. The 3D object layer is inserted, like the meat in a sandwich, between the two 360 video layers-- so now you can add dinosaurs to your real-life neighborhood park. Demonstrated live on-stage during the Unity Vision Summit, you can already try it out for yourself in the Unity 2017 beta.

 

2)THE STREAMING SERVICES BATTLE IT OUT IN VR: CRACKLE ANNOUNCES THEIR PLANS

Streaming services Netflix and Hulu have been in the VR space for a while (Netflix announced their app for Gear VR all the way back in the fall of 2015), and Sony-owned Crackle is attempting to catch up. You’ll soon be able to enjoy Crackle’s content on a flat screen in an immersive virtual theater environment, and the company has also announced VR content that will be companion pieces to their original content. The first one will star Rupert Grint (yes, Ron Weasley) and will take viewers deeper into the world of Snatch, Crackle’s original drama series. It will be exclusively distributed on PlayStation VR, and Crackle has also started production for VR experience for their original stop-motion animated series SuperMansion. Not to stop there, Crackle is also pushing to become the first VOD network to provide VR advertising opportunities-- which should be a solid argument for brands to release their immersive content on Crackle.

Related Stocks: Netflix, Inc. ($NFLX), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd ($005930.KS), Sony Corporation ($SNE)

 

3)NETFLIX LOOKS TO GET AUGMENTED

Although Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has publicly been dismissive of the VR/AR medium as anything other than a vehicle for video games, actions should speak louder than words: Netflix is now working on an app for the Hololens. You’ve been able to pop on a VR headset and watch any Netflix content on a flatscreen TV in a virtual living room for a year and a half, and according to a recent job posting you’ll soon be able to do the same with the Microsoft Hololens.

Related Stocks: Netflix, Inc. ($NFLX), Microsoft Corporation ($MSFT)

 

4)ICYMI: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM FACEBOOK’S F8 CONFERENCE

Facebook wants to convert their current 1.7B monthly traditional users into virtual reality users, but there’s a big challenge: how do you show someone without a VR headset what VR is? Well, a recent announcement addresses that very problem--  Facebook is releasing 360 video recording software to developers. This is how the software development kit will work: a developer adds the new plug-in to their game engine content, and then users can record their VR sessions… and post them to Facebook in the form of 360 videos. These 360 videos will show up not only in News Feeds, but you’ll also be able to relive the spherical virtual moments in a headset as well as viewable inside Facebook Spaces…

Now you can combine your virtual friends and your real world friends with Facebook Spaces. If you already have an Oculus Rift and Touch controllers, you can join the early open beta and dial in your parents via Facebook Messenger. Now, your parents can’t actually join you without a Rift, but you can have a Skype-style video call with them. A virtual call from Spaces will show up as a regular video Messenger call--  and then when your parents answer it, they’ll be able to chat with your avatar (whose cartoon mouth will be remarkably well-synced to your real yapper). Of course, your friends with Rifts can virtually join and you can share things like drawing in 3D, be immersed in a 360 photo or video together, show each other Moments or traditional photos, as well as take virtual selfies. Although Spaces is currently limited to only a few activities, and it’s only compatible with the Oculus Rift VR hardware, expect to see more virtual amusements as well as accessible hardware… eventually.

Perhaps a direct dig at recently self-professed “camera company” Snap, Inc., Mark Zuckerberg prefaced his recent Facebook Camera Effects announcement with some pointed words: “when you look around at all of the different cameras that are out there today, no one has built a platform yet.” In a possible direct move against their upstart competitor, Facebook has announced their Camera Effects suite with two major tools. The first tool is their “open platform” AR Studio (now accepting developer applications), which is similar to Snapchat Lenses and is a toolset for 3D artists to make augmented reality integrations to photos and videos. The second tool is called Frame Studio, and empowers any Facebook user to design static overlays to visual media (as well as being akin to Snapchat’s Geofilters). Looks like everyone wants to be a camera company these days.

Facebook has released two new camera designs as impressive (and almost magical?) followups to their $30K reference camera blueprints that they released a bit over a year ago. The flying saucer shape of 2016 has been, somewhat regrettably, replaced with an all-seeing eye design for the x6 (6 cameras) and the x24 (you guessed it-- 24 cameras). The two designs will be licensed to a select group of commercial partners… and the x24 claims to shoot 8K with 6 degrees of freedom. 6DOF means that you can actually move around the image, and the camera was created with the help of a thermal imaging company FLIR. These babies should shake up the 360 video world… as well as the post-production industry.

Related Stocks: Facebook, Inc. ($FB), Snap Inc. ($SNAP)

 

5)THE INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP

Based in Helsinki, Finland, Vizor raised $2.3M in funding. Vizor is a virtual reality software company that has recently launched the private beta of its VR creation and hosting platform. It is aimed at simplifying the 360 video and WebVR experiences on websites or Facebook. The round was led the the Venture Reality Fund, with participation from Boost VC, Lifeline Ventures, and Sisu Game Ventures.

The music-focused startup The Wave has raised another $4M in capital, adding to a previous $2.5M raised last fall. Based out of Austin, TX, the company enables fans from all over the globe to attend virtual shows with friends and watch artists perform live. The company has released the beta version of its social VR platform on Steam Early Access, and the new round of funding has been led by Upfront Ventures, with participation from the Venture Reality Fund, RRE Ventures, KPCB Edge, and Greycroft VR Gaming Tracker Fund.

HP’s corporate venture arm has invested in the Venture Reality Fund, one of the most experienced funds in the VR/AR industry. Although the amount of the deal was not disclosed, the VRF’s co-founder and general partner Marco DeMiroz said they are “excited to have HP Tech as a key investor in our fund and look forward to working closely with their team to introduce new applications for corporate innovation and productivity, while enhancing the customer experience and product development.”

Related Stocks: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company ($HPE)

...and just a few more...

 

RIDLEY SCOTT’S PRODUCTION COMPANY LAUNCHES DEDICATED VR DIVISION, RELEASES ALIEN VR

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL LOVES VR

NOKIA AND LUCASFILM PARTNER FOR THE LAST JEDI VR CONTENT

NOW YOU CAN SHARE, SAVE, AND REMIX YOUR TILT BRUSH MASTERPIECES

JOHN LEGEND & BAOBAB STUDIOS TEAM UP FOR VR FILM

ADOBE IS WORKING ON NEXT-LEVEL ALGORITHMS FOR YOUR 360 VIEWING PLEASURE

YES, YOU’LL BE SCARED: UPCOMING WALKING DEAD VR EXPERIENCE CONFIRMED

APPLE HIRES AUGMENTED REALITY EXPERT FROM NASA

INTEL TEAMS UP WITH STANFORD AND CARNEGIE MELLON

GOOGLE’S JUMP START PROGRAM CONNECTS CREATORS WITH CAMERAS & RESOURCES

HUGGING AND SMELLING TREES… BECAUSE ART

This week’s (4/11/17) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (4/11/17) Top5 VR&AR news

1)HTC VIVE’S VIVEPORT LAUNCHES SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE

First launched back in September of 2016, Viveport is the app marketplace exclusive to the HTC Vive-- almost HTC’s answer to Oculus Home, if you will. Featuring a wide array of content, not just games, Viveport has released a subscription service. It seems that most early adopters (often hardcore gamers) have preferred Valve-owned Steam VR (which features mostly gaming content), but that could start changing. If you can now spend $6.99 a month and get unlimited access to 5 titles that are normally priced anywhere from $10 to $50, that could be an incentivize for users to give Viveport a try. Pay attention--  monetization models are a big experiment at this point, so a lot of people are taking notes on this one.

Related Stocks: HTC Corporation ($2498.TW)
 

2)PLAYSTATION CONSIDERS ARCADE ROLLOUT

According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, PlayStation is developing strategic partnerships to roll out a location-based entertainment play for PSVR like VR video game arcades. Despite the WSJ’s opinion that this tactic is a response to slower-than-expected sales, in February Sony disclosed that their sales numbers were on track to exceed their internal goal of 1M units in 6 months (and location-based activations were likely integrated into their strategy from the beginning). Although it does not seem that PlayStation is planning on owning and operating the facilities at this point, they have confirmed that a lot of new PSVR games are in active development from Chinese companies--  so expect to add more titles to your PSVR favorites like Resident Evil.

Related Stocks: Sony Corporation ($SNE)
 

3)SHAZAM IS STILL LISTENING, BUT IS LOOKING TO GETTING AUGMENTED

You know you’ve made it when your company name becomes a verb. Shazam’s initial audio focus as a music-identifying (and then selling) service has grown into an advertising-based revenue model. Shazam Codes (sort of a fresh twist on QR codes) rolled out a year ago and enable users to unlock games, deals, or other experiences. Now, they’re taking the embrace of the visual even further, and steering Shazam into augmented reality. The new CTO, Richard Sharp, has been brought on board to help develop and integrate AR technologies into the app, saying that they are “sitting on a goldmine of data…[and] can predict what’s going to be in the Top 40.” Their recent partnership with Snapchat lets you Shazam song from your friends’ snaps, and Snap, Inc. is also a company focused on AR development. You might imagine some fun ways that we can Shazam the world around us in the future… like through Spectacles, perhaps?

Related Stocks: Snap Inc. ($SNAP)
 

4)AMD WANTS TO GO WIRELESS

AMD has acquired Austin, TX-based wireless chip maker Nitero--  their IP as well as their team. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, this acquisition helps AMD catch up to competitors like Intel and Qualcomm (who already have their own wireless chip divisions). Nitero is quite involved in the VR/AR industry, specifically with headset manufacturers and Valve, and no doubt AMD will leverage those connections to their benefit. Along with the growing demand for wireless HMDs is the need for wireless chips, and with the combined strength of AMD and Nitero’s technology we might see enhanced VR performance. AMD has touted the need for higher resolution for photorealistic VR--  and while we won’t see 16K-level anytime soon, this is one step closer to the Matrix.

Related Stocks: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ($AMD), Intel Corporation ($INTC), QUALCOMM Incorporated ($QCOM)

 

5)INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP

San Francisco-based company Lightform came out of stealth mode with a $2.6M seed investment to continue development on a computer and 3D scanning device that enables you to quickly scan detailed scenes and turn any real-world object (like a building) into a screen without any distortion. Although this process is well-known as projection mapping, Lightform claims that this is the “world’s first computer for projected AR.” The seed round was led by Lux Capital and Seven Seas Partners, with participation from the National Science Foundation and angel investors.

Pasadena, CA-based data visualization and analytics company Virtualitics, Inc. has announced a $4.4M Series A funding round. The company combines VR/AR data visualization, artificial intelligence, natural language, and machine learning that empowers users to examine huge amounts of data in a shared virtual office and collaborative environment. The company boasts an impressive team, with stellar resumes ranging from NASA JPL to Deutsche Bank. The round was led by the Venture Reality Fund, and co-founder and general partner Marco DeMiroz says that the “company’s platform is truly transformative and can be applied to any industry that relies heavily on data analytics, representing tremendous market opportunity on a global scale.”

 

...and just a few more…

 

DID OCULUS GET SUED (AGAIN)???

APPLE SAYS VR IS WHY NEXT MAC PRO NEEDS MORE POWER

VR PORN COMPANY BADOINK SAYS 40% OF DOWNLOADS CAME FROM GEAR VR

OMNIDIRECTIONAL TREADMILL VIRTUIX IS NOW AN OFFICIAL HARDWARE PARTNER OF HTC VIVE

WANDER AROUND DRAKE’S FUTURE MANSION IN VR

YOU ARE A BAD DISTRACTED DRIVER, AND VR WILL SHOW YOU WHY

USING VR TO FIGHT DEPRESSION

SMURFS IN MIXED REALITY!!!

NISSAN + STAR WARS TEAM UP ON VR EXPERIENCE

IS GOOGLE WORKING ON A VR MUSIC APP? RECENT HIRE SAYS MAYBE

GORILLAZ 360 MUSIC VIDEO HIT 3M VIEWS IN FIRST 48 HOURS

This week’s (4/4/17) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (4/4/17) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

1)NEW SAMSUNG GEAR COMES WITH A MAGIC WAND

The upcoming Samsung Gear VR will boast a controller, operating sort of like a laser pointer (functionally similar to Google Daydream’s mobile controller but features a trigger). The launch date for the 2017 Gear VR and Controller combo is April 21st, and is priced at $129-- and the controller’s compatibility will be retroactive, meaning you can upgrade your older Gear VR headset with a solo controller for $39. The fancy new mobile VR hardware was not just a companion announcement to the anticipated Galaxy S8 and S8+ at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but will also be bundled with pre-orders of the S8 series. Samsung padded the deal with some sweet VR content partnerships (Ghost in the Shell, Live Nation, UFC, and Summer X Games) and launched the new Stories in 360 program as well. 

Related Stocks: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd ($005930.KS), Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)


2)THE GEAR 360 CAMERA JUST GOT CUTER… AND MORE COMPATIBLE

One of our favorite little consumer 360 cameras, the Gear 360 from Samsung just got smaller and more streamlined. The redesign brings the lenses closer together for a smoother stitch, and has become even more handheld with the base doubling as an integrated grip. If you’re an iOS user who has been left out in the cold, rejoice! The new Gear 360 camera will run on iPhone 6S and later iPhones running at least iOS 10.0, and you can live stream all your content to Facebook and YouTube. No word on pricing yet (they say it’ll be less than the original Gear 360, which was an approachable $350), but the cost of consumer 360 cameras is rapidly dropping and the market is getting quite competitive. 

Related Stocks: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd ($005930.KS), Apple Inc. ($AAPL)
 

3)FACEBOOK ROLLS OUT 360 DEGREES OF LIVE STREAMING GLORY FOR ALL

Outside of a few partnerships with select media publishers (shameless plug, at VRScout we teamed up with Facebook to do a 360 live stream of President Obama’s Farewell Address back in January), Facebook has kept its spherical live streaming capabilities out of the public’s hands… until now. Of course, although the social platform assures us that they will “continue to work with other manufacturers to integrate additional cameras,” right now the functionality is limited to a handful of partners: the newly announced Samsung Gear 360 (the upcoming 2017 version), Giroptic IO, Insta360, ALLie Camera, and more professional options like the Z CAM S1 and Nokia Ozo. For anyone live streaming in 360, Facebook caution that you’ll need beefy wifi to ensure quality of the 360 live streams, as well as titillated all the audiophiles out there: support for spatialized audio will be coming soon.

Related Stocks: Facebook, Inc. ($FB), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd ($005930.KS)
 

4)PALMER LUCKEY IS GONE FROM FACEBOOK

Ironically announced around the same time as the one-year anniversary of the consumer launch of the Oculus Rift, founder Palmer Luckey has left Facebook. The official statement is that Luckey’s departure was voluntary, and perhaps could just be part of a larger strategy overhaul to take VR mainstream that is being led by Hugo Barra (who led product for Google’s Android operating system). However, after the pro-Trump meme scandal broke in September (Luckey was secretly funding an online anti-Hillary Clinton troll group), Luckey was no longer seen in public, on Twitter, or even at the Oculus Developer Conference in the fall. That is, until he was the main defendant in the ZeniMax vs. Oculus trial (which led to $500M awarded to ZeniMax over alleged IP misappropriation). We don’t know exactly how Luckey’s exit really went down, but hey-- he’s 24 years old and is worth over $700M. He’ll be fine.

Related Stocks: Facebook, Inc. ($FB), Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
 

5)HOLOBUILDER GETS $2.25M INVESTMENT

German-American startup HoloBuilder has received a venture round of $2.25M from Tandem Capital and construction technology VC Brick & Mortar Ventures. Winning the Constructech 2017 Top Products award, HoloBuilder’s competition is companies like Autodesk and Bentley Systems and has been described as “having X-Ray vision for your building.” The program increases communication efficiency and reduces costs for general contractors by enabling speedy 360 degree on-site capture the building site, all supported by leading cloud software.

 

...and just a few more

 

FACEBOOK CONTROLS OCULUS VR’S PRIVACY SETTINGS… AND DATA

 

DID YOU LOOK AT A VR AD? HTC’S NEW VR AD SERVICE CAN TELL

 

FACEBOOK STEALS MORE PLAYS FROM SNAPCHAT’S BOOK

 

SCAR-JO PLAYS VR PICTIONARY & STARS IN GHOST IN THE SHELL VR EXPERIENCE

 

BEST VR AD YET? OSTRICH LEARNS HOW TO FLY

 

LEARN HOW TO ESCAPE A BURNING HOUSE WITHOUT BEING IN A BURNING HOUSE

 

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS BLOW MINDS W/ INTERACTIVE AR TOUR OF STADIUM

 

FORD BRINGING VR INTO THE SALES PROCESS

This week’s (3/28/17) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (3/28/17) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

1) BMW USES VR TO BUILD CARS FASTER & CHEAPER

Originally announced in the spring of 2016, BMW has been using VR to cut costs and expedite development. The German auto manufacturer evaluates design features in virtual reality before building prototypes in actual reality, using the famous high-quality physics-based rendering power of Unreal for the game engine and using the HTC Vive for the VR hardware. BMW has also baked in the ability for team members to interact together in the same virtual environment, no matter where they are in the world.

Related Stocks: BMW ($BMW.TI), HTC Corporation ($2498.TW

 

2) DISNEY USES VR FOR RESEARCH WHILE CEO SAYS WE’LL SEE AR AT THEME PARKS

Confirming theme park purists’ predictions that VR headsets are unlikely to be seen at Disney’s parks (at least anytime soon), CEO Bob Iger instead said that we can look forward to mixed reality attractions. Iger also said he spends his Tuesday afternoons wearing a some kind of head-mounted device at the Disney engineering lab (prompting speculation that he’s referencing their partnership with Magic Leap, which was announced back in June). To further mess with our minds, Disney Research just released a paper about their findings on human perception and motor skills… which reveals that Disney researchers have been using a VR system to observe how users catch a ball in real life.

Related Stocks: The Walt Disney Company ($DIS)

 

3) VR WILL LET YOU GET INSIDE READY PLAYER ONE

If you haven’t yet read Ernest Cline’s futuristic thriller novel Ready Player One, get on board. Not only does the book’s action mostly take place in a virtual reality world, but Steven Spielberg has been working on a film adaptation that we should expect in spring of next year. Now we don’t have just a movie to look forward to--  we’ll be able to get inside Ready Player One with VR. A new, strategic partnership between Warner Bros. Pictures and HTC Vive means that we’ll get multiple VR experiences related to the RP1 world, and this content will be available through Viveport, Vive’s Viveport Arcade (their platform for location-based entertainment, and will go on the road to meet us at big consumer events.

Related Stocks: Time Warner Inc. ($TWX), HTC Corporation ($2498.TW

 

4) THE SURVEY SAYS: PEOPLE LOVE THEIR VR DEVICE

A recent consumer sentiment survey shows that a majority of recent buyers of VR devices state that they are “very satisfied” of their device, and that the performance exceeds expectations. Interestingly enough, non-gaming content measured higher than gaming content and music and travel experiences were at the top of the stack. Digging into the numbers, 61% report that the device works better than expected, 89% said they were Satisfied or Very Satisfied, 85% believe their device was Good Value, and perhaps most unexpected: 90% of purchasers rated their device Easy or Very Easy to use.

 

5) INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP

Announced back in July of last year with $100M in cash, Vive X is a global virtual reality accelerator program that exists to fund and train startups in San Francisco, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Taipei. Starting off with a group of 33 startups, the program focuses on enterprise, commerce, education, health, social, and esports-- and the program just announced 30 additions to the program and a new location: Israel. This new batch of accepted companies brings the total of companies funded by the Vive X program to over 60--  establishing the program as one of the leading VR investors in the world.

Related Stocks: HTC Corporation ($2498.TW

...and just a few more

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ENTERPRISE-FOCUSED VR MARKET TO GROW TO OVER $9B BY 2021
 

DOCTORS IN OHIO USE VR TO TRAIN FOR TRAUMA CARE
 

PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS IN UTAH USE VR FOR TRAINING

AUSTRALIAN MINING OPERATIONS IMPROVED WITH VR/AR


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THE VOID GOES TO DUBAI


BE A FIGHTING ROBOT ON NEW VR ATTRACTION IN SOUTH KOREA


AMAZON MIGHT OPEN AR SHOPPING STORES


ADOBE PUTS THE HOLOLENS TO WORK IN RETAIL ANALYTICS


UK MOBILE NETWORK O2 TELEFONICA LAUNCHES MUSIC & RUGBY VR VIDEOS


WATCH NCAA MARCH MADNESS IN VR


GET GHOSTBUSTERS VR ON PLAYSTATION VR


SEPHORA UPDATES THEIR AUGMENTED REALITY BEAUTY APP


BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO STORYTELLING IN VR


STORE NO. 8 IS WAL-MART’S NEW VR/AR INCUBATOR


WILL WE HEAR FROM FACEBOOK’S SECRET HARDWARE TEAM SOON?


GORILLAZ RELEASE NEW MUSIC VIDEO, AND IT’S IN VR

This week’s (3/21/17) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (3/21/17) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

1)SAMSUNG KEEPS US ON OUR VIRTUAL TOES

The little engine that could, the Samsung Gear 360 has auto-stitched our spherical lives for almost a year. Samsung has revealed their next gen Gear 360 camera plans via an FCC filing-- and it looks to be shrinking a bit and getting a design refresh. Also remember: we’re soon going to have a Gear VR controller (it’ll be similar to Google Daydream’s controller, which operates like a laser pointer).

Related Stocks: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd ($005930.KS), Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
 

2)WHEN YOUR PHONE’S PACKAGING IS ACTUALLY A VR HEADSET

Brands have customized Google Cardboards for… well, as long as “marketing” and “virtual reality” have been in the same sentence (a year and a half, really). Now, the virtual ante is upped: Google is incorporating their VR viewer design into their phone packaging. The tech giant recently published a patent for a phone-shipping unit that is hinged, made of fabric components, and can accommodate your smartphone for VR video experiences. We don’t know if this will actually get made, but we’re sending smoke signals to the mobile VR gods.

Related Stocks: Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)

 

3)DAYDREAM HELPS YOUTUBE OPTIMIZE THEIR 360 VIDEOS

Two Google sister companies are getting cozier. Daydream, Android’s virtual reality platform, is helping YouTube explore more efficient ways to distribute 360 content on a 2D screen. YouTube released a VR app in 2016, and is now pouring resources into creating cleaner and more uniform resolution across ALL of its platforms. Clearly virtual reality and 360 videos are an important part of YouTube’s strategy: world domination through video.

Related Stocks: Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)

 

4)MAKE STUFF BETTER & FASTER WITH AUGMENTED REALITY

A Harvard Business Review Study says that augmented reality can help manufacturing efficiency in younger as well as aging populations. A recent comparison study from GE of a wind turbine repair test indicates that AR devices in industrial environments can improve performance by 34% on first use. This study is one of many that suggests VR/AR technologies is important in narrowing the skill gap between today’s tech-forward jobs and the available labor pool.

Related Stocks: General Electric Company ($GE)

 

5)INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP

Based in Sweden, audio company Dirac Research announced a $4.8M funding round to accelerate the development of its spatialized audio. Their Dynamic 3D Audio platform fixes sounds in space and mimics how human ears perceive sound: the audio comes from its location, which stays fixed regardless of how we turn our heads. Investors include the co-founder of Didner & Gerge fund management company, AAC Technologies from China, and others. Swedish music producer and songwriter Rami Yacoub also joined this funding round-- he’s worked with big names like Madonna, One Direction, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and Tiesto.

 

Smart car tech company WayRay has raised an $18M Series B round, with Alibaba as the lead investor. Look forward to a consumer version of WayRay’s augmented reality dashboard technology, called Navion, sometime this year. Also coming up: WayRay is partnering with Banma Technologies to create an AR navigation and entertainment system for a Banma car, as a joint venture between Alibaba Group and SAIC, reportedly sometime in 2018.

Related Stocks: Alibaba Group Holding Limited ($BABA)