THIS WEEK’S (12/12/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

THIS WEEK’S (12/12/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

VR/AR NEWS

Alongside the release of Ready Player One’s film trailer, a sequel to the book has been confirmed by author Ernest Cline. Regardless if you’re in the fanboy camp or not, the trailer looks fun and should satisfy your sweet tooth for pop culture references… but what’s up with star Tye Sheridan’s leg on the the movie poster?

 

An upcoming feature film, Speed Kills, is releasing a large amount of 360° companion content-- an entire hour (although it’ll be distributed as 8 episodes). Although the actual video itself is unimpressive (and John Travolta’s immersive media debut), I found it interesting as an example of how 360° production was integrated into the traditional production process.

 

Sony recently reported that they’ve sold 2M+ PSVR units (and 70M+ PS4 consoles), and over 12M copies of PSVR games. The Japanese company also launched a small trial of a home trial program that allowed PS4 owners to trial a PSVR and then purchase it for a discount (sorry, guys-- the 1,400 demo spots filled up fast). Sony is also reportedly beta testing a virtual reality theater roomthis week with Japanese users… starting with a screening of Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale. // Related Stocks: Sony Corporation ($SNE)

 

Sundance just announced their immersive lineup for the New Frontier Program, including live performances and 20 VR/AR experiences… and two Artificial Intelligence-related creative projects, a first for AI at Sundance. Some pieces we’re looking forward to are SPHERES: Songs of Spacetime by Eliza McNitt and Chorus from Tyler Hurd and Chris Milk, Megan Ellison, and Justice. Want to dive into the highlights from Sundance 2017? Listen to Ep. 43 of the VRScout Report podcast here.

 

INVESTMENT WRAPUP

CrossCut Ventures raised $125M to invest in esports and gaming, including VR and AR startups in that space. After returning 4x from their $5M initial round in 2008, this is the fourth seed fund for CrossCut-- and this $125M new fund is bigger than combining their 3 prior funds together, indicating the hot interest in the sector.

THIS WEEK’S (12/05/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

THIS WEEK’S (12/05/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

VR/AR NEWS

Oculus Go, the standalone VR headset from Oculus, just started shipping to developers. First announced in October, the Oculus Go is an all-in-one headset-- meaning no mobile phone or high-end PC is required. It’s priced at an approachable $199 and will be shipping to consumers sometime in “early 2018”. It’s nice to know that developers are already getting started. // Related Stocks: Facebook, Inc. ($FB)

 

Google recently announced Poly, their library for 3D assets (that you can populate with models created by Google’s VR creator tools like Tilt Brush and Blocks). Now, they opened up Poly’s API-- so you can use Poly models across different applications, from game engines like Unreal and Unity to VR apps like Mindshow and TheWaveVR. It looks like more progress on Google’s quest to be an immersive computing service provider and platform.  // Related Stocks: Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)

 

Google launched Daydream Impact, an initiative teaching impact-focused organizations like the Eastern Congo Initiative how to create 360 video and loaning them equipment to get it done. But that’s not all-- Google also released a FREE 360 video training program on Coursera.   // Related Stocks: Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)

 

The Dutch government spent almost $60K in funding the development of waterproof VR goggles, and here’s an unexpected use case… so-called “dolphin-assisted therapy,” where you float in a pool watching 360 videos of dolphins.

INVESTMENT WRAPUP

...Williams-Sonoma just paid $12M to acquire an immersive retail visualization company called Outward.

 

$1B has been invested in VR/AR startups in Q4 of this year (yes, December just started). Already the highest quarter for funding since 2016’s Q1, the majority of the capital went to two big rounds: $502M to Magic Leap Inc. in October and $200M to Niantic in November.

 

...and the HTC Vive X accelerator has invested in 26 more VR/AR startups, and expanded their global physical footprint to 5 locations: San Francisco, Taipei, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Tel Aviv. Vive X is a $100 million program that started back in 2016, and already 80+ companies have participated.  // Related Stocks: HTC Corporation ($2498.TW

THIS WEEK’S (11/28/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

THIS WEEK’S (11/28/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

Crazy experimental humanoid robot uses VR, Amazon launches Sumerian (a big bad browser-based tool for building AR/VR experiences), Facebook releases first game for social VR, virtual headstones could solve Hong Kong’s crowded cemeteries, investment & funding wrapup…

So many VR/robot mashups these days. Turns out Toyota has a Robot Division, and their new humanoid robot uses VR for remote operation. Sitting in a mech-like exoskeleton, as a “human operator” your movements are mirrored by the remote robot-- and you can virtually peer through the robot’s eyes via the HTC Vive. The guy in the video keep insisting that the robots are “friendly and helpful” so... let’s just hope they stay on our side?

 

The creation stakes just got raised. Releasing the loftily-named “Sumerian” -- an Amazon tool for making VR and AR experiences, the commerce giant has effectively made their gigantic sales funnel even bigger. The tool makes 3D creation easier and because Sumerian is browser-based this is a big vote of support for WebVR (and software giants like Unity might have just gotten a little more competition).

 

Remember the legend of first-mover advantage? Well, keep that in mind… Facebook just released the first (mini) game for Spaces, its Social VR platform-- a fishing game called Bait!. Facebook likely doesn’t want to become a gaming company, but they DO want to become the biggest casual gaming destination platform. They’re calling Bait! the first in a series of “casual” social games you can play with virtual friends… so it seems like it’s a great time for 3rd party developers to get creative.

 

...and in bizarre VR news? Immersive tech could help alleviate Hong Kong’s overcrowded cemeteries issue. As a densely populated city (almost 7.5M residents in 2016), sometimes burial services can cost over $130K. But why not spring for an augmented digital overlay of your headstone… anywhere you want?

 

INVESTMENTS

In the second half of 2017, entertainment investments in the VR/AR space rose by 79% compared to the same period in 2016 according to the immersive tech-focused Venture Reality Fund. Other highlights include global AR/VR investment of more than $2.3B, and enterprise investments are up by almost 70%.

 

Apple just bought VRvana-- makers of the crowdfunded (but not shipped) Totem VR/AR headset. Supposedly transitioning the opacity of visuals from augmented reality to full virtual reality, the HMD also purportedly uses infrared to read hand gestures… but Apple declined to comment on this one.

 

San Francisco-based AR startup Lightform raised $5M in funding to further progress on its device that turns projectors into augmented reality machines. The round was led by Lux Capital, with participation by Dolby Family Ventures, Anorak Ventures, Comet Labs, Presence Capital and CrunchFund.

THIS WEEK’S (11/21/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

THIS WEEK’S (11/21/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

This week Malia and Jonathan talk about China’s enormous billion dollar VR theme park, HTC officially announces its standalone VR headset for China AND cancels their standalone headset partnership with Google, become your favorite Justice League superhero at IMAX Experience Centers, Pixar releases its VR debut with Coco, and the investment & funding wrapup...

A new billion dollar VR theme park in China gives new meaning to the word enormous. Spanning 320+ acres, a $15M gigantic Transformers statue, the East Valley of Science and Fantasy (actual name) is estimated to cost almost $1.5B and also boasts an R&D lab for VR film and media. Intriguingly enough, there will also be a “VR restaurant”-- whatever that means.

HTC just unveiled the Vive Focus, its long-awaited standalone headset, along with new mobile VR platform Vive Wave… BUT only in China. HTC also cancelled its standalone headset that was supposed to use Google’s Daydream platform along with Google’s WorldSense positional tracking system. These are big indicators that HTC’s strategy could be to focus on Asia; for content platforms they already have Viveport for desktop VR and now Vive Wave for mobile VR. // Related Stocks:  HTC Corporation ($2498.TW)

IMAX and Warner Bros. want you to virtually jump into Justice League and step into the shoes of your favorite hero. Exclusively at IMAX locations for couple weeks, the VR experience will be released publicly in December. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be a superhero? // Related Stocks:  IMAX Corporation ($IMAX), Time Warner Inc. ($TWX)

Another big Hollywood name leaps into the VR scene-- Disney Pixar’s debut into immersive content accompanies their new film Coco. Pixar sees this as the evolution of social VR: the adventure can be shared by up to 4 people in the Oculus Rift and 2 in the Samsung Gear VR.  // Related Stocks: The Walt Disney Company ($DIS), Facebook, Inc. ($FB), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd ($005930.KS)

Beautiful and innovative-- this is next-level content marketing.

 

INVESTMENT WRAPUP

Seattle, WA-based Pixvana raised $14M in Series A funding for their cloud-based platform for VR video processing & delivery, bringing the grand total of capital raised to $20M. The round was led by Vulcan Capital with participation from Microsoft Ventures and others.

Palo Alto, CA-based GridRaster announced almost $2M in seed for their rendering infrastructure for mobile VR/AR. The startup uses cloud computing methods to improve graphic fidelity for mobile VR platforms, and is already working with Osterhout Design Group who make the ODG smartglasses.

THIS WEEK’S (11/14/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

THIS WEEK’S (11/14/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

This week we talk about the upcoming Harry Potter AR Game, new reports of Apple dialing up work on an AR headset, now you can type in VR with a VR keyboard, there’s a crowdfunding campaign for magic shoes with tiny VR treadmills, the investment wrapup, and more...

Niantic is behind AR success stories like Ingress and a little game called Pokémon Go… and will next augment your world with Harry Potter. No launch date yet, just a tease that we’ll be casting Expelliarmus! spells from our phone sometime in 2018. 

 

Adding more fuel to the Apple augmentation speculation, reports say that Apple wants to have a working AR headset in 2019 and ship to consumers as early as 2020. The release of ARKit in September built the software foundation for a future AR headset-- which reportedly will be running rOS… the “reality operating system.”  // Related Stocks:  Apple Inc. ($AAPL)

 

In case you have never tried typing with a VR headset on, spoiler alert: it’s hard. So-- VR keyboard to the rescue! Although not a consumer product quite yet, the Logitech Bridge combines a Vive Tracker with a real life keyboard so you can not only see a virtual version of your keyboard in your virtual environment but also your own positionally tracked hands. // Related Stocks: HTC Corporation ($2498.TW), Logitech International S.A. ($LOGI)

 

Who knows if this is real or not, but I sure hope it is: an Indiegogo campaign is raising funds for the Vortrex-- shoes to walk in virtual reality. Proposed by Jamie Hyneman (yes, the bearded and beret-wearing dude from the MythBusters show), they look like space roller skates with little wheels on the back heels and treadmills that look like elf-sized conveyor belts. No word on if the $50,000 crowdfunding goal covers insurance.

 

Washington, DC–based company Floreo just raised $2.1M in seed funding to battle autism with VR. Co-founded by a husband-and-wife team who were inspired by their autistic son’s reaction to VR, the startup currently has a couple of pilot studies. Presence Capital, GC VR Tracker Fund, Mixi’s i-Mercury Fund, COLOPL VR Fund, Schoolhouse Partners and Lifeforce Capital

 

Applications are now open for the WXR Venture Fund’s first Pitch Showcase on January 6th! The WXR Fund invests in startups in the VR/AR/XR industry who are committed to equal gender representation and provides community infrastructure to support women leaders in immersive tech. Visit www.womenxr.com to learn more.

 

THIS WEEK’S (11/07/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

THIS WEEK’S (11/07/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

This week we talk about Amazon's augmented shopping, Google launches new platform for sharing 3D objects called Poly, Billy Corgan made a VR music video with Tilt Brush and Blocks, Google's new "Resonance Audio" wants to give spatial audio to everyone, you can find a new Star Wars VR experience in select Nissan dealerships, and the investment wrapup..

THIS WEEK’S (10/31/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

THIS WEEK’S (10/31/17) TOP5 VR&AR NEWS

This week we talk about some of the best scary content out there, a VR experience just won an honorary Oscar, Jaunt launched their app on Windows Mixed Reality platform, a VR headset called Pimax just overtook the Oculus Rift as the most crowdfunded VR headset ever, and the WXR Fund (Women in XR) opens submissions to their inaugural Pitch Showcase on Jan 6th - https://womenxr.com/

VRScout Report: Discover the Best in Virtual Reality PLUS Interview w/ Cas & Chary, VR YouTubers

VRScout Report: Discover the Best in Virtual Reality PLUS Interview w/ Cas & Chary, VR YouTubers

This week's show features very special guests: two of our favorite YouTubers, Cas & Chary (@CasandChary), join us in the studio for an impromptu interview. We discuss some of the highlights of OC4, new and upcoming VR tools from Adobe, and the Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets. Based in the Netherlands, Cas & Chary were traveling in the U.S. so they swung by and shared some of their favorite VR experiences with us. Check their YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/CasandChary