Tech for your connected self

Field of view: Mozilla Hubs is a social VR space for everyone

All the happenings in all the realities this week

You take your eye off the worlds of virtual and augmented reality for a minute and suddenly you're out of the loop. That's where Field of view comes in handy, we prescribe reading this every week and you'll never get left behind in boring IRL land again.

On the site this week, we've been checking out Tribeca Film Festival's VR movies, which are leaving traditional Hollywood behind according to our fanboy on the ground. We've also updated our best Daydream apps and games story for all your mobile Googlers out there and done our darnedest to explain what augmented reality actually is.

Oh and don't miss the latest edition of Husain's VR diary where he tried (and fails) to replace regular cinema with VR alternatives.

Read this: News blips and tidbits

Mozilla's new VR hangout spot

There's a new player in social VR - or mixed reality as they call it - and Mozilla's Hubs could be a winner. It's just been announced as an early preview so expect it to be rough around the edges but the concept is strong.

It's a browser based, virtual meet-up platform that anyone can access - via support for all VR headsets (including 2018's incoming standalones), smartphones or desktop without the need to download a specific app or set up an account. You can voice chat, track your hands with controllers, pick up objects and move around the virtual space with custom spaces and customisation of the default robot avatars coming up. All super promising.

Field of view:

Apple's mixed reality specs will do eye tracking

Apple's AR smartglasses seem to be very much still game on for launch we just don't know when - the latest money is on 2019. The latest rumour comes from a patent spotted by Apple Insider that shows that Cupertino is looking into eye tracking technology for AR or VR headgear.

Read next: Best ARKit apps and games

Apple's 'Eye Tracking system' uses an infrared emitter and camera on the side of the glasses-type device - the IR emitter can then bounce light into the users' eyes via something called a 'hot mirror'; light then is reflected from the eyes back to the mirror and an eye-tracking camera.

The big deal here of course, compared to other attempts at AR glasses, is that none of the components need to be in front of the wearer's eyes so it won't obstruct the view. Whether or not this tech will make the first iteration is anyone's guess.

Disney's Research has built a Force Jacket

Coming soon (ish) to a theme park near you, Disney Research's latest crazy experiment into haptics and how we interact with games and entertainment is the Force Jacket. It's a pneumatic jacket that uses 26 air packets and corresponding tubes to inflate and deflate according to objects and obstacles you encounter in VR.

Clearly the aim is total immersion - touch or at least pressure is what's missing from many very cool VR experiences and Disney Research (together with MIT's Media Lab and Carnegie Mellon researchers) reckon it can simulate the feeling of say, a snowball being thrown at you. The feeling of hugs, punches and snakes coming towards you are also on the cards. This would be a neat addition to projects like its Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire The Void experience, which Husain tried out recently.

Field of view:

MLB Home Run Derby VR hits HTC Vive and PSVR

If you've got a Vive or PSVR headset, you can now slug some balls in Miami's Marlin Park, Cleveland's Progressive Park and Washington DC's Nationals Park via the MLB's new VR home run derby sim. There's also a 2D version for iOS and Android and VR set-ups at 12 ballparks around the US for fans to try the game out.

Watch this: VR in space

NatGeo is at it again with the first 3D VR film to be shot in space, part of its One Strange Rock project with Darren Aronofsky and Will Smith. We don't want to spoil it, but basically you hang out with astronauts in space sooo... Get it going on Google Cardboard, Daydream and PSVR or watch the 2D 360 YouTube version above.

Play this: Brickscape

Google just announced its shortlists for the 2018 Play Awards, its best of the best of apps and games on Google's platforms and Brickscape, a mobile AR puzzler from 5minLab built on ARCore, made the cut in the VR/AR Experience category. (Also in the mix and worth checking out are Baobab Studios' Asteroids!, Viro Media's Figment AR, Porsche Mission E and BBC Earth: Life in VR).

In Brickscape, blocks action moves to hover over whatever room you're in but the gameplay remains simple - slide the bricks left, right, up, down and rotate your view to get the core brick to the exit.


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