Field of view: Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell is leaving Facebook

Your weekly dose of news in virtual and alternate reality

This is Field of view, your weekly roundup of everything that has been going on in the virtual and augmented reality realms.

Aside from Snapchat's new AR-friendly Spectacles 3, a big name from Oculus decided it was time to leave the company now owned by Facebook. A major airline is putting VR in the skies while those immersive headsets have been making big strides in the health space.

Plus, there's a pretty big VR game launch that you're probably going to want to grab your headset for as well.

Essential reading: Best AR smartglasses to buy

If you're hankering for more stories, our dedicated news section is the place to be for all of the big wearable tech headlines. So, let's get into it.

Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell has announced he's leaving the company

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Nate Mitchell, the last of the co-founders still working at Oculus has announced that he's leaving the company. Mitchell's decision to depart is the latest in a bit of a chain of departures from Oculus's co-founders in recent years. Palmer Luckey left in 2017, followed by Brendan Iribe and Michael Antonov in 2018.

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Mitchell's announcement post on Reddit makes for sweet reading, and it will be interesting to see who steps forward to fill his shoes as head of VR product for Facebook. He's also been a public-facing figure for the business for some years, so will take some replacing. Mark Zuckerberg clearly sees VR as a significant part of his plans for Facebook, so don't expect this to check Oculus's progress.

BA brings immersive VR to the skies in trial run

Field of view: Oculus waves goodbye to its last co-founder

It's an easy sell, in some ways - even for business travellers, plane cabins aren't exactly uplifting environments. So, why not ditch the lacklustre 12-inch seat-back screen and go full VR?

BA has announced it's going to be trialling VR on flights from New York's JFK Airport to London Heathrow from now until the end of the year. It's even built bespoke goggles that will work regardless of whether you are sat upright or lying flat.

It doesn't seem likely that you'll be seeing this sort of thing in plain old economy class anytime soon, but this could be a tantalising glimpse of a more pleasant future for travellers.

VR can help reduce severe pain, study shows

Field of view: Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell is leaving Facebook

VR’s applications outside of culture are some of its most interesting. The potential to radically change how certain processes work is very much there, as demonstrated by new research from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

It organised a study in which some patients suffering from painful conditions were given access to a VR headset (the Samsung Gear VR, to be precise) and access to 21 immersive experiences. Each then used the headsets for 10 minutes three times a day. Their experience of pain in those periods was compared to other patients using guided meditation, watching TV or doing yoga. It found that the patients using VR reported an outsized reduction in their pain compared to the other techniques used. Interestingly, the more severe the pain people were suffering from, the higher the reduction in the pain when they used VR.

That’s a really promising indication for the future of VR as a feature of pain-mitigation treatment plans, although quite why VR works so well to ease pain is likely to be the site of further debate and research.

Try this: No Man's Sky Beyond is now completely playable in VR

Games developer Hello Games loves to roll out big updates to its sci-fi survival game No Man's Sky, and its latest patch brings the game firmly into the world of VR. You can now play the entirety of No Man's Sky in VR on PC and PS4, opening up a world of space travel and exploration.

The developer has redesigned almost all vehicles and inputs for the sake of VR control, and early signs are that it's a pretty transporting experience. There's nothing quite like a potentially limitless universe to sink your teeth into. The update is available now if you already own the game and want to get lost in that world with added VR.

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