Hear that? That's the pregnant calm between an explosive week of VR news and the impending madness that is GDC. Next week is going to be great for VR fans.
On the site this week we've talked about Huawei's new VR camera, its first dip into the world of virtual reality. The camera can clip onto smartphones, supports live streaming, and can of course capture 360-degree video and photos.
We also heard word that Microsoft's HoloLens 2 may be pushed back to 2019 to make it better, while Samsung's C-Labs revealed a nifty pair of augmented reality glasses. Oh yeah, and Qualcomm has a new reference VR headset to make mobile VR better.
So, what else has been going on? Some pretty big stuff.
Read this: News bits and titbits
ZeniMax wants an injunction against Oculus
As you may know, game publisher ZeniMax Media was recently awarded $500 million from Oculus after a court found that the Facebook-owned subsidiary was guilty of copyright infringement and breaking an NDA over the Oculus Rift's technology.
At the time we speculated that ZeniMax could take things further with an injunction against Oculus, and according to Reuters that's exactly what it's now trying to do. The company is said to have filed a request this week to block Facebook/Oculus from using the code that was under examination, as well as asking for enhanced damages totalling $1 billion.
Now, it's hard to guess how this could play out, but if it were to be granted it could restrict the games that Oculus and Facebook are allowed to sell - remember that this code is already out in the hands of many developers and in some of the games on the market. It also has the potential to impact the sales of Oculus and Gear VR systems themselves, should ZeniMax get its request through.
Needless to say, it also has the potential to be a big blow to the nascent VR industry. Oculus had already told us it's appealing the initial verdict for $500m in damages.
Google mixes it up
We think mixed reality is going to be the one of the three Rs (virtual, augmented, mixed) that really goes mainstream, with its ability to blend the real and virtual together. One application of this right now is letting us see what a person in VR is experiencing - but of course, there's still the problem of that headset getting in the way.
Google has gone some way to solve the problem with its latest experiment, which removes the headset to let you see the player's expressions. Created as a collaboration between Google researchers, Daydream labs and YouTube Spaces, it first requires the participant to have a 3D model of their face created. Then Google uses a tweaked HTC Vive with eye-tracking tech to replicate the user's face movements and give the impression that the headset is see-through.
It's neat, if a little creepy. A "ghost" of the headset remains on the face of the wearer to dampen the weirdness a tad. You can read more on Google's research blog.
HTC announces Viveport awards
In December HTC announced the first Viveport Developer Awards, which would acknowledge the best VR apps and games featured on its software platform. HTC laid out a set of different categories, and the results are in. For each category, the first-place winners are as follows:
Explore: Apollo 11 VR, Immersive VR Education Ltd
Create: Fantastic Contraption, Northway Games
Connect: Cloudlands: VR Minigolf, Futuretown
Experience: Allumette, Penrose Studios
Community choice award: A Chair in a Room: Greenwater, Wolf & Wood Interactive Ltd
You can see the second and third place winners, and the runners-up, over on the Vive blog. It also serves as a handy list of games and apps you should try right now.
Play this: Psychonauts
Double Fine has resurrected the Psychonauts for a full sequel, but until we can get our hands on it we've got a virtual reality prologue/epilogue to get through. The new game, Psychonauts: Rhombus of Ruin, has just launched exclusively on PS VR and sits between the last game (launched way back in 2005) and the upcoming one. But don't be fooled into thinking this is some throwaway demo; Rhombus is a neat, and substantial, spin on the point-and-click genre. We played a chunk of it recently and had a chat with Double Fine about the fun and challenges of bringing the Psychonauts into VR.
And play this: Tilt Brush on Oculus Rift
Tilt Brush is a great "intro" game to VR, though whenever I show it to someone, the first thing they do is draw something rude. But hey, that says more about them than you and I, right?. We're responsible adults. And the good news is that Tilt Brush, Google's 3D virtual painting application is no longer limited to the HTC Vive - it's now on the Oculus Rift as well. Obviously you'll need the Touch Controllers to play - and if you do, we thoroughly recommend it.
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