Field of View: Sixense refunding Kickstarter backers for STEM controllers

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Field of View: The week in VR and AR
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Weeks after Oculus Connect 5, it seems the world of virtual and augmented reality has gone for a bit of a snooze. The world of smartwatches and fitness trackers - once again - has eclipsed the world of other realities.


There was a good sale on Google's Daydream View, and we got our first look at MagiMask, a $99 AR headset powered by your smartphone. But really, that was all of the big news of the week.

Read this: The best AR glasses to buy

But we've gone ahead and dug through the weeds to find out what else has been going on. Here's what you need to know.

Read this: The big news of the week

Field of View: Sixense refunding Kickstarter backers for STEM controllers

Sixense refunding STEM Kickstarter backers

Five years ago, Sixense debuted the STEM System controllers on Kickstarter, promising a more intuitive, full-tracking way to interact with virtual reality. Now, the company has announced that it's cancelling the project and refunding its 2,383 backers.

The STEM had raised $604,978 through its Kickstarter campaign, $500,000 of which were from pre-orders. Sixense CEO Amir Rubin told The Verge that the company had been struggling to mass manufacture the controllers.

Over the past five years, Sixense had released a number of dev kits for the controller. However, issues kept appearing which prolonged the arrival of a consumer version. Originally scheduled to ship in mid-2014, the STEM kept getting delayed by a couple of months at a time.

All the while, Oculus and HTC developed their own motion controllers optimized for virtual tracking and 6 degrees-of-freedom tracking, making Sixense's controller redundant and outdated. The company made the decision to kill the project a couple of months ago, and will now focus on selling VR hardware to businesses rather than consumers.


Jaunt is giving up VR for AR

Jaunt has long been one of the big names associated with VR, largely because it was behind many of the earliest 360 videos. It has even teamed up with The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman on a VR miniseries, and released a VR camera called the Jaunt One.

The company announced in a Medium post that it would be "winding down a number of VR products and content services in the coming weeks." The company will also be restructuring, with layoffs on the way. It isn't clear how many people are getting laid off or what VR products and services will be ending, however.

The past year has been one of change for the company, as it's switched CEOs and acquired Personify's Teleport system, which is used to capture augmented reality footage of people or things. A switch to AR isn't out of bounds, as many see AR having a brighter future than VR. That brings us to our next story...

Field of View: Sixense refunding Kickstarter backers for STEM controllers

AR revenues will overtake VR by 2021

SuperData Research has a new report out about the future of both AR and VR. It believes that 2019 will become a "make it or break it" year for VR, and that Oculus Quest will likely make the technology more mainstream than it's ever been. Which makes sense, since it's a high-end standalone headset that could especially appeal to hardcore gamers.

However, it also expects augmented reality software to overtake VR software in revenue for the first time just a couple years later, in 2021. Why? Largely because of the growth of mobile AR, which is being fueled by Apple and Google's dueling ARKit and ARCore.

It believes that over 117 million people are using either ARKit or ARCore apps, with 87% of that 117 million being on Apple's ARKit. SuperData says enterprise AR software will still lead the way, but that consumer demand for AR software will continue to grow - especially as Microsoft, Magic Leap and Apple continue to work toward AR glasses.


Steam's new Motion Smoothing lets low-end PCs run VR better

Good VR needs high-end machines to run properly, so when something less than adequate is running virtual reality the experience is, well, bad. Valve is hoping to solve this with a new feature called Motion Smoothing, which is now in beta.

If Steam detects that a VR experience is lagging or dropping frames, Motion Smoothing starts up and lowers the frames per second from 90 to 45. It creates a fake frame for every real one, mimicking the feel of 90fps even though it's just 45fps.

If things get even worse, it can create two or three fake frames to fill the gaps. You will need an HTC Vive or Vive Pro to use this feature though; it won't work on either Windows Mixed Reality or Oculus headsets.

Watch this: NBA League Pass in Oculus Venues

Field of View: Sixense refunding Kickstarter backers for STEM controllers

Ah, the NBA season has started. LeBron James on the Lakers, the Golden State Warriors being the Golden State Warriors and the NBA embracing VR closer than ever.

This year, the NBA is teaming up with NextVR and Oculus Venues to showcase a number of games. You can essentially watch the NBA with your buds, even if they're far away. There are 26 games that'll be available for full 3D VR viewing, with six of those being totally free (NBA League Pass is a subscription service to most NBA games).

Play this: Is Anna OK?

Field of View: Sixense refunding Kickstarter backers for STEM controllers

Developed by the BBC and Aardman Digital, this narrative VR experience has you following twin sisters to see how an accident has shaped their lives. Based on a true story, you'll get to experience the tale from the perspective of both sisters. Available for Oculus Rift for free.


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