Earlier today, Facebook unveiled the first original VR experience produced for Oculus Rift, its first consumer-facing virtual reality headset. Henry, a 10-minute-long animation short created by a former Pixar alum, is among several original narratives that will be made available on Oculus Rift when it launches in early 2016. Similarly, Samsung announced earlier this month that it has teamed up with Skybound Entertainment, to produce a VR horror series exclusively for its Gear VR headsets.
What Brands Should Do
As more and more media owners and brands start producing original content for the VR platform, it is important for brands seeking to immersively engage with its audience to start creating branded VR content now to stay ahead of the curve. For instance, subscription-based beauty e-retailer Birchbox is adding Google Cardboard in their monthly offers to treat its customers to some branded VR experiences. Besides, brands can also team up with media owners and content creators to help produce their own VR content.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
After months of speculations, Facebook-owned VR company Oculus finally confirmed the release date of the first commercial model of its virtual reality headset. “Extremely excited to announce that the Oculus Rift will be shipping Q1 2016! We can’t wait to get it in your hands,” tweeted Nate Mitchell, vice president of product at Oculus VR, earlier today.
Although no further details on pricing or content partners have been made available as of yet, the announcement mentions that the first commercial models will be focused on gaming and entertainment with more use cases to come later, heralding a boost in consumer-facing VR technologies soon beyond just at-event experience and activations. We expect VR to be a niche market in 2016 in the same way that smartphones were a niche market in 2007, therefore it’d be wise for brands to prepare a VR strategy to stay ahead of the curve.
We here at the Lab are always looking out for new developments in the VR space, and currently we have two VR headsets—an Oculus Rift and a Samsung Gear—ready for demo in the Lab. Our staff got to demo the new Crescent Bay prototype at CES this year and can help explain the differences between what developers have their hands on now and what will be released in less than a year.
Virtual reality is something that has to be experienced to be understood. So come by the Lab and get a VR demo to see just how engaging it can be, and understand why consumers would be excited by this technology.
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Several alcohol brands such as Jim Beam, Dos Equis, and Fire Eater are all trying out virtual reality gears to win over millennial bar-goers at the crucial moments of drink purchasing. By offering at-the-bar VR gaming experiences powered by the likes of Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear, these brands look to capture the attention of patrons in a noisy, distracting environment and turn that engagement into brand awareness, or better yet, sales on the spot.
Read original story on: The Verge
Some wondered why Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion last year, and now it seems like we are getting some answers: Facebook is reportedly building versions of its apps in virtual reality. No further detail about the VR apps has been released, but sources say that future Facebook users will be able to share their current environment with other users via an app, which could just become a new version of social media sharing in the near future.
Read original story on: The Verge
Demonstrating the public’s continued interest in virtual reality, a fundraising campaign for a VR rock opera film has been live on Kickstarter. Described as a seven-part “feature-length virtual reality music experience”, the final product will be playable on a normal PC monitor, but is clearly made for the Oculus Rift. This project, if successfully funded, would indicate further diversification of virtual reality content, which in turn could help push VR technology closer to the consumer market.
Read original story on: Gizmodo
Oculus has announced its acquisition of Nimble VR, a two-year-old startup that began with gloves, evolved to Kinect, and finally developed its own mounted 3D camera to track hand motions in real time. This acquisition points to Oculus’ ambition in creating a gesture-motion game controller for its headset, which would open up great possibilities for a deeper, VR-powered immersive engagement.
In a unique marketing move, Paramount and IMAX are partnering up to offer a sneak peek at Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated sci-fi epic “Interstellar” with a traveling exhibit powered by Oculus Rift. With the help of Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets, participants will be able to experience zero gravity in the film’s featured spacecraft. With the maturation of virtual reality technology, we expect more marketing efforts to deploy it to offer a refreshingly immersive experience.
Oculus announced earlier this week that an updated Oculus Share marketplace, coming later this fall, will allow developers to distribute their virtual reality (VR) apps, as well as let users browse the platform to download VR games and entertainment experiences without taking off the headset. By doing so, Oculus is aiming to build an ecosystem to support its mobile and PC-based VR headsets.
Moreover, the Facebook-owned company also announced a new prototype for its VR headset, named Crescent Bay. With new 360-degree tracking, integrated headphones, and lightened weight, the new prototype marks another step towards the consumer version of its VR headset. With indie challengers like Totem claiming to offer better VR experiences, Oculus is doing all it can to stay ahead.
Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband is the latest innovation in gesture control: the electromyography-powered armband reads the electrical signals in your arm that cause muscles to contract and translates them to standardized gestures to control digital technologies through Bluetooth. The Lab had a chance to learn more at Tuesday’s NYC! Event, in which Chris Goodine, Thalmic’s Developer Evangelist, discussed the working principles of electromyography, the future of natural user interface technologies, and current and unorthodox use cases for the armband:
At Carnegie Mellon, a project research team is currently testing Myo on Parkinson patients to notify patients when it is time to take their medication. The sensors within the armband can detect early signals of the medication wearing off before symptoms of unintentional movement begin.
During PenApps recent college hackathon, a group of programming students unveiled the “Magic Board”, which is control a motorized long board controlled by the Myo.
In partnership with Oculus Rift, Thalmic has integrated the armband with Oculus Rift’s virtual reality 3D headset. The combination allows a player to use two Myo armbands to control virtual arms in-game as if they were their own.
As gesture control technology advances, it will be interesting to see how developers integrate the technology across PC, console, and especially virtual games. The Lab is eagerly awaiting its Myo to arrive in the mail so we can start experimenting for ourselves.
Leap Motion, a company that specializes in gesture-detecting sensors, announced that it would offer a mount for some VR headsets, including both developer versions of the Oculus. This is a small step for Oculus as it adds yet another auxiliary support, but it also might just be a giant leap for virtual reality as it points to a controller-free user experience, which would of great help in refining and mainstreaming the virtual reality technology.