Meta 2 Development Kit Revealed

The Meta is known for being the forefront of augmented reality. Much like virtual reality, Augmented reality is based on the user seeing virtual objects but instead of it being on an isolated screen, augmented reality lets you bring virtual objects to life. That dream of an Iron Man experience is one step closer thanks to the Meta 2 Development Kit.

The new development kit contains all you need to start programming your augmented reality programs. Included with the Meta 2 headset you will get the source development kit (SDK) and the Meta operating environment while the Meta headset itself contains some impressive specs.

The resolution the “screens” displayed at is 2560×1440, being captured through a 720p camera that will give you a whole new level of detail in your interactions and visual manifestations of your dreams.

Four speakers and a 6-axis measurement unit mean that your whole experience will respond with the sensors to track your hands, giving you everything you need to see, hear and interact with your minority report like Minority Report like wall of screens.

At $949 the Meta 2 Kit is not for those who are looking for a quick thrill, but for those who are interested in the experience and developing for augmented reality, the product ships in the third quarter of this year.

Sword Art Online VR MMO Isn’t Coming Afterall

Last week the internet was awash with news that the popular series, Sword Art Online would be getting a VR MMO. We even reported on it here at eTeknix, but sadly it seems like the internet was once again a little too quick to come to terms with the news and instead spread a huge misunderstanding.

IBM is looking to advertise their new SoftLayer cloud service, something which would, of course, require marketing and in order to do this the creation of a Sword Art Online prototype was developed to demo at their latest marketing event. Sadly this means that you won’t be able to experience the game’s fictional world come alive and will instead have to settle for the 20-minute demo that is designed to be just that.

So it looks like Sword Art Online: The Beginning will be nothing more than a fancy tech demo to advertise the new service from IBM. Sadly there are no plans to make a full Sword Art Online MMO I have no doubt that people all over the world will be upset by this news and surely the outcry and support for a project (even if it was just a misunderstanding) would encourage a company to maybe follow up on the concept and bring it to live.

Oculus Rift Boss Explains The Price Confusion

We first speculated, then we got the confirmation but had to wait for a little while before we could place our pre-orders on the final Oculus Rift. Yesterday was the big day and the pre-order queue was opened up to the public. At the same time, we also got the pricing that so far had been down to speculations and vague statements. However, the price tag of $600 did confuse quite a few people as we’ve previously heard of a price that should be in the “ballpark of $350”. That is quite a bit of difference and Palmer Luckey, the Oculus boss and founder, took it on to answer the confusion in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA).

Luckey apologized for the misleading information and went on to explain how it came to be. At the time where the statement was made, quite a few people believed that the $1500 estimated price floating around was for just the headset, but it was actually for a VR ready PC system. And compared to $1500, $600 is more in the ballpark of $350, hence the confusion.

“I handled the messaging poorly,” Luckey said. “As an explanation, not an excuse: during that time, many outlets were repeating the ‘Rift is $1500!’ line, and I was frustrated by how many people thought that was the price of the headset itself. My answer was ill-prepared, and mentally, I was contrasting $349 with $1500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 – that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark.”

Luckey went on to explain the costs. It looks like they aren’t making much if any profit from this first consumer version of the Oculus Rift. It is being sold at cost. This is great for both the consumer and the technology itself, we need it to stick and stay around. It’s time for a shift in our virtual experiences.

When compared to the DK1 and DK2, the final Oculus Rift uses hardware that’s a lot more advanced and made just for this headset rather than off-the-shelf parts. If it had been released with DK2 hardware, the price would still have been $400 or more. With all this in mind, I think the consumers will be happy that Oculus didn’t take any shortcuts but opted for the best possible hardware right away.

“DK1 and DK2 cost a lot less – they used mostly off the shelf components. They also had significantly fewer features (back of head tracking, headphones, mic, removal facial interfaces, etc.) For Rift, we’re using largely custom VR technology (eg. custom displays designed for VR) to push the experience well beyond DK2 to the Crescent Bay level.”

Considering that most people don’t have any trouble throwing $600 after a new fancy smartphone or TV, it’s not that bad at all. I do however think that I might hold back a little myself and wait for a price around the $450 before I join the world of virtual reality.

This Homemade Witcher 3 Gwent Game Looks Awesome

Witcher 3 is a game that has a lot of fans, and for good reason. Where we find a lot of fans we also find a lot of cool creations, but digital and real ones. This falls into the last ones as someone went ahead and created an amazing looking real version of Witcher 3’s in-game mini game Gwent.

The Gwent game is quite complicated in comparison to many other mini games that mostly are copies of normal games such as blackjack, poker, and chess, but that’s not the case with Gwent. There are a lot of accessories, playing cards and the Imgur user waffleguru made this amazing set for her boyfriend who’s a big Wither 3 fan.

The handmade set comes with a chest to keep everything inside. There is a printed playing mat of sturdy cotton canvas blend for durability, a rule book printed on magazine cover paper, custom deck boxes for each faction, and plenty of cards for each faction including doubles to be able to build more useful setups. To top it off, there’s also a tiny chest inside with tokens and tiny pouches with gem counters. Everything you need to play this fantastic looking game.

I think there are quite a few out there that will be jealous of such a gift and wish that they had gotten it instead.

Oculus Rift Outlines Cost For Release Model

The oculus rift has taken the world by storm, offering virtual reality to a wide range of people for a whole series of uses. With the CEO, Brendan Iribe, stating that the headset and a computer powerful enough to drive it would cost roughly £1000, people are now looking forward to a release date that could soon be announced. In another released statement the company founder, Palmer Luckey went into discussing the price of the headset itself.

At the Oculus Connect Conference Luckey was asked about if the release price for the oculus rift would come in at around the same as the developer kits that are currently being sold. Priced at 350$ (around £230) it is not a small price, but not a huge one. This was however before this little gem,

“You know, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. We’re roughly in that ballpark…” said Luckey, “but it’s going to cost more than that. And the reason for that is that we’ve added a lot of technology to this thing beyond what existed in the DK1 and DK2 days.”

Meaning that the rough ballpark of £230 could go out the window very quickly, with it later being stressed that a lower price point wasn’t of concern to the development team and they were instead more focused on making sure the quality wasn’t compromised.

Are you interested in the Oculus Rift? Do you own one or have you got a development kit? What are your thoughts on it?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

 

Disney Is Devising a 3D Augmented Reality Colouring Book

I don’t know, children today in developed countries have it all in terms of tech, where tablet computers and Smartphone’s are the norm and internet access is available 24/7 to assist with homework, yep, let’s assume it’s for school work and not for social networks. Now, Disney has incorporated augmented reality into a colouring book which allows your child the ability to colour in a character from an art book in 3D.

Below is a video which shows the concept, as you can see, it utilizes an augmented reality app that Disney have developed with the aim of tracking and capturing real-time images from a mobile device camera. It then maps them onto any 3D deformable surface. The end result is a moving 3D character which can be coloured in within real-time.

The app is still very much at the development stage, but it certainly shows the possibilities which could exist within toys of the future.  Below is a screenshot to convey the idea, the user views the 3D character via a phone or tablet camera while using the app, they can then colour in the figure within the 2D colouring book which is then translated onto the character.

This concept is certainly fantastic and shows what could be achieved if you transfer this principle onto a more advanced model. Imagine if this technique was perfected and allowed you to colour in a Star Wars vehicle before it flew around the room or a historical building or landmark.  It will be a while yet before it hits the shops, but when it does, expect children to clamber for it.

A fantastic concept for tech lovers, and imagine working for a company called “Disney Research” certainly eye-catching on a CV.

Thank you disneyresearch for providing us with this information.

The Oculus Rift Is Finally Here

The Oculus Rift is here, the final product for all us consumers. And it looks great. Not only does it look a lot slimmer and lighter than the developers kit, it also comes with that promise. It’s easy to hold with one hand, so you should be able to endure long gaming sessions with it on without extra stress on your head and neck.

It comes with a built-in headset, but you can remove it in case you want to use your own. It also looks to have an in-headset app or storefront, but that might be from another system. The view of it was very brief.

The have worked long on both the hardware and software, and it looks like it has paid off. This could be the beginning of virtual reality for the mainstream.

The two screens are OLED and provide a wide field of view. That comes combined with the a refined tracking system that works in conjunction with the external sensor that you place on your desk.

The Oculus can also accommodate normal glasses, something many users requested.

Futuremark Begins Development of VR Benchmark ‘VRMark’

It’s no secret that VR gaming is taking off in a big way, with Oculus, Vive and many others all pushing their new hardware in one form or another. However, one major issue still holds a lot of gamers back when it comes to VR; hardware requirements. If you’re eager to find out just how VR-capable your rig is, you’ll want to benchmark it, which is where benchmarking specialists Futuremark come in.

VRMark has just been announced by Futuremark, which will use a combination of software and hardware to measure VR system performance, testing aspects such as latency and accuracy. While the benchmark is still in development, Futuremark are aiming to release the tool this year, so there’s no doubt we can expect a sneaky video of it in action in the not too distant future.

“There are already more than a dozen different head-mounted displays for VR at various stages of completion. Analysts forecast that VR will reach 10.8 million users by the end of 2016. But delivering a great VR experience relies on overcoming significant performance challenges,” said Jukka Mäkinen, Managing Director at Futuremark. “With VRMark, we’re aiming to help everyone, from industry engineers and press reviewers to the end user at home, discover the best performing VR technology.”

“UL believes that the blossoming VR industry will greatly benefit from a dedicated VR benchmark developed by a neutral 3rd party,” said Sajeev Jesudas, President, Consumer Business Unit at UL. “VRMark is the first component of a comprehensive VR offering from UL that will also include the development of new standards and certification programs to protect the health, safety and well-being of VR users.”

I’m really looking forward to testing this new benchmark out, and its great news for consumers, especially if it helps identify hardware that it suitable for VR gaming.

Oculus Founder Sued by Total Recall Technologies

No, we aren’t going to see Arnie stroll into the Facebook offices and cause some Martian havoc; although I would love a new Facebook status emoji ‘I’ll be back’ with an audio clip of Arnie’s voice.

This particular event is based on Hawaiian based company ‘Total Recall Technologies’ attempting to sue Oculus Rift and its founder Palmer Luckey; saying that Luckey use confidential information which he learned from the company back in 2011.

“….its two partners, Ron Igra and Thomas Seidl, developed and patented a method to take video of a real-world scene and display it in a head-mounted display using an “ultra-wide field of view.” Seidl met Luckey in 2010 in connection with his work on developing head-mounted displays, and contacted him in 2011 to build a prototype for TRT.

Over the course of 2011, Seidl allegedly gave Luckey the specifications he wanted for the head-mounted display and paid for the parts. Luckey signed a non-disclosure agreement on August 1, 2011, and shipped a completed device to TRT on August 23, 2011. “Throughout the latter half of 2011 and into 2012, Seidl provided confidential feedback and information to Luckey in order to improve the design of the head-mounted display”

We all know the back story of Oculus, Luckey posted the Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and gained the backing of thousands to deliver two dev kits and is currently promoting a third, dubbed Crescent Bay. Facebook purchased the company in 2014 for a cool $2 billion and is set to launch a consumer version on the VR kit in spring 2016.

What do you think the outcome of this lawsuit would be? Let us know in the comments.

Please, keyboard warriors, I know the first paragraph has massive continuity errors; just leave it be.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Sony Open PlayStation Vacancies in the UK

Virtual Reality is very much on its way, there’s no denying it. From the likes of the ‘founder’ of VR that we know today, the Oculus Rift; many other manufacturers have jumped on board to soak up some of the hyper. We know that HTC and Valve are working on a collaboration for a headset and today we are learning that Sony’s Project Morpheus is becoming a reality.

Sony has posted eight job listings for senior animators, level designers and a few other necessary roles to create a functional VR team here in the UK who will be focusing on producing VR games. “Based in the North West of England, we aim to build a small but highly experienced team who want to build great games to showcase this exciting new immersive technology,” the advertisement states. As reported by Eurogamer, the North West Studio will likely be located in Manchester, fortunately where some former Evolution staff are based.

The Evolution team, who are responsible for maintaining the Sony exclusive racing service, was cut down in staff numbers due to a number of layoffs. At the time Sony stated they wanted to relocate those members throughout the Worldwide Studios network. Reports state that the Evo studios were already working on VR games; with the new VR studio setup, those games could be finished.

Something that we’ve learnt with VR over the past few weeks and months is that VR requires an average FPS of 90 to aid in the prevention of nausea. We all know consoles tend to only push around 60FPS, so will current generation consoles be powerful enough to provide the ‘sweet spot’ for VR?

What are your thoughts on Sony officially joining the VR race? If you think you have what it takes to join the team, why not take a look at the Sony vacancy pages.

Thank you to Eurogamer for providing us with this information.

Oculus Shipment Date Revealed

The most talked and hyped Virtual Reality (VR) headset has now been given a shipment date. Oculus has confirmed that pre-orders will open later this year and will begin shipping in early 2016.

The model that consumers will be able to buy will be based on the newest Cresent Bay prototype with enhanced “presence, immersion and comfort.” It will also feature and improved tracking system that takes advantage of both seated and standing users with updated ergonomics and a tweaked design. The company will share more details regarding pricing, hardware, software, input and unannounced featured games in the near future, starting with technical specifications next week.

“Speaking at a panel during SXSW in March, Oculus founder Palmer Luckeyexplained that the tentative launch of the Oculus Rift in late 2015 was made them before they “made a lot of changes to [Oculus’] roadmap.” The vague release window was also mirrored by Facebook CFO Dave Wehner during Facebook’s Q1 2015 earnings call.”

I can’t wait for this to be released, I’ve tried on a set at every show I’ve been to and loved every second of it; next year can’t come quick enough. Are you looking forward to the VR generation? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to IGN for providing us with this information.

Valve Shows Its SteamVR Development Timeline at GDC

GDC had its fair share of announcements in the virtual reality sphere, having Oculus talking more about its focus on mobile VR. However, while they were keen on talking about that, Valve was keen on showing people its development stages of the SteamVR through a prototype timeline.

Some of Valve’s SteamVR prototype really do seem a bit ‘over the edge’, however they all tell the story of SteamVR and how it was shaped into what it is today.

Thank you PCGamesN for providing us with this information

HoloBridge – London’s 1st Virtual Reality Arcade

Whether you are an Assassin’s Creed fan who wanted to experience something similar to the Animus or just want a truly unique adventure like you have never seen or experienced before, HoloBridge apparently is willing to help you out. The company is said to take full advantage of VR-glasses similar to the Oculus or Samsung Gear VR, and gadgets, like Cyberith or Virtuix Omni.

In the heart of vibrating Shoreditch you will find a cool place to meet up with your friends and try the latest technological developments in VR. We will offer the most exciting content to make your visit a breathtaking journey. Just book your ticket online, come to us and enjoy.

HoloBridge is the idea of German entrepreneur, Andreas Lohaus, who is said to be passionate about the emerging virtual revolution. His first encounter with VR devices was back in 2012, being one of the first backers of VR-devices, including Oculus Rift. After receiving and testing his first VR dev kit, he knew “this will be huge!” and has actively been connected to the VR scene in his hometown, Cologne, Germany.

While the HoloBridge team is said to start off with 10 VR Glasses and 2 Treadmills, they are also awaiting more feedback on which content and technologies would people like to see and toy around with.

More details about the project can be found on Indiegogo, where people can contribute a minimum of £5 towards the project’s budget (having the HoloBridge team send a special personalised Tweet to people who decide to contribute). Should you feel like spending more, the £199 perk will get your name and signature perpetuated on one of the VR Glasses showcased at HoloBridge. On top of that, the perk will also let you use the same device for free for the first 20 slots booked.

Source: Indiegogo

Sony’s SmartEyeglass Becomes Available for Pre-Order

Sony’s Google Glass alternative, SmartEyeglass, has finally become available for pre-order. You can reserve a ‘developer’ unit today for $840 in the US, Germany and the UK, before the release date of March 10th.

The glasses utilise augmented reality, in a way very much similar to Google’s Glass – a product currently on hold. There are some differences to Google’s equivalent, such as the fact that it needs to be paired to a smartphone and its terribly bulky appearance (many laughed at ‘Glassholes’, who knows how many will laugh at people like the woman in image the above). It’s also worth mentioning the green user interface – something perhaps not as appetising when compared to Google’s almost fully-featured UI.

Of course, all of these things could change, but considering the current state of Google’s project, who knows what Sony will do with SmartEyeglass.

Source: The Verge

Intel Announce 10nm Chips Capabilities and Release Plans

We reported early in 2014 of Intel’s 14nm “Fab 42” plant remaining closed and the rumors surrounding 10nm chip manufacturing that came with it – from recent reports it now seems like it’s a a reality.

As IBM and NVIDIA have teamed up to win the next generation of top-level US government supercomputers, Intel is not to be left in the dust. After 50 years of global supercomputing, the Intel platform occupies a massive 85.5% of all machines, with a reported 97% ownership in new age systems. Today, Intel have announced the details of some of their planning in high-performance computing.

The announcements have come to us thanks to CNBeta and Chiphell, these are listed in dot point form as:

  • The third-generation Xeon Phi family, codenamed “Knights Hill”, will use Intel’s 10nm process. This is the first publicly identified 10nm product, as well as Intel Omni-Path fiber optic interconnection technology. Intel’s upcoming second generation “Knights Landing” will be the first commercial system set to debut early next year.
  • The industry’s interest in Xeon Phi is more concentrated. There are already a large number of customers looking to order Knights Landing, of which more than 50 percent will use the processor version, and the rest set to utilize the PCI-E accelerator card version. The total computing capacity is said to contain more than 100 PFlops (10 quadrillion floating-point calculations).
    NOTE: Using the Intel Xeon Phi to accelerate your system is done through a PCI-E expansion card, this card must be used with Xeon processors and can only be used as a coprocessor. The next generation will have separate processor and coprocessor versions.
  • Knights Landing’s latest implementations include: Los Alamos, Sandia Supercomputers “Trinity”, the US Department of Energy National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) ultra-count “Cori”, Earth Science Enterprise DownUnder GeoSolutions, large-scale cooperation projects in SGI and the National Supercomputer Center IT4 Innovations projects in Europe (to deploy large clusters).
  • Omni-Path Interconnect architecture with provides 100 Gbps of bandwidth, fiber-optic switching and medium-sized clusters. Comparing this to the now popular InfiniBand, latency can be reduced up to 56%. The product architecture will use a 48 switch chip, in comparison to InfiniBand using up to only 36.
  • Intel Fabric Builders project has started, created based on the ecosystem Omini-Path. The Intel Parallel Computing Center also announced their expansion will be the construction of 40 facilities in 13 countries and regions.
  • Intel Enterprise Edition for Lustre v2.2 has been scheduled for release.

That’s quite a lot of information to take in one hit, so we will continue to report on this as the story develops. We’re sure that Intel will now sit down and take a look at these siz points one by one in the near future, so help keep it streamlined and easy to track for consumers.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Samsungs VR Software Leaks, Apps and See-Through Feature Revealed

The rumour that Samsung have been working with Oculus VR to create their own headset seem to be true as the pre-release version of the Samsung VR software founds its way online. The head-mounted display they’re working on will in fact be a holder for a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, which will be held in front of your face to create a display like that of the Oculus Rift, although technically it has more in common with Google Cardboard.

The software included the downloads for apps called VR Panorama and VR Cinema, no doubt for viewing of 3D images and videos on your device, which will complement some of the 3D apps already available on the Android market place for Google Cardboard. Gear VR will have a touchpad and a back button on its surface, allowing you a level of control since your phones touch screen will be inaccessible.

One of the cooler features, and something that is lacking on Oculus Rift is a pass-through mode. This will allow you to switch from VR to a view of the world around you, this will be achieved by using the camera on the back of your phone, which will then feed the video to the screen. The real view could add some interesting augmented reality features to the setup.

It’s a bit of a gimmick and likely won’t work as well as a dedicated Oculus setup, but since Oculus requires you to be sat at your desk and the Gear VR mobile, they’ll both have different roles in the VR market.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch.

Lego Fusion Closes Gap Between Real and Virtual Worlds

I don’t know about any of you, but when I was younger Lego was a big part of my childhood and even today I still act like a bit of a kid when it comes to playing around with it, however back then we had to imagine the rest of the world where our models would run. Technology though has come on a long way since those days and a few years ago we saw the introduction of Mindstorms and then a lot more recently PC and console games which took the Lego concept into the next world.

There has however been a large gap between the Lego we build by hand and the games we play on the screen, but this is all about to change as Lego come out with their latest mastermind – Lego Fusion.

In short Fusion is a game that is run on an iOS or Android powered tablet which involves the building of physical Lego that we can touch with our hands to progress through the game.

To merge the real and virtual worlds together, users will have an app installed on their tablet which builds the virtual world and as they progress through the game they have to build buildings and other models on a special VR base plate which the app can read through the camera and after ‘reading’ the model, the building, car, tower or other model is then built by virtual workers, replicating the real model brick for brick (including all those odd colours that we like to include)

Fusion will be coming out initially with four different kits; Town Master, Battle Towers, Create & Race and Resort Builder. The first three kits will be hitting the shelves in a couple of months time for around $35  in the states, with Resort Builder coming a little later in September. A UK launch date is not quite decided as of yet, but I certainly imagine it will be out before Christmas with Lego potentially looking to have Fusion as this years ‘must have’.

Although I personally wouldn’t get this sort of kit – instead preferring to stick to the physical models and the Technics line of projects, I’m certain this will appeal to the younger generation a lot more, where console and mobile gaming is more popular than building models.

Source: BBC News