Ikea Now Has a VR Showroom

Sometimes you don’t want to pop out, but you know you need to go grab that something. A sandwich, some food for the week or even that new game. There’s only so much you can get delivered by drone, so what about the stuff you want to see before you buy? Well if you are one of the lucky ones planning a trip to Ikea, why not see what it looks like before you’ve even left the house with Ikea’s new VR showroom.

The new program is available through Steam, with the app supporting the HTC Vive headset. In the app, you can choose from one of three rooms with the ability to change the colours of cabinets and drawers with just a swish of the Vives controller.

The app gives you the ability to explore from both a tall person’s perspective and a child’s, giving you the option of trying out a kitchen before your little one find all the bits that you regret buying two days later. The page notes that this experience is expected to last 5 minutes, with the pilot only being supported until august 2016.

In their press release Ikea state they see the “IKEA VR Experience as an opportunity to co-create with people all around the world”, asking for suggestions and ideas on how to use virtual reality and improve their VR kitchen. Is this the first step to a VR shop? Could we avoid the second guesses of buying something from a picture by viewing it in 3D before we’ve even left the house?

Would you ever trust an app before you buy or do you have to see and touch something in person before you buy? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

DOTA 2 Could Be Getting a VR Spectating Mode

When it comes to eSports, being able to watch the techniques and strategies used by teams as they compete can be a gripping and thrilling experience. Be it at home or in a stadium, watching people play the game and knowing that in a just a few short seconds the entire game can change excites people, so what would you do if you could get closer to the action? You could soon with Valve teasing a VR spectating mode for the MOBA game, DOTA 2.

The footage was teased by Robert McGregor on twitter, showing off just some of the features. The footage shows a screen, similar to the one you would find watching the game regularly, only looking away from the suspended screen shows you details about the events and characters taking place in the match.

To either side of the screen line up the characters, showing the items they’ve all taken, while straight ahead as if on a table you have the overhead map, complete with markers to show who’s where. Compiled with team network and differences in experience gained, a single glance in any direction can reveal something you might normally miss.

While the new system looks to be made to support the HTC Vive (controllers and all), this is the first it’s been seen in action and if it’s anything to go by, VR spectating could be something that other e-sports look to create in the near future.

Overclockers UK Will Be at the VR World Congress Next Week

By now there can’t be much doubt in anyone’s mind that 2016 will be the year that will be remembered as the year VR went mainstream. We have got 3 major players each bringing out their own VR headsets, partly they already have to early adopters, and they surely won’t be the last ones. Overclockers UK is one of the biggest gaming system builders and hardware components shops in the UK and they are also on board for this new wave of virtual reality. We’ve already seen them create dedicated HTC Vive area in their shops where customers and fans can experience the full room VR experience, so there is no doubt that they believe in this too.

Overclockers UK will also be among the 600 buyers, sellers, and developers who will attend the VR World Congress next week on April the 12th in Bristol that is being headlined by AMD and their LiquidVR. At the VRWC, you’ll find a dedicated expo hall filled to the brim with exciting and innovative companies showing the latest developments in VR.

OC UK themselves will bring their high-performance PCs, starting from the recommended VR specifications and all the way up to the 8Pack designed and built monster PC called the Asteroid. There will also be the chance to test out OCUK’s Room Scale VR Experience at their booth.

You can also be part of this yourself, if you have time and are in the area, and you can even get in for free with a little luck. Overclockers UK is giving away 2 tickets for this event and the entry is as simple as it could be. All you have to do is to visit the OCUK forums and post a reply to a thread there. You should also take the time to browse the forums a little bit while you’re there, they got some great and knowledgeable people hanging around that post a lot of interesting stuff.

Overclockers UK Introduce Room Scale VR in Association With Vive

Virtual Reality, or VR for short, is the big thing of 2016. While it isn’t new in itself, this is the year where consumers will get the chance to enter this field and there is no shortage presented VR headsets. But VR is one of those things that is tough to describe and it is also tough to show off with traditional videos and images; it is something that has to be experienced first hand to fully get what it is all about and be able to grasp the full concept.

Overclockers UK is known for its line-up of gaming ready PCs in all sizes and calibers and they’re naturally on board with VR too. They’ve now proudly announced the extension to their showroom that will provide a permanent Vive Room Scale VR Experience in the Midlands.

The new Room Scale VR allows users with a Vive to move around and interact with a virtual environment while staying in the comfort of their own home. Overclockers UK created this new 20 square meters sized showroom to allow users to truly test this experience using hardware built together by Overclockers UK and that has been Virtual Reality Certified.

The Overclockers UK Room Scale VR Experience is set to launch with a special event, which will take place at the Overclockers UK Newcastle-Under-Lyme showroom on the 19th of March. This event is open to the public and there is an online booking system in place allowing users to reserve their very own VR Experience.

You don’t need to worry if you can’t make it on March the 19th as the Room Scale VR Experience will be a permanent feature at the Overclockers UK store. Besides the showroom, Overclockers UK also launched a new mini-site that is a collection of all the relevant VR information.

The Vive headset needs to be powered by something and OC UK has new and certified systems ready for the Vive, starting with the entry level system for £749 and moving up to the titan that starts at £1314.95. As always, you can further configure and modify these systems before you purchase.Virtual Reality hardware can also be purchased directly with everything from upgrade parts to your current system on to VR compatible peripherals. All in one place, and now also live testable.

Virtual Reality hardware can also be purchased directly with everything from upgrade parts to your current system on to VR compatible peripherals. All in one place, and now also live testable.

HTC Will Bundle Vive With VR Optimized PCs

Last month, Valve released their SteamVR performance test to check if systems were ready for SteamVR and the HTC Vive. Needless to say, many potential VR users probably found that their systems wouldn’t be able to run VR games that well. Fortunately for those folks, HTC is stepping with Vive optimized gaming PCs that will be bundled with the Vive on their online storefront.

“We’ll have PC bundles with Vive-optimized PCs on our website soon and we’ll tell people they’ll have a great experience,” O’Brien promises. “But I don’t think PC bundles will be a major driver of sales.”

There is no word yet on what kind of PCs and what brands will be sold from the store or what the cost will look like. Given the requirements for VR, these PCs will probably cost more than the Vive headset itself. Nevertheless, some of the less tech-savvy customers may welcome the option to choose PCs they know will work for sure. Given HTC’s cooperation with Valve with the HTC Vive, we may see Steam Machines being a prominent feature.

For most of the top end PC gamers, though, their systems are probably already good enough. If there is any performance lacking, a simple GPU upgrade would probably suffice and with Polaris and Pascal coming, there will be many options.

HTC Sells 15,000 $800 Vive VR Headsets in 10 Minutes

VR is looking more and more like the next goldmine for tech companies as customers are snatching them up as fast as the pre-orders are going up. Just a few hours after the HTC Vive VR headset went up for pre-orders, we’re getting a sense of just how much demand there really is. According to Shen Ye from HTC, 15,000 units were sold in just 10 minutes, or about 25 every second. This netted HTC and partner Valve about $12 million USD at $800 a pop.

Right now, there are only 2 major VR HMD available, both on pre-order. There is the Facebook-backed Oculus Rift selling for $600 and the HTC Vive which comes in $200 more. Given that a PC needed to run such a system for gaming is about $1000, it seems like there are many folks who are really excited VR. That or a lot of scalpers hoping to eBay or Craigslist their purchases.

While 15,000 is a really impressive number, the more important ones are for the total user base for the Rift and Vive. Even though many games and other applications can be adapted for VR quite easily, a good VR requires a lot more work. The question will be if there will be enough users for developers to start looking hard at VR, or will it take the install base of the likes of the PS4 and Xbox One before developers start paying attention.

Vive Now Available for Pre-Order

The Vive virtual reality headset – a collaboration between HTC and Valve – is now available for pre-order, with the first shipments to begin on 5th April, 2016. The HTC Vive, which recently won “Best in Show” at CES 2016,  includes two wireless VR controllers, room scale movement, 360° tracking, and an HMD with a built-in camera, to provide “what many critics are calling the most convincing VR experience launching this year,” according to the official press release.

“We are delighted to help usher in the next generation of virtual reality,” Cher Wang of HTC said. “Launching Vive with Valve has helped us ignite the creativity of thousands of content developers around the world.”

Pre-orders will include the games Tilt Brush from Google, Fantastic Contraption from Northway and Radial Games, and Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives from Owlchemy Labs.

“Our collaboration with HTC and the VR development community has allowed us to create the most compelling and complete VR solution,” Valve’s Gabe Newell added. “In the coming weeks, many of these developers will launch an incredible first generation of VR titles to consumers around the world.”

To test whether your system is equipped to run the HTC Vive, Steam has released the SteamVR application.

The HTC Vive is priced at £746.60/$829, including shipping.

HTC: The Vive is “Not Just About Gaming”

Virtual reality technology is commonly perceived as the future of gaming, and theoretically provides truly unique experiences. However, it’s not limited to the gaming sector and could be deployed to broadcast sports events in a more immersive way or help trainees to learn new skills. Unfortunately, being an early adopter of VR is a costly endeavour and requires a very capable PC. The Oculus Rift’s price point of $599 seems extremely high until HTC announced the Vive would retail for a staggering $799. This is bound to alienate a large proportion of the device’s possible user base and makes it a niche product. Despite this, the company defended its pricing policy via a post on the official HTC Vive blog. The statement reiterates that the Vive isn’t just for gaming purposes and reads:

“But it’s not just about gaming,” 

“In addition to these launch titles, HTC is working with developers to foster the creation of content that spans multiple sectors including entertainment, retail, education, design, healthcare and automotive that will ultimately transform people’s lives.”

Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO at HTC proclaimed:

“From the beginning, Vive has been at the forefront of virtual reality, with HTC pioneering several ground breaking technologies,

Since announcing Vive this time last year, we have worked tirelessly with Valve to deliver the best VR experience on the market, winning multiple awards and receiving critical acclaim from media, consumers and the industry. With the Vive consumer edition we are now able to realize our ultimate vision; bringing Vive into homes around the globe so that people can experience immersive virtual reality in a way that fires the imagination and truly changes the world.”

It’s important to remember that the first models of any new technology usually involves a hefty price and eventually becomes more mainstream. The Vive is a no-compromise approach to create the best possible VR experience. On the other hand, its price is very high and might frustrate users who want to see what the VR revolution is all about.

HTC Confirms Date of Vive VR Headset Pre-Orders

HTC has confirmed the date on which it will begin taking pre-orders for its Vive VR headset. Cher Wang, CEO of HTC, has told The Telegraph that pre-orders of the Vive, produced in conjunction with Valve, will be available from 29th February.

Five years ago, HTC was one of the leading smartphone manufacturers, but after a decline in quality of its handsets and the emergence of Chinese upstarts Xiaomi and Huawei saw the company fall into financial disarray, with dire predictions that it could fold within two years. Wang, however, sees the company’s refocus on virtual reality as the key to reviving its fortunes.

“Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important,” Wang told The Telegraph.

HTC showed off its latest Vive headset, the second-generation developer kit Vive Pre, at CES in Las Vegas last week, showing off a refined version of the headset that debuted at the Mobile World Congress last year.

“Now we are more realistic,” Wang said on the future of HTC. “We feel that we should apply our best design to different type of sectors.”

HTC is yet to reveal how much the Vive VR headset will cost when pre-orders go live on 29th February.

Work Begins on Rick and Morty and Stanley Parable Creators VR Game

William Pugh, creator of the popular indie smash hit The Stanley Parable, has been on the radar for a while now, with people wondering what game he’ll make next. The strange nature of his game, combined with the twisted narration leaves us unsurprised that he would want to team up with psychedelic sci-fi cartoon creator Justin Roiland, who worked on and does the voices of Rick and Morty.

The two seem like the perfect match, they’ve both got a talent for the obscure and have a dark sense of humor, so there’s no doubt they could make something brilliant.

When discussing their new VR gaming project, Roiland said he has “never – and I don’t say this lightly – been more energized, enthusiastic, excited, and motivated about anything in my entire life. And that includes my TV show stuff.” he told PC gamer in an interview, adding that “nothing compares to my excitement for this new medium, and I want in, and I want to create experiences I can play, and I want to play experiences other people create, and I want to transport people to other worlds.”

What the two will cook up is truly unknown, short of expecting the unexpected given the twos history thus far. One thing is for sure, we can’t wait to play it, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we get a first look at it.

Anyone else hoping for a VR version of “Roy”?

Rick and Morty Co-Creator Making Content for HTC Vive

Justin Roiland, co-creator of Adult Swim’s cult cartoon hit Rick and Morty, has announced that he is producing exclusive content for the HTC Vive VR headset. A late-night tweet from Roiland revealed that he is working a number of games for the Vive, which has been co-developed by HTC and Valve as part of the SteamVR project.

Roiland tweeted:

Fans of Rick and Morty, co-created by Roiland with Community mastermind and self-confessed alcoholic manbaby Dan Harmon, will know that virtual reality has played a large part in the show so far, featuring in multiple episodes, most notably in last month’s Mortynight Run.

Roiland’s move into VR was teased last month on the Oculus subreddit, when a post from GalacticInquisitor showed a Rick and Morty sketch produced by Roiland on VR painting app Tiltbrush.

A later post then asked:

“Hypothetically if I were to suggest the possibility of a VR game co created by Justin Roiland, StressLevelZero, and potentially Pen Ward, Would you be interested, very interested, not interested? Which one? Which one?

A further comment suggested that one of these potential games “will be our follow up game to Hover Junkers, nothing small.”

Thank you UploadVR for providing us with this information.

Limited Number of HTC Vive VR Headsets Available at Launch

There have been rumours kicking around that the HTC Vive VR headset would be delayed until 2016, most likely due to manufacturing issues. Now it seems early reports were only half right, as HTC have issued a statement in regards to the headsets availability.

“We’ll have a limited number of units by the end of the year, with more to come in Q1 2016.” said HTC when speaking with Engadget.

It does seem to be a trend with a lot of new tech these days, that we see a limited launch, with everyone fighting to find availability and more often than not, people paying over the odds for one on resale websites such as eBay.

If you have a pre-order, it’s sounding like you’ll likely not see one until next year and that’s a sad thing, as it seems much of the upcoming VR hardware is taking forever and a day to actually get to retail. Of course, I’d rather it launch in working condition with content and stock availability, so let’s hope the extra wait will be worth it.

Out of all the VR headsets coming this year and next, which one are you looking forward to the most? Oculus, Vive, or perhaps something else?

Final HTC Vive Will be Revealed this Autumn

The final HTC Vive will be revealed this Autumn, October to be more exact, but as we all know; technology reveals rarely make the proposed launch date. The HTC Vive has been flaunted in front of Comin-Con goers in San Diego for most of last week, however, these were only developer kits.

HTC executive director of marketing, Jeffrey Gattis mentioned “We are targeting mid-October, but have not yet finalized the event details, venue, etc,” in regards to when a final Vive VR product will be ready.

While this pretty much confirms that the consumer product is ready, we do not have any confirmed specifications or product pictures to picture what the VR headset will look like; however, Gattis did mention “more refined from a design standpoint”, which denotes that it could be a slimmer, lighter, more aesthetically pleasing version of the dev kits we have been seeing. Gattis also revealed that “Our hardware development, for the consumer versions of both the HMD and wireless controllers, remain on schedule for the end of 2015.”

I’m so excited for the HTC Vive, Okay the Oculus Rift is the big player, but HTC are working hand in hand with Valve, who just happen to own the largest online gaming platform in the world; I can see heaps more compatibility with the HTC Vive than the Oculus Rift. However, Oculus do have industry ties with the likes of NVIDIA, Unreal and such, so it will be likely boil down to how impatient you are when one launches before the other.

Thank you to techradar for providing us with this information.

Will 2016 Be the Year of Virtual Reality?

With quite a few announcements reaching us about VR hardware and software, 2016 is shaping up to be the year of virtual reality. Promises of retail units of headsets from Oculus, Sony, HTC and others, not to mention software from studios such as Ubisoft; your virtual reality dreams may be about to come true.

The Oculus Rift may have let the world know that virtual reality could be a mainstream technology, but nearly 3 years after its announcement and a change of ownership, the Rift is not the only runner in this VR race. Facebook owned Oculus say that their retail version will hit stores in Q1 of 2016, but will this be too late? The HTC Vive is said to be being released by the end of 2015 and that isn’t the only VR offering that will be around next year.

Sony’s Project Morpheus also has a slated release date of 2016 and will go up against the Rift with similar spec and predicted price point. The main thing separating the two headsets would be the aesthetics. I think that most of you will agree that Sony’s offering will be the one taking home the beauty pageant ribbons, but as the saying goes; beauty is only skin deep.

Other potential rivals in the VR marketplace include the Samsung Gear VR, which uses Oculus Rift technology, Microsoft HoloLens and probably everyone first steps in the virtual reality, the Google Cardboard.

But what is the use of all this new technology if there isn’t anything that uses it? Apart from the slew of indie studios that adapt their creations to work with VR headsets, in an attempt to create a unique selling point for their otherwise empty games, there hasn’t been many big studios willing to jump on the virtual bandwagon, at least until Ubisoft announced that they will release a number of titles in 2016.  Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to induce vertigo with a virtual reality fuelled leap of faith?

Image courtesy of Overclock3D

So, with the gaming side of things taken care of by Ubisoft, not to mention the other big studios that will surely follow in their footsteps, there is still room in the entertainment schedule for more. This has been realised first by Discovery Channel, according to adweek.com they are already filming a number of shows in VR, including Mythbusters. Adam will be rejecting your reality and substituting it with his own for real now.

Image courtesy of Discovery UK

Ubisoft Franchises Are Scheduled to Get a Virtual Reality Upgrade Next Year

We haven’t seen a lot of big names associated with VR gear since virtual reality actually became a reality. Most developers willing to exploit the tech have been from indie companies trying to draw curious eyes to their titles. However, all of this is about to change early next year, as sources indicate.

Ubisoft stated that it is willing to take on the challenge and release an unconfirmed number of titles in early 2016, but it first needs to figure out how to get around the main downside found in the tech. If you don’t already know, using VR Gear for an extended period of time is confirmed to give the user nausea, sometimes even after just a quarter of an hour of using it.

However, not all VR technology out there has this downside. Valve’s HTC Vive seems to have fixed it as reported a couple of months ago and Ubisoft is keen on trying it out first. They also won’t forget about Oculus or Sony’s Project Morpheus, but the company stated that the headsets “would need to sell at least one million units to be viable for development.”

Ubisoft believes that a lot of players will join the world of video games, drawn in by the beauty of what VR has to offer. They also revealed that the titles rolling out in early 2016 are just the start of VR-enabled games they plan on releasing. Should they be successful with the first roll-out, I think even more big name companies may join in and we will see an even larger number of VR-enabled titles hitting the stores by the end of next year.

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Rifty Business