Unexpected Update Brings New Content to SteamVR Home

Valve released an update to SteamVR this week that unexpectedly added new content to SteamVR Home.

Valve has long been making small but helpful updates to SteamVR, but especially in the last year there hasn’t been a particularly clear signal that the company was putting much work into the platform.

That’s why it was surprising to see that with the public launch of the SteamVR 1.22 update this week, the company added a surprise—a brand new photogrammetry environment for SteamVR Home, its first-party VR social space.

The new environment is a capture of a portion of the village of Fornalutx in Mallorca, which resides in the Western Mediterranean Sea.

SteamVR users can download the new environment by subscribing to it in the Steam Workshop. Once downloaded, it will become available as a new place you and friends can visit in SteamVR Home.

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like this slice of new content means that Valve has renewed motivation to work on its VR platform. As explained in the patch notes, the photos were originally captured back in October 2019—shortly after the release of the company’s Index headset. Given what we know about Valve’s unique corporate structure, it seems likely the timing of this release merely coincided with an individual at the company digging up the old photos and processing them as something of a side project.

So, nice to have a cool new scan to explore, but we don’t think it means Valve is suddenly going to be cranking out big new updates for SteamVR.

The company has continued to work on SteamVR, albeit slowly. A handful of updates have landed over the last year or so that have made improvements to the SteamVR dashboard, added new settings for power users, and made the platform play nicer with Quest headsets using Oculus Link.

Photo by Road to VR

Granted, still long overdue is a SteamVR native version of core Steam features like friends list, voice chats, a fully functional store and library, achievements, and more. SteamVR for a long time has fallen back to the Steam ‘Big Picture’ interface that’s designed for large displays. Unfortunately in VR that interface runs very clunkily and was clearly designed for a different input modality.

Beyond adding the new SteamVR Home environment, the SteamVR 1.22 update also brought with it a bunch of bug fixes and technical improvements that were previously released in beta versions of the software; you can see the full patch notes here.

The post Unexpected Update Brings New Content to SteamVR Home appeared first on Road to VR.

Lynx Says $4 Million Investment ‘Secures Our Supply Chain’ Ahead Of R-1 Deliveries

Lynx says it raised $4 million in a funding round ahead of delivery of its R-1 mixed reality headset.

Lynx creator Stan Larroque posted  on Twitter about the funding, writing that “after our successful Kickstarter we’re now able to secure our supply chain completely and fulfill the insane demand we’re facing.” The highly anticipated system is based on the same XR2 chipset powering Quest 2 while providing full color passthrough for mixed reality/AR with an open air view of your surroundings. The sides can also be closed off for a VR viewing experience as well.

Lynx recently showed off the hardware at GDC in San Francisco and confirmed to UploadVR Correspondents that backers could “expect the first headsets to come between June and July,” instead of the original April delivery target. The headset is also listed on the Lynx website for $599 with “delivery starting June 2022” listed.

The $4 million Series A funding round was led by Somnium Space and its CEO Artur Sychov is joining Lynx’ board. Somnium Space describes itself as an “open, social & persistent VR platform powered by blockchain” and, in a prepared statement, Sychov praised Lynx’ “openness” and potential to “revolutionize the way we all think and interact with this market category.” Larroque wrote the “new investors are top of the line and from the AR/VR world” and said there’d be more updates in a video scheduled for May 31, embedded below. 

We’re excited to see more detailed looks at the final device Lynx ships to backers and will have updates on the company in the months to come.

Creed: Rise to Glory VR boxing game gets you in the mood for upcoming Creed III movie

You can experience Creed in virtual reality before the release of Creed III, an upcoming boxing movie that premieres in theaters on November 23 and follows blockbuster successes Creed I and Creed II, released in 2015 and 2018.

Creed: Rise to Glory is available on the Oculus Quest store for $30, and the game lets you box VR versions of characters from the Creed movies. It’s also available for Windows Mixed Reality, PlayStation VR, PlayStation 4 and 5, and HTC Vive.

You play as Adonis Creed, the main character from the movies, and you’ll have to face very real-looking opponents that get tougher and tougher as you fight your way to the top.

You can get a good glimpse of the game for free in the demo version, which lets you fight one opponent out of the 12 in the full version. Even the demo version of Creed is better than The Thrill of The Fight, another boxing game I played that you can get for $10 on the Oculus Quest store.

The full version lets you customize the gaming modes – from store-driven Career, customizable Freeplay, or minigame-based Training. There is also the option of playing online against friends where you choose your opponent and contenders, including classic characters Rocky Balboa, Ivan Drago, Viktor Drago, and more.

(Image courtesy Creed: Rise to Glory.).

The game supports full body, face, and hands tracking, and it’s room-scale, so you can walk around anywhere in the ring if you have adequate space. You can walk around your room and inside the virtual ring where you can greet and wave at staring fans in the stadium. You can also opt to press on the controller buttons and swing your hands to walk around, but it’s imperative to move around with your feet once the fighting starts. I can comfortably play the game in my living room, so you don’t necessarily need much space.

Creed: Rise to Glory isn’t just for boxing fans — it’s great for anyone who likes exercising in VR. You’ll be sweating hard after just a few rounds because the game keeps you moving as you defend yourself against heavy punches and aim your own jabs and punches at your opponent’s face and body.

This game is hard —  it’s difficult for a non-professional boxer to manage even three rounds of fighting without being knocked out by an opponent.  Despite the challenge, even a beginner will find it competitive and fast.

You can hear directions, insights, and guidance from your coach — in this case, Rocky — as you play on. If you want to last longer, you should follow your virtual coach’s instructions carefully to block punches from reaching your face by using your fists and arms.

You’ll need to aim your punches anywhere above the belt, and there’s a chance you’ll knock out an opponent with a good hit. Points are based on the punches you successfully deliver to an opponent and are counted as the rounds progress into the game.

The matches take place in a packed stadium so you hear cheers from your fans and those of the opponent. It’s intense, and you feel like you’re right in the action, though I suppose there may be more detailed boxing games that professional and hardcore boxers could use for their training.

Creed VR is a realistic game not just because of the life-like avatars and cinematic scenes but also because of the physics. For example, the harder you throw your fist in the air in the real world, the more impact the virtual punches leave on the opponent.

I watched Creed II a few months ago, and I think this is the game to go for if you’ve already seen and enjoyed the emotionally wrecking Creed II — and the VR experience puts you right at the center of the boxing action instead of just watching it happen.

In Creed II, Michael B Jordan plays fictional boxer Adonis Creed, who’s coached by Silvester Stallone as Rocky. Creed is now a WBC Heavyweight champion who has won six times, but this time, against the wishes and advice of Rocky, he accepts a challenge to fight Viktor, son of Ivan Drago, the former Soviet boxer who killed Creed’s own father in a boxing match in 1985.

Rocky feels that Creed isn’t ready yet and refuses to coach him. Creed gets a different coach but suffers a humiliating defeat by Drago’s son, taking heavy punches that result in a broken rib and putting him in a hospital for seven weeks.

Creed: Rise to Glory picks the story up from this point. Now healed from his wounds, Creed is fighting his way to a rematch against Drago’s son Viktor after further coaching by Rocky. Creed II ends in a glorious victory for Adonis Creed, who rises from an undiscovered underdog to a world-class fighter, and with that inspiration you too can shoot to the top, even if you’re starting from scratch with no boxing skill.

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Meta CTO Explains Why Quest Doesn’t Have Automatic Room Setup

Meta’s Andrew Bosworth explained why Quest headsets don’t yet have automatic room setup.

A new experimental feature appeared on some Quest 2 headsets this week enabling owners to manually mark out areas and objects in their home for a new class of mixed reality experience that’s responsive to the physical environment.

The feature leads to the obvious question: “Why isn’t VR play space setup fully automatic?”

Virtual Desktop creator Guy Godin asked that question on Twitter this week, asking “why do users have to outline doors, walls and furniture manually? The Quest has cameras (although low quality ones), in theory it should be able to do all this automatically through image recognition. Am I missing something?”

On Wednesday, Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth responded, writing “Segmentation is getting better all the time but still has error. The risk of getting it wrong is a concern as it relates to how people can safely navigate a physical space.”

Starting in 2019, Oculus Quest (and now Meta Quest 2) enabled players to use their controllers like laser pointers to outline a safe space on the floor that’s clear to move around inside. The company improved its systems over the last couple years, moving to support hand tracking-only setups and the ability to save the location of a couch or desk. Late last year, Meta also added a “Space Sense” feature to alert people in VR if something enters their play space.

This week when I tested the new experimental room setup feature I walked into a physical table while immersed in VR because I had forgotten to mark it out. The collision occurred within the first few minutes of testing the feature, suggesting Quest 2 owners will need to take great care if they use it. Meta plans to launch an experience called The World Beyond on Quest 2 as a demonstration of what developers can build with mixed reality. It should launch with the release of v40 of Meta’s Oculus software development tools but, as of this writing, the latest SDK version is still v39.

A Bizarre, Tranquil World Awaits in London’s Latest VR Artstravaganza

I’ve seen some weird and wonderful content in virtual reality (VR), from twisted ethereal landscapes to horrifying monstrosities you’d not want to meet in your nightmares. VR has managed to transcend so many aspects of entertainment I’m always curious as to where creators go next, with some of the more unexpected ideas coming from the artistic community. One of the biggest advocates in the space over the last few years is Vive Arts, returning once again with an exhibition that mixes multiple mediums.

Alienarium 5

Vive Arts has reunited with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster for her solo exhibition Alienarium 5 at the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park. It’s an exhibition that encompasses the artists’ 20-years of experimentation with ideas surrounding deep space, science fiction and the myriad possibilities of alien life.   

Stepping into the gallery you’re instantly presented with a bright, eye-catching Alienarium 5 neon sign, the use of neon signage a long-time favourite of Gonzalez-Foerster’s. The vibrant use of colour can be found throughout the exhibit, draped across the walls and floors; even hidden behind a selection of eyelets that fill your vision with cascading hair and a pungent, crisp perfume that I couldn’t quite place.

It was almost too easy to miss the carpet that curved around the foyer, taking inspiration from the planet Uranus with deep hues of blue gradually fading into vivid reds and yellows. In actuality, it’s a very sedate start to what’s to come, with the VR portion completing the whole ensemble.

Alienarium 5

Through the archway and into the Serpentine’s central gallery, if you’ve not been there before it’s an impressive domed ceiling encircled with lights at its centre, giving an even yet dramatic illumination to the artwork below. On the floor, was a selection of what looked like large recreations of books all carefully placed. These actually turned out to be cushions, enabling guests to sit down and take in the huge piece of artwork that encircled the space.

Partly space-themed with a giant image of the Earth dominating as you first enter, the sci-fi design becomes even more abundant with a collage of alien designs interspersed with imagery of people, all harking back to those 1950/60s glory days of space travel. It’s an impressive piece of work that you can keep coming back to spot areas you’d not noticed before. But I’m no art critic, I’m here for the VR and how Vive Arts and Gonzalez-Foerster have deployed the tech. It is worth remembering that many have not tried VR, especially a device like the Vive Pro 2 in use here, so Alienarium 5 could well be their first step into an immersive digital space.

That definitely seems to have been part of the thought process here, as there are five headsets placed on stools and I’m told to stay seated forwards. With no need to turn around and no controllers to worry about the VR portion of Alienarium 5 is a tranquil, almost meditative experience that doesn’t so much feel like you’re floating in space, more the ocean deep.

Alienarium 5

You embody an alien, a different creature for each headset. Coming in at around 9 minutes, each experience is like a visual dance, imagine a murmuration where thousands of starlings twist and churn almost magically in the sky. It’s quite captivating with both audible and visual cues drawing your attention around the space. As it turns out, during the sequence you’ll spot what looks like other unusual alien creatures which are in fact the other exhibition guests.

While I didn’t have time to try them all I did test two out, with significant differences between them. The first portrayed what seemed to be a shoal of fish flitting around my vision. Their movement random, I came away relaxed but not connected to the piece or with a desire to re-experience it. The second headset was entirely the opposite. Almost like static rain in neon blue, what set it apart was the gaze-based control, wherever I turned my head would make a tunnel through the undulating haze, altering the spatial audio to suit. A far more dynamic presentation, the time quickly disappeared as I played in the space, stepping away far more energised and appreciative of the artist’s work.

London always has some amazing art on display but if you’re looking for some a little more tech-savvy then Alienarium 5 is worth popping into. The exhibition runs until 4th September 2022.