Oppo is Taking its AR Hardware to AWE 2022

We do love a good hardware announcement here at gmw3 and Oppo hasn’t disappointed as it prepares for the Augmented World Expo (AWE) in California next week. The company has announced that for the first time North American visitors will be able to demo its augmented reality (AR) hardware.

Oppo Air Glass
Oppo Air Glass. Image credit: Oppo

Oppo will be demoing three of its products at AWE 2022, the Oppo Air Glass, AR Glass 2021 and its ColorOS Ray Tracing 3D Wallpaper. All of these have previously been revealed, the earliest of which was the Oppo AR Glass 2021, the company’s second AR glasses concept, introduced at OPPO INNO Day 2020. Air Glass appeared at INNO Day 2021 whilst the 3D Wallpaper was introduced during this year’s Game Developer Conference (GDC).

The Oppo Air Glass is very reminiscent of more enterprise-focused AR devices like Google Glass, providing users with time or situational information. With a sleek design, the Air Glass has a magnetic component so it can attach to users’ glasses whilst housing Oppo’s own Spark Micro Projector, a Micro LED and a bespoke diffraction optical waveguide display.

It’ll have all the input methods you’d expect from an XR device such as this, using touch, voice, head movement and hand motions to scroll through and select information. While Oppo has been developing AR technology since 2014 the Oppo Air Glass will be the company’s first commercially available XR product. An actual release date has yet to be confirmed.

Oppo AR Glass 2021
Oppo AR Glass 2021. Image credit: Oppo

“With the explosion of digital information, the ways in which we interact and exchange information between the physical and digital worlds are constantly evolving,” said Yi Xu, Director of XR Technology at OPPO in a statement. “Our belief that AR can be used to create a new digital world entirely based on the real world has been the driving force behind our investment and R&D in AR technologies, including the development of fundamental technology, applications, user interfaces and ecosystems.”

Or for something slightly different there’s always the ColorOS Ray Tracing 3D Wallpaper. Nope, this isn’t some hi-tech home wallpaper, this is a ray tracing application for smartphones. It allows Oppo phone users to interact with their wallpapers using hand gestures, so they can rotate, tap and wave whilst enjoying more vivid and life-like wallpapers.

For further coverage from AWE 2022, keep reading gmw3.

Sony Confirms 20+ Games for PlayStation VR2 Launch

After Fast Travel Games teased working on multiple PlayStation VR2 videogames earlier this week, now Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has divulged something even more exciting. Details have emerged that PlayStation VR2 will have over 20 titles available at launch – whenever that might be.

PSVR2 games

The details come from a recent Sony investor presentation, with page 23 of the deck (seen above) clearly stating “20+ major first-party and third-party titles confirmed for PS VR2 launch.” So not even the launch window – which is usually the first 2-3 months after release – but on day one by the sound of it.

No further information was released regarding which videogames these might be although it was paired with an image of the previously announced spinoff Horizon Call of the Mountain from Firesprite and Guerilla Games. That’s not the only title that’s been teased for the upcoming headset.  Medieval Dynasty, Pavlov ShackEngram, Runner, as well as unnamed projects from Coatsink and Fast Travel Games.

“Right now, there is a considerable amount of money being spent on partnerships with independent and other third-party developers to secure a considerable pipeline of attractive VR content at the launch of PlayStation VR2,” said SIE president Jim Ryan, VGC reports. “That energy, that effort and that money will continue to grow as the installed base of PlayStation VR 2 headsets grows also.”

Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain

While it is certainly good that SIE is planning a strong lineup of games for PlayStation VR2’s launch, when that’ll take place is still unknown. PlayStation 5 is still suffering from supply chain issues making the console extremely difficult to get hold of. This is detailed on page 12 of the deck with PlayStation 4 outselling the PS5 in year 2 and that’s not expected to change until the PS5’s fourth year.

This likely means PlayStation VR2 won’t arrive until 2023 as several rumours have suggested.

That could very well change as the year goes on. For further updates keep reading gmw3.

Kongregate Creates $40m Web3 Dev Fund With ImmutableX

Web gaming platform Kongregate has been gradually moving towards a more Web3 centred approach, planning to release 8-bit inspired metaverse The Bitverse as well as blockchain game Blood Vessels. Delving further into the Web3 space, Kongregate has announced a new $40 million blockchain gaming fund in collaboration with crypto solution provider ImmutableX.

Kongregate - Blood Vessels
Image credit: Kongregate

The fund looks to inspire developers to build blockchain games for Kongregate.com, consisting of an IMX token pool that will be awarded as grants to creators. While Kongregate.com has always been about web-based gaming, the site will relaunch later this year focused on the Web3 space, therefore it’s looking to invest in a library of content to support that vision.

“With the relaunch of Kongregate.com for web3, we’re once again creating a destination unlike any other for developers and gamers to come together to discover, chat about and play games,” said Max Murphy, Kongregate’s Chief Technology Officer in a statement. “As gamers ourselves who have long been dedicated to what made the original site so fun and special for millions of community members worldwide, we’re excited to reopen doors with new, sustainable technology that enables players to uniquely experience and be a part of the games they dedicate their time to.”

Kongregate is continuing its partnership with ImmutableX which began with development of upcoming title Blood Vessels. Currently being built by Kongregate’s new blockchain-focused development team, Electric Visions, Blood Vessels is set during the 19th Century at the Chicago World’s Fair, with players NFT vampire characters.

The Bitverse
The Bitverse. Image credit: Kongregate

“As an early innovator in web-based gaming, we’ve been proud of our partnership with Kongregate to help power the next generation of blockchain games,” said Robbie Ferguson, Co-Founder and President, ImmutableX. “With today’s launch of our blockchain developer fund, we’re excited to deepen our relationship with Kongregate as we work together to attract the best and brightest developers to build new titles on Kongregate’s relaunched Web3 platform.”

Kongregate will be initially sharing how to access the fund to current developers on its platform, new teams interested in being part of it will have to reach out to Kongregate directly. As further details regarding the platforms’ Web3 plans unfold, gmw3 will keep you updated.

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.   

Robotics Manufacturer Kawasaki Joins Microsoft’s “Industrial Metaverse”

The “metaverse” is a buzzword being dropped next to all sorts of industries but for the most part, they’ve been promoted as social/gaming spaces. Microsoft held its annual Build conference this week with CEO Satya Nadella discussing its far different vision, an “industrial metaverse” that’s welcomed Kawasaki into the fold.

Microsoft Kawasaki

Now, unlike most other metaverse platforms where you get to run around virtual environments, hanging up your avatar’s clothing every five minutes and enjoying social banter, Microsoft’s industrial metaverse is actually very different. This is essentially Kawasaki floor workers donning HoloLens 2 devices to see holographic representations of real robotics so they can solve any issues that arise with minimal downtime.

This process is called digital twinning, creating digital versions of real-world items and processes to aid learning or in the case of heavy industry; speeding up repairs, increasing production or starting a new manufacturing line. There are plenty of possibilities, so much so that Kawasaki now joins Heinz and Boeing as Microsoft industrial metaverse partners.

“That’s why I think you’re seeing a lot of energy in that space,” Jessica Hawk, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of mixed reality, told CNBC. “These are real world problems that these companies are dealing with … so having a technology solution that can help unblock the supply chain challenge, for example, is incredibly impactful.”

Microsoft Kawasaki

Microsoft isn’t purely interested in the industrial applications for connecting people using XR technology. Apart from owning Minecraft and AltspaceVR, Microsoft’s metaverse ambitions stretch across a range of products with Teams and Mesh highlighted during the conference.

“With the latest AI and Teams Rooms experiences, we’re dissolving the walls between digital and physical participation so people can present a PowerPoint together as though they were in the same location, even when they’re apart,” says Nadella. Mesh, on the other hand, is all about creation: “You can build your metaverse experiences on Mesh that are accessible from anywhere on any device, whether it’s HoloLens, VR headsets, phones, tablets or PCs.”

As Microsoft continues to explore metaverse possibilities, gmw3 will keep you updated.

Decentralized Metaverse The Sandbox Enters new Partnership to Safeguard its Community

There are a multitude of different metaverse platforms out there and one of the most prominent is The Sandbox claiming over 40 million global installs on mobile. Today, the decentralized social world has announced a new partnership with WebHelp, a specialist in customer experience and business solutions to help improve The Sandbox’s community engagement.

The Sandbox
Image credit: The Sandbox

Lime any metaverse platform The Sandbox is driven by its community of players and creators, ensuring everyone can have a safe, fun time. And should anything arise then there are the tools to help safeguard them and report malicious behaviour. WebHelp will aid in this process by providing The Sandbox community with in-game support services.

These will range from moderating in-game chat and new player support to conducting moderation, and social media activities. The partnership between the two companies initially began a couple of months back, over the coming months they’ll expand the number of Webhelp ambassadors to 150 in line with each Alpha Season release.

“With many complex interactions happening simultaneously in The Sandbox, it’s really important that our community see and feel the presence of our teams and ambassadors on the platform,” said Sebastien Borget, COO and Co-Founder of The Sandbox said. “Providing support to our players and creators is key to our offering, and we’re pleased Webhelp shares our vision for the metaverse as a safe space for users to connect with entertainment, gaming, and user-generated content. We are looking forward to working with Webhelp to scale up our dedicated support team, which is rapidly developing its skillset and becoming an extension of our team, as part of a long-lasting partnership.”

The Sandbox
Image credit: The Sandbox

“We’re excited to partner with one of the fastest-growing and most disruptive gaming platforms of a generation,” commented Olivier Duha, CEO and Co-founder of Webhelp. “Running on an open irrefutable blockchain network, The Sandbox puts community at its core, matching Webhelp’s business values. We will be using our extensive experience and expertise in content and community moderation to help The Sandbox grow and remain a safe and engaging platform for players, creators, and commercial partners.”

Ensuring a safe, comfortable environment is crucial for any upcoming metaverse but especially one that courts brands partnerships like The Sandbox does. Currently, the platform has over 200 partnerships with brands such as Gucci, HSBC, Warner Music Group, Snoop Dogg, Adidas, Care Bears, and Atari, all of which have invested in land. That looks like to increase as metaverse popularity soars, so keep up to date by reading gmw3.

Apex Construct Creator Drops PlayStation VR2 Tease

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) still hasn’t put virtual reality (VR) gamers out of their misery and revealed a launch date for PlayStation VR2 but that hasn’t stopped developers from dropping teasing support. The latest comes from Fast Travel Games, the studio behind futuristic bow shooter Apex Construct.

The VR studio left a less than subtle hint about its intentions to develop projects for PlayStation VR2 over on Twitter. While there was no mention of what videogames it might be planning – could it be a new IP or maybe Apex Construct 2? – there was one additional teasing bit of info, a hashtag saying “more than one”.

So by the sound of it, Fast Travel Games is currently working on at least two VR titles for PlayStation VR2; which is exciting. This adds to a steadily growing list of videogames confirmed for the upcoming headset. These include Medieval Dynasty, Pavlov Shack by Vankrupt Games, Maze Theory’s Engram, anime-inspired Runner, an unannounced one from Coatsink; and, of course, Horizon Call of the Mountain.

As well as Apex Construct, Fast Travel Games has also released The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets and Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife, both in-house developed titles, whilst its new publishing arm has released both Virtuoso and Cities VR.

PlayStation VR2

The long-awaited follow up to SIE’s first VR headset released in 2016, the PlayStation VR2 is expected to offer a sizable leap over its predecessor. It’ll house a 4k HDR display, a 110-degree field of view (FoV), headset haptics, eye tracking (for foveated rendering), inside-out tracking, a new vent design, IPD adjustment, new controllers, and a simpler set-up with a single cable going to the PlayStation 5.

Fast Travel Games’ timing is interesting as it comes just a few weeks ahead of what would’ve been E3 2022. The annual videogame extravaganza has been completely cancelled this year but that hasn’t stopped companies from preparing their usual press events. Maybe they’ll be sharing more regarding the VR project around then? If that happens then gmw3 will keep you updated.

Quest 2 Rival Pico Neo3 Link Officially on Sale in Select EU Countries

Last month Chinese virtual reality (VR) headset manufacturer Pico Interactive announced that it was finally going to compete in the consumer market, releasing the Pico Neo3 Link this month. That day has finally come, with the standalone headset now available for sale in Germany, France, Spain and The Netherlands.

Pico Neo 3 Link
Image credit: Pico Interactive

Pico is labelling the launch as a “beta”, limiting both the territories it is available in as well as only allowing customers to purchase one Neo3 Link. Retailing for €449 EUR, the device offers both standalone and PC VR connection capabilities, so owners can either download content off the Pico Store or play their SteamVR games. When connecting to a PC customers have the choice of using a cable (a 5m (16-foot) DisplayPort cable is included) and the Pico Link software or going down the wireless route using the in-built WiFi6.

“We are incredibly excited about the beta launch of the Neo3 Link. The feedback from the VR community at the Laval Virtual show was outstanding – VR fans are really hot for our high-performance headset,” said Leland Hedges, General Manager of Pico in Europe in a statement. “As part of our beta program, we will also be providing regular software updates and working closely with our beta community to optimize the VR experience.”

Pico Neo3 Link sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chipset, boasting a 4K level resolution (1,832 x 1,920 per eye) and a 90/120Hz refresh rate. Four front-facing cameras provide the 6DoF tracking and controller/hand tracking, there’s a 3-stage adjustable IPD, 6GB of RAM, 256GB of onboard storage, and a rear-mounted 5300mAh battery for better weight distribution.

Pico Neo 3 Link
Image credit: Pico Interactive
  •                  Germany [€449 Euro, including VAT]: BestWare | VR Expert
  •                  France [€449 Euro, including VAT]: Matts Digital | VR Experts
  •                  Spain [€449 Euro, including VAT]: XR Shop
  •                  The Netherlands [€449 Euro, including VAT]: VR Expert
  •                  UK [£399 GBP, including VAT]: SystemActive 

The UK release of Pico Neo3 Link hasn’t been given a date just yet although it was previously reported this could take place in June.

For the first time, the release of Pico Neo3 Link offers European VR gamers a viable alternative to the dominant Meta Quest 2 – especially in Germany where the headset isn’t sold. Neo3 Link has a similar feature set to Quest 2, it just lacks the Quest’s exclusive lineup of titles.

Gmw3 will continue its coverage of Pico Interactive, reporting back with further updates.

Sandbox VR is Finally Coming to the UK This Summer

The pandemic may have almost destroyed the location-based entertainment (LBE) industry but venues have bounced back with new and exciting virtual reality (VR) content. One company that rose from the ashes was Sandbox VR in 2021, with gmw3 reporting that plans were underway for a UK expansion. Today, that plan has taken another step forward revealing that the first London-based venue will arrive this summer.

Sandbox VR

Sandbox VR London will feature the same free-roaming technology and content that’s made the company’s other venues so popular. Visitors will don full-body trackers and use haptic guns to shoot zombies and go on swashbuckling adventures with friends.

The London venue won’t entirely follow the same recipe as the other venues though, it’ll offer its own unique features. It’ll be the first Sandbox VR establishment to provide its own food and drink menu, with the beverages served by robotic bartender IG-1, who can serve up to 80 drinks an hour with guests placing their orders using in-built table terminals. 

Adding to the drinks experience, Sandbox VR London will be serving up special cocktails based on Sandbox VR’s videogames such as Zombie Apocalypse from Deadwood Mansion, alongside cocktails from cocktail brand, Bottle Proof. And when you’re hungry there’s going to be an extensive pizza menu and delights from London based food brands.

Sandbox VR

As for the titles you’ll want to play, up to six players can jump into a game at once, whether that’s the aforementioned Deadwood Mansion, licensed experience Star Trek: Discovery, Curse of Davey Jones, or Unbound Fighting League. All of them are unique to Sandbox VR which makes the UK launch so exciting, it’ll be the first time British VR fans can enjoy Sandbox VR on home soil.

There’s no specific date for the launch but Sandbox VR London will be based at: The Post Building, Museum St, London WC1A 1PB, open all week, the latest until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

When gmw3 has further details regarding the opening of Sandbox VR London we’ll let you know.

Sandbox VR is Finally Coming to the UK This Summer

The pandemic may have almost destroyed the location-based entertainment (LBE) industry but venues have bounced back with new and exciting virtual reality (VR) content. One company that rose from the ashes was Sandbox VR in 2021, with gmw3 reporting that plans were underway for a UK expansion. Today, that plan has taken another step forward revealing that the first London-based venue will arrive this summer.

Sandbox VR

Sandbox VR London will feature the same free-roaming technology and content that’s made the company’s other venues so popular. Visitors will don full-body trackers and use haptic guns to shoot zombies and go on swashbuckling adventures with friends.

The London venue won’t entirely follow the same recipe as the other venues though, it’ll offer its own unique features. It’ll be the first Sandbox VR establishment to provide its own food and drink menu, with the beverages served by robotic bartender IG-1, who can serve up to 80 drinks an hour with guests placing their orders using in-built table terminals. 

Adding to the drinks experience, Sandbox VR London will be serving up special cocktails based on Sandbox VR’s videogames such as Zombie Apocalypse from Deadwood Mansion, alongside cocktails from cocktail brand, Bottle Proof. And when you’re hungry there’s going to be an extensive pizza menu and delights from London based food brands.

Sandbox VR

As for the titles you’ll want to play, up to six players can jump into a game at once, whether that’s the aforementioned Deadwood Mansion, licensed experience Star Trek: Discovery, Curse of Davey Jones, or Unbound Fighting League. All of them are unique to Sandbox VR which makes the UK launch so exciting, it’ll be the first time British VR fans can enjoy Sandbox VR on home soil.

There’s no specific date for the launch but Sandbox VR London will be based at: The Post Building, Museum St, London WC1A 1PB, open all week, the latest until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

When gmw3 has further details regarding the opening of Sandbox VR London we’ll let you know.