Quest Update Adds Mixed Reality Casting, Global Cloud Saves, & More

The latest update for Oculus Quest, v35, is rolling out to headsets starting today and brings with it mixed reality casting, global cloud saves, and Facebook Messenger calls in VR.

Mixed Reality Casting on Quest

Update v35 is bringing mixed reality casting to both Quest and Quest 2. This feature allows you to cast the VR experience to a smartphone while seeing your real body right inside of the virtual world.

This kind of mixed reality capture usually requires a complicated greenscreen setup with dedicated cameras and PC hardware, but having it built directly into Quest and the Oculus smartphone app stands to make it easy for anyone to do. Here’s an example shared by Meta showing how the feature looks with Beat Saber:

It even works with a moving camera view! While this is far from the production-ready quality you can achieve with a dedicated setup, it’s pretty amazing to see this capability built right into the headset and the companion app. Only six Quest apps are supported at present—Beat Saber, Superhot, Richie’s Plank Experience, Pistol Whip, Synth Riders, and Gravity Sketch—though we imagine developers will be encouraged to add support now that this capability is easier for players to use.

iPhone-only, For Now

Mixed reality casting on Quest only supports modern iPhone models and no Android phones, tablets, or iPads, yet. There’s no word on Android support, but in the past Meta has brought iPhone-only features to Android phones as well, so we hope this won’t be an exception. Here’s the complete list of devices which currently support mixed reality casting on Quest:

Mobile Device Supported Not Currently Supported
iPhone XR
✔
iPhone XS
✔
iPhone XS Max
✔
iPhone SE – 2nd version
✔
iPhone 11
✔
iPhone 11 Pro
✔
iPhone 11 Pro Max
✔
iPhone 12
✔
iPhone 12 Pro
✔
iPhone 12 Pro Max
✔
iPhone 12 mini
✔
iPhone 13
✔
iPhone 13 Pro
✔
iPhone 13 Pro Max
✔
iPhone 13 Mini
✔
iPad (all models)
✖
Android phone (all models)
✖
Android tablet (all models)
✖
Wasn’t This Already Added?

You might recall that a prior Quest update added a similar feature called Live Overlay, but it’s actually very different than mixed reality casting. Live Overlay simply superimposes the player on top of the first-person view that you normally see when casting with Quest. Mixed reality casting, on the other hand, actually shows the player in the virtual environment with a one-to-one correspondence.

Global Cloud Saves

Image courtesy Meta

Last month Meta announced that it would be launching a new cloud save system that would work automatically with every app. Well, wouldn’t you know it, that capability is rolling out with the v35 update.

The new cloud save system automatically backs up game saves so that players can retain their game progress even if they uninstall an app or change headsets. The feature works by default with all applications unless a developer chooses to opt-out.

Although v35 is required for global cloud saves on Quest, Meta says it will be rolling out the feature gradually “to make sure it works correctly,” so be patient if you don’t see it right away.

Facebook Messenger Calling in VR

Image courtesy Meta

Another feature that Meta announced last month is also rolling out alongside v35—Messenger voice calling on Quest. For a while now it’s been possible to send text-based messages through Messenger on Quest, but now you’ll be able do voice calls too.

Meta says this feature will be rolling out “over the coming weeks,” so if you don’t see it right away, fear not.

– – — – –

As with prior updates, v35 will roll out slowly to Quest and Quest 2 users, likely over the course of a week or more, but you can check for an update manually to see if it’s available to you. Here’s how:

How to Update Quest and Quest 2
  1. In your headset, bring up the Quest menu by pressing the Oculus button on your right controller. Click on the clock to access Quick Settings.
  2. At the top right of Quick Settings, click the Settings button (gear icon).
  3. On the left of the Settings section select ‘About’ at the bottom of the list
  4. Look next to the ‘Software Update’ label to see if a new version is available
  5. Check the ‘Version’ label to see which version is currently installed

If v35 isn’t available but you think it should be by now, you can also try restarting your headset and repeating the above steps.

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Hands-on: Varjo’s Unique Masking Tool Lets You Bring the Real World into VR

Varjo’s XR-3 headset has perhaps the best passthrough view of any MR headset on the market thanks to color cameras that offer a fairly high resolution and a wide field-of-view. But rather than just using the passthrough view for AR (bringing virtual objects into the real world) Varjo has developed a new tool to do the reverse (bringing real objects into the virtual world).

At AWE 2021 this week I got my first glimpse at ‘Varjo Lab Tools’, a soon-to-be released software suite that will work with the company’s XR-3 mixed reality headset. The tool allows users to trace arbitrary shapes that then become windows into the real world, while the rest of the view remains virtual.

This makes it possible to bring parts of the real world into virtual reality. For instance, as the company shows, you can trace the outline of a physical steering wheel peripheral so that you can see the real wheel inside of the virtual world.

The Varjo Lab Tools software supports three core masking modes: static, depth, and marker-based. With the static mode you can draw a passthrough window that will essentially be tracked to your head. With the depth mode you can have the system automatically pull in anything that’s within a certain distant to the headset (judged by the lidar sensor). You can imagine this being used to automatically show your real hands holding something when you raise them up in front of you, without pulling in the background of your room.

In the marker-based mode you can create a window that’s tracked to a simple fiducial marker and moves with the marker. This would be great for something like the steering wheel example above, or allowing your real keyboard to persistently appear in the virtual world. The markers can be easily printed and mounted anywhere… and you can track up to 1,000 of them.

At AWE 2021 I got to try the system for myself, and I was impressed with the user-friendliness of the tool. To draw a marker-tracked mask, for instance, you just use a VR controller to select the marker you want to track, and then trace out the mask with a simple point-and-click system. For example, I used the tool to mask out an area around a gamepad that had one of the markers attached to it. Then when I jumped into VR I could see a window around the gamepad, allowing me to look down and see my real hands on the gamepad and easily reference the position of my fingers with regard to the buttons.

And what’s particularly cool is that all of this passthrough magic is happening completely independent of the VR application, which means the passthrough windows that you draw can function inside of any app without a special integration by the developer.

It’s a very cool system that makes passthrough fundamentally more useful, but it isn’t yet flawless. One of the most obvious limitations right now is the update rate of the masked area. While the view through the passthrough window (ie: the view of the real world) updates at a perfectly fast rate, the shape of the window itself (when attached to a marker) only seems to update a few times per second. So if you’re moving the marker even slightly fast you’ll see the passthrough window lag behind as it tries to keep up.

I’m not sure what the limiting factor is on the update rate for the passthrough window, but I take it this is something that will be improved in the future. A much faster update rate would make real-world objects appear much more seamlessly within the virtual world.

– – — – –

Varjo says that the passthrough masking capabilities can also be used with the chroma key functionality it has introduced previously, making the XR-3’s passthrough system very functional and flexible compared to anything else on the market today. Indeed, just as the impressive resolution of Varjo’s flagship headsets has long felt like a glimpse of the eventual future of consumer VR headsets, we’d also hope to see this kind of advanced passthrough functionality come to consumer headsets, eventually.

For now the capability is only on Varjo’s high-end enterprise XR-3 headset (as it’s the only one with all the passthrough hardware necessary to make it all happen). The company says the Varjo Lab Tools software, which will enable these features, will launch alongside the next major update to its core ‘Varjo Base’ software.

The post Hands-on: Varjo’s Unique Masking Tool Lets You Bring the Real World into VR appeared first on Road to VR.

Lynx R-1 MR: Ziel auf Kickstarter bereits deutlich übertroffen

Tower Tag auf Steam

Mit der Lynx R-1 MR möchte das französische Startup Lynx eine neue MR-Brille auf den Markt bringen. Damit die Produktion starten kann, bittet das Startup auf Kickstarter um Starthilfe und konnte bereits über 600.000 Euro sammeln. Ursprünglich waren 300.000 Euro als Ziel angesetzt.

Lynx R-1 MR

Die Lynx R-1 wird auf einen Qualcomm XR2 Chip setzen, welcher auch in der Oculus Quest 2 oder HTC Vive Focus 3 verbaut wird. Zudem kann die Brille autark genutzt oder mit einem PC verbunden werden, man kann sich mit der Brille frei im Raum bewegen und AR wird über die Kameras an der Frontseite ermöglicht, welche das Bild auf den Displays ausgeben. Ähnlich wie bei der Konkurrenz.

Das Alleinstellungsmerkmal der Brille sind jedoch die besonderen Linsen und damit auch der Formfaktor. Lynx setzt auf “four-fold catadioptric freeform prism” wodurch die Linsen extrem nah am Display angebracht werden können.

Für die Steuerung der Brille setzt Lynx auf das Tracking eurer Hände. Wenn euch das nicht genug ist, könnt ihr optional auch zusätzliche Controller erhalten.

Wenn ihr Lynx unterstützen und euch eine Lynx R-1 sichern wollt, dann müsst ihr mindestens 530 Euro in das Projekt investieren. Hier findet ihr die Kickstarter-Seite und alle weiteren Informationen. Die Kampagne läuft noch 7 Tage und die ersten Brillen sollen bereits im April 2022 ausgeliefert werden.

(Quelle: Kickstarter, Road to VR)

Der Beitrag Lynx R-1 MR: Ziel auf Kickstarter bereits deutlich übertroffen zuerst gesehen auf VR∙Nerds. VR·Nerds am Werk!

Oculus Store Apps Can Soon Use Mixed Reality – Spatial Anchors & Scene Capture Coming Later

Developers can ship Oculus Quest apps or updates with mixed reality from the next SDK version. Spatial Anchors are coming soon, and Scene Capture will arrive next year. Facebook calls these  capabilities the Insight SDK.

Basic mixed reality functionality has been available to developers as the Experimental Passthrough API since August. But apps on the Oculus Store or App Lab weren’t allowed to use it, restricting distribution to third party methods like SideQuest. With the next SDK update the Passthrough API will no longer be experimental and will be permitted on the Store and App Lab.

The API lets developers use passthrough – the view from the Quest’s greyscale tracking cameras – as a layer (eg. the background) or on a custom mesh (eg. a desk in front of you). Since black & white isn’t particularly appealing, passthrough can be stylized with edge rendering, a color overlay, or posterization.

Coming soon, Insight SDK will get experimental support for Spatial Anchors. These world-locked reference frames will let apps place content in a specific position users mark in their room, and the headset will remember these anchor positions between sessions.

Next year, Facebook plans to add Scene Understanding as an experimental feature. Don’t be fooled by that name though, this isn’t an automatic system. Users will be prompted to mark out their walls and furniture, and to enter their ceiling height – a process called Scene Capture. This needs to be done for each room but the headset should remember the Scene Model between sessions.

With Spatial Anchors and Scene Understanding, Facebook says developers will be able to attach a virtual screen to a specific place on your wall, show your real furniture in VR, or have a character walk around your room with realistic occlusion. In the short term however mixed reality functionality will be much more basic, and future hardware with color cameras will be needed to make the experience truly compelling.

Oculus Expanding Quest Mixed Reality Capabilities With Enhanced Developer Tools

Oculus plans to further open up the mixed reality capabilities of Quest with new tools that will allow developers to build apps which more intelligently integrate with the user’s real room. In the near future developers will also be permitted to distribute mixed reality apps to customers via the Quest store or Oculus App Lab for the first time.

Oculus first began unlocking Quest’s mixed reality capabilities with the Passthrough API which allowed developers to tap into the headset’s pass-through video view for the first time earlier this year. Now the company is announcing a more advanced set of tools, which it calls the Presence Platform, which will allow developers to build more advanced mixed reality applications.

The Presence Platform includes the Insight SDK, Interaction SDK, and Voice SDK.

Insight SDK

The main building block of the insight SDK is the Passthrough feature, which developers previously had access to in an experimental form. That feature is moving out of its experimental form and into general availability starting with the next developer update.

Additionally, the Insight SDK includes Spatial Anchors which gives developers the ability to place virtual objects in the scene and allow them to persist between sessions. For instance, a piano learning app could allow you mark the location of your piano, and the app could then remember where the piano is any time you open it.

The Insight SDK further includes Scene Understanding, which Oculus says allows developers to build “scene-aware experiences that have rich interactions with the user’s environment.” This includes geometric and semantic representation of the user’s space, meaning developers can see the shape of the room and get a useful idea of what’s in it. For instance, the Scene Understanding feature will allow developers to know what parts of the scene are walls, ceilings, floors, furniture, etc all of which can be used as a surface on which virtual content can be naturally placed.

Oculus says the developer will see a “single, comprehensive, up-to-date representation of the physical world that is indexable and queryable.” You can think of this like the headset building a map of the space around you that developers can use as a guide upon which to build a virtual experience that understand your physical space.

However, users will need to do some work on their end in order to generate this map for apps that need it, including marking their walls and tracing over their furniture.

Crucially Oculus says that the Insight SDK will enable developers to build feature-rich mixed reality apps “without needing access to the raw images or videos from your Quest sensors.” We’ve reached out to the company to further clarify if Oculus itself will send the raw sensor footage off of the headset for any processing, or if it will all happen on-device.

The Scene Understanding portion of the Insight SDK will launch in an experimental form early next year, according to the company.

Interaction SDK

Another part of the Presence Platform is the Interaction SDK which will give Unity developers a ready-made set of simple interactions for hands & controllers, like poking buttons, grabbing objects, targeting, and selecting. This saves developers time in building their own versions of these commonly used interactions in their apps.

Oculus says the goal of the Interaction SDK is to “offer standardized interaction patterns, and prevent regressions [in tracking performance of specific interactions] as the technology evolves,” and further says that the system will make it easier for developers to build their own interactions and gestures.

The company says that the Interaction SDK (and the previously announced Tracked Keyboard SDK) will become available early next year.

Voice SDK

The Voice SDK portion of the Presence Platform will open up voice-control to Quest developers, which Oculus says can drive both simple navigation functions (like quickly launching your favorite Beat Saber song with your voice) and gameplay (like casting a voice-activated spell).

The system is based on Facebook’s Wit.ai natural language platform which is free to use. Oculus says the Voice SDK will arrive in an experimental form in the next developer release.

Mixed Reality Apps on the Quest Store and App Lab

While not all of the Presence Platform SDKs will arrive at the same time, as of the next Quest developer release, devs will be allowed to ship mixed reality apps via the Quest store or App Lab. That release is expected next month.

The World Beyond Sample App

Early next year Oculus says it will make available a sample project called The World Beyond which developers can use as a starting point for building atop the Presence Platform features. The app will also be made available to users.

The post Oculus Expanding Quest Mixed Reality Capabilities With Enhanced Developer Tools appeared first on Road to VR.

RoomMapper für Oculus Quest 2 verfügbar

Tower Tag auf Steam

Entwickler und Entwicklerinnen, welche Mixed Reality-Anwendungen für die Oculus Quest 2 mit Unity erstellen wollen, können nun auf ein nützliches Tool von Bob Berkebile zurückgreifen.

RoomMapper für Oculus Quest 2 verfügbar

Bei dem Room Mapper von Berkebile handelt es sich um ein Packet für Unity, mit dem Nutzende ihre Umgebung in der Mixed Reality einzeichnen können. Anschließend besteht die Möglichkeit, Inhalte an den eigenen Raum angepasst, auszuspielen. In diesem Video könnt ihr sehen, wie die Einrichtung des Raums funktioniert:

Wenn ihr Mixed Reality-Anwendungen mit dem RoomMapper verwirklichen wollt, könnt ihr euch hier das kostenlose Packet für Unity herunterladen. Hier findet ihr eine Anleitung für die Integration in euer Projekt.

Die Oculus Quest 2 ist aktuell unsere Empfehlung für Heimanwender und Heimanwenderinnen. In wenigen Tagen könnte jedoch eine neue Variante vorgestellt werden, welche unter dem Namen Oculus Quest Pro verkauft werden könnte.

Unseren Langzeittest zur Oculus Quest 2 findet ihr hier.

(Quelle: Upload VR)

Der Beitrag RoomMapper für Oculus Quest 2 verfügbar zuerst gesehen auf VR∙Nerds. VR·Nerds am Werk!

Lynx R-1 Mixed Reality Standalone Comes to Kickstarter Today, Starting at Around $600

French startup Lynx today launched the long-awaited Kickstarter campaign for Lynx R-1, a standalone headset capable of both VR and passthrough AR. It’s looking to grab some eyeballs too with more of a consumer-focused price, starting at $615 (€530).

Lynx R-1 features the same Qualcomm XR2 chipset as Oculus Quest 2 and HTC Vive Focus 3, and like those two it’s also based on a heavily modified version of Android. Plug it into a VR-capable computer, and the creators say you’ll be able to play SteamVR content too when it launches next year. Jump to the Kickstarter here if you already know what’s up.

For everyone else: what sets it apart though is it’s tuned from the ground-up to play full VR games and do both passthrough augmented reality, making it a mixed reality headset by definition. Another hardware quirk: it also features a novel optic called a “four-fold catadioptric freeform prism,” which is said to slim down the size of Lynx R-1 seemingly beyond what current Fresnel-style lenses have achieved. More on specs below.

Lynx is hoping to appeal to a pretty wide swath of would-be backers, as it offers both a Professional Edition starting at €950 (~$1,100) and a consumer-oriented version at €530 (~$615).

A Limited Edition version is also available for €745 (~$840), which features a fully transparent faceplate. Only 1,000 of those are being made available through the campaign, so get ’em while they’re hot.

Initially started as an enterprise-focused company, Lynx R-1 Professional Edition offers few things over the consumer version; with that tier, you can resell the headset and also receive pro-level support from Lynx. All headsets—save the €4,999 tier where backers can meet the team and receive a signed model a month early—are slated to ship in April 2022.

Image courtesy Lynx

All versions are also coming with a 1m USB-C cable, USB-C Charger, VR facial interface for a more immersive experience, and fabric headstrap for added comfort.

Since it relies on hand tracking, motion controllers aren’t the ‘out-of-the-box’ control method. CEO Stan Larroque tells Road to VR that its 6DOF controllers are based on Finch Technologies ‘Shift’ controller hardware, something we’ve seen in practice with HTC Vive Focus in the past. Those are available as a separate €100 (~$115) add-on tier via the headset’s Kickstarter.

The campaign is shooting for €300,000 (~$350,000) for its initial funding goal, although we can bet it will go well beyond that if any of the recent VR hardware campaigns from this past year are any indication. Tundra Tracker, a small motion device using the SteamVR tracking standard, managed to net over $1 million back in April, and the Yaw2 motion simulator chair garnered a whopping $2.7 million in June.

Here’s a look at the headset’s specs.

Lynx R-1 Specs

  • 1,600 × 1,600 LCD @90Hz per eye, with ultra low-latency Color Passthrough for Augmented Reality
  • Qualcomm XR2 chipset with 6GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage
  • 6DOF rom-scale
  • Optical Hand tracking
  • Cameras: 2 B&W for positional, 2 IR cameras for hand tracking, 2 visible light cameras for passthrough
  • WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5
  • PCVR compatible with SteamVR over WiFi
  • SD card slot for up to 1TB of external storage
  • Two stereo speakers, 4 microphone array and a 3.5mm Jack TRRS
  • Eye Relief: 13mm, Eye-Box: 11mm
  • Battery life: estimated 3 hours

Check out the Lynx Kickstarter here

The post Lynx R-1 Mixed Reality Standalone Comes to Kickstarter Today, Starting at Around $600 appeared first on Road to VR.

Lynx R-1 MR Headset Kickstarter Comes to an End with Over $800,000

French startup Lynx launched a Kickstarter campaign for Lynx R-1 in October, a standalone MR headset which is capable of both VR and passthrough AR. Starting at €530 (or $500 if you’re not subject to European sales tax), the MR headset attracted a strong response from backers as it passed its initial funding goal in under 15 hours, going on to garner over $800,000 throughout the month-long campaign.

Update (November 10th, 2021): Lynx R-1 Kickstarter is now over, and it’s attracted €725,281 (~$835,000) from 1,216 backers. In the final hours the campaign managed to pass its first stretch goal at $700,000—a free facial interface pad.

If you missed out, the company is now offering direct preorders for both its Standard Edition for $600 and Enterprise Edition for $1,100. It’s also selling a few accessories including compatible 6DOF controllers, facial interfaces, and a travel case.

Previous updates to this article have been included at the bottom, which include a play-by-play of its progress and additional stretch goals.

Original Article (October 5th, 2021): Lynx R-1 features the same Qualcomm XR2 chipset as Oculus Quest 2 and HTC Vive Focus 3, and like those two it’s also based on a heavily modified version of Android. Plug it into a VR-capable computer, and the creators say you’ll be able to play SteamVR content too when it launches next year. Jump to the Kickstarter here if you already know what’s up.

For everyone else: what sets it apart though is it’s tuned from the ground-up to play full VR games and do both passthrough augmented reality, making it a mixed reality headset by definition. Another hardware quirk: it also features a novel optic called a “four-fold catadioptric freeform prism,” which is said to slim down the size of Lynx R-1 seemingly beyond what current Fresnel-style lenses have achieved. More on specs below.

Lynx is hoping to appeal to a pretty wide swath of would-be backers, as it offers both a Professional Edition starting at €950 (or $900 without VAT) and a consumer-oriented version at €530 (or $500).

A Limited Edition version is also available for €745 (or $700 without VAT), which features a fully transparent faceplate. Only 1,000 of those are being made available through the campaign, so get ’em while they’re hot.

Initially started as an enterprise-focused company, Lynx R-1 Professional Edition offers few things over the consumer version; with that tier, you can resell the headset and also receive pro-level support from Lynx. All headsets—save the €4,999 tier where backers can meet the team and receive a signed model a month early—are slated to ship in April 2022.

Image courtesy Lynx

All versions are also coming with a 1m USB-C cable, USB-C Charger, VR facial interface for a more immersive experience, and fabric headstrap for added comfort.

Since it relies on hand tracking, motion controllers aren’t the ‘out-of-the-box’ control method. CEO Stan Larroque tells Road to VR that its 6DOF controllers are based on Finch Technologies ‘Shift’ controller hardware, something we’ve seen in practice with HTC Vive Focus in the past. Those are available as a separate €100 (or $90 without VAT) add-on tier via the headset’s Kickstarter.

The campaign is shooting for €300,000 (~$350,000) for its initial funding goal, although we can bet it will go well beyond that if any of the recent VR hardware campaigns from this past year are any indication. Tundra Tracker, a small motion device using the SteamVR tracking standard, managed to net over $1 million back in April, and the Yaw2 motion simulator chair garnered a whopping $2.7 million in June.

Here’s a look at the headset’s specs.

Lynx R-1 Specs

  • 1,600 × 1,600 LCD @90Hz per eye, with ultra low-latency Color Passthrough for Augmented Reality
  • Qualcomm XR2 chipset with 6GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage
  • 6DOF rom-scale
  • Optical Hand tracking
  • Cameras: 2 B&W for positional, 2 IR cameras for hand tracking, 2 visible light cameras for passthrough
  • WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5
  • PCVR compatible with SteamVR over WiFi
  • SD card slot for up to 1TB of external storage
  • Two stereo speakers, 4 microphone array and a 3.5mm Jack TRRS
  • Eye Relief: 13mm, Eye-Box: 11mm
  • Battery life: estimated 3 hours

Check out the Lynx Kickstarter here

Update (November 1st, 2021): The Lynx Kickstarter has doubled its funding goal, currently at €600,000 of €300,000 (~$693,000 of $346,500). One week remains in the headset’s crowdfunding campaign which expects its first shipments in April 2022.

The Lnyx team recently showed a closer look at the headset’s Ultraleap-based hand-tracking capabilities, including occlusion and drawing.

The company plans to livestream an update on November 4th which it says will cover topics like SteamVR, the headset’s developer SDK, and the upcoming AWE event which Lynx plans to attend.


Update (October 15th, 2021): Less than two weeks since its launch, the Lynx Kickstart is approaching twice is funding goal, currently sitting at c488,000 of €300,000 (~$567,000 of ~$348,000). With 24 days remaining, the project looks likely to exceed the double mark and then some.

The project has also revealed its first set of stretch goals:

  • $700,000 – Extra face pad
  • $1,000,000 – 128GB SD card & 2M USB-C cable
  • $1,500,000 – Option for $50 travel case (photo here)

The company says it may add additional stretch goals moving forward.

Lynx also shared a demo of the headsets hand-tracking in action (which is powered by Ultraleap):


Update (October 6th, 2021): The Lynx R-1 campaign has passed its €300,000 goal, and now sits at around €320,000 nearly one full day later. There’s still no talk of stretch goals, although if it keeps up its current pace we that may change here soon.

Lynx also provided an update this morning to clarify that Lynx R-1 does indeed cost $500 for people not subject to European/French value-added tax (VAT). It was previously reported that the Early Bird tier was around $615, however it now the creators have created a dedicated funding tier without VAT for non-EU backers. We’ve made note of these changes in the article below, and have adjusted all pricing tiers.

Additional reporting by Ben Lang

The post Lynx R-1 MR Headset Kickstarter Comes to an End with Over $800,000 appeared first on Road to VR.

The Virtual Arena: The Virtual Game Space

The Virtual Arena

Covering all aspects of the Out-of-Home entertainment landscape, industry specialist Kevin Williams, in his latest Virtual Arena column is one of the first to try London’s latest immersive experience Chaos Kart; which pushes the boundaries of hi-octane Mixed Reality Entertainment.

Chaos Karts

Much of the thinking of immersing a player in a virtual space has been via using a VR headset. But there are developments being made to offer a wider immersive experience to large groups of players, where they all can share the visual representation, without the need for glasses or cumbersome head-mounted displays. And recently we have seen an explosion in the launching of “Immersive Display Environments” (IDE) using the latest laser projection technology.

The UK became the home of a first of its kind attraction in the heart of the capital and we were lucky enough to be one of the first to try out this amazing experience. Called Chaos Karts – a group of nondescript enclosures, located near Brick Lane in East London, hides inside a big secret. This is what has been labelled by the operators as the “ultimate Go-Karting experience”.

Chaos Karts

Engineered by The Ents Inc., working with Little Lion Entertainment (known for their work on the ‘Crystal Maze LIVE’), have created an immersive go-kart experience that combines physical electric go-karts with a game space that is an “Immersive Themed Race Circuit”. Achieved in part, through the use of over 32 high-end projection systems. The space has been mapped out, with the physical movement of the racing vehicles, and their interaction with virtual elements of the space tracked.

Chaos Karts

The Chaos Karts experience is achieved through two key elements – the Immersive Display Environment and the racers vehicle. The modified go-karts allow the players to race around the virtual race circuit, but also interact with the virtual and physical world. Steering wheel mounted buttons allow players to launch collected Power-Ups forward and backward of their vehicle. With a display to inform the player of collected items and their score, as they drive over gems.

Chaos Karts

This is the closest that can be achieved to actually being shrunk down and placed in a real-world version of Mario Kart. The “Gamification” of the traditional go-kart experience was masterfully achieved, and so compelling. The current attraction offers three immersive themed race circuits to compete on, with players racing around, collecting points along with items that they can launch to disable opponents.

Chaos Karts

The Chaos Kart venue charges £44 for players over the age of 13, (with off-peak ticket prices at £33), to take part in an hour-long racing and gaming experience. On arriving at the venue and signing, (along with creating their own avatar), they are then “shrunk”. And in groups taken to the track to play in sessions, experiencing six races in each of the three different courses. The players are briefed on their activities in the race by their Game Master, and his computer sidekick “Chipp-E”. The whole experience feels like one big video game, and the developers have worked hard to create an enjoyable and competitive space.

As stated, this is the first UK mixed reality gaming experience of this kind – but Chaos Karts is not the only immersive go-kart experience being rolled out Internationally. In Europe, nine facilities of the ‘BattleKart’ brand have been launched. Again, using projection mapping systems to create the immersive racecourse, a system that offers a slightly less sophisticated approach, but has proven equally as popular with its player-base.

These are just the first examples of complete IDE experiences that are being rolled out into the Out-of-Home entertainment sector. Projection-Mapping systems offering a level of fidelity of saturation and resolution that are unachievable from the current VR headsets, and we can expect to report on the next crop of immersive environment entertainment venues opening very soon.   

Facebook Details Experimental Mixed Reality & Passthrough API

Facebook shared some details about its experimental Passthrough API to enable new kinds of mixed reality apps for Oculus Quest 2.

The feature may also serve as the foundation for the company’s long-term efforts in augmented reality, effectively turning Quest 2 into a $299 AR developer kit. When asked if the feature is coming to the original Oculus Quest, a Facebook representative replied “today, this is only available for Quest 2.”

The new feature will be available to Unity developers in an upcoming software development kit release “with support for other development platforms coming in the future.”

Facebook says apps using the API “cannot access, view, or store images or videos of your physical environment from the Oculus Quest 2 sensors” and raw images form the four on-board cameras “are processed on-device.”

The following capabilities will be available with the passthrough API, according to Facebook:

Composition: You can composite Passthrough layers with other VR layers via existing blending techniques like hole punching and alpha blending.

Styling: You’ll be able to apply styles and tint to layers from a predefined list, including applying a color overlay to the feed, rendering edges, customizing opacity, and posterizing.

Custom Geometry: You can render Passthrough images to a custom mesh instead of relying on the default style mesh—for example, to project Passthrough on a planar surface.

Facebook sees the Passthrough API as enabling more robust examples of productivity apps — remote work solution Spatial was one of the first apps to access the API — alongside the ability to interact with people or pets in your physical room at the same time as VR content, and it could open up new kinds of games that could incorporate more of your physical environment.