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VRoamer Generates On-The-Fly VR Experiences While Walking Through Buildings

VRoamer is a new Microsoft Research project that generates VR worlds on-the-fly while users walk through unknown building environments. Players can wear their HMD and no longer have to rely on artificial locomotion techniques such as teleportation. They simply walk through their environment and the game is built around them. This is possible through the use of a wearable tech camera that scans the environment in front of the user and visualizes a playable virtual world. The system paints its virtual environment over real world objects such as doors. The system keeps the user safe from objects in the real world, even though those objects are hidden to the user. Transitions are done through corridors that are constructed to the available space in the user's environment. Players can open real doors to progress the game and the corridors may contain weapons, enemies, keys, etc. Objects that suddenly appear in a user's environment such as other people may become skeletons or traps.

In this paper, we present VRoamer, which enables users to walk unseen physical spaces for which VRoamer procedurally generates a virtual scene on-the-fly. Scaling to the size of office buildings, VRoamer extracts walkable areas and detects physical obstacles in real time using inside-out tracking, instantiates pre-authored virtual rooms if their sizes fit physically walkable areas or otherwise generates virtual corridors and doors that lead to undiscovered physical areas. The use of these virtual structures that connect pre-authored scenes on-the-fly allow VRoamer to (1) temporarily block users' passage, thus slowing them down while increasing VRoamer's insight into newly discovered physical areas, (2) prevent users from seeing changes beyond the current virtual scene, and (3) obfuscate the appearance of physical environments. VRoamer animates virtual objects to reflect dynamically discovered changes of the physical environment, such as people walking by or obstacles that become apparent only with closer proximity.

Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 4:47 PM (CDT)

Man Spends a Week Inside VR

In spite of some growing pains associated with the technology, it seems that virtual reality and augmented reality will play a significant role in the future of society. But just what happens to people if they spend days, or even weeks, inside of VR/AR? One YouTuber decided to find out, as he strapped himesflf into a VR headset for 168 hours straight, and live streamed the whole thing. Check out the experiment below:

"I now dream in virtual reality."

Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 8:19 AM (CDT)

VR Rhythm Game 'Beat Saber' Sells over 1 Million Copies

Beat Saber may have become the first VR title to sell more than 1 million copies. Beat Games co-founder and CEO Jaroslav Beck thinks the secret to the game's success is "It is super intuitive." He also credited his team for creating a game that didn't crash and didn't lead to motion sickness. "'The code is super polished,' Beck said." In addition to today's release of the paid DLC "Monstercat Music Pack," the developers are considering adding new genres of music to the game and more self-published free music. Beat Saber currently maintains a 97% positive approval rating on Steam.

Beat Saber surpassed the one million unit milestone in February, according to Beat Games co-founder and CEO Jaroslav Beck, who credited word-of-mouth for most of the game's success in a recent interview with Variety. "We did zero PR whatsoever," Beck said. "We didn't expect that it would blow up that crazy."

Posted by cageymaru March 14, 2019 2:32 PM (CDT)

Fundamental Surgery Is a VR Medical Training Platform Featuring Haptics

Caution, the videos in this article show realistic simulations of surgery in VR using 3D models, so it is possibly NSFW. Billed as the "flight simulator for surgeons," FundamentalVR is pioneering the use of VR to create immersive training tools for the medical community. CEO Richard Vincent outlined how the company is using low cost hardware, haptics, and global distribution through its reduced-cost platform model to breakdown the boundaries of adoption. This will allow the company to put surgical training into the hands of surgeons that have never had access to it.
The Fundamental Surgery platform "combines virtual reality (VR) with cutting-edge haptics (the sense of touch) to create a scalable 'flight simulator' experience for trainee and qualified surgeons, allowing them to experience and navigate the same visuals, sounds and feelings they would during a real surgical procedures." The platform is equipment agnostic, compatible with any laptop, VR headset or haptic device such as the HaptX gloves combined with a 3DS Haptic arm demonstrated in the video below. Last year, Fundamental VR signed a strategic collaboration and joint development agreement with Mayo Clinic to jointly develop surgical VR simulation and education products.

"When it comes to surgical training simulations, a sense of touch is a game changer, but has traditionally only been possible with immobile equipment costing hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Richard Vincent, CEO, FundamentalVR. "The Fundamental Surgery platform delivers highly sophisticated tactile feedback at a fraction of the cost through a software approach that can work with a range of haptic devices. Our platform currently works with haptic arms, but is designed to evolve as hardware innovations allow new products such as HaptX Gloves to come to market. We are proud to work with industry leaders such as HaptX and are excited to demonstrate how HaptX Gloves integrated into our Surgical Haptics Intelligence Engine TM takes the sensation of surgery to an exciting new and natural level."

Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 10:15 PM (CDT)

Nintendo Launches Labo VR Kit

Following up on their immensely profitable Labo kits for the Switch, Nintendo just announced a new Labo kit designed for "sharable, simple, VR gaming experiences." The basic kit includes cutouts for VR Goggles and a VR blaster for $40, while the full package with a cardboard elephant, camera, bird, and wind pedal will set you back a whopping $80. Naturally, the internet isn't happy about how much Nintendo is charging for colored cardboard cutouts, but those pricey packages apparently include a license for Nintendo's new VR software as well. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip.

The inventive Toy-Con Garage mode - included as part of all Nintendo Labo software - returns with Nintendo Labo: VR Kit, offering basic programming tools for players to experiment with. More information about the experiences offered by Nintendo Labo: VR Kit will be revealed in the future. The Nintendo Labo: VR Kit - Starter Set + Blaster and complete Nintendo Labo: VR Kit will be available in stores on April 12.

Posted by alphaatlas March 07, 2019 12:14 PM (CST)

Boneworks Has the Physics Underpinnings to Be a Next Generation VR Masterpiece

The VR development studio, Stress Level Zero is working on its most ambitious VR title yet; Boneworks. Boneworks will feature advanced physics that aren't found in other VR titles. It uses the capabilities of the upcoming SteamVR Knuckles to allow users to grip one end of an object like a crowbar and slide/rotate their fingers around the other end. Not only does it allow users to see and use each of their fingers individually in the VR world, gamers can toss objects up with one hand and catch it with the other. In first the video, the developers demonstrate some of the forward-thinking, next generation technology featured in the game. Special thanks to Supercharged_Z06 for the information.

BONEWORKS Is a narrative VR action adventure using advanced experimental physics mechanics. Dynamically navigate through environments, engage in physics heavy combat, and creatively approach puzzles with physics. Advanced Physics: Designed entirely for consistent universal rules, the advanced physics mechanics encourage players to confidently and creatively interact with the virtual world however you want. Combat: Approach combat in any number of ways you can think off following the physical rules of the game's universe. Melee weapons, firearms, physics traps, environments, can all be used to aid you in fights with enemy entities. Weapons, lots of weapons: Boneworks provides players with a plethora of physics based weaponry; guns, swords, axes, clubs, spears, hammers, experimental energy weapons, nonsensical mystery tools, and anomalous physics weapons.

Posted by cageymaru March 01, 2019 5:32 PM (CST)

Overkill's The Walking Dead Pulled From Steam

Today, various media outlets reported that Overkill's The Walking Dead has been pulled from Steam. In a press release, Starbreeze says The Walking Dead's IP owner filed a "license related complaint," and claim that they're "in discussions about the agreement and Starbreeze is trying to resolve the issue to find an amicable solution with the ambition to finish and deliver season 2 of the game." However, Forbes claims that the Walking Dead creators pulled the game because it didn't meet their quality standards. Starbreeze filed for "reconstruction" (which appears to be a euphemism for bankruptcy) in December last year, and pulling one of their big releases from Steam certainly won't help their financial situation.

"Our creators and their stories are the core of Skybound, and since 2014 we have worked hard to expand the world of 'The Walking Dead' into an exceptional co-op action FPS," Skybound said in a statement. "We did our best to work with Starbreeze and resolve many issues that we saw with the game, but ultimately 'Overkill's The Walking Dead' did not meet our standards nor is it the quality that we were promised."

Posted by alphaatlas February 28, 2019 8:32 AM (CST)

How Facebook Tracks Your Ovulation and Heart Rate Through Apps

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that apps are sending sensitive information to Facebook through the Facebook SDK. The Facebook SDK makes it easy for app writers to share information with Facebook through a built-in analytics service called "App Events." 17.6% of the apps on Apple's App Store and 25.4% of the apps on the Google Play Store use the Facebook SDK. These apps are collecting your data to "allow apps to better understand their users' behavior or to collect data to sell targeted advertising." Facebook says it didn't know that health information was being collected and shared as this is violates their policies. Facebook collects the information for market research and advertising campaigns. Users do not even need a Facebook account for their information to be shared with the social media giant. Some of the apps analyzed by The Wall Street Journal shared information such as weight, height, women's period, length of cycle, ovulation, heart rate, when women desire to get pregnant, location and prices of home listings; including which were marked as favorites. Other information shared include; unique advertising identifier that can be matched to a device or profile, email address, which part of the body a person has issues with in regards to weight loss and many other interactions. Within seconds of entering information into an app, Facebook is sent a copy of the information. "Facebook can often match that data with actual Facebook users."

Facebook said some of the data sharing uncovered by the Journal's testing appeared to violate its business terms, which instruct app developers not to send it "health, financial information or other categories of sensitive information." Facebook said it is telling apps flagged by the Journal to stop sending information its users might regard as sensitive. The company said it may take additional action if the apps don't comply. "We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us," a Facebook spokeswoman said. She said Facebook automatically deletes some sensitive data it might receive, such as Social Security numbers.

Posted by cageymaru February 22, 2019 2:59 PM (CST)

NATO Experiment Manipulated Soldiers Through Facebook

The NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence published a report (PDF warning) on the challenges governments face with online security, and Wired managed to spot a particular interesting experiment within the multi-section report. As part of an experiment, the independent NATO organization used Facebook to to try to manipulate soldiers during a military exercise. Over several weeks, the researchers posted fake webpages and groups, promoted them with targeted advertising, and gradually lured members of the military exercise into them. Eventually, the researcher were able to identify "a significant amount of people taking part in the exercise and managed to identify all members of certain units, pinpoint the exact locations of several battalions, gain knowledge of troop movements to and from the exercises, and discover the dates and active phases of the exercises." The researchers note that several of Facebook's existing countermeasures were effective, but they weren't enough to stop the researchers from effectively infiltrating the exercise.

The researchers also tracked down service members' Instagram and Twitter accounts and searched for other information available online, some of which a bad actor might be able to exploit. "We managed to find quite a lot of data on individual people, which would include sensitive information," Biteniece says. "Like a serviceman having a wife and also being on dating apps" "Every person has a button. For somebody there's a financial issue, for somebody it's a very appealing date, for somebody it's a family thing," Sarts says. "It's varied, but everybody has a button. The point is, what's openly available online is sufficient to know what that is."

Posted by alphaatlas February 19, 2019 8:30 AM (CST)

Some 1660 TI Models Could Have 3GB of VRAM

As the 1660 TI launch nears, more and more designs from various manufacturers are starting to pop up around the web. Videocardz posted designs from MSI, Asus, Galax, Palit, and EVGA, and they even managed to get a die shot of what they claim to be the TU116 GPU, as well as a shot of the MSI Geforce 1660 TI Ventus Xt's PCB. On top of the pictures, Videocardz spotted yet another potential leak from the Eurasion Economic Commission's website. This one in particular suggest that Asus could lanch several 1660 TI SKUs with 3GB of memory instead of 6GB.

The 6GB variant may be exclusive to ROG STRIX series though, as there is no such product with 3GB memory listed. ASUS will launch DUAL, Expedition, Phoenix, TUF (the new series), Turbo and ROG STRIX series of GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics. Models are as always divided into Advanced, OC and non-OC variants (which basically feature different clock speeds). The GTX 1660 Ti graphics cards will be announced on February 22nd. We expect a large list of custom models to be available at launch as GTX 1660 Ti basically replaces GTX 1060, the most popular SKU in NVIDIA offer.

Update 2/15/2019: HardOCP's sources have confirmed that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 TI will launch on February 22nd for $279. Additionally, the GTX 1660 currently set to launch on March 14th for $229, but as we mentioned before, precise launch dates and prices aren't necessarily set in stone this far away from release. We also heard that the 1660 could end up being a rebrand of the Pascal-based Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, but we can't confirm that rumor yet. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas February 15, 2019 11:21 AM (CST)

Buildzoid Analyzes the PCB and VRM Layout of the AMD Radeon VII

Buildzoid from Actually Hardcore Overclocking on YouTube has performed an in-depth analysis of the PCB and VRM layout of the AMD Radeon VII. Watch him discuss the efficiency and cost of the various exotic components that are found in the design of the AMD Radeon VII. You can view our unboxing and teardown video here.

AMD's Radeon VII card left its initial embargo, which allowed tear-downs (link below), just recently, and that allowed us to look closer at the VRM for analysis.

Posted by cageymaru February 06, 2019 6:01 PM (CST)

VLC 4.0 Will Support VR Headsets and 360 Video

VLC lead developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf gave a talk at FOSDEM 19 where he discussed new features that are coming in the open source VLC 4.0 release. The VLC development team reverse engineered the VR headsets on the market to add support via OpenHMD. Support for HDR, a new video filter API, new UI, clock, 360 degree video and 3D audio are planned for VLC 4.0. Support for older OS platforms will be phased out such as Windows XP and Vista. Phoronix also found the slide deck and a video of the talk from FOSDEM 19.

VLC lead developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf talked about their plans for version 4.0, codenamed Otto Chriek. For VLC 4.0 they want a new playlist, a redone user-interface, a new video output architecture that supports VR/3D content, and removal of old platforms. They also want support for 360 degree video, 3D audio, support for desktop VR head-mounted displays like the HTC Vive and Oculus via OpenHMD. Other video output work also includes better high dynamic range (HDR) support and a video filter API.

Posted by cageymaru February 05, 2019 5:40 PM (CST)