Top 5 Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality News 💥 💥 💥
The upcoming new Gear VR comes w/ a magic wand, the new Gear 360 camera gets cuter + more compatible, you can now live stream in 360 on Facebook, Palmer Luckey leaves Oculus, HoloBuilder gets $2.25M investment, and more…
1)NEW SAMSUNG GEAR COMES WITH A MAGIC WAND
The upcoming Samsung Gear VR will boast a controller, operating sort of like a laser pointer (functionally similar to Google Daydream’s mobile controller but features a trigger). The launch date for the 2017 Gear VR and Controller combo is April 21st, and is priced at $129 — and the controller’s compatibility will be retroactive, meaning you can upgrade your older Gear VR headset with a solo controller for $39. The fancy new mobile VR hardware was not just a companion announcement to the anticipated Galaxy S8 and S8+ at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but will also be bundled with pre-orders of the S8 series. Samsung padded the deal with some sweet VR content partnerships (Ghost in the Shell, Live Nation, UFC, and Summer X Games) and launched the new Stories in 360 program as well.
2)THE GEAR 360 CAMERA JUST GOT CUTER… AND MORE COMPATIBLE
One of our favorite little consumer 360 cameras, the Gear 360 from Samsung just got smaller and more streamlined. The redesign brings the lenses closer together for a smoother stitch, and has become even more handheld with the base doubling as an integrated grip. If you’re an iOS user who has been left out in the cold, rejoice! The new Gear 360 camera will run on iPhone 6S and later iPhones running at least iOS 10.0, and you can live stream all your content to Facebook and YouTube. No word on pricing yet (they say it’ll be less than the original Gear 360, which was an approachable $350), but the cost of consumer 360 cameras is rapidly dropping and the market is getting quite competitive.
3)FACEBOOK ROLLS OUT 360 DEGREES OF LIVE STREAMING GLORY FOR ALL
Outside of a few partnerships with select media publishers (shameless plug, at VRScout we teamed up with Facebook to do a 360 live stream of President Obama’s Farewell Address back in January), Facebook has kept its spherical live streaming capabilities out of the public’s hands… until now. Of course, although the social platform assures us that they will “continue to work with other manufacturers to integrate additional cameras,” right now the functionality is limited to a handful of partners: the newly announced Samsung Gear 360 (the upcoming 2017 version), Giroptic IO, Insta360, ALLie Camera, and more professional options like the Z CAM S1 and Nokia Ozo. For anyone live streaming in 360, Facebook caution that you’ll need beefy wifi to ensure quality of the 360 live streams, as well as titillated all the audiophiles out there: support for spatialized audio will be coming soon.
4)PALMER LUCKEY IS GONE FROM FACEBOOK
Ironically announced around the same time as the one-year anniversary of the consumer launch of the Oculus Rift, founder Palmer Luckey has left Facebook. The official statement is that Luckey’s departure was voluntary, and perhaps could just be part of a larger strategy overhaul to take VR mainstream that is being led by Hugo Barra (who led product for Google’s Android operating system). However, after the pro-Trump meme scandal broke in September (Luckey was secretly funding an online anti-Hillary Clinton troll group), Luckey was no longer seen in public, on Twitter, or even at the Oculus Developer Conference in the fall. That is, until he was the main defendant in the ZeniMax vs. Oculus trial (which led to $500M awarded to ZeniMax over alleged IP misappropriation). We don’t know exactly how Luckey’s exit really went down, but hey — he’s 24 years old and is worth over $700M. He’ll be fine.
5)HOLOBUILDER GETS $2.25M INVESTMENT
German-American startup HoloBuilder has received a venture round of $2.25M from Tandem Capital and construction technology VC Brick & Mortar Ventures. Winning the Constructech 2017 Top Products award, HoloBuilder’s competition is companies like Autodesk and Bentley Systems and has been described as “having X-Ray vision for your building.” The program increases communication efficiency and reduces costs for general contractors by enabling speedy 360 degree on-site capture the building site, all supported by leading cloud software.
…and just a few more
Malia Probst is Director of Brand Development for VRScout, one of the world’s leading immersive media companies, and host of the VRScout Report podcast which covers all the news in the VR/AR industry. Also check out her interviews with leaders in the virtual reality and augmented reality industry on the Real Virtual Show podcast.