written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 84 — September 7, 2016

Favreau’s Gnomes & Goblins Preview Releases This Week

Film director Jon Favreau showed off the preview of his Gnomes & Goblins VR experience for the first time at Wevr headquarters in Venice, California. The experience uses a world that resizes itself to your room size and height and features a character that responds to how you interact with it.

“I would rather have a smaller audience, but an audience that is experiencing the cutting edge of this technology because I think that is going to expand out,” said the director of Elf, Iron Man and The Jungle Book.

The software debuts this Thursday on Steam for the HTC Vive.

Bits:

Samsung issued a worldwide recall for the Note 7, the latest phone compatible with Gear VR, after reported fires caused by defective batteries. Adding insult to injury, the recall was announced the week before today’s debut of Apple’s new iPhone. There are no rumors of VR or AR features in Apple’s new phone which will be largely unchanged over 2015 models ahead of a major redesign for the 2017 tenth anniversary model that will include an OLED display — table stakes for VR — but Apple has made acquisitions in the past which could always make a surprise appearance.

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An article and video from Bloomberg outlines the way hospitals are testing VR as a way of relieving pain and lowering anxiety. VR Digest publisher Studio Transcendent is development partner to AppliedVR, a startup dedicated to helping put these applications in the hands of doctors.

“Virtual Reality has a way of effecting people physically, emotionally and, to some degree, even socially. … In the 18 years that I’ve been practicing medicine, I can’t think of anything that I’ve done that has been more effective, and you can physically see [the patients’] body language change. … They often will look straight ahead like they’re looking at a still image; the minute they turn their head…that’s sort of the magical moment.”

“We need a virtual reality pharmacy, a shelf, so to speak, of VR content that’s evidence based, that I can reach off the shelf and map to my patients’ needs. … This is not about Silicon Valley entrepreneurism; it’s about when and whether we should interact technology with the compelling human experience of being a patient. It’s not a computing science. It’s not an engineering science. It’s a social science.”

— Brennan Spiegel, MD, a gastroenterologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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The Impossible Travel Agency debuted from Holospark, which emerged from stealth mode heading into the PAX gaming conference over the weekend. The $5 Fantasia-inspired experience is available on both Steam and Oculus. It features an audio-reactive environment that tells a very specific story, but it can be set to your own music of any length.

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Sony is hosting a PlayStation-related event today at noon PST. You can follow along on the official site for potential VR-related news. The company is expected to reveal a slimmer console.

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Triad Semiconductor announced sensors that can be used for SteamVR Tracking to jumpstart the development of headsets and accessories compatible with the innovative tracking system created at Valve.

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Steel Wool Studios received $5 million from HTC after building Quar: Battle for Gate 18 for the launch of the HTC Vive.

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The first set of pictures from the set of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One have made it online, showing a variety of headsets and backdrops for the movie.

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VR adoption on Steam seems to have slowed over the last few months, based on the latest data from Valve’s hardware survey.

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Oculus filed a patent for a depth mapping addition to VR headsets.

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Intel acquired Movidius, a chip company that builds computer vision sensors.

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A VR app called American Dream looks to be one of the first to heavily use satire, imagining a world where Americans need to use guns for everything in their lives.

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UploadVR went hands-on with Rick and Morty, the follow-up to Job Simulator from Owlchemy Labs that’s built on the same underlying interaction tools.

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Startup Bitmovin raised $10.3 million to improve 360-degree video streaming technology.

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Ex-Bungie developers raised $3.5 million for their VR startup Polyarc.

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Qualcomm showed a VR headset reference design with eye tracking.

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VR Digest™ is a Virtual Reality Newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent, a producer of premium Virtual Reality experiences. We publish weekly on Wednesdays.

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