Luxexcel Partner with Vuzix for 3D Printed Prescription AR Headset Lenses

Luxexcel Partner with Vuzix for 3D Printed Prescription AR Headset Lenses

Those of us requiring glasses already know how frustrating it can be to wear certain ill-fitting virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets, but now thanks to Luxexcel, we’ll be able to put on our headsets without any concern very soon.


Luxexcel are, it is claimed, the only company in the world with the capability to 3D print speciality ophthalmic lenses, allowing them to create custom ophthalmic products, and now thanks to their partnership with Vuzix, you’ll be able to get custom-made lenses for glasses-free viewing in Vuzix AR headsets.

The new Vuzix Blade will have the prescription inserts, and will be introduced at CES 2018, Las Vegas. Known as the VisionPlatform, the potential of Luxexcel’s 3D printed lenses doesn’t end with AR headsets, as they have further use in VR headsets, and other wearable smart devices of the future.

Luxexcel CEO, Hans Streng, understands the needs of the global market when it comes to lenses in these new devices; “60% of the US population needs eye correction. Without custom prescription inserts, those people will not be able to fully enjoy the most advanced new augmented reality products. Luxexcel is thrilled to partner with Vuzix as the early adopter of 3D printed ophthalmic lens inserts. We see great synergy between the amazing innovations of Vuzix and the technology of Luxexcel.”

Hopefully with this additional bit of accessibility, AR and VR experiences will be open to a wider range of people. Paul Travers, Vuzix CEO, says; “We are delighted that with the 3D printed prescription lenses provided by Luxexcel, a much broader audience can enjoy our unique new product, the Vuzix Blade.”

This isn’t the first time Vuzix have looked out for the eye-health of their customers, as they recently helped a High-School student with new smart glasses. The Vuzix Blade glasses are available for pre-order now, and are perfect for those with the need for extra spectacles.

How do you feel about 3D printed lenses and Vuzix smart glasses? Let us know in the comments, and stay on VRFocus for everything in the future of both VR and AR.

Published at Sat, 06 Jan 2018 11:00:06 +0000

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The Day of Destruction Approaches in VR

The Day of Destruction Approaches in VR

In July last year, SynaptixGames announced a virtual reality (VR) videogame for multiple formats, Day of Destruction, developed by Grand Junction. Six months later the title is now preparing for launch on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Day of Destruction screenshot 2

Day of Destruction is inspired by the 1996 motion-picture, Independence Day. The twist however, is that you play as the aliens hell-bent on bringing destruction to the Earth. Playing as the invaders, VR users will have the opportunity to bring destruction to 24 cities on six different planets, unlocking new technologies and UFO craft as they progress.

Day of Destruction was originally intended to launch in summer 2017, however a considerable delay left us with no further information. Now the videogame has resurfaced with a suggested ‘early January 2018’ release date. The official website for Day of Destruction offers an introduction to the storyline of the videogame, proposing a possible release date also. The excerpt follows below, verbatim:

“January 8, 2018: Communications systems in the solar system ahead are disrupted by interference from your armada. They know you are coming! Rise to the challenge and vanquish entire civilizations. Empower yourself with alien technology as you unlock new weapons and more powerful ships. Follow your destiny on the Day of Destruction!”

The teaser trailer for Day of Destruction, embedded below, showcases footage that acts as a homage to the aforementioned Independence Day motion-picture, with UFO slowly flying into position above a variety of different cities. However, not seen in the trailer is the proposed ‘mass scale destruction system’ set to feature in the videogame. Day of Destruction will also include universal leaderboards and Steam Achievements upon release.

Day of Destruction screenshot 3Day of Destruction has reportedly been in development for two-and-a-half-years, and is set to launch via Steam later this month, compatible with both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. There’s currently no word on the previously announced Samsung Gear VR edition, nor the proposed OSVR compatibility.

Keep an eye on Steam on 8th January 2018, to see if that fateful day where the end of the Earth is in your hands arrives. VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details on Day of Destruction and other VR titles from SynaptixGames and Grand Junction.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 20:00:16 +0000

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Touching The Future of Augmented Reality

Touching The Future of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR), for the most part, tends to be restricted to one sense – vision. It acts as an overlay on the real world, changing how it looks, but not how it feels. That might be about to change thanks to a partnership between Ultrahaptics, ZeroLight and Meta.

The three companies have worked together to create technology that encompasses three of the five senses in order to create a more involving and immersive form of AR. The proof-of-concept technology will be demonstrated to visitors at CES 2018.

The AR experience at CES 2018 allows visitors to don a Meta 2 AR development kit and explore a virtual recreation of a Pagani Huaya roadster hypercar. The car is set within a real-world environment, but users of the AR experience can configure the car, take it apart to see its components up close, and even feel the powerful vibrations of its V12 AMG engine using haptic feedback.

“Touch is intrinsic to our understanding of the world and how we interact with it. This shouldn’t be lost when we interact with digital media and virtual objects,” said Anders Hakfelt, vice president, product and marketing, Ultrahaptics. “Ultrahaptics uses ultrasound to create tactile feedback on the hand, allowing you to explore and manipulate virtual objects and react to tactile cues without inhibiting natural movement. By stimulating contact with digital models, we can amplify the overall impact and response of each digital interaction.”

“The vision behind Meta is to deliver a machine that acts as an extension of the body, allowing us to intuitively create, communicate and collaborate in a natural way,” said David Oh, head of developer relations for Meta. “We are working closely with our partners using the Meta 2 Development Kit to deliver such experiences through augmented reality today, while defining what the future of computing will look like in the years to come.”

“Brands are continuing to reinvent the way they engage customers through digital experiences. ZeroLight’s high fidelity visualisation software harnesses the full potential of cutting-edge hardware, bringing products to life in stunning detail through cohesive, personal experiences. Such quality enables the clear perception and understanding of virtual vehicles, allowing for more informed decision making,” said Joseph Artgole, associate marketing director, ZeroLight.

There will be a VRFocus presence at CES 2018, bringing you all the latest news and hands-on reports from the show floor.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 21:00:37 +0000

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Mercedes-Benz Joins the AR Manual World With Ask Mercedes

Mercedes-Benz Joins the AR Manual World With Ask Mercedes

2017 was certainly a year that was instrumental in the development of augmented reality (AR) technology, whether that was through headsets and smart glasses like HoloLens and Vuzix, or software such as Google’s ARCore and ARKit by Apple. This helped developers create new AR videogames as well as more functional apps. The automobile industry has embraced the rise of AR by creating interactive manuals, the latest of which comes from Mercedes-Benz.

Ask Mercedes 1

The company has built an AR app called Ask Mercedes, allowing customers with an Apple iPhone or iPad to learn more about their new car. The app works with the 2018 E-Class Mercedes-Benz (all body styles, non-AMG), with users having to align an image on their device with the interior of the vehicle. After which they’ll be able to see a selection of numbers automatically superimposed onto the controls and displays shown in the camera image. Clicking on a number will then bring up the relevant information.

“We are creating a personalised customer experience that goes well beyond the vehicle. With innovative services such as ‘Ask Mercedes’, we are further expanding our digital ecosystem”, says Britta Seeger, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales in a statement.

The app has been launched in the US, South Africa and Malaysia initially. At the start of 2018 it is scheduled to be introduced in India and Hong Kong, with a version in German to follow later in the year. Mercedes-Benz has said it’s also working on an Android version of the app which should become available this year. Additionally, Ask Mercedes is expected to be gradually expanded in the coming months, with support for further vehicle models, content and communication channels envisaged.

Ask Mercedes 2

Ask Mercedes may showcase updated AR technology for car manuals but it’s certainly not the first. One of the earliest examples VRFocus covered was Hyundai back in 2015. As AR is further embraced by car manufacturers worldwide,  VRFocus will keep you updated on the latest developments.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 22:00:28 +0000

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Here’s What Could Be in HTC’s ‘Vive 1.5’

Here’s What Could Be in HTC’s ‘Vive 1.5’

HTC made a not so subtle tease today that a new version of the HTC Vive is on the way with improved resolution. While it doesn’t look like this will be positioned as a ‘Vive 2’, here’s what we could see from a ‘Vive 1.5’ when it debuts next week at CES on January 8th.

Which New Display?

The current Vive model, released in 2016, has a pair of 1,080 × 1,200 displays made by Samsung. Samsung released their own PC VR headset, the Odyssey, at the end of 2017, which uses 1,440 × 1,600 displays; it’s feasible that HTC will use those same displays in a Vive 1.5.

An upgraded Samsung display seems like the most likely possibility, but there’s another option at play which could bring more than just improved resolution: a Vive 1.5 could use Valve’s new display and lens tech for VR, which it announced last year. The company said that new calibration software makes low-cost LCD displays viable for high-end VR headsets.

That could help the Vive compete on price against the Rift, which is now $400 to the Vive’s $600 MSRP. Valve says the same optics can be paired with OLED displays as well, though they are generally more expensive; the company is selling the tech for use in SteamVR headsets like the Vive.

SteamVR Tracking 2.0?

Valve designed SteamVR Tracking (formerly called Lighthouse), the room-scale tracking system employed by the Vive. Over the course of 2017, Valve has been revealing information on ‘SteamVR Tracking 2.0’, a revamped and improved version of the system, which is expected to bring reduced cost and improved performance, including huge tracking volumes with more than two base stations.

Gauging whether or not SteamVR Tracking 2.0 will make it into a Vive 1.5 is a tough call. On one hand, it would make sense, especially if it allows HTC to further reduce the cost of the headset—SteamVR Tracking 2.0 is said to use fewer components and have a simplified design, potentially reducing manufacturing and support costs. That helps with HTC’s bottom line which is important as the company is primarily a hardware manufacturer, and especially so given the company’s recent financial troubles.

On the other hand, this would likely require a more significant reworking of the manufacturing process, and if the company launched the headset with SteamVR Tracking 2.0 base stations, those would be incompatible with the original Vive—which would be a seemingly more appropriate move for a ‘Vive 2’ than a ‘Vive 1.5’.

The likely possibilities are that SteamVR Tracking 2.0 isn’t included at all in a Vive 1.5, or that the headset and controllers employ the SteamVR Tracking 2.0 sensors, but continue to be shipped with the 1.0 base stations.

The latter would ensure forward-compatibility with SteamVR Tracking 2.0 base stations when they arrive but ensure that all base stations out in the ecosystem work with all current Vive’s (since the SteamVR Tracking 2.0 base station only supports the 2.0 sensors, but the 2.0 sensors support 1.0 base stations). That would avoid fragmenting the tracking systems until a Vive 2 hits.

Image courtesy Valve

Knuckles Controllers?

image courtesy Valve

Another piece of anticipated tech for the Vive is Valve’s ‘Knuckles’, controllers which the company debuted last year and has been refining ever since. We would love to see these new controllers—which are said to be a big step forward over the current Vive ‘wands’—ship with a Vive 1.5.

From a marketing standpoint, however, brand new controllers feel like more of a ‘Vive 2’ move. Especially because they aren’t just an ergonomic improvement, they also bring new features like finger tracking. Our bet is that a Vive 1.5 won’t ship with Knuckles, unfortunately.

– – — – –

It’s exciting to see a refreshed version of the Vive on the way, especially with Oculus saying that they don’t expect to release a Rift 2 in 2018. Whatever HTC ends up announcing, we’ll be there at CES next week on the 8th to find out. Stay tuned!

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 20:55:32 +0000

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‘Icarus Sixty Six’ VR Music Video Is A Heavy Metal Masterpiece

‘Icarus Sixty Six’ VR Music Video Is A Heavy Metal Masterpiece

Take a thrilling journey through a dangerous cosmos in an adventure set to a soundtrack from the musical mastermind behind Adult Swim’s Dethklok.

Titmouse is one of those companies that seems genuinely committed to breaking the status quo in every project they produce. Whether it be television, film or games, the popular animation studio injects a unique flair into everything they touch, resulting in some of the most creative and memorable pieces of animated content in recent years. Thankfully this ideology was not lost in their expansion into the realm of VR.

Their first foray into the technology, Smashparty VR, embodies the very spirit of the company itself, allowing users to destroy a collection of household items with various colorful weaponry as a crowd wildly cheers you on. They’ve also produced a handful of immersive art utilizing the popular VR art application Tilt Brush that are bizarre as they are well-crafted. Now the studio is dipping its toes into the world of VR music videos with a new 360 project that matches intense visuals with an equally intense soundtrack.

Available now for free on SteamVR for the HTC Vive, the Oculus store for Oculus Rift and YouTube, Icarus Six Sixty Six is an intergalactic VR music video that puts you in the cockpit of a neon-pulsing spaceship powered by the beats of an intricate heavy metal symphony.

As you stare out the window of your ship you’ll witness one hell of a brightly-colored light show of various patterns and designs, each more trippy than the last. Hypnotic symmetrical patterns of varying colors? Check. An intense dogfight between a group of enemy spaceships? Check. An appearance by an intergalactic space devil. Of course!

Despite the incredible visuals however, it’s the music in this 360 epic that truly shines the brightest. Set to a sample of the track Icarus 666 from the album “Galaktikon II: Become the Stormby Brendan Small, the intense heavy metal drums and guitars are a perfect combination for the equally intimidating visuals. Each motion, explosion and action is synced to the powerful track, creating a genuine sense of adrenaline. If the music sounds a little familiar, that’s probably because you have great taste in TV. Small is the musical mastermind behind Dethklok, the fictional band featured in Adult Swim’s hit animated series, Metalokalypse.

“It was great working with my pals at Titmouse to put together this intergalactic roller coaster ride,” said Dethklok/Galaktikon mastermind Brendon Small. “It’s really fun bringing a VR experience to the world of METAL!!!”

Icarus Six Sixty Six was created using Tilt Brush, a VR art tool that Titmouse has utilized multiple times in the past. Their creations were then imported into the Unity engine via the toolkit.

“From demons to neon black holes and spaceships, anything you can create using Tilt Brush can be brought into Unity through the Toolkit,” said Chris Prynoski, president and owner of Titmouse. “More than just something that makes our eyes pop out of our heads, working in VR and with AR for the launch of the Snapchat World Lens  Gravy Time has been crazy-bananas.”

This is another slam dunk for the Emmy-winning studio who have already proven themselves a powerful player in the field of VR thanks to Smash Party VR and their various other Tilt Brush projects. Hopefully Titmouse’s commitment towards Tilt Brush continues to help the intuitive application expand its capabilities as well as its popularity.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 18:43:32 +0000

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HTC Teases Vive with Improved Resolution, Debut at CES Next Week

HTC Teases Vive with Improved Resolution, Debut at CES Next Week

HTC today shared a teaser image which appears to indicate a forthcoming new model of the HTC Vive with improved resolution.

The image, which was shared on the official Vive twitter account, shows the words “New Year’s Resolution;” the first two words are very blurry, while the word “Resolution” is very sharp. Below the words is the date January 8th, 2018, and a photo of the iconic HTC Vive.

The tease appears resoundingly clear: a new version of the Vive with a higher resolution display is on the way, and we’ll get our first glimpse of it at CES next week where the company has in years past debuted major updates to their VR ecosystem. On the off chance that’s a misinterpretation, HTC is going to have a lot of disappointed Vive fans out there!

It’s an interesting move, especially as the company has postured that we won’t likely see a ‘Vive 2’ very soon. Indeed, it appears this update may not be an entirely new model, but a ‘1.5’ version with improved resolution. Road to VR will be on hand at CES to report on HTC’s latest VR initiatives.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 19:28:15 +0000

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Hardlight Suit Gets Permanent Base Price Reduction to $299.99

Hardlight Suit Gets Permanent Base Price Reduction to $299.99

In early 2017 virtual reality (VR) startup Nullspace VR launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for an upper body haptic device called the Hardlight Suit. The campaign proved to be successful and with the first suits beginning to rollout to backers the company has announced a major price reduction.

Nullspace VR - Hardlight Suit

During the campaign the Hardlight Suit was available for $499 USD as an early bird offer then $549 USD after that. Once the Kickstarter had ended the regular price for the Hardlight Suit became $630 for consumers and and $1,100 for commercial users. Not exactly cheap when you consider the expense of VR in the first place, so now the company has reduced that cost of both versions.

So the standard Hardlight Suit will be retail for $299.00 while the Hardlight Suit: Enterprise Edition will cost exactly the same just with an additional license fee for commercial entities of $9.99 per month (or $99.99 for one year).

Explaining the reason for the price change, CEO Lucian Copeland said in a statement: “Making the suit more approachable from a price standpoint has always been a long-term goal of ours. We were able to reach the production milestones that made this possible earlier than expected, and we’re enthusiastic about the opportunity to introduce haptics to a much wider audience with this new pricing.”

Nullspace VR - Hardlight Suit_1

“One of our paramount goals is to keep the Hardlight Suit strong well into the future,” adds Hardlight’s Founder Morgan Sinko. “As eager as we are to get the suits out to people, we know all this effort would be wasted if we couldn’t deliver what we intended: a robust, superior quality haptic suit with a long lifespan. That’s why we’re putting so much effort into making the Hardlight Suit as accessible and robust a platform as possible, and a lower price point will help those efforts immensely.”

Initially conceived by students and members of the University of Rochester’s Robotics Club, the Hardlight Suit features 16 haptic feedback zones aimed at targeting every muscle group across a players chest, abdomen, shoulders, or arms, whilst using inertial trackers to track the limbs relative to the users headset.

As more products come to market that make VR even more immersive, VRFocus will keep you updated.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 18:00:36 +0000

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Irish Collaborative Project Shows Potential Of VR Data Glove

Irish Collaborative Project Shows Potential Of VR Data Glove

Data and haptic gloves are starting to enter the market as a more precise and flexible alternative to traditional controllers or motion control wands. Though their advantages in terms of immersion are obvious, it is only recently that technology has begun to catch up with the ideal. A team of researchers and developers in Ireland hope to take another step towards the dream of the smart glove with a new collaborative project that will be on display at CES 2018.

The Smart Glove in question is also known as the Haptic Human Computer Interface System of VR/AR, but the team behind the project primarily refer to the device simply as the Smart Glove. The Smart Glove was developed as part of a project between the Wireless Sensor Networks group at Tyndall National Institute, Ireland and the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group, or TSSG at the Waterford Institute of Technology, with additional help from product and design consultancy business Design Partners. The partnership was created with the aim of making a device that could provide virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) users with a fully immersive, touch-sensitive experience.

The Smart Glove integrates a wide range of sensors, actuators and data algorithms in a way that allows for precisely calibrated position, movement and hand biomechanical data that can be tracked in real-time with extremely low latency. Components and materials were chosen with an eye to making the Data Glove robust, low cost and washable.

Thanks to its low latency, prototypes of the device have been used by medical students for training in surgery, and the creators of the Smart Glove hope the device can also be used to enable smart factory technologies as well as videogaming and social media.

Director of Innovation at TSSG, Kevin Doolin, comments: “the smart glove shows how collaboration between experts in hardware and software can lead to game-changing products being developed by Irish R&D Institutes. This is a key technology enabler unlocking the ability to create truly immersive VR experiences across a variety of sectors and is making a significant impact with some of the largest technology companies.”

The Smart Glove will be demonstrated at CES 2018 at Booth #60108 as part of the Design and Source Showcase in Tech East. VRFocus will also be present at the event, bringing you all the latest from the show floor.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 13:00:00 +0000

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Oculus Go FCC Listing Suggests 32GB/64GB Models Inbound

Oculus Go FCC Listing Suggests 32GB/64GB Models Inbound

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Oculus Go FCC Listing Suggests 32GB/64GB Models Inbound

Oculus promised that its new standalone headset, Oculus Go, would be here in early 2018 and, well, it’s early 2018. While we don’t have official details on the headset’s launch just yet, an FCC listing for it does hint at something interesting.

The listing, first spotted by German site Mobielkopen, lists two models for Oculus Go, which are said to be ‘identical’ down to one key feature: memory. The first model, MH-A32 has 32GB of memory while the other, MH-A64 doubles that up to 64GB. In other words, the only difference is that you’ll be able to store more games and apps on the latter model. We don’t yet know if Go will feature expandable memory via SD card.

We’ve reached out to Oculus to ask if the company does indeed plan to launch two versions of the device. The other good news is that the FCC’s listing means Go has been approved for sale, not that we were expecting it not to be.

If true then you can expect the 32GB version to be the model with the $199 price point announced at Oculus Connect last year, like the 64GB version priced slightly higher.

Oculus Go offers three degrees of three (3DOF) tracking, allowing users to look around and tilt their head in a VR environment like the Gear VR, but not physically move it through virtual space as seen with the Oculus Rift. The kit’s launch line-up will consist of the best content from the past three years of Gear VR releases and Gear developers will be able to release their current projects on the platform too. Experiences are controlled with a 3DOF motion controller.

Tagged with: Oculus Go

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Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 09:50:43 +0000

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