Saturday, September 26, 2015



OCULUS RIFT just held their 2nd annual developer conference, Connect 2.  It was held on the West Coast. Only the Keynotes, not other sessions, were streamed.  Oddly, a view of the audience seemed to show several sections of the Keynote auditorium that were completely empty, even though they posted a "FULL" notice for the conference on the site. (One sour note was that the opening day of the conference was on Yom Kippur.  Surely Facebook, even if not Oculus, should have been sensitive to this.)  

As a New Yorker, I feel that New York is not getting its share of opportunities to test out VR hardware and software locally.  Major developer conferences, as well as E3, CES, GDC, SIGGRAPH and other important events with demonstrations and prototypes, are all very far away.

There were no very significant announcements at Connect 2, but it is clear that Oculus is very serious about quality, and they are making a major investment in developing a platform for the best possible VR hardware and software.


The next GEAR VR will sell for $99, lighter and more comfortable than the current version and will accomodate all four top Samsung Smartphones.

The consumer RIFT will be more comfortable than the DK2, allow for eyeglass wearers, and include earphones.

OCULUS TOUCH will include powerful position sensing.

There will be a certification for RIFT READY computers.

Content available at launch of the RIFT (some sooner on the Gear VR) will include film & video streaming from NETFLIX and other partners, and will include MINECRAFT and a 3D art creation program for TOUCH.

Not announced: My access to information on OCULUS was limited by the fact that they made only the Keynotes available and not the sessions.  However, I believe that, as of now:


Here are some comments on what worked, what did not work, and we can learn about live streaming of VR.

When it worked, the presentation of the Keynotes by NextVR, streamed live to the Gear VR was AWESOME!

NextVR streamed 3D, front-facing, hemispherical video live (with a few seconds delay). They had two camera setups: one at the side of the stage, one at the front. It was very comfortable switching from time to time between the two views. The sound was fine.

The limitations of the live streaming were that it crashed about 4 times an hour, and only sometimes re-started by itself; and the Gear VR Smartphone overheated about twice an hour, and had to be turned off for at least five minutes to cool. (You can miss a lot in 5 minutes. -- fortunately, I had a second, regular stream running on my desktop.) The camera lost about 30% of its battery in an hour. Since regular vision is blocked while using the headset, until voice note-taking and commands are implemented, it is hard to take notes, or participate in side-chats, while watching the VR stream.


Overall, especially for short events , VR Live Streaming works well and is very exciting.

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