AR/VR Weekly: Microsoft charges in

Well, well, well, look who is today’s hero in virtual reality world. No, it’s not Facebook. It’s not HTC or even Sony. It’s … Microsoft, and it signals that one of the other big megacorps in tech is ready to dive deeper into the emerging scene around VR, augmented reality, and mixed reality.

Tuesday, Microsoft announced it had acquired the AltspaceVR team as part of its push into mixed reality, it is working with Samsung on the Odyssey mixed reality headset, and integration with SteamVR (meaning its library of apps and games will work with this device). Microsoft dubs mixed reality headsets as gear that can work with VR or AR.

Right now, AR appears to on the rise, thanks to Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. These work with hundreds of millions of devices people already own, whereas VR right now requires pricey headsets and PCs powerful enough to run the software for this new reality.

Is Microsoft trying to play it safe by making devices that run AR and VR? Or does the Windows and Xbox company get that marrying these options together will produce a transformative technology, one that does more than either VR or AR can do alone?

For AR/VR coverage, send news tips to Dean Takahashi and Jeff Grubb (for those that cross over into PC gaming). Please send guest post submissions to Rowan Kaiser. Please be sure to visit our AR/VR Channel.

—Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor

P.S. Let’s hang out in the VR Rec Room this week.

From GamesBeat

Microsoft resuscitates AltspaceVR for social mixed reality

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Microsoft announced today that it has acquired the AltspaceVR team as it announced its big initiative to created a hardware and software ecosystem around Windows mixed reality headsets. Microsoft didn’t explain the terms of the deal, saying only that AltspaceVR is joining Microsoft. Microsoft calls the emerging technology “mixed reality” to encompass both augmented reality […]

Samsung’s Windows Mixed Reality headset Odyssey ships November 6 for $499

At its Windows Mixed Reality event today, Microsoft made a slew of announcements, including that it has a new partner: Samsung. The South Korean company is developing its own Windows Mixed Reality headset dubbed the Samsung HMD Odyssey. Shipping on November 6, the headset will be available in a bundle with motion controllers for $499. “When […]

ARKit and ARCore are leaving VR in the rearview mirror

AR/VR has become a two speed market, with mobile AR set to have over twice the number of users at launch in 2017 than the entire AR/VR headset market by 2021. Apple ARKit, Google ARCore, and Facebook’s Camera Effects Platform could have 900 million users by the end of 2018, with their launch changing the trajectory […]

Vuforia 7 helps augmented reality blend into real life

Augmented reality tech company Vuforia is announcing a new version of its augmented reality platform that enables more seamless integration of AR into real-world environments. Jay Wright, president of Needham, Massachusetts-based Vuforia said that Vuforia 7 has something called “ground plane,” which enables developers to create planes that fit into the real world and help […]

Intel makes the case for wireless PC-based high-end virtual reality

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Intel recently hosted a 100-year-old man at its virtual reality lab in Hillsboro, Oregon. Lyle Becker was a big fan of the VR flight simulator, which reminded him of the planes that he flew in World War II. That kind of first-time experience evokes a sense of wonder at the immersiveness of VR, and that’s why […]

Varjo raises $8.2 million to boost its high-res VR headset

EXCLUSIVE: Varjo, a Finnish company that’s working on an ultra high-fidelity mixed reality headset, announced today that it has raised an $8.2 million series A round to propel it forward as it works toward the launch of its first developer kits. EQT Ventures led the round, with participation from Lifeline Ventures, the Venture Reality Fund, Presence […]

Beyond GamesBeat

Exclusive: The Well Is A Gorgeous RPG From Turtle Rock Studios

After about 15 minutes exploring the newest virtual world from Turtle Rock Studios, I emerged from the forest I was journeying through and came into a clearing. I moved out to the edge of a lake, where light broke through the clouds above and descended onto the scene. I paused, took a deep breath, and just marveled. The Well is a beautiful game. (via UploadVR)

Writing for VR: The Definitive Guide to VR Storytelling

In August, VRScout & VR Playhouse partnered with YouTube Space LA to put on the “VR Creator Lab,” a 3-month intensive for a select group of YouTube content creators looking to enhance their VR/360° output. An overview and guide to immersive writing and storytelling was included as a part of this lab. (via VR Scout)

Oculus Rift Closes in on Steam Majority Market Share

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According to the latest figures from Steam’s Hardware & Software Survey, the Oculus Rift has picked up an additional 3.1% of the market share of VR headsets on Steam. On the trail end of a major summer sale, the headset has set its new record high for the third month in a row. The HTC Vive maintains the majority with 50.2% share of headsets in use on Steam, but the Rift looms near. (via Road to VR)

Snapchat will put Jeff Koons’ art installations in augmented reality

Snapchat plans to launch a new art initiative tomorrow aimed at using augmented reality to feature art installations around the world. A website, art.snapchat.com, mysteriously spawned a countdown clock this afternoon, and a snippet of javascript underlying the page appears to confirm that the reveal is a collaboration with renowned artist and big Snapchat fan Jeff Koons. (via The Verge)

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