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18. March 2019


Khronos Group today announced the release of the provisional specification of OpenXR 0.9.  Along side the specification, two implementations were also released, OpenXR For Microsoft Mixed Reality Devices as well as Monado an open platform for AR/VR development on GNU/Linux.

Details from the Khronos blog:

The OpenXR 0.90 provisional release specifies a cross-platform Application Programming Interface (API) enabling XR hardware platform vendors to expose the functionality of their runtime systems. By accessing a common set of objects and functions corresponding to application lifecycle, rendering, tracking, frame timing, and input, which are frustratingly different across existing vendor-specific APIs, software developers can run their applications across multiple XR systems with minimal porting effort—significantly reducing industry fragmentation.

The Khronos OpenXR working group was formed in early 2017 with the support and participation of leading XR companies. Throughout the development of the specification, multiple Khronos members have been developing independent implementations to ensure a robust and complete specification. Many of these implementations are becoming available for developers to evaluate including the ‘Monado’ OpenXR open source implementation from Collabora and the OpenXR runtime for Windows Mixed Reality headsets from Microsoft shipping today. Additionally, the Unreal Engine from Epic plans to continue to support OpenXR.

Several device and engine makers have announced OpenXR support including Microsoft, HTC, Oculus, Unity and Unreal Engine.

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24. February 2019


Today at MWC 19 in Barcelona, Microsoft announced the second release of their HoloLens augment reality headset.  Costing an eye watering $3,500 or $150/month, the HoloLens is not a mass market or consumer device.  The HoloLens 2 includes improved sensors, a better display, improved ergonomics and more.  The Microsoft blog describes the 3 pillars of HoloLens 2 development:

Immersion is greatly enhanced by advancements across the board, including in the visual display system, making holograms even more vibrant and realistic. We have more than doubled the field of view in HoloLens 2, while maintaining the industry-leading holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight. HoloLens 2 contains a new displaySide view of sleek black HoloLens 2 system that enables us to achieve these significant advances in performance at low power. We have also completely refreshed the way you interact with holograms in HoloLens 2. Taking advantage of our new time-of-flight depth sensor, combined with built-in AI and semantic understanding, HoloLens 2 enables direct manipulation of holograms with the same instinctual interactions you’d use with physical objects in the real world. In addition to the improvements in the display engine and direct manipulation of holograms, HoloLens 2 contains eye-tracking sensors that make interacting with holograms even more natural. You can log in with Windows Hello enterprise-grade authentication through iris recognition, making it easy for multiple people to quickly and securely share the device.

Comfort is enhanced by a more balanced center of gravity, the use of light carbon-fiber material and a new mechanism for donning the device without readjusting. We’ve improved the thermal management with new vapor chamber technology and accounted for the wide physiological variability in the size and shape of human heads by designing HoloLens 2 to comfortably adjust and fit almost anyone. The new dial-in fit system makes it comfortable to wear for hours on end, and you can keep your glasses on because HoloLens 2 adapts to you by sliding right over them. When it’s time to step out of mixed reality, flip the visor up and switch tasks in seconds. Together, these enhancements have more than tripled the measured comfort and ergonomics of the device.

Time-to-value is accelerated by Microsoft mixed reality applications like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, Dynamics 365 Layout and the new Dynamics 365 Guides applications. In addition to the in-box value, our ecosystem of mixed reality partners provides a broad range of offerings built on HoloLens that deliver value across a range of industries and use cases. This partner ecosystem is being supplemented by a new wave of mixed reality entrepreneurs who are realizing the potential of devices like HoloLens 2 and the Azure services that give them the spatial, speech and vision intelligence needed for mixed reality, plus battle-tested cloud services for storage, security and application insights.

Building on the unique capabilities of the original HoloLens, HoloLens 2 is the ultimate intelligent edge device. And when coupled with existing and new Azure services, HoloLens 2 becomes even more capable, right out of the box.

HoloLens 2 will be available this year at a price of $3,500. Bundles including Dynamics 365 Remote Assist start at $125/month. HoloLens 2 will be initially available in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand. Customers can preorder HoloLens 2 starting today at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/buy.

In addition to the HoloLens 2, Microsoft also announced the release of Azure Kinect, an updated and more powerful version of the Kinect motion sensor previously bundled with the XBox 360/One. 

The Azure Kinect DK is a developer kit that combines our industry-leading AI sensors in a single device. At its core is the time-of-flight depth sensor we developed for Front and side view of compact silver Azure Kinect DK deviceHoloLens 2, high-def RGB camera and a 7-microphone circular array that will enable development of advanced computer vision and speech solutions with Azure. It enables solutions that don’t just sense but understand the world — people, places, things around it. A good example of such a solution in the healthcare space is Ocuvera, which is using this technology to prevent patients from falling in hospitals. Every year in the U.S. alone, over 1 million hospital patients fall each year, and 11,000 of those falls are fatal. With Azure Kinect, the environmental precursors to a fall can be determined and a nurse notified to get to patients before they fall. Initially available in the U.S. and China, the Azure Kinect DK is available for preorder today at $399. Visit Azure.com/Kinect for more info.

Epic Games were also on-hand to announce Unreal Engine support for the HoloLens 2:

Epic Games today announced that support for Microsoft HoloLens 2 will be coming to Unreal Engine 4 starting in May 2019. The announcement was made during an onstage presentation by Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney during the Microsoft keynote at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
This development has been highly anticipated by augmented reality (AR) communities across entertainment, visualization, manufacturing, design, and education. In a future release, Unreal Engine will fully support HoloLens 2 with streaming and native platform integration. Unreal Engine support for HoloLens 1 currently enables streaming to the device.

GameDev News


31. January 2019


VReal is a application for broadcasting and watching supported VR applications.  It enables you to participate in the game you are watching, freely navigating the game world while potentially communicating with other spectators.  This required the broadcaster and audience to use VR headsets, greatly shrinking the possible audience, until today.  Today VRreal announced “Desktop Mode”, that enables people without VR headsets to get in on the fun.

From the news release:

Hello friends,We’re starting off 2019 with a big update: We’re introducing a new way for everyone to watch their favorite VR content creators in Vreal – no VR headset required! (WHAAAAT?)

That’s right; we’re introducing Desktop mode, which gives you an immersive, two-dimensional look into the VR content made in Vreal. Using the WASD keys and your mouse, you can move around anywhere within the game, giving you full control of where you want to watch from; your very own spectator mode for VR game content.

The viewing experience is cross-platform; so you can watch with friends in Desktop mode or in VR from your own headset.

Simply download the application on Steam, then launch in Non-VR mode when prompted.  VReal is currently in early access and is free.  There are developer kits for Unity and Unreal Engine if you wish to integrate VReal into your VR title, but sadly the developer website does not appear to be working.

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27. September 2018


Today Google announced the release of ARCore 1.5 as well as Sceneform, a real time 3D framework with a physically based renderer for Android.  The 1.5 release comes with runtime support for loading glTF models, the ability to ID individual point cloud points, and a newly open source UX library in Sceneform.  In addition to the Android release, there are builds of ARCore 1.5 for Unity and Unreal Engine developers as well.

Details from the Google developer blog:

Today, we're releasing updates to ARCore, Google's platform for building augmented reality experiences, and to Sceneform, the 3D rendering library for building AR applications on Android. These updates include algorithm improvements that will let your apps consume less memory and CPU usage during longer sessions. They also include new functionality that give you more flexibility over content management.

Here's what we added:

    • Supporting runtime glTF loading in Sceneform
    • Publishing the Sceneform UX Library's source code
    • Adding point cloud IDs to ARCore
    • New devices (plus Chrome OS in the form of Chromebook Tab 10)

You can download the source for Sceneform here on Github, the code is released under the Apache 2.0 source license.  Unity developers can click here, while Unreal Engine developers should click here.

GameDev News


26. September 2018


Today at Oculus Connect 5, Oculus announced the upcoming Oculus Quest headset.  What makes this headset special is it is full 6 degree of freedom tracking, without base stations while being completely wireless.  It slots into the lineup between the cheaper but less capable Oculus Go, and the more expensive but wired Oculus Rift, which requires a full desktop PC to function.

Details of the Oculus Quest from the Oculus blog:

We’re excited to usher in the next era of VR gaming with the introduction of Oculus Quest, our first all-in-one VR gaming system. Oculus Quest will launch in Spring 2019 for $399 USD. Offering six degrees of freedom and Touch controllers, Oculus Quest makes it easy to jump right into the action—with no PC, no wires, and no external sensors. We have over 50 titles lined up for launch, with even more in the works including some of your favorite Rift games like Robo Recall, The Climb, and Moss.

Oculus Insight
We also unveiled Oculus Insight, our breakthrough technology that powers inside-out tracking, Guardian, and Touch controller tracking. This innovative system uses four ultra wide-angle sensors and computer vision algorithms to track your exact position in real time without any external sensors. Insight gives you a greater sense of immersion, presence, and mobility, plus the ability to go beyond room-scale. And we’ve brought over Guardian to help keep you safer while in VR. It’s easy to setup and experience whenever you want.

The Best VR Games Deserve the Best VR Controllers
With the same buttons, thumbsticks, and sensors that have defined VR gaming, our intuitive Touch controllers bring your real hands into VR and let you easily and naturally interact with the world around you. By shipping Oculus Quest with Touch, everything developers have learned about game design for Rift applies to Oculus Quest. Now you can enjoy the best that VR gaming has to offer, starting at $399 USD for a 64GB headset—with the convenience and portability of all-in-one VR.

Quality Meets Comfort
Oculus Quest includes the same best-of-class optics as Oculus Go with a display resolution of 1600x1440 per eye, while incorporating a lens spacing adjustment to help maximize visual comfort. And we’ve improved our built-in audio, so you get high-quality, immersive sound with even deeper bass.

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