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14. March 2016

 

Project Tango is an interesting computer vision project from Google attempting to figure out the world around it, emulating the way we see the world.  Google surprisingly managed to sum up Project Tango succinctly on it’s project page:

Project Tango combines 3D motion tracking with depth sensing to give your mobile device the ability to know where it is and how it moves through space.

 

As the title above suggests, a plugin adding support for Project Tango to UE4 is now available.  Developed by Opaque Media, the plugin is completely free.

From the project page:

The Project Tango plugin (currently in Beta) allows all Unreal Engine 4 developers to harness the advanced spatial awareness capabilities of Google's Project Tango, through the use of both Blueprint and C++.

Developers can access the range of Motion Tracking, Depth Sensing and Area Learning the Project Tango platform provides, allowing for the creation of a range of spatially aware, motion-enabled and augmented reality applications.

The plugin is free and open source (Apache 2.0). Developers can now access the public beta of our plugin through our website, or see our GitHub repository for the Plugin or Example Content.

For more information the documentation is available here while the source is available on Github.

GameDev News


29. February 2016

 

Microsofts entrant into the VR field, the HoloLens, will begin taking developer pre-orders tomorrow for a healthy price tag of $3000USD.

 

Ouch.

 

First, let’s temper some expectations... this is very much a developer release, the actual launch of the HoloLens is a long ways out.  This release is akin to the original DK release for the Oculus Rift a couple years back.  This was the most recent comment about a HoloLens commercial release date:

“When I feel the world is ready, then we will allow normal people to buy it,” Kipman said Thursday, speaking to reporters at the TED conference in Vancouver. “It could be as soon as we say ‘yes,’ and it could be as long as a ‘very long time.'”

Hopefully the consumer hardware will be a great deal cheaper.  With news of the pre-order however, we did get some insight into the specs behind the HoloLens.  Taken from VentureBeat:

Here are the specifications for the HoloLens Development Edition headset:

  • Optics: See-through lenses (waveguides), 2 HD, 16:9 light engines, automatic pupillary distance calibration, 2.3 million total light points in holographic resolution, more than 2,500 radiants (light points per radian) in holographic density
  • Sensors: 1 inertial measurement unit (IMU), 4 environment understanding cameras, 1 depth camera, one 2-megapixel photo and HD video camera, mixed reality capture, 4 microphones, 1 ambient light sensor
  • Human understanding: Spatial sound, gaze tracking, gesture input, voice support
  • Processors: Intel 32-bit architecture and custom-built Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) 1.0
  • Battery life: 2-3 hours of active use, up to 2 weeks of standby time; works when charging
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 64GB flash
  • Connectivity: Micro-USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.1 low energy
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack, built-in speakers, volume up/down
  • Other components: Power button, brightness up/down, battery status LEDs
  • Weight: 579 grams (1.27 lbs)

The HoloLens Development Edition kits come with a headset, an overhead strap, a clicker, a charging cable, a microfiber cloth, nose pads, and a carrying case.

 

Not just anyone can order a HoloLens however, you need to apply and be accepted into the program.

GameDev News


29. February 2016

 

So today marks the first day you can place an order for the HTC Vive, the VR headset that came via a collaboration between HTC and Valve.  If you though the Oculus Rift was expensive take a deep breath... the HTC Vive is $800USD, plus shipping, as seen from their online store:

image

 

This is a $200 increase over the Oculus Rift’s cost, however this bundle also includes two wireless controllers while the Rift only included the bundled (and mostly unwanted) Xbox controller.  The Vive pre-order also comes with the games Job Simulator, Fantastic Contraption and Tilt Brush.

 

Anyways, back to the HTC Vive.  Pre-orders will start shipping in April 2016.  I have to assume orders will be fulfilled in a first come, first served basis.

Personally I was extremely pumped for VR.  Then over the holidays I got a $100 Samsung GearVR and truly the future had arrived.  That said, with these initial price tags ( other than the GearVR that is ), VR is going to be niche only for quite a while unfortunately.  One more chance at a reasonable price with the PlayStation VR... but this is Sony we are talking here.

GameDev News


11. February 2016

 

In a move that will surprise absolutely nobody, today at the Vision VR/AR Summit, Valve announced they will be bringing SteamVR support to Unity, as well as a new VR rendering plugin for extended functionality.

From the announcement:

Today, during the opening keynote of the inaugural Vision VR / AR Summit, Valve and Unity Technologies announced a new collaboration to offer native support forimage SteamVR in the Unity Platform, giving developers new reach at no extra cost. Additionally, we will be adding a new VR rendering plugin to further enhance functionality.

The collaboration means that all of Unity’s developers will have access to native support for Valve’s upcoming SteamVR platform. Beyond SteamVR support, Valve has developed an advanced rendering plugin for Unity to further enhance fidelity and performance, bringing consumers more realistic experiences.

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell announced the news during a special video address at the Vision Summit, adding:“We made many of our Vive demos using Unity, and continue to use it today in VR development. Through that process, and in working with VR developers, we found some opportunities to make Unity even more robust and powerful for us and really want to share those benefits with all VR content creators.”

Unity CEO John Riccitiello went on to discuss the news during the Vision Summit opening keynote: “Valve and Unity are both dedicated to creating the highest quality VR experiences possible. That means giving developers every possible chance to succeed, and our collaboration with Valve is designed to do just that.”

Valve will also be providing a talk at Vision, and to celebrate the launch, they are surprising every developer at the conference with a free HTC Vive Pre, the latest SteamVR development system. For more information, please visit http://visionsummit2016.com/

GameDev News


5. February 2016

 

I have to say this one is pretty cool and possibly not what you think.  The Unreal Engine is getting VR support.  That’s not as in support for VR platforms, it already has that.  No, Unreal Editor is soon going to have support for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift enabling you to edit and create your game in VR, taking full use of both platforms motion controllers.  This is a while out however as they aren’t even announcing a release date until March 16th at the GDC.

From the Unreal blog:

The Unreal Editor is up and running in VR, so you can build VR content in VR. Using the Oculus Touch and HTC Vive motion controllers, your movement in the real world is mapped one-to-one in VR; you can reach out, grab, and manipulate objects just as you would in real life. You already know how to use this tool, because it works like the world works.

These are the early days of the revolution in immersive VR content creation, but we’re so excited about what’s up and running that we couldn’t keep it a secret anymore!  VR movement and editing controls are functional, along with key parts of the Unreal Editor UI, including the Details Panel and the Content Browser.  We’ll be showing more and announcing the release date at GDC on Wednesday March 16, 2016.  And when it’s released, it will be a built-in feature of the freely-downloadable Unreal Engine, with full source on GitHub

Best of all, this isn’t a limited mode for VR preview and tweaking.  It is the Unreal Editor, now running in VR. The same Unreal Editor that’s used by everyone ranging from indies and mod makers to triple-A development teams with $100,000,000 budgets. And it runs in VR!

A BOX OF TOYS

You start out in the VR editor at a human scale, and can directly manipulate objects by moving around in a room-scale VR setting.  But you can also use a smartphone-like pinching motion to zoom in and out. With one pinch, the world is shrunk to the size of a Barbie Doll house on your table. You can manipulate it granularly and ergonomically, and then zoom back to human scale.

Besides directly manipulating objects, you also have a laser pointer. Point at a far-away object and you can move it around, or “reel it in” like a fishing rod. Or teleport to the laser pointer’s target location with a single button click, inspired by Bullet Train’s locomotion.

THE VR USER INTERFACE: IPAD MEETS MINORITY REPORT

As a pro tool, the Unreal Editor features a rich 2D user interface, and it’s being rolled out naturally in VR: One button-press places an iPad-like tablet in your hand, and you use the other hand to interact with the tablet.  Scroll, press buttons, tweak Object Details, interact with menus, drag objects out of the Content Browser and drop them directly in the world.

It’s an intuitive way to place a 2D user interface in a VR world that builds on everyone’s Unreal Editor experience, and the underlying Slate user-interface framework provides a great foundation we’ll build on as we work to roll out the entire Unreal Editor UI in VR.

Content Browser

PRODUCTIVITY

As game developers, we at Epic pride ourselves in creating high-productivity tools optimized for shipping products, and VR editing provides a great path forward.

With a mouse, several operations are often required to transform an object along multiple axes in 3D.  In VR, you can frequently accomplish the same result with a single, intuitive motion.  This should come as no surprise, as a mouse only tracks two degrees of movement (X and Y), but in VR your head and two hands track six degrees of freedom each: X, Y, Z, and three rotational axes. That’s 9 times the high-fidelity input bandwidth!

 

More details are available here.  It’s interesting to see if this is useful or just a gimmick.  Obviously working on a VR game in full VR certainly has it’s advantages.  At the end of the day though, few control schemes actually usurp the mighty mouse and keyboard.  Add to that fact, at least with my Gear VR, its tiring both physically and on the eyes after a couple hours.  I cant imagine doing the 9-5 routine with one of these devices strapped to your head.  Time will tell I suppose.

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