Mario Kart and VR are a match made in heaven--we think so, and so do the lucky Japanese gamers that have actually tried it out.
Bandai Namco's VR Zone Arcade in Tokyo is bringing eight year old me's dream to life: Mario Kart virtual reality madness. We've already reported about Mario Kart GP VR in the past, but now we see just how much unbridled joy Nintendo's go-kart racer can bring to gamers with the new dimension of VR.
The game is officially licensed by Nintendo, and players wear the HTC Vive VR headset while sitting in a special go-kart that reacts and rumbles with feedback, making the experience more like an amusement park ride than a traditional arcade experience. If you're ever in Shinjuku, Tokyo be sure to check out the VRcade and have a blast in this interactive wonder!
Apple is rumored to release their new smart glasses or AR headset later this year, and now The Financial Times are reporting that the iPhone maker is making a pair of AR-powered smart glasses, lining up with the various rumors that Apple is set to crank the dial to 11 later this year.
Apple is looking at multiple ways of delivering its glasses, with one design featuring 3D cameras and wait for it... no display on the device itself. There's no final design just yet, as Apple would be keeping this under wraps more so than any other launch in their history. The report states: "A particular area of experimentation, people familiar with the matter say, is a pair of AR glasses that might move cameras, sensors and screens from the smartphone to the face. Yet despite the excitement surrounding ARKit, internally the company is still not sure what the most compelling application for such a headset might be".
We should expect the company to unveil their next-gen iPhone sometime next month, with the purported iPhone X and iPhone 8 to be unveiled alongside next-gen smart glasses. It's an exciting time to be a technology enthusiast, that's for sure.
The world of VR might not like hearing what EA boss Andrew Wilson has to say, with the EA CEO stating that VR isn't ready just yet, and that EA sees more potential in AR right now.
EA recently released their Q1 FT18 financial report, where Wilson had some choice words to say afterwards: "So I'll start with VR and AR. Not a lot of new news on VR for us and as you see there's not a lot of new news for VR in the industry. People seem to have come to terms of the fact that VR while an unbelievably wonderful innovation for how you consume interactive entertainment and all forms of entertainment for that matter is going to take a couple of years at least to going to get to a point where it is truly a mass market consumer opportunity. We still are in the same position we were in which we have enabled core VR capability in our Frostbite engine".
He added: "We have delivered a console experience in the course of delivering a mobile experience and we'll continue to push on the boundaries of what's a sports game look like inside of VR? What's first person shooter look like in VR? What's an action adventure game look like in VR? And that's really at a design level and something that will start to manifest in the marketplace in the years to come".
Just two months after HTC announced that they are working on a standalone VR headset, the company has unveiled its first Vive Standalone VR headset for the Chinese market at ChinaJoy. ChinaJoy is China's biggest gaming expo and is the most important show for VR in China as well.
The company has been one of the pioneering companies when it comes to VR. They are the first partner to work with Valve on the Vive for SteamVR and they have the best overall VR experience. HTC isn't really a PC company, so for them to be so heavily involved in PC VR was a challenge for them. But we also know that HTC is a smartphone company with expertise in mobility and design. So, it was only a matter of time until they announced their own mobile VR headset.
The exact details about the headset itself are not quite known yet, but we do know that it will be based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 platform and will likely have the same or similar specs as the Snapdragon 835 VR reference design.
Google's Daydream has struggled to compete with the likes of Samsung's Gear VR even though it came out with much promise late last year. According to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, there will be only eleven devices by the end of this year that will support Google Daydream.
When you consider how many manufacturers there are out there and how many devices each of them make, eleven really isn't much. In fact, Samsung can claim eight Gear VR devices today, and they're probably about to launch their ninth with the Note8 coming next month.
For Google to only be able to muster eleven devices among all of the Android manufacturers, that is quite a poor showing. In addition to that, two of the devices, the Huawei Mate 9 Pro and Porsche Design Mate 9 are not even really shipping in any volume, and the ASUS Zenfone AR likely won't ship in high volume either.
Microsoft's next generation Hololens AR headset will have a special built-in AI chip to recognize and process data.
The new second generation Hololens AR headset from Microsoft will feature a highly customized AI chip that will help users in a myriad of ways, Bloomberg reports. The new AI-infused chip, which was recently unveiled during an event in Hawaii, is built around Microsoft's Holographic Processing Unit that currently powers the company's self-contained alternate reality HMD.
The Redmond-based company touts that their new AI processor is the first chip of its kind to be featured in a mobile device, and has strong potential to help revolutionize the AR segment. The chip--and others like it from Google, Apple, and even NVIDIA--could one day allow HMD wearers to translate signs and even languages during visits foreign countries. Microsoft's new AI chip aims to boost real-time processing power and speed by reducing reliance on the cloud, and will also reduce battery drain to boot.
Oculus has confirmed that its premium Rift VR headset is getting a permanent price drop in a bid to fill out the headset's install base and pull more gamers into the Oculus ecosystem.
After the Oculus Rift's big $399 sale ends, the Facebook Inc.-accelerated headset and its accompanying Touch controllers will be sold in a bundle for $499. Oculus affirmed this price drop is permanent, and the bundle includes: Rift headset, two sensors, Touch controllers, cables, and six free titles when you activate Touch-Lucky's Tale, Medium, Toybox, Quill, Dead and Buried, and Robo Recall. We reached out to Anshel Sag, Associate Analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, for further insight on the Rift's price drop.
"Dropping the price to $499 indicates that Facebook isn't happy with sales (and they shouldn't be). They also desperately need to reach at least 1 million users so they have a compelling user base size to attract more developers. They can't pay for all the content on oculus home, so they're going to need to attract unpaid developers," said Moor Insight's Mr. Sag, who analyzes key trends in the technology sphere such as VR and AR.
As we reported, the PC-powered Oculus Rift VR headset is the least-popular in terms of HMD sales and hardware revenues, and is fourth in line behind the HTC Vive, Sony's PS4-powered PlayStation VR, and the mobile titan Samsung VR.
Facebook is making a new $200 mainstream wireless VR headset, something that's planned for next year, and something the social media giant is hoping to have the same effect Apple did with the original iPhone to the world, with its new $200 headset.
Oculus will be making the headset, with the news of the $200 wireless VR headset breaking days after Oculus slashing the price of the Rift + Touch bundle for $399. The new codenamed "Pacific" headset is reportedly smaller than the Rift, and lighter than the mobile-based Gear VR from Samsung. The final design might change, but those with details on the new headset said it will be easy enough to pull out of your bag and start watching movies on the plane or train.
Inside, we should expect a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor of some sort, with gaming performance somewhere in the vicinity of the Gear VR - but not the full-blown Rift on the PC. The new Facebook VR headset will be released next year, and with a $200 price point, we might see some fierce competition in the mobile VR space.
Qualcomm being in the middle of it is only another market where the company can dominate, as there's nothing AMD or NVIDIA have that can compete with the powerful mobile solutions in the form of many Snapdragon processors - including next-gen products that Qualcomm are working on now.
inXile Entertainment, a developer known for games like Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera, has secured a big multi-million dollar investment to help fund a new ambitious project.
inXile's $4.5 million investment from games publisher Gumi Inc. will be used to make a new open-world survival VR RPG, possibly pushing the current fledgling market closer to a HMD-selling "killer app." Not much is known about the project, but inXile is currently developing The Bard's Tale IV as well as Wasteland 3, and will leverage the investment from Gumi to help build a foundation for the new RPG. The developer states that the VR game will "launch on all platforms," likely meaning it'll see release on PlayStation VR, the HTC Vive, and Oculus' slow-selling Rift headset.
"Gumi shares my passion for creating deeper virtual reality games and I'm fortunate to have a partner to work with in this spectacular new medium. We've had incredible feedback from our first game, The Mage's Tale, and we want to continue to build on our experience and reputation. I've always been fascinated by the social dynamics of the open world survival genre and experiencing that in virtual reality will create powerful and terrifying moments. We'll also be bringing our storytelling and RPG experience to the table to help enrich the genre," said Brian Fargo, CEO, inXile Entertainment.
As the sales rift between Oculus' VR headset and its competitors continues to widen, Facebook slashes price in an attempt to spark sales growth.
Facebook-owned Oculus recently slashed the price of its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for the second time in three months. The Oculus Rift now comes bundled with its Touch controllers for $399, down 33% from the headset's current $599 MSRP. Oculus asserts the price drop will last six weeks. Although the company hasn't said so publicly, the consensus is that the price drop, which puts the Oculus Rift square up against Sony Corp's console-powered PlayStation VR competitor, will boost flagging sales and pull more gamers into the Rift ecosystem.
Adoption of VR headsets like HTC's Vive and the Oculus Rift has slowed due to higher costs. The headsets typically cost up to $700 and require a beefy desktop or laptop PC on top--with PC hardware, headsets, controllers and games, the total price of high-end VR deters many gamers. Sony has enjoyed success by tapping the middle ground between high-cost PC virtual reality and low-powered mobile VR. With its $399 PlayStation VR, Sony has made virtual reality accessible to core console gamers and has dominated sales of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. In fact, the PlayStation VR's 1.8 million lifetime sales through 2Q 2017 beat the Vive's and Rift's sales combined.