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Facebook’s Display Research Lead: Varifocal Half-Dome 3 ‘Almost Ready For Prime Time’

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Facebook’s Director of Display Systems Research Douglas Lanman revealed the Half-Dome 3 prototype shown late last year is further along the development cycle than some other research projects.

It’s something that is not quite a publication. It’s beyond that. And this thing is more like level five. It’s almost ready for primetime

Stated at an SPIE talk given earlier in the year, Lanman was referencing NASA’s Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), adapted for tech products:

Lanman works at Facebook Reality Labs, the company’s VR/AR research division. He explained that a “real-deal scientist” works at TR1, while his team usually works between TR2 and TR4.

Startups, Lanman elaborated, typically start at TR6 or TR7, whereas shipping a consumer product at scale involves TR7, TR8, and TR9.

“At some point, you walk into an electronics store and you see level nine. And you start to wonder, am I just going to do this cycle of level 2 through 4 forever? How do I actually change the world rather than just have good ideas?”

Lanman explained that what makes him proud of Half-Dome 3 in particular is that it’s at “Level 5 or beyond“. More specifically, it’s “almost ready for prime time“.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWA4gVibKJE

All current VR headsets, outside of lab prototypes, have fixed focus lenses. Your brain gets a different image for each eye, but the images are permanently focused at the same distance (usually a few meters away).

This makes VR feel less real since you’re missing one of the real world’s depth cues. It also introduces the Vergence-Accommodation conflict, a leading cause of eye strain in head mounted displays.

The original Half-Dome prototype, shown off at F8 in May 2018, aimed to deliver near-silent variable focus (varifocal) experience. It also increased the field of view significantly (from around 100 degrees to 140 degrees wide) while maintaining roughly the same form factor.

Half-Dome 1 used physical actuators to move the position of each lens relative to the displays. A product that relies on constant movement like that for hours on end seems like a reliability nightmare waiting to happen, which is where Half-Dome 3 comes in.

Half-Dome 1, Half-Dome 2, and Half-Dome 3

Half-Dome 3 was first shown by Facebook’s Chief Scientist Michael Abrash (Lanman’s boss) in October at Oculus Connect 6. The field of view is “20% wider than Quest”, but no longer 140 degrees.

But Half-Dome 3 brought the technology to a considerably smaller design, with no moving parts. This is achieved by using a stack of liquid crystal lens layers. Applying a voltage to each lens layer changes its focal length, so each unique combination of on and off results in a different plane of focus.

Half Dome 3

At another talk given this year, Lanman expressed just how important he feels variable focus and depth cues are for virtual reality. Given this goal, the number of varifocal prototypes we’ve seen, and Half-Dome 3’s compact form factor and lack of moving parts, could varifocal technology now be out of the research labs- on the beginning of the path to productization?

To be clear, there’s no indication the recent ‘Oculus Quest 2’ leaks have any such technology.

Source: https://uploadvr.com/half-dome-3-prime-time/

AR/VR

Win a Copy of Affected: The Manor for Oculus Quest

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If you love a good scare whether for Halloween or at any other time of year then virtual reality (VR) horror is where it’s at. As any VR gamer knows once that headset is on and the doors start to creak and the wind begins to howl, no other horror medium really compares. So to celebrate the spooky season VRFocus has got a bunch of codes to giveaway for Fallen Planet Studios’ Affected: The Manor on Oculus Quest.

Affected: The Manor

Becoming a horror favourite with VR fans since its initial release back in 2016 for Gear VR, the studio has kept the title up to date by expanding platform support as well as adding new elements to the experience. The title is set around the classic haunted manor, offering a sort of ‘walkthrough horror’ in the first instance.

But as VR has progressed so has Affected: The Manor. When the Oculus Quest version was first revealed last year the studio said: “To take advantage of Quest’s abilities, we brought hand avatars and interactivity to the experience for the first time, making you feel more ingrained in the environment.” This meant interacting with doors for example.

Then during the summer, the team released The Gauntlet, free DLC which allows players to speed run with randomised events for a new challenge. This month saw the launch of The Darkness update to coincide with the launch of Oculus Quest 2. A new gameplay mode, this provides players with only a candle as their source of light. Quest 2 also got some enhancements like dynamic lighting and improve visuals.

Affected: The Manor

And so onto the competition. VRFocus has 10 codes available for the Oculus Quest platform. All you need to do is follow us on Twitter and retweet this tweet ensuring that VRFocus and Affected VR are tagged. The competition will be open for 24 hours, closing at 6 pm GMT on Friday 30th October. Best of luck.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/win-a-copy-of-affected-the-manor-for-oculus-quest/

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The Steam Halloween Sale has Begun With Themed Activities and Updates

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It’s only two days until Halloween so now it’s time to enjoy some frighteningly good deals care or Steam. The platform has just launched its seasonal sale with discounts on horror and Halloween-themed videogames as well as themed activities and updates from other titles. 

No Man's Sky

For instance, Hello Games is launching a Halloween update for No Man’s Sky – which only just saw the massive Origins update arrive. This time there are new rewards and unlockables for players to find, with the corroded hulls of derelict freighters able to be mined for a new material called Tainted Metal. This can be exchanged with the Scrap Dealer “ominous base decorations and creepy customisation options.” Increasing the danger, the aliens on board these ships have mutated, becoming faster and stronger in the process.

Even titles like Star Wars: Squadrons, SUPERHOT VR, DiRT Rally 2.0 and more are getting in on the Halloween spirit with discounted offers. Plus Steam’s points shop has lots of themed goodies when you’ve gained enough from buying videogames.

As for all the deals on VR horror titles there are plenty to choose from. One’s the caught VRFocus’ eye include:

Phasmophobia

Steam’s Halloween Sale runs until Monday, 2nd November 2020 at 10 am PST (5 pm GMT), so there’s plenty of time to get a ghoulish bargain. And don’t forget to check out VRFocus’ new horror list for 2020 covering a variety of VR platforms.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/the-steam-halloween-sale-has-begun-with-themed-activities-and-updates/

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AR/VR

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall Announced for PC VR & Oculus Quest, Arrives 2021

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More and more franchises are making their way in the virtual reality (VR) space like Star Wars, The Walking Dead and Game Workshop’s Warhammer. The latter entered the field with Warhammer: Vermintide VR and The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth, and now Carbon Studio has announced Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall for next year.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall

The Warhammer universe has a rich lore for Carbon Studio to take from with the synopsis detailing: “Set in the Age of Sigmar universe, Tempestfall begins following the Necroquake. From the domain of Nagash and across all the Realms, Nighthaunt forces are rising. A specially assembled retinue of Stormcast Eternals embarks on a quest to investigate a new threat to the Mortal Realms. Side by side with these elite soldiers, you must explore the dread-filled realm of Shyish and battle your way through the Nighthaunt in a quest to protect the Forces of Order from a sinister plot.”

With a brief teaser trailer showcasing a couple of locales and one enemy, the studio has said Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall will mix melee combat with powerful, motion-based spellcasting, utilising the team’s experience developing The Wizards, which had gesture-based speels.

The world of Tempestfall will take players through cities, prisons, swamps and catacombs, an adventure full of Warhammer lore and secrets, reportedly over seven hours in length. Players will be faced with wraiths, revenants and other dangers in what could be Carbon Studio’s biggest project to date.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall

You can wishlist Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall over on Steam where there’s also a chance to win a T-shirt and poster, with 10 winners being selected.

This isn’t the only Warhammer videogame on the way as Pixel Toys previously unveiled Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister for Oculus Quest, due before the end of the year.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall is currently slated for a 2021 launch across PC VR headsets and the Oculus Quest platform. As further details including gameplay, visuals and launch date are released, VRFocus will let you know.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/warhammer-age-of-sigmar-tempestfall-announced-for-pc-vr-oculus-quest-arrives-2021/

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