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Preview: Machizzle – Blocktastic Puzzling Gameplay

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It’s great that big flashy videogames like Half-Life: Alyx or The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners exist to showcase the upper echelons of the virtual reality (VR) gaming industry. But for those moments when you want a simpler experience, little puzzle titles Ghost Giant or Gadgeteer are a nice alternative. Currently in development is Machizzle, a videogame which easily falls into the latter category and one that has all the makings of a good brain teaser.

Machizzle

In Machizzle your task is to get a ball into a goal, moving it from one location to another collecting key along the way using a selection of blocks with various functionalities. Every puzzle takes place on an 8×8 board which can be spun around to give you the best viewpoint whilst the table can be raised and lowered depending on whether you like to play seated or standing.

The demo provided to VRFocus featured 35 puzzles to complete, with all the early ones offering an easy training arc for the different block options. Some were ramps, others plain tiles or tiles with boost arrows on; there were blue walls to bounce the ball off of and pads which shot the ball into the air. Nothing too out of the ordinary but all vital small pieces of a larger whole.

Machizzle is like playing with Lego or one of those small puzzle boxes which seem to be fashionable. There’s no flashy design to it purely because the title needs to be practical and work. Blocks can be grabbed and placed almost anywhere within the board making for nice vertical 3D challenges to figure out, utilising the space to its maximum.

Machizzle

The first 20 or so were fairly easy to solve, almost like following building instructions for a toy; it was plain to see where the blocks naturally fitted. However, iNFINITE Production did throw in a few headscratchers to properly test VRFocus’ brain, occasionally slowing down that winning streak. And that’s where these sort of puzzle experiences really do shine. When a challenge is put in front of you which appears relatively straightforward yet becomes more perplexing as time goes on, turning a couple of minutes into thirty.

The Czech Republic-based developer says there will be over 70 puzzles in the core campaign so that should provide a good few hours of gameplay. What’s even more interesting – and crucial to keep you coming back for more – is the level editor, from which you can share your designs. Alas, this wasn’t available in the demo. From the way Machizzle is designed the editor won’t be as complex as Gadgeteer because of the table format. Even so, the possibilities should still be endless.

From what VRFocus has seen so far Machizzle is an indie title to keep an eye on. The mechanics are easy to pick up and there’s not a lot of options that you need to worry about as there’s no locomotion involved. Machizzle is expected to arrive later this summer. Before then you’ll be able to test the videogame yourself as a free demo is coming as part of the Steam Games Festival this month.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/06/preview-machizzle-blocktastic-puzzling-gameplay/

AR/VR

Google and Jio collaborate on ‘ultra-affordable’ JioPhone Next

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The JioPhone Next. | Image: Jio Platforms

Indian tech giant Jio Platforms has collaborated with Google on a new affordable smartphone called the JioPhone Next, Jio’s parent company Reliance announced today. The Next is aimed at helping the roughly 300 million users in India who are currently on 2G networks upgrade to 4G, TechCrunch reports. It will be released in India on September 10th, before coming to other markets at a later date.

Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani said the JioPhone Next would be an “ultra-affordable 4G smartphone,” but didn’t reveal exact pricing or full specs for the device. However, the company did say it will include voice assistant support, translation features, and a camera with support for augmented reality. The phone is running on an optimized version…

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/google-and-jio-collaborate-on-ultra-affordable-jiophone-next-60d484b1b87ecc2a6065882b?s=rss

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AR/VR

Varjo Reality Cloud Turns XR-3 Into Real-Time Environment Scanner For Teleportation

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High-end VR headset maker Varjo is announcing a new cloud-based platform for people wearing the XR-3 headset to scan their environment in real-time and effectively teleport in others from a wide range of devices.

The Reality Cloud platform from Finland-based Varjo (pronounced var-yo) is said to be powered by a “proprietary foveated transport algorithm” to broadcast in “single megabytes per second to any device” a real-time view scanned by the XR-3, according to the company.

The XR-3 is Varjo’s super high-end LiDAR-powered headset that sells to enterprise customers for $5,495 with an additional yearly subscription service. With Reality Cloud, which Varjo says will be in early testing later this year with selected partners, the company is turning the headset into a kind of environmental scanner which can let others, no matter their physical distance, visit the area surrounding the headset.

“We believe that Varjo’s vision for the metaverse will elevate humanity during the next decade more than any other technology in the world,” said Timo Toikkanen, CEO of Varjo, in a prepared statement. “What we’re building with our vision for the Varjo Reality Cloud will release our physical reality from the laws of physics. The programmable world that once existed only behind our screens can now merge with our surrounding reality – forever changing the choreography of everyday life.”

Varjo is also acquiring Dimension 10, a Norwegian software company which makes a virtual meeting suite “designed for architecture, engineering and construction teams and will become a critical component to making virtual collaboration possible within Varjo Reality Cloud.”

The company is planning to offer a deeper look at the cloud platform with a virtual event broadcasting at 9 am Pacific time on the company’s website.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/varjo-reality-cloud-turns-xr-3-into-real-time-environment-scanner-for-teleportation-60d48179b87ecc2a60658829?s=rss

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AR/VR

VR Education Platform ‘ENGAGE’ Raises $10.7M to Build ‘Oasis’ Metaverse for Business

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VR Education Holdings, the company behind the social VR platform ENGAGE, announced it’s raised €9 million (~$10.7 million) which will help it expand beyond the realm of immersive education & training and into a new product called ENGAGE Oasis. It’s billing the upcoming social VR platform as an enterprise offering comparable to a “fully featured corporate metaverse.”

As reported by Forbes and Silicon Republic, the Waterford, Ireland-based company has secured its latest funding from a number of investors via share placing, which includes Octopus Investment LTD UK. The new shares generated from the deal are said to represent 20% of the company’s issued ordinary share capital prior to the placing. VR Education Holdings is listed on both Euronext Dublin and London Stock Exchange.

In May 2020, VR Education secured $3.3 million from HTC to expand Engage, the company’s platform which allows educators and enterprise customers to create bespoke VR experiences for both small and large format events across a variety of devices, including SteamVR headsets, Oculus Quest, Vive Focus Plus, and Pico headsets. Only two months before the deal went through, Engage played host to HTC’s Virtual Vive Ecosystem Conference—a direct response to the pandemic’s deleterious effect on in-person events.

As the name would suggest, Oasis is fairly ambitious in scope. Aiming for launch in H1 2022, Oasis was inspired by the eponymous metaverse featured in the novel and film Ready Player One, which was the de facto platform in VR where users meet, play and do business. Oasis said to be an “always-on, fully persistent virtual world, where ENGAGE clients can meet and sell products and services directly to each other,” and it targets business professionals, corporations, young professionals, and college students.

“Employees from the world’s largest corporations can connect with each other to generate new business ideas and deliver value to their respective organisations,” the company says in a press statement. “ENGAGE Oasis aims to be an opportunity for corporate users to expand their customer base and provide immersive services at a reasonable price.”

The studio says avatars and virtual locations will be “tailored for professional users,” which includes no limits when it comes to the storefronts and meeting places they want to build. There, the company envisions the platform as a new marketplace for corporations and digital artists to sell digital items and provide services using non-fungible tokens (NFTs), fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies.

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Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/vr-education-engage-10-m-oasis-metaverse/

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Facebook’s ‘Artificial Reality Hat’ Is Ridiculous And Intriguing

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A recently published Facebook patent filing reveals work on an ‘Artificial Reality Hat’.

Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like.

Images in the filing (first filed in 2019 and originally spotted by Founders Legal) depict a visor that attaches to the front of a cap and dangles in front of the user’s eyes. But it’s not just caps – images also show the solution attached to fedoras and other headwear. There’s even drawings of the concept in use with finger-tracking gloves and what looks like the CTRL-Labs wristband that Facebook acquired in 2019.

One image shows the inside of a cap that’s lined with “embedded haptic and/or brain-computer interface components”. The visor looks to be detachable for when you just want to wear hundreds of dollars worth of tech on your head and see the outside world, too.

Though it may look a little odd, the filing outlines the designs as an approach to improving comfort for VR and AR systems. It even notes that current systems make it “difficult to incorporate advanced computing components such as complex processors, eye-tracking systems, and the like” without increasing the weight and the heat generated by all of those components all working together. Distributing some of those components across a user’s entire head instead of only on your face could definitely help improve comfort.

As always, patent filings are only an indication of some of the work Facebook might have been doing behind the scenes in its R&D labs, and not a sign of actual product plans. Still, it’s interesting to see the company looking at entirely new form factors to tackle VR and AR comfort issues – the Oculus Quest 2 is a smaller, lighter headset than its predecessor but still has plenty of room to improve.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the company take a different approach. Back in 2019 we wrote about another filing that featured a standalone headset’s carrying case as the computing component that would stream to a lighter, more comfortable headset.

Would you wear Facebook’s Artificial Reality Hat? Let us know in the comments below!

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/facebooks-artificial-reality-hat-is-ridiculous-and-intriguing-60d46553850b7e89576156b9?s=rss

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