November VR/AR News #2: Google Daydream, Youtube in VR and a haptic chair

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Update: We’ve partnered with Bananatic to feature their indispensable guide to Virtual Reality: check it out here.

The Merge VR remote might be the new competition for Google’s Daydream controller, which only works with a limited number of Android devices. The Verge reports that the Merge VR remote can work with Merge VR headsets as well as other headsets and non-VR devices. The Merge could find a consumer base in iOS users, but it is still in the beginning stages.

Youtube’s VR app is one of the draws of Google’s new Daydream headset. Ben Popper reviews it for The Verge, writing that the “immersive films look better and head tracking is more accurate.” While he admits it is still in the experimental phase, Popper writes that the app feels “polished and intuitive.” “The key was to make it feel like a real physical environment without drawing your attention away from the content. It’s a very muted environment, it’s very subtle,” John Harding told The Verge. Harding leads engineering for emerging experiences on YouTube.

Last week, Wired asked “Could VR ‘solve’ racism?” This question was based on an app designed by Alexandra Ivanovitch, which is used to encourage empathy. Ivanovitch’s project started in Paris, where she had people wearing virtual reality headsets sit across from each other. They then started seeing what the other person was seeing. Building on research by Mel Slater, who has found that VR can reduce bias, she is focusing on reducing implicit racial bias in police, particularily using the Los Angeles police force. “VR can help us reach audiences we wouldn’t reach otherwise,” she told Wired. “We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity, and VR can make that work helpful and viral.”

From "VR360HD: A VR360° player with enhanced haptic feedback" by Ali Israr, Zachary Schwemler, John Mars and Brian Krainer.

From “VR360HD: A VR360° player with enhanced haptic feedback” by Ali Israr, Zachary Schwemler, John Mars and Brian Krainer.

Disney is working on VR360HD, a “Haptic Chair” that uses both software and hardware to let users “feel VR movies as they play out around you using the Unity engine and a Gear VR with a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.” While it is unclear what the company will use the technology for, it might be for its own Gear VR content, which is a partnership with Oculus.

The Guardian is also creating content with the Daydream View with its new project Underworld. The publication plans on releasing six VR films over the next 18 months, including one exploring “the subterranean labyrinth of London’s Victorian sewers.” The Guardian also put together a guide for getting started with VR.


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