November VR/AR News #4: Project Alloy, social VR and the making of Pokemon Go

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For fun: In an animated video, John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic, explores how the company made Pokemon Go and the future of AR.

This holiday season could be what introduces virtual reality to a mainstream audience. According to The Washington Post, “Research firm IDC estimates that consumers — particularly gamers — will snap up 9.6 million virtual reality headsets by the end of the year, spending about $2.6 billion.”

The Project Alloy headset. Photo credit: Vjeran Pavic.

Intel is trying to catch up in the VR hardware space with its Project Alloy, a merged reality experience. Cameras take pictures of the world around the user and “project them back into your virtual environment in milliseconds,” according to The Verge. “Intel’s pitch with Project Alloy is that it has figured out a way to offer a PC-like VR experience without the need to tether the headset to a computer system.”

Screen manufacturer Japan Display is increasing the number of pixels of smartphone screens for higher quality VR content. The company, “which is a joint venture between Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi, is currently developing a 3.42-inch screen, 1,440 x 1,700 screen, packing in a whopping 651 pixels-per-inch,” according to Engadget. The screen will also have faster refresh rates and response times to reduce motion blur.

A virtual meeting place from AltspaceVR, one of the many companies bringing users together through social VR.

A virtual meeting place from AltspaceVR, one of the many companies bringing users together through social VR.

While big players like Facebook are entering the social VR space, this area of VR is also open to new companies including AltspaceVR and VRChat launching “products that promise to enable user-generated content and social interaction in VR,” according to Upload VR.

For UploadVR, Bertie Millis, the co-founder and managing director of Virtual Umbrella, argues that as VR continues to grow and to garner a larger audience, content will have to develop as well. “As VR reaches a more and more mainstream audience, content must evolve and mature to continue holding the attention of an average viewer, and to justify the price paid for hardware and content,” wrote Millis. “VR as a medium will need to become as diverse, exciting and original as standard filmmaking is today.”

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