Welcome back, enterprising travelers of alternate realities, to another edition of Field of view. It’s our weekly roundup of all the goings-on in VR and AR.
It was bit of a slow week, though we are approaching Samsung’s 20 February Unpacked event, and there’s a teeny, tiny, itsy bitsy chance that we finally get to see a new version of the Gear VR (maybe called Galaxy VR thanks to Samsung’s rebranding efforts).
Read this: The best AR glasses
In the meantime, we’ve rounded up some of the biggest news and recommendations right here for you to enjoy. As always, you can head over to our dedicated news section for more.
Read this: News blips and tidbits
Oculus’ Rift S headset makes an appearance
Back in October we learned that Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe quit the company after Facebook reportedly canceled the Rift 2, which would have been another tethered headset that pushed for technological progress. Facebook apparently wanted something more accessible.
And now we know that the more accessible headset may be called Rift S, according to code uncovered by UploadVR. That code revealed settings that allow you to adjust lighting frequency for the Rift S’ cameras, indicating that the camera sensors are on the headset itself, rather than being separate things you plop around your play space. That means inside-out tracking, much like the upcoming Oculus Quest.
It also looks like the Rift S will get rid of physical interpupillary distance adjustment in favor of software interpupillary distance adjustment, much like the Oculus Go and PlayStation VR. These are small adjustments, but they’re adjustments built around making the Rift more accessible.
The name itself, Rift S, also conveys a slight upgrade over the regular Rift rather than a full-fledged Rift 2, which is precisely what Facebook wanted. It’s not clear when we could see the Rift S. Facebook F8, the company’s annual conference, kicks off on 30 April, so there’s a chance we may get even a little tease then.
HP’s new Windows Mixed Reality headset gets previewed
Microsoft’s rollout of Windows Mixed Reality devices was odd. Every device had largely the same set of specs, based on a reference design by Microsoft. The only real exception was Samsung’s Odyssey+. Now HP is back with a new headset codenamed Copper, which RoadtoVR got an exclusive look at.
The new headset is more Rift-like in design, coming with built-in headphones, an over-the-top strap with a circular back-end and velcro straps for adjustment. It also comes with a resolution of 2,160 x 2,160 per eye, that’s more than the 1,440 x 1,600 on most Windows Mixed Reality headsets. HP also claims it sports three times the amount of pixels as on the Rift.
The two big goals for HP here were resolution and comfort, though the company says Copper is a prototype and not an officially-announced product just yet. In fact, the photo is an untextured render of what Copper looks like. When it does become a product, it’ll be aimed at businesses, though consumers will be able to pick it up too. There is no price or release window yet.
Apple’s new Safari privacy settings threaten web-based VR and AR
One of the biggest issues to VR and AR adoption is the barrier of entry. Often, you need expensive PCs or other devices to get in on the fun. One way around this was web-based VR and AR, which would just require a browser to run on any device – from phones to affordable headsets.
Now, DigiDay reports that a new privacy setting in the iOS version of Safari may hurt web-based VR and AR. Last year, Wired reported that some sites pull motion sensing data from phones without consent. Now Apple is introducing a new privacy setting called ‘Motion and Orientation Access’, which requires sites to get consent before collecting motion data.
It’s a privacy win for users, but developers are worried their sites may break in the short term as there’s currently no way for web sites to request access to motion data. It’s unclear when Apple could introduce a pop-up that would work similar to a website requesting location data.
HoloLens co-inventor leaves Apple
Avi Bar-Zeev left Apple in January, three years after joining the company from Microsoft, where he helped co-invent and found HoloLens and Microsoft’s broader AR aspirations. Bar-Zeev had been working on Apple’s rumored AR headset.
Bar-Zeev has worked in VR since the 90s, starting with Disney on VR experiences at its theme parks. Then he co-founded Keyhole, the company that would later be acquired by Google and used as the foundation for Google Maps. Bar-Zeev tells Variety he left Apple on good terms and that he wanted to consult on AR while working on the “next big thing”. Bar-Zeev is a pioneer in the world of AR and VR, so this is a significant loss for Apple’s AR ambitions.
Play this: Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs
That’s right, Angry Birds is now in VR. Developer Resolution Games tells Wareable that the game was actually developed after it started developing an AR version of Angry Birds for Magic Leap. We’ve spent some time with the game – it’s got that same fun and addicting quality, with the VR twist being that the puzzles are in three dimensions and that you can swap your vantage point. It’s out now on Rift and HTC Vive for $14.99.
Hot VR headset deals
Wareable may get a commission