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posted by n1 on Friday March 06 2015, @04:15AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the virtual-sickness dept.

Nick Wingfield reports at The New York Times that for the last couple of years, the companies building virtual reality headsets have begged the public for patience as they strive to create virtual environments that don't make people physically sick. “We’re going to hang ourselves out there and be judged,” says John Carmack, chief technology officer of Oculus, describing what he calls a “nightmare scenario” that has worried him and other Oculus executives. “People like the demo, they take it home, and they start throwing up,” says Carmack. "The fear is if a really bad V.R. product comes out, it could send the industry back to the ’90s." In that era, virtual reality headsets flopped, disappointing investors and consumers. “It left a huge, smoking crater in the landscape,” says Carmack, who is considered an important game designer for his work on Doom and Quake. “We’ve had people afraid to touch V.R. for 20 years.”

This time around, the backing for virtual reality is of a different magnitude. Facebook paid $2 billion last year to acquire Oculus. Microsoft is developing its own headset, HoloLens, that mixes elements of virtual reality with augmented reality, a different medium that overlays virtual images on a view of the real world. Google has invested more than $500 million in Magic Leap, a company developing an augmented reality headset. “The challenge is there is so much expectation and anticipation that that could fall away quite quickly if you don’t get the type of traction you had hoped,” says Neil Young

At least one company, Valve, believes it has solved the discomfort problem with headsets. Gabe Newell says Valve has worked hard on its virtual reality technology to eliminate the discomfort, saying that “zero percent of people get motion sick” when they try its system. According to Newell, the reason why no one has gotten sick yet is thanks to Valve’s Lighthouse motion-tracking system, a precise motion-tracking system that is capable of accurately tracking users as they move around a space. In the meantime the next challenge will be convincing media and tech companies to create lots of content to keep users entertained. “Virtual reality has been around for 20 years, and the one thing that has been consistent throughout this is that the technology is not mature enough,” says Brian Blau. “Today there’s the possibility for that to change, but it’s going to take a while for these app developers to get it right.”

Related Stories

Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware? 4 comments

Magic Leap has announced an augmented reality/mixed reality display. The price is unknown, but Magic Leap says it will ship in 2018:

After more than three years, Magic Leap has unveiled what it describes as a "creator edition" of its augmented reality system. The Magic Leap One consists of a pair of oversized cyberpunk-y goggles, a puck-shaped external computer called a Lightpack, and a handheld controller. It's supposed to accept "multiple input modes including voice, gesture, head pose and eye tracking," and maps persistent objects onto the environment — "place a virtual TV on the wall over your fireplace and when you return later, the TV will be right where you left it," the site promises. An SDK is supposedly coming in early 2018, and the hardware is supposed to ship at some point next year.

Magic Leap invited Rolling Stone to try out some demos, which include virtual characters that can react to eye contact, a floating virtual comic book, and a virtual live performance using volumetric camera capture. The piece seems to refute rumors that Magic Leap was having difficulty shrinking its technology to goggle size while keeping performance up, saying that "there was no stuttering or slowdowns, even when I walked around the performance, up close and far away."

The "puck-sized" tethered computer is an interesting compromise. It doesn't look like it would hinder mobility that much (you could compare it to a Walkman plus headphones), and it's much smaller than "VR backpack" concepts. However, it could be a good sign that you should not be an early adopter of Magic Leap One (which is actually the ninth generation of their hardware internally, according to Rolling Stone).

Some still call it vaporware. There is no video footage of the device being worn, and images have been retouched to "edit out some sensitive IP".

Will it take privacy seriously?

Again, not to be confused with Leap Motion.

Also at BBC, Tom's Hardware, Road to VR, Engadget, BGR, 9to5Google.

Previously: Developers Race to Develop VR Headsets that Won't Make Users Nauseous
Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware


Original Submission

Magic Leap Gets $500 Million in Funding... Again 5 comments

Seven years after raising $542M at a $2B valuation, Magic Leap raises $500M at a $2B valuation

Magic Leap has had one hell of a journey, and to their credit, it seems investors are still addicted to giving them money.

The augmented reality startup announced today that they have raised $500 million at a $2 billion valuation from existing investors. The round echoes the terms of an October 2014 raise where Magic Leap raised $542 million at a reported $2 billion valuation. Quite a bit has happened in the meantime.

Curiously, Magic Leap decided not to actually disclose any of the specific investors participating in this latest fundraise. At this point, the company has raised $3.5 billion in total funding according to Crunchbase, meaning that most of the investors they've brought in haven't fared too well thus far.

Magic Leap 2 Teased For 2022 With Taller Field Of View

A blog post by Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson features an image, pictured below, comparing the field of view of the first and second generation AR headsets. While Magic Leap 2 seems to have small gains in horizontal field of view, vertically the augmentation of your vision should be far more significant with the new device. The company is said to have raised another $500 million to roll-out the second generation product focused toward business markets in 2022. "Select customers" are "already leveraging its capabilities through an early access program," according to the company.

Also at The Verge.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by rts008 on Friday March 06 2015, @04:50AM

    by rts008 (3001) on Friday March 06 2015, @04:50AM (#153727)

    Imagine VR where you are playing something like Battlefield 'X', or Call of Duty 'X', etc.
    You are running, dodging, crawling, crouched/duck-waliking, jumping and so forth.

    How many gamers will have the physical and mental attributes to actually play more than the beginning, where most would say 'fsck this!' and find something less strenuous.

    *Hint: For ex-military, think boot camp and AIT compressed into one day(with all of it's misery too), then add your worst nightmares, and then add in your hardest physical challenges rolled into one, then multiplied by 6-10.
    If you are another combat veteran, then I don't have to explain anything to you. :-)
    And to PAY to do this for fun. That's a very niche market.

    I will be the first to admit that I find the concept of a 'Star Trek: TNG' holodeck too cool and awesome for words, I would doubt that I would use it for anything like the games I play.(maybe if I was 30-40 years younger!)

    Sometimes dreams and fantasy are best left to the imagination, afterall the imagination can be a powerful tool.

    • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Friday March 06 2015, @05:01AM

      by Gravis (4596) on Friday March 06 2015, @05:01AM (#153729)

      Imagine VR where you are playing something like Battlefield 'X', or Call of Duty 'X', etc.
      You are running, dodging, crawling, crouched/duck-waliking, jumping and so forth.
      How many gamers will have the physical and mental attributes to actually play more than the beginning, where most would say 'fsck this!' and find something less strenuous.

      I think you would be surprised. i think some Gamers would actually get in shape by playing games if they switched over to being physically demanding. however, what would be required is a headset that doesn't trap heat and/or sweat.

      • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Friday March 06 2015, @04:27PM

        by rts008 (3001) on Friday March 06 2015, @04:27PM (#153869)

        You may be right.
        We can hope so, anyways.

        As for myself, I'm old--have had a heart attack and a stroke, so my interest would be VR games using a controller while my worn out butt is parked.

        I am also a combat vet, so the ultra-realistic combat has no real appeal to me...been there, done that;not pressing my luck any further. :-)

    • (Score: 2) by tibman on Friday March 06 2015, @05:34AM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 06 2015, @05:34AM (#153731)

      I'm just imagining a sniper fest where half the people are laying around. The other half are switching between walking and awkward shuffles depending on how tired they are.

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      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday March 06 2015, @05:54AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday March 06 2015, @05:54AM (#153734) Homepage

        I'm imagining Leisure Suit Larry, which was originally pixellated and that was cool because that's what being drunk is like anyway.

        Walking into a bar that smells like ass and cigarette smoke. Hearing a joke that you wouldn't get until buying the hint book explained stuffing a vagina full of ice-cream. Flatulent noises in the restroom. Stinky cabbies. Vegas-style marriages. All the stenches and background music. Trench-coat bums flashing. Buying prophylactics from the liquor store or dying mid-game.

        I don't want fucking Second Life or Counterstrike on VR. I want Leisure-Suit Larry. And the first person that gets a convincing Leisure Suit Larry on VR is going to be a rich sonofabitch.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06 2015, @05:43AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06 2015, @05:43AM (#153733)

      Paintball with added PTSD tho

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06 2015, @09:50AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06 2015, @09:50AM (#153782)

      I assumed the idea is you still click your touchpad or whatever to go forwards, backwards, etc, but you can now "look around" by moving your head independent of your direction of movement.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07 2015, @06:35AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07 2015, @06:35AM (#154054)

        That will make you motion sick, which is parents point. When the brain does not get the same motion input from the eyes and the balance organs, the brain will trigger your built in anti poison vomiting.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06 2015, @05:40AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06 2015, @05:40AM (#153732)

    Don't puke!

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06 2015, @05:59AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06 2015, @05:59AM (#153735)

    I'm honestly more interested in VR application in areas besides gaming.
    I saw some older videos http://youtu.be/DzrlOzmtCV4?t=2m2s [youtu.be],http://youtu.be/izaBq084b0k [youtu.be] that described some of the potential of VR.
    Medical training, industrial design, assisting the disabled, physics simulations, et cetera.

    In fact, just this morning I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine working in industrial design.
    He was roughing some modellings on graph paper, and later in a CAD program, then we started talking about VR and discussed how much easier prototyping would be to work with something virtual, yet tangible and interactive, before actual build process.

    Nothing against videogames; I've played my fair share of Quake back when, I just wish they weren't receiving the majority of focus with VR.

    • (Score: 2) by TheLink on Friday March 06 2015, @10:11AM

      by TheLink (332) on Friday March 06 2015, @10:11AM (#153789) Journal
      With a suitable UI some work can be much better with VR/3D.

      But such technology if improved would be useful even as merely an alternative to multiple or larger screens/desktops. You can have very very many screens and they can be very very big.

      It's good that Microsoft has started HoloLens. Metro was a boring (even stupid) direction - who gets excited about their powerful desktop PC being turned into a tablet? In contrast, with this direction there's a lot more potential for helping people do more or have more fun, and also potential to use all those billions of transistors Intel has been running out of ideas* on what to do with ;).

      * OK the transactional stuff was a good idea unfortunately Intel screwed up and you can't use it safely because of the bugs.
    • (Score: 2) by tibman on Friday March 06 2015, @02:46PM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 06 2015, @02:46PM (#153838)

      I thought this was a great application of AR (not VR): http://hackaday.com/2014/05/23/castar-and-holographic-print-preview-for-3d-printers/ [hackaday.com]

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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by darkfeline on Friday March 06 2015, @03:33PM

      by darkfeline (1030) on Friday March 06 2015, @03:33PM (#153854) Homepage

      How about using VR as a display? You will no longer need 3 or 4 monitors and tons of desktop space. Just one headset and BOOM, the entire world is your desktop.

      No doubt this will only exacerbate the tab explosion problem though...

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  • (Score: 1) by johnck on Friday March 06 2015, @06:10AM

    by johnck (1560) on Friday March 06 2015, @06:10AM (#153736)

    JESUS WEPT!

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by aristarchus on Friday March 06 2015, @07:03AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Friday March 06 2015, @07:03AM (#153745) Journal

    Unsolvable problem. Reality has a well-known liberal bias, according to Stephen Colbert. But more to the point, VR people need to read their Jean-Paul Sartre! Especially a work called Nausea. You see, the problem with reality is just that it is too damn real. And it's real for no damned reason! It just sits there, being real, no matter how much you wish it was not. Sartre calls this "absurdity". Now you see that video games are the opposite of reality, because they do not have to be there! You can shut them off. But the closer VR gets to R, the more the vomit-inducing reality is approached. I guess I am trying to say that there is a sort of "uncanny valley", and it is full of puke.

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  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Friday March 06 2015, @08:11AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Friday March 06 2015, @08:11AM (#153751) Homepage Journal

    In my whole life I've only seen one 3-D movie. The friend who invited me warned that it was likely to give me a headache, because 3-D movies commonly depicted such things as swords being thrust directly out of the movie screen towards each individual audience member's face.

    And yes I did get a headache; the worst offender was a rope being lowered into a narrow hole. The camera - or rather cameras - were placed at the bottom of the hole looking upward, so it appeared as if the rope was stiff, and being extended horizontally across the rows of seats, towards my face.

    If anything in the way of 3-D is to succeed, it must focus on looking more like ordinary life, than some magical gimmick.

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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Friday March 06 2015, @01:45PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 06 2015, @01:45PM (#153828)

      VR will not be used for anything other than gimmicks for the first decade or so.

      Remember the 80s when every worthless interoffice memo for a decade had to be desktop published with 15 fonts in 8 colors? Or look at ugly web pages where the more complicated and baroque the html the "better" it is for competitive reasons. You can expect the first decade or so of a VR that is finally successful to consist entirely of gimmicks like "sword to face" much as we had to sit thru a decade of interoffice memos looking like newspaper ransom notes and icky myspace pages and modern web pages.

      I assure you it'll be useless for design. Having done some design work and sailed on sailboats, the seasickness will be legendary once the moving thing fills the field of view. You'll need vomit buckets at every CAD station. And ironically it won't be a millisecond more productive than using a screen...how could it be, other than bald faced marketing claims?

  • (Score: 1) by Zanothis on Friday March 06 2015, @04:42PM

    by Zanothis (3445) on Friday March 06 2015, @04:42PM (#153873)

    I know that VR headsets aren't that pretty to look at, but I didn't think that they would make gamers literally sickening to look at.

    ...

    Oh... you meant the users are becoming nauseated. Carry on.