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posted by cmn32480 on Thursday February 11 2016, @09:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the glass-on-steroids dept.

Google will reportedly release a smartphone-assisted virtual reality headset in 2016 and build virtual reality software features into Android rather than rely on an app. The device will use plastic casing, add extra sensors, and include better lenses than those distributed with Google Cardboard:

We've said a few times now that Google's virtual reality initiative is too big for the company to just be working on Google Cardboard, and now The Financial Times has published a report detailing what seems to be the next phase of Google's VR push. The report says that Google is working on "a successor to Cardboard," creating a higher-quality headset and building VR software directly into Android.

The device sounds like a Google version of Samsung's Gear VR. Like Cardboard, the headset will be powered by your existing smartphone, with a "more solid plastic casing" along with better lenses and sensors. Also like Cardboard, this won't be limited to just a handful of devices, with the report saying that the headset "will be compatible with a much broader range of Android devices than Gear VR."

Such a device sounds like it would occupy a compelling spot in the market. The Gear VR is a great device—the $100 headset is a powerful entry-level VR experience—but it only works with Samsung phones. Cardboard has much wider phone compatibility, but it comes with a huge list of compromises that lead to a subpar experience. Taking the Gear VR model and expanding it to accept most popular smartphones sounds like a solid idea.

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Related Stories

Google Cardboard 2 Plans Released 13 comments

Google has updated its Cardboard VR template. The cardboard frame holds your smartphone and lenses in order to make a simple and cheap virtual reality headset:

Even with the simplicity of the design, the company did make a few changes to Cardboard 2. The base model now requires only three steps to set up with your smartphone instead of seven. The viewports are smaller and circular, indicating that there's more cardboard used to hold the phone in place. Even with the increase of material used throughout the viewer, it's able to hold large phones such as the iPhone 6 Plus and the Nexus 6.

Here's a direct download link. It's about 9 megabytes and contains the technical specifications, "Works with Google Cardboard" - the best practices for third-party Cardboard sellers, technical drawings, and 3D models.

Original Submission

New York Times to Deliver Google Cardboard VR to Subscribers 11 comments

The New York Times has announced a collaboration with Google to deliver over 1 million Cardboard virtual reality viewers to NYT home delivery subscribers with their newspapers over the weekend of November 7 and 8. Online subscribers will receive a promo code by email that will allow them to claim a free Cardboard viewer. NYT will also create free VR content:

The paper worked closely with IM360 to create the NYT VR application. The app will be available for free for both iOS 8+ and Android 4.3+. It can be used with the Google Cardboard viewer, but a pair of VR googles is not required to view the video. will host 2D versions of the videos, and 360-degree YouTube versions will be found on the company's YouTube channel.

The first video being released through NYT VR is a collaboration between The New York Times Magazine and Chris Milk at Vrse. Together, they created a film called The Displaced, which covers the story of three young children -- one from South Sudan, one from eastern Ukraine, and one from Syria -- who have been uprooted from their homes due to war in their regions. The story is captured with 360-degree cameras and taken from the perspective of these young children, depicting what they go through in their daily lives.

[...] "The power of VR is that it gives the viewer a unique sense of empathic connection to people and events," said Jake Silverstein, Editor in Chief, The New York Times Magazine. "In the context of international reporting and conflict reporting, where our readers rely on us to bring them news and stories from remote and inaccessible places, this has huge potential. Through this immersive video experience, we can put our readers at the center of the most important story of our time."

NYT VR's second planned film is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The New York Times Magazine's Walking New York cover image. There will be a third video released on NYT VR in December and more in 2016, but we don't have any details about what those videos will be.

The app will be available on November 5th.

Original Submission

ZeniMax Media Sues Samsung Over Gear VR Headset 13 comments

How do you profit from virtual reality without the need for customers or products? You sue! Fresh from winning a $500 million judgment against Facebook/Oculus, ZeniMax Media is now suing Samsung:

Carmack, whose company id Software was acquired by ZeniMax in 2009, was one of the driving forces behind the Gear VR. While the headset was released by Samsung, it's described as "powered by Oculus," with heavy software optimizations developed by Carmack. But the lawsuit alleges that Carmack owed much of his success at Oculus to software he developed as part of a team at ZeniMax.

Among other things, the Texas court filing claims that Carmack secretly brought Oculus (and former ZeniMax) employee Matt Hooper into id Software's offices to develop an "attack plan" for mobile VR, which Oculus would later take to Samsung. The Samsung Gear VR was also built on some of the same code as the Oculus Rift, which was the subject of ZeniMax's earlier lawsuit.

Also at Ars Technica and PC Gamer. Zenimax v Samsung lawsuit. Gear VR.

Previously: Zenimax Sues Oculus on Trade Secrets
Mark Zuckerberg Will Testify in Oculus VR Trade Secrets Trial
Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
John Carmack Sues ZeniMax for $22.5 Million
Founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, Departs Facebook

Related: Samsung to Open VR Movie Studio in New York
Goodbye Cardboard: Google to Create VR Headset to Compete with Samsung's Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR Adds a Tracked Controller

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11 2016, @09:13PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11 2016, @09:13PM (#302961)

    "Watch us mock your investments on BILLIONS in VR with CARDBOARD!"

    "What the mockery is not working? OK time to invest BILLIONS to compete..."

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by takyon on Thursday February 11 2016, @09:23PM

      by takyon (881) <> on Thursday February 11 2016, @09:23PM (#302968) Journal

      I think that's a misunderstanding.

      Cardboard is the dirt poor entry into VR. It's for people with a smartphone that want to pay next to nothing to test VR. It's an impulse buy, you can make it yourself if you have the materials, but it has obvious limitations vs. Gear VR and similar devices.

      You end up with these tiers:

      Cardboard ($5-20): Cardboard sleeve, clunky adjustments, phone held loosely in place with a rubber band. No additional sensors.

      Headset ($75-200): Actual plastic/metal casing, easy adjustments, still limited by the phone's specs but can connect extra sensors, buttons, and touch surfaces to the phone.

      Standalone ($200-$500): Standalone device, better framerates and sensors, connected to a computer's GPU for higher levels of detail. Contains components sourced for smartphones, like the displays.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Friday February 12 2016, @04:30PM

        by Freeman (732) on Friday February 12 2016, @04:30PM (#303282) Journal

        My brother brought a google cardboard when he came to visit last year and I was rather impressed. Especially considering it was just a few bits of things stuffed together in some cardboard, attached to a "smart phone". That if nothing else convinced me that VR may actually get off the ground this time. Oh, and this [] . . . nothing sells quite as easily as sex.

        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 2) by EvilSS on Thursday February 11 2016, @10:40PM

      by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 11 2016, @10:40PM (#302991)

      Cardboard actually works OK but it's pretty bare bones. It's neat but not something you could use for even a short period of time comfortably. Still, it serves a purpose. One being it's a great way to get people to try VR out. Even with the little bit it can do I was impressed and much more interested in getting a "real" VR set. For another it's one of the few VR "devices" released to consumer at this point (COME ON ALREADY!)

      I see this as being the next step for them and probably will do well if it has a broad support for different handsets. And, you know, ships sometime this century. Of course the big question is WTF is Google going to do with it. I mean, at the end of the day they are a company, not a charity and this hardware isn't going to be super profitable for them. They have to have some plan for it.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday February 11 2016, @11:26PM

        by takyon (881) <> on Thursday February 11 2016, @11:26PM (#303010) Journal

        YouTube already has support for VR videos. On the desktop you can use your mouse to drag and change the view, as well as WASD, I've just learned. So they will be distributing content via YouTube and Google Play to these devices, meaning ad revenue or even direct revenue. []

        Incidentally VR looks terrible in the 480p (labeled 480s here) that I defaulted to. The video above has a 2160s option that my 2011 integrated GPU would choke and die on.

        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 2) by caffeine on Thursday February 11 2016, @10:35PM

    by caffeine (249) on Thursday February 11 2016, @10:35PM (#302987)

    A few weeks ago I picked up a cheap viewmaster to use for google cardboard. It works well but is easy to see the faults and the apps are very inconsistent in UI.

    It has been fun to play with and I have to say my kids (all under 10yo) are totally obsessed with them. The tricky thing is controlling the fights over whos turn it is and how much longer they have. Confounded by the person wearing the set being effectively blind and an easy target for the waiting children. I can really see this taking off in gaming.

    Oh well, I'd better get back to getting VR Minecraft working. Is trickier than it should be as I use OpenSUSE and Splashtop is being a pain to compile.

  • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday February 11 2016, @10:45PM

    by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday February 11 2016, @10:45PM (#302992)

    I'm not sure why Samsung keeps doing the Apple thing and trying to lock people to their hardware. Many people that use Android do it specifically because they like choice.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday February 11 2016, @11:30PM

      by takyon (881) <> on Thursday February 11 2016, @11:30PM (#303012) Journal

      I think it has to do with there being a huge base of hundreds of millions of Galaxy phones out in the world. And I mean hundreds of millions; Samsung has apparently sold 50 million or more Galaxy S III units. Even if Gear VR only fits/supports Samsung phones, there are plenty of potential customers. Moreover, the device is potentially simpler due to only needing to fit a select few models.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Friday February 12 2016, @01:02AM

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 12 2016, @01:02AM (#303046) Homepage Journal

    I like Google cardboard. Only I use it without the cardboard. I just hold the phone about 7 cm from my head. Yes I'm extremely nearsighted; my eyes focus at that distance. If I try to use the actual cardboard device, everything is blurry because of those damn lenses. Of course, I can put on my glasses, and then the cardbouard doesn't fit on my face any more.

    Now that they are making a more sophisticated device, I fear the worst.

    I need VR equipment that *does* fit over glasses. Or that can be bought with prescription lenses.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday February 12 2016, @01:12AM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday February 12 2016, @01:12AM (#303047)

      Actually, I don't want any of it for a similar reason ... when I watch a 3D movie, my eyes try to focus on various out-of-focus things around the screen and complain when they fail.
      No problem running around 3D environments in games, or watching movies, on a flat screen. But if you try to fool my eyes into thinking they're looking at 3D, then they instantly keep adjusting for object distance (not something you want to unlearn when it's time to drive home). I can reduce the problem in a theater by sitting really far from the screen, such that the change in focus distance isn't too bad, but since I can't unblur what I'm staring at, it's distracting.
      If I want to stare at something close while other thing are close and blurry, the illusion falls apart right away. I need my VR image to be all-in-focus, or the lenses have to track my eyes in real time to and adjust focal distances (interesting tech if you can make that without nausea).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12 2016, @08:24AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12 2016, @08:24AM (#303129)

        Each eye sees a different image with VR. So it should not have as many problems of past 3D unless you are prone to vertigo in real life.

      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Friday February 12 2016, @04:43PM

        by Freeman (732) on Friday February 12 2016, @04:43PM (#303286) Journal

        The Nintendo 3DS kind of 3D I find is ok and doesn't really screw with my head. Those "3D" movies at the theater, yeah, those screw with my head. I tried convincing my friends that yes, I do get sick when looking at the "New 3D" movies in theater. Yet, I was dragged to a theater to watch one anyway, because give it a chance, it's so not like the kind of 3D that's been around forever. Jokes on them, I left the theater after a couple minutes, and got to play in the Arcade while they got to sit through Toy Story 3.

        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Sunday February 14 2016, @09:25PM

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Sunday February 14 2016, @09:25PM (#304318) Homepage Journal

        You will probably have less difficulty with this as you age, and your eyes lose their ability to change focus. That's the age when you need bifocals or trifocals.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Tork on Friday February 12 2016, @01:42AM

      by Tork (3914) on Friday February 12 2016, @01:42AM (#303050)

      If you get an opportunity to try on a GearVR, you may find it surprising. I'm nearsighted and have the same glasses issue as well but I'm able to adjust it enough that I can use it without having my glasses on. I wasn't expecting that.

      Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 1) by Some call me Tim on Friday February 12 2016, @02:50AM

    by Some call me Tim (5819) on Friday February 12 2016, @02:50AM (#303059)

    Just as soon as it works with my Palm Treo.
    Seriously though, this seems like just an extension of the 3D TV they've been trying to shove down our throats for a while now. If it isn't a stand alone device that anyone can purchase and use without needing another specific device/OS, I really don't think it's going to take off.

    Questioning science is how you do science!
    • (Score: 2) by caffeine on Friday February 12 2016, @07:22AM

      by caffeine (249) on Friday February 12 2016, @07:22AM (#303119)

      Whilst a stand alone VR headset would be nice, to me, the main components in a VR system are already in a decent smart phone most people already own. I was happy to spend AU$39 to get something to use with my smart phone to play around with VR. There is no way I would spend 10x or more on a stand alone VR headset at this early stage.

      Also, the first thing my 3yo did when wearing the headset was to run into a wall in the real world. At his age he believed that he was in a different world. Was funny to see on a cheap plastic headset, would be more worried about this on an expensive standalone unit.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by opinionated_science on Friday February 12 2016, @03:58AM

    by opinionated_science (4031) on Friday February 12 2016, @03:58AM (#303076)

    I work with molecules, and VR has the potential to be quite useful for huge simulations, with many atoms.

    I am concerned about the testing hands on, incase it *doesn't* work. I might play some games, but I am concerned about strain after hours of analysis etc...

    My experience with the glasses is that they are tolerable, though brightness is the real problem with them.

    Are there likely to be places you can actually test one out?