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posted by martyb on Tuesday July 11 2017, @09:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the just-pining-for-the-fjords dept.

Facebook has cut the price of the Oculus Rift for the second time this year. It debuted at $800, was cut to $600 in March, and is now $400. Is there real trouble in the virtual reality market, or is it just a normal price correction now that early adopters have been served?

It means that the Rift now costs less than the package offered by its cheapest rival, Sony, whose PlayStation VR currently totals $460 including headset and controllers.

Even so, it's not clear that it will be enough to lure people into buying a Rift. A year ago, our own Rachel Metz predicted that the Rift would struggle against Sony's offering because the former requires a powerful (and expensive) gaming computer to run, while the latter needs just a $350 PlayStation 4 game console.

Jason Rubin, vice president for content at Oculus, tells Reuters that the reduction isn't a sign of weak product sales, but rather a decision to give the headset more mass market appeal now that more games are available. Don't believe it: this is the latest in a string of bad news for the firm, which has also shut down its nascent film studio, shuttered in-store demo stations of its hardware, and stumped up $250 million as part of a painful intellectual property lawsuit in the last six months.

Here's a February story about the Oculus demo stations at Best Buy stores being shut down.

Previously: Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets

Original Submission

Related Stories

Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax 6 comments

Mark Zuckerberg's first courtroom testimony hasn't gone over so well. A jury has awarded ZeniMax Media Inc. $500 million in damages in the Oculus Rift case:

The virtual reality headset maker that Facebook Inc. bought in 2014 for $2 billion used stolen technology, a jury said in awarding $500 million damages to ZeniMax Media Inc.

Jurors in Dallas federal court on Wednesday sided with ZeniMax in its trade-secrets case over the Oculus Rift, the device that has put the social media giant at the forefront of the virtual reality boom. The verdict is a rebuke of Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who isn't a defendant but who told jurors in his first-ever courtroom testimony that it was important for him to be there because the claims by ZeniMax Media Inc. were "false."

The case is ZeniMax Media Inc. v. Oculus VR Inc., 3:14-cv-01849, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas). Not to be confused with the Eastern District of Texas. From a 2013 article in Dallas News:

Judges in the Northern District, which includes Dallas and Fort Worth, saw an 18 percent increase in patent cases filed. And legal experts expect that number will significantly increase in 2013 now that three judges in Dallas have committed to focusing more of their time and expertise on intellectual property disputes.

Also at The Verge.

Facebook to Buy Rift Maker Oculus VR for $2bn
Mark Zuckerberg Will Testify in Oculus VR Trade Secrets Trial

Original Submission

Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets 7 comments

Google is partnering with HTC and Lenovo to produce standalone (no smartphone or tether) virtual reality headsets. The headsets could cost around $500-$700, comparable to the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. As they will have less computational/graphics power than flagship smartphones or desktops, Google has developed a rendering system that they claim can compensate by decreasing the amount of polygons needed to render a scene (related video):

Meanwhile, a rendering system called Seurat — named after the pointillist painter Georges Seurat — is supposed to offer image quality that rivals what you'd get on a high-end PC. Andrey Doronichev, Google's director of product management, describes Seurat as "computational magic." It takes a rendered three-dimensional scene and samples shots of it from many different angles. As seen [here], Seurat uses these images to assemble a facade that drastically reduces the number of polygons the headset needs to render, without a visible loss of quality.

Google can also use the same Daydream user interface it's been fine-tuning for the past year on phones. A software update codenamed Euphrates will add the features you need for devices that users can't just pop apart and use as a phone, like a full-featured web browser and a dashboard for accessing settings and other non-VR parts of Android.

Google envisions VR and AR converging into mixed reality headsets, building on the augmented reality technologies developed under Project Tango as well as Daydream VR:

To make VR more transporting, and AR more convincing and useful, everything behind these experiences must improve: displays, optics, tracking, input, GPUs, sensors, and more. As one benchmark, to achieve "retina" resolution in VR — that is, to give a person 20/20 vision across their full field of view — we'll need roughly 30 times more pixels than we have in today's displays. To make more refined forms of AR possible, smartphones will need more advanced sensing capabilities. Our devices will need to understand motion, space, and very precise location. We'll need precision not in meters, but in centimeters or even millimeters.

Both the Rift and Vive have 2160×1200 displays. Roughly 30 times more pixels would mean a resolution of around 11880×6600, or 16704×4698 (32:9 aspect ratio).

Original Submission

Facebook/Oculus Reportedly Working on $200 Standalone VR Headset 8 comments

Bloomberg reports that Oculus (Facebook) will unveil a standalone VR headset that does not require a tether or smartphone:

Facebook Inc. is taking another stab at turning its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset into a mass-market phenomenon. Later this year, the company plans to unveil a cheaper, wireless device that the company is betting will popularize VR the way Apple did the smartphone.

Currently VR hardware comes in two flavors: cheap headsets that turn smartphones into virtual reality players (like Samsung's $130 Gear VR) and high-end gaming rigs (like Facebook's $400 Oculus Rift) that hook up to $1,000-plus desktop computers. Facebook's new headset is designed to bridge the gap -- a device that will sell for as little as $200 and need not be tethered to a PC or phone, according to people familiar with its development. It will ship next year and represent an entirely new category.

Like current Oculus products, the new headset will be geared toward immersive gaming, watching video and social networking, said the people who asked not to be named to discuss a private matter. Code-named "Pacific," the device resembles a more compact version of the Rift and will be lighter than Samsung's Gear VR headset, one of the people said. The device's design and features aren't finalized and could still change, but the idea is that someone will be able to pull the headset out of their bag and watch movies on a flight just the way you can now with a phone or tablet.

Even $400 is not low enough.

Also at TechCrunch and The Verge.

Previously: Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets

Original Submission

Facebook Announces Oculus Go for $200 9 comments

Facebook is attempting to make virtual reality a mainstream product, and hopes to reach one billion VR users "one day":

In its continued effort to take virtual reality mainstream, Facebook has announced Oculus Go - a standalone headset that will be released in 2018. Mark Zuckerberg said the device, priced at $199, would be the "most accessible VR experience ever".

Sales of the company's VR hardware have been slow since launching the first Oculus Rift headset in March 2016. "If VR doesn't go mass market at this price point, I think we can conclude that it never will," said John Delaney, an analyst with IDC. Facebook's previous budget VR product, Gear VR, is $129, but requires a high-end Samsung smartphone in order to work. Speaking at Facebook's yearly virtual reality developers conference in San Jose, Mr Zuckerberg acknowledged the slow adoption of the technology to date. But he said his company's goal was that one day, it would get one billion people into VR.

The headset is a standalone device that does not require a smartphone, headphones, or tether to a desktop computer. The high-end Oculus Rift headset has had its price cut to $400 (for good).

Oculus Go is not being sold anytime soon, and the Oculus blog warns that "Oculus Go is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until [FCC] authorization is obtained". Facebook says that the devices will be sent to developers within the next 12 months. Specs and battery details are also unknown (maybe they need to use one of these for you to feel safe strapping it to your head).

Also at Washington Post and TechCrunch. Oculus Blog.

Previously: Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets
Virtual Reality Audiences Stare Straight Ahead 75% of the Time
Google Bisects VR
Facebook/Oculus Reportedly Working on $200 Standalone VR Headset

Original Submission

Oculus Co-Founder Says there is No Market for VR Gaming 51 comments

Facebook will never break through with Oculus, says one of the VR company's co-founders

Five years after its $2 billion purchase of Oculus, Facebook is still pushing forward in its efforts to bring virtual reality to a mainstream audience. But one of the company's six co-founders now doubts Oculus will ever break through.

Jack McCauley told CNBC he doesn't think there's a real market for VR gaming. With Facebook positioning its Oculus devices primarily as gaming machines, McCauley doesn't believe there's much of a market for the device. "If we were gonna sell, we would've sold," McCauley said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

[...] The $199 Oculus Go has sold a little more than 2 million units since its release in May 2018, according to estimates provided by market research firm SuperData, a Nielsen company. The Oculus Quest, which was released this May, has sold nearly 1.1 million units while the Oculus Rift has sold 547,000 units since the start of 2018, according to SuperData.

[...] Since leaving in November 2015, McCauley has enjoyed a semi-retired life. He's an innovator in residence at Berkeley's Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation and he continues to build all sorts of devices, such as a gun capable of shooting down drones, at his own research and development facility.

The cheaper, standalone headsets are selling more units. Add foveated rendering and other enhancements at the lower price points (rather than $1,599 like the Vive Pro Eye), and the experience could become much better.

Related: Oculus Rift: Dead in the Water?
HTC: Death of VR Greatly Exaggerated
As Sales Slide, Virtual Reality Fans Look to a Bright, Untethered Future
Virtual Reality Feels Like a Dream Gathering Dust
VR Gets Reality Check with Significant Decline in Investment
Creepy Messages Will be Found in Facebook's Oculus Touch VR Controllers

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Nerdfest on Tuesday July 11 2017, @10:29AM (6 children)

    by Nerdfest (80) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @10:29AM (#537527)

    In addition to the costs of these, it would also mean buying an expensive piece of kit from either Sony or FaceBook. I'd really prefer to give money to a company I didn't detest.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RamiK on Tuesday July 11 2017, @11:31AM (3 children)

      by RamiK (1813) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @11:31AM (#537535)

      Gaming is encroaching on servers and mining. If you can make money by turning GPGPUs and CPUs to cryptocurrency and ad revenue from web-hosting, VR and advance AI driven gaming will always lose-out in the bidding. As such, the consumer general compute PC market is effectively locked out of the VR and AI markets.

      That leaves AI and VR to companies like Sony and Facebook which can dedicate gaming hardware and turn AI into a server-side platform service in the form of MMOs.

      So, unless you can provide highly efficient dedicate mining hardware to allow GPUs for gaming, and dedicated neural-net circuitry to consumer CPUs, you'll be dealing with the worst kind of companies for the foreseeable future.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday July 11 2017, @04:35PM (2 children)

        by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @04:35PM (#537657) Journal

        Doesn't that discount the factor of economies of scale? ie when multiple markets desire the same product. More resources can be allocated to produce higher volume of that and thus lower the price after an initial price hike?

        Provided the supply of silicon or other essentials isn't limited..

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by RamiK on Tuesday July 11 2017, @06:34PM (1 child)

          by RamiK (1813) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @06:34PM (#537725)

          economies of scale...Provided the supply of silicon or other essentials isn't limited.

          Putting aside the fact heavy rare earths are scarce enough to fluctuate considerably at a weekly basis ( [] ), economy of scale has it's limits. Once you fill up the wafers, there's nothing for you to scale. It's why heavy silicon's price quotas flatten around 100k units. Same goes for automobiles: At around 300k units you're molding, stamping and punching everything so increasing the demand 10 times over can't change the per-unit BOM or meaningfully cut on machinery and personal.

          Of course, meeting higher demand means increased cash flow for R&D. But that's a form of gambling: Just because you're spending more and more money on finding a technical solution to a problem doesn't mean there is one.

          • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Saturday July 15 2017, @02:54AM

            by Immerman (3985) on Saturday July 15 2017, @02:54AM (#539448)

            But what rare earths are used in CPUs/GPUs?

            Silicon is *not* a rare earth, it's as common as dirt. Sand (quartz) is silicon dioxide, and last I heard silicon doping is usually done with phosphorous and boron, neither of which are rare.

    • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Tuesday July 11 2017, @02:51PM

      by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 11 2017, @02:51PM (#537598) Journal

      Do you also hate HTC and/or Valve? They're probably the #2 player after facebook-is-watching-you-watch-porn brand.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11 2017, @05:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11 2017, @05:57PM (#537708)

      I'm in complete agreement with regards to the rift - I have no intention of buying expensive hardware from facebook just so later they can make changes to integrate it with facebook itself or something similar. Rift died for me the day they sold themselves to Facebook.

      With the PSVR, I'm actually a little more open about it, but it's a system that'll be more likely to die due to being tied to a console. Similarly this is going to mean it'll have far less games for it (only those sony approves)

      That leaves the last competitor as a potential VR system for me, but unfortunately for VR companies - I'm not rich and it would take me long enough just to save up to buy the VR setup and I'd still not have a computer strong enough to run it well enough to justify the purchase. And even THEN I have to sit back and realize I don't have a lot of space to set up a VR system anyway.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by looorg on Tuesday July 11 2017, @11:25AM (16 children)

    by looorg (578) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @11:25AM (#537533)

    The market just wasn't ready for VR yet, that or it just didn't fill a actual need. It was a created need looking for a market. Unfortunately it over-promised what it could deliver. The gaming experience from what I have heard has been substandard and what remains then is little VR clips in the news and porn. It's a niche product within a very small niche market. So unless they want to repackage it as 'the ultimate porn experience' and sell that, which is also highly doubtful I would say, then they are probably shit out of luck.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Tuesday July 11 2017, @12:07PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday July 11 2017, @12:07PM (#537545) Journal

      Tethered VR is bad. Unless you want to sit in front of your gaming PC for hours, untethered VR lets you lay down, walk around, and possibly get some exercise, although that might require blowing more money for an Omni treadmill for gaming.

      Resolution, refresh rate, latency, processing/graphics power where applicable, etc. will all improve in newer generations. VR has benefited from the development of display panels for smartphones, and we now have 4K smartphones []. I will laugh if I ever hear of a 5K smartphone, but VR may become the main selling point for screens with such a high PPI. Google seems to be making a good effort to target both tethered and untethered/smartphone VR with Daydream.

      The VR market is not kind to early adopters. Both the hardware and software (various graphics [] algorithms []) will improve significantly. The prices (like $800) are crazy and that doesn't count the cost of a good gaming PC that can run high resolutions at better than 60-90 FPS.

      I'm not so worried about content. Existing games can be adapted to VR (like... Skyrim!). It seems that content will be much easier to come by than a similar previous fad: 3D. YouTube's 360 degree content is growing, and Google's VR180 concept could make the hardware much more accessible, especially if smartphones implement it. If you look at the mockup [], you'll see two lenses on one device. That reminds me of the dual camera smartphones [] that are appearing, although maybe the camera placement and thickness of the phones need to be altered in order to capture a full 180 degrees FOV. On that Google page, you can see that Lenovo and LG are listed as partners, and LG already has a dual camera phone according to The Verge.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Tuesday July 11 2017, @03:33PM (12 children)

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @03:33PM (#537616)

      I had some limited experience with the Rift (Devkit 2 on loan) and it was amazing, a total game-changer for Elite Dangerous. There's a difference between games that support VR and VR games. The VR games are too nascent to support the equipment, however good games that support VR (like Elite) might save it.

      One thing that I really enjoyed was the ability to make a virtual screen that would display a flat image in 3-D space. It seems great in the beginning, but I do wonder if it will wear off after a while, to make your own screen, as large as you like it, curved or whatever, have more screens to the side, or behind or above etc. I was able to play regular games (Borderlands) on this virtual screen.

      I'd like to see games like Cities Skyline do some kind of VR emulation where you could lie the screen flat or something. I don't understand why there isn't a good 'tabletop' experience VR game like Armello or Talisman yet. I played Divinity Original Sin with a 3D projector and the 3D isometric view was breathtaking. I really hope VR isometric games instead of VR first person games come along soon.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday July 11 2017, @04:46PM (11 children)

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday July 11 2017, @04:46PM (#537663) Journal

        One thing that I really enjoyed was the ability to make a virtual screen that would display a flat image in 3-D space.

        Do you pay to go to a movie theater? VR should be able to replicate a movie theater experience (minus the ticket price, sticky seats, annoying people) by projecting a virtual screen and dark but not pitch black ambient setting. Sound is only limited by your headphones and software/audio streams, because you only have two ears and not 5.1, 7.1, or 22.2 etc. ears. Resolution should be OK... 2K may look good enough, and a 4K VR headset would match the common max projector resolution. If you pick a virtual "seat" that puts most of the 4K video in your field of view, then the 4K panel should be replicating the experience fairly well.

        You could also replicate the missing parts of the experience. For example, several VR users could be networked so that they could hear each other's annoying chat during the film. Maybe you could use an option to silence or banish other individuals in your virtual theater. You could pay to stream the movie instead of torrenting it or streaming it from a Russian or Chinese website like usual. Try spilling soda or popcorn on your bed... maybe you don't even need to try? Unfortunately, you will need a teledildonic peripheral to get a BJ/eaten out because you have no GF/BF/SO and are using the VR alone in your basement. Furthermore, some scientists and philosophers claim that the basement is not real and you are not real and you are a simulation. So put on the VR headset and give up on social interaction because nothing matters.

        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday July 11 2017, @05:52PM (8 children)

          by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @05:52PM (#537704) Journal

          Sound is only limited by your headphones and software/audio streams, because you only have two ears and not 5.1, 7.1, or 22.2 etc. ears.

          This is something that has always bothered me. I've bought headphones that are 5.1 but I have 2.0 ears. Our ears and brain are setup in such a way that we can locate sound sources in 3D space without our vision. this is because sounds refracts off objects just like light. Thanks to the shape of our ears, we can not only hear these refracted sounds, but also judge their direction. Sound card technology is so stagnated that it's a complete afterthought for most people. You used to buy a dedicated card based on features and quality. Now just about EVERY motherboard comes with that fucking crabby Realtek garbage.

          Audio is still stuck in a primitive 1980's surround sound technology. Instead of "1D" stereo where you have a single axis of sound you have a 2D plane made up of four speaker quadrants. Then they throw in a fifth channel for dialogue and a bass channel. Then they play back different audio samples using different points on the 2D plane. You end up with something resembling 3D but you never feel immersed. Then they insulted us and pushed for even more speakers in 7.1 systems as if that was any better. 7.1 was a gimmick to sell more speakers.

          True 3D audio only needs two well placed speakers, or more properly, headphones. The same 3D geometry data of the game world can also be piped to a GPU or other processor to perform some sort of ray tracing or other 3D audio refraction technique. Perhaps even synthesized audio that uses algorithms to form sounds such as an explosion by calculating what the shockwave would sound like along with all the reverberations and refractions. Even sounds like knocking on wood, walking on metal or splashing water could in theory be described mathematically and rendered with even a little noise thrown in for randomness. Would solve a lot of sound issues as all sounds in games are pre recorded or synthesized. Now you assign a sound effect to an event and let the hardware synthesize it. Probably more complex than 3D rendering. But that's the problem; it's a lot of effort to throw at something everyone stopped caring about long ago.

          Part of the problem is raw processing power. We are still starved to processing power and what little we have is put towards graphics. There is little left for Audio, AI and Physics so the gameplay and graphics have to make up the difference. If people can barely run the latest AAA title at 60FPS @1080P+ then there is no chance more realistic anything can be implemented. I suppose we have to wait until we have more GPU power or crazy many core CPU's and better languages or API's to deal with concurrency and parallelism.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday July 11 2017, @06:01PM (6 children)

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday July 11 2017, @06:01PM (#537710) Journal

            AFAIK, stealth games have implemented good audio, or at least placed a much greater emphasis on it than other genres. And you can get realistic sounding audio by using binaural recording []. Maybe that method doesn't even need fancy software techniques?

            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
            • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday July 11 2017, @06:35PM (5 children)

              by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @06:35PM (#537727) Journal

              Binaural recording sounds more like a remote set of ears.

              I'm talking real time refraction by taking a pre-recorded mono sample and using the game's 3D geometry, create a new sample based on the multiple paths of reflection. So you have a layered cake of the same sample but with slight delays and differentiation in the left-right mix which all account for the shape of the human ear as well. Now you have a sound that can be "located" in 3D space. That is well beyond the simple left/right/front/rear we have now.

              Picture yourself in an older home, the kind where the floors creek, with a second story. Your in a 1st floor room and someone walk above you on the 2nd floor. I bet you that IRL, you can tell their location and heading from that sound. Now picture that in a game: You hear the footsteps of an enemy above you walking across the floor. Now you can shoot through the floor or predict where he's going. Thats a real game changer.

              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday July 11 2017, @07:00PM (4 children)

                by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday July 11 2017, @07:00PM (#537741) Journal

                So EAX [], TrueAudio [] et al. are not sufficient? Bummer.

                [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
                • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Wednesday July 12 2017, @12:31AM (3 children)

                  by LoRdTAW (3755) on Wednesday July 12 2017, @12:31AM (#537870) Journal

                  EAX: Dead.
                  The AMD TrueAudio appears to be AMD only. And I have not heard of it until now, must have been under a rock or something. I'll have to see if I can demo it on my AMD Linux box. Otherwise, my windows gaming rig is Intel/Nvidia.

                  • (Score: 1) by purple_cobra on Wednesday July 12 2017, @08:52PM (2 children)

                    by purple_cobra (1435) on Wednesday July 12 2017, @08:52PM (#538327)

                    Wasn't EAX's death due to some change Microsoft made to their driver model? OpenAL was supposed to make it work (or even take over from it), but I don't think there's much interest OpenAL.
                    The only game I ever remember using EAX well was Thief: Deadly Shadows (Thief 3); it added so much to the game, plus it made the Cradle level even more disconcerting. I tried running the Steam version with OpenAL but it just crashed to desktop, sadly.

                    • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Thursday July 13 2017, @03:18PM (1 child)

                      by LoRdTAW (3755) on Thursday July 13 2017, @03:18PM (#538724) Journal

                      Wasn't EAX's death due to some change Microsoft made to their driver model?

                      Yes. From the EAX wikipedia article []:

                      As of 2010, EAX is rarely used, with modern games utilizing the CPU to process 3D audio rather than relying on dedicated hardware.

                      And further down we find:

                      Because hardware acceleration for DirectSound and DirectSound3D was dropped in Windows Vista, OpenAL will likely become more important for game developers who wish to use EAX in their games.

                      Look like AMD is trying to bring back the idea but an AMD only option is a dead end in my opinion. Either we start using the GPU or we make use of all those cores we have coming about.

                      • (Score: 1) by purple_cobra on Friday July 14 2017, @09:05AM

                        by purple_cobra (1435) on Friday July 14 2017, @09:05AM (#539029)

                        Thank you for finding that Wikipedia link that I was too lazy to dig out. :)
                        I agree that anything that can't be freely implemented is just a postponed dead end. Using the CPU or GPU makes sense as the market for third-party sound cards for gaming is small and getting smaller; onboard sound is improving and most people seem happy with it, plus you have external sound cards that don't require any fiddling around inside the case. I wonder if AMD wanting their own implementation is tied to the upcoming APUs based on their Zen architecture?

          • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Saturday July 15 2017, @03:39AM

            by Immerman (3985) on Saturday July 15 2017, @03:39AM (#539454)

            Unfortunately you need more than two speakers, probably a lot more, because you need to actually recreate all the directions those reverberations and reflections are coming from. You can *try* to fake it with headphones, or better yet earbuds, as EAX tried to do (and I kept my EAX card for many years, until Windows stopped being compatible with the drivers), But it's inherently going to be a poor approximation.

            The problem is that all those wrinkles in your ears do an extremely subtle and highly spatially-sensitive pre-processing before the sound reaches your eardrums - and then your brain does a bunch of post-processing to determine the origin of the sound based on the distortions introduced by your ears.

            To fake that you need to first simulate the reflections and other interactions of the sounds with the environment to determine exactly what sounds are reaching your in-game ears from what direction, and when (including appropriately delayed reverberations if you want to be able to hear the shape and size of the rooms). But that's the easy part - the next part verges on impossible.

            Option one is deliver the sound to your ears from the appropriate direction - that a 3D array of speakers calibrated to deliver the sound as precisely as possible - the more speakers the better since any attempt to fake a sound coming from between speakers is going to be noticeable.

            Option two is to also simulate the pre-processing done by your ear-wrinkles and then deliver the sound directly to your ear drums, bypassing your real ear-wrinkles as much as possible (earbuds should do the job). Unfortunately that's going to be extremely difficult, because no two people have ears with exactly the same shape, and the spatially-based distortions they introduce are subtle enough that minor inaccuracies will have much larger effects in how your brain interprets them. Every user would have to get a highly detailed scan of their own ears, and feed that into their sound drivers.

        • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Wednesday July 12 2017, @08:19AM (1 child)

          by Rivenaleem (3400) on Wednesday July 12 2017, @08:19AM (#537996)

          I do wonder if there's a way to network a couple of VR helmets so that I can watch movies with my missus. I wonder if a PC can power 2 VR helmets, or if you have 2 PCs and time it just right you can hit play on the video at the same time.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday July 12 2017, @02:46PM

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Wednesday July 12 2017, @02:46PM (#538114) Journal

            VR video is much less demanding than VR gaming. My scheme would transform the normally rectangular video, put it in a dark theater setting, and render friends/family/strangers in the audience, but all that should be peanuts for a good GPU.

            Still, somebody has to code the idea, otherwise the two of you would be better off watching the movie on a TV screen/home theater. Getting two video streams to play at the same time is easy... people do that all the time to simulwatch something while chatting on Skype, Discord, or whatever. Networking avatars and implementing some kind of body awareness would be harder.

            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday July 11 2017, @05:15PM (1 child)

      by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @05:15PM (#537683) Journal

      We are still in VR v1.0 (I'm making up buzzwords here). The current Vive/Rift/etc are all development tools and early adopter toys. Applications are sparse, hardware is bulky, tethered and requires a serious gaming rig which most people don't want to invest in.

      A few friends demoed the Vive and they were all impressed. One friend fell in love with the Vive so much he almost bought one for $800 until he realized he would need about $1500 in PC upgrades. That wasn't in his budget so he decided to wait until the next gen hardware comes out. And that is precisely what everyone is doing, waiting for VR 2.0.

      VR 2.0 Will hopefully bring about wireless headsets, room scale integrated into the headset, and cross platform compatibility between headset platforms. We will also see self contained headsets with no need for a PC or console. The APU/GPU/CPU/Whatever will be in the headset. This is what Microsoft did with their Hololens and the next generation of Vive.

      After that we will have a more mature VR ecosystem and the games will come. From my testing and use, I see plenty of great opportunity. The Valve Lab demo included a game called Long Bow. From that I can see a possible next generation of RPG/TBS where you are right there in the battle using your own hand-eye coordination and skills to attack mobs and dodge attacks.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11 2017, @09:57PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11 2017, @09:57PM (#537815)

        The cost is too high currently. Even if it is niche tethered or not.

        600 for the goggles. Then on top of that you need at least 1500+ bucks worth of computer with a decently high end GPU. Then the games are either 'amazeballs' or 'meh' or 'techdemo'.

        I personally would love to get a set. I however get VR sickness really easily. So I am not going to get it.

        It is the cost. Plus lack of interest from others. The size of the group of people willing to buy it has to be fairly smallish.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday July 11 2017, @11:47AM (3 children)

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @11:47AM (#537539)

    I googled some camelcamelcamel graph images (its a service that tracks prices) and at the high end its normal for a graphics card to drop 50% smoothly in the first year and then flatten out until discontinuation. In comparison for low end graphics cards they tend to only drop maybe 25% in the first three months and then permanently flatten.

    On topic, assuming you think of the 3-d gadget/fad like a high end graphics card selling to people used to the high end graphics card market, there really isn't a story. BAU completely predictable.

    Or on topic if you thought the product was the peoples-3d Volksgoggles or whatever, well, the market pricing strategy disagrees, its a high end product. Someday there might be a general public 3-d but it isn't this, at least based on pricing strategy applied.

    Or on topic, you can claim anything you want and say its just coincidence this products pricing curve more or less matches a high end graphics card.

    Surprisingly I can't easily find a price graph of beanie babies. I was going to try and link to to compare to their curves but Pud shut it down a decade ago, shows how often I research this, LOL. Its hard to talk about 3-d without mentioning condos in Florida, beanie babies, tulip mania, bubbles in general, which is I suppose pretty instructive.

    I find it fascinating how 3d has failed in the marketplace. As a guy growing up when Microprose "naturally" supported half a dozen graphics card drivers at boot time it seems predictable that X-plane and Minecraft would have native 3-d support now. But there's nothing but 3rd party addons AFAIK and no one in the user culture or groups mentions them so I assume no one is using them. If I were to actually use 3-d goggles it would solely be for modded minecraft on a PC or fooling around in X-Plane flight sim. Somehow dwarf fortress would either be amazing or amazingly bad, I'm not sure which.

    Also I was surprised to hear Best Buy is still open. I pretty much stopped going there when I stopped buying physical media and about 1/3 of the store was legacy optical disks. I guess there will always be a place for people to pay $75 for a $5 HDMI cable, and now that Radio Shack is out of that business, Best Buy has it made permanently?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Tuesday July 11 2017, @12:27PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday July 11 2017, @12:27PM (#537554) Journal

      Here's some explanations for why Best Buy has survived: [] [] [] []

      Using your existing stores and distribution centers in order to get 2-day shipping to most online customers is a strategy also being used by Walmart. It was more of a pressing issue for Best Buy years ago than Walmart because lots of people get electronics online, not so much groceries - although that is shifting. Personally, I only use Best Buy when there is a deal for them on, but I could see other people putting them on equal footing with Amazon and Newegg. Amazon still has the edge but if your site is as easy to use as Newegg, then you don't really need a user account.

      So why don't Best Buy locations shutter the doors and turn off the A/C? I guess they do well with products that people want to see in person before they purchases, such as TVs or appliances. Laptops maybe, not sure about smartphones since people might go to the carrier's store instead.

      VR: Don't forget there are $0-15 tier Cardboard setups (NYT subscribers got it for free), $15-$30 Chinese garbage headsets for phones, and quality $70-$100 phone headsets like Google Daydream or Samsung Gear. All come way under the $400-800 + gaming PC prices of the premium headsets, and the intersection of people with a 5-inch+ smartphone and a few dollars to spend is pretty large. They can also be bundled with the phone for free, like Gear VR was.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday July 11 2017, @12:42PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @12:42PM (#537560)

        Cardboard is like windows 3.1, everything I already need to do is optimized for the older technology (msdos then, plain android now) and the stuff they're trying to interest me in, either isn't interesting, or its a hard sell to push both something new AND a new UI technology simultaneously. So my cardboard sits on a shelf after a couple hours use. It doesn't do the stuff I'm already interested in, and I'm not interested in the limited stuff it can do.

    • (Score: 2) by nobu_the_bard on Tuesday July 11 2017, @02:08PM

      by nobu_the_bard (6373) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @02:08PM (#537585)

      Minecraft has native 3D support. I have played it on an Occulus Rift. The interface is a bit lacking though - the game was clearly not designed with it in mind. It's not got a great implementation.

      However, be aware I don't think 3D is super compelling in any case. I've never needed 3D to feel immersed personally. I once played so many MUD hours in a row, that when I slept, I dreamt without concrete visuals at all, and didn't realize it until I tried to relate the dream to someone else.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by romlok on Tuesday July 11 2017, @12:41PM (2 children)

    by romlok (1241) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @12:41PM (#537559)

    Frm TFA (emphasis mine):

    For the next six weeks, the Oculus Rift headset and its matching controllers will cost just $399.

    Looks to me like Oculus are having a summer sale.


  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11 2017, @03:28PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11 2017, @03:28PM (#537609)

    Ever more companies today are succeeding in spite of themselves. They succeed primarily thanks to inertia and market positioning. Video game consoles are great example here. They also have strong analogs to why VR has begun to putter out. Nintendo had to fight tooth and nail to succeed with the NES following the video crash of 1983. The story [] of how this played out is fascinating. But now a days consoles are mostly sold by throwing out some hardware and relying almost entirely on brand recognition and inertia to sell it. A fun quote [] from Sony Europe's CEO: "We have built up a certain brand equity over time since the launch of PlayStation in 1995 and PS2 in 2000 that the first five million are going to buy it, whatever it is, even [if] it didn't have games."

    Even doing things like charging consumers money to use their own internet while simultaneously spamming them with advertisements is standard practice. Consoles, until the PS4/XBone, tended to have at least a good price:performance ratio due to subsidized hardware. Now a days though even that's no longer true. That console sales continue to decline, precipitously if one is to contrast it against population growth, is considered something outside of their control in the head-in-the-sand school of MBA business. Even the top executives of consoles tend to believe in their own invincibility.

    The problem VR faced is that the big companies pushing it again took their own success for granted. It was just a matter of the scale of success. Before VR was even launched consumers were having to deal with nonsense like exclusives, hardware being arbitrarily locked out from stores, incompatible hardware or hardware requiring arbitrary new hardware to offer basic functionality... And then the price. $600 + $200 + $50 for a hardware accessory? The price is just ridiculous. Luckey was selling early models, for profit, at $300. Even though the hardware is greatly improved now, but you simply cannot expect people to drop $850 on an unproven gaming peripheral. Subsidize the hardware, profit on software. Basically, fire the MBAs. Get people who actually know how to run businesses in ways other than 'screw the customers as much as possible. when things go wrong, blame things outside our control.'

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday July 11 2017, @03:34PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @03:34PM (#537617)

      > Basically, fire the MBAs (...) 'screw the customers as much as possible. when things go wrong, blame things outside our control.'

      Not just MBAs. Haven't you paid attention to politics much over the last few years ?

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday July 11 2017, @04:45PM

      by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @04:45PM (#537662) Journal

      Basically, fire the MBAs. Get people who actually know how to run businesses in ways other than 'screw the customers as much as possible. when things go wrong, blame things outside our control.'

      I have a better idea. Ban people without a technical mindset and passion from ever having any control of the company in question.

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Saturday July 15 2017, @01:12PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Saturday July 15 2017, @01:12PM (#539531)

      >Subsidize the hardware, profit on software.

      That's extremely risky as well though. VR is very much a complete re-imagining of how we interface with the computer, and a lot of the most interesting and workable prototypes are still coming from the enthusiast/tinker crowd. Its tricky to attract them, and let them share their stuff amongst each other, while still taking a cut of the profit from anything that actually makes money. "App stores" are not well suited to tinkerers.

      It's basically a problem of lock-in. Sony can afford to subsidize the PS4 hardware because it only plays PS4 games, and anyone who sells PS4 games has to cut them in on the action. They tried to loosen that up back with the PS2 Linux mode, and then ended up retroactively removing it because too many people were buying the PS2 without buying any games and it was costing them too much money.

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday July 11 2017, @04:50PM (3 children)

    by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday July 11 2017, @04:50PM (#537665) Journal

    How much computer power does a 3D virtual reality headset really need? is it possible to quantify a minimum level and thus price etc?

    I'll assume the frame rate has to be at least 60 fps, and a angular resolution on par with what the eyes can handle. As hint a normal screen with more than 300 dpi (ppi) is rarely useful. Then there's the 3D processing..

    In regards to the Oculus Rift, didn't that loose its future once it became relegated to Microsoft only drivers and Facebook ecosystem wet blanket all over it?

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Tuesday July 11 2017, @06:35PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday July 11 2017, @06:35PM (#537726) Journal

      We had a story [] about FutureMark releasing a VR benchmark [].

      After a search, I found that Tom's Hardware ran VRMark on various processors []. You can see the GPUs used on the previous page []. I expect that if you look closely at new CPU or GPU reviews, you will find VRMark and possibly other relevant benchmarks. Check the upcoming Vega reviews (once AMD releases something that isn't $1,000).

      Normal benchmarks may also be applicable although I may be wrong. For example, if you are getting 1440p at 90 FPS or better on certain titles, it would seem TO ME that your system is VR capable. The current Oculus Rift has a 2160×1200 resolution with a 90 Hz refresh rate.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday July 11 2017, @07:05PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday July 11 2017, @07:05PM (#537744) Journal

      I'll add that when looking at benchmarks for VR, you'll definitely want to take note of the minimum FPS. Sometimes one GPU will have a higher average FPS than other, but dramatically lower minimum FPS due to bad optimization, drivers, or whatever. Percentiles can also be used [] to give a better idea of how demanding a title is throughout an entire benchmark sequence.

      Minimum FPS is considered important for VR because a sudden drop in FPS below the acceptable amount (60-90) hurts immersion and maybe triggers NAUSEA.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Saturday July 15 2017, @01:17PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Saturday July 15 2017, @01:17PM (#539532)

      It depends almost entirely on what sort of graphics you want.

      If you're content with 90's style flight simulator vector graphics then pretty much any modern $300 laptop can deliver satisfactory frame rates and responsiveness for a seamless VR experience.

      If you want 1080p PS4-class graphics, then you're going to need something at least 4x more powerful than a PS4.

  • (Score: 2) by Techwolf on Wednesday July 12 2017, @01:21AM

    by Techwolf (87) on Wednesday July 12 2017, @01:21AM (#537888)

    John Carmack betrayed all geeks and nerds out there by selling the Rift to Facebook. Hence all my tech, geek, nerds, etc never bought one due to that. That had to influence sales of the Rift at somepoint in time.

  • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by snufu on Wednesday July 12 2017, @02:28AM

    by snufu (5855) on Wednesday July 12 2017, @02:28AM (#537914)

    Linux Desktop told me.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 12 2017, @07:10AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 12 2017, @07:10AM (#537987)

    Dead in the Water? An electronic device? And you went and baptised it? Immersion does not mean what you think it means, and hold on while I hold your head under this steaming pile of, . . . . never mind.