Facebook has taken another big step towards bridging the gap between virtual reality and social networking, which could mean additional strain on mobile networks.
Myst creator Cyan Worlds is adapting its classic adventure game to virtual reality. Facebook and Cyan announced that Myst will get a VR remake for the Oculus Quest later this year, launching after the release of the upcoming Oculus Quest 2 headset.
The VR version of Myst is described as a “reimagining” of the 1993 original, which was created using Apple’s HyperCard software. It includes new art, audio, and interactions, plus a randomized puzzle option for an added challenge. A trailer offers a broad reminder of what Myst is about, but it doesn’t show us what the game will actually look like or how it will play.
Cyan has already made a foray into VR. Obduction was a spiritual successor to Myst that optionally supported virtual reality. It...
A virtual conference for virtual reality
The new default for VR, if you’re okay with Facebook
Facebook’s upcoming VR headset, Oculus Quest 2, recently leaked in a video posted on a marketing hub run by Facebook. The video officially confirms the existence ...
The post Oculus Quest 2 exposure: most advanced all-in-one VR system to date appeared first on Gizchina.com.
New Snapdragon XR2 processor pushes nearly 50% more pixels than the original Quest.
A much faster processor and dramatically sharper screens are just part of the Android headset's upgrades.
Virtual reality hasn't gone mainstream, but the industry is still moving forward.
So Gamescom started tonight, and it front-loaded its opening night with plenty of game reveals. We got at least a dozen trailer and sneak peeks of new games, including an upcoming Dragon Age game and a release date on the new World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands. But a surprising amount of the night was dedicated to VR and to Star Wars — there were three game trailers dedicated to the latter in particular. One of the most disappointing (and yet still fun) reveals is probably LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. As the name implies, it’ll cover all nine of the main Star Wars films, and it’s coming… This story continues at The Next Web
The VR company Oculus was acquired by Facebook, which means Oculus is owned by Facebook. There’s been a bit of worry lately, and pretty much since the acquisition was made, that Facebook might envelope Oculus and dissolve the VR brand. That worry transformed recently when Oculus revealed that all Oculus VR headsets would move away from Oculus accounts, and would … Continue reading
Company’s annual VR-focused conference, dated Sept. 16, removes “Oculus” branding.
Apple has acquired VR startup Spaces, Protocol reported Monday.
Spaces, which creates themed virtual environments, had raised nearly $10 milion, according to PitchBook, but Protocol reported that the company has been struggling during the pandemic.
Apple has made at least seven acquisitions already this year, including another virtual reality startup, NextVR, as it invests further in the emerging technology.
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Apple is continuing its buying spree with its acquisition of the virtual reality startup Spaces, Protocol reported on Monday.
Accotding to Protocol, Spaces announced last week that it was "heading in a new direction," adding: "Thank you to our users and partners who participated in our awesome VR video conferencing product and the many people who enjoyed our VR location-based entertainment attractions found at theme parks, theaters, and more."
Apple and Spaces could not be reached for comment.
Spaces built themed and location-based virtual environments and experiences, and its founders launched the company in 2016 after leaving DreamWorks Animation. The company had raised $9.5 million from investors, according to data from PitchBook.
But the pandemic forced Spaces to shutter its in-person VR centers, lay off workers, and eventually take a PPP loan as the industry more broadly has suffered, Protocol reported.
Apple, meanwhile, has not lost steam, recently hitting a $2 trillion valuation as it continues to buy up startups. Spaces would be at least the company's eighth purchase on the year.
Apple has been particularly interested in virtual reality startups, most recently acquiring NextVR, a company that creates virtual experiences for live events and sports, reportedly for around $100 million. Apple also scooped up augmented reality glasses maker Akonia Holographics in 2018 and Vrvana, which made headsets that can do both virtual and augmented reality and was run by several Apple alumni, in 2017.
Apple has long been rumored to be working on a combined AR-VR headset that could launch as soon as 2021, according to Bloomberg, and the company has ambitions to become a major player in the "crossover reality" ecosystem, as well as a dominant force in the entertainment industry.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Leslie Odom, Jr.'s $500,000 gamble that led to a starring role in 'Hamilton'
Image: Oculus VR
Yesterday, Facebook infuriated the VR world, announcing plans to require a Facebook login for future VR headsets. The decision broke an early promise from Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and was almost universally reviled online, with critics raising concerns about intrusive data collection, targeted advertising, and being forced to use a service they hated. On the Oculus subreddit, some users posted bitter memes about Farmville and data harvesting, while others swapped recommendations for other headsets. One posted a cartoon of Oculus as a sinking ship.
The truth is probably a lot less dire. Facebook-related boycotts fizzle all the time — when it acquired Oculus in 2014, Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson furiously killed a deal to...
October change won't immediately apply to existing accounts.
Facebook-owned Oculus said it will soon require users to sign in with a Facebook account before they can use the company's VR devices.
Starting in October, first-time users won't be able to use an Oculus headset unless they log in through Facebook.
Existing users with Oculus accounts will have the option to merge them with their Facebook profiles or use their Oculus account until early 2023, at which point support will end.
The move comes as lawmakers continue to probe Facebook over antitrust concerns and over whether or not the social media giant has benefited from monopolistic business practices.
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Oculus is rolling out changes that will soon require users to sign in with a Facebook account before they can use the company's VR devices.
In a company blog post published Tuesday, Oculus announced a series of updates to how people will be able to use the company's devices moving forward:
Starting in October, first-time Oculus users won't be able to use the firm's devices unless they sign in with a Facebook account
Existing users with Oculus accounts will have the option to merge with their Facebook accounts
If existing users with Oculus accounts don't want to merge with a Facebook account, they have two years to use it.
In early 2023, the firm will "end support for Oculus accounts." Users could still use their Oculus devices, but at decreased functionality since "some games and apps may no longer work." The company says it's rolling out the updates to make it easier for people to connect and play with friends in VR.
Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. As The Verge notes, the social media giant has been making strides to merge its myriad platforms, and its updates requiring Oculus users to log in through Facebook is one of the latest examples of that.
The move also comes as Facebook remains entangled in a congressional antitrust probe that is investigating the firm and other tech giants over anticompetitive business practices. Apple, Google, and Amazon are also involved in the probe, but Facebook is in the spotlight specifically for its acquisitions of would-be competitors, like WhatsApp and Instagram.SEE ALSO: Facebook is reportedly working on a new flagship virtual-reality headset to replace the Oculus Quest
Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Leslie Odom, Jr.'s $500,000 gamble that led to a starring role in 'Hamilton'
Superfast wireless and better technology could change how we play games and interact with computers -- again.
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Facebook-owned Oculus announced new social features that will help facilitate casual social interactions in VR. With Public Parties, Oculus users will be able to broadcast their voice call groups to a wider audience, making it easier for other users to join a session in progress.
This gives the Oculus platform similar capabilities to Discord, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) popular among gamers, which reported a surge in daily voice call users since the pandemic's onset. Oculus also added Travel Together, a feature that allows groups to move collectively across apps on the platform — at launch, it will be supported by 12 VR games.
The new features further Facebook's ambitions of making Oculus a mainstream social hub. Every year, Facebook sets out to boost the time users spend on its social media platforms. This enables the company to collect more user data and serve more advertisements: In 2020, for instance, the average US adult spent 22 minutes each day on the Facebook social media site, up 5.8% from 2019, per eMarketer estimates.
But a key concern for Facebook is whether users will reach a saturation point, making it difficult to boost user time spent on traditional social media platforms. This is where VR comes in: As CEO Mark Zuckerberg remarked when Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, "Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever." The basic premise is that, as VR technology advances, users will spend hours participating in virtual societies within virtual worlds, unencumbered by the feeling that they're online in the traditional sense.
The pandemic presents Facebook with an opportunity to accelerate adoption of VR as a social platform. The new features capitalize on recent changes in consumer behavior, as time spent on both gaming and social media has spiked amid the pandemic.
The Oculus audience may therefore be particularly receptive to the features, especially since traditional in-person socialization is largely restricted by isolation protocols. This will help Facebook develop the foundation of social integrations for the Oculus platform, building on the slew of features it added in December 2019, such as VR functionality within the Facebook Messenger chat service and Facebook events' integration with Oculus to help users plan VR meet-ups.
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PwC and tech startup Talespin have teamed up to train employees on implicit bias using virtual reality.
VR-based implicit bias training immerses its participants in scenarios where they learn to make inclusive hiring decisions and point out instances of discrimination.
Studies have show VR learners required less time to learn, had a stronger emotional connection to the training content, were more focused when learning, and were more confident about their takeaways from the training.
It comes at a time of public reckoning that current corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives aren't doing enough, especially when it comes to implicit bias during the hiring process.
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Virtual reality could permanently alter the way businesses approach diversity and inclusion trainings.
Despite spending billions of dollars on D&I initiatives, US companies are more segregated now than they were 40 years ago, and implicit bias in hiring remains one of the biggest culprits. Implicit bias refers to the unknown assumptions people make about others based on their gender, ethnicity, age, or minority status, rather than their professional qualifications.
Some companies are exploring new options for diversity trainings. PwC is one of them.
The professional-services firm is working with software company Talespin to implement VR-based implicit-bias training programs —and it could be a new frontier for how companies approach diversity, equity, and inclusion training.
The Big 4 consulting and tax firm completed a pilot with Talespin last year, and it has since used virtual reality programming to train over 4,000 employees on implicit bias.
How the VR training works
The training places employees in simulated office settings designed after actual PwC offices, where they speak with virtual characters through a head-mounted display. During the five-to-seven-minute training modules, they are prompted to make decisions about who to hire and promote, and must use inclusive leadership practices introduced prior to the simulation.
Kyle Jackson, CEO of Talespin, told Business Insider that PwC employees using the VR tool are trained on how to recognize unconscious bias when hiring. They have to think about how even a candidate's name on a résumé can stir up implicit biases, he said.
Studies have shown, for example, that résumés with names that sound "white" get more call backs than those that don't. Employees using the VR training are asked to formulate responses if these biases are expressed in a hiring meeting by a colleague, or a senior partner.
Scott Likens, emerging technology leader at PwC, told Business Insider the firm wanted to test how VR diversity and inclusion training compared to more traditional computer-based training. PwC selected a group of new managers in 12 US locations to test out the VR between February and October 2019.
The results were promising. A PwC study found that VR participants required less time to learn, had a stronger emotional connection to the training content, were more focused when learning, and were more confident about their takeaways from the training. And to top it off, the VR training program was more cost-effective at scale than classroom or online learning modules.
VR could present a viable training method for companies looking to update their practices. So far, traditional diversity, equity, and inclusion training programs haven't worked. US companies spend $8 billion annually on diversity and inclusion initiatives, and implicit bias seminars have become ubiquitous across the American workplace. But their efforts are still falling short.
Virtual reality has already taken off across a range of industries since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals are using virtual reality simulations to train doctors and nurses on treatment of coronavirus patients, and computer software company MeetInVR is developing a tool for companies to host virtual reality meetings. Talespin also offers training for managers who need to have difficult conversations in the office.
VR reduces the distance between the learner and the experience
With VR, learners can immerse themselves in the experience at hand without feeling self-conscious about learning in a group setting. Compare this with a conventional, in-person training session: though employees might also be able to role-play in person, self-consciousness in front of colleagues may hamper an employee's ability to engage as closely with the scenario.
"Our own biases creep back in and our own fears creep back in terms of our participation, because we can't actually role play," Jackson said. "A lot of people's nerves creep up and role play does not work for them. So even as much as I try to put myself in somebody's shoes, I can't."
The key lies in the immediacy of the VR experience, Likens said.
"It comes back to experience as a driver for behavior change," Likens said. "VR has a weird way of doing that. You're in the shoes of a situation which you might not ever be, or at least not frequently."
VR training reduces the distance between the learner and the experience at hand, allowing participants to empathize with situations more deeply. Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, worked with a group of researchers to see if people were more inclined to feel empathy after experiencing a VR simulation of homelessness. It worked: A significantly higher number of participants who had experienced the VR signed a petition supporting affordable housing for the homeless compared to those who had just read about it. A few months later, in February 2017, the Virtual Human Interaction Lab launched VR-based implicit bias training for the NFL.
PwC is not the first business to explore VR diversity initiatives — but it's doing so at a crucial time. Both the pandemic and the backlash against racial injustice have made companies more open to approaching workplace racism and discrimination with new solutions.
"I think it accelerated the acceptance of the innovation," Likens said about the current moment. "We're getting executives to put on a headset, whereas a year ago they wouldn't have. But being at home, being disconnected from our teams, I think it's triggered this desire to do something big. And I think VR now is being accepted as a 'here and now' thing, not a future emerging technology." SEE ALSO: SUCCESS INSIDER: A PwC exec reveals the 3 investments business leaders should make to come out of the coronavirus crisis stronger
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