Category Archives: News

HTC enters the VR arena with Vive and Valve

The Vive from HTC:  a VR headset developed with Valve

The  Vive from HTC: a VR headset developed with Valve

On Sunday, March 1st, 2015, Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC caught the VR world and tech media somewhat off-guard when, among a series of product announcements on the eve of the Mobile World Congress (March 2nd-5th, 2015, Barcelona), they revealed a new high-end VR headset they have been developing in partnership with Valve, the on-line gaming service.

The revelation comes after a week of speculation on what Valve; statement they’d be revealing a “previously unannounced” Steam VR Development Kit, thought to comprise a new headset and other goodies, at the upcoming Game Developer’s Conference  in San Francisco.

As reported by Engadget among other tech journals, the HTC headset is called the Vive, and is both the headset Valve have been dropping hints about and is a direct competitor to the Oculus Rift, rather than being a headset for use with mobile devices, despite being announced at a an event focused on mobile devices.

As reported by Gamespot, it unit a 1,200 by 1,800 pixel screen in front of each eye, each with a 90 fps refresh rate to eliminate image judder and offer “photo realism”. It also features a gyrosensor, accelerometer, and laser position sensor. The latter tracks the rotation of your head, allowing you to look around a virtual environment naturally.

Peter Chou, HTC's CEO, unveils the Vive on the eve of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, March 1st, 2015

Peter Chou, HTC’s CEO, unveils the Vive on the eve of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, March 1st, 2015

According the HTC, the new headset will have high fidelity audio capabilities as well. But what is particularly interesting about it is that HTC are claiming it “will bring the first room-scale [VR] experience” to the world.

This is apparently achieved by combining the headset with a pair of SteamVR “base stations”, and some 70 movement sensors within the system. When placed out, the “base stations” can scan a square space up to 4.6 metres (15 feet) on a side, and any body movement, walking, jumping, turning, etc., captured within that space will be tracked and reproduced within the VR space being seen through the headset.

If that wasn’t enough, HTC are also indicating that they have solved the issue of interacting in virtual spaces. They’ve done this by pairing the headset with a set of wireless hand controllers of their own design. These apparently allow the wearer to use their hands, point, hold things, etc., with sensors mounted on the front of the headset tracking all such movements / actions and again reproducing them in the virtual environment.

The front of the HTC Vive, showing the sensors for capturing hand movements

The front of the HTC Vive, showing the sensors for capturing hand movements / tracking head movements

Like the Oculus Rift, the headset is being initially aimed at the games market, with HTC indicating that Dovetail Games, Fireproof Games, Cloudhead Games, Owlchemy Lab, Bossa Studios, Steel Wool Games and Vertigo Games already having signed-up to support the device.

In addition, and as reported by The Road to VR (see the link earlier in this article), Valve have also been putting out the word that they want to hear from developers and a link from the HTCVR website, launched at the same time as the announcement was made, directs any developer wishing to register their interest in working with the new headset to the Steam website, where they can do so.

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Lab asks educators to share their success stories

secondlifeLinden Lab has issued a blog post and started a discussion thread in the forums on the subject of educational success stories in Second Life.

In particular, they are keen to hear of success stories within the educational sector and by those who have been using the platform for educational purposes (outside of teaching new residents how to use Second Life, An area in which the Lab already knows there are in-world organisations at work in that area as well).

The blog post reads in full:

Are you an educator seeing positive results from using Second Life? We’d love to hear from you! Please join us in this Education Forum thread to share your answers to the following questions:

  1. What educational organization do you represent?
  2. How do you use SL in your educational endeavours?
  3. Most importantly, what positive results have you seen from using SL?

From direct conversations, press coverage, and the like, we’ve heard of a number of organizations seeing positive results using Second Life for education, but we’re always eager to hear more and we hope you’ll add your voice to the thread.


Commenting on the post and requires, Peter Gray, the Lab’s Director of Global Communications told me, “We kicked off this thread because having a current collection of shared success stories is certainly helpful to our PR efforts, helps further our understanding of that community, and can also be a useful resource for people who may be interested in using SL in similar ways. We’ve spoken directly with a number of educators active in SL and certainly keep an eye out for these kinds of stories in the press as well, but we’re always eager to hear more.”

And it is not only educators and educational institutions the Lab wished to hear from, as Peter went on to state, “While we’re particularly interested in success stories from educators affiliated with educational institutions, we’d also be happy to hear from anyone who’s seen positive results using SL in their educational endeavours.”

So, if you do have a story of educational success and Second Life to tell, please be sure to join the conversation.

Lab invites residents to the Isle of View for Valentines

secondlifeThe Isle of View, the “official” destination for Valentine’s Day reappeared on the grid earlier in the month (my thanks to Bixyl for poking me about it when it appeared), and on Thursday, February 12th, the Lab invited people to consider spending a part of Friday, February 13th visiting the isle.

The blog post with the invitation reads in part:

Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is just a few days away! Pink and red dominate, chocolate sales sky-rocket, and we’re reminded that the true hallmark of love is in the quality of time we spend with our loved ones.

Come to the Isle of View on February 13th for some Pre-Valentine’s Day fun. Meet up with other Residents and enjoy all the romance that Isle of View has to offer – boat rides, fireworks, kissing booths – a treasure trove of memorable moments just waiting to be made with someone special.

Why Friday, February the 13th? That’s a good question. Once upon a time, the Lab used to participate in Valentines Day through things like kissing booths (yes, you could get to kiss a Linden!). So, given the invite is for a week-day visit, does this mean those popping along might just find a Linden or two within the Isle’s kissing booth?

Will there be Lindens in in the Isle of View kissing booths?

Will there be Lindens in in the Isle of View kissing booths?

The Lab is keeping mum on that; instead, all they are saying is:

Why February 13th? Because we believe in love, and there is still time to find a special someone for the big day.

If you’ve got a Valentine – bring them to the Isle of View.
If you’re currently looking for a Valentine – come to the Isle of View.
If you have several Valentines – well lucky you – bring them all to the Isle of View!

But you never know, after all, they did recently re-launch another staple of Lab / resident fun, the snowball fight. So, if Valentine’s day is your thing, why not pop along to the Isle of View on February 13th and find out. You can always visit again on the 14th with your loved one, if you don’t want them to spy you loitering around the kissing booths…

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Lab ask for assistance pinning down inventory loss issues

secondlifeOn Wednesday, February 11th, the Lab published a brief blog post seeking help from users in helping to pin-down issues related to inventory loss.

The post reads in full:

As we continue to improve Second Life, we’re looking into the issue of inventory loss. If you have experienced some form of inventory loss in the past 12 months – whether partial (such as a single object or subfolder), or full – please take a moment to share your answers via this quick survey.

Your answers will help provide our engineering team with information that will assist them as they make improvements to Second Life.

We greatly appreciate your time and want to thank you for responding to the survey.

The link will take respondents to a set of 7 questions covering when and how they might have suffered the loss of one or more items from their inventory, the kind of loss experienced (from single item through to their entire inventory, or the loss of a specific folder or items across multiple folders, etc.), details on their preferred viewer, etc.

These are then followed by an opportunity for users to supply any additional information related to their experiences with inventory they feel might be useful to the Lab, and an optional section which can be completed if users have no objection to the Lab contacting them for further information.

If you have suffered from inventory loss over the course of the last year, please do consider completing the survey.

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