Saturday, August 6, 2016

Samsung Gear VR used for full body VR with Perception Neuron motion capture suit

VR experiences are enhanced by its scale, e.g. room-scale or free-roam VR.  However, VR experiences can also be enhanced based on the level of interactivity.  The holy grail of interactivity is full body VR, where you can use your entire body to interact with the virtual environment.

Enter Reality is an Italian VR startup company that has been able to demonstrate full body VR with the humble Samsung Gear VR.  In the demo video below, CEO Nicolas Esposito demonstrates being able to move around a room freely in VR, wirelessly.  He also shows full body VR, including his fingers and even legs.

Hilarious skits in VR on Conan 360 with Nokia OZO

One of the first entertainers to embrace 360 video is Conan O' Brien, one of my favorite standup comedians.  Some skits on his Conan talk show on TBS are livestreamed in 360 on the Team Coco YouTube channel using four Nokio OZO cameras.  

You can watch the Olympics in VR in these 29 countries if you have Samsung Gear VR

For the very first time in history, you can watch the Olympics in VR, if you have the Samsung Gear VR and if you live in one of 29 countries.

Friday, August 5, 2016

How to make ALLie camera portable

ALLie Home is a 360-degree camera that can livestream in 4k.  It was originally designed for home and business use, streaming 24/7.  However, recently ALLie has been posting sample videos where the ALLie is used outdoors.  The video below explains how to make the ALLie Home camera portable.

Casio Exilim Outdoor Recorder EX-FR200 is a hemispherical 360 action camera with detachable lens

​Casio is producing a hemispherical 360-degree camera called the Exilim Outdoor Recorder with an innovative detachable design. The camera's unique lens can be flipped either to face the user (selfie mode), or to face forward (camera mode).  The lens can also be detached and controlled remotely (separate mode):

DEALS: Get a brand new VR-Ready PC for $684 only this weekend!

You can get a brand new Cyberpower Gamer Xtreme VR, a VR-ready PC, for the incredible price of just $684 only this weekend using the coupon code CPAMD5 .  Regularly $720 (already an incredible deal), the coupon code gives you an additional 5% off.

The Gamer Xtreme VR comes with:

-  Intel i5-6402P 2.8GHz Quad-Core
- AMD Radeon RX 480 4GB VR-Ready graphics card
- Genuine Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- 6 x USB 3.0 | 4 x USB 2.0
- includes Keyboard and Mouse
- free lifetime tech support

I would love to get this system myself, if I didn't already have the GTX 1060!  At the time of this writing, there's also a "like new" unit for $659.33.

The Gamer Xtreme VR is an Amazon exclusive and is not available elsewhere.

Thanks to @tipatat for sharing this coupon code!

DEALS: VR-ready GTX 1060 graphics card in stock at Amazon for $255

The VR-ready GTX 1060 graphics card is in stock at Amazon for $255 (just $5 over MSRP), with Prime shipping!  By comparison, the street price for the GTX 1060 has been around $300 to $350. This deal is not going to last!

Update: yup, it didn't last.  Sold out at $250.  Now back to $292.39 + $9.63 shipping.

VR-ready PC for under $600 with GTX 1060
Brand new VR-Ready PC for $720

RUMOR: Oculus Touch release date may be in September

The highly anticipated Oculus Touch for the Oculus Rift may be coming as early as September.

Although the Oculus Touch was announced with the Oculus Rift (first impressions here), the Touch was not included with the Rift at launch, which instead included the Oculus Remote and an Xbox One controller.

The Touch is highly anticipated not only because it adds motion controls for greater immersiveness, but also because it includes an additional sensor, which can add room scale VR capability to the Rift (with just one sensor, it's possible but more difficult to do room scale due to occlusion).

Oculus promised the Touch would be available in the second half of 2016.  Now it appears that window is being narrowed and the Touch may be available in September.  At one Best Buy store, Mike Cane found a mockup display of the Oculus Touch together with the Rift, indicating a release "around September."
I hope that it does come September or sooner, and at a reasonable price.

For more information on the Oculus Touch, check out the official page here.  Thanks again to Mike Cane for sharing this info!

HTC Vive first impressions
Playstation VR first impressions
Samsung Gear VR review

DEALS: 15% Discount on Vuze 3D 360 Camera!

Vuze is the first affordable fully spherical 3D 360 4k camera, and it's the camera I'm most excited about for 2016.  It will be priced at $799 (less than the Kodak SP360 4k dual pro, which is not 3D), including a custom selfie stick / tripod, VR headset, and the Vuze Studio video editing software.  Now you can pre-order one with a 15% discount!  At around $120 off, it brings the price down to a remarkable $679.15!  To get the discount, just use the code VUZE15OFF .

The offer is only until August 18.

Vuze recently posted a sample photo and reported that it is still on schedule for release in October.  Vuze has also posted several video samples, such as this one.  Vuze has also uploaded 3D 360 samples on the Vrideo app.

Thanks to David Grass for sharing this info!

UFOs are visiting your Ricoh Theta shots

You can now add a funny 3D UFO effect to your Ricoh Theta photos on  Just add the hashtag #ufo3d to your description when you upload your photo to  Here's a sample:
#ufo3d #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Ricoh has previously added other 3D effects.  You can try:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

PSA: How to watch the Olympics in VR on NBC Sports app

As previously announced, NBC will be showing the Olympics in VR for viewers who have Samsung Gear VR.  The app is now available at the Oculus store, however, the instructions are not very straightforward, so here is a clarification, with step-by-step instructions:

Win an Allie 360 Livestreaming Camera

Allie is giving an Allie Home 360 camera with 4k livestreaming (worth $500) to one lucky winner. 

To join, you just have to follow Allie's social media accounts.  The more accounts you like and share, the more points you'll get.  Here are the details.  The winner will be announced August 19.

Allie says, "all participants will receive rewards."

You can now share your 360 videos on Jaunt VR (maybe)

Among 360 video platforms, there is a distinct divide between those that are based on curated content, and those based on user-generated content.  Platforms that are curated pride themselves on having higher quality videos made by larger studios or production teams.  On the other hand, those that have user-generated content, such as YouTube, are more accessible to consumers.

Jaunt VR had been firmly in the former category.  Its tagline is "Cinematic VR," and it includes videos produced with its 24-lens Jaunt camera

However, Jaunt is now trying to create a bridge between these two types of platforms.  Following the lead of Samsung VR and Littlstar, which have opened their platforms to user-generated content, Jaunt will now also allow users to submit their own videos from their 360 cameras. 

However, it's not exactly a wide open invitation.  Jaunt is targeting the "wider community of professional VR content creators" (emphasis added).  And unlike Samsung VR and LittlStar, the videos will still be curated.    You can submit your video to Jaunt Publishing here.

You MAY be able to stitch the Samsung Gear 360 on a Mac without 3rd party software

It appears you CAN stitch Samsung Gear 360 images on a Mac without 3rd party software after all.

Confirmed: Xiaomi VR headset is just a Cardboard viewer, it's not even low cost

The Xiaomi VR viewer has finally been revealed, and just as I said, it's nothing but a Google Cardboard viewer, of which there are already dozens available on the market.  It's called Mi Play VR (shudder) and it's not even low cost, either.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Watch Olympics in VR for iOS, Android and Gear VR with this app

The Olympics will be kicking off soon and for the first time, the Olympics will be shown in VR.  NBC has previously announced that it would show the Olympics in VR, but only for Samsung Gear VR owners.  Now, BBC has stated that it, too, will broadcast the Olympics in VR through its app BBC Sport 360.  Unlike NBC's VR coverage, the BBC Sport 360 app is available for iOS, Android and Samsung Gear VR. 

Just download the app from the App Store, Google Play, or Oculus store, respectively.  You can then insert your phone into a Google Cardboard viewer or the Samsung Gear VR. 

BBC Sport 360 will show around 100 hours of VR Olympics coverage, starting this Friday August 5.

UPDATE: I found BBC Sport on the iOS and Android app stores, but as of August 3, 730pm PST, I haven't found the BBC Sport 360 app on the iOS App Store, Google Play, or Oculus store.  It's possible that it may be limited to users in the UK or other regions.  (I'm based in California).

Hands-On First Impressions: HTC Vive; Comparison with Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, Samsung Gear VR

I finally got to try the HTC Vive.  Here are my first impressions, in comparison to the Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, and Samsung Gear VR.

Video quality comparisons between Samsung Gear 360 and LG 360 Cam

Here are a couple of videos comparing the video quality between the Samsung Gear 360 (reviewed here) and the LG 360 Cam.

New Samsung Gear VR now available for preorder; can browse videos on USB

You can now preorder the new Samsung Gear VR, for release on August 19, direct from Samsung here.

Besides the slightly larger field of view, compatibility with both USB-Type C and Micro USB, and the improved controls, the new Gear VR includes a USB OTG port.  The OTG port allows the new Gear VR to receive data, not just power.  One way that the OTG port will be used is to enable viewing videos from a USB drive connected to the port.  The Samsung Internet browser will be updated to add this capability when used with the new Gear VR.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Workarounds for Ricoh Theta wireless connectivity problems

One of the few complaints I have about the Ricoh Theta S (reviewed here), besides the low-resolution video, is the temperamental wireless connection.  Occasionally, I'll connect to my Theta's Wi-Fi signal, and the Theta will show that it's connected, but the Theta app will act as if there's no Theta connected.  Here are some solutions.

Samsung Gear 360 official US release date: August 19

The official release date for the Samsung Gear 360 in the US is on August 19, the same as the Samsung Note 7.  The MSRP is $350.  Here is a detailed no-holds-barred review of the Samsung Gear 360.

New Samsung Gear VR announced!

At the Samsung Unpacked 2016 in New York, Samsung announced the Note 7, the successor to its Note 5 phablet.  Samsung also announced the new version of the Samsung Gear VR (reviewed here).

The Gear VR was leaked last week.  The official announcement confirmed these specifications:
- USB Type C compatible
- Designed for Samsung Note 7.
- Backward compatible with Samsung S6 series, S7 series, and Note 5 (the connector can be changed).
- Field of view increased to 101 degrees (not 110 degrees).

the connector can be changed from USB Type C to Micro USB

The greater field of view is a welcome benefit and can increase the feeling of immersiveness, particularly if you are using the Note 5 or Note 7's larger screen.  However, it is not yet certain whether the extra field of view will benefit smaller phones such as the S6 and S7.

Among new features is the slightly different control:  it reverts to the Innovator Edition-style smooth touchpad (instead of the grooved controls of the current Consumer Edition).  There is the usual back button but also a new Home button (in previous versions, you had to hold down the back button to go to the Home).

The new Gear VR also has a new front cover.  I'm not sure if the front cover can hold a gel pack to avoid overheating.
Finally, the Gear VR's pass-through USB port has been upgraded to a USB OTG port, which is capable not only of providing external power for the Gear VR and your phone, but also transferring data, thus making it possible to add accessories such as motion controllers.
Before the announcement, I was very curious about whether the new Gear VR would be compatible with Daydream, Google's new mobile platform due this Fall 2016.  Samsung is one of the partners for Google Daydream and the Daydream headsets we've seen so far look remarkably similar to the Gear VR.  It therefore seemed logical that it would be Daydream compatible.  However, there is no word on Daydream compatibility.  I'm still hoping that when the Galaxy S8 is announced, they'll confirm that both the S8 and new Gear VR are Daydream-compatible.

The new Gear VR will be available for preorder on August 3.  Official announcement here.

Xiaomi will sell its VR headset for 1 Yuan; is it Daydream-compatible?

Xiaomi is a Chinese company that has a reputation of being a market disruptor.  Its Xiaomi Yi action camera had image quality that rivaled GoPro's at a lower price.  It created a lower-cost drone with advanced features that undercut DJI.  It is creating a version of Google Jump at a lower cost.  So when Xiaomi announced that it was entering VR, industry pundits were paying attention.

It appears that the new Xiaomi VR product is a mobile VR viewer, launching on August 4.  Among other interesting characteristics, is its price: 1 yuan, or about 15 U.S. cents.  I don't know if that's with the purchase of one of its phones, or the MSRP for a standalone viewer.

Here is the teaser video:

In terms of capabilities, some sites have said it is Daydream-compatible.  It is true that Xiaomi's flagship phone, the Mi 5, has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, used in the Daydream-compatible ZTE Axon 7.  Conceivably, the Mi 5 might be Daydream-ready.

However, I have doubts about the headset being Daydream-compatible for at least two reasons.  First, Daydream-compatible VR headsets are active headsets (they have their own electronics, including a 9-axis IMU).  They are reportedly to be sold close to $99.  While Xiaomi is known for undercutting its competitors' prices, it is unlikely that they can do so by a few orders of magnitude.

Second, all Daydream-compatible headsets that I've seen so far have been similar to the Samsung Gear VR, with a touchpad and buttons on the right side.  Here are examples from ZTE and Asus.  The Xiaomi VR headset shown in the official video does not have a touchpad on the right side.  It does have one button on top, but that could simply be a Google Cardboard trigger button.

I guess we'll find out in a couple of days!

Thank you very much to Mike Cane and David Grass for spotting the info!

Monday, August 1, 2016

TECHNIQUE: Erasing the tripod and editing the nadir in a 360 photo or video

photo by Artem Chubaryan

One of the challenges of taking 360-degree photos is that the camera captures everything around it, including the legs of the tripod or monopod used to support it.  Erasing the legs or editing the nadir (the bottom of the 360 photosphere) is therefore a typical part of the 360 workflow.  Now you can do it easily, while preserving the original image quality as much as possible, thanks to a Photoshop action by Artem Chubaryan.

A sample photo by Artem:

Bayfront park star trails - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Compare sample videos from Samsung Gear 360, Insta360 Nano, and Ricoh Theta S

The Insta360 Nano (reviewed here) is a new 360-degree camera for the iPhone.  It competes with other consumer 360-degree cameras, such as the popular Ricoh Theta S (reviewed here), and the Samsung Gear 360 (reviewed here).

Nikon Keymission 360 sample shows impressive stitching!

Nikon posted a new sample video from the Nikon Keymission 360, its highly anticipated 360-degree camera.  The video was captured by Ami Vitale, a National Geographic photographer.  In it, Ami feeds a giraffe, while the Keymission is mounted over her Nikon D4s with Nikkor 24-70 2.8.

Sunday, July 31, 2016