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Exploring the cutting edge of virtual reality

Virtual Reality - The Future is here

Here at Virtual Realms a passionate group of creatives, innovators and developers we will bring you the latest news and reviews on everything Virtual Reality


Introducing Valve's VR headset The Vive made by HTC

Resh Sidhu

Imagine standing on the bridge of a starship rocketing across the galaxy, or strolling through the streets of ancient Rome, or shrinking down to subatomic size and watching molecules collide. Now Re-imagine. HTC's Vive headset, powered by SteamVR, pulls those virtual worlds off your computer screen and into your home.

HTC has just announced the Vive, a virtual reality headset developed in collaboration with Valve.  The company has promised to have a significant presence at the Game Developers Conference next week, where devs will have a chance to play with Valve's VR technology.

The Vive Developer Edition uses two 1200 x 1080 displays that refresh at 90 frames per second, "eliminating jitter" and achieving "photorealistic imagery," according to HTC. The displays are said to envelope your entire field of vision with 360-degree views. The company says in a press release that it's the first device to offer a "full room-scale" experience, "letting you get up, walk around and explore your virtual space, inspect objects from every angle and truly interact with your surroundings."

We believe that virtual reality will totally transform the way that we interact with the world. Virtual reality will become a mainstream technology for the rest of the world,
— HTC's Peter Chou

The device uses a gyrosensor, accelerometer, and laser position sensor to track your head's movements as precisely as one-tenth of a degree. Most surprisingly, there will be something called the Steam VR base station, which will let you walk around the virtual space instead of using a controller. A pair of the base stations can "track your physical location ... in spaces up to 15 feet by 15 feet."

Gattis added at MWC that "It's also really light, so you can wear it for a long time without feeling weighed down." There are headphone jacks on the side of the developer edition, but it sounds like the final consumer version will have a built-in audio solution.

It will be available with a pair of HTC-made wireless controllers for manipulating objects or shooting weapons through hand tracking. They're "designed to be so versatile that they will work with a wide range of VR experiences." While the Vive will certainly play nice with games, but it's also about other experiences, including virtual reality through partners like HBO, Lionsgate, and Google.

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Resh Sidhu

It's Friday 13th so this is ideal,  Darkness of Man, has launched a new website that provides a small amount of detail on the project. Darkness of Man is a PC horror title that has been built ‘from the ground up’ for the Oculus Rift. The experience tackles the concept of parallel worlds, with one world being bright and the other dark. 

Certain objects and paths won’t appear in both worlds, meaning the player must navigate between the two in order to progress. However, as the website teases, players won’t be alone. A shadowy figure can be seen on the website as users scroll down, suggesting that players will come up against this type of enemy.

The horror genre has proved to be one of the most popular and effective methods of delivering virtual reality (VR) experiences in the past few years. The sense of isolation provided by the likes of the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) can enhance the feeling of fear far beyond what’s possible on standard displays, giving players incredibly tense experiences

Let's watch this space! 

A dream come true childhood dreams with the View-Master as a VR headset

Resh Sidhu

Brace yourself for a blast from the past the retro-styled View-Master is coming back — and this time it's been fused with my favourite medium virtual reality. View-Master maker Mattel has announced that it is partnering with Google to create a new version of the device that utilize's the company's Cardboard VR tech.

I had an orginal View-Master as a child and for those who remember it utilized a small, colorful reel, which users placed in the device to see images with a 3D effect. Pretty cool back in the day!

But for the VR version, you'll need a smartphone running a custom Mattel app to recreate the effect and Mattel might also be dipping into its huge library of classic View-Master reels, which include licensed content like Star Wars, for the new device. Amazing can't wait for this retro portal back to my childhood.

"We're creatively trying to figure out ways to use the old imagery in ways that enhance the new experience," Mattel senior vice president Doug Wadleigh told USA Today.

Google, meanwhile, sees the new device as a way to bring VR to a younger audience, with Google Cardboard product director Mike Jazayeri explaining that the View-Master is a way "to make immersive virtual reality experiences as accessible as possible for everyone."


Merrell Uses Virtual Reality to create the first-ever "walk around" VR Experience

Resh Sidhu

The amazing folks over at FramestoreVR, lead by Creative Director Mike Woods have done it again creating Merrell's "TrailScape" experience. It is the first-ever "walk around" commercial virtual-reality experience. Its debut at Sundance coincided with the launch of Merrell's new Capra hiking boot, which was inspired by a type of goat that lives in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy.

The VR experience is the first of it's kind to allows users to virtually walk through the mountainous region supported with physical elements like ropes that mark a bridge, a rock wall and fans that simulate wind. 

It’s a brave new world in a lot of ways, it’s highly unlikely that the original concept will be the final deliverable because we learn stuff as we go.
— Mike Woods, Creative Director, FramestoreVR

Development for "TrailScape" took about six months from concept to completion. The project was a learning experience for both Merrell and Framestore as they explored the opportunities offered by virtual reality and coped with the limitations in the space. Framestore, inspired by the Star Trek Holodeck and Nonny de la Pena's work at USC Annenberg, was interested in walk-around virtual reality and thought Merrell was the right brand to try it. It was a learn-as-you-go experience, said Mike Woods, executive creative director at Framestore.

Merrell decided to invest in digital technology in an effort to reach a broader consumer base and revive the brand as its core customers, who are mostly over 40-years-old, start to age.

"I wanted to freshen the brand up and give it a loud voice, but I wanted to do it in a way that was appealing to a broader audience and that's more youthful," said Mr. McCarthy. He said he was inspired when he saw a two-year-old using a smartphone on an airplane and wondered whether technology could influence the child to go to hiking somewhere like the Alps when he was older.

This reaction says it all.