All posts by Callum Tyndall

HTC launches Vive-exclusive VR app store Viveport

The HTC Vive, arguably the leading premium virtual reality headset, has today had its very own app store launched. Following a private beta over the last few months, in which HTC tested and designed with developers and content creators, Viveport has now been launched globally.

The app store has been available in China since April but has now been launched with more than a dozen VR titles that, for the first time, are available outside of Asia. A big part of the launch is the announcement of Viveport Premieres – titles that will all have their initial launch on the Vive app store.

Among these Premier titles are games and experiences such as Everest VR, Google Spotlight Stories’ Pearl, Lifeliqe, Stonehenge VR, The Music Room and an all-new edition of theBlu. Additionally, to celebrate the launch of the store, during the first 48 hours you’ll be able to get some of the marquee titles like theBlu, Mars Odyssey, The Music Room and Firebird – La Peri for just $1.

Among the Viveport Premieres - VR experiences launching first on the platform - are Everest VR, pictured, and an updated version of ocean-based series theBlu, above

Among the Viveport Premieres – VR experiences launching first on the platform – are Everest VR, pictured, and an updated version of ocean-based series theBlu, above

Originally announced back in August, the company have said that they aim for the service to “democratize access to the world’s most diverse selection of immersive experiences by empowering all content creators to reach and engage the fast-growing global VR audience.”

The service is currently playing host to about 60 titles, covering a variety of categories including education, design, art, social, video, music, sports, health, fashion, travel, news, shopping and creativity tools. Viveport seems to be aimed at becoming the Steam of the VR platform – albeit in competition with the actual Steam – offering up a broad scale service designed to offer up the full range of potential VR experiences through one service.

In addition to Premieres, the store will also feature a Community where users can connect, as well as Viveport Home, offering a customisable space for streaming media.

Google Spotlight Stories' Pearl is also available on the platform

Google Spotlight Stories’ Pearl is also available on the platform

With the Oculus Rift and Playstation VR both launching before the end of the year as well, the intention of Viveport as the first full service available is fairly clear and may well give them the edge on their nearest competitor, Rift.

While Playstation’s offering will undoubtedly work in a similar fashion to Viveport, running a service through the console, Rift’s experiences page does not currently have the angle of a solo platform in the way Viveport does, and may suffer by comparison as a result. The difference is being further made clear by Vive’s build-up of the potential of the platform and what customers may be able to gain from it, teasing the potential of free access to content.

“Any Day now we will Relay a secret message that will Reopen a path to unlimited Viveport content for worthy contenders,” Viveport president Rikard Steiber said, emphasising words that are presumably a clue of some sort. “We hope you will follow us on social media, install the Vive software, visit Viveport.com, and explore Vive Home over the next month as we unveil more clues and keys to unlock the treasures.

The Elon Musk Offer: Extinction or Explosion

Elon Musk wants to take you to Mars. He also wants you to know that there’s a very good chance you’ll die doing so. Yesterday, at the International Astronautical Congress, Musk announced a lot more about SpaceX’s plans to get to Mars and opened up a little about the notion of colonising the Red Planet. He was also, almost shockingly, upfront about just how much such a mission is likely to kill you.

Musk’s speech, entitled Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species, largely consisted of explaining more about SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System and how the company plans to get people and supplies to Mars.

The plan involves 28,730,000 pounds of thrust and reusable booster rockets. And while Musk spoke about colonisation, it was in a way that very much avoided any kind of commitment on how such a colony would work and what role SpaceX would possibly play in it.

For now it seems the entrepreneur is very much focused on just getting there.

Images courtesy of SpaceX

Images courtesy of SpaceX

What was mentioned was the idea of a self-sustaining civilisation, presumably making some sort of use of Musk’s various clean energy ventures, and the goal of making the cost of a trip to Mars that of a median price house in the United States.

In order to do so we need four things: reusable rockets, refuelling the spaceship in space, using methane fuel rather than traditional propellant and harvesting methane fuel from Mars itself.

If it sounds like a lot of work, be assured it is; Musk made no mention of the infrastructure that would support this though he did point out that there would be no shortage of jobs on Mars if successful. Provided you get there of course.

Even allowing for the overcoming of technical challenges, there is still a very good chance that our initial tries at getting people there will fail horribly.

“The risk of fatality will be high,” Musk told the audience. “There’s no way around it. It would be basically, are you prepared to die? If that’s okay, you’re a candidate for going.

“The probability of death is quite high on the first mission.”

Elon Musk during the talk

Elon Musk during the talk

Musk’s honesty is kind of refreshing, even if it’s distinctly bleak. The chances of such a mission going perfectly on the first try are very low and it’s important to remember for anyone caught up in the excitement of going multiplanetary that there is a good chance of a cold death in space waiting out there.

That said, as Musk pointed out, staying on Earth indefinitely almost certainly ends in some kind of extinction event.

There is currently far too much uncertainty around the way in which a colony on Mars would actually work, the likelihood is that there would have to be some kind of governmental oversight of the colonisation and there are obviously chances of a whole new space race that come along with that.

Musk’s presentation was there to offer up a choice: stay on Earth and face extinction in what may be the far future or go to Mars now and almost definitely go out in a blaze of glory.