Samsung launches massive VR content library with HMD-enabled live streaming

Samsung has announced the launch of a new VR content service, playing host to a huge library of virtual reality experiences. SamsungVR.com and the Samsung VR application will not only have masses of content for consumers, but will enable developers, publishers and enthusiasts to live stream and host their content in one accessible location.

Announced at Unpacked 2017, SamsungVR.com will have over 8,000 videos and 2,000 premium experiences available at launch. The new platform will initially feature content from a range of providers; Copa 90, Rinse FM and Nowness are all due to launch local content for the platform in the coming months.

The platform will be available for mobile, web and, obviously, the Samsung Gear VR itself, although understandably there currently seem to be no plans to expand to other VR devices. Seemingly working like a sort of VR Netflix, you’ll be able to browse channels based on your interests, taking in everything from animation to wildlife.

“Samsung already leads the way in giving people access to VR through our best-selling Gear VR headset, and we want ensure that we are also offering our consumers the very best VR content experiences.” said Conor Pierce, vice president of IT & Mobile at Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland.

“Together with the new Samsung Gear VR and Controller which we announced at MWC earlier this year, our vast curated library of free high-quality content and our efforts to engage working the best content creators out there, we will make it easier than ever to for people to find and consume VR content.”

The mentioned work being done with content creators is perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of SamsungVR.com. Among the experiences available in the new library will be a range of premium made-for-VR series, including Invisible, a supernatural drama that follows a mysterious American family, which is directed by Doug Liman, the man behind The Bourne Identity.

Images courtesy of Samsung

Additionally, there is a clear social media aspect to this update. Partially enabled by the new Gear equipment being released, it will supposedly be near-seamless for users to capture and upload VR content straight from their Gear camera. And with the capability to live stream as well, it would appear the other inspiration for the platform is Twitch.

The combination of professionally curated content and user uploads/streams seems like a potentially strange one and how it fits together will be an important part of making the platform work. However, in concept alone a Netflix-style library for VR content, particularly if the premium originals are on par with Netflix’s efforts in that direction, seems like a no-brainer.

The Twitch-like aspect of the service seems somewhat less natural, but given the size and growth of the streaming platform, if the Gear can establish a solid presence, it seems something that creators will be able to take by the reigns and establish something unique with.

Valve’s ‘Knuckles’ controller brings individual finger control to VR

With a prototype first revealed at the company’s Steam Dev Days conference last October, Valve’s new ‘Knuckles’ controller is now being shipped to developers as a prototype, while a blog post unveils a few more of the specs.

What’s important about the new controller is that it on only utilises an ‘open hand’ design that will mean you don’t have to spend your entire time gripping the controller like a weapon, but  it also features basic tracking for individual fingers.

The device is similar to the current HTC Vive motion controller, positioning in 3D space via Steam’s Lighthouse tracking system, but looks to build to the next stage of what can be done with motion control in VR. Specifically, Valve is looking to bring a much greater presence of your virtual hand into the market.

Moreover, they’re looking to make that virtual hand feel far more natural. With the controller able to grip onto your hand – think somewhat similar to securing your Wiimotes to your wrist – you’ll be able to operate in the virtual space with an open hand. While it may seem a small thing, it brings a whole new realism to any kind of grabbing or catching motion.

In addition, the ability of the Knuckles to track the movement of individual fingers could prove a real game-changer to virtual reality experiences.  Using a number of capacitive sensors to detect the state of your hands when your finger is on a button, or particular part of a controller, the controller will, according to the dev post, “return a curl value between zero and one, where zero indicates that the finger is pointing straight out and one indicates that the finger is fully curled around the controller”.

In essence, this means that the controller will be able to sense fine gradations of movement in each of your fingers, rather than relying on a binary “open” or “closed” status. Beyond lending a more organic feel to the use of your virtual hand, this will also allow users to make use of a range of hand gestures currently unavailable with VR controllers. A screenshot from a new version of SteamVR Home displays the possibilities with a Knuckles user’s avatar throwing up devil horns.

Images courtesy of Valve

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a perfect tracking system. While farther along than, for example, the Oculus Touch controllers, which allow you to slightly open your fingers while tracking the three non-index fingers together via an analog trigger, the Knuckles aren’t exactly ‘full’ finger tracking. Ideally, controllers will reach the point of knowing where your fingers are at all times with pinpoint precision. Until then however, the Knuckles are no small step forward.

The current Knuckles controller dev kit reportedly has a battery life of three hours and requires an hour of USB Micro charging to fill up (if accurate, these numbers put it roughly in the same realm as Vive controllers in regards to battery). We’ll have to wait on confirmation of this and other details,

Elon Musk speaks to LA's mayor about his Boring Company

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Source: Tech Crunch

Atari is back with a new console

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Source: Venture Beat

Nasa find 10 planets that could potentially host life

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Source: The Guardian

Tesla Model S told driver to put his hands on the wheel before fatal crash

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Source: Ars Technica

Uber founder Travis Kalanick resigns

Having last week said that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence, Uber boss Travis Kalanick resigned as chief executive of the company this week after pressure from shareholders. His resignation comes after a review of practices at the firm and scandals including complaints of sexual harassment.

Source: BBC

Facebook defends against injunction to remove Oculus Rift from sale

Facebook and Oculus want a federal judge to let them continue selling Rifts despite a jury deciding Oculus stole another company’s computer code. Lawyers for Facebook said halting the sale of Oculus Rifts “would serve no one but ZeniMax, who would use it only as leverage to try to extract money from Oculus”.

Source: Bloomberg