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VRChat Goes Viral

VRChat is one of the first wave of applications that appeared on the Oculus DK1 way back in 2014. Since then it has been quietly developing, eventually raising $1.2 million in seed funding in 2016, and then a much bigger $4 million series A round late last year. Meanwhile better-known competitor Altspace, which also debuted in 2014, raised a huge $5.2 million seed round and $10.3 million series A before running into financial difficulties and being acquired by Microsoft.

Now, 4 years on, VRChat is an overnight success. The game added one million users in just the last 10 days. The reason? It suddenly went viral on YouTube and Twitch, as users discovered that the platform’s powerful Unity-based customization features have turned it into a never ending costume party where people can create life-sized memes, including predominantly an unfortunately racist one called “Ugandan knuckles”.

Then, in a truly surreal turn of events, Russian President Vladimir Putin was photographed(discussion) standing sternly in the background while a young military man plays VRChat using an Oculus Rift. His avatar? A Ugandan knuckles with a Russian hat driving a Russian tank with a giant Russian flag, shouting in Russian and playing the Russian national anthem. It’s—ahem—“Russian knuckles”.

So thoughts and prayers to the VRChat team, that they might withstand this sudden onslaught of attention, which it is reasonable to assume will eventually die down leaving in its wake, we hope, a larger community of users and creators who will keep its platform growing steadily.

CES Wrap-up

Ian Hamilton went hands on with Tobii’s VR developer kit, an HTC Vive with eye-tracking added. He was very impressed.


Floyd Mayweather has teamed up with Grab Games, makers of Knockout League, to create a virtual reality boxing fitness program that will be available for home use and also offered at Mayweather’s new Boxing + Fitness gym, soon to open near LACMA in Los Angeles. From the description, it sounds like it is basically a branded version of Knockout League, but has been fleshed out with more guidance for using it as a workout regime:

“The VR program takes users through a series of workouts each week over different 12 week programs, getting progressively more challenging over time and as skill and fitness levels increase.”

There’s even a cool video of Mayweather himself playing in virtual reality at CES.


Upload went hands on with a couple of different promising VR gloves. Contact CI’s Maestro has innovative haptic feedback that works well, while Sensoryx’s VRfree gloves have excellent tracking. It seems that if their powers were combined into something a bit more polished, there is some promise there for the future of VR input.


Upload also had a chance to try the Pico Neo 6DoF standalone headset which is unique among Snapdragon based devices in that it also offers 6DoF controllers. The controllers use ultrasonic audio based tracking technology which has never been seen in a consumer product before, and reportedly it is either a bit janky or was partially overwhelmed by the noise of the show floor.

Hands On Reviews of The Void’s Star Wars Experience

The Los Angeles Times this week posted a review of The Void’s Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire experience. Road to VR also published a more detailed look at how the experience feels.

Bits

A cool video popped up on Twitter showing a virtual set rendered in real time with OTOY’s Octane technology, an actor composited into it, and camera tracking.


VRScout found a trio of really interesting VR/AR simulation projects for training:

childbirth simulator helps students visualize what’s going on as a baby moves through the birth canal.

The US Department of Homeland Security commissioned a $5.6 million dollar school shooting simulator to help train school staff and first responders how to respond.

Colorado is piloting 360 video training content to help early-release prisoners cope with lifeout from behind bars, teaching them life skills like how to deal with self-checkout cash registers that they may have never encountered before.


VRScout found a trio of really interesting VR/AR simulation projects for training:

childbirth simulator helps students visualize what’s going on as a baby moves through the birth canal.

The US Department of Homeland Security commissioned a $5.6 million dollar school shooting simulator to help train school staff and first responders how to respond.

Colorado is piloting 360 video training content to help early-release prisoners cope with lifeout from behind bars, teaching them life skills like how to deal with self-checkout cash registers that they may have never encountered before.


Playstation posted the list of 2017’s most-downloaded PSVR games on their blog.