Leap Motion’s Project North Star
The biggest news of the week was Leap Motion revealing their Project North Star mixed reality headset. We’ve seen impressive videos coming out of Leap Motion’s labs for a while now, but some thought they were using a Meta 2 headset. Nope.
Leap Motion is not planning to produce the headset as a consumer product but instead will open source the whole project. They claim that the current iteration could be produced at scale for $100 (note that a manufacturer would have to price the end product much higher than its production cost).
The device appears to only have hand tracking capability now. Position tracking could theoretically be provided by SteamVR for now. If the design was adapted as a standalone to compete with Magic Leap or Hololens, the Bill of Materials would be considerably higher, as it would need a powerful integrated computer and perhaps more sensors.
The Leap Motion blog also has a fascinating look at how the headset was developed.
NAB seemed a bit quiet this year as far as VR is concerned, but there were a few announcements worth your attention. One wonders if there is a general waning of interest in 360-degree video content. It wouldn’t be surprising given that 360 is never going to match the glorious fully-immersive future promised by lightfield photography, while 180 video is vastly easier to produce and much easier to stream.
Showing off the potential of 180 as a medium, our friends at Light Sail VR, fresh off the release of their 360-horror project Speak of the Devil, have started a new VR180 show, Now Your Turn. The show lets you sit down and “play” a board game with popular YouTube board game reviewers Geek & Sundry.
CreatorUp! at NAB
YouTube channel CreatorUp! covered 3 NAB booths showing new and improved 360 cameras.
YouTube Streams Coachella in 180
YouTube announced it would stream Coachella in VR180 this weekend. The stream begins at 3:35PM PDT on Saturday and Sunday. You can watch it below. For desktop users, I recommend using the Opera browser to view the content on Rift or Vive.
Adobe Releases Alpha Depthmap Tools
Adobe made available for download (Creative Cloud login required) alpha-release plugins for Premiere and After Effects that can make use of depth channel information in stereoscopic video workflows.
Indiegogo Campaign for FITT360 “Life-Recorder” Wearable 360 Camera
This Indiegogo project is a really cool form factor, and may be useful to you if you want to be the subject of a real life recreation of The Final Cut. Let’s hope they have a source of funding beyond Indiegogo, because ~$400,000 is probably not enough to get a product out.
YouTube Creator Lab Grants
YouTube’s Los Angeles VR Creator Lab has opened applications for a 4 month intensive on VR filmmaking. It is only open to applicants with 10,000 or more subscribers on their channel and who don’t have more than 15 employees.
Google Improves Jump 360 Stitching Algorithm
Hopefully this will improve artifacts around the edges of objects in the scene. Details in Google’s blog post.
Tested went hands on with the latest Infinadeck and Twisted Pixel’s Defector (trailer above).
A full comparison with the Vive and the Odyssey, and if you skip to the end of the video, he uses a recorder to demonstrate the tinny audio issue on the Pro. HTC says it will release a firmware update next week to address the issue, so we’ll see if it’s a firmware or hardware problem.