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https://killexams.com/exam_list/HPKillexams : 11 Best Virtual Reality Stocks to Buy
Advances in semiconductor fabrication and manufacturing have enabled chip makers to squeeze unthinkable amounts of computing power into pieces of silicon the size of a human thumbnail. This growth has also spurred industries of its own, and one such sector is the virtual reality segment of the broader technology industry.
Virtual reality, as the name suggests, refers to technologies that create an artificial representation of reality for users to immerse themselves into - whether for entertainment or productivity needs. This is achieved through headsets, processors, and software, with different companies providing different technologies for the processes.
The virtual reality industry was estimated to be worth $4.4 billion in 2020, and through a massive compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44.8%, the segment can be worth a whopping $84 billion in 2029, according to a research report from Fortune Business Insights. Driving this growth will be several factors, such as the demand for virtual training platforms in industries, that let firms prepare their employees for complex tasks without investing in physical infrastructure. This allows companies in industries such as automobile manufacturing to reduce worker injuries and conduct factory personnel training safely.
Another research report, this time from Valuates Report, analyzes both the virtual and augmented reality markets. Augment reality is a subset of virtual reality that serves as a 'bolt on' to existing reality instead of rendering a completely new environment. This research firm believes that the markets were worth $14 billion in 2020 and through a strong CAGR of 41%, they will grow to sit at $454 billion by the end of 2030.
Therefore, looking at these estimates, it's clear that virtual reality has a bright future ahead of it, despite the bloodbath in technology stocks this year. Today's piece will look at the key players in the industry and some well known firms in the list are Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD), Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).
We took a look at the virtual reality industry and current trends to pick out which firms are currently offering creative products and services in the industry. We preferred companies with strong financial performance, technological advantages, and relevance to current industry dynamics. These stocks are ranked via hedge fund sentiment gathered through Insider Monkey's 895 fund survey for this year's second quarter.
11. Tencent Holdings Limited (OTCMKTS:TCEHY)
Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 2
Tencent Holdings Limited (OTCMKTS:TCEHY) is a Chinese conglomerate that owns several companies including the video game developer Epic Games. The firm is headquartered in Shenzhen, the People's Republic of China.
Epic Games is one of the most well known game developers in the world, which rose to fame due to its Fortnite gaming brand. The company, like other game developers, is also targeting the metaverse industry which is seeing strong interest from large firms. Sony and The Lego Group invested a whopping $2 billion in Epic Games in 2022 to spur metaverse development.
Additionally, Epic Games' Unreal Engine, which is used by video game developers to develop their products, is capable of developing assets that support 3D visualization and augmented and virtual realities. Insider Monkey's Q2 2022 survey of 895 hedge funds revealed that two had invested in Tencent Holdings Limited (OTCMKTS:TCEHY).
Along with Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META), Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Tencent Holdings Limited (OTCMKTS:TCEHY) is a top virtual reality stock.
MicroVision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS) is an American company that develops sensors used in automobiles. Additionally, it also develops a scanning technology that enables the creation of large images for a full field of view. It also develops displays concepts, designs, and modules that are used in augmented and virtual reality headsets. The firm is headquartered in Redmond, Washington.
MicroVision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS)'s lidar systems scored a big win in September 2022, when chip giant NVIDIA Corporation announced that the MAIN DR dynamic view system would be supported by NVIDIA's Drive AGX platform. This will Boost highway safety for vehicles.
By the end of its second fiscal quarter, MicroVision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS) had $93 million in cash, which is important given the company's weak operating income profile. The firm has invested some of this into treasury securities, and its latest quarterly operating costs stood at $9.7 million - giving it plenty of runway room. Four out of the 895 hedge funds polled by Insider Monkey for their June quarter of 2022 portfolios had invested in the company.
MicroVision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS)'s largest investor in our database is Daniel S. Och's Sculptor Capital which owns 572,200 shares that are worth $2.1 million.
Matterport, Inc. (NASDAQ:MTTR) is an American company that caters to the front end of the virtual reality space. Its software applications allow developers to capture the depth and imagery of a physical space to create a virtual reality environment. The firm is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.
Matterport, Inc. (NASDAQ:MTTR) reported a strong second fiscal quarter earlier this year, which despite negative revenue growth, saw the firm expand its presence in the market. At the earnings, the firm announced that its subscribers grew by a massive 52% annually to stand at 616,000 during the quarter.
Matterport, Inc. (NASDAQ:MTTR) also counts some of the largest companies in the world as its customers, with firms such as Proctor & Gamble, Sealy, and Netflix part of the 23% of the Fortune 1000 firms that use the company's products. Additionally, the firm's latest quarter also saw it grow its services revenue by 74% and its subscription revenue by 20%.
Insider Monkey took a look at 895 hedge funds for their second quarter of 2022 holdings to discover that 7 had invested in Matterport, Inc. (NASDAQ:MTTR).
Matterport, Inc. (NASDAQ:MTTR)'s largest investor is Chase Coleman and Feroz Dewan's Tiger Global Management LLC which owns 3.6 million shares that are worth $13 million.
Unity Software Inc. (NYSE:U) is a software platform provider whose products allow its customers to develop 2D and 3D content for a wide variety of gadgets and devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming consoles, and virtual and augmented reality platforms. The firm is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
Unity Software Inc. (NYSE:U) is also aggressively targeting growth, with its research and development expenses during its second fiscal quarter representing close to 73% of its revenue. This opens up a large opportunity for explosive growth in the future, should these investments bear fruit.
Needham set a $50 share price target for the company in October 2022, stating that its software platform is one of the best in the world and will benefit from the strong growth in the demand for 3D content. 23 out of the 895 hedge funds polled by Insider Monkey during the second quarter of this year had invested in Unity Software Inc. (NYSE:U).
Out of these, Jim Davidson, Dave Roux, and Glenn Hutchins's Silver Lake Partners is Unity Software Inc. (NYSE:U)'s largest investor. It owns 34 million shares that are worth $1.2 billion.
Roblox Corporation (NYSE:RBLX) is an online operating platform operator and developer whose studio allows developers to create and operate virtual 3D environments. The firm is headquartered in San Mateo, California, the United States.
Roblox Corporation (NYSE:RBLX) posted record high revenues of $600 million in its second fiscal quarter, which enabled it to cross $1 billion in revenue for the first half of this year. The company's extreme focus on its products led it to develop a voice chat feature for months before it finally rolled it out to users. Additionally, it has a creative advertising strategy, which creates a unique environment that lets users interact with the ad and then make potential purchases.
Roblox Corporation (NYSE:RBLX)'s platforms are also attractive for advertisers since they provide a large user base of young users that are yet to cement their buying preferences. Needham reduced the company's share price target to $53 from $55 in September 2022, stating that its advertising platform is one of a kind. Insider Monkey's Q2 2022 895 hedge fund survey saw 26 having held a stake in the company.
Roblox Corporation (NYSE:RBLX)'s largest investor is Jim Simons' Renaissance Technologies which owns 11.5 million shares that are worth $380 million.
Sony Group Corporation (NYSE:SONY) is a Japanese multinational platform that designs and sells consumer electronics products and owns video game development platforms. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.
Sony Group Corporation (NYSE:SONY) operates in the hardware side of the virtual reality ecosystem, as it designs and sells the PlayStation PS VR headset. This headset has two modes, 3D and 2D modes. The former lets users view content in HDR resolution at 90Hz or 120Hz, and the latter lets them play games in HDR at 24Hz, 60Hz, and 120Hz.
When compared to some other virtual reality companies that have weak financials, Sony Group Corporation (NYSE:SONY) is an established player that has sold millions of units of its gaming consoles and brings in close to $100 billion in revenue each year. By the end of this year's second quarter, 26 of the 895 hedge funds surveyed by Insider Monkey had bought the company's shares.
Out of these, Sony Group Corporation (NYSE:SONY)'s largest investor is Mario Gabelli's GAMCO Investors which owns 1.7 million shares that are worth $146 million.
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD), Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Sony Group Corporation (NYSE:SONY) is a VR stock you must look at.
Disclosure: None. 11 Best Virtual Reality Stocks to Buy is originally published on Insider Monkey.
Fri, 14 Oct 2022 05:37:00 -0500en-UStext/htmlhttps://finance.yahoo.com/news/11-best-virtual-reality-stocks-170307344.htmlKillexams : Why Mark Zuckerberg Is Bullish on 'Mixed-Reality Work'No result found, try new keyword!The headset's ability to toggle between VR and augmented reality, combined with the addition ... users can set up their ideal workstations: "You might only have a 13-inch laptop in your physical ...Thu, 13 Oct 2022 06:24:00 -0500text/htmlhttps://www.inc.com/ben-sherry/mark-zuckerberg-meta-mixed-reality-work.htmlKillexams : Reality Shows Are Getting More Real When It Comes To Dating
Reality TV shows are evolving to become more inclusive in terms of what modern love really looks like for different demographics and cultures.
From the fantasy of NBC's "The Courtship" and the drama of Netflix's "Love Is Blind" to the continued popularity of ABC's "The Bachelor," "Bachelorette" and "Bachelor in Paradise" series — the entertainment industry is in the middle of a reality dating show renaissance.
But as many shows add to the genre with elaborate setups, gimmicks and even costumes, others are attempting to focus the reality TV lens on some communities' real dating realities.
Series like Netflix's "Indian Matchmaking" and "Love on the Spectrum" aren't throwing people into unrealistic dramas or gimmicky competitions in order to find love.
"Indian Matchmaking" uses the reality show format to highlight arranged marriages in Indian communities today. It follows Mumbai's real-life top matchmaker Sima Taparia, and its latest season was one of Netflix's biggest summer releases worldwide.
"Love on the Spectrum," which came out in the U.S. in May, was another one of Netflix's top reality hits. The series highlights the dating lives of young adults on the autism spectrum.
Both shows have been described by viewers as "authentic" and non-judgmental.
Some critics described "Indian Matchmaking" as pushing back against the Western preconceptions of arranged marriages, while much of the praise surrounding "Love on the Spectrum" focused on its kindness and uplifting honesty about the autism spectrum.
Past studies have shown that reality television may have an effect on viewers' perceptions of reality, especially when it comes to relationships. Older series like MTV's "The Real World" have helped normalize conversations about dating within the LGBTQ community.
That's why shows like "Indian Matchmaking" and "Love on the Spectrum" have garnered so much attention for clinging to a sense of reality and authenticity, but amid the praise is some division.
Critics have also called "Indian Matchmaking" elitist as it only focuses on rich families — and while it examines the practice of arranged marriages, it doesn't fully acknowledge the realities for some of classism, misogyny and colorism.
Meanwhile, some critics of "Love on the Spectrum" acknowledge the show's well-meaning wholesomeness but also describe its framing as infantilizing and "riddled with bad advice."
For audiences, those issues of representation mean "Indian Matchmaking" and "Love on the Spectrum" aren't truly realistic reflections of finding love, but they're still steering the genre of reality dating shows in a more realistic and diverse direction.
Thu, 06 Oct 2022 13:19:00 -0500entext/htmlhttps://www.newsy.com/stories/reality-shows-are-getting-more-real-when-it-comes-to-dating/Killexams : Augmented Reality Must Live Up To Its Name
For artists, technologists, engineers, advertisers and dreamers, augmented reality (AR) is the holy grail of digital experience. This tech promises to make magic real: to manifest whatever we can imagine in physical space.
But we're not there yet. Today, most of what is called AR is not worthy of the name. Rather than being an augmentation of reality, it is a poor facsimile of a powerful idea.
But as we take the first steps into this bright future, it is more critical than ever that we wake up to a fundamental truth: No matter how vivid our digital creations, AR will fall short of its full promise unless and until these can be accurately placed in the real world and, more importantly, fully shareable with others.
It's Not 'Real' if It Can't Be Shared
Imagination is hard-wired into the human psyche. From early childhood, we embellish our outer worlds with elements of our inner lives. But since there is no way for those around us to tap into those private imaginings, they remain wholly subjective and unverifiable.
Whether or not a sensory experience is shared by others has a critical impact on whether we ourselves believe it to be real. If you are the only one in a crowded room to hear a whispering voice, you will feel isolated and strange. You may start to question your own perception — perhaps even your sanity.
But if others around you say they've heard it too, you're back on solid ground. What you've experienced is valid and therefore must be real.
This is what is known as intersubjectivity, the process of sharing knowledge and experiences with others.
Today, the vast majority of AR tech does not support intersubjective experiences. Indeed, it is often little more than gimmicky filters on our solitary devices that are difficult to share.
If I conjure up a fire-breathing dragon in my back garden, there is no way for me to photograph myself with it or to impress you with the breadth of its wingspan. And if I can't share the magic, it becomes no more satisfying than watching a YouTube video that can't be shared or scrolling through Facebook alone.
Shared Magic Is Real Magic
And while AR does have the potential to work real magic — to port the products of our imaginations into the physical world — the examples we have access to today are often no more remarkable than the artificial backgrounds on Zoom.
If we want AR to enable a true augmentation of reality, we need to use tech that supports shared digital experiences in the physical world.
Given AR's potential to transform everything from how we train fighter pilots to how doctors collaborate on cases, it is crucial that we address the issue of shared AR now or important interactive experiences will not be possible.
Positioning, Positioning, Positioning
The answer is surprisingly simple. It all boils down to precise positioning.
Many assume that objects and environments that exist in AR are automatically anchored in a fixed location and that it should be easy for multiple people to experience the same things in the same places. The truth is this is never the case.
There are apps that offer rough estimates of where AR objects are placed in physical spaces but these are nowhere near accurate enough. You and your friend may be viewing the same AR unicorn in all its sparkling detail. But while your device may show it standing solidly by the door, hers may show it floating near the ceiling.
When positioning fidelity is this low, intersubjectivity simply isn't possible. While you may be together, your experience cannot meaningfully be described as a shared reality.
This shortcoming becomes particularly jarring when you and a friend or colleague try to engage in a shared physical activity involving digital equipment. Virtual tennis is an impossibility when the ball is in one place for you and somewhere else for your opponent. The same goes for racing digital cars. The list goes on.
Precise Location Is Key to Shared Experiences in AR
The reason it's been so difficult to position AR objects in physical space until now is that our mobile devices don't share a consistent, precise coordinate system.
It's true that smartphones come equipped with GPS, which does make it possible to establish shared geographical parameters to some degree. But for a host of reasons, GPS is far from exact enough for true intersubjectivity.
GPS may be able to establish that an AR object is in a given house, but not whether it is in the bedroom or bathroom. Never mind whether it is sitting on top of a table or under it.
The logical solution to this would be a more precise version of GPS. That, however, would mean a system that is completely unaffected by those factors that hinder GPS fidelity, which range from signal blockage by physical obstacles to poor weather or even solar storms. Smartphone GPS is usually accurate to within a 4.9-meter radius, but only under a clear sky and away from buildings, bridges and trees.
The near-term fix for AR's location problem is much simpler, and billions of dollars less expensive. Rather than spending years on creating a hyper-accurate coordinate system, we should move away from geographical anchors altogether.
Instead of two devices trying to pinpoint their respective locations on a map, they merely need to establish where they are relative to one another. In other words, rather than relying on a fixed set of coordinates, devices should be equipped with technology that can create shared, one-off coordinate systems on an as-needed basis.
Say you and I want to race our digital Ferraris along a beach. With this technology, all we'd need to do is synchronize our devices so they "agree" on their relative positions. Once they have an accurate sense of where they are in an ephemeral space, shared reality is possible.
The larger-scale, more complex AR environments I foresee in the future may well one day require a universal 3D positioning system that uses powerful consensus algorithms and persistent location anchors.
But for today's augmented reality to be more than a buzzword, we need to focus on precise positioning and the technologies we can use right now to precisely share location and invite others into our enhanced reality. With these tools, we can transform AR from a gimmick into a technology that enhances all of our lives.
(Johannes Davidsson is the Head Of Business Development at Auki Labs, an AR tech company creating a decentralized protocol for collaborative spatial computing.)
Thu, 13 Oct 2022 20:39:00 -0500en-UStext/htmlhttps://www.ibtimes.com/augmented-reality-must-live-its-name-3624070Killexams : What happened to the virtual reality gaming revolution?
Six years ago, consumer virtual reality seemed set to be the next major tech breakthrough.
The lead-up to the 2016 launch of the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift (the CV1) only raised consumer VR’s profile further. Analyst predictions were bullish, going so far as to say that the VR market would be worth $150 billion in just five years. Oculus’ co-founders were breathlessly profiled in glossy magazines, with Luckey landing on the cover of Time in August 2015. Google even partnered with Disney to give away its low-tech paper Cardboard sleeves, enticing fans of Star Wars and other mega properties with themed mobile experiences. Decades removed from the hangover of failed VR arcades and gimmicky consumer trinkets, things would be different this time.
Double Fine’s Tim Schafer put it best at DICE 2016. “We all wanted Snow Crash to happen, and then we put on the things, and it was just Pterodactyl Terror, and we all threw up,” he told Ars, possibly (jokingly) misnaming Virtuality's less-than-stellar VR arcade experiment Dactyl Nightmare. “I think there’s been a huge leap [this time].”
Six years later, VR has yet to reach the stratospheric heights its cyberpunk fantasy promised. But the latest wave hasn’t been another high-profile failure, either. Meta’s Quest 2 headset has helped significantly revitalize consumer interest in the sector with its user-friendly experience and relatively low price (though it's not as low as it once was), with its Oculus Store supporting a handful of bona fide VR-native hit games.
This all goes a long way toward explaining how, given the ups and downs of iteration and experimentation that followed Rift’s consumer release, VR developers and watchers told Ars they’re still excited about virtual reality—and they're thrilled to see where the technology is heading next. And while the initial enthusiasm about its global impact has been tempered a bit since 2016, most in the space now say it doesn’t need to have a profound impact to be a success.
Hype meets reality
When the Rift CV1 was released, evangelists proclaimed that VR wasn’t just going to revolutionize games—it would change the world. (Goldman Sachs said in 2016 that mass adoption of VR hardware alone would overpower the $99 billion TV market by 2025, and it was hardly the only company making such lofty claims.)
But an instant revolution was never in the cards, as Road to VR executive editor Ben Lang told Ars. “The expectation among the nascent industry was that it was going to be this crazy takeoff,” Lang said. “But as happens with very new technology, until you can go from pure hype—like, ‘this is going to change everything,’—to really finding specific useful cases, it never becomes this instant, overnight thing.”
Back in 2016, it seemed that every major tech company was eager to carve out its piece of the VR pie. Rift and HTC’s Vive were available for PC early that year, while Sony’s PSVR would be out in October for PS4. On the mobile side, Google improved on its Cardboard product with its mobile-powered Daydream to counter Samsung’s Gear VR.
All of them had flaws. The Rift and Vive offered low-latency, room-scale VR (allowing users to optionally move around a to-scale physical space), but they needed $1,000-plus PC rigs for its high-res visuals and used external sensors that users had to install. PSVR’s cheaper price meant a processing ceiling, cruder motion tracking, and lower-fidelity games.
Mobile options might barely run at all, being at the mercy of a user’s under-spec smartphone that could often lead to choppy, nausea-inducing experiences—and any devices worth more than a cursory look were locked to Android phones. To top it off, the more capable first-gen HMDs weren’t exactly light and could be uncomfortable if worn too long.
Controllers were another mixed bag. The Vive offered the best motion tracking available, while the Rift initially shipped with an Xbox One controller (until Oculus introduced its Touch controllers later that year). Though better than PSVR’s finicky PS3 Move tech, first-gen tracking on PC was nevertheless prone to calibration issues. Gear VR and Daydream were a step behind that, only supporting “three degrees of freedom” movement that didn’t let users move their heads or arms freely in a digital space. (And without front-facing cameras, strapping on most headsets amounted to being blindfolded.)
Despite improvements to hardware designs over the next few years, the initial appetite for VR consumption out of the gate was nowhere near what investors had been counting on. The future would have to wait.
A lot of hassle
Aside from hardware itself, adoption of the first generation of new VR devices remained in a niche largely because early HMDs weren’t known for their ease of use. The resulting “friction” in the user experience took any number of forms—motion sickness, platform accessibility, difficult physical hardware setup, PC compatibility, motion control calibration, and onboarding—all of which were major hurdles to enjoying first-gen setups.
Andrew Eiche, the head of Job Simulator developer Owlchemy Labs, recalls some of the painful specifics. “You had to get a big, beefy computer and put holes in your wall to hang [sensors] at the corners of your house to get the best tracking possible, with lasers shooting everywhere,” he said. “And then you had this setup that takes up to 30 minutes to get stable—and then it was finally time to go. That's a lot of friction, right?”
Ironlights developer E. McNeill agreed, though he has found that hardware user-friendliness has improved over time. “I'm not that technically challenged, but I feel like every time I use PC VR, I have to do some sort of troubleshooting,” he said. “That's less true now than it was, but for a long time, it was a pain in the ass more often than it should have been.”
Lang gave a simple example by way of comparison: sending a text. “If my headset was the only place I could send a text, I’d never ever go through all of those steps—put on the headset, turn it on, boot an application and type it there,” he said. “But because my smartphone is five seconds away, I do it all the time. So as friction decreases, practical use cases expand.”
In other words, whatever you’re doing in VR has to be worth a significant amount of trouble. “Right now, VR is great for a small number of things that warrant going through that friction,” he said. “So if that’s an amazing, super-immersive game you can play for an hour or two in one sitting, you’ll go through that five minutes to get it all set up for that big reward.”
A new Quest
When it comes to reducing that friction, the 2019 release of the standalone Oculus Quest was a true game-changer, according to developers we talked to. “It’s better to think about Quest 2 as a console,” Cloudhead Games CEO Denny Unger told us. “That's really what it is. It's an all-in-one VR console.”
Unger said that Cloudhead made rhythm shooter Pistol Whip specifically with the Quest in mind in 2019. “So when a lot [studios] saw that early on, we recognized it would be a significant mover of the technology for mainstream adoption. And that turned out totally to be the case.”
Chris Milk, CEO and cofounder of tech company Within, was similarly mindful of accessibility when developing its subscription-based fitness app Supernatural for Quest hardware. Though resembling other VR fitness game layouts at a glance, Supernatural uses what Milk calls distinct “modalities” for boxing, meditation, and “flow,” or full-body aerobics, all accompanied by scripted trainer instruction—and specifically designed to be as easy as possible.
But Milk believes the “bifurcated” divide between PC and mobile—and how they were marketed—didn’t convince anyone that VR was easy or worthwhile before the Quest.
“You had tethered headsets with controller tracking—basically the functionality of a Quest on a far more expensive, cumbersome, and complicated model—and you had 3 DoF [degrees of freedom], cheaper, way more accessible headsets with super limited processing,” he said. “The [split] way that evolved wasn’t advantageous for VR’s adoption, growth, and abundance.”
Milk said that in a pre-Quest world, he wouldn’t have made a VR app in a PC-only environment. “Supernatural doesn’t work on a headset plugged into a $1,500 gaming PC; it works exceptionally well for an all-in-one device. We built it with the knowledge that all-in-one devices were coming.”
“By moving to standalone, Meta acknowledged that PC wasn’t working [for VR],” he said. “That was a conscious effort to start eliminating the biggest friction issues [and] PC troubleshooting nightmares—who knows if their USB controller has enough throughput? So eliminating PC wasn’t just cheaper; it was easier to set up.”
If there’s a single product defining the state of VR in 2022, it’s the Quest 2. Meta’s second all-in-one headset, released in 2020, reigns over the VR space, accounting for as much as 90 percent of HMD sales, according to a June report from the market research firm IDC.
Still, Quest 2 sales are more than double the sales of its nearest VR competition, PlayStation VR, which sold approximately 6 million headsets since its 2016 launch. It’s also about 15 times the conservative estimate Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe once predicted for sales of the first Rift.
The explosive success of the Quest 2 has completely changed the tenor of the VR software market, according to Survios CEO Seth Gerson. “[VR] went from a 500,000 unit installed base in 2017 to more than 14 million today,” Gerson said in an email. “That is real growth.”
McNeill took a more measured approach to describe the “Quest effect,” though he agrees Meta’s headset has been a breakthrough.
“I think Quest 2 really was a big inflection point for mainstream adoption. And... it’s a curve that's still sloping upward,” said McNeill, who has made five VR games on various platforms since 2014. “And it's really hard to say that VR has made it or is dying or really anything while it's still on that upward trajectory. It's frankly too early. Nobody knows where that curve will bend and plateau.”
Comparisons between the Quest 2 outselling more powerful Xbox Series hardware came up in multiple conversations as well. “Is Xbox mainstream? I have yet to find anyone who says it is not,” said Gerson, whose studio has made a name for itself with popular licensed VR titles like Creed: Rise of Glory and The Walking Dead: Onslaught. “Our larger [VR] games sell more than 2 million units of software alone. With new devices and more hardware coming online next year, you can start to add millions of additional units per title."
Beyond the current success, Gerson is confident that VR is just now on the cusp of a much bigger moment. “As I look at our weekly sales numbers this year, I only see volumes increasing, to the point we have to adjust our yearly forecast upward,” he said. “Immersion is the future. It is the paradigm shift, and the inflection point was last year.”
Setting new standards
The success of the Quest 2 comes down to several factors. The lack of major rivals releasing comparable headsets around the same time certainly helped, as did a pandemic-led boom in demand for immersive entertainment at home.
But the Quest was also given a big leg up thanks to one major technical innovation: inside-out tracking. Unlike most earlier headsets, which required external cameras to keep track of head and hand positions, the Quest hardware uses algorithmic data and camera sensors embedded in a headset to detect the physical environment around a user.
Since the release of Quest, the market has shifted to the point where every single VR headset in development today is expected to use the feature. That wasn’t always fated to be the case, though. “It's so funny to think of inside-out tracking as the gold standard when it was this experimental, weird thing that sometimes shifted your floor into your face,” Eiche said of the tech’s beginning as a Facebook research project.
While tethered PC headsets like the Rift S also used inside-out tracking, the Quest line improved things by going completely wireless. Looking ahead, the Quest Pro, ByteDance’s Pico 4 series, and Apple’s mixed-reality set have all opted to drop a mandatory tether, though, like Quest 2, they will likely include the option to wire into a computer for a bump in processing power. Headsets that require a tether, like next year’s PS5-tethered PSVR2 or the premium-priced Valve Index, are increasingly the outliers.
Unger said the Quest 2’s standalone design is a major factor in VR continuing to gain new users. “You have a stable of games without the need to buy an expensive PC, you can hook it up to a computer, you can throw it in a backpack and take it to a friend's house—it does all of the things you need VR to do,” he said. “So you're seeing a refocusing of the industry to get their heads around what 'standalone' means. Everybody's going to be working on standalone devices from this point forward.”
Running on Qualcomm’s mobile-centric Snapdragon XR2 chip, the Quest 2 can’t compare to the sheer pixel-pushing power of a tethered VR headset. For most average users, though, that level of over-the-top performance is less important than price and ease of use.
“You don’t buy a console if you want the very best 4K graphics,” Lang said. “But you’re going to get that smooth, consumer-friendly experience. So that’s what Meta’s doing. And if we’re talking about adoption, I think they’re demonstrating 100 percent that this is the way to go—you’ve got to cut that friction down big time.”
Milk noted that his mom uses Supernatural more than he does, an anecdote he thinks serves as a strong reason to support standalone hardware as the standard. “If my 75-year-old mom and others like her are buying this headset from Best Buy, setting it up themselves and using it on a regular basis, I'd say you have a mainstream device,” he said. “It may not be so widespread that people have discovered it yet, but I think they will, and I do think that exercise will be the first killer use case for a general mainstream audience for the technology.”
The relative success of the Quest 2 has come alongside a number of hit games for the platform. Developers name-dropped rhythm-dance hybrid Beat Saber and survival-horror port Resident Evil 4 VR as examples of the most successful uses of the hardware, with each having earned its place on the Oculus Store’s top 50 games. (Despite its exclusivity to tethered headsets, Valve’s Half-Life Alyx was also brought up as a common benchmark for both player immersion and intuitive, motion-based interactions—and an influential blueprint of how to lean into VR’s strengths.)
Cloudhead’s Unger chalks up the studio’s viability since 2019 to the Quest 2’s success. “We built Pistol Whip specifically for the Quest and it has done insanely well for us,” he said. “We weren't hitting numbers [as a studio] that were even relevant before 2018, but when the Quest took off, it really boosted that market substantially—to the point where we could finally grow as a company.”
While Pistol Whip initially gained steam after launching for the original Quest hardware, Unger tweeted in October 2020 that the game’s sales had increased by a factor of ten in the first week of the Quest 2’s release.
“We’ve been able to launch a lab dedicated to R&D, and we’ve got a big, big triple-A title coming up,” he continued. “All of those things were funded off of the success of the Quest. As much as no one wants to really focus on it, VR’s success is gaming-hits-driven. It is carrying that part of the market.”
Owlchemy had one of VR’s earliest hits with its 2016 workplace satire Job Simulator, and it continued its success with the breakout launch of silly sandbox puzzler Vacation Simulator in 2019. “We're actually very happy with where the industry is going and where it looks like it's going,” Eiche said. “Right now, from our perspective, VR does look like it's on track for mainstream adoption. We are seeing massive growth year over year.”
“Owlchemy Labs is able to sustain multiple games in Oculus [Store’s] top 50,” he continued. “That's a testament. The numbers that Meta has released will tell you how much revenue is going around in there. And it's growing.”
Despite the sales success of individual games, some observers worry that VR users are mainly sticking with one or two killer apps without bothering to expand to a wider library of titles. For instance, Milk mentioned how a significant number of Supernatural players aren’t interested in the wider world of VR at all and don’t really touch their headsets except for workouts.
The narrowness of some players’ VR libraries complicates the question of defining what “mainstream” success for VR looks like. But raw sales figures also discount the cultural import of things like Beat Saber videos with tens of millions more views than every commercial headset on the planet combined.
As far as Unger is concerned, that’s indicative of VR’s first truly mainstream sensation. “If you had to classify a VR killer app, you would have to lean into Beat Saber being that one game or program or however you want to define it,” he said. “It’s sucked the most people in and had the greatest retention and draw and has become this huge viral thing on YouTube and social media.”
What you think you know about VR
Difficulty tracking VR’s accelerated progress may have heaped more complications onto wider adoption.
Gerson listed off a slate of advancements all coming to the fore at once. Alongside typical upgrades to internal components like higher-res screens, more powerful chipsets and heat displacement solutions, bleeding-edge features like eye tracking, and foveated rendering (which produces visuals based on where a user’s eye is focused, significantly cutting down on processing load) are being rapidly integrated into the latest HMDs.
“All of those features benefit consumers and make experiences magical,” Gerson said. “We are forever moving toward that Turing test moment, and at that point, we will see a ubiquity in spatial computing, like when we went from smartphones and Blackberries to iPhones and Android devices.”
But Milk explained that progress is coupled with an inherent stumbling block: the negative experience that many users had during their first brush with consumer VR years earlier.
“We still meet people to this day who say, ‘I tried VR and it wasn’t really for me,’” Milk said. “You ask them what they tried and it was something on Google Cardboard six years ago. So when that meaningful experience they’re looking for with this technology is some low-res entertainment vehicle that isn't compelling to a person, they're... potentially going to write VR off as a medium.”
Unexpectedly, pushback from major publishers and developers has compounded the issue as well. VR presented a new world of design challenges to solve, from player vection (moving or turning in a direction at a specific speed to prevent nausea) to making experiences that suited the medium in the first place.
In traditional corners of the industry, Unger thinks some studios weren’t ready for this shift. “If VR was going to be a success at the level that people were hoping it would be, it would have crushed a number of [development] processes,” he said. “Entire production departments, entire skill sets at traditional 2D gaming studios worth hundreds of billions of dollars—they would have to rethink their entire process to build these things.”
The trickle-down process meant company-wide retraining from engineering to marketing, he added.
“I know the traditional 2D gaming conglomerates were thinking, ‘Oh shit, this comes with a bunch of knock-ons and consequences to my bread and butter,’” Unger said. He used EA’s sports games as an example. “How do they recontextualize that for the VR market?”
Survios has approached this bottleneck by building engineering solutions for hardware, firmware, middleware, and software in-house. “To date, there is no Unreal Engine of Immersive Technology,” Gerson said, referring to Epic’s versatile, near-universally adopted game engine. “That technology layer does not exist commercially at the moment, so we built one. That is a heavy lift. But it’s an additional layer to the development pipeline, enabling a more cost-effective, efficient, and approachable processes for immersive worlds. And that is our future.”
Owlchemy's Eiche brought up another trend: the abundance of VR first-person shooters. “I think some of that is just the earliness of VR,” he said. “You have a design language that's been built for 30-plus years around a very specific style of making games. Then you have to unlearn a lot of that and relearn in a new way. Sometimes people unlearn it well, and sometimes it takes them a game or two or longer.”
Even today, Unger doesn’t think designers who “get” VR are all that common.
“That skill set is really hard to come by, even though we've been, as an industry, doing this for nine-ish years,” he said. “Most developers just don't have the breadth of knowledge to do it properly, so you come away with a bad experience.”
Unger specifically highlighted three all-too-common design mistakes: taking camera control away from the user, dialing in an improper speed for vection, and porting of existing games with VR functionality merely slapped on. “We honestly have a really good guidebook now for why this stuff happens,” he said.
And as for ports? “Every time you’re converting something [designed for a 2D screen] to VR, it almost universally falls down,” he said. “It's wrongheaded to start the journey that way; you have to understand [VR's] strengths and design for them.”
The pitfalls of a decades-old dream
Ports aside, considering best practices in VR brings up an entirely separate but related problem: Its long history in pop culture and sci-fi is saddled with baggage. That means it’s almost impossible for an average VR user to approach this tech with zero preconceived notions. McNeill thinks this is a problem that’s almost exclusive to a medium with such tangible “presence.”
To explore this, McNeill brought up virtual swords—arguably one of the longest-held VR dreams before it was available. The first players to actually try VR sword duels, though, were in for a rude awakening. Primitive implementations would easily lead users to immediately assume that VR “sucks.”
“You might get a lot of people who said that swinging a sword in VR is going to be great,” he said. “But if you just play the naive version of that, people get disappointed.”
By letting go of assumptions, though, VR design might be able to provide users with a better experience than they could have imagined. McNeill sees Beat Saber as a prime example of this. "So along comes something that you didn't know you wanted—that no one had really envisioned—with the potential to prove itself on its own terms,” he said of Beat Saber’s rhythm-based cube-slashing experience. “Maybe this isn't what you were imagining, but that's because it was in your imagination. Here's what VR can do for real. Maybe that looks very different. And we're still figuring out what that is.”
For Unger, it comes down to a mindset adjustment before strapping on the headset. “At the end of the day, VR is a physical medium. It's a bit like putting on your gear to go rollerblading or anything that involves a physical process before you go do it,” he said. “VR is like exercise. You just have to flip your brain to accept that. Otherwise, you’re going to have a bad experience.”
Similarly, McNeill recalls introducing his 2020 fighting game Ironlights to players. At the time, he described it as “Soulcalibur in VR,” a description the fighting game community didn’t agree with.
“Fighting game fans did not like that, although it seems analogous. There are two combatants, and they're trying to hit each other,” he said. “And the way that hits are determined in fighting games is about primarily timing and positioning, with pixels and hit frames—that’s in some ways what’s happening in Ironlights.”
The nature of VR meant the similarities ended there, however. “In 3D space, if you have two swords and they're moving at different speeds, it's like a much more fluid problem. It doesn't feel like trying to hit timing,” he said. “It feels like trying to read the body language of your opponent with this element of Yomi, or getting in the other player's head and trying to know what they're going to do. But it plays out very differently. It feels like a different experience.”
Milk took his interpretation of the medium a step further, where even approaching VR with an eye toward creating new genres puts constraints on the canvas.
“What we’re actually crafting is human experience,” he said. “How many different use cases can you imagine for human experience? That’s the palette that you're talking about for what’s possible with virtual reality. So I think it's sort of false to look at it now and think it’s gaming or fitness. There'll be so many more use cases that people will design and discover.”
At Facebook’s F8 conference keynote in 2016, CEO Mark Zuckerberg described a future where lightweight, mixed-reality eyewear would become ubiquitous, declaring it a company goal over the following 10 years to make it happen. Four years out, there isn’t a great deal of evidence that Meta is anywhere near that target.
Maybe the closest public hint is the company's Project Aria, a chunky, black-framed experimental AR device that Reality Labs says isn’t a prototype and won’t be for sale. Aria began internal testing in 2020 to find the hardware and software needs for an eventual, official AR glasses device. To date, Meta hasn’t given any indication of where its findings may lead it, if anywhere, with only scant info available.
For tech firms and investors, Meta’s mixed reality vision may be one they competitively share before a presumed evolution to contact lenses (and if you want to get really out there, a subsequent dive into murkier, full-on cyberpunk territory like transhumanism). From McNeill’s standpoint, that's not realistic just yet.
“If you went back five or 10 years ago and said I want high-res, low-latency VR/AR headsets that look like pair of glasses—cheap enough to produce that everyone can have pair—I don’t think any serious VR hardware developer would tell you that's in the cards for the next decade,” he said. “But I think a lot of them would say, ‘That sounds cool, let's get to work and start making incremental progress.’ I suspect something like that is happening here.”
Unger mentioned several obstacles with hardware, beginning with providing a wide enough field of view, which in prototype stabs like Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens amounted to looking at a postage stamp-sized window in the frame.
“Most people don't understand that technology is still so far away. You have to move all of that compute and all of the cameras and sensors somewhere,” he said. “Dealing with light waves and how you bend light into a clear transparent display are super-hard problems. It’s still a massive problem in the industry in general.”
Estimates on what could develop imminently vary. Unger believes mixed-reality compatibility will be prevalent in the next hardware wave, since VR/AR covers gaming and productivity simultaneously. Lang sees Apple nailing a handful of general audience use cases while PC and PSVR2 cater to enthusiasts, with Sony’s wide catalog of strong, curated content helping keep its place at the table.
Gerson looks forward to Survios’ custom pipeline further blending mixed reality properties in its new games. Eiche is ready to bring lip and eye-tracking into Owlchemy’s upcoming designs. Milk plans to continue evolving Supernatural, discovering new ways to use the medium for physical and mental well-being.
And where does Zuckerberg’s metaverse fit in? With exact impressions of Horizon Worlds looking more meme-worthy than revolutionary, it’s anyone’s guess. But Eiche doesn’t think it’s going to start from anything Meta is pitching.
“The metaverse is not going to be what you think of as a metaverse at first,” he said. “Look at World of Warcraft. That went from, ‘Oh, this is a fun game,’ to weddings suddenly happening inside it. But it’s not going to be meetings—meetings suck. They’re going to be the last thing that enter metaverses.”
As nebulous as the concept may be, Eiche cautions that metaverses can present a slippery philosophical slope.
“You have to be very careful when you're pitching a digital replacement for life,” he said. “People want to live better; they don't want you to create some sad replacement of their life. Ready Player One was a dystopia, not a goal.”
Whatever upcoming advances may bring, McNeill is content to see how things play out. And if the medium never moves beyond finding some mainstream space in gaming, that’s good enough.
“The future I see as most likely is VR is a really cool gaming setup. I really only care about it for that. And that’s not the most grandiose vision,” he said. “I also don't think that VR is the future of games. I could see it as being a future of games. But it genuinely does allow you to have different experiences than you can elsewhere.”
He finished with a “null hypothesis”: For the mainstream, VR is doing just fine.
“There were doomsayers who said VR will go the way of 3D TVs and there were wild optimists. Both were outliers,” he said. “Between those extremes, I think there's room for reasonable disagreement about where it is going to land with mainstream adoption. Because people are still figuring out how it works and what interactions it supports, a lot of it is speculative. That doesn't mean you can't speculate intelligently.”
Thu, 06 Oct 2022 23:30:00 -0500Steve Haskeen-ustext/htmlhttps://arstechnica.com/gaming/2022/10/what-happened-to-the-virtual-reality-gaming-revolution/Killexams : How philosophy turned into physics and reality turned into information
The Nobel Prize in physics this year has been awarded "for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science."
To understand what this means, and why this work is important, we need to understand how these experiments settled a long-running debate among physicists. And a key player in that debate was an Irish physicist named John Bell.
In the 1960s, Bell figured out how to translate a philosophical question about the nature of reality into a physical question that could be answered by science—and along the way broke down the distinction between what we know about the world and how the world really is.
We know that quantum objects have properties we don't usually ascribe to the objects of our ordinary lives. Sometimes light is a wave, sometimes it's a particle. Our fridge never does this.
When attempting to explain this sort of unusual behavior, there are two broad types of explanation we can imagine. One possibility is that we perceive the quantum world clearly, just as it is, and it just so happens to be unusual. Another possibility is that the quantum world is just like the ordinary world we know and love, but our view of it is distorted, so we can't see quantum reality clearly, as it is.
In the early decades of the 20th century, physicists were divided about which explanation was right. Among those who thought the quantum world just is unusual were figures such as Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr. Among those who thought the quantum world must be just like the ordinary world, and our view of it is simply foggy, were Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger.
At the heart of this division is an unusual prediction of quantum theory. According to the theory, the properties of certain quantum systems that interact remain dependent on each other—even when the systems have been moved a great distance apart.
In 1935, the same year he devised his famous thought experiment involving a cat trapped in a box, Schrödinger coined the term "entanglement" for this phenomenon. He argued it is absurd to believe the world works this way.
The problem with entanglement
If entangled quantum systems really remain connected even when they are separated by large distances, it would seem they are somehow communicating with each other instantaneously. But this sort of connection is not allowed, according to Einstein's theory of relativity. Einstein called this idea "spooky action at a distance."
Again in 1935, Einstein, along with two colleagues, devised a thought experiment that showed quantum mechanics can't be giving us the whole story on entanglement. They thought there must be something more to the world that we can't yet see.
But as time passed, the question of how to interpret quantum theory became an academic footnote. The question seemed too philosophical, and in the 1940s many of the brightest minds in quantum physics were busy using the theory for a very practical project: building the atomic bomb.
It wasn't until the 1960s, when Irish physicist John Bell turned his mind to the problem of entanglement, that the scientific community realized this seemingly philosophical question could have a tangible answer.
Using a simple entangled system, Bell extended Einstein's 1935 thought experiment. He showed there was no way the quantum description could be incomplete while prohibiting "spooky action at a distance" and still matching the predictions of quantum theory.
Not great news for Einstein, it seems. But this was not an instant win for his opponents.
This is because it was not evident in the 1960s whether the predictions of quantum theory were indeed correct. To really prove Bell's point, someone had to put this philosophical argument about reality, transformed into a real physical system, to an experimental test.
And this, of course, is where two of this year's Nobel laureates enter the story. First John Clauser, and then Alain Aspect, performed the experiments on Bell's proposed system that ultimately showed the predictions of quantum mechanics to be accurate. As a result, unless we accept "spooky action at a distance," there is no further account of entangled quantum systems that can describe the observed quantum world.
So, Einstein was wrong?
It is perhaps a surprise, but these advances in quantum theory appear to have shown Einstein to be wrong on this point. That is, it seems we do not have a foggy view of a quantum world that is just like our ordinary world.
But the idea that we perceive clearly an inherently unusual quantum world is likewise too simplistic. And this provides one of the key philosophical lessons of this episode in quantum physics.
It is no longer clear we can reasonably talk about the quantum world beyond our scientific description of it—that is, beyond the information we have about it.
As this year's third Nobel laureate, Anton Zeilinger, put it: "The distinction between reality and our knowledge of reality, between reality and information, cannot be made. There is no way to refer to reality without using the information we have about it."
This distinction, which we commonly assume to underpin our ordinary picture of the world, is now irretrievably blurry. And we have John Bell to thank.
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Thu, 06 Oct 2022 12:00:00 -0500entext/htmlhttps://phys.org/news/2022-10-philosophy-physics-reality.htmlKillexams : How MTV’s ‘The Challenge’ Became the Reality Show for Sports FansKillexams : MTV’s ‘The Challenge’ is the reality show for sports fans - Sports IllustratedSkip to main contentFri, 14 Oct 2022 08:14:00 -0500en-ustext/htmlhttps://www.si.com/more-sports/2022/10/14/mtv-the-challenge-reality-tv-competition-showsKillexams : Fortnite bug means Reality Seeds are disabled in season 4
This Fortnite bug can produce infinite loot, so it’s not a massive surprise that it means that the poor old Reality Seeds have been removed from the battle royale game. Nevertheless, it does mean that if you were hoping to do some multiversal gardening today then you might be put out.
Fortnite chapter 3 season 4 has seen a lot of fun toys enter the game. We’ve got things like Fortnite whiplash, the Grapple Glove is back, and of course the Chrome. We’re enjoying it a lot because there are so many different things to muck about with, but the issue with Reality Seeds came about because of the Explosive Goo Gun.
Apparently, there was an interaction between the two that caused infinite loot, and while that sounds fun in theory, it obviously unbalanced the game in a fairly substantial way. The good news though, is that any Reality Saplings that are already planted will still bloom, but they won’t create any new Reality Seeds for now.
Unlike in single-player games, there’s not really any way to argue in favour of a bug like this in Fortnite, because it definitely makes things feel unfair for any players that can’t make the most of it. It’s still somewhat entertaining to see bugs like this pop up, and we’re glad that Epic can just disable the less exciting of the two items in order to fix it for now.
We’ll have to see how long this bug sticks around for, but we’ve no doubts whatsoever that it’ll all be sorted by the time Fortnite chapter 3 season 5 rolls around. If you’re looking for more honourable ways of getting ahead of the competition, then check out our list of Fortnite tips and tricks to get you those Victory Royales.
Thu, 13 Oct 2022 02:35:00 -0500en-GBtext/htmlhttps://www.pcgamesn.com/fortnite/bug-reality-seedsKillexams : Meta unveils $1,500 headset that seeks to make virtual reality seem more real
A year after it rebranded itself in the name of building a metaverse, Meta on Tuesday unveiled a new version of its virtual reality headset that's tailored for working professionals.
The $1,500 Meta Quest Pro features a number of new features that are meant to Boost users' perception of truly being in the presence of other people.
The headset makes it possible to view not only virtual worlds but also the real environment of the user, thanks to high-resolution outward-facing cameras.
"The moment that they begin to break into a smile or when they raise their eyebrow ... your avatar should be able to express all of that and more," Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg said at Meta Connect, the company's giant's annual conference focused on virtual reality.
Customers began ordering the Quest Pro on Tuesday, and the device will ship at the end of the month.
Meta said it's partnering with Microsoft and others to tune popular business and productivity software to virtual worlds using Quest Pro.
Capabilities being worked on include using Quest Pro during virtual meetings on the Microsoft Teams platform, according to the two companies.
"At Microsoft, we're incredibly excited about the metaverse and how digital and physical worlds are coming together," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during the presentation.
Facebook renamed itself Meta in October 2021 to signal a pivot to building its vision for an interactive virtual and augmented reality world that it sees as the future.
About a third of the apps in the Quest app store brought in millions of dollars in revenue since launching there, according to Meta Chief Technology Officer Andrew "Boz" Bosworth.
Some $1.5 billion has been spent overall on games and apps in the Quest store, and titles on the way to its virtual shelves include an "Iron Man" game set for release in November by Marvel Entertainment and Sony Interactive Entertainment, according to Meta executives.
Wed, 12 Oct 2022 05:08:00 -0500en-UStext/htmlhttps://www.cbsnews.com/news/meta-quest-pro-1500-headset-virtual-reality-more-real/Killexams : Why Meta's virtual-reality avatars are finally getting legs
MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Why is it so hard to build a metaverse avatar — a visual representation of ourselves in the digital world — that walks on two legs?
“I think everyone has been waiting for this," said a cartoonish digital version of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, unveiling his new avatar legs and jumping up and down at a virtual-reality event Tuesday. "But seriously, legs are hard. Which is why other virtual reality systems don’t have them either.”