VR social network vTime raises $7.6 million in series A funding round, aims to introduce AR version

Virtual reality (VR) social network vTime has secured $7.6 million in a series A funding round that will be invested in the R&D of a new augmented reality (AR) version of the app coming towards the end of 2018.

In addition, the funding will be utilised to speed up the worldwide growth of vTime as well as in product development.

Martin Kenwright, CEO of UK-based vTime, commented: "vTime offers users the most immersive and intuitive way to engage with others in VR from wherever they are. The...

By James Bourne, 17 April 2018, 0 comments. Categories: Applications, AR, Brands.

Google to use VR to help preserve endangered historical sites

Although they can often appear monolithic and unchanging, many of the world’s priceless historical sites are at risk of irreversible damage. Whether it is the Taj Mahal may be limiting the number of tourists allowed onto the site, or ISIS destroying world heritage sites in Syria, some of our most precious wonders are not as permanent as they may seem.

A partnership between Google’s non-profit...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 17 April 2018, 0 comments. Categories: Brands.

54% of VR headset owners block ads

The potential of VR for marketing has sparked a race among companies to find the best way to present users with branded content while they are immersed.

But new data from Global Web Index, who surveyed thousands of headset owning consumers, shows that a significant portion of users are not currently receptive to ads. The min use case for VR marketing would be in putting branded content in front of consumers.

Branded content is an increasing instrumental part of the marketer’s toolkit. The Global Web...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 29 March 2018, 0 comments. Categories: Brands.

Zara introducing AR displays to stores

Fashion chain Zara, which is owned by the world’s biggest clothing retailer Inditex, has announced the introduction of AR displays to some of its stores from April.

The technology will be introduced across 120 of the brand’s flagship stores and will allow consumers to view products and purchase them using their phones.

Customers who download the app can access a range of content by pointing their device at the specialised display surfaces. They will be able to see a virtual representation of a...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 14 March 2018, 0 comments. Categories: AR, Brands.

Walmart looking to bring VR to stores

Walmart’s technology incubator, Store No 8, has announced that it has purchased VR startup Spatialand. The acquisition is part of the retail giant’s strategy to bring VR experiences to its stores.

Spatialand is a software platform that helps developers create virtual experiences. The company will now design and build products for Walmart’s stores and website.

In a blog post on its website, Store No 8 said that its principal Katie Finnegan will serve as Spatialand’s interim chief...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 06 February 2018, 0 comments. Categories: Brands.

ABI Research: Hardware differentiation to become increasingly difficult

Differentiation between VR/AR headsets will begin to become more challenging for hardware developers as standards mature, according to ABI Research.

While early VR leaders like Google, Samsung, Oculus and HTC will continue to drive innovation over the coming years, but innovation between untethered or mobile-based headsets will begin to slow down.  

Standards (such as cross-platform support) are already beginning to emerge with organisations like the Khronos group and IEEE lending their support to a more...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 25 January 2018, 0 comments. Categories: Brands, Ecosystems, Hardware, Platforms.

HTC and Oculus unveil new headsets at CES

Both HTC and their arch rivals Oculus have both unveiled new VR headsets at CES 2018.

HTC showed off its updated Pro version of its Vive headset while Oculus announced a new partnership with China’s Xiaomi that will result in a standalone headset.

The Vive Pro increase the total resolution to 2880 by 1600 pixels, with equates to a 78% increase on previous models. This will be provided by two OLED screens. The other headline feature is the integration of high-performance headphones with a built-in...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 09 January 2018, 0 comments. Categories: Brands, Hardware.

Facebook opens up Spaces for HTC Vive

Facebook has implemented a major change of strategy with regard to its VR Spaces app. The social media giant has surprised many by announcing that its VR chat app, which is still in beta and free, will support its biggest rivals: HTC Vive and SteamVR.

The announcement, made by a Facebook VR exec on 19 December, is a reverse of the message that Oculus has been giving out for over a year. The company had solidly maintained that all of its major games and apps would remain as exclusives to Oculus hardware.

There...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 20 December 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands, Platforms.

Airbnb developing a VR property viewing solution

Airbnb is in the process of developing a VR/AR feature that will let users get a feel for rental properties.

The company wrote in a recent blog post that it wants to add 3D scans and 360 photos to its website, in order to allow people to get a better sense of the actual scale and layout of a property. VR has been on the company’s radar for at least year, with VP of engineering Mike Curtis saying in 2016 that the technology could be used to forge a closer connection between the company and its...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 13 December 2017, 0 comments. Categories: AR, Brands.

BBC launches VR Hub

The BBC has announced the launch of a VR department, called VR Hub, that is going to invest in the creation of virtual content.

The BBC has been experimenting with the medium for a number of years. Among the experiences already released include putting users in the shoes of refuges in We Wait, and taking them back to the Easter Rising of 1916. These experiences have all been made available on Oculus Rift, Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR.

The BBC’s first experience on HTC Vive,

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 04 December 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands, Platforms.

VIVE announces investments in 26 new VR/AR startups

HTC VIVE has announced the latest round of VR/AR tech startups to be added to its VIVE X accelerator programme. The companies that will be receiving investment and support from VIVE as part of the programme include a company building a brain control system and those developing content tools and behaviourial engines.

Through their selection into the VIVE X programme, the startups gain unparalleled access to expertise, resources, planning and network resources. The aim is to get these companies mature enough to...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 30 November 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands, Developers.

Amazon moves into VR with Sumerian

The VR market just got a lot more crowded with the entry of one of the largest companies in the world.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud platform of the ubiquitous ecommerce giant, has launched a new service called Sumerian. The new service aims to provide a platform that makes the process of developing VR, AR and 3D applications easier.

Sumerian gives developers an editor that they can use to build virtual environments and populate them with 3D objects and characters. Developers can also script how these...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 27 November 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands, Developers.

Nokia halts VR camera activities citing slow market growth

Nokia has taken the decision to discontinue its OZO VR camera and hardware production line, due to what it perceives as slow market growth.

In a press release, the company stated that:

“In digital media, the slower-than-expected development of the VR market means that Nokia Technologies plans to reduce investments and focus more on technology licensing opportunities. The unit aims to halt development of further versions of the OZO VR camera and hardware, while maintaining commitments to existing...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 10 October 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands, Hardware.

Why So Many Doubters? Riding the VR Hype Cycle

From the moment Mark Zuckerberg handed over $2billion for Oculus Rift, the starting gun sounded for the latest trip around the VR hype cycle.

VR is not a new technology. The earliest incarnations have been traced all the way back to around 1860 in the form of panoramic paintings. By 1930, the first flight simulator using a version of the technology was sold to the US military to improve pilot skills. The first head mounted display was developed in 1960, first VR goggles hit the...

By Robert Kendal, 11 September 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands, Enterprise, Hardware.

Audi deploys VR into dealerships

Audi dealers in Germany, Spain and the UK will be offering potential customers the chance to experience what an individually configured will look like using VR.

The move represents the first, fully functional VR application for customer consultations at dealerships in the automotive industry.

This application of the technology is likely to make waves across any industry where customers need to improve a product before it is actually created, such as interior design. Audi is paving the way when it comes to...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 06 September 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands.

Immersv seals $10.5 million series A funding to accelerate VR advertising

Immersv, a provider of interactive advertising virtual reality (VR) platforms, has announced the completion of a $10.5 million series A round of financing.

The company says the funding builds on a year of ‘significant product and market momentum’, with Immersv recently signing programmatic deals with a variety of demand side platform (DSP) and supply side platform (SSP) providers. Immersv also lists Mountain Drew, Nissan, and the Hawaii Tourism Bureau as brands who have executed successful...

By James Bourne, 23 August 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Advertising, Brands.

What do consumers want from virtual shopping?

Virtual reality shopping, or V-commerce, seems to rumbling ever closer on the horizon as more and more retail brands dip their toes tentatively into the waters.

Among those brands that are known to be in the early stages of planning VR strategies are The Gap and Sephora.

But what do consumers actually want from V-commerce? Do they want the technology to make the experience of shopping more exciting or engaging, or do they want it to help them make better choices and make the process more efficient?

Consulting...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 10 August 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands.

Bringing the Outside World into the Classroom with Google Expeditions

Google Expeditions is revolutionising the classroom and giving students an opportunity to explore places from around the world that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.

I was lucky enough to work on the Google Expeditions Programme in the UK, where I visited over 100 schools, trained over 2,000 teachers and worked with over 40,000 students.

The response from teachers and students was overwhelming; teachers found the software easy to use and relevant to their scheme of...

By Stuart Gent, 27 July 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands.

Pitchfork to launch VR music channel

Online music journalist site Pitchfork has announced a partnership with VR content distributor Inception.

The pair are hoping to use VR to ‘revolutionaries the market for a new generation of music fans’. The partnership wants to add a degree of interactivity and impressiveness to the music video space.  

The new channel will be found on Inception’s VR app, where users will be able to enjoy VR experiences from musicians and artists.

“Inception is a double threat — both a...

By Colm Hebblethwaite, 24 July 2017, 0 comments. Categories: Brands.