Welcome to RenderThat’s weekly roundup of the tech stories you need to know. This week, Facebook held their F8 conference and showed off their new social VR tools and software for connecting users, which included a VR selfie stick. Computer manufacturer, Acer, launched a laptop perfect for VR gamers who have the money, strength, and desire to carry the powerful, but heavy and expensive machine around. Finally, video entertainment companies HBO and Youtube announced investment in a VR content company and 360 degree live video, respectively.
Want to know more about what happened in this week’s tech news? Read on to find out.
Serious gamers out there know that not just any laptop will do for VR gaming. That’s why Acer has released the The Predator 17x, a 10-pound beast of a PC laptop equipped with enough graphics and processors to run virtual reality games and support VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and StarVR. Though the laptop is on the expensive side—pricing starts at $2,799—gamers who want to use VR headsets to play games on the road, may want to have it in addition to their desktop PCs.
“[…] if you absolutely must take your Rift with you or the Gear VR just won’t do, the Predator 17x looks like a solid option… so long as you’re okay with the heft and design.”
During the F8 keynote, Facebook made it clear that they’re looking to bridge the gap between between social networking and virtual reality. The idea being to make users feel like they’re having a shared experience in the same space with another person. Through previous jumps into this type of social virtual world–namely Second Life–died out as a passing trend, Facebook believes that virtual reality’s main big difference is that it allows users to connect with friends and relatives, rather than complete strangers.
“The second big difference is that while virtual social networks like Second Life were focused on building new virtual worlds, Facebook wants to connect users to the experiences they have every day.”
Game of Thrones fans might be able to one day experience the Night’s Watch Wall a lot differently. HBO has taken an equity stake in OTOY, a company, that plans to produce original holographic content for the award-winning entertainment network. The company’s technology makes real-time 3D environments possible by pre-rendering content, and then allowing other changes to be made in the cloud server that are then streamed to users. In this way, content created by OTOY makes the VR world seem more lifelike. HBO’s VR investment puts it amongst the ranks of competitors Hulu and Netflix, who have already begun developing VR content.
“HBO prides itself on being at the forefront of entertainment, both in the exceptional content we produce, and in the ways we bring that content to consumers,” said Michael Lombardo, President, HBO Programming, in a release.
Couldn’t make the Coachella music festival this year? Well, YouTube has just beefed up it’s live stream of the festival by becoming the first major platform to offer live 360 video. Music fans who own Gear VRs or Google Cardboard will get to feel like they’re front and center, in the middle of the action. And luckily, even if you don’t yet own a VR Headset, the video can be streamed on any device ranging from laptops to iPhones to Androids. Additionally, this streaming 360 video will have spatial audio.
“[It] will allow users to hear what’s happening in the direction it was filmed. That’s a key factor in making realistic VR video, as well as a critical element in VR storytelling.”