In hardware news, Oculus revealed its new Touch at its third Connect conference on Thursday, Oct. 6. The $199 pair of hand grips brings Oculus on par or even past other motion controls released by Valve and HTC through its use of motion sensing and haptic feedback.
At the conference, Mark Zuckerberg also demonstrated a new social VR experience that allows users to virtually interact with friends, make calls through Facebook Messenger and take selfies. Does this mean Facebook’s $2 billion dollar acquisition of the company is finally paying off?
A recent study on environmental-focused VR experiences found that they led users to become more connected to nature than through watching the simulation on a screen. This is significant given the fact that the effects of environmental degradation often take years to become apparent. In the study, participants were in the perspective of either a cow experiencing abuse or coral watching the surrounding reef decay.
“Virtual reality is an amazing tool in terms of being able to show you the really solid causal relationships – this is what you do today, and here’s what might happen 100 years down the road,” said study co-author Grace Ahn, an assistant professor of advertising at the University of Georgia.
To capture the last living Nazi war criminals, German prosecutors and police have developed 3D technology with a precise model of Auschwitz. According to Jens Rommel, head of the federal office investigating Nazi war crimes, many of the suspects worked at the concentration camp, but say they didn’t know what was going on. “Legally, the question is about intent: must a suspect have known that people were being taken to the gas chambers or shot?,” said Rommel. “This model is a very good and very modern tool for the investigation because it can help answer that question.”
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is making a new short VR film on immigration between Mexico and the U.S. According to Variety, it will “explore the intense and excruciating experience of immigrants and refugees.” Lucasfilm’s Immersive Entertainment division ILMxLAB will create the virtual world and characters.
The new AR comic book Priya’s Mirror uses the true stories of acid attack survivors to share their experiences and empower other
survivors. It was created by producer Ram Devineni and artist Dan Goldman through the visual discovery app Blippar, which allows users to hold their smart devices over the comic’s pages to view videos and animated content.
Weekend read: For New York Magazine, Dayna Evans argues that while much of the money for VR is in commercial projects created by “the same old tech bros, a diverse set of female creators have been pushing the boundaries of what VR can be.”