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How to Clean Your VR Headset?

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how to clean your vr headset lenses
Clean as a sky, eh?

Dirt, sweat and pet hairs are a legitimate concern when it comes to your VR headset. If not cared for properly and regularly, VR headsets can easily malfunction due to these issues. Here is how to clean your VR headset, the right way!

How to Clean Your VR Headset’s Lenses?

If you keep your VR headset anywhere near glass, or you have pets in your house, dust, dirt and hairs will inevitably end up clogging up your lenses. This will affect the quality of your experience, and in worst cases can even irritate your eyes.

Lenses are the crucial part of the VR experience. You have to take extra precaution when cleaning them, as they can get scratched easily.

The best route is to use a can of compressed air, followed by carefully wiping away the remaining bits and pieces of dust, hair and dirt.

Point the gas can nozzle a few inches away towards the lenses. Apply short and controlled bursts of airflow to blow away the dust.

Follow up with a microfiber cloth to remove all the leftover bits and pieces. Done. Your lenses are as clean as new!

How to Clean Your VR Headset’s Face Pad?

Whenever you wear your VR headset for a prolonged amount of time, sweating is inevitable. Repeated sweating can make your VR headset really gross after a while.

Now, depending on the material your face pad is made off, there are several ways to do this.

If you use one of those waterproof faux leather covers, a simple babywipe or a hand disinfectant followed by paper towel to dry it off quickly will do the trick. Make sure you don’t introduce too much moisture in the process, as moisture can damage the electronics. Just do it fast and proceed with whatever you had in mind next.

Alternatively, buying a few fabric or foam replacement pad covers will go a long way. Simply swap the covers, and dip the dirty one into the water mixed with detergent or soap. Then, let it dry off and it’s as good as new.

For the rest of your VR headset, you can use babywipes as well. Just lightly wipe away all the dust and grime in the corners and crevices and you are good to go.

Air Quality and Temperature

Now, this might not be applicable for everybody, but to avoid sweaty and dirty face pads and lenses, you can minimize and/or prevent sweating and the build-up of dirt altogether.

During summer, air conditioning is a must, especially for VR games that require the movement of your whole body. If you can’t afford it, then at least get a decent fan to keep the airflow circulating.

Unless it’s really hot outside, a good thing to do is to open your doors and windows. This is especially useful during autumns and winter. Letting the cool breeze flow inside will decrease the temperature and naturally reduce the sweating. Meanwhile, your body will stay warmed up from light physical activity required to play your favourite VR game.

If you own HTC Vive, there’s a great third-party solution called VIVE N CHILL which helps cool down your forehead. It’s been crowdfunded on Indiegogo and is currently in pre-order phase. People that tried it report great results, so you might want to take a look at it.


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MEETMIKE – The Improvement of Real-Time Rendering Is Scary!

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MEETMIKE Real-Time Rendering Featured
As real as it gets, and in VR!

MEETMIKE: Pushing the Limits of Live, Real-Time Animation

MEETMIKE is the name given to a VR experience demonstrated at SIGGRAPH 2017 conference – the same one where we had the chance to see the fascinating Neurable.

The joint effort of Mike Seymour (the “puppeteer”, thus the name MEETMIKE), Cubic Motion (face image tracking & solving), 3Lateral (facial rig), Wikihuman (Mike Seymour scan) and a slew of other companies has resulted in a significant overall improvement of real-time rendering technology.

End result? MEETMIKE, looking as real as it gets, rendered in real-time at 90 frames per second in VR using Unreal Engine.

If you haven’t seen MEETMIKE yet, do it now! Here’s a video:

Factsheet:

  • MEETMIKE contains about 440,000 triangles being rendered in real time, which means rendering of VR stereo about every 9 milliseconds. Hair consumes a whopping 75% of all triangles.
  • There are 80 joints in Mike’s face rig. Again, majority of those are used for hair and facial hair movement.
  • Face mesh requires only about 10 joints for jaw, eyes and the tongue.
  • The final version of the head mesh combines these joints with around 750 blendshapes
  • The system relies on complex traditional software design and as much as three deep learning AI engines.

It’s almost unbelievable, right?!

Now, what if I showed you a real-time rendering presentation that won the award for the best real-time graphics & interactivity last year at SIGGRAPH 2016?

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Looks quite impressive, right?

What you just watched, all of that live performance capture and real-time rendering, is the backbone for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a single-player adventure set in the Viking age, developed by an indie studio Ninja Theory. It follows a young female Celtic warrior Senua, trapped in the personal hell of psychosis and schizophrenia. Throughout the game, Senua is traversing the pits of hell in search of her deceased lover’s soul, but in reality, she’s battling her mental illness.

It has just been launched on Steam (August 8), and it has received overwhelmingly positive reviews so far.

Now, the game itself is far from VR ready. But, all the facial shots of Senua, as well as her whole body, share much of the same technology required to run MEETMIKE.

Without going too deep into the matter, it’s obvious that live, real-time rendering technology is within our grasp. It’s slowly finding its way into the mainstream gaming and video animation.

Amazing future awaits us!

Unfortunately, most of the current hardware and tech is at its limits when it comes to live, real-time rendering and performance capturing. Add VR into the mix and you are really pushing it.

For those reasons, we’re still a few years away from performance capture rendering becoming an industry staple.

However, progress is inevitable, and with new generations of graphics cards, real-time rendering will surely become a viable option for developers and studios.

Imagine – a VR game where you meet somebody you know in real life. The person’s real-time rendered in-game avatar looks exactly the same as the person does in real life.

Fascinating. And scary.

MEETMIKE Real-Time Rendering Mike Seymour
He’s laughing NOW! But what if it’s already too late for humanity…

Should Free VR Game Demos Become a Thing?

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Free VR Game Demos
Every VR game should cause this!

August 14 update: It looks like Oculus Store has just rolled out free trials similar to Xbox One! You can download and try the game for free, and if you like it, you pay to unlock the rest of it. Defense Grid 2 is the first game to become available this way.

Let’s hope more developers and publishers follow suit!


VR Game Demos – Why and Why Not?

Now, let’s be seriously blunt and bluntly serious– VR is awesome, but it is still an emerging and rapidly developing technology. Therefore, buying VR games is a gamble for everybody with middle-of-the-pack PC + VR setups.

You could retort with a counter argument that most VR games at the moment basically ARE demos. And I would agree. However, things get increasingly complicated when you involve monetary transactions in the whole process of acquiring said games… demos… products… Whatever they are.

Certainly, there are VR games out there that are obviously dumps. They are created and published with the sole purpose and intention of making a quick buck off of early adopters.

In a Wild West situation like that, wouldn’t it be prudent for developers to rise above the junk and trash by offering demos for their legitimate products?

I’d make a statement that it would.

Now, from the developers’ perspective, demos have gained a lot of notoriety over the last 2 decades. There are several factors that play a key role here:

  • User plays the demo, doesn’t like it, decides not to buy the full game
  • User tries the demo, but still on the fence about purchasing the game
  • Increased dev time associated with making a demo
  • Demos can never fully represent the whole game

All of these are valid points to be made, especially in this day and age with closed and open betas, review copies, various game review websites and YouTube channels and so on. If you want to see the game in action, a quick search on Google and YouTube will give you all the data and info you need to make a rational buying decision.

However, with VR, it’s different. 3D adds a level of complexity and experience that significantly surpasses the capacity of any established online multimedia channel. You can’t accurately describe and review any VR game with words, images and/or video.

The person on the other side has to feel it in order to get the full picture.

This is where game demos would fill the void.

The Steam “Demo” Route

If you happen to buy VR games primarily from Steam Marketplace, there is always a refund option – for any reason.

Therefore, even if you’re not sure the VR game you’ve set your sights on will work well on your setup, you can freely buy it, try it and then decide what to do after.

However, you can’t just go willy-nilly with this method. There are limits.

You can’t refund your newly purchased VR game if you’ve had it in your library for more than 14 days. That’s 2 weeks – more than enough time to come to a conclusion. Also, make sure you didn’t play it for more than 2 hours. If you did, Steam will deny your refund request.

Additionally, there’s this. Steam obviously has means to detect your activity, so if you suddenly start buying and refunding a bunch of VR games, you will probably get this warning after a while. At the moment, there’s no information on what Steam considers “significant number of refunds”.

Oculus offers a similar refund policy for Oculus Store purchases – no more than 14 days old and 2 hours of playtime. The catch is that it’s only applicable to users in the United Kingdom. Hopefully, Oculus will expand this option to the rest of the world soon.

VR Game Demos – Final Thoughts

With the VR games rapidly oozing into the mainstream, the barrier of entry is still relatively high. In other words, it’s a significant investment for an end user.

Even if money is not the problem, you may easily find yourself fumbling through myriads of forums, videos and blog posts for hours, trying to find a solution for some technical roadblock.

This is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of VR games at this stage of VR expansion are… experimental, to say the least. Despite their supposed minimum and recommended requirements, they often don’t perform well on your particular setup. Optimization takes time, and most of the developers are rushing through the development cycle just to launch their VR games as soon as possible.

In such an environment, offering free demos would certainly help the users figure out whether playing their VR game of choice is even feasible.

Sadly, money and profit margins often take precedence over end user experience. This is the biggest reason why we probably won’t see more free VR game demos any time soon.

Unless, of course, the biggest VR game stores like Steam Marketplace and Oculus Store make it a requirement. It would certainly be in their best interest to do so – they would win over the customer trust and provide more satisfaction in the long term.