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Use Caution for Oculus and VR Development


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As I work closely with acompany who is building some of the very first VR and primarily AR games for new AR display devices, I thought I might provide a word of caution for anyone developing VR and AR games. 

Oculus sales are dramatically down from what they projected, and have dramatically altered their sales projections for the future. Internally I can tell you that they don't expect to come close to their sales and licensing projections, and expect that they will take a huge loss overall in 2016 and 2017 is looking very poor. I'm writing this as you might know that I have not been a huge proponent of Oculus since I know their technology well as they based it upon my old company's technology EmersionST as the founder was a PA there. Although, I have to say that he was and is a very talented artist and person, and has built Oculus into as good of a product as was possible considering his personal background.

So I wanted to caution anyone who might be developing games/content for the Oculus, and counting on sales from users of this specific device. A good friend of mine sold his company to Sony 3 years ago, and they are pushing hard with fantastic game titles for the Playstation VR display upon release - where Oculus will not be able to compete with content or in display quality. And all other VR and AR amnufacturers - especially Sony and Microsoft - have a far better product with greater functionality as well as content - not to mention the compatability of Xbox and Playstation. And specifically, Microsoft's Hololens is in my opinion the very best VR - and more importantly - AR experience prior to the retina projector head-mounted displays due to hit the market by 2018 (according to the deepest secret inner circles of trust.)

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't be developing for Oculus, but to mke certain that your content is also compatible with Vive and all other VR displays - which fortunately should be the case if using babylon.js - as it's simply a camera change - and I have advised checking out the gamepad.js API as it is a universal script which has more features than you might ever consider using, and solves any controller issues we might have, not to mention full backwards compatability - and will save you tons of time in controller detections, unique user setup, etc.

So for me personally, I'm developing content for Oculus (GearVR specifically) as it is providing me with invaluable experience for when VR and more specifically AR really takes off - which will happen next year. I just wanted to provide my own personal insight for those who might be developing games and/or content for Oculus and Vive - and relying on the potential for a return on revenue from all of your hard work. Again, this is simply my own personal opinion, however, I'm affiliated with a very high profile retina projection display company, as well as the premiere content creator for this device - not to mention a best friend who is a key administrtor and engineer at Sony SCE. Thus as I read more and more developer's posts asking questions on a much higher level for the development of games for Oculus, Vive, etc., I am concerned that there might be considerable work currently being done (or considered) to develop content for such devices, which I personally don't believe there would be any possibility of a reasonable (or even un-reasonable) return on investment for the developer at this time or in the near future. Once Playstation and Hololens are released, Oculus is practically over - in every industry study.

I wrote a similar answer to a post about a year ago to let developers on this site know that my sources clearly told me that even in 2015, Zuckerburg was extremely unhappy about his purchase of Oculus - as well as concerned about the potential damage the device can produce on the human eye. Now more than a year later, Zuckerburg has all but distanced himself from Oculus with the exception of his contractual obligations to his investment company. I hope those of you who read this at the time heeded the warning, but this has now come home to roost, and Oculus is already scrambling their marketting, PR, and advertizing teams to try and salvage whatever they can to minimize losses. They're even running discounts on hardware and software even though the product is practically brand new for the consumer models release.

The good news is that all of the experience developers are gaining right now using these devices will be invaluable for fiture devices - as working in VR and AR is a very different world in which to create as a developer. Google cardboard would be my choice if I wanted to learn the ins and outs of VR and AR. And there will be loads of jobs for any developer for Playstation and Hololens in the very near future. And for the retina projectors - it's all relative, as 80% of the current development experience will be invaluable, and these devices will change the world as we know it - which those who know me on this forum knows I've been preaching this for a couple of years now. They just can't yet grasp how dramatically these devices will change the world as we know it almost overnight. Also, take a look at the new projectors which will be released next year which project 180 to 360 degrees in a room (immersis as an example) - as these are really cool as well. Not to mention the highly secretive film surfaces (materials to stick on walls) and electrically reactive paint which turns any room into a virtual space.

Obviously, we'll not worry about these things yet, and continue to make great content using this fantastic framework called babylon.js. But for personal reasons I'm also using this framework as I know it will not become obsolete, but in the future will also be a serious player in the VR and AR space - even in the realm of retina projection displays. I just wanted to make certain that I try and provide the community with what I'm aware of uniquely, and that I hope you don't - or haven't decided to place your bets on Oculus - as so many companies already have and are already regretting it. I was in so many meetings last year where I was called in to consult on whether an investment group should invest in a VR company for the now released VR devices. And I advised against investment for VR on the currently released devices in almost every case, and was ignored in almost every case. However, I recently began receiving somewhat desperate emails from several of the investors asking what I believe the future might hold, as their latest projections now show them taking a very big loss. But for you and I, we're all in a very good place right now; and if you're new to babylon.js, you DEFINATELY made the right choice.;)

Sorry to rain on anyone's parade, and I truly do not like to be the bearer of any bad news. However, I just received the most depressing email I've received in a while from a former collegue and invester in VR, and his regrets are beyond what I might have imagined - as he and his company bet highly on the current state and the future progress of VR in the coming year. So I thought it wise to at least remind my friends what I've been warning - but more importantly, what is now unfortunately coming to pass. Although VR and AR looks to have an amazing future for us all. Just not quite yet.



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Early adopters ALWAYS pay the price ! But we need them ! I believe it is the same, even in the car industries, first models are always flawed !
I recall the first iPad or iPhone were obsolete almost after their first year !
I had personally hoped for Sony to win the VR "war", because they have the experience for launching new products for the mass (remember the first Walkman ???) so there is nothing really bad in what you say...
Anyway only few of us have the money to buy a Oculus and investors should know better !
I know an example of an "economic model" that can work maybe : artist Björk has an exhibition of her VR works, people go to a place and use the headsets, so the investment is fulfilled, much like for classic cinema venues ! http://www.bjork.fr/-Bjork-Digital-

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VR I thought would be a HUGE success for the handicapped/those with limited mobility. Think of its ability to take you away from the ever day and bring you into another world. The Oculus system was far to rich for my blood but the Samsung Gear VR which uses a phone that I can get and use for other things worked for me to dip my toe in the water. Price I think will be a huge challenge for Microsofts Hololens. Fantastic device with a phenomenal team behind it but its brutally expensive for new tech with limited purpose today. 

The Samsung Gear VR must use Oculus head tracking which is phenomenal. Its fluid and just works but your ability to be involved in the game/environment is tragically not there. I have played with the Leap motion controller a bit and think something like it is a must for what I would call Augmented VR.

From a conceptual view I think having your hands and motion in the scene is a must for the next level of this device. If Samsung could turn on the front camera and have some sort of motion tracking or incorporate the Leap Motion (which has such cool finger movement) the device might have more life. Currently its a sit and watch device with difficult interaction since you cant see a gamepad nor do you have a sense of being in the scene. 

One more note in this long winded discussion I AM EXTREMELY disappointed that WIGIG was not used to connect the Oculus, WIRES? What were they thinking. A battery pack on your waist and WIGIG wireless, Leap motion for interaction would have added another level for Augmented VR. 

Its tough being first, working so hard to bring so much in a timely fashion but thats what tech is all about in so many ways isn't it? 

I could go on for hours about the ideas I have so many ideas for Augmented VR. 

DB thanks for the information. Good luck on your venture. Just one passionate VR user doing some 3D. 

One question though.. We are using a HTML 5 Open GLES framework do you think that is the way to go? With Samsung the browser doesn't even support it. 

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well BABYLON.js works everywhere, the limitations are only due to browserSoftware/hardware of mobiles. But it is going fast ...
I guess you don't develop a very complicated game right now with BJS, you'd use Unreal or Unity, something with a highly elaborate editor, and many people, but IMHO, everything might go back to in-browser stuff, at some point in the future, because, after all, the whole "app" thing is too segmented (Android, Windows Phone, iOs, have all different languages) and all you really need is a window displaying your stuff ... (a way for the companies to hold-up copyright , BJS are pirates ;) for that matter)

You know about that famous app' "Star Walk" that lets you look at constellations over the devices's rear cam, you look at informations over real image from the lens ! It use the gyroscope/motion sensor/compass of the device and there you go ! It's awesome and has been existing for some years now :


Now just imagine the BABYLON.JS scene with the right stereoscopic camera for whatever VR Headset device you like, and there you go ! augmented reality !
My point of view is one of a person who discovered all 3D stuffs through web though, and I know accessing camera from browser is already kinda hard :/
But someone with the right skill might do the same stuff, compatible with the SamsungVr and Babylon.js within a browser ! Someone really skilled >_<

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@chicagobob123 - Actually, you can use the leap motion controller with the GearVR if you plug it into the USB port on the bottom of the GearVR. You just need an adapter. However, this requires additional code which you can find online - however I use the Gamepad.js API for adding controller functions to my GearVR. 

Also, the Samsung Browser supports WebGL - although it is disabled by default, so you need to enable WebGL in Samsung Internet manually. However, I only use the Samsung internet browser when I want to run scenes I created in WebGL and play in the Oculus app - or to use someone else's scene or PG on a screen and not for VR exclusively.

As I mentioned, I would advise checking out the Gamepad.js API, as this will allow you to use practically any controller or gamepad with your GearVR. I also don't generally plug in my S6 or S7 into the GearVR USB port when I don't need to launch the Oculus app and simply want to use a browser for my VR scene - along with the Moga Pro controller in "B" mode for most every VR app I build or use. And if you own a GearVR but not a Moga Pro, then you'r missing out on some great VR experiences.

There are very few if any limitations in what you're able to do using the GearVR or Google Cardboard - so look around, and you'll be surprised with all that is available. And if you want to use Leap Motion, you're good to go on the GearVR - it simply takes a bit of work and a USB adapter - or you can find "hacks" which have already been built and ready for use online.



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@chicagobob123 - If you are developing new content, then using gamepad.js will allow full use of your Moga - depending on which model you own. Also, try pairing using A instead of B if you're developing your own VR - as there are advantages to this outside of existing VR apps as pairing B mimics the GearVR controller which has limited functionality. 

As for implimenting the headtracking on the GearVR without developing using the Oculus SDK, there are several ways to do this, with the most simple being to build your scene in WebGL and avoid plugging into the Oculus app. Or use the Gyro in the S6 as illustrated in the video below:


Also, there are tracking extensions which you can adapt to use the GearVR tracking smoothly as the one below:


I haven't used this one myself yet, but it was recommended to me as a usefule example to build GearVR apps in WebGL. I wish I could provide more ifo, but I have a friend who has built several VR apps in WebGL using the GearVR for an architectural firm, and they hve been very happy with the results.

Let me know what you discover, but hopefully this will help you find a starting place. I'll be working toward this in a couple of months, but in the meantime, I'm testing to be ready when I need to go into production. 

And also check out the "package disabler" for Samsung Galaxy, as this has been pulled from the app store, but can easily be found on your own.





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