In a surprising statement, Nokia has halted development of the Ozo VR camera, laying off 310 employees, due to slower than expected development of the VR market.
Translation, “Sales are way down, mainly due to competitive pressure and the high price of the Ozo.”
Here’s the official word:
“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 customers.
The potential reductions are expected to affect up to 310 of the roughly 1090 employees in Nokia Technologies, mainly in Finland, the US and the UK. To start the process, Nokia today has invited employee representatives of Nokia Technologies in Finland to cooperation negotiations.
“Nokia Technologies is at a point where, with the right focus and investments, we can meaningfully grow our footprint in the digital health market, and we must seize that opportunity,” said Gregory Lee, president of Nokia Technologies. “While necessary, the changes will also affect our employees, and as a responsible company we are committed to providing the needed support to those affected.”
Pimax, the China-based VR headset manufacturer known for their 4K headset, have recently hit Kickstarter with their newest devices, the Pimax 8K and 5K VR headsets. Surpassing their initial goal of $200,000 within the first few hours, Pimax went on to gather a staggering $1 million in funding after only 5 days on the crowdfunding platform.
Despite the namesake, Pimax headsets aren’t actually 8K or 5K resolution, as they respectively feature dual 3840×2160 LCD panels and dual 2560×1440 OLED panels. These display resolutions are however higher than your standard Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which is where some of the fanfare is coming from.
Arguably the biggest attraction is the headsets’ 200 degree field of view (FOV), which proved to be both impressive and helpful for peripheral awareness in our hands-on with an early prototype.
Today VR startup Dreamscape Immersive announced via TechCrunch that they’d secured a Series B funding round of $20 million, led by AMC. The company previously gained funding from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Warner Bros., MGM, IMAX, and 21st Century Fox.
Most people that take the time and energy to really try VR and give it a chance see the potential, but getting headsets onto the faces of users is the biggest hurdle still. VR devices are bulky, expensive, and hard to come by, but millions of people go to the movies, even if that industry is struggling.
While virtual reality is not quite taking over the living room just yet, the experience is quickly finding its place in arcades and theme parks. With this in mind, Sensics is finally releasing its VR headset for public venues. The design of these goggles reportedly brings a more hygienic and comfortable experience while also sporting a higher resolution than consumer headsets.
Sensics, co-founder of Razer’s Open Source Virtual Reality, had certain features in mind in order to differentiate their public headsets from the consumer-grade HDK 2. First and foremost is hygiene. In a public setting, headsets come into contact with a lot of different faces. Not only does Sensics include a machine-washable, hypoallergenic face mask, it also is designed to physically separate from the display. This allows attendees to strap in and get comfortable before clipping into the display portion. This cuts down on time spent cleaning the headset between uses since the display attaches to each individual strap. Then, as the attendee enjoys the virtual world, the used straps can be properly sanitized. No longer will users have to don a wet headset after a particularly sweaty round.
Sony has today announced not just a new camera, but a new type of camera in the form of the RX0 – an ultra-compact, robust and waterproof device with an unconventional set of features including support for multi-camera setups.
Featuring a 1.0-type stacked sensor similar to those found in the company’s highly regarded RX10 and RX100 series consumer cameras. However, the RX0 is instead a device aimed more at professional users who want to create VR and ‘bullet-time’ effects using much smaller and more flexible setups than the huge multi-camera rigs currently required to produce such effects.
Ricoh has revealed a brand new version of its Theta 360-degree camera: The Theta V, which upgrades the video capture quality to 4K resolution, adds live streaming support, and immersive “surround” sound audio recording. It takes over as the flagship Ricoh 360 camera, adding some much-appreciated modernized touches to one of the oldest and best-loved lines of consumer 360 cameras around.
The Ricoh Theta V also has a new high-speed wireless radio for faster data transfer, boosting it up to 2.5 times faster vs. the existing version. It also includes improved exposure and white balance accuracy, and boosted dynamic range, which Ricoh says should result in far better image quality in all lighting situations. The improved imaging tech was borrowed from the Pentax line of DSLRs, the company says.
PlayStation VR may be the least expensive way to enter the world of virtual reality, but it still isn’t cheap. Previously, the headset sold for $400 in addition to the mandatory PlayStation Camera for an additional $60, but that changes this week with the newest PlayStation VR bundle.
Starting on September 1, the PlayStation VR’s standard bundle will come with a PlayStation Camera for $400, effectively giving customers a $60 discount. Sony says that this will be the “core” PlayStation VR bundle moving forward, so if you already own the camera but haven’t picked up the headset yet, you might want to act quickly.
In addition to the $400 option, those looking to also pick up a game with PlayStation VR can check out the $450 PlayStation VR Worlds bundle — previously called the “launch bundle” at most retailers. The package contains everything from the standard bundle and adds two PlayStation Move controllers and the PlayStation VR Worlds game. Coming with several different mini-games, including The London Heist, Danger Ball, and the enthralling Ocean Descent, it’s a great way to get introduced to VR technology, though not all of the games are created equal. VR Luge is a pretty mediocre racing game, and Scavengers Odyssey is all but guaranteed to make you queasy.
The appeal of VR content lies in its ability to endow the viewer with a sense of agency and a sense of immersion. Well-executed experiences completely surround the audience, with no bezels or screen borders to remind them they aren’t actually in some far-off world.
Which is why I was so impressed by The Dome, an all-encompassing theatrical experience that has been popping up at recent iterations of the Panorama and Coachella music festivals. Think: A planetarium on steroids, where visitors are free to look around and immerse themselves in an environment, without actually being bogged down by a physical VR headset.
“The 180-degree screen surrounds the audience with up to 25 million pixels in each frame,” says Bobo Do, creative director for Dirt Empire and co-writer and co-director of The Ark. “To give a sense of how big that is, standard HD is a little more than 2 million pixels. So the visual fidelity is much better than any VR set available today, by an order of magnitude.”