Friday, October 14, 2016

Use a 360 photo as background in Tilt Brush

Google's Tilt Brush is a light painting app for the HTC Vive (reviewed here), and now you can incorporate 360 photos into your Tilt Brush art thanks to Nick Lievendag.  Nick made a utility that allows you to add a 360 photo as background for Tilt Brush image.  He did it by creating a 3D sphere and then made it easy to replace the texture of the sphere with a 360 photo.  Ingenious!  Check out Nick's page, which has the download link and more detailed instructions.

Hands-on impressions of the Oculus Touch; its killer feature that might enable Oculus Rift to win the desktop VR war

The Touch is truly a gamechanger in the desktop VR battle but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

Update: here is my review of the Oculus Touch!

DEALS: Free demo and 25% discount for Raw Data -- one of the best games for HTC Vive

Raw Data is one of the best games for the HTC Vive (reviewed here).  In fact, it was the first VR game to have $1 million in sales in one month.

For the next two days, you can play Raw Data for free!  And if you like it, you can buy it with a 25% discount!

Here is a link to its store page on Steam.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Are you still on the fence with Playstation VR? Here's more PSVR hype from actual users!

Today is the launch day for Playstation VR.  Are you still thinking about whether to get the PSVR?  Check out these quotes from actual Playstation VR users, posted on Reddit:

"Why was this not hyped more? This is amazing! I only played a bit of worlds but I'm blown away.  This is the biggest thing to happen to gaming since the console."

"I've just taken the head set off since I got it a couple hours ago. I've played Oceans Descent, Heist, Job Sim demo, And up to Chapter 3 in Arkhan VR before I remember the only thing I've eaten today is a muffin. OMFG - The jaw dropping moments I've had. The smiles, the wow moments, just.... wow."

" It's pretty incredible just how realistic everything feels. I can't wait to show it off to friends and family.

More quotes after the jump...

Playstation VR headset works as a virtual screen for any HDMI source!

Apparently, the Playstation VR headset can connect to any HDMI source, and the content will be displayed in Cinematic Mode (a large virtual screen).  It's been tested with a PC, and Wii U.  Also reportedly works on Xbox (without sound).  You can check out videos of people doing it successfully here (check out the one where they tested it with Splatoon for Wii U).

While this feature alone would probably not be a system seller, this increases the utility of Playstation VR, and gives it one advantage over other VR headsets.

Ricoh Theta app gets a major update

The Ricoh Theta S app received a major update both to its iOS and Android versions.  The updated version includes some of the features announced early this year.

Here are the changes:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

DEALS: Playstation VR is back in stock at Amazon at MSRP!

Playstation VR (Core bundle) is back in stock at Amazon for $399!  The Launch bundle is also in stock for $499!

It's official: Ricoh Theta SC is a new Theta for $300

The rumors from Nokishita proved correct.  The new Theta is the Ricoh Theta SC, with the same specs as the Ricoh Theta S, for a lower price of $300.  But wait!  There's (a little) more!

So the new Theta is indeed the Theta SC.  It was posted by Dealerscope who probably jumped the gun a little bit.

I also found a cached webpage on Ricoh Imaging for the Theta SC:

The page looks identical to the page for the Ricoh Theta S, except for the name. 

Edit: there's a 5-minute limit on the video and no HDMI port. DPReview's Jeff Keller said no USB livestreaming either. 

Fortunately, the press release on Dealerscope does say that the Theta app will also be updated.  Who knows with what changes, but perhaps with the long-delayed cloud services.

Playstation 4 adds support for 360 photos and videos!

photo courtesy of Playstation Europe

Playstation Europe announced that the Playstation 4 Media Player will be getting an update (v 2.50) to add support for 360 videos and photos using Playstation VR!  The update will come tomorrow, in time for the global launch of the Playstation VR.

New sample video from Z Cam S1 6k 360 camera shows low light performance

There's a new sample video for the Z Cam S1, a 360 camera that captures at 6k @ 30fps or 4k @ 60fps.  The new sample video shows the performance in low light and the smooth stitching at close range.

Pricing for Briskeye Pro livestreaming 4k 360 camera

Remember the Briskeye Pro with 4k livestreaming?  I just found out the price: it's €5,500.

Thanks to Bruno Dogadanja for this info!

RUMOR: This is what the new Ricoh Theta SC looks like

Pictures of the rumored new Ricoh Theta SC were supposedly found by Japanese camera blog Nokishita.  If the specifications weren't boring enough, the bland pastel colors will ensure that the new Theta SC will bore you to sleep.

The price will be around $300 and the announcement date will be on October 13.  I'm going to ask your forgiveness in advance if my attention that day is instead on the global launch of the Playstation VR...

Thanks to Nokishita and Pentax Rumors for this info.

UPDATE: Ricoh Theta SC is officially announced.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Playstation VR units delivered early; here are early impressions from actual users

There are already a number of generally positive Playstation VR reviews from the press but the reviews that really matter the most are those of actual users.  Here are some early impressions from users who received their Playstation VR units early.

You can now get a demo of the Oculus Touch with the Oculus Rift

You can now demo the Oculus Touch at Best Buy at various locations around the US!  Here's the link to schedule your demo.

Oculus Touch is the long-awaited motion controller for the Oculus Rift.  It differs from the motion controller of the HTC Vive in that the Touch is able to simulate finger tracking using touch-sensitive (capacitive) buttons.  For example, if thumb isn't resting on the joystick or one of the buttons, then the Rift infers that your thumb is lifted.

I've demo'd the Rift previously but I'm going to demo it again tomorrow and check out the Oculus Touch.  I'll post my impressions.

Meanwhile, Oculus Touch is available for preorder ($199) for release on December 6.  The package includes two Touch controllers and an extra sensor, which can be used for 360-degree tracking.  You can buy a third sensor to get room scale VR.

Oculus Connect 3 announcements
VR systems in a nutshell (updated)

Can Playstation VR be used to watch 360 photos and videos?

The Playstation VR isn't only for games.  Here's what the Playstation VR can show in terms of non-game entertainment:

UPDATE: Media Player support for 360 photos and videos!

RUMOR: Insta360 Pro will have 7k to 10k resolution

Insta360 is working on some interesting cameras.  A couple of months ago, Insta360 released the Nano, a 360 camera for the iPhone, which has been very well received.  Then there was the news about Insta360 Stereo (a 3D hemispherical camera), the Insta360 Air for Android, and the intriguing Insta360 Pro.

LyfieEye is a fully shperical 360 camera for Android

LyfieEye is a fully spherical 360 camera that attaches to Android phones.

Vuze 3D 360 Camera news: 360 spatial audio; processing; release date; and other news

Here are some recent news about Vuze Camera, the first affordable 3D 360 camera for consumers with 4k resolution.

Update: I now have the Vuze.  Here is an unboxing and my first impressions!

Monday, October 10, 2016

PSA: Don't let this happen to your Playstation VR!

Are you one of the lucky people who will be getting a Playstation VR on launch day October 13?  Before you get too excited, your VR brethren with the HTC Vive just wanted to warn you not to let these things happen to your beloved PSVR.

TECHNIQUE: How to remove people or make clones of them in 360 photos

I've posted about an app that can automatically remove people from the background of 360 photos.  The app -- Vanish360 -- works only for the Ricoh Theta.  However, you can also do the same thing with other 360 cameras.  In fact, you can do the reverse effect and make clones of people as well. Here's how.

Price increase and name change for Panono camera

We've covered the Panono 360° camera in the past already. It's a panoramic ball camera that consists of 36 small camera modules. The camera can be thrown into the air, automatically takes 36 pictures simultaneously at the apogee of its flight and is then caught again. The result is stitched in the cloud and has a whopping 108 megapixels, which makes it one of the highest resolution fully spherical cameras.
Panono was launched as part of a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo back in January 2014 and raised $1.2 million USD. During the campaign the camera was available for $499 USD.  Panono also raised 1.6 million EUR as a crowd investment  on Companisto.
In July 2015 the company announced that their camera was going into production, howevery they did not feel confident with the camera being thrown (and possibly not caught) as originally envisaged (it can also be triggered via Smartphone app). The first run of the camera was thus called the "Panono Explorer Edition" and due to being an "exclusive early access edition" got a price tag of $1499 USD.
Backers of the crowdfunding campaign had the option of getting one of the explorer edition cameras or waiting for a throwable version of the camera to be released later on.

Fast forward to October 2016. Panono just announced that due to recent improvements ("added features to the camera itself as well as the supporting cloud infrastructure") the product has matured enough to drop the "Explorer Edition" label. However, the price is not returning to the crowdfunding levels, instead the company is raising it to 2140.81 EUR.

Until October 12th you can still buy the camera for the old price of 1499 EUR using the code YVJYVL at

It appears that Panono's price increase at launch has been successful - their product targets a small niche of 360° professional photographers that need the high image resolution and are willing to pay a premium. The other 360° cameras on the market have lower photo resolutions (and much lower price tags) and can also do video, something the Panono camera can not.