Ex-Valve Engineer's VR Glasses: We Can Outperform Oculus

Ex-Valve Engineer's VR Glasses: We Can Outperform Oculus

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Jeri Ellsworth hasn't been sitting idle since Valve let her go.

Jeri Ellsworth, the engineer Valve let go back in February, has been spending her time making new VR technology; glasses that, Ellsworth says, will "do everything Oculus can do, and more." Well, not everything; for starters, Ellsworth's glasses won't induce motion sickness, something the Oculus has had difficulty with. But that's just part of it. Ellsworth and her Technical Illusions partner Rick Johnson want this technology to bridge the physical with the virtual world, and if things pan out as they describe, it might be about to happen.

The elimination of motion sickness is thanks in part to the retro-reflective screen, used in combination with the AR system mounted on your glasses. It's a pretty comfortable way of dealing with VR, since you're focusing on something that's set a manageable distance away. "We have a very accurate head tracker that allows us to generate one to one graphics," says Ellsworth, "and the user can see the real world at anytime or during use," something that someone boxed into the Oculus won't be able to do. So far, during thousands of trade show demonstrations held over the last year, not one person has complained of sickness, according to Ellsworth.

The device itself is lightweight, less than 100g, and clips right onto your prescription glasses, should you need them to. Plus the whole package, AR plus reflective surface, is pricing at $189 at the moment, with a potential price drop if demand is high. The reflective surface is relatively cheap - not much more expensive than wallpaper - leading to the inevitable speculation that some purchasers will cover whole rooms in the stuff. Holodeck technology? Well, not quite ... but it's as close as you might see in the near future, if not your lifetime.

How to use it? Well, one of its biggest advantages is that you can see the real world as well as the virtual while using the technology, an aspect which lends itself to social games. "If you do something vicious to your opponent across the table you can see his expressions and look at him and stare him straight down the face," says Johnson. "You can stand next to each other and become a little more physical as you're playing games." Or not; you could as easily be playing two completely separate games, while standing side by side.

It's a pity Valve didn't pick up on this. "Valve is an interesting place with not great communication sometimes," Ellsworth says. "There was a lot of misunderstandings about what we were trying to do." The fact that it needed a special surface to work boggled Valve's people, and they couldn't believe Ellsworth could make the tech do what she said it could do. "So it just didn't get much traction," says she. "It just wasn't highly valued, I guess." Valve's loss is Technical Illusions' gain, and possibly our gain as well; the Kickstarter Technical Illusions set up to fund all this magic has already reached its $400,000 funding goal, and surpassed it by a substantial margin. It's still going strong with 14 days on the clock, so if you want to know more, better head over here.

Source: Eurogamer

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It all depends on if it can walk the talk.

With the Oculus guys it seems that they can with the mostly positive responses from the testers (still havent tried one myself so I am still not going to give them a free pass).

They really need to show off how their tech is better to convince anyone to choose it over the Oculus Rift (with VR you either do it right or dont do it at all)

I'm excited to see a VR throwdown between companies in the next few years.

By 2030 I hope an evil developer locks us all in a VR world forever, like SAO (or other things with the exact same plot).

This is interesting as long as the picture quality is there I would pick this over the rift would rather not have a large thing strapped to my head if it can be avoided

Why is she comparing this to the Rift? They serve two fundamentally different purposes. This is augmented reality, and the Rift is totally virtual reality. One supplements what's already there, the other totally replaces it. Seems like a cheap publicity ploy, more than anything else.

P.S. Thanks

"Our ridiculous peripheral is better than yours~!"

Covarr:
Why is she comparing this to the Rift? They serve two fundamentally different purposes. This is augmented reality, and the Rift is totally virtual reality. One supplements what's already there, the other totally replaces it. Seems like a cheap publicity ploy, more than anything else.

P.S. Thanks

From the Kickstarter;

This clip-on attaches to the front of the glasses to transform your experience into either true AR or true VR. True AR allows you to use our glasses without the retro-reflective surface, augmenting the real world. True VR is a fully synthesized environment; the computer generates all aspects of the visuals you see. The clip-on has been designed to be comfortable and lightweight, yet still provide the immersive atmosphere you want. With this component, you will have no need for any other head mounted display.

It seems that you will be able to clip on a bit over the lenses that will project VR images instead of letting you see augmented reality.

OT: Both seem rather interesting. I look forward to seeing further updates on the Rift and CastAR.

Weaver:
I'm excited to see a VR throwdown between companies in the next few years.

circularlogic88:
"Our ridiculous peripheral is better than yours~!"

I can imagine The Community Jokes: "She was born before the year 2000, she still uses her glasses to see better!"

I wish both this and Oculus all the best in the world. Competition is good, and if these two go head to head we will hopefully end up with a better product from both as they seek to outdo each other.

I can't wait for VR to be mainstream.

You need a surface. The surface is a largish (up to 1x2 meters) projection and tracking pad. The system works by projecting onto and tracking tags on the surface. So, if you're not looking at the surface, it doesn't work. You cannot, for example, turn around. Heck, you can barely look left or right.

This will not supplant the Oculus Rift. This won't even supplant Google Glass and the like. I'm not convinced it even competes with them. It's kind of cool, sure. I find it hard to believe the microprojectors are that good (or that cheap).

Karloff:
and the user can see the real world at anytime or during use

This is the only line I was looking for. When I read the claim

Ellsworth's glasses won't induce motion sickness

I thought this would be another nonsense claim thinking that motion sickness would be resolved by "resolution" or "fps", but no it's actually a valid solution.

A real world solution for motion sickness when on a ship is to get your nose out of the book at look at the sky line. The brain realizes the true motion vectors and calms down. There is a similar trick to doing the ballerina twirl and not get dizzy which is also motion sickness.

Being able to see the real world is in part why so few get motion sick with fps games now. Only a few people get motion sick from them in part because they can still see the TV and it is still. A few do, and as you get older more do. Something about getting older makes it easier to make you dizzy I guess.

medv4380:

Karloff:
and the user can see the real world at anytime or during use

This is the only line I was looking for. When I read the claim

Ellsworth's glasses won't induce motion sickness

I thought this would be another nonsense claim thinking that motion sickness would be resolved by "resolution" or "fps", but no it's actually a valid solution.

A real world solution for motion sickness when on a ship is to get your nose out of the book at look at the sky line. The brain realizes the true motion vectors and calms down. There is a similar trick to doing the ballerina twirl and not get dizzy which is also motion sickness.

Being able to see the real world is in part why so few get motion sick with fps games now. Only a few people get motion sick from them in part because they can still see the TV and it is still. A few do, and as you get older more do. Something about getting older makes it easier to make you dizzy I guess.

About the last part: I always saw it the other way around, it's easier to get used to a new thing like a moving image on a still object when you're young the first time you experience. I seriously doubt anyone who was a kid when Doom came out, and has been playing games the whole time, experiences motion sickness with FPS games, or will start to as they get older. Someone who was middle aged when Doom came out, however, likely experienced it at the time and still does when they have occasion to try out an FPS. I honestly think the same thing is true with stereoscopic 3D -- the older generation has issues with it because it's totally new to them and they aren't as adaptable as they were when they were younger. Kids and people who experienced similar things at a young age[1] can adapt to it no problem.

[1] magic eye books, older 3D stuff, heck, even just having grown up with 3d (but displayed in 2D) videogames might make a difference

Weaver:
I'm excited to see a VR throwdown between companies in the next few years.

By 2030 I hope an evil developer locks us all in a VR world forever, like SAO (or other things with the exact same plot).

I hope you don't mean to the exact detail. As amazing as SAO is, I'm not ready to get myself killed in it.

... Unless I meet a cute girl like Asuna. Then I think it's worth it.

Owyn_Merrilin:
I seriously doubt anyone who was a kid when Doom came out, and has been playing games the whole time, experiences motion sickness with FPS games, or will start to as they get older.

I was 20 when Doom came out, so maybe a bit old for your purposes. I've been playing FPS's this whole time, and still sometimes get motion sick; depends a lot on the game, and I'm not entirely clear on why.

I don't think these VR headsets are going to really compete with each other. The Occulus seems much better suited to immersive video gaming and a few other interesting projects. This headset, like they're saying, is like a holodeck. It'll be great for how you can interact with environments and I really like how they use it for board games. I think that's great. I'd like to own both. But, I doubt these products need to really be compared head-on.

Pyrian:

Owyn_Merrilin:
I seriously doubt anyone who was a kid when Doom came out, and has been playing games the whole time, experiences motion sickness with FPS games, or will start to as they get older.

I was 20 when Doom came out, so maybe a bit old for your purposes. I've been playing FPS's this whole time, and still sometimes get motion sick; depends a lot on the game, and I'm not entirely clear on why.

That's actually a nice illustration of what I'm talking about. I was about a month shy of four when Doom came out (if Wikipedia's release date is right -- I always thought it launched in '94, not December '93), and I grew up hearing people older than me[1] complaining about it, other early FPS games, and especially stuff like Descent causing motion sickness. I, on the other hand, never actually experienced any, and I must have been no older than five or six when I started on those games, if I even waited that long. I really think it's some sort of psychological difference that sets in really early in life. If you're too old when you're exposed to it for the first time, it throws your brain for a loop. If you're young enough, your brain incorporates it into its understanding of how things work -- "sometimes when you see a perspective moving it's actually a moving object that kind of looks like your perspective" vs. "anything that looks like a moving perspective must mean your perspective is moving. If this contradicts other sensory inputs, something is wrong."

[1] Edit: By, say, a decade or more

Pyrian:

Owyn_Merrilin:
I seriously doubt anyone who was a kid when Doom came out, and has been playing games the whole time, experiences motion sickness with FPS games, or will start to as they get older.

I was 20 when Doom came out, so maybe a bit old for your purposes. I've been playing FPS's this whole time, and still sometimes get motion sick; depends a lot on the game, and I'm not entirely clear on why.

I'm about your age, then. The only thing that truly makes me barf and want to just go roll up and die under a clear blue sky is the various 3D games offerings on current consoles. Can't do it. It's not the 3D, though, but the abysmally low frame rates. My brain just interprets it as something being severely wrong with me, strongly suggesting I shut down and wait for a better day.

Screen tearing just annoys and bothers me, low fps 3D ruins my day.

Wolfram23:
I don't think these VR headsets are going to really compete with each other.

Well, their claim is that it does everything oculus does ("true vr"), plus "true ar", projected ar, etc. And being much lighter on your head than oculus weights a lot too. =)

How well those "true xx" parts work remain to be seen; I've only seen videos where they demo the projected ar stuff.

Yeah, I've got to agree with Wolfram23. I think these will make interesting applications but it doesn't seem like it's going to compete directly. That whole being able to see the real environment around you detracts from immersive simulated reality. Frankly, i don't know yet why I'd ever want these kind of VR.

Look at their video on their kickstarter:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/technicalillusions/castar-the-most-versatile-ar-and-vr-system

It projects on a wall and surfaces. This isn't virtual reality immersion where you're inside the world. This is just a novel way to project 3D images in an augmented reality way.

This has some novel applications. But it has some awkward requirements and I see NO method that it produces VR.

Sol_HSA:

Wolfram23:
I don't think these VR headsets are going to really compete with each other.

Well, their claim is that it does everything oculus does ("true vr"), plus "true ar", projected ar, etc. And being much lighter on your head than oculus weights a lot too. =)

How well those "true xx" parts work remain to be seen; I've only seen videos where they demo the projected ar stuff.

No, they say true AR. Not true VR. This is augmented reality, not virtual reality. Fairly significant difference between you being in a world and you projecting a world into the real one.

Owyn_Merrilin:
About the last part: I always saw it the other way around, it's easier to get used to a new thing like a moving image on a still object when you're young the first time you experience. I seriously doubt anyone who was a kid when Doom came out, and has been playing games the whole time, experiences motion sickness with FPS games, or will start to as they get older. Someone who was middle aged when Doom came out, however, likely experienced it at the time and still does when they have occasion to try out an FPS. I honestly think the same thing is true with stereoscopic 3D -- the older generation has issues with it because it's totally new to them and they aren't as adaptable as they were when they were younger. Kids and people who experienced similar things at a young age[1] can adapt to it no problem.

Not to be offensive, but your line of thinking is why people like me keep laughing.

The issue with age has little to do with being used to it as a kid. Lots of adults who enjoyed action movies as a kid, and start to get motion sick when they hit their 60's. It has more to do with eye site getting weaker so the eyes can't focus as fast as they used to, and weakening of the inner ear due to infections.

Same goes for people who enjoyed the tea cups at a theme park, but now in their 40's that just makes them want to hurl. Like my father in law. Heck, my Mother gets motion sickness just from having little kids running around. She has a huge blind spot and people popping in and out of her field of vision is disorientation, and she's had that since she was a kid. There is no getting used to motion sickness.

And then 3D has been around since the 40's. It's always had the same issues it has today. The only difference is this last time ONE movie was so big and popular that it gain a little momentum before people remembered that it just makes them sick.

So keep your nieve view that you can just get "used" to it. I'll just keep laughing.

[1] magic eye books, older 3D stuff, heck, even just having grown up with 3d (but displayed in 2D) videogames might make a difference

medv4380:

Owyn_Merrilin:
About the last part: I always saw it the other way around, it's easier to get used to a new thing like a moving image on a still object when you're young the first time you experience. I seriously doubt anyone who was a kid when Doom came out, and has been playing games the whole time, experiences motion sickness with FPS games, or will start to as they get older. Someone who was middle aged when Doom came out, however, likely experienced it at the time and still does when they have occasion to try out an FPS. I honestly think the same thing is true with stereoscopic 3D -- the older generation has issues with it because it's totally new to them and they aren't as adaptable as they were when they were younger. Kids and people who experienced similar things at a young age[1] can adapt to it no problem.

Not to be offensive, but your line of thinking is why people like me keep laughing.

The issue with age has little to do with being used to it as a kid. Lots of adults who enjoyed action movies as a kid, and start to get motion sick when they hit their 60's. It has more to do with eye site getting weaker so the eyes can't focus as fast as they used to, and weakening of the inner ear due to infections.

Same goes for people who enjoyed the tea cups at a theme park, but now in their 40's that just makes them want to hurl. Like my father in law. Heck, my Mother gets motion sickness just from having little kids running around. She has a huge blind spot and people popping in and out of her field of vision is disorientation, and she's had that since she was a kid. There is no getting used to motion sickness.

And then 3D has been around since the 40's. It's always had the same issues it has today. The only difference is this last time ONE movie was so big and popular that it gain a little momentum before people remembered that it just makes them sick.

So keep your nieve view that you can just get "used" to it. I'll just keep laughing.

So we have your anecdotal evidence, backed up so far only by you, vs. mine, backed up by Pyrian up there. Sure, I'm "nieve." Or isn't that "naive?

Also, 3D of the 40's had a totally different set of issues from what we have today, most of it having to do with how physically unreliable the projection hardware was. The ignorance coming from people with your view would make me laugh, if there weren't so danged many of them.

[1] magic eye books, older 3D stuff, heck, even just having grown up with 3d (but displayed in 2D) videogames might make a difference

Covarr:
Why is she comparing this to the Rift? They serve two fundamentally different purposes. This is augmented reality, and the Rift is totally virtual reality. One supplements what's already there, the other totally replaces it. Seems like a cheap publicity ploy, more than anything else.

P.S. Thanks

It's paraphrasing, and out of context, like always.

It is usually well worth trying to get hold of the source material, before it has passed through several stages of forum chinese whispers and ends up abridged in one publication, quoted and reformulated from another publication, as well as given a misleading clickbait article title.

medv4380:

Sol_HSA:

Wolfram23:
I don't think these VR headsets are going to really compete with each other.

Well, their claim is that it does everything oculus does ("true vr"), plus "true ar", projected ar, etc. And being much lighter on your head than oculus weights a lot too. =)

How well those "true xx" parts work remain to be seen; I've only seen videos where they demo the projected ar stuff.

No, they say true AR. Not true VR. This is augmented reality, not virtual reality. Fairly significant difference between you being in a world and you projecting a world into the real one.

Perhaps you should watch their presentations? If you're too busy for that, they even have this handy graphic explaining it for you:

image

Unless they can make it cheap enough to come with every shitty sunglass you buy Augmented reality just isn't gonna be a big thing. And VR has never worked, and probably will never work, but we'll see what comes of both these projects.

I wish both teams good luck, but also desire to see them fail, I guess humanity just doesn't want to give up on this bullshit VR just yet.

And yet, wouldn't it be cool if it did work? XD

Covarr:
Why is she comparing this to the Rift? They serve two fundamentally different purposes. This is augmented reality, and the Rift is totally virtual reality. One supplements what's already there, the other totally replaces it. Seems like a cheap publicity ploy, more than anything else.

P.S. Thanks

This is what I was thinking too. How exactly can they outperform the oculus? Bad article is bad.

Talk is cheap, If she can outperform good for her, but I'll judge when I see it

tzimize:

Covarr:
Why is she comparing this to the Rift? They serve two fundamentally different purposes. This is augmented reality, and the Rift is totally virtual reality. One supplements what's already there, the other totally replaces it. Seems like a cheap publicity ploy, more than anything else.

P.S. Thanks

This is what I was thinking too. How exactly can they outperform the oculus? Bad article is bad.

I think the Rift is so popular that tying these to the Rift makes it more popular. That's all I can think of.

At no time does the company claim that this is VR, just AR. So there has been a slip up somewhere.

 

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