It’s hard to believe that we’re already a quarter of the way through 2017. It feels like just yesterday the Upload team was gathered in Las Vegas to kick the year off at CES. We thought that might be the biggest week VR would have yet seen, but it’s already been bested by a number of other events in the first three months of the year.
It’s been a wild ride, so we thought we’d recap some of the biggest stories of the year so far.
The news only hit yesterday, but already Palmer Luckey’s departure from Facebook and its VR team, Oculus, has become one of our biggest stories of the year. Luckey was of course the original creator of the Oculus Rift and one of the company’s founders, taking it from the early days of prototypes in his garage all the way up to the Zuckerberg-owned mammoth it is today. His departure was expected by some following last year’s revelation that he had helped fund a political smear campaign, but the news is no less significant. To many, Palmer Luckey is the reason there even is a VR industry. Now we don’t even know if he’s going to remain a part of it.
VR can educate, entertain and empower, but what about helping you keep fit. You might not think it, but headsets like the HTC Vive are actually a perfect way to keep in shape, and Jon Stauffer proved it earlier this year. Playing beat-based boxing game, Sound Boxing, Stauffer was able to lose more than 50 pounds, dramatically changing his figure. Through play sessions of anywhere between 20 to 90 minutes Stauffer came up with a fun way to keep fit, and could serve as an inspiration to many.
Surprising absolutely no one, porn is already proving to be big business for the VR industry and could well help drive adoption as we get deeper in 2017. We headed to the world’s largest adult entertainment expo in Las Vegas and found an industry that was embracing VR as well as some insights into how VR porn might improve as the technology progresses.
It says a lot about just how excited people are for Bethesda’s VR port of its his role-playing game, Fallout 4, that it’s one of our most popular stories of 2017 so far. Fallout 4 VR debuted at E3 last year and, even though we got hands-on with it then, we still have so many questions about what to expect from the full release going forward. It’s a huge relief to find out the game will be back at this year’s iteration of the show, then, with a demo that will apparently “blow our minds”. The wasteland is calling to us; June can’t come soon enough.
Cix Liv has a fascinating story to tell about his company, LIV, which you shouldn’t miss. We chatted to Liv about his work in mixed reality filming, which has already led to some amazing videos. It’s all made possible with the LIV Cube and accompanying software that makes for some of the most accurate and engaging MR content we’ve yet seen.
We knew there would be other VR headsets that supported Valve’s SteamVR platform, we just had no idea who would make them and when we’d see them. But we got our answer at GDC this month; LG is developing its own take on the VR headset, and it’s expecting to have it ready for consumers later this year. We got to go hands-on with it at the event, and it looks like we’ll have another excellent headset on the market soon. We’re particularly fond of the ability to slide the device’s front up above our eyes instead of having to uncomfortably rest it on ours heads. Just what else the company can pull out of the bag remains to be seen.
There was a time when Oculus seemed like it could do no wrong in the VR industry, but those days seemed distant when a jury ruled that owner Facebook must pay $500 million to ZeniMax Media earlier this year. That result came at the end of a lengthy legal battle between the two, where ZeniMax claimed that its former employee, one John Carmack, had stolen technology from the company when he moved to Oculus in 2013. Carmack’s time in the spotlight was a particular highlight, at one point joking that he wasn’t a Mac user unless under duress.