A pink headset will not fix VR’s woman problem.

Google announced a new Daydream View VR headset available in gray, black, or coral pink to complement the Google Home colors. Although it isn’t available until November, the company happily splashed images of attractive young women enjoying VR now that the soft foam case and remote control are the color of vaginal hygiene products and lady razors.

What can I say about superficially gendered “pink marketing” that hasn’t already been said here, and here, and here…? When a VR headset is designed to accommodate a ponytail (or a manbun) only then I will acknowledge there was a woman somewhere in the design process.

A pink headset is good for one thing: preventing a man from stealing your electronics due to the talismanic “cootie powers” of the color pink. Wait three months and all the unsold pink headsets will be priceslashed in the bargain bin. I’ve bought pink electronics and pink accessories – even a pink iPad cover – at a fraction of the price of the blue item sitting next to it on the shelf. The un-appeal of the color makes it unmarketable to most buyers regardless of gender. I call it the “Your Dick Will Fall Off Discount”. It would actually be funny if it weren’t such an insult to a major reason women are shunning VR.

“Women are more susceptible than men to motion sickness in general,” says Thomas Stoffregen at the University of Minnesota, in an article from New Scientist. Stoffregen and his team ran experiments in which 36 people – half of them men, half of them women – played two VR games using an Oculus Rift headset. “A game in which players had to push a marble around a maze only made a few people feel nauseous. But a game that involved taking a virtual stroll around a haunted house triggered feelings of sickness in 14 out of 18 women and only six out of 18 men.”


Why women experience motion sickness more than men isn’t understood. Stoffregen suggests it’s the fact that women have smaller feet (!) and this leads to postural sway – nevermind his test subjects were seated and that women typically have bigger butts and shorter torsos which would seem to make them more stable not less.

Computer scientist Mary Czerwinski has a different take on the problem. “Men are quicker to create a mental map of an environment and orient themselves within it…. Unfortunately, it tends to be the case that women have lower spatial ability – and that’s true in virtual worlds too,” she says.

A study of simulation training at Microsoft found that women were just as good as men at virtual navigation when they had a large computer display. “The gender difference simply disappeared,” says Czerwinski. A standard monitor gives a viewing angle of about 35°. With a larger screen, giving a viewing angle of 70°, women navigated better. And with two screens delivering a 100° angle, women matched men’s spatial abilities.

But there was a proviso. Women only matched men when the 3D virtual environment moved smoothly as they progressed through it. “You have to generate each image frame so the optical flow simulates accurately the experience of walking down, say, a hallway,” says her colleague George Robertson. Women find it easier to get their bearings when this animation is smooth and realistic, rather than jerky.

A superficial color change does nothing to address VR’s hardware limitations. VR sickness will continue to hit women harder until the image quality and framerates improve. Selling VR products the color of Pepto-Bismol isn’t going to help.








Cinequest Film & VR Festival 2017

Cinequest Film & VR Festival (CQFF) in San Jose / Silicon Valley: Set in the home of the world’s most influential media technology companies (Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, LinkedIn etc.) CQFF showcases premier films, renowned and emerging artists, and breakthrough technology—empowering global connectivity between creators, innovators and audiences.

February 28 – March 12


Bridge, Occipital’s Mixed-Reality Headset for iPhone

Occipital, maker of the Structure Sensor 3D scanner for iPhone and iPads, has announced a headset designed to mount their infra-red depth scanner and an iPhone running their Bridge Engine software to combine realtime camera data and room-scale motion-tracking with virtual reality environments.

iPhones are generally viewed as lagging behind the VR trend, with no official VR support from Apple, slower hardware and relatively lower-density screens. However Bridge promises to leapfrog over the rest of mobile VR with it’s “6 Degrees-of-Freedom” positional tracking (mobile-based VR typically only provides rotational tracking), which allows the wearer to move freely around the room untethered to a more powerful desktop computer.

Bridge is expected in March of 2017, and comes with or without the Structure Sensor, in case you already own one.

Helios – 3D 360° Video

Helios is a 3D/360° video capture plugin for Unity that allows you to capture stunning recordings from the Unity editor in popular 3D formats such as Equirectangular and Stereographic projection. It will create videos you can directly up load to popular sites like YouTube and Facebook in native 360 format.

Although Helios is an Offline Rendering system which has a focus on High resolution and high frame rate, it does come with a session recording system that you can record camera movement data in normal speed which is played back at render time. The audio can also be recorded during live play and merged with the offline rendered video.

It can also record and render a traditional “2D” camera, and (coming soon) create high-quality animated GIFs.

-Capture video in 480, 720,1080 and 4K cinematic aspect ratios
-Record at 24,30 and 60 FPS
-Automatically encode MP4 video
-Automatically adds 360 spatial metadata to videos
-Support realtime audio recordings
-Videos compatible with Oculus Headsets
-Videos compatible with Vive Headsets
-Videos compatible with Google Cardboard
-Videos compatible with Web Browser and Mobile phone 360 video players
-Traditional 2D camera rig included
-Support Equirectangular videos
-Support Stereographic (little planet) videos
-Record specified frames in a range
-Hotkey Recording
-Session recorder to record live player movement for later recording
-Built in antialiasing
-Custom super fast shaders
-JPEG and PNG image support
-2D and 3D demo scenes included
-Full source code included
-Works in Deferred and Forward rendering

ImmersiaTV – multi-display environment

Between January 2016 and June 2018, ImmersiaTV will create a novel form of broadcast omnidirectional video, content production and delivery that offers end-users a coherent audiovisual experience across head mounted displays, second screens and the traditional TV set, instead of having their attention divided across them. This novel kind of content will seamlessly integrate with and further augment traditional TV and second display consumer habits. ImmersiaTV will assemble an end-to-end toolset covering the entire audiovisual value chain: immersive production tools, support for omnidirectional cameras, including ultra-high definition and high dynamic range images, and adaptive content coding and delivery, and demonstrate it through 3 pilot demonstrations addressing both on-demand and live content delivery.


ImmersiaTV – Immersive Experiences around TV, an integrated toolset for the production and distribution of immersive and interactive content across devices

The majority of European TV consumers now watch TV programs in a multi-display environment. Second screens -mostly smartphones, tablets or laptops- are generally used to check information not directly related to the events in the TV content being watched. As a result, the attention of the audience is generally divided between these different streams of information. Broadcasters have tried to orchestrate all these different rendering platforms to complement each other consistently. However, their success is limited, and this limited success is due, at least in part, to the very different formats in which information is delivered (web-based texts, mobile apps, traditional broadcast television, etc.).

[slideshare id=53965150&doc=ctvitv-ringimmersiatvbysfv1-151015094815-lva1-app6892]

In this context, the arrival of immersive head-mounted displays to the consumer market introduces new possibilities, but also poses new challenges. Immersive displays impose radically different audience requirements compared to traditional broadcast TV and social media. In addition, immersive displays challenge the conventions of traditional audiovisual language. For example, cuts between shots, which constitute the very basic fabric of traditional cinematic language, do not work well in immersive displays. From a user perspective, omnidirectional TV offers a new user experience and a different way of engaging with the audiovisual content.

In parallel, the evolution of digital broadband streaming and capture devices has transformed the production and delivery of omnidirectional video from an experimental proof of concept to an industrial possibility. In addition, recent advances in computer graphics have blurred the line between 3D synthetic content -animation movies and videogames- and omnidirectional video streams.

This project will create new forms of digital storytelling and broadcast production that, by putting omnidirectional video at the center of the creation, production and distribution of broadcast content, delivers an all-encompassing experience that integrates the specificities of immersive displays, and the feeling of “being there”, within the contemporary living room. We propose a new form of broadcast omnidirectional video that offers end-users a coherent audiovisual experience across head mounted displays, second screens and the traditional TV set, instead of having their attention divided across them. This new experience will seamlessly integrate with and further augment traditional TV and second screen consumer habits. In other terms: the audience will still be able to watch TV sitting on their couch, or tweet comments about it. However, by putting omnidirectional content at the center of the creation, production and distribution processes, the audience will also be able to use immersive displays to feel like being inside the audiovisual stream.

ImmersiaTV is an innovation project funded by the H2020 program.

GStreamer at Unity Asset Store