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AR/VR Weekly: the view from Oculus Connect 4

Last week was Facebook’s dog-and-pony show Oculus Connect 4: We got news on an upcoming $200 standalone headsetthe next-gen Santa Cruz project, a lower price for the Rift VR gear (and a more intense price war with HTC), a new Minority Report-like interface, and a partnership with the studio that makes Titanfall, a blockbuster shooter video game series from EA.

Looking from that vantage point, virtual reality appears to be healthy. Yet when our Dean Takahashi started talking to people at Oculus Connect, he found that while some people had lots of hope for VR, others remain stuck in a trough of disappointment. He wrote that “a game developer who was looking for work felt like VR was in a state of crisis.”

And Dean points out that while VR attempts to gain traction, it’s also fragmenting, now that Microsoft is entering the picture with its “mixed reality” solution that deals with both AR and VR.

It’s an intriguing time for VR. We’re seeing the next generation take shape with Santa Cruz and Oculus Go. But will the consumer base be there for it? And will VR creators be able to hang on until the market is bigger?

For AR/VR coverage, send news tips to Dean Takahashi and Jeff Grubb (for those that cross over into PC gaming). Please send guest post submissions to Rowan Kaiser. Please be sure to visit our AR/VR Channel.

—Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor

P.S. Enjoying Star Trek: Discovery? Did you know Star Trek was in VR, too? Check out Bridge Crew.

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This VR Experience is Powered By Positive Thinking

There’s no shortage of bizarre control schemes for VR experiences these days. After all, developers are still experimenting with various methods they hope will become the standard. So it comes as no surprise that we have some truly unique options popping up almost every week. (via VR Scout)

Eye Doctors Can Now Prescribe VR Lazy-eye Treatment for Home Use

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Tokyo’s VR Mario Kart is more rollercoaster than video game

An official virtual reality version of Mario Kart is a thing that exists for actual humans to play today. It’s true. Unfortunately, there are a few significant caveats. You must travel to Tokyo, Japan. You must pay about $40. You must wait in line for over an hour and a half, if my experience on Saturday afternoon — stretching into evening — was representative. (via The Verge)

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick