XR Update: The week's top VR, AR, and mixed reality news in a nutshell

XR Update: The week's top VR, AR, and mixed reality news in a nutshell

Sony's PC adapter for PSVR 2 will be available in August, HTC is giving away accessories and Apple Vision could soon be available in Germany - the week's top news stories.

In our weekly XR Update, you can always find the most important XR news of the last five days with a short summary. If you are interested in a particular topic, click on the link to the full article in the relevant section. As usual, we provide you with background information and opinions in addition to the facts.

Have fun browsing!

XR hardware: News on VR/AR and mixed reality headsets

HTC gives away accessory set for better wearing comfort with the Vive XR Elite

Between June 3 and July 3, 2024, HTC Vive is offering buyers of the Vive XR Elite a free Deluxe Pack with four accessories to improve ergonomics and wearing comfort. The set includes the VIVE Face Gasket 2.0, the VIVE MR Gasket, the VIVE Deluxe Strap and VIVE Temple Clips for the XR series. Users must register their device with a serial number on the VIVE website to request the package. This is HTC's response to criticism of the wearing comfort of the Vive XR Elite, which was revealed in tests. The new accessories should ensure a more even weight distribution and a more comfortable fit.

Possible new VR headset Pico 4S could have more RAM than Meta Quest 3

A public CPU benchmark result suggests that a possible Pico 4S could have the same Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset as the Meta Quest 3, but would be paired with 12 GB of RAM instead of 8 GB. According to VR enthusiast Luna, a Pico developer headset achieved higher multicore and single-core performance than the Quest 3, and the extra RAM could offer advantages in textures and details. Pico is said to have discontinued the development of a Pico 4 successor and is instead working on an improved Pico 4S with ringless controllers. Following redundancies and strategic changes at Pico owner Bytedance, it remains to be seen whether the 4S will actually be released and how it will fare against the Quest 3.

PSVR 2 will become a PC VR headset via adapter from August — but with a catch

Sony announced that the PSVR 2 can be used on a PC from August 7, 2024, with the help of a separately available PC adapter for around 60 euros and a DisplayPort 1.4 cable. A Steam account, the Playstation VR2 app, the SteamVR app and a PC with minimum requirements are required for setup. However, important PSVR 2 features such as HDR, haptic feedback, eye-tracking and 3D audio remain PS5-exclusive. 4K per eye, 110-degree field of view and finger tracking are supported. Sony is responding to the sluggish sales of PSVR 2 and opening it up to the wider PC VR market on Steam. The move is less pleasing for PS5 owners, as the limited native game selection is unlikely to change for now.

Meta Quest: Update 66 significantly improves mixed reality in Quest 3

The Meta Quest update v66 brings a significant reduction in pass-through distortions on the Quest 3. Hands and objects in mixed reality should look more natural and be less distorted when moving. The alignment of the virtual hands with the real hands has also been optimized for more intuitive interactions. As the changes are being rolled out gradually, the optimized passthrough may not be available for some users until later, despite having v66 installed. Other new features include background audio for 2D apps, experimental wrist buttons for hand tracking and adapted functions for parental supervision. Following initial pass-through improvements in v64, Meta is continuing to optimize this function, which is essential for mixed reality.

Apple Vision Pro availability: Is the German launch imminent?

Apple is apparently preparing its stores in Europe for the launch of the Vision Pro: Store employees in France and the UK have reportedly been instructed to make space in storage rooms. Large pallets of sofas have already arrived in some stores for the demonstration dates. A parallel launch in several European countries, including Germany, as well as in Canada and Asia is expected in the third or fourth week of July. Apple is expected to use the WWDC keynote on June 10 to announce the international launch alongside visionOS 2.

XR market and business news

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey may be working on a new VR headset

Palmer Luckey hinted on X that he may announce work on a new VR headset at the Augmented World Expo (AWE) 2024. The tweet followed a joking tease from VR enthusiast Brad Lynch. Shortly before, Luckey presented Chromatic, a handheld from his new company ModRetro that plays Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges. Palmer Luckey will be inducted into the XR Hall of Fame at AWE 2024, which takes place from June 18 to 20. If there are any new announcements on the topic, we will report further.

Microsoft cuts jobs in Mixed Reality, but HoloLens 2 stays

Microsoft confirms redundancies in the Mixed Reality division, but is sticking with HoloLens 2. According to reports, over 1,000 jobs are to be cut, including in mixed reality. However, Microsoft is emphasizing continued support for the Department of Defense's IVAS program and investment in W365 for a broader mixed reality hardware ecosystem. HoloLens 2 sales and support for existing customers and partners will continue. At the same time, Microsoft's focus is shifting towards AI, with billions invested in projects such as the Copilot chatbot and ChatGPT. The cooperation with Meta for Xbox Cloud Gaming and Office apps on Meta Quest also shows a shift in priorities away from proprietary VR/AR hardware.

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Meta Connect 2024: Zuckerberg announces date in mixed reality

Mark Zuckerberg announced in a video on Instagram that Meta Connect 2024 will take place on September 25 and 26. He drew the date in style in a mixed reality environment. The trade fair for VR and AR will be broadcast live via the Facebook pages @Meta and @MetaforDeveloper. Further details on speakers and topics will follow in the summer. An AR headset and the Meta Quest 3S could be presented in 2024. The first partner headsets with HorizonOS are also conceivable. Connect has been held annually since 2014, first as Oculus Connect, then Facebook Connect and since 2022 as Meta Connect. The 2023 edition brought the Meta Quest 3, the Meta | Ray-Ban Smartglasses and numerous mixed reality games, among other things.

VR games and apps: all the latest news

Hitman 3 VR: Reloaded brings Agent 47 to Meta Quest 3 in a new cel-shaded look

IO Interactive announces Hitman 3 VR: Reloaded for Meta Quest 3. The VR stealth action game has been reworked for Meta's VR headset and introduces new features such as dual-wielding, which allows two weapons or items to be used simultaneously. The new cel-shaded graphics style is intended to increase immersion, and the user interface has also been redesigned for intuitive controls and navigation. The movement options promise smoother and more natural traversal of complex environments. Following the PSVR and PC VR versions, IO Interactive is making a third attempt at Agent 47 in VR with the Quest 3 version.

Beat Saber gets new free songs, Quest 1 support ends soon

With the free OST 7 update, the VR hit Beat Saber receives five new songs from community favorites and newcomers. The catalog of free songs thus grows to 55 tracks. In addition to new music, the update brings the “Collider” environment and enhanced laser physics. However, the original Meta Quest will no longer be supported from November 2, 2024. Quest 1 owners will still be able to play, but multiplayer will be switched off and leaderboards could follow. Beat Saber remains one of the most successful VR games of all time.

Supernatural: Meta's VR fitness app is as efficient as boxing

A study by the University of Victoria in Canada has scientifically proven Meta's VR fitness app Supernatural to be an effective workout on a par with running, swimming, boxing, and cycling. On average, the workouts qualify as vigorous activity and help achieve the recommended physical activity guidelines in half the time. Supernatural also introduces a mixed reality mode that allows users to train using passthrough while keeping an eye on their physical surroundings.

VR battle royale shooter Contractors Showdown gets permanent solo mode

With an update, the VR battle royale shooter Contractors Showdown has been given a permanent solo mode. Players can now immerse themselves alone, without a team, in intense multiplayer battles with up to 45 participants on a huge 16-square-kilometer map. The extensive arsenal of weapons, various tactical accessories and a progression system with unlockable blueprints and cosmetic items ensure a varied gaming experience. Contractors Showdown is available for just under 20 euros in the Meta Quest Store and as a PC VR version via Steam.

Mixed reality racing game Track Craft soon to be fully playable in VR

The mixed reality racing game Track Craft by Brainz Gamify will soon receive an extensive update and will then be fully playable in VR. According to the developer, you will be able to seamlessly switch to VR mode to experience every track up close from the driver's perspective. The entire game will also be playable in VR on Quest 2. Multiplayer leaderboards and leagues, a revised user interface and hand-tracking support for the level editor are also planned. Track Craft is currently available in Early Access for Quest 2, Quest Pro and Quest 3 for just under 10 euros.

Meta Quest+: These are the new VR games in June 2024

Two new VR games, STRIDE and Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister, will be added to the Meta Quest+ subscription service in June 2024. STRIDE is an action game with parkour elements, while in Battle Sister you experience an adventure in the Warhammer 40,000 universe as a legendary warrior of the future. In addition, the monthly rotating games catalog is expanded to include the survival simulation Green Hell VR. Regular subscription games and numerous titles from previous months will remain available. Meta Quest+ costs 8.99 euros per month or 69.99 euros for an annual subscription.

Tomb Raider as a mixed reality adventure on Meta Quest 3

Thanks to a VR mod from Team Beef, the 1996 action classic Tomb Raider can now be played as a mixed reality version on Meta Quest 3. In addition to the free mod “BeefRaider XR”, all you need is a copy of the original game or the remaster. The mod transforms Tomb Raider into a kind of diorama that can be rotated, moved and scaled. This allows the game world to be zoomed in very closely or placed on the living room table like a board game. Team Beef specializes in VR ports of classic games and enjoys great popularity with its free mods.