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HTC unveils new Vive Cosmos VR lineup with swappable faceplates

HTC is expanding its range of virtual reality headsets today with multiple new variants of the Vive Cosmos. The original Cosmos launched last year as a $699 high-end PC-powered system that used inside-out tracking and promised the ability to swap out removable faceplates. And it’s a few new faceplates that are enabling the updated Cosmos lineup, with the headset itself remaining unchanged.

At the highest end of the range is the Cosmos Elite, which now more or less serves as a straight upgrade to the groundbreaking original Vive. It comes with a faceplate that works with external tracking and also includes two Lighthouse base stations — in other words, sensors outside the headset detect its movement, as well as that of the controllers. External tracking is generally more precise, and HTC is positioning the Cosmos Elite as its new option for advanced PC VR games like Pistol Whip and Superhot.

You can read more about the headset additions here (via The Verge)

Bank of England Teams with Snapchat to Embed AR Animation in New 20-Pound Banknotes

The new 20-pound note (worth about $26 US dollars), which went into circulation this week, has been completely redesigned, replacing the image of Queen Elizabeth II with the self-portrait image of famed artist JMW Turner.

Touting the new note as the "most secure Bank of England banknote yet," the government decided to promote the new banknote using augmented reality through the lens of Snapchat.

You can read more about the AR features of the new banknote here (via Next Reality News)

Oculus ‘Designing for Hands’ Document Introduces Best Practices for Quest Hand-tracking

Hand-tracking brings many benefits to Quest, especially ease-of-use. And while Oculus’ first stab at the feature is reasonably solid, there’s still limitations around accuracy, latency, pose detection, and tracking coverage. To help developers best work within the limitations of the system, a new section of the Oculus developer documentation called ‘Designing for Hands‘ offers up practical advice and considerations.

You can read more about the document here (via Road to VR)

Netherlands-Based VR Arena Aims To Bring Full-Body Esports To Mainstream Audiences

This week marked the launch of Active Esports Arena Eindhoven, a full-body VR esports facility that blends immersive gaming with physical sports. 

Developed by Pillow’s Willow VR Studios in partnership with PSV and Sportscloud, Active Esports Eindhoven immerses players in the world of Exodus Burn, a combination VR escape room and digital obstacle course in which your body becomes the controller as you race against the clock to perform a variety of unique 1-minute challenges. The game can be played both competitively as well as cooperatively by up to four players, harnessing elements from both conventional sports as well as strategic video games to offer an original take on VR esports. 

You can read more about the arena here (via VR Scout)

What's Next for Virtual Reality? An Insider Weighs In

Depending on who (and when) you asked, you might have heard virtual reality (VR) described as either "the next big thing" or "dead in the water." The technology generated huge excitement in the lead-up to its major consumer debut, but was quickly written off in some quarters after hardware sales fell short of expectations. The platform now seems to be on the verge of getting its second wind, and momentum has recast claims of the display medium's demise as premature -- but there's still plenty of debate about what comes next. 

You can read an interview with Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games here (via Motley Fool)
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