Viewer release summaries: week 47

Updates for the week ending: Sunday November 23rd, 2014

This summary is published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version:  3.7.19.296094, unchanged (release notes)
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • HTTP Pipeline RC viewer version 3.7.21.296736 released on November 17th – reduced pipelined texture and mesh fetching timeout so that stalled connections fail quickly allowing earlier retry. Timeout value changed from 150 seconds to 60 seconds (download and release notes)
  • Project viewers:
    • Viewer-managed Marketplace project viewer version 3.7.21.296858 released on November 21st – allows Merchants to manage inventory associated with Marketplace Listings from within the viewer + sale of items which Merchants do not have the right copy will now be supported with the Direct Delivery purchase mechanism (download and release notes)

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V3-style

  • Kokua OpenSim version updated to version -3.7.81.33408 on November 18th – core updates: GPU benchmark update from LL; additional digit in version number to indicate when features have been cherry-picked (release notes)

V1-style

  • Cool VL viewer updated – Stable branch to version 1.26.12.24 and legacy branch to 1.26.8.82 – both on November 22nd (release notes)

Mobile / Other Clients

  • Mobile Grid Client updated to version 1.22.1226 on November 20th – core updates: support for Android 5.0 Lollipop; experimental /sit and /stand chat commands (change log)

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

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Magic Leap: bringing augmented reality to film in 2015

The Age of Starlight Promotion picture
Magic Leap technology is to be “premiered” at a UK festival in 2015, in a special film / show entitled The Age of Starlight (image: Manchester International Festival)

Professor Brian Cox may not be a familiar name to everyone, but in the UK and for those with an eye for science on television, he has become something of England’s answer to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Professor Brian Cox
Professor Brian Cox

Cox, who played keyboards in the pop group D:Ream whilst studying physics at the University of Manchester in the 1990s, started his television career in 2005, appearing on the BBC’s science and philosophy series, Horizon.

Since then, he has fronted a range of science programmes and series, as well as appearing on chats shows on both sides of the Atlantic. He’s even  had a guest starring role in the adventures of the very master of time and space itself, Doctor Who.

Now, the BBC reports, he will be presenting in a cutting edge show / film (which he is also scripting) entitled The Age of Starlight, telling the story of the universe, intended to be one of the focal events of the 2015 Manchester International Festival. The production will also feature visual effects by Framestore, the team that won an Oscar for their work on the 2013 George Clooney / Sandra Bullock sci-fi vehicle Gravity, and will be directed by Kevin MacDonald whose films include the Oscar-winning Last King of Scotland and One Day in September and the BAFTA-winning Touching the Void.

But what makes The Age of Starlight particularly interesting is that it will utilise augment reality technology being developed by Magic Leap, the company that hit the headlines in October 2014, when it received $542 million in funding from a broad range of investors.

For those of you who missed it, Magic Leap is the company behind a headset that uses augmented reality to combine realistic computer graphics with everything the wearer sees in real time, in what the company calls “cinematic reality”. The results can be startling, going on the available promotional material: tiny elephants in the palms of your hands, dragons flying among flocks of birds,  yellow submarines sailing through streets, humpback whales floating over crowded beaches, and more.

One of the Magic Leap promotional images: a yellow submarine apparently floats down a street the Magic Leap wearer is walking along
Magic Leap merges realistic computer graphics with everything the user sees in the real world, in what the company calls “cinematic reality”.

However, beyond the stunning promotional images and video, the company has publicly revealed very little about what it is up to. But what they have shown behind closed doors has been enough to get John Markoff from the New York times very excited, and has been sufficient to get Google to lead that US$542 million (£346 million) round of investment in October, which itself came on top of an initial $50 million of funding earlier in 2014.

Given all the apparent mystery surrounding Magic Leap, Sean Hollister over at Gizmodo, decided to spend a little time digging around trying to find out more on what Magic Leap is all about.

In his article, Hollister starts out by framing something of the company’s history, revealing that Magic Leap has been chipping away at things for quite a while. In a fascinating track through the company’s history, he references their 2011 collaboration with Weta Workshop on something called The Hour Blue, as reported by Dice (see the video, below). This still appears to be around today, although exactly what it is, isn’t clear. This collaboration may have been the reason why Weta’s co-founder, Richard Taylor, opted to make a personal investment in Magic Leap during the $50 million round of funding and now sits on the board of directors.

Making augmented reality of the kind Magic Leap is trying to achieve is a significant challenge, as Hollister explains:

If you’re looking at the real world, your eyes are focusing at a variety of different distances, not necessarily on a tiny piece of glass right in front of your face. The real world also reflects a lot of light into your eyes, which is why the images from heads-up displays like Google Glass appear transparent and ghostly. Because you need to see the real world, you obviously can’t have a projector covering the front of the glasses: that light has to be bounced in from the side, which generally results in a narrow field of view.

And of course, you need some way to track your head and your surroundings so that CG objects appear to occupy a real place in the world, instead of looking like a flat image— which, sadly, is how many existing augmented reality specs do it.

Given this, Hollister reasoned, the best way to understand what the company might actually be developing is to take a look at the patents they have filed and which address such challenges. In taking this line, he’s actually following the lead set by Tom Simonite, a bureau chief at MIT Technology Review.

Continue reading “Magic Leap: bringing augmented reality to film in 2015”