Realities, a ‘virtual travel’ title that presents near photo-realistic VR captures of real-world locations, has received a major update. In addition to a new explorable location, the software has been overhauled to support forward rendering and improved support for Oculus Rift and Touch.

Practically as old as photography itself, use cases for photogrammetry (making measurements from photos) have evolved over time, from triangulation and georeferencing through to movie CGI production and most recently, real-time game environments. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a famous example of using the technique in Unreal Engine 3 (see The Astronauts’ blog for a detailed explanation), and Realities.io took a photo-realistic approach to create their free SteamVR product Realities using Unreal Engine 4, which launched alongside the HTC Vive in April 2016.

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After a strong start, the Realities team remained fairly quiet as work went on behind the scenes. The limited selection of scanned environments is now being expanded, with a major update that adds 6 spots in California’s Death Valley, combined with new, atmospheric audio. The update also adds improved Oculus Rift and Touch support, and a number of visual improvements that affect all the environments, including a switch to forward shading, which allows for better anti-aliasing (now able to run on a minimum spec PC with 4xMSAA).

Full details can be found on Realities’ News page on Steam, and according to a developer post on Reddit, further scans are coming soon in diverse locations such as Maine State Prison, Cologne Cathedral, and Omaha Beach.

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  • David Finsterwalder

    To add to that: Next content releases will be much sooner. We had to work on some technical details first. Focus now is more content.

  • JMB

    Absolutely awesome, thanks so much to the devs for their amazing work!

    I had the good fortune to attend a small VR gathering in Munich some time in late 2015 where David Finsterwalder gave a riveting talk on the possibilities of photogrammetry, archaeology and VR. So when Realities popped up on Steam, I jumped on it right away.

    Might actually have been the first thing I loaded up on my Vive right after room setup ;)

  • Foreign Devil

    Thanks for Touch support. . I’ll look out for it on Steam

  • Sponge Bob

    Useless gimmick
    Until any user can scan his/her favorite environment and not spend more than a few minutes doing that this is a no-go

    “…further scans are coming soon in diverse locations such as Maine State Prison, Cologne Cathedral, and Omaha Beach”

    Bu-ha-ha :):):)

    are you kidding me ? why would I need those ???

    • silvaring

      Why do you want photorealistic VR environments to simply explore? Is that not obvious?

      • Sponge Bob

        My guess the big market for this would be selling luxury real estate and boats
        state prison’s “VR exploration” – sorry, not interested

        • David Finsterwalder

          The reason we did a scan in the Maine state prison was a collaboration with Frontline, Emblematic Group (Nonny de la Pena) and 8i to explore possibilities for virtual reality documentaries:
          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/after-solitary/

          I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned that without any more information about that project.

          There are many possible directions in wich Realities can evolve into. We want to experiment and learn, what we can do with the technology. But more importantly we want to learn what our users want.

          As the mentioned locations don’t interest you I am eager to hear if there are locations you would want to see on Realities.

          • Sponge Bob

            I want to scan my own secret location myself

            what is the equipment cost and time involved ?

        • Martijn Valk

          You’re not interested but I certainly am. And with me loads of other people I’m sure. I for one love the concept of Realities, which is simply visiting places, and getting some info about them too.

          I agree there could be a market for real estate for this kind of software though, but that’s something I’m not really interested in ;)

          Anyway David keep up the good work!