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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