Convrge, the social VR platform known for hosting some of the first large-scale social meetups in virtual reality, has announced signups for a Gear VR beta, which will allow Samsung Gear VR users to mingle and also watch YouTube videos with Oculus Rift DK2 owners.
The newly announced cross-compatible beta will take place in the platform’s Cinemas section, an intimate 5-person space that will host both Gear VR users and Oculus Rift DK2 users simultaneously. Much like Oculus Social, users are confined to one of 5 seats along the space’s couch, so no navigation scheme or controller input is required.
The developers behind Convrge, Shawn Whiting and Hayden Lee, say they’ll be launching the first wave of betas sometime next week, and that it will be cross-compatible with DK2 from day one. “Social YouTube viewing will be the first activity we’re including, with more activities in the coming months,” says the team in a blog post announcing the Gear VR beta.
I had a chance to get into the pre-beta Gear VR version of Cinemas, and was welcomed back to the long crescent-shaped couch in the unmistakably cozy tavern setting. This is of course no surprise, considering it’s the exact same space currently available to DK2 users. What did change however is the on-screen keyboard that lets you search for YouTube videos and play them globally for everyone in the room. As of this writing, there is no queue system for videos, so you’ll need to trust your cinema-mates to not throw anything up too obnoxious—but with only 4 other floating avatar heads to contend with, it shouldn’t be too hard to decide on one of YouTube’s many full length ’80s movies or old episodes of the Twilight Zone (1959-64).
Along with the Gear VR beta, the team has also announced a Who’s Online app for Android devices, developed by community member Christian Coleman, aka ‘Parachan’. The app, like Convrge’s ‘Who’s Online’ page, allows you to see the name and number of people currently on the VR platform.
Full disclosure: The author currently co-hosts a weekly live show in Convrge called ‘The Deep End’.