Convrge, the social VR platform known for ease of use and low poly style, is officially opening their Gear VR beta on Saturday, Dec 19. To add to the news, the team behind Convrge has also revealed that they have recently taken part in a fellowship program run by Y Combinator, one of the most prestigious incubators in the world.
Convrge Cinemas, a 5-person home theater space released last month for Oculus Rift DK2, is now opening its doors to Gear VR users as well—making it a cross-compatible social VR environment with full access to YouTube.
Both DK2 and Gear VR users will not only be able to mingle in the jaunty tavern-themed home theater, but also in two newly announced environments—’The Cave’ and ‘The Campfire’.
Convrge will be inaugurating all three spaces with an opening day event where Gear VR, DK2, and desktop users will be able to chat and watch any YouTube video of their choice together thanks to an on-screen keyboard for users on Gear VR.
The event starts at 1pm PST on Saturday (click for your local time) and goes until 4pm PST.
The social VR platform netted over 500 sign-ups for their Gear VR beta since its initial announcement last Friday. Gear VR owners can still sign up for beta access by following the link below to take part in the opening event.
Developer and co-founder Hayden Lee explains some of the obstacles in building a space that works on both DK2 and the Gear VR platform’s mobile processor:
“Starting with an experience that was initially built for a hardcore gaming PC and making it work on a mobile phone was a challenge. We had to use significantly less polygons, vertices, and draw calls which required a lot of optimization on our end, and we learned a lot about building mobile VR experiences in the process,” said Lee.
“We also had to change the scale of the experiences we were making. Previously we were designing for these large-scale events, with up to 100 people in the same room. For Gear VR we’ve had to rethink these experiences and where we’re starting is with much smaller, more focused experiences with 5 – 10 people.”
Convrge has also revealed their participation in the Y Combinator Fellowship Program, a recently concluded 8-week program designed to mentor “idea and prototype stage companies.” Although the Fellowship Program only gave the team $12,000 in the form of an equity-free grant, the access to mentors from former Y Combinator startups like Reddit, Twitch, and Dropbox is the sort of expertise that’s hard to buy at any price.
“…The Y Combinator partners we interacted with demonstrated a real commitment to supporting more VR companies going forward, and there were other companies in our batch that were directly and indirectly related to the VR space,” explained Shawn Whiting, co-founder of Convrge. “They provided great critical feedback on our product and helped us improve the way we approach the challenges of growing a company in an emerging market.”
If you don’t have a DK2 or Gear VR for the big event this Saturday, you can still participate on a traditional monitor. Just download the launcher and click ‘Launch without Rift’.
Disclosure: The author currently co-hosts a weekly live show in Convrge called ‘The Deep End’.