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Google Brings Tilt Brush To The Oculus Rift

The company may have its own VR platforms, but that isn’t stopping it from developing great content for other systems.

Google Brings Tilt Brush To The Oculus Rift
[Photo: courtesy of Google]

If you have an Oculus Rift and have been feeling left out because you can’t use one of the most-awarded virtual reality experiences, Google’s ready to let you in on the fun.

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Today, Google is launching Tilt Brush, its terrific VR painting tool, for the Rift. Previously available only for HTC’s Vive, the application has been ported, fully featured, to Oculus’s platform. It requires Oculus’s add-on Touch Controllers.

There’s even one or two small features that are available only for the Rift.

While Google has two separate mobile VR platforms of its own–the low-end Cardboard and the mid-range Daydream–it has also been putting energy into developing high-end VR content for other systems. Tilt Brush, which recently won Best VR experience at the Lumiere Awards, is one example. Google Earth VR, which took home the Century Award for VR in service of environmental enrichment at the Lumiere Awards, is another.

Tilt Brush puts users in a 3D environment where they can paint in floating space using a wide variety of brushes and other tools. It’s been used to make VR music videos, and along with Oculus’s Medium and Quill, as well as Kingspray (also for the Rift), is one of the best artistic tools available for VR today.

According to product manager Elizabeth Morant, the Tilt Brush team had been working on the Rift version for several months, but waited to release it until “we built a port that felt natural on the Rift.” Having spent time with Tilt Brush on both Vive and the Rift, I can say it’s difficult to tell the difference.

One small feature that’s available only on the Rift is the ability to see a preview, when you touch the small Touch Controller’s touch-capacitive joystick, of what your fingers are doing. The Vive’s controllers don’t support such capabilities, Morant explained.

Another Oculus-only feature is that, thanks to the Rift’s built-in headphones, Tilt Brush immediately immerses users with both audio and visuals as soon as they launch the tool and hear sounds associated with brushstrokes from the get-go. Users on the Vive can get audio, of course, but because HTC’s system requires plugging in headphones, Morant said some users end up painting without any audio.

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It’s exciting that Google is developing its high-end VR content for multiple platforms. But while it is possible to tweak Google Earth VR for the Rift, that experience is not yet officially supported for Oculus’s platform. Here’s hoping Google soon does a full port of what I believe is the best way to travel the world without a plane ticket.

About the author

Daniel Terdiman is a San Francisco-based technology journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. A veteran of CNET and VentureBeat, Daniel has also written for Wired, The New York Times, Time, and many other publications.

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