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Oculus and Otoy want VR users to enjoy the scenery.

Virtual reality company Oculus partners with software company Otoy to host a VR art competition. Running from now through July, the Render the Metaverse competition will offer $75,000 in prizes to artists that make the “most breathtaking” 360-degree stereo-panoramic submissions. Entrants will need to use Otoy’s own Octane VR rendering software, which is free for commercial use. This contest will help both companies grow VR content and creativity, fueling a market that research firm Digi-Capital says could reach $150 billion by 2020.

Submissions will be judged by famed comic book artist Alex Ross, Oculus CTO John Carmack, and Otoy founder and CEO Jules Ubach in three monthly judging sessions.. Oculus says that the winners and top runner-ups will be featured in an Oculus 360 Photos showcase, which will make these panoramas viewable on Oculus as well as on Samsung’s Gear VR.

New hires

Oculus officially welcomes Mary Lou Jepsen, the engineer behind the One Laptop Per Child $100 laptop, and later a leader of Google’s Google X display division. Jensen will continue this line of work at Oculus, where she will work to develop displays to push the boundaries of VR. She says that Oculus views VR as an enabling technology for mass adoption, and not as a “niche product for the wealthy.”

Anna Sweet was formerly at Valve’s Steam division, where she headed up software and hardware programs, and now she joins Oculus as head of developer strategy. She will work on building an ecosystem that rewards developers for creating VR experiences, says Oculus. Given that Sweet’s work focused on Steam distribution and Steamworks integration at Valve, her new role could have her building out a digital store infrastructure for Oculus.

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