philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


HTC Officially Announces Vive Focus, Its Standalone VR Headset

Today at Vive Developer Conference in Beijing, HTC announced its long-awaited standalone headset, called Vive Focus. Since we first started hearing about the prospect of a Vive standalone a few months ago, the VR community has been eagerly awaiting its public release.

Now it’s here. And it’s 6DoF.


Vive Wave marks a push by HTC to expand the scope of the Vive platform and unite its community.

According to the official website, Vive Wave “an open platform and toolset that will enable easy Mobile VR content development and high-performance device optimization for third party partners. The VIVE Wave VR SDK offers an open interface enabling interoperability between numerous mobile VR headsets and accessories, supporting mainstream game engines. This allows players with different VR devices an easy access to your extraordinary content.”

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Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance

realThe purpose of the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance (“VRVCA”) is to foster long-term growth in the VR industry through identifying, sharing and investing in the world's most innovative & impactful VR technology and content companies.

Formed in 2016, the VRVCA is a close-knit membership comprised of 47 of the top Virtual Reality Investors in the world. We believe that VR is a transformative technology that will revolutionize entire industries, one that will leave a lasting impact for many future generations to come. In order to achieve that dream, we are working tirelessly to ensure that the VR startups today get the resources they need, so that they can grow into the industry titans of tomorrow.

We invest in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed reality startups of any size from anywhere around the world.

We meet six times a year with our base of operations out of Beijing and San Francisco.

Our network spans the entire globe, so it doesn't matter where you are, as long as you are doing something game-changing, we want to help you realize your dream.

We are not searching for the next technology revolution because it is already here. We are searching for the next entrepreneur to lead it.

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CXOs: Get ready for augmented and virtual reality technology

Workers and foreman using virtual reality headsets in carpentry workshop.

Workers and foreman using virtual reality headsets in carpentry workshop.

1. See what's available in ready-to-go AR/VR technology

2. Evaluate the business processes in your company to see where AR/VR works best

3. Educate your staff

4. Prepare to adapt

5. Don't procrastinate

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The VR Fund: Entertainment VR investments jump 79% in second half of 2017

“Global investment in VR and AR is tracking higher than any previous period, and at a more accelerated pace,” said Tipatat Chennavasin, cofounder and general partner at The VR Fund, in a statement. “The VR industry is healthy and growing steadily, and we are seeing increased investor interest from traditional venture funds and new VR and AR-focused funds alike.”

The number of investments in VR/AR entertainment was up 79 percent in the second half of 2017 (granted, it’s not quite over yet) compared to the second half of 2016. Enterprise investments are up 69 percent. Tools and platforms for next-generation reality capture are up 56 percent, and investments in infrastructure for tethered head-mounted displays are up 47 percent.

Among the insights: Major Hollywood players, including AMC, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, HBO, Netflix, Sony Pictures, and Viacom, drove growth in the entertainment category. New experiences  for AAA properties, like Star Wars, will help drive consumer interest in VR over the coming quarters.

The report also showed that the games category grew by 40 percent during this period, consistent with the success reported by Oculus, Steam VR, and PlayStation VR combined. The VR Fund estimates more than 35 VR game titles have generated $1 million or more in revenues, signaling a healthy early-stage ecosystem for VR game studios. These numbers are positioned for continued growth as headset prices drop.

Major investments in the next-generation reality capture space indicate that the broader market is shifting away from 360-degree video to true VR. Advancements in display technology are largely responsible for the 47 percent growth seen in the tethered head-mounted display category. The report also noted the announcement of new all-in-one, standalone devices, such as the Oculus Go and HTC Vive Focus. That bodes well for VR in 2018.

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See the full diagram at the VR Fund website - vrf_vr_industry_q1_2017_v3-2


How Hollywood techniques and VR are changing the field of neuroscience

ibm-chip-human-brain-robot-overlord-640x0At the 2017 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington D.C., a team of researchers showed off two projects that highlight what this technology can do when applied to the realm of neuroscience.

Tyler Ard, a researcher at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, showed how computer rending techniques can be applied to the results of MRI scans to produce images from large amounts of data. Ard and his team have developed software that will make it easy to import this data. He also said they plan on making it freely available to other scientists.

The team isn’t content to solely make use of CGI for MRI scans, however. They are also combining it with virtual reality to create 3D images of the human brain, allowing researchers to more easily study the brain and perform virtual dissections. Ard believes that this will be a more effective means of learning neuroanatomy than traditional means.

...a team of researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City have developed a program that will allow scientists to use VR to more easily trace neurons.

The team from the University of Utah has found a way to create 3D VR images of neuron pathways, allowing scientists to walk around their images and use handheld controllers to rotate them.

In order to show off the program, the team had four professional neuroscientists map a series of neuron images using the new VR technology and standard desktop computer. The VR proved just as accurate as the desktop method, but was 1.7 times faster.

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With Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, virtual reality is finally ready for prime-time

SWSOTE_AnaheimFloorplanFor mainstream audiences, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire may be the first time virtual reality actually delivers on the Holodeck-esque potential it’s been promising all along.

The storyline is exactly what any Star Warsfan would hope for: the group of participants infiltrate the base, get into some skirmishes, and after a couple of lucky escapes (and a big surprise), make their way out having more or less accomplished the mission. But what The Void does well is create the illusion of truly being in a virtual world by pairing physical sets, props, and sensations with the VR visuals.

...when I stood on a skiff approaching the Imperial facility, I felt the heat from the lava below, while the smoky smell of Mustafar’s atmosphere filled my nostrils. Later, when engaged in a firefight with stormtroopers, I felt a sharp haptic buzz whenever I caught a stray blaster bolt — not painful, but not exactly pleasant, either.

Initially, Secrets of the Empire will open in two standalone locations. The first will be at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World starting on December 16th, which will be capable of serving around a thousand guests per day across two different stages. A single-stage location will then open at the Disneyland-adjacent Downtown Disney complex in California on January 5th. But The Void will also be opening a two-stage pop-up at the Westfield mall in London for a 12-week run on December 16th, with the location later moving to a different Westfield for subsequent 12-week runs. That’s aside from future locations that The Void CEO Cliff Plumer says are also on the way.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire is priced at $29.95. Tickets are available now.

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The Next Frontier for Virtual Reality: Courtrooms

im253631Twenty-five years ago, a California jury took a brave leap into the future by donning headsets to watch a virtual reality-like accident reconstruction scene.

The three-dimensional defense presentation lacked interactivity, a current hallmark of virtual reality. But, even so, the presentation helped persuade the jury that a motorcyclist had chosen to ride on dangerous terrain, and that Honda Motor Co. was not responsible for the accident.

Though it can still run into six figures, the cost of virtual reality has come down and tech-savvy attorneys say the time is right for a fresh look at the technology’s use during trials, especially in areas like product liability or criminal law where evidence is vital to recreating events or presenting science.

Virtual reality could be used to “transport members of a jury to a Superfund site, inside a mesothelioma patient’s lungs, to the intersection where an accident occurred, or to a grisly crime scene,” said Edlin, managing partner at Bassi Edlin Huie & Blum in San Francisco.

“I believe that in 10 years, most trial lawyers will be using VR just like they’re using laptops today. VR will be the norm, not the exception,” plaintiffs’ attorney Mitch Jackson, a senior partner at Jackson & Wilson in Laguna Hills, Calif., told Bloomberg Law.

“In some places, it is still hard to use the color red in an illustration out of concern that the court will find it to be overly inflammatory,“ he said. “The use of VR may be adopted in one place quickly and still take years [for adoption] in another.”

Unlike other presentation forms, virtual reality basically embeds jurors at the location where a person was struck and injured by a bus, Edlin said.

These can be depicted in exact detail, “thereby erasing the uncertainty that plagues eyewitness accounts at trial of events long past,” he said.

VR is seen as being particularly useful in science-based litigation, like product liability, intellectual property, and medical malpractice cases. Some even see the immersive VR experience being used as a memory aid in a broader range of cases, both civil and criminal, for witnesses unable to recall events.

“The risks of VR as a memory aid are really no greater than photos, videos or any other type of dramatic evidence that a witness may see,” Lamber and Goodnow said.

But Wiliam & Mary’s Lederer pointed to a downside. He said that “reviving” memory by showing a witness materials with the substantive information clearly runs the risk of the witness testifying to the content of the materials and not an independent memory.

“Arguably, VR might not only accomplish the same thing in a more extreme form but might also implant information,” he said.

The use and widespread adoption of this technology will depend on whether it can be shown that no other media is as effective or “truthful” in showing the substantive aspects of the case, he said.

...VR experts need to be prepared to testify in court regarding the accuracy of the virtual reality model with the judge being the gatekeeper.

These experts will have to not only endure a cross-examination from the opposing lawyer, but they will also have to have their work validated by the judge as worthy of being shown to a jury, they said.

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The Coursera Virtual Reality program will help you pick up skills to work with an emerging medium and make a game in Unity

Asus-ZenFone-AR-05In November, US based edutech company Coursera launched its first ever series of courses on Virtual Reality (VR) technologies. The courses have been designed with Goldsmiths college under the university of London, and no prior experience is necessary. The five courses get increasingly complex, and cover an introduction, creating 3D assets for VR, 3D interaction design, creating social VR apps and interactive characters, and finally ends with making a VR game using the Unity game engine.

Dr Pan explained that the rules of cinematography have to be rewritten for VR, as the traditional rules of framing and camera movement on film do not apply to VR content, "We can understand this with computer games which are closer to VR experience because it is interactive. Whatever you do with your control happens on the screen. For conventional videos, the camera angle assumes the line of view to be in a specific direction. In VR, the director can get the camera to speak their language. They do not have to make the user look at where they need to. The user can look at where they feel like. It also opens up opportunities for many other new types of creativity. But all of this will take time. "

If we had waited for everything else to settle before we start, we would not have that opportunity to teach it yet. Our lives would have been so much easier with standards around it."

Unity is a great platform to make VR content, and we saw some interesting XR applications made using Unity at the first ever Unite India conference in Hyderabad. These included an app that pops up engineering drawings, a dogfighting game with airplanes, and a simulation for the Indian army that allows forces to get a realistic picture about a new area before operations. The Unity VR Game course walks users through all aspects of game creation, including storyboarding, prototyping, testing and implementation. The VR courses are available on the Coursera website, as well as the Android and iOS apps.

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Swimming with dolphins in virtual reality to aid disabled

the-vr-glasses-allow-people-to-float-around-a-pool-watching-dolphins-playing-around-them-in-virtual-reality-helping-people-relax-and-enter-another-world-1511063695036-4APELDOORN, Netherlands: Swimming with wild dolphins is something most can only dream of, and jumping into pools with captive animals has become increasingly controversial with environmentalists condemning it as cruel.

But a Dutch non-profit believes it has found a way to bring people, especially the disabled, closer to such a joyful experience through the technological, immersive advances offered by virtual reality (VR).

"We know that there is something magical about dolphins. We think of joy, and playfulness and happiness and innocence when we meet dolphins. And this is even a healing quality," she told AFP.

The pool-safe VR goggles, developed thanks to 50,000 euros (US$59,000) grant from the Dutch government, consist of a waterproof Samsung smartphone in a waterproof backing mounted on a special 3D-printed rig made of recycled plastics.

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Texas A&M students team together to create, compete at annual Aggies Invent tech contest

Professionals from businesses, universities, medical practices and nonprofits mentor small teams of students as they are provided with the tools to establish a project in less than three days. Advisers from computer technology giant Dell and Accenture, Nvidia, Intel and Unity are also on site to answer questions and offer advice as teams selected need statement prompts and formed their ideas.

Team Member Justin McGinnity, a junior mechanical engineering student, explained that he and Cody Piercey, a junior industrial distribution engineering student, were busy designing the marketing plan for the project, while Vazhapilly and graduate student Ninad Sapate worked with developing the user interface on Saturday afternoon.

The prize for winning the competition today, which will be judged by Dell and Accenture staff, as well as an A&M professor, will be either free laptops or hundreds of dollars in cash, based on the degree of victory. But for Full Immersion, the goodies received wouldn't be the real takeaway.

"I really want to focus more on making an impact on the judges, rather than just winning the contest," Sapate said.

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