philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Wevr raises $25 million, will launch new virtual reality platform

Virtual reality company Wevr raised $25 million from investors including  HTC Corp and  Samsung Ventures to fund the launch of a new platform for VR creators to distribute content, executives said on Friday.

The platform, called Wevr Transport, is available now to a limited number of users in a test phase. It is designed to run on various virtual reality headsets through an app and on a website.

Wevr Transport features content from Wevr, other independent studios and major media companies, executives said. Current selections are free to watch, but paid VR experiences may be added to the mix later this year.

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View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack Now Available On Apple Online Stores

view-master-vrApple is now officially selling the View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack on its online store, offering the gadget for $29.95.

The move may be a bit surprising to some, especially considering that we recently heard rumbles that Apple had a secret VR team working on an in-house virtual reality headset.

Truth be told, virtual reality is on the rise and it's increasingly gaining momentum. Apple may not be ready to offer its own VR headset just yet, but in the meantime, it seems content with offering such a gadget on its online store.

The View-Master is a true classic, first debuting back in 1939 to allow for a 3D view of colored slides. Last year, Google and Mattel teamed up to breathe new life into the old View-Master, turning it into a virtual reality headset.

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Daqri execs hired

mike-lynchMike Lynch, who most recently tackled talent acquisition and human resources at SpaceX, will be joining Daqri as chief human potential officer; Roy Ashok, a former product management leader at Qualcomm, will be coming aboard as chief product officer; and Patrick Alo, a marketing leader from Virgin Group, will be appointed as chief marketing officer.

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Google releasing virtual reality headset this year, report says

Citing a source "familiar with [Google's] plans" the report from the Financial Times on Sunday asserts that (as we guessed last month) the headset will be a competitor to Samsung's Gear VR. Along those lines, the device will need to be paired with a smartphone in order to operate.

In addition to the VR headset, the report also claims that Google will also release new Android VR software at the same time as the hardware. Specifically, Google is said to be working to improve the VR experience by making its new VR software a native part of the Android operating system.

What the report doesn't mention is the VR camera that was strongly indicated in the Google job postings we highlighted last month, so it's possible that the camera could be released separately, or is perhaps even as a part of the VR headset itself.

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Fine-Tune the World with ‘Augmented Reality’ Earbuds

here-active-listeningHere seeks to modify what people hear instead of what they see.

The Here system consists of a pair of earbuds that use Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to a smartphone app. A microphone on each Here earbud captures incoming sound waves. Electronics in each bud can modify these sounds, and then miniature speakers play the result, all in less than 30 millionths of a second, leading to no perceivable delay, according to Doppler Labs. Users can use the smartphone app to adjust Here's settings.

The earbuds can boost or reduce the volume, bass, treble, reverb and other aspects of live sounds in a person's environment. For example, you could dampen noise from chatter in a crowded room or crank up the bass of music playing at a club.

Here can operate for 4 to 6 hours with the help of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and low-power electronics that optimize battery power.

Through Kickstarter, Here raised more than $635,000 from more than 2,800 backers. Doppler Labs then raised $17 million from venture capitalists to help bring Here to market. The makers have created a limited run of 10,000 Here units. The waitlist for these devices currently exceeds 25,000 people,...

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VR Neurotechnology Company Receives Billion Dollar Valuation With Funding Round

Mindmaze-HMD1According to the report by the Economic Times, the investment was for “less than a third” of the company and makes MindMaze one of two “Unicorns” in the AR and VR space, joining Magic Leap (recently valued at over $4bn).

Led by Dr. Tej Tadi, a doctor with over 10 years of specialization in the neuroscience field, MindMaze is a 52 employee strong neurotechnology company focused on combining virtual reality and motion capture with brain machine interfacing to help patients recover from traumatic events.

MindMaze’s virtual reality system uses a combination of methodologies to produce interactions in VR with “zero latency” according to Dr. Tadi. The system works by combining (in a modular way) a a band with dry electrodes to sense your brainwaves and muscle activity and a proprietary motion capture camera system to “predict” your movement before you make it. As Dr. Tadi explained in a previous interview with UploadVR “if I have movement data, muscle data, brain data, I can weigh for information, so I know that you’re going to move your hand, I can predict it from this, but I can also predict it from your muscle activity, and I can confirm it with my motion capture camera that you are moving the hand.”

“The long term vision for us is to enable people to completely experience VR as they should,” he says, “let’s say I move, and I had caught something, and I told you, this is how your brain reacts. Now, do you want to feed that signal back into the brain to make yourself move better?


10 reasons virtual reality ‘films’ are still a pretty terrible experience

virtual.reality.sundance.inside[Philip Lelyveld comment; after this intro portion, the write articulates 10 important, known problems with the current VR equipment, tools, and experience that everyone knows needs to be addressed.  That said, I believe that they aren't VR-killers if the experience matches the equipment capabilities and the expectations of the audience for an experience from that equipment.  No one expects much for Cardboard, so a great experience there can be a winner.]

People across the nascent medium readily acknowledge that the current narrative content is embryonic at best — and are optimistic, of course, about its horizons. Writes Robert Stromberg, director of The Martian VR Experience in a blog post for 21st Century Fox:

This moment feels very much like the beginning of film. In particular, this intensely different way of experiencing content reminds me of the cinematic lore of the “train effect”: In the early days of cinema, a train on the screen approached the audience, and — alarmed by how realistic the imagery appeared — the moviegoers panicked and ran out of the theater. ... Like those nascent days of film, there’s a power to VR that hasn’t truly been contained yet.

But when is some piece of content going to break out that will finally capture mainstream attention on its own merit?

“There are a couple of reasons why it’s going to happen sooner than you think,” VR pioneer and Emblematic Group CEO Nonny de la Pena told Mashable in between demos of Planned Parenthood clinic experience Across the Line. “And the Oculus pre-order sales of a million headsets were gone within a day is one indicator. … Everybody said it was going to be hard-core gamers, but there are filmmakers flocking to the medium. In fact you hear more about the filmmakers’ pieces than you are about the gaming pieces.”


Augmented Reality Startups in India – An insight into some “fundoo” Products!!

augmented-reality-startups-india-products-apps-14[Philip Lelyveld comment: this article describes a number of Indian startups.]

Gamooz has developed a range of products related to mobile-based augmented reality. The idea here is to scan a particular image and a video is played and buttons are shown to the user to call, email, open website etc.

Another startup – Reality Premedia, Pune, with its “Realise” platform, allows the users with 3D visualization of the products. Customers can view the product from their catalogue and manipulate the size, positioning and other customizations in order to decide if the product will prove a best-fit for home.

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Amazon’s New Augmented Reality Satire ‘Creative Control’ Trailer Debuts

Directed by Benjamin Dickinson, the black and white Creative Control starsDickinson, Reggie Watts, former Das Racist member Himanshu Suri, and more. It tells the story of an ad executive who has to sell new Google Glass-esque augmented reality glasses called “Augmenta,” which forces a technological component to the everyday world that could help or hurt modern life.


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Tom Carter’s ultrasound technology lets you touch and manipulate virtual objects—attracting interest from Jaguar Land Rover, Harman and dozens of others.

-1x-1Today, Carter, 27, is co-founder and chief technology officer of Ultrahaptics, which uses clever algorithms and an array of ultrasound emitters to simulate a range of feelings: tiny bubbles bursting on your fingertips, a stream of liquid passing over your hand, the outlines of three-dimensional shapes.

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