philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology

20Sep/17Off

AI RESEARCH IS IN DESPERATE NEED OF AN ETHICAL WATCHDOG

aiRight now, if government-funded scientists want to research humans for a study, the law requires them to get the approval of an ethics committee known as an institutional review board, or IRB. Stanford’s review board approved Kosinski and Wang’s study. But these boards use rules developed 40 years ago for protecting people during real-life interactions, such as drawing blood or conducting interviews.

For example, if you merely use a database without interacting with real humans for a study, it’s not clear that you have to consult a review board at all. Review boards aren’t allowed to evaluate a study based on its potential social consequences. “The vast, vast, vast majority of what we call ‘big data’ research does not fall under the purview of federal regulations,” says Metcalf.

But ultimately, NamePrism is just a tool, and it’s up to users how they wield it. “You can use a hammer to build a house or break a house,” says sociologist Matthew Salganik of Princeton University and the author of Bit by Bit: Social Research In The Digital Age.

Instead, the problem is the broken ethical system around it. AI researchers—sometimes with the noblest of intentions—don’t have clear standards for preventing potential harms. “It’s not very sexy,” says Metcalf. “There’s no Skynet or Terminator in that narrative.”

Pervade ... they received a three million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, and over the next four years, Pervade wants to put together a clearer ethical process for big data research that both universities and companies could use. “Our goal is to figure out, what regulations are actually helpful?” he says. But before then, we’ll be relying on the kindness—and foresight—of strangers.

See the full story here: https://www.wired.com/story/ai-research-is-in-desperate-need-of-an-ethical-watchdog/

Prevade website - https://pervade.umd.edu

20Sep/17Off

WHEN VR TRAINING MAKES THE JOB LOOK BETTER THAN IT IS

VRmeetingIllo-748319663Jason Jerald, co-founder of VR consultants NextGen Interactions, says virtual reality’s immersive experiences could especially help in recruiting millennials, who reportedly are less interested in routine workthan previous generations. “By utilizing VR, what many perceive as a low-level boring job can now be viewed as working for a cutting-edge technology company,” Jerald says.

Some companies say incorporating VR into training is reducing turnover.

Walmart, the US’s largest private employer, is equipping all 200 of its Walmart Academies with a VR training program that immerses mostly mid-level employees in rare scenarios that would be costly to recreate, such as holiday rushes, spills and other disruptions. Senior Director of Central Operations Brock McKeel says employee engagement increased as a result of the training, even among employees who merely watched co-workers participate in the simulation.

When the military adopts similar practices, though, it can raise questions. In May, USA Today reported that the US Navy had begun using VR as part of its recruitment efforts, contributing to a 126% increase in leads. The British Army recently reported a similar effect. The carefully curated VR scenarios may give recruits an unrealistic view of their future jobs. As USA Today put it, the training allows the military to "downplay the very real dangers and risks that members of the armed forces face." A Navy spokesperson did not comment.

To be sure, all recruiting and training materials, including traditional video, tend to accentuate the positive. But the immersive nature of VR means that it can make a stronger, more lasting impression on recruits and employees.

See the full story here: https://www.wired.com/story/when-vr-training-makes-the-job-look-better-than-it-is/

20Sep/17Off

Experience the border in virtual reality. Here’s how, and why.

636414242630869791-01"We have created a groundbreaking, immersive experience that allows the audience to place themselves in the story, offering a view of the people, places, issues and habitats along our southern border many would not otherwise be able to experience firsthand.”

The three on-the-ground experiences for "The Wall" allow you to immerse yourself into a virtual representation of three locations along the border:

  • Near Tecate, where a steel border fence marks the line through rocky hillsides between California and Mexico.
  • In the middle of a canyon in Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, where thousand-foot cliffs soar higher than any border wall could be built.
  • At the foot of Mount Cristo Rey, home of a religious shrine near El Paso, which serves as a pilgrimage site for people in both the U.S. and Mexico.

In addition to the virtual reality, you can also experience a dozen videos and accompanying slideshows that capture stories along the border. One is the story of U.S. citizen Selene Ramirez as she searches for her brother, who went missing days after he crossed the border illegally into the U.S.

See the full story here: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/border-issues/2017/09/19/border-wall-virtual-reality/618982001/

20Sep/17Off

Was that real or VR? Learn how to make virtual reality lifelike from top researchers

“These courses combine theory – the basic psychology of how VR works – with practical production skills. All the time learners are doing the practical work, they are also having to think about the psychology behind it.”

The Specialization includes five course modules, starting with an introduction to Virtual Reality, designed for non-technical learners interested in gaining a basic understanding of the applications of VR. At the end, learners have the chance to use the skills developed in each course to create their own Virtual Reality game. Throughout the Specialization, learners get hands-on experience using leading technology tools for Virtual Reality, including Unity.

See the full story here: https://blog.coursera.org/real-vr-learn-make-vr-lifelike-top-researchers-university-london/

20Sep/17Off

PulteGroup Integrates Cutting-Edge Virtual Reality Technology into Its Sales Process for Innovative New Community in Atlanta

Building on its successes, PulteGroup has recently deployed a virtual sales center at one of its highly-anticipated communities in Atlanta, Parkside at Mason Mill, a 341 urban infill development near Decatur with a blend of luxury single-family homes, townhomes and condos. This community operates under the Pulte Homes brand.

According to Brent Landry, vice president of operations for the Georgia Division, “Many of us have become familiar with virtual reality on HGTV and other home improvement shows. This technology has come a long way in recent years and can help our customers visualize their new Pulte home like never before.  There is also a coolness factor that helps to drive traffic and create excitement, plus the power of the technology itself has led to sales at a number of communities throughout the country.”

Upon visiting the sales center at Parkside, consumers can take themselves through a self-guided tour using a gaming controller to view the floor plan on a large screen TV. The virtual reality imaging gives the homebuyer a lifelike feel for the flow of the house and how the individual spaces work together within a plan. Sales people are always on hand to assist the buyers in using the technology and to answer any questions they may have.

While Parkside buyers have only seen the virtual home designs or the renderings, the community has already sold more than 20 homes in the initial pre-selling efforts.

See the full story here: http://www.euroinvestor.com/news/2017/09/19/pultegroup-integrates-cutting-edge-virtual-reality-technology-into-its-sales-process-for-innovative-new-community-in-atlanta/13675309

20Sep/17Off

Ikea set to debut an augmented reality app (AI)

retailer ar vr ai adoptionIkea is rolling out a new augmented reality (AR) application, called Ikea Place, according to Retail Dive.

Ikea Place will be available at the end of September in Apple's App Store, and customers with Apple devices running iOS 11 will be able to use it to view how items would look in their home.

The app scales products with 98% accuracy, and shoppers can move them virtually around a room. More than 2,000 products will be available in AR on the launch date, and the selection will be primarily focused on larger furniture, such as sofas, arm chairs, and coffee tables.

One of retailers' top priorities is to figure out how to gain an edge over Amazon. To do this, many retailers are attempting to differentiate themselves by creating highly curated experiences that combine the personal feel of in-store shopping with the convenience of online portals.

These personalized online experiences are powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This is the technology that enables e-commerce websites to recommend products uniquely suited to shoppers, and enables people to search for products using conversational language, or just images, as though they were interacting with a person.

Using AI to personalize the customer journey could be a huge value-add to retailers. Retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It could also boost profitability rates 59% in the wholesale and retail industries by 2035, according to Accenture.

See the full story here: http://www.businessinsider.com/ikea-set-to-debut-an-augmented-reality-app-2017-9

18Sep/17Off

UCLA Engineering/Cinema – Augmented Reality: Making it secure, fast, efficient and resilient

aug_reality2-2A team of researchers from UCLA and New Mexico State University have received $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation and Intel to integrate augmented reality into new wireless networks. The project aims to develop augmented reality applications on top of the new NDN network architecture to address the limitations in performance, scalability and availability with today’s TCP/IP architecture.

“A fully realized AR environment  would not be too far from what science fiction movies have depicted, as many of the necessary components are emerging, including both very high speed wireless technologies and advanced applications such as AR, ” said Lixia Zhang, UCLA’s Jon Postel Chair in Computer Science and the lead principal investigator on the project. “However currently, a major bottleneck in the way is the existing network architecture. We want to use this project to showcase how our newly developed NDN architecture can fully utilize the latest wireless technologies to support AR and promote innovative new applications.”

The new project that will explore these challenges is called “ICN-Enabled Secure Edge Networking with Augmented Reality” or ICE-AR. It builds on seven years of research from the NSF-funded Named Data Networking (NDN) project , which is a multi-campus research effort and directed by Zhang.  Half of the $2 million in funding will come from grants from National Science Foundation , the other half of funding comes from Intel.

The new project has four research goals:

  • Build an operational AR demonstration system, an AR campus browser, on an NDN network that runs over high speed heterogeneous wireless technologies.
  • Design robust and resilient networking support for AR that can withstand major network failures.
  • Transition the delivery of content to one that utilizes in-network storage and processing, is highly individualized, fast, and efficient.
  • Incorporate comprehensive security and privacy throughout the system from the start by utilizing the security building blocks provided by the NDN architecture.

See the full story here: http://engineering.ucla.edu/augmented-reality-making-it-secure-fast-efficient-and-resilient/

18Sep/17Off

VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Virtual_Reality_VR_DataOver the weekend, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) released its draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam. The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). It then makes specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security. VRIF aims to release the full guidelines, with an emphasis on an open ecosystem, at CES 2018 in January.

“They will be supported by interoperability test streams that enable rapid and independent development and deployments of VR services based on VRIF’s guidelines,” notes the press release.

“What is so unique about these guidelines is they take the interests of all ecosystem participants into account and focus on important, but often overlooked factors,” said Paul Higgs of Huawei, chair of the Guidelines Working Group and board member of VRIF. “The VR industry is starting to move away from proprietary systems and toward large scale solutions, and the Guidelines facilitate that transition.”

“The purpose of presenting a draft of the guidelines at IBC is to give the public a chance to review them and identify any issues, so that we can incorporate as much relevant information as possible,” he added.

VRIF has grown to 40 members, including Dolby, DTS, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm, Sony Pictures, Technicolor and Verizon, among others.

Other standardization efforts related to VR and immersive experiences are underway through Khronos Group’s VR Standard Initiative, the IEEE Digital Senses Initiative, SMPTE, and the Industry of VR Alliance.

VRIF is seeking feedback on the draft standards via its website and GitHub by October 31, 2017.

18Sep/17Off

News: Comedy Club Stages First Virtual Reality Gig

86f9343a-8651-4fcd-9cfe-0fc5aff3aedd_0*Update - Phil Ellis has said on Facebook that he is also doing this a day before Quinne, so maybe he is the first...

See the full story here: https://www.beyondthejoke.co.uk/content/4537/news-comedy-club-stages-first-virtual-reality-gig

18Sep/17Off

Magnetic brain stimulation helps “unlearn” crippling fear of heights

unlearn-fear-2Advances in technology over the last decade have led to a swift rise in the volume of research surrounding transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and its therapeutic effects. A team from the Würzburg University Hospital in Germany has just published a new study demonstrating how TMS, in conjunction with a virtual reality experience, can help alleviate anxiety disorders and essentially help people "unlearn" fears.

TMS devices have already been approved to treat migraines and some major depressive disorders, but other research is looking into its uses as a learning aid and a way to help visually-impaired people navigate the world.

Thirty-nine subjects with an active fear of heights were split into two groups, including a control group which received fake TMS. The groups received 20 minutes of either real or fake TMS directed at the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, followed by virtual reality exposure to a dizzying height. After two sessions the group treated with the TMS prior to VR exposure exhibited reduced anxiety and avoidance symptoms compared to the control group that didn't receive the TMS.
And the next fear that is being tackleed? Arachnophobia.
See the full story here: http://newatlas.com/brain-stimulation-vr-unlearn-fear/51379/