philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Apple and Facebook join race to build augmented reality glasses design chief Sir Jonathan Ive told the New Yorker in 2015 that the user’s face was the “wrong place” for the technology, chief executive Tim Cook has begun to talk up AR. At a Utah tech conference in October, Mr Cook said AR would “take a little while” to arrive but “we will wonder, when it does, how we lived without it. Kind of how we wonder how we lived without our phones today.”

Facebook’s Mr Zuckerberg has said that it could take up to 10 years before the technology catches up with his vision for AR, even as its Oculus Research division works to solve the many tough engineering challenges involved in creating a product that is compact and lightweight yet powerful enough to use all day.

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NASA ISS Astronauts Train in Augmented Reality

nasa-625x352A new mixed-reality simulator lets International Space Station crew members hone their skills on the ground before rocketing into low Earth orbit.

By strapping on a consumer VR headset (in this case, it appears NASA is predominantly using the HTC Vive) and tapping into Unreal Engine’s integrated networking support, trainees can work together from different locations around the globe.

NASA is no stranger to emerging technologies: The agency last year launched its Mars 2030 VR experience, allowing players to conduct several short missions on the red planet.

In August, it tried out the new High Dynamic Range Stereo X (HiDyRS-X) camera in an effort to analyze video from a test of the Space Launch System’s solid rocket booster. The HiDyRS-X can capture high-speed video with orders of magnitude higher dynamic range than your smartphone.

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PTC, Flatirons Solutions join AREA BoD (AR for Enterprise Alliance)

The Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA) announced today that two new members joined the only global membership funded alliance helping to accelerate the adoption of enterprise augmented reality (AR) by creating a comprehensive ecosystem for enterprises, providers, and non-commercial institutes.

PTC, provider of the ThingWorx® industrial Internet of Things platform (IoT) and Vuforia®augmented reality platform and Flatirons Solutions, a global provider of technical information management solutions for knowledge-driven industries, joined AREA at the Sponsor Level and accepted Board of Directors seats.

AR projects in our industry continue to expand as businesses realize the potential of this technology,” said Mike Campbell, executive vice president, ThingWorx Product Management, PTC. “We joined AREA to help the industry define future enterprise AR best practices and to build relationships with important AR vendors, educational institutions, and other companies that are on the forefront of AR technology."

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The Virtual Reality Company Explores Magical New Worlds with VR Animated Series Raising a Rukus

rukusThe Virtual Reality Company announced a new, original animated virtual-reality series on Monday called Raising a Rukus. 

Raising a Rukus follows two siblings and their mischievous dog Rukus as they travel to different worlds and embark on various magical adventures together.

“We’ve all seen animated stories before, but for the first time, we’re actually immersed in this world with the characters,” VRC’s co-founder and chief creative officer Robert Stromberg tells PEOPLE.

Raising a Rukus will premiere in theaters in Canada this spring, and get wider distribution across North America later this summer.

“It will be distributed to audiences around the world over the course of the next several months,” says Primus, adding that you don’t necessarily need VR goggles to view the series. “We are taking this out to theaters to give even more people access to Raising a Rukus.

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Facebook hires Apple veteran to lead virtual reality hardware efforts at Oculus

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants the company to own the future of virtual reality, and in the short term that means putting a lot of VR headsets on a lot of faces. Even for a company with nearly 2 billion monthly active users, hardware is still an incredibly difficult beast to master. To do so, the company is hiring Michael Hillman, a 15-year veteran of Apple, to lead the VR product roadmap for Oculus as head of VR hardware.

An Oculus spokesperson tells Bloomberg that Hillman will work closely alongside Oculus COO Hans Hartmann in his role.

Oculus head of VR hardware Michael Hillman

Hillman worked in senior engineering and design roles at Apple where he worked on products like the iMac. According to his LinkedIn, Hillman spent his final four years at Apple working in a confidential hardware role. Hillman is listed as an inventor on a number of Apple patents related to displays and battery technologies. Hillman left Apple in 2015, later joining Zoox, an autonomous vehicle startup.

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HTC Wants to Use Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ to Sell Virtual Reality to the Masses

steven-spielberg-the-bfgHTC has entered a worldwide partnership with Warner Bros. to exclusively distribute virtual reality(VR) experiences for the studio’s upcoming “Ready Player One” sci-fi movie, which is being directed by Steven Spielberg and is set to be released on March 30, 2018. HTC Virtual Reality SVP Rikard Steiber told Variety that the partnership could be a break-through moment for his industry: “This movie could be defining VR to the broader public.”

As part of the partnership, HTC will distribute VR experiences through its Viveport platform for both the HTC Vive headset, as well as mobile devices. “Ready Player One” VR will also be available at film festivals and other events, and the company is looking to make some of the material available to VR arcades through its B2B platform for location-based VR.

Steiber didn’t go into details about the nature of the experiences, but said that at least some of it will be available before the movie opens.

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How Virtual Reality Brings Real Benefits to Senior Living

26693467445_534709892b_o-635x280 Rendever Health, a startup begun by a duo of graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

Since its inception, the company’s virtual reality subscription service has been praisedby Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) and adopted by other senior housing providers across the country, co-founder Dennis Lally tells Senior Housing News.

Other senior living communities, meanwhile, have warmed to virtual reality technology without the help of a third-party vendor. That’s the case at Morning Pointe of Columbia, a 42-apartment assisted living and memory care community in Columbia, Tennessee. Virtual reality has been especially popular in community’s 18-apartment memory care wing, The Lantern—a fact that took Lantern Program Director Britney Hill by surprise.

“Just because they are in a secured environment doesn’t mean they don’t have an interest in traveling and experiencing new things,” Morning Pointe of Columbia Executive Director Tyler Sneed says. The community primarily downloads free virtual reality apps for residents to use on a Samsung Gear VR headset.

Rendever, on the other hand, works with several partners that create content for Samsung Gear VR headsets, Lally says. The startup also creates its own virtual reality content, which helps mitigate any potential complications that could arise from seniors’ use of the headsets.

Sometimes, residents opt to visit memorable locations from their past, like their childhood home or their college town.

“There’s a profound reaction from that,” Lally says.

Activity directors use tablets to control the virtual reality headsets, so residents don’t have to worry about whether they’re doing it right. Rendever has also enabled a “group sync functionality,” so groups of residents can take part in the same virtual reality experience together.

For the most part, though, residents’ reluctance to try virtual reality is quickly overcome once they see other residents having fun with it, Lally and Sneed agree.

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Cost is not why more Millennials than ever are cutting the cord

The biggest reason Millennials are canceling their cable subscriptions is because they're getting enough entertainment from over-the-top streaming services like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), (NASDAQ: AMZN) Prime and Hulu. Over half of respondents said they were satisfied with what's available a la carte.

Cable has a few options to combat the rise of over-the-top streaming video services. Many providers have introduced skinny bundles in recent years. Magid Advisor Mike Vorhaus sees skinny bundles as a key part of the solution to keep customers that would otherwise leave.

But skinny bundles suffer a few problems. First, it's really difficult to create a compelling bundle of a few channels since a handful of media companies control the hundred-or-so cable networks. If a cable provider wants one channel, they have to take a whole group of channels from the media company. Moreover, skinny bundles simply focus on price, not the major conveniences of over-the-top services.

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Cord-cutting isn’t happening

Cord-cutting isn't happening.

Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. media and entertainment leader at Deloitte, told CNBC that bundling seems to be a huge deterrent for cord cutting.

While the percentage of consumers who pay for at least one streaming service has climbed from 10 percent in 2009 to 49 percent in 2016, those with TV subscriptions have remained relatively stable over the same period.

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HTC Invests in 33 More AR/VR Startups Through Vive X Accelerator

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San Francisco

  • cognitiveVR provides 3D spatial analytics and user feedback tools for VR/AR, enabling organizations to quickly and easily display analytics on their users’ sessions and collect deep metrics on user behavior and feedback.
  • Construct Studio is a bilingual independent studio dedicated to creating interactive narrative experiences for VR. Construct has recently created their first interactive VR narrative “The Price of Freedom”, based on the real events of CIA mind control program Project MK Ultra.
  • Created by founders of Phosphor Games, the studio behind the worldwide hit VR shooter ‘The Brookhaven Experiment’, Forbidden Mechanics was formed with the single-minded passion to create the greatest competitive online multiplayer shooter for VR.
  • HyperfairVR is a SaaS web-based social VR solution for enterprises. It allows businesses to self-build and easily customize their own branded VR environment, and quickly publish to multiple platforms to engage with customers and employees in VR via avatars.
  • Limitless is a cloud-based platform that aims to make it easier to create VR content. Using the Limitless VR Creative Environment, creators can animate characters directly in VR using motion controls, simplifying the animation process for newcomers and professionals alike.
  • Mindesk developed the first immersive interface for commercial CAD software in the world. With Mindesk, engineers, architects and designers can build their models naturally in VR, while collaborating in real time in the cloud.
  • Realiteer develops and distributes immersive and evidence-based programs in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which has been clinically shown to treat substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. It is working closely with world-class academic researchers to design and build these programs.
  • The Rogue Initiative is a new VR and Digital Media content studio, creating AAA cinematic interactive entertainment. The Rogue Initiative collaborates with established Hollywood talent to co-create and co-own new intellectual property in VR that can be further developed into various franchises.
  • Subdream is a social VR gaming studio founded by serial gaming entrepreneur Jikhan Jung. Subdream plans on releasing quality multiplayer games that can be played at VR arcades and at home.
  • Vertebrae is a native advertising platform for VR and AR. The headset-agnostic tech stack connects advertisers with developers and publishers to deliver immersive, native VR/AR/360 video advertising experiences.


  • Mint Muse develops immersive audio technology and innovations, providing market-leading capture devices, immersive audio workstations, rendering SDKs and live broadcasting solutions for the VR community.
  • Hexa is changing the way we experience our planet by making it easy to create and scale 3D content. Hexa automatically converts 2D photos into 3D assets and enable online retailers to create virtual equivalents of their collections and display them online.
  • Vito, a pioneering VR education game studio, inherits the philosophy of Ge Wu Zhi Zhi, which encourages learning through exploration. Its series of original content includes Nature and Science discovery, Historical and Social stories, and Physical environment simulations.
  • Invrse Reality aims to fuse physical and virtual reality. Our unique interface design and touch input will bring meaningful user experiences to your fingertips.
  • PlusOne is an AR + AI startup creating interactive intelligent human holograms which can be used by enterprises to train their employees to interact more effectively with customers.
  • Multiverse is a world-class VR studio founded by game industry veterans from places like Wevr, Disney, Riot, Ubisoft, Com2us, and CJ E&M. Multiverse is poised to create industry-defining content and help bring VR to the masses. Multiverse’s previous game, Reveries: Dream Flight, is one of the highest-rated VR games worldwide, and a top selling title on the Oculus Store.
  • Red Accent is a game creator with a strong track record developing games for console, PC and mobile. Red Accent is currently working on sports and adventure titles and is based out of Shanghai and San Francisco.
  • Byond is a cloud-based VR publishing platform empowering brands, media companies and agencies to create their own personalized interactive universe in VR. Using Byond’s tools, VR applications can be easily created and published across all platforms.
  • OVA’s StellarX it’s the best tool out there for non-programmers to develop their own VR environments in VR—and through simple grab-and-drop creation.


  • Transmind offers more than just a fun multiplayer game. Players can assume different identities in a virtual world and socialize with others, while watching videos, playing games, casually chatting, and even finding their significant others.
  • Aurora AR’s goal is to be the leader in augmented reality glass optics and device design. Our first product is a 135-degree field of view augmented reality glass that works under daylight, and is cost-effective for consumers.
  • Kiwi Technology specializes in providing consumer products with detecting and tracking technology through an RGB camera, along with 3D graphics and visual effects. KiwiFace mobile and VR SDK have been widely adopted by over a dozen major live-streaming/short video/VR products, reaching hundreds of million devices by the first half of 2017.
  • Shengda provides VR solutions and training for vocational and K-12 education to replace hazardous experiment/training for employees, such as working with high- voltage engines in electrical vehicles. Shengda also helps local governments build up VR education centers in Shenzhen, Sichuan, Chongqing, and Jilin.
  • Brokencolors builds and integrates head-based sensing technologies that bring the users’ gaze, facial expressions, and mindsets into the virtual world. Our sensing technologies are creating a more immersive experience for VR users.
  • bHaptics enables users to enjoy VR with visual, auditory, and haptic feedback. Our distinguished haptic devices and haptic authoring software are the ideal solution for conveniently adding appropriate haptic feedback to various VR content.
  • SoccerDream is a VR football training technology that helps clubs and academies make their players smarter, and keep them highly motivated, just as the world’s top clubs do.


  • Opaque Space is a premier developer of consumer and simulation VR experiences. Opaque Space is developing the acclaimed VR game Earthlight and collaborating with NASA to develop VR training tools for the next generation of astronauts.
  • Snobal builds tools to enable businesses to better collaborate and engage via interactive, photo-realistic 3D virtual experiences. Snobal aims to extend and enhance existing customer, partner and workplace engagement and co-creation experiences in roles responsible for leading growth, strategy, marketing, communications, and research and development.
  • Memora is a global leading 360-degree camera manufacturer that provides a new way to communicate and archive moments in 360VR and AI.
  • Xikaku develops AR technology for applications in industrial and medical fields. Our first product, the X-Visor, is an analysis and visualization system allowing factory personnel do precise and efficient machine inspection using an overlay of real-time sensor data. Our systems provide a platform to dramatically enhance the capabilities and skills of human resources in mission critical applications.
  • Appnori Inc. is a sports-focused VR game development company, developing games such as baseball and table tennis, which can be enjoyed by all users regardless of age.
  • VRANI’s goal is to provide VR’s fantastic experiences to users by focusing on interactive VR characters. Through four core-playing experiences, Easy-Play, Extreme-Play, Interactive-Play and Multi-Play, we create fun and easy casual VR content.
  • TEGway is a manufacturer of flexible thermoelectric device (F-TED). TEGway developed the world’s first high performance F-TED. Based on F-TED technology, TEGway is introducing “ThermoReal”® solution which enables players to feel temperature and pain in the game/VR/AR environment.

Each accepted company gets an undisclosed investment and hands-on mentorship from HTC. Although part of HTC, the company says Vive X investments do not include “onerous deal terms that would exclude other platforms,” so that devs remain free to put their VR/AR wares where they see fit.

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