philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Augmented-reality startup Magic Leap nabs $542M from Google, others

1669431923[Philip Lelyveld comment: Congratulations to Michael Leventhal, Vice President Corporate Legal & Business Affairs at Magic Leap, Inc.  ---  Oculus already announced their intention to make an AR version of their headset. It will come down to the richness of the ecosystem that they, or some other companies, build. (I'm working with the 'other' companies.)]

The search giant led a $542 million investment round in a startup called Magic Leap, which hopes to eventually replace computer and smartphone screens with virtual-reality interfaces. The company, founded in 2011 and based in Florida, makes a head-mounted device that acts like glasses. Turn the technology on, and it displays computer-generated images on top of what a wearer normally sees.

Now Google is investing in Magic Leap as well. And its interest goes beyond giving the company money: Sundar Pichai, the Google executive in charge of the company's Android mobile operating system and Chrome Web browser, will join Magic Leap's board of directors.

"We are looking forward to Magic Leap's next stage of growth, and to seeing how it will shape the future of visual computing," Pichai said in a statement.

See the full story here:


Google changes ‘to fight piracy’ by highlighting legal sites

_78398891_456167538(1)-2Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page.

Crucially, however, these will be adverts - meaning if legal sites want to appear there, they will need to pay Google for the placement.

The BPI said that while it was "broadly" pleased with Google's changes, it did not think sites should have to pay.

"There should be no cost when it comes to serving consumers with results for legal services," a spokesman told the BBC.

See the full story here:


How movie-makers read your mind

p028vlz9What kind of new technology?

Some are pinning their hopes on emotion-sensing software, such as Affectiva, a company with roots in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These firms use computer programs to analyse video feeds of a focus groups’ faces to judge their reactions: every subtle facial flicker can reveal whether they are amused, afraid, engaged or bored. So the next time a Hollywood studio previews a movie at a test screening, cameras in the auditorium might be viewing the audience just as intently as the moviegoers are watching the screen.

What’s the point? Aren’t test audiences already quizzed?

Yes – but people are unreliable. They might forget exactly which scenes they enjoyed and which they didn’t, or they might not articulate their engagement with the movie clearly. With a moment-by-moment breakdown of their emotional state, Hollywood studies should get a much better sense of the parts of a new film that moved an audience – and the parts that made them want to move towards the exit.


To find out more about the way that new technology is changing arts and the media, check out the World-Changing Ideas Summit in New York on 21 October. BBC Future will be covering the event in full – so watch this space.

See the full story here:


The Keecker ‘home pod’ is a mobile projector, speaker, and security system all rolled into one

Lebeau’s project is called Keecker, an egg-shaped device that scoots around your house and uses a built-in projector and speaker array to turn any wall into a wide screen for displaying your movies, games, or digital art.

It’s hard to imagine a mass market for Keecker, especially at the $3,000 to $4000 price point Lebeau is currently planning. They definitely need to come up with a better descriptor than "home pod." But what’s appealing about the device isn’t affordable utility, but how quirky and unique it is. Keecker is a stab at the futuristic robot butler we’ve all dreamed of having, a smart servant that makes your living space feel genuinely sci-fi.

See the full story here:


Riftmax Theater Heads to Kickstarter to Improve the Social VR Theater Experience

3914857440Riftmax Theater is one of the most interesting projects currently underway for virtual reality. The software acts as a theater for both videos and live performances, where users can come together from across the world to watch a film or be part of a live production, all with the immersive power of VR. The developers have been supporting the community with their software since the early days of the Oculus Rift and are now headed to Kickstarter to take it to the next level.

Riftmax Theater currently supports the Oculus Rift DK1 and DK2 VR headsets, along with the Razer Hydra motion controller. Players can host or join lobbies which transport them into a virtual theater which can be configured to watch movies, host theater productions, or even just to socialize. With the Razer Hydra motion controller, players can control their hands naturally to gesture while they speak, adding an impressive level of realism to virtual interactions with other players.

Riftmax Theater allows anyone to host their own virtual show, and is home to several recurring live events like the weekly Karaoke Night hosted by Troach & Bilago, and Virtually Incorrect With Gunter, a talk show focusing on virtual reality.

The developer provides the following list of ‘priority items’ they seek to add with funding from their crowdfunding campaign:

  • Providing users with the means to put on a variety of different shows/performances including the ability to monetize them.

The game won ‘Best Social Experience’ at the Proto Awards in September.

See the full story here:

17Oct/14Off’s New Wearable Can Call And Text Without A Phone

o92a1105He’s been talking about this device for a while now, referring to it as more of a fashion technology than a watch. And he’s right. The device, called the PULS, is much more than a watch. It’s definitely a wearable that has a watch in it, but it also has a GPS map system, a music player, fitness tracker that tracks your steps, weight and calories burned, social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, can hold 1 GB of memory, 16 GB storage, bluetooth connectivity, and runs on a proprietary OS.’s new wearable technology company will also carry a jacket that powers the PULS, a backpack with a sound system, glasses that will take pictures by tapping on the PULS and shoes that tell you how much you weigh and how many steps you’ve made per day. All wearables hook in with the PULS to either help you track information about yourself or power the device. The device itself has a built-in mirrored sim so your phone and the device can use the same number. Developers can also build apps for the PULS. Apps like Humin and Esri already work with the device.

See the full story here:


‘Holographic’ Leap Motion VR Interface Named as “World of Comenius”, Developer Shares Details

[Philip Lelyveld comment: 15 seconds into this video the developer shows how you could effectively integrate VR into the movie-viewing experience.  In the Disney 3D movie G-Force, the animators slowly reduced the height of the letterbox in one scene so that when popcorn flew towards the audience it looked like it flew beyond the boundaries of the frame.  At 15-25 seconds into the video, this developer shows how flying through stars (or light rays) could extend out of the image to the world around you as a storytelling device.  This plays into the Oculus story a few days ago about creating a movie-theatre viewing VR experience for the rift.]

The project fused Leap Motion skeletal hand tracking with Oculus Rift DK2 positional tracking to produce an impressively intuitive VR interface. Now, a new video of the interface  shows impressive progress. 

World of Comenius seems to be that rarest of projects, one that takes new technology and harnesses it to break ground in areas that may prove beneficial to society in general. It’s the first project of its kind that has demonstrated to me a killer app for Leap Motion in VR and at the same time shows the possibilities for VR outside of traditional games and media consumption.

See the full story here:


Letting go of an obsession with net neutrality could free technologists to make online services even better.

The two sides in the net neutrality debate sometimes seem to speak two different languages, rooted in two different ways of seeing the Internet. Their contrasting perspectives reflect the fact that the Internet arose in an ad hoc fashion; there is no Internet constitution to cite.

When Tim Wu talked about net neutrality a decade ago, he framed it as a way of ensuring maximum competition on the Internet. But in the current debate, that rationale is in danger of being coöpted into a protectionist defense of the status quo. If there’s anything the Internet’s evolution has taught us, it’s that innovation comes rapidly, and in unexpected ways. We need a net neutrality strategy that prevents the big Internet service providers from abusing their power—but still allows them to optimize the Internet for the next wave of innovation and efficiency.

See the full article here:


Virtual Reality: The Next 3D or Something Bigger?

Slowly but surely, Hollywood is dipping its toes into the VR waters:

• At this summer’s annual International Comic-Con in San Diego, attendees were able to experience an Oculus Rift VR experience for “Sleepy Hallow,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Pacific Rim” and “Into the Storm.”

• Ahead of and after the early November theatrical release of Christopher Nolan’s
”Interstellar,” Paramount is partnering with IMAX and AMC to show off a “first-of-its-kind” VR experience of the film, using the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2. The experience promises a virtual zero gravity immersion, inside the spacecraft from the film.

• Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have partnered with visual effects company Otoy to put together a VR experience for “Batman: The Animated Series,” an Emmy-winning series that aired on Fox from 1992-1995. The interactive, holographic experience promises a first-hand tour of the Batcave, and will be geared toward both the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR.

• Brisbane, Calif.-based technology start-up Condition One is set to release the first 100% virtual reality movie, Zero Point, a film shot in 3D, 360-degree video, optimized for the Oculus Rift.

Zero Point creator and director Danfung Dennis (a 2012 Oscar Best Documentary Feature nominee for “Hell and Back Again”) said it’s not a question of if, but when VR takes off. “And when it does emerge, it will be a major platform shift in computing with the potential to fundamentally transform entertainment and communication,” he said.

• Indie animation studio Reel FX — whose original films includes this month’s Fox release “The Book of Life,” has launched a dedicated VR division, Reel FX VR. The new arm will create VR content for platforms including the Samsung Gear VR. The studio was responsible for the “Pacific Rim” VR experience at Comic-Con

• In late August, Palo Alto, Calif.-based tech company Jaunt announced it has secured nearly $28 million in funding for its full-stack hardware and software solution for cinematic VR.

Arnaud Retureau, VP of product for M-Go — the transactional VOD entertainment service co-owned by Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation — told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance that VR differs from 3D because more can be done with it.

See the full story here:


Disney is working on more natural moving robots

As a puppeteer moves one arm, the other mimics it exactly, with no bounce back, stuttering and an imperceptible delay. The result is accurate, natural motion with impressive precision. That could lead to more convincing movie monsters, animatronic attractions without the usual stiff jitters and perhaps even more life-like fully autonomous robots that are less awkward tointeract with.

See the full story here: