philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Laurie Anderson: ‘It’s a great time to be creating new realities’

5332The moon is the focus of the latest work from avant-garde pioneer Laurie Anderson, which is fitting, given that she’s a former Nasa artist in residence. To the Moon, her new collaboration with Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang, has allowed Anderson to create a typically definition-defying journey. She says of the exhibition, which reaches Manchester international festival on 12 July: “I’m happiest when I can’t really define the work. To the Moon is an experiment in hybrids, seeing how these various media can come together and share images, stories and music.”

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E3 2019: Will Microsoft’s ‘Minecraft Earth’ take augmented reality beyond ‘Pokémon Go’?

la-1560351085-4hfwn03es4-snap-image la-1560351181-pr2niomeff-snap-imageAll eyes will be on “Minecraft Earth,” an augmented reality game coming to Android and iOS devices, which will begin beta testing in the coming weeks. Microsoft hopes the title will show that there’s far more to the experimental gaming space than “Pokémon Go.”

 But don’t overlook “Minecraft Dungeons,” due out for most major platforms in spring 2020 and designed by a relatively compact team (for a major studio at least) of 20.

East London’s OTHERWORLD Virtual Reality Arcade

Red-Deer-OTHERWORLD-London-Mariell-Lind-Hansen-014If you’ve been in London recently you may have heard talk of OTHERWORLD, a unique virtual reality arcade located within a converted railway arch. The multi-sensory immersive concept from The Dream Corporation was designed by leading London-based architectural firm Red Deer and hosts 14 virtual reality rooms as well as a craft beer and cocktail bar and pan-pacific inspired poké kitchen.

Red Deer approached the design of this space as if it were an art gallery, reaching for inspiration from lighting artists Dan Flavin and James Turrell to break down reality.

Each immersion room is a parallel universe of possibility, featuring custom-built booths (the only in the world) that are integrated with extra-sensory effects that stimulate through heat, wind, rumble, and scent for the VR experience. From there choose from 16 experiences – from climbing Mount Everest to fighting in a zombie apocalypse and so much more.

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Toyota Partners with Conill and 8th Wall to Develop Augmented Reality That Brings the Car Showroom to Customers Through Mobile Web AR Experience

toyota-corolla-ar-1.PNGBefore customers even step foot in a dealership, Toyota has partnered with Conill and 8th Wall to develop an interactive augmented reality (AR) mobile ad unit for the launch of the greater than ever 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan. The immersive web-based experience allows potential customers the ability to bring the car into their own environment, where they can explore the car’s features from the convenience of a mobile device.

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PTC Supercharges Vuforia Augmented Reality Platform with New Technology, Acquisition, Customers, and Collaborations


PTC Introduces Vuforia Engine 8.3, the Industry’s First Model-Based AR Enhanced With AI
With the introduction of Vuforia Engine 8.3, PTC is enhancing 3D AR model targets with artificial intelligence (AI). In addition to providing intuitive AR user interactions, Vuforia Engine 8.3 offers more robust AR experiences by harnessing the power of deep learning to provide advanced target recognition capabilities based on the customer’s 3D CAD model.

PTC Invests in Matterport to Visualize Factories
PTC has invested in and partnered with Matterport, a company that offers immersive 3D technology and spatial capture solutions. By partnering with Matterport, PTC is offering the first AR solution with a focus on factories, plants, and other spaces – and the people who operate them.

PTC Acquires TWNKLS to Help Customers Deploy and Adopt Augmented Reality
PTC recently acquired Netherlands-based TWNKLS, a specialized AR company that develops tailor-made AR applications and experiences and provides AR services to solve the specific challenges faced by enterprise companies.

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How to Give Virtual Reality All the Feels

190603-axe-vr-demo-embed-3_ykpv9xGuillermo Bernal, a Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, might have just figured out a solution. In 2017, Bernal launched Emotional Beasts, an effort to adapt off-the-shelf virtual reality hardware with an open-source game engine to create emotive VR avatars.

For his work, MIT awarded Bernal the 2019 Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts.

For an avatar to express simmering rage or embarrassed arousal or cautious curiosity, the computer running the avatar must be able to sense the same emotions in the live human subject.

Then there are the potential secondary effects. If you teach a computer to read emotions for the purposes of say, setting up a virtual classroom for refugees or facilitating remote mental-health diagnoses, what’s to stop some retailer from using the same tech to figure out which images and ads excite you?

Dry electrodes measure skin tension on the forehead, an indicator of how much the wearer is sweating, which in turn indicates how agitated they are. Bernal also added a heart-rate sensor on the user’s temple and tweaked the microphone to register different tones of voice.

By 2018 he had a working prototype. But modifying the hardware and writing the software is just part of the solution. Bernal also needs data. Specifically, a library of how diverse groups of people all over the world express different emotions.

The way a young, upper-middle-class white guy in America shows anger on his face isn’t necessarily the way a middle-age, working-class Chinese woman might do so.

“Emotions are more complex and socially determined than the simple positive-negative, strong-weak arousal model suggests,” a team led by New York University’s Meredith Whittaker warned in a 2018 research paper.

There could be ethical and legal obstacles. Some jurisdictions already give consumers veto power over commercial use of their physiological data, and that could limit the scope of Bernal’s data set, to say nothing of complicating any wider roll-out of empathetic VR.

“The California Consumer Privacy Act for instance covers biometric information and does not allow an exception based on the idea one’s face or other biometric information is publicly available,” Mark MacCarthy, a Georgetown University professor and privacy expert, told The Daily Beast. “The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act prohibits companies from gathering, using, or sharing biometric information without informed opt-in consent. So, figuring out your emotions from the way you look or walk or your heartbeat needs your permission.”

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Gov’t Tech – Gaming’s Biggest Week Gives Clues to Serious Technology’s Future

Right now, official efforts in this area seem to be centered on simulations and training, though even there, much of the effort is taking place at the state and local level.


Since humans get about eighty percent of their sensory input from their vision, its surprisingly easy to trick your brain into thinking that what you are seeing is, in fact, reality.

CTRL-labs Handstate 1That could change with a new invention from CTRL-labs that will let users put their real hands into a VR. The prototype device works by strapping around your wrist. As you move your hand, your muscles contract in a certain way, and the device knows how that translates into the position of your hand. It’s completely non-invasive, and feels like a large wristwatch. Yet it allows for real interaction with objects inside a VR with no camera, joystick or other buttons required.

Examples of AR are on display at E3 this year, including the huge, 6,000-square-foot Unreal Garden exhibit. The idea there is that developer Onedome has built a pretty fantastic setting, and then users can get really tripped out by having even more crazy things pop into their reality through a set of goggles.

Government should seriously rejuvenate its gamification efforts. The payoff with things like AR and VR could be almost as amazing at the technology itself.

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At its biggest conference of the year, Apple quietly laid the groundwork for a pair of smart glasses

...toward the end of its two-hour keynote last week, Apple announced a handful of developer tools designed for building augmented-reality experiences.

5d0009436fc9203e9e2c3986-1334-897Apple announced three major AR tools at WWDC 2019: ARKit 3, RealityKit, and Reality Composer.

ARKit 3, announced at WWDC 2019, is focused on how people actually interact with AR.
RealityKit is a new developer tool set that offers photo-realistic rendering, environment mapping, and realistic effects such as animation, 3D audio, and motion blur.
Reality Composer is a new app that Apple built for iOS, Mac, and the new iPadOS. It lets developers build and prototype their AR experiences even if they've never built a 3D app before, thanks to simple tools like dragging and dropping.

Each of these tools — ARKit 3, RealityKit, and Reality Composer — is readying developers for a huge AR wave. It's as if Apple knows AR is going to be very popular soon.

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Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report highlights China’s short-form videos and super apps

Screen-Shot-2019-06-12-at-3.04.16-PMIn particular, this year’s report highlighted short-form videos as a key driver of Internet usage growth in China, leading user and usage growth across all app categories. Users spent a total of nearly 600 million hours per day watching short-form videos on mobile in April 2019, more than in any other category. Short-form video leaders included Douyin (known as Tik Tok in international markets), Kuaishou and Haokan.

Another major video trend is live-streaming, especially for e-commerce platforms. Taobao got more than $14 billion GMV through live-streaming in 2018, while fashion e-commerce and social media platform Mogu attributed 24% of its GMV to live-streaming, which also had a four times repeat purchase rate.

Meituan Dianping’s “super app” is growing increasingly huge. It now includes more than 30 services (for example, restaurant reviews, reservations, movie tickets, home rentals, hotel bookings, payments, travel booking, food delivery and grocery ordering), although restaurant-related services and travel make up as much as 88% of its revenue. The company’s annual transacting users grew 26% year-over-year to 412 million.

The influence of these “super apps” can be seen outside of China in apps like Grab, Rappi and Uber, which are adding more services (for example, Uber’s app now lets you order food, reserve e-bikes and find promotions at other businesses).

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Google Scientists Generate Realistic Videos at Scale with AI

Google_Logo_SignThe systems are based on a neural architecture known as Transformers, as described in a Google Brain paper, and are autoregressive, “meaning they generate videos pixel by pixel.”

VentureBeat reports that the scientists, in a paper titled “Scaling Autoregressive Video Models” on preprint server, described that the group’s “[AI] models are capable of producing diverse and surprisingly realistic continuations on a subset of videos from Kinetics, a large scale action recognition data set of … videos exhibiting phenomena such as camera movement, complex object interactions, and diverse human movement.”

“This marks a departure from the often very narrow domains discussed in the video generation literature to date, such as artificially generated videos of moving digits or shapes, or videos depicting natural, yet highly constrained environments, such as robot arms interacting with a small number of different objects with a fixed camera angle and background,” they wrote.

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