philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Magic Leap Headset Hits FCC Ahead of Confirmed Summer Launch

magic-leap-fcc-768x431Magic Leap is soon to launch its first AR headset, the Magic Leap One. We don’t know exactly when or how much, but following the company’s confirmation that the headset is due to launch this Summer, the product has hit the FCC for certification.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is tasked with certifying products with electromagnetic emissions to be safe and compatible with regulations. Products utilizing radio, WiFi, infrared, etc. need certification before they can be distributed for sale. Certification by the FCC marks one step closer to the launch of consumer electronics product.

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This wearable allows humans to control machines with their mind

This wearable allows humans to control machines with their minds from CNBC.

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The best augmented reality I saw this year was live theater funded by a liquor company

Whiskey-sponsored immersive theater. Snickers escape rooms. Immersive branding is just getting started.

World Bleed

Funding improbable art

Year of the Snickers Escape Room

Another experience, just a few days later, reminded me that these immersive experiences are only increasing.

Snickers set up an out-of-the-way, one-day-only escape room just a day after my immersive theater adventure: The Hunger Bunker. I went, because I like escape rooms. The pop-up was a clear, obvious advertisement for new Snickers flavors. The escape room was a 10-minute challenge, set up in an enclosed area designed to look like a vault in the warehouse-size space that was laid out in industrial decoration and lots of bowls of mini Snickers.

I solved the escape room challenges with two "influencers" and few employees of Mars. I watched a video on an old TV screen in front of a sofa, that explained our mission. We put together pieces of tubing on a puzzle-table. We answered trivia questions. We put our hands in mysterious holes to activate buttons. We eventually beat the clock and won the challenge.

It wasn't a great escape room, but it was free. Josh Olken, brand director for Snickers, said that while this was a one-off experience, more things like it could come. If a thing like this ended up in a mall or a park or an airport -- well, I'd probably enjoy playing.

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HTC tests multi-room Vive VR

8QPnEnB5xuK4v2EtEDitY5-970-80HTC has demonstrated a feature expected in SteamVR 2.0: tracking of a virtual reality space across rooms.

Current room-scale VR with an HTC Vive is designed for a simple area with a diagonal of up to 5m. HTC Vive President Alvin Wang Graylin posted a video on Twitter showing what we can expect from the next generation of VR sensor software.

The video shows someone moving between rooms with a Vive Pro headset on. It opens-up the potential to turn our houses into VR-arcade-like spaces. If you’re willing to get rid of all the trip hazards, anyway.

In HTC’s video, two sensors are used in each of the rooms. They are SteamVR 2.0 base stations, a new kind of room tracker compatible with the HTC Vive Pro. These sensors increase the maximum play area to a huge 10m by 10m.

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The future of online shopping: Ads that let you try things on

1531498998503How it works: A user who sees a digital ad using AR could see what a pair of glasses looks like on their face, or what a rug would look like in their living room, before making a purchase.

  • The ads are also digitally targeted to users based on their preferences, increasing the likelihood that they'd be interested in the product to begin with.

The big picture: Until now, AR has mostly been used in marketing at the "top of the funnel," meaning it helps drive general awareness around brands. By making it possible to buy things through AR, the technology can now be used closer to the "bottom of the funnel," meaning it can push people to actually buy products.

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HTC believes VR reality finally catching up with hype

HTC-china-president-alvin-gralinHTC’s China president Alvin Wang Graylin (pictured) asserted virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) applications are now living up to their promise after years of hype, as new products facilitate widespread adoption.

Graylin told Mobile World Live the second generation of (standalone) VR and AR headsets are making it easier than ever for users to jump into other worlds by removing the hassle of purchasing expensive systems and setting up wired gear. The shift is proving to be an incentive for prospective users to give VR a shot, he claimed.

Graylin also shared success stories from HTC’s venture capital investment programme and outlined a vision for the future in which the world’s many viewing panes combine into a “shared screen”.

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MinorityVR Release New Virtual Reality Travel Experience Taking Users To Finland

Trek_02-1024x576Montréal based virtual reality (VR) studio MinorityVR, in collaboration with the Canada Media Fund (CMF) Finavia, Finnair and Visit Finland, have announced the launch of a new travel VR experience titled Trek: Travel Around the World. This new VR experience will give users the chance explore the beauty of the world across a number of destination with stunning detail and photorealistic quality.

In Trek: Travel Around the World, the adventure starts within the users new Helsinki based apartment. From here they will be transports to a number of experiences which each take place in a different real-world location. Some of the destinations include catching fish in the Archipelago in order to fill the sky with the majestic Northern Lights, powering the city of Helsinki as a giant in the capital of Finland, and even tracing the stars to highlight the constellations in the sky. Trek: Travel Around the World takes the world and makes it a virtual playground for users all while showcasing the stunning beauty of Finland.

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USC’s Bravemind gives OC Fair attendees firsthand look at how VR can help with PTSD

Fairgoers can try "Bravemind," the therapeutic virtual reality tool to get an idea what an Iraq veteran's combat experience was like. (Photo/Courtesy of Terry Moore)

Fairgoers can try "Bravemind," the therapeutic virtual reality tool to get an idea what an Iraq veteran's combat experience was like. (Photo/Courtesy of Terry Moore)

Also on display are items donated by Chris Merkle, an Orange County-based Marine who served 14 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the items: helmets, body armor, personal photos and even a flag confiscated from Saddam Hussein’s house.

Firsthand look at using VR to treat PTSD

Merkle used Bravemind for his PTSD. It wasn’t easy at first.

“It took six months for me to say ‘OK,’ ” he said about trying it the first time. “I don’t want to be immersed in my worst nightmare.”


Merkle, who used to describe himself as an “angry guy” because of his PTSD, is now hoping to help others. He’s halfway through a PhD in clinical psychology. He said he’s kept at it because of the mental health professionals who helped him.

“My hopes are that it reduces the stigma of PTSD,” he said of the exhibit. “There’s the physical wounds of war and the invisible wounds of war. And it’s like an infection. If you don’t treat it, it will get worse.”

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Mixed reality art is lost in the madness of Times Square

dims-2Unmoored is largely the same across both the app and HoloLens versions, especially if you plug in your earphones. The main difference is the headset offers a slightly more immersive experience as you won't have to hold up a phone.

's a familiar scene, one that seems plucked right out of movies like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012.

Thankfully, Unmoored isn't as heavy handed. Chin told Engadget that while the piece is in part about the impact of climate change, he's more interested in how people make sense of what they see. He wants the viewer to walk away wondering what the installation was about, and to discover the answer for themselves.

around Times Square for an extended period) is in the late afternoon, when the sun's relentless rays are blocked by buildings on the west. Tourists will have a fun time taking in the spectacle and marveling at the tech -- a combination that is undeniably New York. Those seeking a deeper meaning may be better off waiting for Unmoored to move to a quieter location.

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Seattle zoo turns to virtual reality and beacon technology to give visitors a closer look at animals

IMG_5230-1260x893In an effort to shed more light on animal behavior, their welfare and more, the zoo is testing two new technological initiatives in the new Assam Rhino Reserve — home to two greater one-horned rhinos named Taj and Glenn.

The first tech undertaking involves a virtual reality experience in partnership with Oculus and its team based in Seattle. A first-of-its-kind project, the experience features a 360-degree video showcasing a day in the life of the rhinos. From the viewpoint of a caretaker, users will get an exclusive look at everything from the rhino’s dietary needs to what it looks like in the “rain room” where it showers.

“The surprising part about zoos — not only this one, but almost all zoos — is that the most interesting part of what happens in the zoo — the care, the veterinary care, the trainer, the keepers — all that happens behind the scenes,” Grajal said.

That second tech feature, called Rhino Lookout, involves the use of Bluetooth beacons placed strategically and discreetly around the area where the rhinos are living. In partnership with Bellevue, Wash.-based Footmarks, the zoo is using the beacons to help push expanded digital content to the smartphones of visitors already using the zoo’s mobile application.

“Imagine a future in which you can explore Assam Rhino Reserve at your leisure or simulate care activities, regardless of where you are,” said Wei Ying Wong, the zoo’s vice president of learning and innovation. “VR allows us the promise of transcending time and distance — making the zoo experience possible for everyone.”

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