philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Why Google’s CEO Is Excited About Automating Artificial Intelligence

screen-shot-2017-05-17-at-1.57.09-pmAI software that can help make AI software could accelerate progress on making computers smarter.

Deep learning teaches software to be smart by passing data through layers of math loosely inspired by biology and known as artificial neural networks. Choosing the right architecture for a neural network’s web of math is a crucial part of making something that works. But it’s not easy to figure out. “We do it by intuition,” says Quoc Le, a machine-learning researcher at Google working on the AutoML project.

Last month, Le and fellow researcher Barret Zoph presented results from experiments in which they tasked a machine-learning system with figuring out the best architecture to use to have software learn to solve language and image-recognition tasks.

On the image task, their system rivaled the best architectures designed by human experts. On the language task, it beat them.

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Half of SteamVR Tracking Course Attendees Using Tech for Non-gaming

steamvr-tracking-course-2-768x432In August of last year, Valve created the SteamVR licensing program to allow any developer to create their very own SteamVR tracked object. At that time, Valve partnered with Synapse, a Seattle-area product development firm, to provide a mandatory training program for all SteamVR licensees. Road to VR met with Synapse’s electrical engineering program lead and SteamVR Tracking instructor, Doug Bruey, to talk about the tracking system and how it will be used by companies in the future.

From his experience teaching the SteamVR Tracking course, Bruey has an inside view on what companies are doing with the technology and when we might begin to see the fruits of their labor.

We had 15 courses with 149 attendees from 113 different companies.

It was really varied. I would say it’s 50% from gaming, but from the earliest classes we saw people from a variety of different markets. We’ve seen people from the automotive industry, advertising, athletics, gaming, computers, education, hospitals, industrial training and farming. We’ve had a couple different NASA contractors come through who were working on training simulations and setups for astronauts. There’s usually a pretty big part of the class that will be working on gaming and gaming accessories but the other half will come from other markets that you may not have expected.

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Oculus Research Reveals “Groundbreaking” Focal Surface Display

Oculus Research, the VR and AR R&D division of the company, today announced a new display technology that they’re calling the “Focal Surface Display.” The display aims to improve the vergence-accommodation conflict that plagues today’s VR headsets.

Focal surface displays mimic the way our eyes naturally focus at objects of varying depths. Rather than trying to add more and more focus areas to get the same degree of depth, this new approach changes the way light enters the display using spatial light modulators (SLMs) to bend the headset’s focus around 3D objects—increasing depth and maximizing the amount of space represented simultaneously.

All of this adds up to improved image sharpness and a more natural viewing experience in VR.

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VR Society: ‘Art of VR’ to Open at Sotheby’s New York

the_martian_vrThe Advanced Imaging Society’s Virtual Reality Society aims to raise public awareness of virtual reality through "The Art of VR," a two-day festival taking place June 22-23 at Sotheby’s New York. The event will feature speakers, including filmmakers Doug Liman and Maria Bello, as well as virtual reality experiences for applications such as museums, dance, theater, film and travel.

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15-City Virtual Reality Tour Launched To Promote New Alien Movie

Regal Entertainment Group teamed with AMD, Alienware and Fox to provide a VR experience in 15 cities, inviting consumers to immerse themselves in an alien world, of sorts.

The VR demos are timed around the May 19 release of the latest alien movie, ‘Alien: Covenant.’

The VR video, with full audio, was produced and directed by Ridley Scott, the famed Alien franchise director.

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The Washington Post is diving into augmented reality

wash-post-ARReaders can access the story on the Post’s app on iOS devices, then point their smartphone’s camera at the ceiling of any room they’re in and tap play. The real ceiling is transformed into the concert hall ceiling while an audio narration by Post art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott plays. Users can also tap a prompt to read an accompanying article by Kennicott.

The Post deliberately started small, with the first video in the series only running about 10 seconds, said Joey Marburger, the Post’s head of product. “With that quick experience, you get more out of the story,” he said. “But we didn’t want it to be the only way you can experience the story. We didn’t want to overdo it.”

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BAFTA Virtual Reality Advisory Group Unveils Summer Showcase

The showcase includes fantasy Gnomes and Goblins, from Jon Favreau and VR firm Wevr, which combines elements of games and filmmaking, and the scripted supernatural drama series Invisible, from Liman's 30 Ninjas, Conde Nast Entertainment, Jaunt and Samsung.

Interactive narrative experiences include Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, from ILM XLab; and The Martian VR Experience from Twentieth Century Fox, Ridley Scott's RSA Films and The Virtual Reality Company. The selections also include Patrick Osborne’s Oscar-nominated musical short Pearl from Google Spotlight Stories.

The full list of selections, and their availability for download, can be found here.

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Google’s new Street View Ready cameras will open up a new world of VR

google-street-view-uploadGoogle Earth might make for one of the most exciting PC VR apps, but the company’s Street View app for Daydream is no slouch either, allowing you to step into 360 degree images of the world around you.

The Ready certification is split into different standards. Mobile Ready lets you publish content direct from the app, while Auto Ready devices capture frames from cameras mounted to vehicles. Workflow Ready, meanwhile, features a set of publishing tools to allow you to upload to Street View accounts.

Matterport, InsideMaps, and NCTech will all be releasing cameras under the VR Ready certification.

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Facebook’s New AI Could Lead to Translations That Actually Make Sense

FB-Translation-TA-603192409This morning, the company’s central artificial-intelligence lab released a paper describing a new technology that could accelerate the evolution of machine translation not only inside Facebook but across the internet. According to Facebook’s tests, its technique—borrowed from image recognition—produces better translations than the current state of the art, and it does so far more efficiently than other methods, which could eventually lead to even sharper translations.

Christopher Manning, a Stanford University professor who specialized in machine translation and has reviewed the paper, calls it an “impressive achievement,” particularly because it can train translation models more quickly than existing systems. And Facebook indicates that its engineers are now rolling this technique onto the company’s social network, which serves more than 1.8 billion people across the globe.

Facebook’s approach relies on neural networks, complex mathematical systems that can learn tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data.

But Facebook is taking a slightly different tack from most of the other big players. It’s using what are called convolutional neural networks, a technique invented by the venerable deep-learning researcher Yann LeCun, who now oversees Facebook’s AI lab. Rather than analyze a sentence sequentially, one piece at a time, a convolutional neural network can analyze many different pieces at once, before organizing those pieces into a logical hierarchy.

Like Google before it, Facebook is not only publishing a paper describing its new system but open-sourcing the software engine that drives the system, freely sharing the code with the world at large. It’s even sharing models it has already trained on its own data. This is part of a larger effort across the internet’s biggest companies to freely share their AI research. It means that translation will evolve far more quickly across the internet—not just on Facebook.

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Samsung’s LED Cinema Screen Passes DCI Compliance Test

Samsung-Cinema-Screen-2Samsung Electronic’s LED direct view digital cinema display has passed DCI compliance tests and can thus now be used to screen new Hollywood releases in cinemas. Having first been shown at invitation-only demonstrations at CinemaCon in late March this year, the speed with which Samsung’s potentially disruptive technology has been brought to market has taken many inside the cinema technology industry by surprise. Previously only projectors from Barco, Christie and NEC based on Texas Instrument’s DLP Cinema technology and Sony’s LCoS SXRD have been passed as DCI compliant cinema display devices.

It is widely believed that Samsung will have a commercial product before the end of this year and will promote it aggressively. Samsung’s DCI certification is also likely to spur LED cinema effort by Sony Electronics – who demonstrated their prototype at CinemaCon – and HSI Immersive, as well as other potential players.

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