philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


FoxNext to Open ‘Alien: Descent’ Location-Based Virtual Reality Experience

alien_xenomorph_stillFans can grab their weapons at the first installation of Alien: Descent, a free-roaming virtual reality experience at The Outlets at Orange in Orange County, Calif., that opens April 26, the so-called Alien Day celebration of the Fox franchise.

FoxNext Destinations and Pure Imagination Studios have created the multiplayer experience based on the Alien property. Additional locations will be added.

It's enabled by wireless technology developed by Pure Imagination, which allows up to four guests to move about untethered in this VR world, without the use of PC backpacks or wires. Each guest is armed with a prop weapon and motion-tracking sensors on their arms and legs. Environmental effects and motion platforms are designed to further simulate a descent into the heart of the Alien threat.

“VR attractions bring together immersive entertainment with social experiences that can’t be replicated in the living room. The rich storytelling opportunities in the Alien universe makes it a perfect fit for cutting-edge destination entertainment,” said Salil Mehta, president of FoxNext.

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8 Circuit Studios will use blockchain to build the Metaverse

8 Circuit Studios hopes to use blockchain, cryptocurrency, and other collaboration tools to build the Metaverse, the digital universe envisioned in novels by William Gibson and Neal Stephenson and featured in movies Ready Player One, TRON, and The Matrix.

That’s a very ambitious mission. But 8 Circuit Studios  (named after a theory about the human nervous system) in Seattle has a lot of veterans from games, and it hopes to develop a new ecosystem where all participants — gamers, developers and publishers — could collaborate and work together to bring about the Metaverse sooner than we might think is possible. The company is developing two games that will show off the tech in the coming months.

8 Circuit Studios wants to build the foundation for eliminating the barriers between game worlds, while also creating a platform to make entry easy for both gamers and developers. Players will experience the opportunity to truly own their stuff, while game developers and publishers will find new and profitable methods to develop even more highly immersive games.

“It may feel like a long road to get to cross-platform avatars, but it’s shorter than you might think,” Mayo said.

Mayo believes that you can leverage the power of blockchains — which are immutable ledgers that are transparent and secure — and cryptocurrency, game developers will be able to create the first step toward a functional Metaverse. The blockchains can provide truth telling and enforcement for digital objects — an idea shared by the likes of Philip Rosedale, who is incorporating blockchain into his High Fidelity open-source virtual reality platform.

Mayo said the first step is to make blockchains easy to use. The second is to make them fun, and the third is to show people how to actually own their digital stuff in a completely new way.

With blockchains, players will never have to ask permission from a central authority to give, trade, or sell their digital assets. 8 Circuit Studios will use the Ethereum cryptocurrency to create, attribute and safeguard digital assets — based on Smart Game Objects — that you can own and store, along with your cryptocurrency, in a virtual wallet.

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HTC Vive Pro Gets Augmented Reality Features

The HTC Vive Pro HMD, which started shipping this month for $799 for just the headset or $1,099 for a starter kit, increases the resolution of the original Vive by 78%, adds 3D spatial audio through built-in headphones and includes two built-in microphones and better light-blocking.

Vive will be getting a wireless adapter soon as well, making it possible to use VR without having to worry about being physically tethered to your computer. The Vive wireless adapter will be powered by Intel’s WiGig Wireless and a Li-Ion battery. The company says on the official website for the Pro that it’s coming soon.

Also coming soon, are base stations that will allow a person to increase the size of their trackable playspace from 15 foot by 15 foot to 32 foot by 32 foot. The new base stations will also be able to track multiple users at the same time. HTC calls this Steam VR 2.0 tracking and when it hits, along with the wireless adapter, users will finally have a HTC Vive 2.0.

The addition of AR to the virtual reality headset expands Vive’s offering into a space that Apple and Google are battling over.

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Why the real promise of virtual reality is to change human connection

jbareham_160322_0986_0084_fin.0.0.pngRubin is a journalist at Wired and the author of Future Presence: How Virtual Reality Is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life, out today from HarperCollins. The Verge spoke to Rubin about VR intimacy, its social powers and downsides, and why VR porn is surprisingly quaint

Jaron Lanier, who famously popularized the term “virtual reality” and was one of the early pioneers of VR as a consumer idea, called it “the conversion moment,” or when people start believing in the virtual reality world they’re in. Your rational brain always knows that stuff is outside the headset, but the reptilian brain doesn’t. That unlocks everything we talk about in the book.

I can almost guarantee you that a cocktail party in VR is invariably more fun and more rewarding than a cocktail party in real life, and maybe that would be my answer: let’s go do this in VR.

To bring up Jaron Lanier again, I once asked him the very best thing he could imagine in VR, and what he said was, “Performance artists who, rather than creating art, they create reality and they do it in real time.”

I bring that up as an example of a thing that doesn’t have a precedent. There’s a role for AI in this, too.

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Google Builds Augmented Reality Microscope to Detect Cancer

ai-cancerGoogle has shown in the past that a neural network can accelerate diagnosis of cancer in digital images, but most pathologists are using compound light microscopes to examine slides. The solution was the Augmented Reality Microscope. With this system, Google’s AI sees an image in the microscope in real time along with the doctor. Then, it overlays analysis on top of that image.

The first piece of the puzzle was getting a neural network trained on what is and is not cancer. This is another convolutional neural network like the one used to isolate voicesand spot planets. Working with pathologists, Google Research accumulated thousands of histological images. The result was a pair of cancer detection algorithms: one detects breast cancer metastases in lymph nodes, and the other spots prostate cancer. They work at magnifications between 4x and 40x.

The goal is not to replace the pathologist — you probably don’t want to trust your entire cancer screening to a machine just yet. That’s why the neural network is tied to the ARM system. It’s like an instant second opinion.

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Coachella & Eminem Hit High Notes with Augmented Reality Mobile Apps

giphyThe app, crafted using ARKit and ARCore, offers a pair of experiences involving the artist accompanied by snippets of his music. The first imagines a super-sized Eminem towering over a skyline, with helicopters surrounding him as if he were King Kong. The second experience opens a virtual portal to a stage in the desert.

In addition, an AR animation featuring Marshall Mathers acting as perhaps the worst spokesperson for a brand is unlocked by scanning the marvelously meta Mom's Spaghetti logo for the pop-up restaurant the artist brought to Coachella. "It's not that good," says Slim Shady after virtually vomiting plates of pasta.

Another AR experience, ominously titled "Stan's Basement," will arrive in a future update. The app also enables some AR content that is only available during live performances.

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Apparently high-definition vinyl is coming next year

A close up shot of a running record player spinning out some music, dramatically lit with orange light.  Horizontal with copy space.

A close up shot of a running record player spinning out some music, dramatically lit with orange light. Horizontal with copy space.

Specifically, converting analog audio information into a digital, 3D topographic map of the music, and then etching that into a platter with light. According to Pitchfork, this process will result in around 40 percent longer playing times per side, 30 percent more amplitude and will offer better sound quality overall. It'd also sidestep the chemicals typically used in the record-making process.

That's right, your existing turntable will play these and your collection of vintage records. It probably won't stop labels from putting out new versions of their classic catalogs at an even higher price, however.

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From blockchain to augmented reality, Canada’s big banks aim to patent the future of finance

bankGetting updates on your bank account in augmented reality. Credit scores built on blockchain. Payment requests that involve scanning would-be recipients with facial recognition technology.

But with patenting, there is no guarantee that an idea will come to fruition. Death also said that there is never a “silver-bullet patent,” and that it is “clusters and groups” of patents that show where an organization may be focused.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website, its backlog of yet-to-be-examined patent applications was 540,677 filings long as of February.

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Google Opening Up VR180 Virtual Reality Format to Devs

Google is opening up its VR180 video format to any developer or tech pro who wants to experiment with it.

For those who don’t follow the virtual reality (VR) industry that closely, VR180 is a format that allows creators to record immersive videos in 4K resolution. On the software side, components for immersive video include the Spherical Video Metadata V2 standard, along with the Camera Motion Metadata Spec; for photos, there’s the VR Photo Format that Google originally developed for the Cardboard Camera.

Google has released details about the platform to GitHub and the Google Developer website. If you’re curious about VR and/or photography, its information is well worth checking out.

In contrast to Facebook, HTC and Valve, all of which have pursued VR from the angle of high-cost headsets (the Oculus Rift, in the case of Facebook; the Vive, in the case of HTC and Valve), Google has long focused on “democratizing” VR through ultra-cheap headsets and a more open developer ecosystem. In this fashion, the search-engine giant is following the playbook it pioneered with Android, which it gave away free to phone and tablet manufacturers. In theory, a free or low-cost platform will grow very quickly, allowing its creator to seize massive chunks of market-share (albeit at the expense of profits).

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Take A VR Trip Through The Human Digestive System In Gutland

Gutland_artwork_02-936x1024Metamucil, Australia’s number one fibre supplement brand, has taken a step into virtual reality (VR) to help education views on the journey their pills take through the digestive system and how they keep things ticking over smoothly.

The experience, titled Gutland, was shown off as a first-of-its-kind pop-up event hosted at the Darling Harbor, Sydney yesterday.

What sets Metamucil’s Gutlandexperience apart is that you can physically touch everything you see in the VR world.  Everything you place your hands on real world is exactly matched by virtual objects inside Gutland.

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