philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology

14Sep/17Off

Inside Zero Latency’s Las Vegas VR Arena At The MGM Grand

The 2,000-square-foot arena, which opened last week, is the latest video game attraction for MGM’s Level Up gaming lounge. And it’s one of 20 Zero Latency arenas in operation around the globe, including locations in Orlando, Boston, Philadelphia, Wisconsin and the Poconos.

Zero Latency co-founders Tim Ruse (CEO) and Scott Vandonkelaar (CTO) told UploadVR...

mgm-grand-zero-latency-playersFeaturing an open space with no obstacles, the arena enables teams to freely explore the virtual environment together. The games have been designed to give the illusion of exploring huge spaceships or alien worlds, while players are steered through the same arena in different ways. While battling through a growing library of games (with three titles available and a fourth launching this month), teammates will see each other as full-motion avatars and stay in constant communication, allowing them to call for backup or ultimately compete for the highest score. There’s also a Zero Latency employee inside the arena with players to set them up for combat and oversee the game.

Players stay in contact with each other through Razer  headphones and are outfitted with Razer OSVR HDK2 virtual reality headsets while wearing a military-grade backpack containing a high-performance Alienware laptop computer. There’s also a custom-made, two-handed rifle that offers multiple firing options in-game.

The MGM arena charges $60 per person for a 30-minute gameplay experience.

Zero Latency is also fine-tuning a spectating system for its arenas. This will allow players to stream their play sessions across existing platforms like Twitch and Facebook Live to share with friends. But it will also set up a spectating mode for esports competition.

As Zero Latency builds out its esports strategy, Ruse said the company has been talking to brands interested in VR esports.

The esports audience could introduce brand new consumers to the Zero Latency brand. Ruse said the company’s core demographic is comprised of males 25 to 40 years of age globally. And 30% of Zero Latency customers are female.

See the full story here: https://uploadvr.com/zero-latency-mgm-grand-vegas/

14Sep/17Off

CAA Signs First Fully Virtual Reality Director In Kevin Cornish

kevin-cornish-headshot_fotorCAA has signed its first fully Virtual Reality director. Kevin Cornish, who has established himself as a leader in directing high-end, cinematic VR, putting together content for brands ranging from IBM, Google, Oculus, Discovery, MTV, AT&T, Ram Truck and AMD and has worked with such talent including Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss, has signed with the agency. It will also rep his company Moth + Flame, a full-service virtual reality agency.

Cornish is currently in production on Walking Dead VR for AMC and most recently completed Fall In Love, an AI power piece for Oculus that brings human conversation into VR. Fall In Love was shortlisted for a Cannes Innovation Lion and is a finalist for the Future of Storytelling prize.

See the full story here: http://deadline.com/2017/09/caa-signs-first-fully-virtual-reality-director-kevin-cornish-1202167515/

14Sep/17Off

Camera IQ raises $2.3M to tap augmented reality’s marketing potential

camera-iqHow’s this for a prediction: “Camera media will be bigger than TV.”

That’s according to Camera IQ CEO Allison Wood. By “camera media” she means filters, lenses and other augmented reality effects — Wood told me she’s been studying AR and camera effects for years, including a stint as an assistant professor at the Pratt Institute.

Last year, she founded Camera IQ with COO Sonia Tsao to help companies build marketing and advertising experiences for smartphone cameras. The big tech platforms have also been building their own AR tools (we’ll probably hear more about Apple’s ARKit in just a couple of hours, for example, while Facebook recently launched its own AR studio), but  Wood said it remains “quite a fractured landscape,” one that Camera IQ can help unify with its drag-and-drop tools for creating, deploying and measuring AR content.

“We’ve created an end-to-end fabric that combines AR toolkits, OS platforms and native apps,” she said. “You could make the comparison that we’re kind of the Marketo of the camera.”

 Camera IQ is announcing that it has raised $2.3 million in seed funding led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from Presence Capital, GC Tracker, Brilliant Ventures and Act One. Jacob Mullins (who used to work with me at VentureBeat, and who now focuses on AR and VR at Shasta) is joining Wood and Christian Gammill on Camera IQ’s board of directors.

The Los Angeles-based startup already has a number of well-known customers, including Goldenvoice (the company that produces Coachella), Refinery29 and Viacom. Wood said that while Camera IQ’s core business is its “camera experience manager,” it also works with customers on strategy and creative support — partly because there’s so much work to do to explore the medium’s potential.

See the full story here; https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/12/camera-iq-seed-funding/?ncid=mobilenavtrend

14Sep/17Off

Himax Can Shine as Android Copies Apple’s Augmented Reality, Says Northland

Apple's inclusion of 3-D sensing in the iPhone X is good news for Himax, which could get business supplying 3-D sensing components to Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei as they all look to equip their smartphones to match Apple, according to Northland's Tom Sepenzis. Qualcomm could also be a beneficiary.
You’ll recall Himax was a supplier to Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google for its ill-fated “Google Glass” headset. But things could be brighter this time around with a bunch of Android-based smartphone A.R. applications.
See the full story here: http://www.barrons.com/articles/himax-can-shine-as-android-copies-apples-augmented-reality-says-northland-1505329481

14Sep/17Off

Observe the Moon in Augmented Reality

8802.ScreenShot2017-09-13at11.01.27AM 5710.app4AstroReality, a branch of Quantum Technologies, now offers an augmented reality (AR), 3D printed lunar model that allows for exploration of the Moon’s notable features and landing sites.

Other than the initial hiccups in the app, the LUNAR model is honestly pretty cool. The model itself is quite beautiful and makes for a nice display piece, and the AR functions are both interesting and educational.

I can see it being used effectively in classrooms or other learning settings to inspire a fascination with the Moon. But in terms of a personal curio or gift for a loved one, I’m not sure how much use it’ll get. It does look great, though. If you’re looking for something to look nice on your desk and aren’t too concerned about the advanced AR functions, the LUNAR Regular or Mini will do just fine.

See the full story here: http://cs.astronomy.com/asy/b/astronomy/archive/2017/09/13/guest-blog-observe-the-moon-in-augmented-reality.aspx

14Sep/17Off

VR Industry Forum releases draft production and distribution guidelines

Picture1By Phil Lelyveld

The Virtual Reality Industry Forum (www.vr-if.org) has released their draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC.  Their membership includes Sony, MovieLabs, Dolby, Technicolor, Nagra, Verizon, and DTS.

The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF).  It then moves on to make specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security.

Other standardization efforts related to VR and immersive experiences include Khronos’ VR Standard Initiative (www.khronos.org), the IEEE Digital Senses Initiative (https://digitalsenses.ieee.org), SMPTE, and the Industry of VR Alliance’s effort (www.ivra.com)

The VRIF are seeking feedback on the draft at both their website and on GitHub by October 31, 2017. They hope to release the final document at CES 2018.

View and download the VRIF’s draft standards here: http://www.vr-if.org/wp-content/uploads/VRIF_Draft_Guidelines-v0.0draft10-2017-09-12.pdf

See the full story here: http://www.fiercecable.com/online-video/virtual-reality-industry-forum-to-intro-vr-guidelines-at-ibc

12Sep/17Off

Future of Storytelling – finalists

logo-hoverRead descriptions of a good cross section of techniques and topics here: https://futureofstorytelling.org/prize

12Sep/17Off

Abba plot virtual reality ‘reunion’ tour

88afbf2a30051b68a19d6aecf4a36e3644dc84bd0e33a7012b383106bedb36a8“We see each other every now and then, we've done a few different things, and now we've got a project ahead of us,” said the Swede.

The idea, as it currently stands, is that Abba's songs will be performed by a live band and digital avatars of Andersson, Ulveaus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog will also be on stage.

Not a reunion in the flesh, but apparently as good as it gets.

The tour is planned to kick off in 2019, if it is good enough, according to Andersson.

“It will take a bit of time, it takes time to digitalize a face,” he told Expressen.

“It's fun that it's so technologically advanced. It will be interesting.”

See the full story here: https://www.thelocal.se/20170912/abba-plot-virtual-reality-reunion-tour

12Sep/17Off

AR startup CurioPets is Pokémon GO meets Tamagotchi

coopblog4CurioPets, short for curious pets, is a multi-player, augmented reality pet simulator. Built with Apple’s ARKit, the aim is to encourage real-world exploration — similar to Pokémon GO — as you travel around with either a puppy or a kitten and take care of them, which is more like Tamagotchi and NeoPets.

There are two worlds in the game. The first is the virtual one where your pet lives. Tucked inside a tree on a floating island, your pet relies on you to play with it, decorate its crib and dress it.

The AR world is where your pet can collect Curios. To collect Curios, you enter AR mode, go to those culturally relevant spots and look for the Curios spheres. In order to keep your pet happy and healthy, you need to make sure it’s well-fed, has high affection levels and is gaining experience in the world.

See the full story here: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/11/sequoia-backed-curiopets-is-pokemon-go-meets-tamagotchi/?ncid=mobilerecirc_recent

12Sep/17Off

WebVR: Taking The Path Of Least Resistance To Mainstream VR

1.-Nuclear-Control-Room-Superscape-VRT Screen-Shot-2017-08-13-at-4.44.41-PMWhat is WebVR?

WebVR is a JavaScript API for rendering 3D graphics within a browser, meaning that, if you punched in a link in the browser for a 3D website, you would find yourself in a 3D space (whether on your computer browser or within a VR headset). In laymen’s terms, WebVR is a low-barrier entry point to develop VR for the web without having to be familiar with WebGL, which can be frustrating for beginners to grasp.

In its ease of use and lack of friction for consumers, WebVR presents a glimmer of hope for the mainstream adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). 

WebVR—what we can call “Casual VR”—paves a way for consumers without state-of-the-art hardware to experience VR, through the web on multiple platforms. In fact, this could prove to be the best way to democratize VR in the long run.  

Technology Agnostic

Looking Forward

Mozilla took the lead in pioneering WebVR, launching its A-Frame VR content authoring tool in 2015, along with its MozVR resource.

Besides A-Frame, other WebVR frameworks include React VR, Argon.js, PlayCanvas, JanusVR and Primrose. Google, Oculus and Samsung Internet also published their WebVR and open-source developer resources.

A WebVR Community Group to decide on WebVR standards was formed by Mozilla, Google, Samsung, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft and other major tech players, with Apple recently joining the community in July this year.

“By the end of the year all key global mobile phone brands would have announced their support for WebVR, and will have devices to support it out by Q4 2017 or Q1 2018,” said Christopher Gomez, XR industry advisor and angel investor. “And with ARKit and ARCore in the mix, we will have a vibrant mix of platforms and ideas. Immersive technologies are here to stay—it will be a reality for everybody. The ‘Metaverse’—it’s real.”

“Augmented City” #ARCity

As WebVR content creators and developers start to converge worldwide, in Singapore, the community assembled at an ‘Augmented City’ experiential xLab in July. This xLab, organized by the XR Alliance in partnership with Mozilla and the VR AR Women in Asia Society with the VR AR Association, is the first of its kind globally with the kickoff of this first xLab installment supported by Intel.

Disclaimer: I’m a founding member of the XR Alliance and founder of VR AR Women in Asia Society.

See the full story here: https://vrscout.com/news/webvr-path-of-least-resistance-to-mainstream-vr/