philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


RFI – US Department of Defense looking into using Virtual Reality to help “enhance small unity lethality”

US-Army-Virtual-Reality-TrainingThe US Department of Defense (DoD) is looking into using virtual reality (VR) to support the enhancement of “small unit lethality”, and is seeking to solicit technologies from private industry, government research & development organizations, and academia for inclusion in an upcoming capability demonstration and experimentation event focused on the use of VR tools.

Titled ‘Thunderstorm 21-1’, the demonstration and experimentation event will focus on VR tools that leverage autonomy and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) technologies capable of providing operators with ways to improve planning, decision making and efficiency; as well as reduce cost, workload, and risk; improve the safety of operators and operating equipment; and enhance situational awareness in both the rapid response planning and execution of small unit operations.

The application deadline is 5:00 PM EDT on June 19, 2020, and the event is planned to be conducted in the autumn of 2020 at the United States Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, New York.

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Are Virtual Reality Tickets The Answer For Watching Michigan Games This Fall?“You can test both teams,” Harbaugh said. “You can test the officials and everybody. Can you test 100,000 fans coming into a stadium? Probably not. Probably not without a vaccine you probably couldn’t do that. So to answer your question, heck yeah I’d be comfortable coaching a game without any fans. If the choice were play in front of no fans or not play, then I would choose play in front of no fans. And I think darn near every guy on our team, that is the way they feel about it.”

...And once college football fans are allowed back on campus each Saturday, who is to say that the school cannot continue to sell tickets in this fashion to help recoup revenue? Michigan football could be the first school to implement a virtual reality viewing option for fans that have difficulty making it to Ann Arbor for games, potentially opening up the possibility for far more than 110,000 fans to watch a game each week.

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AI and websites: What problems still need to be solved?

One of the dream applications for designers and developers could leave the manual coding behind. The initial creative drawing you do could be taken through an AI-powered program to generate a prototype that’s free from human error. In fact, it already exists in the form of Sketch2Code, which translates user interface (UI) design into HTML markup using AI.

Artificial design intelligence or ADI is the branch of AI that they say will impact the design process itself. At its core, ADI uses machine learning to identify the latest and best web design trends and put it together to create a website. In essence, you enter a series of parameters, and the ADI generates a unique or personalized design.

The Grid is probably the most popular of the potential ADI programs: the team raised $4.6 million in 2014. However, other giants in DIY web design are also playing around with AI: both Wix and GoDaddy have introduced a basic website generator.

So, where are you most likely to first see AI as a designer or developer? The most likely players to entertain a greater application of AI will probably be those in the e-commerce sector. Why? Because e-commerce giants are already leading the way. Amazon has paved the way for greater AI use with its machine-learning-capable recommendation engine, which generates 35 percent of Amazon’s revenue.

AI, UX, and designers

..., UX will be at the core of both customer demands and users’ journeys.

One of the ways AI can do this is by identifying the correct visuals for the site. (Remember that visual search could be ruling the world by the end of 2021.)

All of a sudden, you’re more likely to show the user an image that’s truly useful to them rather than an image that you think looks good strictly from a design perspective.

This practice is where current software like Adobe’s Sensei (mentioned above) comes in.

Ultimately, AI is more likely to impact all the other facets of running a web design or development business before it has any meaningful impact on design itself. What’s more, there are still fundamental problems to be solved: AI can only design based on the data it has, and it’s a fundamental challenge because human creativity and inspiration can outwit it every time.

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Inside The Hunt For TikTok’s New CEO—And What’s Next For The World’s Hottest App

960x0-5In the first quarter, TikTok was downloaded 315 million times across Apple and Android phones, the most quarterly installs for an app ever, according to SensorTower, which monitors app downloads. And with the world stuck in lockdown usage has surged, with total downloads now reaching more than 2 billion. Even more menacing for its competitors: 40% of its users are between16 and 24, and addicted, spending nearly an hour on the app each day on average.

...“We’re pulling some of our best creatives and ‘some of our best talent and taking time that normally would be spent on YouTube and putting them on TikTok. It’s a massive, massive opportunity.”

The first calls went out three months ago after Mayer was bypassed for the coveted Disney prize of succeeding outgoing CEO Bob Iger in favor of former parks and experiences chief Bob Chapek. Zhang had been searching for the right candidate since October, someone with the right mix of digital savvy and leadership experience to manage TikTok’s growth across the U.S., Europe, India and Brazil.

Mayer clearly fit the bill as the executive credited with building Disney’s lone bright spot in a business crushed by the pandemic: Disney+, the wildly successful streaming service. He had the digital and strategic chops Zhang needed to get TikTok to the next level.

But his presence has guys like Pace–and other content providers like him–salivating. Whatever TikTok can’t create, Mayer will be poised to buy, a veteran of some of the company’s most prescient acquisitions, including Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and its latest big gulp, Fox.

Zhang is looking to the Harvard Business School graduate for much more, naming him ByteDance’s chief operating officer as well, making him the billionaire's right hand in managing an ecosystem of apps that are widely popular in Asia, including Lark (a bit like Slack plus video conferencing) and Helo (a bit like Facebook).

“Essentially they hired him to be an American face of a Chinese company,” says Rohit Kulkarni, an MKM Partners analyst who covers internet companies. “And to be a bridge with advertisers.”

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Ricoh’s New Spin-Out Company Brings 360 Cameras Into Focus

Gear-Inline-Vecnos-camera-angledRicoh will continue to make 360 cameras—the spherical videos captured by these devices have proven popular among amateurs and professionals creating immersive content. However, Shu Ubukata, the brains behind 360 imaging products like the original Theta series, will be leaving Ricoh (along with his team) to lead Vecnos as CEO. Vecnos will operate as a subsidiary of Ricoh, which is also the new brand's largest investor.

"The majority of Ricoh's business is office equipment," Ubukata told WIRED (with Vecnos senior vice president Kiyoshi Hashimoto serving as a translator). "To make a new product, a new culture, they decided we should make a new company. We are part of Ricoh, but Ricoh decided we should be very independent like a startup company."

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Scientists create a cyborg eye that mimics the real thing

d41586-020-01420-7_17986572Scientists have been working on artificial eyes for years, but mimicking the shape and behavior of a real eye has been difficult. A breakthrough might just lead to a practical design, though. Researchers have created (via New Scientist) a cyborg eye whose function and structures share many things in common with its human counterpart. A nanowire photosensor array formed inside a hemispherical aluminum oxide membrane serves as the retina, while wires formed from a liquid metal (eutectic gallium-indium alloy) replicate nerves by sending signals from those sensors to external processing. It even mimics the vitreous humor (the gel between the lens and retina) with an ionic liquid.

With enough refinement, this could lead to implants that restore eyesight while preserving the natural look. The scientists also believe they could one day power the eye with sunlight — you might not need a separate power source, at least until it gets dark.

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Sphero appoints new CEO, spins off robotics startup for first responders

sphero-2bSphero just announced that it has spun off another company. Once again, the new startup has a decidedly different focus from its parent company’s core of education-focused products. While still a robotics company at its heart, the underwhelmingly named Company Six will create robotic systems designed for first responders and other humans whose work requires them to put themselves in harm’s way.

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Blumhouse Plans Film Shoot on Universal Lot Despite Insurance Risks

jason_blumAs Hollywood yearns to get back to work in the COVID-19 era, Universal Pictures and producer Jason Blum are working out a daring plan to shoot a low-budget film on the studio lot. Cast and crew would live in a hotel nearby and a set of safety protocols would be in place. Forget craft services, for example.

Also, forget about insurance that would cover a shutdown due to a coronavirus-related outbreak of illness.

This source adds: "Blumhouse and Universal aren't moving forward with any plans until we get the green light from city, county and public-health officials. None of this preproduction planning work is being conducted on the lot itself. A small team of filmmakers and studio executives are currently working on those plans remotely. Safety of everyone involved is a huge priority, and nobody wants to rush into anything."

If the $6.5 million project goes forward, the source continues, "There will be a lot we'll be able to learn from this when the time comes as we think about starting up other productions."

The challenge is such that the MPA and the Independent Film & Television Alliance — which advocates on behalf of such non-MPA companies as Lionsgate and Millennium Films — are pushing for a federal approach. Insurance broker Kingman likens the current era to post-9/11, when no insurer would write a policy covering terrorism.

But Marshall says one big silver lining to the insurance crisis is that it will force productions to be zealous in enforcing measures to protect cast and crew: "One of the beauties of insurance is it can actually promote good behavior."

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How Can Augmented Reality and AI Better Help us Adapt to the (New Normal)?

[PhilNote: this is a light opinion piece.]

How-Can-Augmented-Reality-and-AI-Better-Help-us-Adapt-to-theHowever, what if there was a safer way to more slowly reopen the world without sacrificing the engagement, immersion and stories you’re looking to bring to end users?

With AI and AR, that could be possible.

Particularly in the case of AR (and its siblings virtual reality and extended reality), virtual experiences can be developed that deliver true immersion without unnecessary gathering or contact.

What if there were specific points throughout the space where, simply by using their mobile device, employees could get access to real-time information about safety measures, meetings, and more?

In short, it’s all about understanding the needs of the end user and delivering a unique, multisensory experience that inspires.

In the quest for robust and innovative AI and AR solutions, AV solutions and integrators will lead the way in helping the world keep pace, just as they have for innumerable technologies in the past.

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Kaleido, a project offering seniors unique experiences via virtual reality, seeks active support in the Hack the Crisis virtual hackathon

IMG_6807-1-768x512The Flying Kale team has completed the initial testing of the entire concept at the Chodov Seniors’ Home and has received an outstanding response. However, the development of the Kaleido tool and its introduction to the market has been significantly complicated by the pandemic, which has hindered access to all funding for additional services and redirected all energy toward ensuring safety and basic care. “Therefore, we launched a crowdfunding campaign on HitHit, where people can contribute any amount to the project. In return, they can choose from a broad offer of handmade products from the seniors themselves, such as a candle or crocheted seat cushion, or they can plan their own trip with us and such! If we succeed in collecting the target amount, we will be able to deliver VR headsets and tailored trips for seniors to homes completely free of charge, thus beautifully enriching their lives and making this extremely difficult time more pleasant,” Marek adds. The HitHit campaign runs until 18 June 2020

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