philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Artists Jump Into NFTs, Seeing a Digital Bonanza

Top-tier artists like Damien Hirst and John Gerrard already are converting some of their works into NFTs. Now, Urs Fischer is diving in. The 47-year-old Swiss-born artist will offer his first NFT, “Chaos #1 Human,” on Fair Warning, an auction app, on April 11. The animated work depicts a 3D scan of a brown egg and a cigarette lighter slowly colliding and moving through each other. It is part of a new series exploring cultural artifacts through hundreds of NFT pairings of everyday objects that will be capped with one amalgamation of all 1,000 images.


If resale royalties become standard in the industry, he said, NFTs could be a windfall for artists. That is partly why he thinks artists now are pushing into NFTs faster than galleries or collectors. “I think it’ll come down to the artists to lead the galleries into this space,” he said.

Soaring prices haven’t persuaded everyone that this highly volatile market is a good bet. Overall, NFT sales dropped 20%, to $37.2 million, in the past 10 days, according to industry tracker, though it isn’t clear how much of the drop was NFT art compared with other tokenized offerings, such as sports clips or virtual cats. The art world, unlike crypto-collectibles, is seasonal, and tentpole auctions at the major houses planned for the next couple months will feature NFT art, which could affect the medium’s overall momentum.

Comedian and actor John Cleese poked fun at the new medium by auctioning his NFT doodle of the Brooklyn Bridge, ...

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10 VR Games That Have Gained Popularity

1. Star Wars: Squadrons (PC, PS VR)

Squadrons is a dogfight game where you can choose your side to protect: the light side or the dark side. Your selection will give your character a different path, with two separate storylines. (Daniel C.)

2. Beat Saber (Oculus Rift; Quest; PS VR; HTC Vive)

A music rhythm game where you cut the color blocks with your matching color saber to the beat. Play to the beat of your favorite songs while dodging obstacles! (Esli F.)

3. Trover Saves the Universe (Oculus Quest, PS VR)

It’s a single-player, story mode game with different outcomes, where you travel around the universe with Trover collecting power babies to defeat the final boss. This game is rated M for Mature, and it is made by the same creators of Rick and Morty. (Esli F.)

4. Moss (Oculus Rift; Quest; PS VR; HTC Vive)

You play as a “guide” for the little mouse Quill on her quest, you both work as a team to help her solve puzzles and defeat enemies to reach the end of the story. Although she does speak during cutscenes as the story progresses, she also communicates to the player via ASL (American Sign Language) during gameplay and can give hints along the way. (Elizabeth Y.)

5. SUPERHOT VR (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

In this action game, everything is in slow motion but time will move when you move. You are in a room, outnumbered and outgunned. Your goal is to snatch weapons from fallen enemies and dodge their attacks, so you need to think about your next move before you move a lot. Be careful because this game makes you move and there are times where my friends move up close to the TV. (Esli F.)

6. Half-Life: Alyx (Steam VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Quest)

This game is set in between the events of the first Half-Life and Half-Life 2. You are a founder of the resistance in a city under the rule of invaders. (Daniel C.)

7. Five Nights at Freddy’s VR (PS VR; HTC Vive)

FNaF VR is a game where you’re a nightguard surviving a graveyard shift in a pizzeria with haunted animatronics. This game always lives up the hype making me want to play more of it! (Jesus G.)

8. VRChat[Oculus Rift; Quest; PS VR; HTC Vive]/Rec Room[PS VR, PC, Oculus Quest, iOS 12.0 and up, Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X

VRChat is a social game where people can make different worlds for others to hang out. You are able to create custom avatars through different modeling programs and go, or make anything you can dream of. This is an 18+ recommended game. Crude language and sexual content are fairly common  (Elizabeth Y.)

Rec Room is an online VR video game where you can play games, make friends, explore/create games, customize your room, and style your character. The game also lets you create your own games too. This game helped me connect and meet new people while I was in quarantine (Esli F.)

9. ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PS VR)

Can only be played on PS VR only because it’s exclusive to that console only. It’s a fun, kid-friendly game. It’s like playing Super Mario but in VR. You take control over the captain BOT and help him find his fellow bots and collect ship parts to rebuild the ship. There are boss battles and many levels to complete. (Esli F. )

10. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (Oculus Rift; Oculus Go; Gear VR; PS VR; HTC Vive)

It’s a two-player game where only one person sees a bomb and the other player sees the instruction manual. The game requires lots of teamwork and communication in order to defuse the bomb. How well do you work under pressure? Can you stay calm while to bomb in slowly counting down and intense music playing in the background? (Esli F. )

Stay tuned for Part 2! Let us know in the comments below which VR games you’ve played and which ones you can’t wait to try!

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A.I. Can’t Detect Our Emotions

A conversation with the professor who just turned down a $60,000 grant from Google

A few examples are revealing: The automotive industry sees value in algorithms determining when drivers are distracted and drowsy. Companies see value in algorithms analyzing how customer support agents talk and computationally coaching them to be better speakers. And researchers see value in children with autism using A.I.-infused glasses to interpret the facial reactions conveyed by people around them.

Not everyone, however, is smiling about emotion-sensing A.I. Indeed, strong criticism is pervasive and high-profile controversies are grabbing headlines. For example, there’s been considerable pushback against companies unfairly using emotion detection and analysis software during interviews to determine a candidate’s “employability score.” ...

I’m excited to talk about the promises and pitfalls of emotion-sensing A.I. with Luke Stark, assistant professor in the faculty of information and media studies at the University of Western Ontario.  ... has an exciting new book coming out with MIT Press, Ordering Emotion: Histories of Computing and Human Feelings From Cybernetics to AI. In addition to being a renowned scholar who studies ethical issues, Luke prioritizes ethical action. ...

Evan: If banning facial analysis creates a whack-a-mole problem where automation will scan and classify other bodily channels for emotional information at scale, what’s the best regulatory way forward?

Luke: Well, Jevan Hutson and I are trying to figure that out, not just for emotion recognition but for all forms of what we call “physiognomic A.I.” We’re working on a law review piece that identifies outcomes society should prohibit across all the different ways of making human bodies computationally tractable that are used to infer interior states or characteristics.

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LOS ANGELES (April 5, 2021) -- XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, announced today that 38 teams from 16 countries are advancing to the semifinals round of the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE competition.

Sponsored by All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest airline, the Avatar XPRIZE is a four-year global competition focused on the development of an avatar system that will deploy a human’s senses, actions, and presence to a remote location in real time, leading to a more connected world. These avatars must demonstrate the ability to execute tasks across a variety of real-world scenarios and convey a sense of presence for both the operator and the recipient in those interactions. 

“We are rapidly approaching an era where it will be possible for a doctor in New York to export their skillset virtually to respond to a natural disaster across the globe,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. “The task at hand for these incredible semifinalist teams competing in the ANA Avatar XPRIZE is to break through physical limitations and expand the capacity of humankind itself through transformative robotic avatar technology.” 

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The AR Roundup: March 2021

Tom has created another excellent monthly AR Roundup news highlights post here:


Looking Glass Teams with Reggie Watts to Auction Holographic NFT Art, Paving Way for Popularizing AR Art You Can Hold

Long-time followers of Looking Glass will remember that Watts was one of the startups' initial friends, as the company used the innovative musician to show off some of the features of the earlier Looking Glass devices.

"Since our founding, we've worked hard to support creativity in all of its forms, whether that's 3D digital sculptures, new forms of photography and film, or something never before imagined," said Shawn Frayne, CEO of Looking Glass Factory. "I can't tell you how excited I am to have our displays as the medium for this amazing project. 

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Orange invests in the American venture-capital fund “Venture Reality Fund II” devoted to immersive technologies to fast-track the development of new 5G services

Orange is investing, via its holding company Orange Digital Investment, in the “Venture Reality Fund II”, a major venture-capital player in the XR (Extended Reality) sector: Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Future personal and professional uses (including entertainment, industry 4.0, medical research, and training, for example) will benefit greatly from these new technologies, which rely in part on the availability of ultra-high speed networks (including 5G) and Edge Computing.

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Tim Cook says Apple wants to use AR to make conversations better

When it comes to augmented reality, he agreed with Swisher’s framing that the tech is “critically important” to Apple’s future and said it could be used to enhance conversations.

“You and I are having a great conversation right now. Arguably, it could even be better if we were able to augment our discussion with charts or other things to appear,” Cook said. He imagines AR being used in health, education, retail, and gaming. “I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future.”

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Exclusive: Trust in tech craters

Why it matters: High public esteem has helped protect the tech industry from critics and regulators, but that shield is weakening.

Edelman suggests principles to help Big Tech increase trust:

  • "Shared prosperity" through new jobs and skills.
  • Codifying trust through "fairness" and "explainability."
  • Increased diversity, equity and inclusion.

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Almost 10,000 Facebook Employees Working on AR and VR

Internal organizational data seen by The Information shows that about one-fifth of Facebook’s total global workforce or close to some 10,000 employees are currently working in the development of its AR and VR devices.

According to Facebook‘s own information, the company employed 58,000 full-time specialists at the end of 2020 and about 17% of these employees are working on its XR technologies. This represents close to a fifth of its workforce working on the computing platforms of the future.

... Facebook Reality Labs is working on a number of XR projects that include both hardware and software development. Some of Facebook’s projects such as the development of ultra-slim and powerful Augmented Reality glasses are a long-term goal and will be ready in 5 to 10 years.

Some of Facebook’s known XR products and research projects include the following: –

  • Oculus Quest VR Headsets: A next-generation product is already under development.
  • VR game development by the first-party studios Beat Games, Ready at Dawn, and Sanzaru Games all of which have been acquired by Facebook in the past year or so.
  • The Facebook metaverse Horizon
  • Research on next-generation VR technology such as the Half-Dome
  • The smartphone AR platform SparkAR
  • The AR-compatible video chat device Portal
  • The AR research project Project Aria
  • New smart Facebook data glasses in collaboration with Ray-Ban set to appear in 2021
  • Advanced augmented reality glasses which have been codenamed, Orion
  • A smartwatch set to be released in 2022 combined with a neural interface and haptic simulation
  • Haptic gloves for AR and VR
  • A Facebook Assistant that is similar to the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
  • An operating system specifically for VR and AR devices
  • A chip specially developed for AR glasses
  • Live Maps, a 3D mapping service for the Augmented Reality cloud infrastructure.

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