philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Half-Life: Alyx Didn’t Need Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality Needed Half-Life: Alyx

  • Half-Life: Alyx is exclusive to VR headsets.
  • This limitation angers longtime fans.
  • However, a VR Half-Life is the only way to push headset adoption.

Despite near-perfect reviews, debate still surrounds Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx and virtual reality exclusivity. Many don’t have access to VR. How could Valve put such a beloved franchise on a limited platform?

Well, to get more people buying virtual reality headsets.

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Deeper Dive—What is Facebank and why did it merge with fuboTV?

tupachologramWhen virtual MVPD fuboTV this week announced plans to merge with Facebank Group and form a new company called fuboTV Inc., it may have left some wondering what exactly is Facebank.

FuboTV has emerged as a frequently mentioned independent competitor in the vMVPD space that is dominated by services like Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV and Sling TV, all tied to much bigger companies and household names Disney, Google and Dish Network, respectively.

Facebank, which sounds a little like Facebook opened a financial institution, is not as commonly known. The company describes itself as a “developer of hyper-realistic digital humans” that can be distributed across traditional media as well as live entertainment, virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile, interactive and artificial intelligence applications. Remember the Tupac hologram from Coachella a few years ago? That was Facebank, back when it was called Pulse Evolution.

FuboTV has proven remarkably resilient in competing against its bigger vMVPD peers and if it can grow internationally, it will have accomplished something that its rivals have not.

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NEWS 5G augmented reality bus tour trialled in Barcelona

bus-tourThe tour displays real-time visual content on the front window of the bus, creating what is said to be a unique tour experience for the passengers.

For example, the tour included a display of the inactive Montjuic fountains, and although they’re not currently functioning, the screen displayed them as if they were. It also displayed historical information on buildings and monuments as the bus moved through the city.

Mediapro Group designed the experience, selected and generated the tourist information, and developed the software and augmented reality content. It was also responsible for the installation of the transparent screens.

Telefónica arranged the high-speed network that provides 5G large bandwidth downstream and upstream, allowing optimised quality of content and real-time broadcasting.

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Live Shows Are Canceled—More Virtual Reality Concerts Are Coming

complex-virtual-concerts-coronavirusA story about The Wave, Jadu, and digitally connecting with artists.

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Book Review – In Matt Ruff’s ‘88 Names,’ virtual reality dangers bleed into the real world

At some indeterminate date just over the horizon — far enough away from 2020 for the film “Fast & Furious 17” to have come and gone — virtual reality gaming has been perfected to such an extent that it offers an addictive experience wholly immersive for sight, sound and even touch (with all the cybersex possibilities that might entail). Our hero, 21-year-old John Chu, is a savvy digital native who spends almost every minute of his day online. He earns his living as a “sherpa,” a guide for newbies who wish to enter and enjoy such complex, competitive environments as Call to Wizardry. Helping John are three teammates: Anja, Ray and Jolene (each of them emerging as charmingly quirky individuals). A subsidiary member of John’s support group is his mother, who just happens to be a superspy working for the ultra-secret U.S. agency dubbed Zero Day. There used to be a fifth member of the Sherpa team, Darla. But she left in a huff, feeling betrayed, and now John lives in fear that she will use her gamer’s expertise to sabotage his life.

...From here, it’s off onto various vividly described quests, each of which adds to the puzzle or provides a missing piece. John conducts his clients across a half-dozen virtual landscapes, with complications piling on, until finally he is forced to abandon his preferred digital life and engage with the real world — where getting killed does not lead to a resurrection.

...Ruff’s second major victory is in making the reader care about virtual reality. Whenever a novel plunges too deeply into this kind of artificial turf, it risks losing the reader’s interest because of a lack of sensory grounding and the notion that when anything can happen, nothing matters. Ruff overcomes this by making his adventures fashioned from electrons and bytes read as authentically as any naturalism. It took me a while to realize that aside from John’s backstory, every scene of action occurred in cyberspace.

Last year the global box office for films totaled roughly $41.7 billion dollars, while the gaming industry took in $152 billion. As for book publishing — don’t make me laugh! Any novel that can bridge these disparate worlds and appeal to gamers and literary fans alike is a treasure greater than the loot in a cyber-dragon’s cave.

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Eric Schmidt – American innovation can bring us tools and solutions that will outlast today’s crisis

Consider big data and novel manufacturing. The government lacks a strong grasp of complex supply and distribution chains for life-critical medical equipment and other goods. Specialists in big data analytics should now turn to modeling these networks to develop real-time tracking and data visualization platforms to better inform policy decisions. The predictive maintenance and additive manufacturing that are gaining traction in the military should become more prominent in health care. Some hospitals are already using 3-D printers to fabricate respirator valves, and it’s saving lives. Companies like Amazon know how to supply and distribute efficiently. They will need to provide services and advice to government officials who lack the computing systems and expertise.

Finally, the country is long overdue for a real digital infrastructure. Government at every level should move to cloud, mobile and web-based software and start treating data as a strategic asset. It’s now painfully obvious that these tools are essential for effective action. Moreover, the American people will need that infrastructure for their daily lives. If we are to build a future economy and education system based on tele-everything, we need a fully connected population and ultrafast infrastructure. The government must make a massive investment—perhaps as part of a stimulus package—to convert the nation’s digital infrastructure to cloud-based platforms and link them with a 5G network.

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David Byrne – This virus is showing us just how tenuous our existence becomes when we distance ourselves from each other

im-168959I ask myself, is there something we can learn from this, something that will allow us to better weather the next crisis, some different way of being that might make us stronger? Is this an opportunity to change our thinking, our behavior? Are we capable of doing that?

These interventions have been effective, but there was a price. Freedoms were curtailed, as they have been, to some degree, in virtually every place that has contained the virus. In some of these places, surveillance cameras and contact-tracking teams were used, and people have shown a willingness to share information with authorities and do what is necessary for the greater good.

Some might find these measures intrusive. But the outcome they led to—that is freedom. To be able to return to one’s life, with a job, healthy and safe—that is national security. When you’re stuck in your house, as I am, you realize that surrendering some individual freedoms so that others might remain healthy and safe is another way of connecting. You see that we’re not a bucket of crabs, we’re a community.

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Hospital uses VR to show how the coronavirus impacts the lungs

covid-lungsEarlier this month, doctors at George Washington University Hospital encountered their first patient with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Now they're using VR technology to see into the patient's lungs, the hospital demonstrated in a video posted to YouTube last week.

In the simulation, you can see healthy lung tissue in blue, and the virus-infected lung tissue in yellow.

"There is such a stark contrast between the virus-infected abnormal lung and the more healthy, adjacent lung tissue," Dr. Keith Mortman, chief of thoracic surgery at GW Hospital, said in an interview for the hospital's podcast, HealthCast. "And it's such a contrast that you do not need an MD after your name to understand these images ... the damage we're seeing is not isolated to any one part of the lung. This is severe damage to both lungs diffusely."

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AVATOUR Brings Reality To Virtual Reality

960x0.jpg-2AVATOUR [sic] is a new group collaboration system that allows a remote host to bring virtual teammates, customers and/or workers to the job site for group collaboration. The ‘Host’ is in the physical world using a consumer grade, 360° camera attached to a selfie stick and an android device. The remote guests, up to 5, join the host using an Oculus Go head mounted display or desktop/laptop computer or a mobile phone, where they share the 360° view broadcast as if they were present. The 360° view IS the room in which the simulation takes place.

Participants see each other as three dimensional spatial avatars, blended with the live 360° video broadcast by the host. In a sense, the broadcast becomes the “room” in which the simulation takes place for the participants. The host and participants can then communicate in real time, looking at the same images though they may be distributed around the world. An unlimited number of parties can observe the session, which can be taped and annotated. During a demo earlier today, we felt an extraordinary sense of presence.

With its launch today, which consists mainly of “calling journalists and buying $500 worth of Google ad words” Copley says the company is ready to scale its sales and engineering teams and is now actively reaching out to VCs.


Georgia Tech Professor Uses Virtual Reality to Move Major Conference Online

thumbnail_dsc_6323_0This week, 1,800 scientists, engineers, designers, and other experts gathered for the IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (IEEE VR). The event brings together people from around the world to examine the latest research and advancements in the area of virtual reality (VR).

Blair MacIntyre, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing and IEEE VR conference co-chair, proposed transitioning to an all-virtual event to support social distancing recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The entire five-day event convened in Mozilla Hubs, an online platform for remote virtual experiences. IEEE VR marks the first time that a major academic conference of this scale will move online and depend solely on a virtual environment platform, including the social networking sessions that are an essential part of conferences.

“If we can take something like IEEE VR, which is normally around 1,000 people, and turn it into an event where 10,000 people can attend, we’ll have a much more diverse and inclusive event.”

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