philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Augmented Reality Must Have Augmented Privacy

The promise of creating a persistence 3D digital clone of the world aligned with real-world coordinates goes by many names: “world’s digital twin,” “parallel digital universe,” “Mirrorworld,” “The Spatial Web,” “Magic Verse'' or a “Metaverse”. Whatever you call it, this new parallel digital world will introduce a new world of privacy concerns—even for those who choose to never wear it. For instance, Facebook Live Maps will seek to create a shared virtual map. LiveMaps will rely on users’ crowd-sourced maps collected by future AR devices with client-mapping functionality. Open AR, an interoperable AR Cloud, and Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins are seeking to model and create a digital representation of an environment. 

Facebook’s Project Aria continues on that trend and will aid Facebook in recording live 3D maps and developing AI models for Facebook’s first generation of wearable augmented reality devices. Aria’s uniqueness, in contrast to autonomous cars, is the “egocentric” data collection of the environment—the recording data will come from the wearers’ perspective; a more “intimate” type of data. 

The Bystanders’ Right to Private Life

The AR Panopticon In modern times, the panopticon has become a metaphor for a dystopian surveillance state, where the government has cameras observing your every action. 

Legal Protection Against Panopticon

AR is Even More Privacy Invasive Than GPS and CSLI

Corporations Can Invade AR Privacy, Too

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Meet the Man Who Wants to Reimagine Virtual Reality

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James Jensen. Source: Samantha DeRose from The McRae Agency.

I got to interview James Jensen, the CEO of JUMP, a virtual reality (VR) company designed for users to perform stunts with no training, parachuting, no cost for equipment, and no safety risks. As an amateur with no experience, expertise, or money to feel like virtual reality was accessible, Jensen dispelled my notions. Jensen has an objective for the virtual reality industry: to make it more accessible instead of having it mainly be perceived as an entertainment and video game tool:

“I want people to know that hyperreality simulations are ways for us to learn new things to ourselves and to learn experiences that could influence our walking life,” Jensen told me.

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Shanghai Disney Resort to introduce virtual-reality experience

"As an industry leader in the VR space, SoReal shares the same commitment with Disney to innovation and technology," said Joe Schott, president and general manager of Shanghai Disney Resort. "We are thrilled to welcome SoReal to Shanghai Disney Resort and to see them deliver their cutting-edge VR entertainment to our guests while further enriching the range of exciting experiences available throughout Disneytown."

With the official handover of the building to SoReal, construction will begin soon, and the SoReal experience is expected to open to guests in 2021.

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Kevin Williams: LBVR is not dead, it is rising again

... the reality of LBE VR post-COVID is a nuanced one. The industry has always had hygiene at the top of our needs, as with the bowling industry (shoes), the go-kart (helmets), and the 3D theater (glasses) regarding cleaning. The LBE VR scene is pushing the use of UV-C to great effect, and our cleaning protocols (such as the HOLOGATE Standard) are deployed to keep guests safe. Protocols that some in other industries are now copying.

...To be frank I look forward to seeing how the Quest 2 deals in a Standalone market that will have competition next year from the new Sony PSVR2, along with Pico, Panasonic, and Samsung Standalone systems without walled gardens. We will get to see if a closed ecosystem against an open development market will work, and how much the Facebook login issues will impact buying habits.

The VOID was already in difficulties before COVID lockdown. it seems like with AMC and other big entertainment operations the debt was magnified when the ticket tap was turned off for a period. ... Once we know the situation with regards to Disney support of the VOID, and if the rumors are true, then we will know if they are going to survive.

What is your outlook for LBE VR in 5 years?

I envisage that LBE VR will be less about VR. The move towards more XR platforms in our sector has gained momentum, the use of new project mapping systems that can generate an immersive environment with a level of image quality far surpassing the current and future headsets is a strong draw, and also offer unencumbered immersion.

What are your future plans instead?

As a specialist consultancy in this sector, I am working with investors on these new Location-Based entertainment venue concepts. I am working with developers of new LBE XR hardware to be deployed into the market. I am working on a new media service to get the message out to the industry, and also trying to hunt down the next generation of immersive technology. It’s not a matter of “instead”, it’s a continuation of business.

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16Oct/20Off Launches Localize — Localized Voice AI — and Announces 150+ Customers

With, voices can be cloned into any language - so George Clooney sounds like George Clooney, even when a movie has been dubbed into another language.

Localize is able to keep any character’s voice consistent across video games, movies, call centers, company videos, and more as they are translated to and from languages including French, German, Dutch, Italian and Spanish. A majority of the world speaks one of these six languages and the company also has near-term plans to introduce Localize for Korean, Japanese and Mandarin.

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Whisper announces $35M Series B to change hearing aids with AI and subscription model

[PhilNote: the business model price is outrageously high relative to the competition.]

Today, the company emerged from stealth with a new hearing aid built from the ground up. It uses artificial intelligence to learn and adjust in an automated way to different hearing situations like a noisy restaurant or watching TV. And you don't pay thousands of dollars up front, you pay a monthly fee on a three-year subscription, and you get free software updates along the way.

The technology they've built consists of three main components. For starters you have the hearing aids themselves that fit on the ear, along with a pocket-sized external box that they call the Whisper Brain, which the company says, "works wirelessly with the earpieces to enable a proprietary AI-based Sound Separation Engine," and finally there is a smart phone app to update the software on the system.

Whisper offers these hearing aids on a subscription basis for $179 per month on a three-year contract, which includes all of the hardware, the software updates, on-going support from the hearing care pro, a three-year loss and damage insurance and an industry-standard equipment warranty. They are offering an introductory price of $139 per month for a limited time.

At $179 per month, it comes to a total of $6,444 over the three-year period to essentially rent the aids. At the end of the subscription, customers can renew and get updated hardware or give the hardware back. They do not own the hearing aids.

It's worth noting that other hearing aid companies also use AI in their hearing aids, including Widex and Starkey, neither of which require an external hub. Many hearing aid companies also offer a variety of payment and subscription plans, but Whisper is an attempt to offer a different approach to hearing aids.

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Microsoft says its AI can describe images ‘as well as people do’

 In 2016, Google said its artificial intelligence could caption images almost as well as humans, with 94 percent accuracy. Now Microsoft says it’s gone even further: Its researchers have built an AI system that’s even more accurate than humans — so much so that it now sits at the top of the leaderboard for the nocaps image captioning benchmark

It’s not unusual to see companies tout their AI research innovations, but it’s far rarer for those discoveries to be quickly deployed to shipping products. Xuedong Huang, CTO of Azure AI cognitive services, pushed to integrate it into Azure quickly because of the potential benefits for users. 

But while beating a benchmark is significant, the real test for Microsoft’s new model will be how it functions in the real world. According to Boyd, Seeing AI developer Saqib Shaik, who also pushes for greater accessibility at Microsoft as a blind person himself, describes it as a dramatic improvement over their previous offering.

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Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50

It is not often that a comedian gives an astrophysicist goose bumps when discussing the laws of physics. But comic Chuck Nice managed to do just that in a recent episode of the podcast StarTalk. The show’s host Neil deGrasse Tyson had just explained the simulation argument—the idea that we could be virtual beings living in a computer simulation. If so, the simulation would most likely create perceptions of reality on demand rather than simulate all of reality all the time—much like a video game optimized to render only the parts of a scene visible to a player. “Maybe that’s why we can’t travel faster than the speed of light, because if we could, we’d be able to get to another galaxy,” said Nice, the show’s co-host, prompting Tyson to gleefully interrupt. “Before they can program it,” the astrophysicist said, delighting at the thought. “So the programmer put in that limit.”

Such conversations may seem flippant. But ever since Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford wrote a seminal paper about the simulation argument in 2003, philosophers, physicists, technologists and, yes, comedians have been grappling with the idea of our reality being a simulacrum. 

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Virtual reality software brings super-resolution microscopy to life

So-called vLUME, created by a team from the University of Cambridge and 3D image analysis software company, Lume, enables super-resolution microscopy data to be visualised and analysed in virtual reality, and is free for academic use.

“It accelerates the analysis of highly complex 3D point-cloud data and the rapid identification of defects that are otherwise neglected in global quality metrics.”

The software features include visualization, segmentation, bespoke analysis of complex local geometries and exporting features.

According to the researchers, the package performs complex analysis on real 3D biological samples that would otherwise be impossible by using regular flat-screen visualization programs.

Results can be shared with collaborators worldwide using image and video features in the software, and the researchers are confident that viewing data in this way can stimulate new initiatives and ideas.

"Data generated from super-resolution microscopy is extremely complex," says Kitching. "For scientists, running analysis on this data can be very time consuming. With vLUME, we have managed to vastly reduce that wait time allowing for more rapid testing and analysis."

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Virtual reality experience open at the Ark Encounter; ‘A Flood of Reality’ is state-of-the-art immersive

Guests are ushered back almost 4,500 years in history to see Noah and his crew building the ark, watch the animals entering the massive ship, experience the flood’s dramatic beginning, ride in the Ark as it floats on the ocean and see the ship perched at rest on the mountains of Ararat.

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