philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Virtual reality helping older ‘explorers’ connect and share memories

When Zofia Joshi comes into a room these days, she's on six legs.

Four of those are attached to a walking frame she's increasingly relied on since the onset of Parkinson's disease nine years ago.

However, another version of Ms Joshi — her avatar — walks upright on just two.

There's no frame needed, just like she moved when she was younger.

"I'm here to learn about avatars and how to make them, and for once have the jump on the young people in my life!" she laughs.

Ms Joshi, 75, is a 'technology explorer'. For the last year she and a group of friends have been working with Steven Baker from Melbourne University to create a virtual world for older people, where they can interact as digital avatars of themselves.

Inside the Highway of Life, avatars can carry digitised versions of objects from their childhoods.

In Melbourne, retired teacher Tony Jones brought a photo from his time as a high school student.

Those of us outside the virtual world watch the monitors, as the older people use their controllers to haltingly express one of four emotions — sad, angry, happy and surprised.

The avatars nod, gesticulate, laugh and speak in perfect sync with their owners.

He believes that by 2020, virtual reality technology could be connecting people in aged care facilities to friends, family and each other as a way of strengthening relationships and guarding against depression.

See the full story here:


Augmented reality is shaping the future of finance

Augmented reality is uniquely suited to finance tech’s needs. More, it’s come along at the right time to be baked into the industry’s source code. It’s already finding applications including data analysis, client meetings, consumer services and banking.

Consumers will step into it without noticing the transition if it uses the smartphone as a platform. Meanwhile, business finance tech users will leverage low-cost interfaces and cloud computing power to grasp and comprehend the data provided by big data and AI.

See the full story here:


Tobii and Qualcomm bring eye tracking to VR/AR headsets

xQualcomm-Snapdragon-845-headset-980x620.jpg.800x600_q96.png.pagespeed.ic.Rp3RrII-NIQualcomm has announced that it plans to integrate Tobii’s eye-tracking technology directly into its Snapdragon 845 VR headsets. The two companies will create a full reference design and development kit for the Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform.

The eye-tracking hardware follows where a user is looking and uses that information to enhance the experience.

See the full story here:


A Mix of ‘Sensuality and Espionage’: Inside Perry Farrell’s $90M Kind Heaven Project

kind-heaven-2018-billboard-1548Farrell is one several creative forces behind Kind Heaven, a new immersive entertainment property set to open in 2019 that transports visitors to Southeast Asia without having to leave the Las Vegas Strip. The $90 million project developed in conjunction with Caesars Entertainment and Immersive Artistry’s Cary Granatcombines film and holographic special effects to recreate streetscapes and holy temples in Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Hong Kong. Granat was founder and former CEO of Walden Media, which produced the Chronicles of Narnia film seriesand is former president and COO of Miramax/Dimension Films.

“You start the experience by boarding a train near Caesars that takes you to Bangkok at one in the morning,” Granat explains. “You’re walking through actual night markets, buying food, getting all the scents and smells. And then you go through a forest and experience the beauty of Katmandu in Nepal. It’s really the best of South East Asia combined with incredible music from 130 artists.”’re basically walking through a 90-minute show routed in mythology and original content. When you’re within the complex, you’re free to roam around and discover hidden alleyways, visit nightclubs and eat from Hong Kong-style street food vendors. There will be improvisational actors, musicians, acrobats and comedians, combining elements of sensuality and espionage into an experience that will be a first of its kind.

We’ll outfit visitors with a variety of RFID devices to create a cashless environment to shop and eat without taking out your wallet. And we’ll accept cryptocurrencies and all different kinds of payments. So you can walk into a jewelry boutique or noodle house and your wristband will keep track of purchases.

There’s two different experiences -- one for families in the day and one for adults only at night. So during the day you can learn more about the traditions and cultures of Southeast Asia, then in the evening it becomes an adults-only experience with street walkers, nightclubs and sake bombs. Anyone who has traveled to Hong Kong knows it’s a much different city when the sun goes down.

See the full story here:


Magic Leap to Offer “Deep Dive” on AR Game Design at GDC

magic-leap-1021x580At GDC 2018 next week in San Francisco, Magic Leap will present an hour long sponsored session titled The World is Your Playground: Deep Dive on Developing for Spatial Computing. The session pulls together the company’s chief content officer, Rio Caraeff, interaction director, Aleissia Laidacker, director of interaction lab, Brian Schwab, and creative director, Jeremy Vanhoozer, for a look at the creative possibilities of AR and spatial computing:

Join four well-known developers, now at Magic Leap, as they discuss how storytelling, art, interactions and more can be brought to life using spatial computing. Attendees will be introduced to the concept of spatial computing, where tech is able to detect and respond to the environment, creating a seamless blend of the real and the digital, offering new potential for game experiences. They will learn best practices from the developers and designers building the platform and defining the medium. And they will be encouraged to bring their existing knowledge and experience to take on the opportunities and challenges presented by the development of games on this next computing platform.

See the full post here:


Google’s Experiment With Light Fields Show Potential of VR

The seven-minute guided tour is an impressive display of a few places where Google tested out their light field-recording camera rig. You can check out the varnished teak and mahogany interiors at the Gamble House in Pasadena, the fragments of glossy ceramic and shiny mirrors adorning the Mosaic Tile House in Venice, and the sun-filled stained glass window at St. Stephen’s Church in Granada Hills. Best of all, the Smithsonian Institute’s Air and Space Museum and 3D Digitization Office gave Google access to NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery, providing an astronaut’s view inside the orbiter’s flight deck which has never been open to the public.

Source story here:

Video here:


The web can be weaponised – and we can’t count on big tech to stop it

6636It’s dangerous having a handful of companies control how ideas and opinions are shared. A regulator may be needed


Google Maps Helps Develop Real-World Gaming Experiences

Google_Maps_API_AR_GamingGoogle is enabling game developers to create “Pokémon Go”-like experiences in which game elements are embedded into real-world maps using the new Google Maps API and the Unity game engine. Over 200 games are already in development. Next Games is developing a game based on the popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” and NBCUniversal and Ludia will release a “Jurassic World Alive” location-based game for mobile. Because Google Maps updates in real time, developers can create gaming experiences with a sharp eye on reality.

According to VentureBeat, the new Google Maps application programming interface (API) will make it “much simpler to create games based on real-world locations — yet animated in reimagined ways such as a medieval fantasy or bubble gum candy land or a zombie-infested apocalyptic city.”

Developers have the ability to transform buildings, roads and parks into game objects, adding any number of features to make them unique to the gaming world they’re creating.

“With Google Maps data integrated into Unity, we were able to focus our time and energy on building detailed virtual experiences for our users to find virtual dinosaurs in the real world,” said Alexandre Thabet, CEO of Ludia.

Google plans to demo the new Google Maps API combined with Unity tech at next week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

See the full story here:


How Netflix Thinks About the Future

reed-hastings-01Virtual reality. Most of Netflix’s key competitors have made some moves to embrace virtual reality (VR). Hulu has developed its own VR app, for which it has been licensing exclusive content from Ryot, Live Nation and others. Amazon hasn’t launched its VR efforts yet, but job offers and hires hint at a pretty significant commitment. And Disney, which is set to become a direct competitor when it launches its own streaming service in 2019, released one of the most advanced social VR experiences last year.

Netflix on the other hand has been on the sidelines, and apparently has no plans to change that. “We’ll keep an eye on it, but we don’t have any plans to invest in significant content creation for VR,” said the company’s chief product officer Greg Peters last week. Peters reiterated a point his boss, CEO Reed Hastings, has been making for some time: VR seems like a great fit for gaming, but not so much for Netflix.

Smart speakers. Netflix may not run on a device that doesn’t have a screen, but the company is still exploring how to make use of smart speakers for control and content discovery.

Sports and news. Facebook and Twitter may be spending more and more money on sports rights, but Netflix has no plans to join them.

“We don’t do news, we don’t do sports,” Hastings said.

Light Field Capture and high frame rates. Netflix has a team of a dozen employees just working on keeping up with current audio and video production technologies. That team, the audio-visual group, tests the latest production cameras, displays and other equipment to understand which cameras work best for capturing HDR for Netflix’s original productions. “It’s important for us to understand how each camera sees the world,” said Netflix’s managing director for production technologies Chris Clark.

Something that could come to Netflix sooner than footage captured with light field cameras are high frame rates, which are often touted as the next step to improve image quality.

Theme parks and merchandise. “That would be amazing,” admitted Hastings about the prospects of seeing Netflix IP in theme parks. Alas, the company has no such plans. “Not in the short-term,” said Hastings. “Not in the next five or ten years.”

However, the company already did its first merchandise deals last year, selling “Stranger Things” shirts, action figures and even a Eggo-themed “Stranger Things” card game at Target and Hot Topic. “That’s a big one for us,” Hastings said. “We’ll be doing more of that over time.”

See the full story here:



Susan-Wojcicki-542658392On Tuesday, however, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki detailed a potential solution. YouTube will now begin displaying links to fact-based content alongside conspiracy theory videos.

Wojcicki announced the new feature, which she called "information cues," during a talk with WIRED editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. Here’s how it will work: If you search and click on a conspiracy theory video about, say, chemtrails, YouTube will now link to a Wikipedia page that debunks the hoax alongside the video. A video calling into question whether humans have ever landed on the moon might be accompanied by the official Wikipedia page about the Apollo Moon landing in 1969. Wojcicki says the feature will only include conspiracy theories right now that have "significant debate" on the platform.

Merely placing links to factual information alongside videos won’t solve the company’s moderation problems wholesale. For one, as Zeynep Tufekci at The New York Times and others have pointed out, YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is often how users end up seeing conspiracy theories in the first place. Wikipedia in particular can also be edited by anyone, and has had its own reliability issues in the past.

See the full story here: