philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Jaunt VR Lays Off A “Significant” Number Of Employees As It Refocuses On Augmented Reality

screen-shot-2018-10-15-at-2-52-19-pmJaunt is devoting its resources instead to a new volumetric capture technology it showed off recently at its studios in Santa Monica, in which it captured a subject (say, a person) in full 360-degree perspective, and placed the object in another environment (in this case, a desktop).

Change seemed to be coming last month, when Jaunt announced that its vice president of business development, Mitzi Reaugh, would take over as CEO, succeeding media veteran George Kliavkoff, who accepted a job as president of entertainment and sports for MGM Resorts International.

Jaunt was behind a number of groundbreaking 360-degree productions, including one production, Collisions, that won an Emmy Award for outstanding new approach to documentary. It told the story of an indigenous Australian tribe.

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Sixense to Refund STEM Kickstarter Backers After More Than 4 Years of Delays

sixense-stem-1-1021x580In what might be the longest Kickstarter campaign conclusion to date, more than four years following estimated deliveries of the STEM VR controller, Sixense says they will fully refund all backers and pre-orders.

Well before the announcement of the Vive, with its 6DOF wand controllers, or the Rift’s 6DOF Touch controllers, Sixense planned to build its own 6DOF controller system for VR. The ‘STEM’ (based on magnetic tracking, like the Hyrda), would include two controllers and several additional trackers which could be clipped to the head and feet for full body tracking. The company rallied the young VR community around a Kickstarter campaign, successfully raising over $600,000 back in October of 2013, well exceeding the project’s $250,000 goal.

Speaking to Sixense CEO Amir Rubin this week, he told me that by the time that Valve/HTC and Oculus began shipping their own VR controllers—some two years after the initial STEM systems were estimated to be delivered—it became clear to Sixense that STEM would be fighting an uphill battle in the PC VR space, though the company held out hope that it would be a great match for mobile VR headsets, and refocused their efforts on the project for that use-case.

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Sony tries using blockchain tech for next-gen DRM

dims-7This new blockchain system is built on Sony's pre-existing DRM tools, which keep track of the distribution of copyrighted materials, but will have advantages that come with blockchain's inherent security.

The way blockchain works allows Sony to track its content from creation through sharing. This means that users of the blockchain DRM tool will be able to see --and verify-- who created a piece of work and when. Sony Global Education is the current focus of the DRM tool, but going forward, the company hints that the rest of its media --including entertainment like music, movies, and virtual reality content-- may be protected the same way.

With this news, Sony joins the likes of Walmart and Major League Baseball, who have also experimented with the blockchain game, and today's announcement could be the tip of the iceberg for the tech juggernaut.

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25-Years-of-WIRED_verticalIT’S NO LONGER enough to build lean companies quickly. The companies of the near future will need to be both fast and massive. And if it takes years to grow from a small startup to a major player in Silicon Valley, well. That’s just too slow. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says Silicon Valley now demands that companies double their size after three months, then six months, then a year. He calls it “blitzscaling,” and today at the four-day WIRED25 festival in San Francisco, he explained the basic concepts to his good friend and intellectual sounding board Joi Ito, the iconoclastic director of MIT’s Media Lab.

“Blitzscaling is prioritizing speed over efficiency in the environment of uncertainty,” explained Hoffman. In his new book of the same name, Hoffman and coauthor Chris Yeh say that they are not merely offering advice for how startups can grow quickly, but describing a trend that is already happening—at internet companies, yes, but also at hardware manufacturers, and even in the fashion industry.

For those familiar with the backlash to Facebook’s former credo “Move fast and break things,” the idea of prioritizing speed when you build a new company may raise alarm bells. But Hoffman explains that the philosophy is meant as an antidote to some traditional business advice that no longer necessarily applies. Furthermore, it does not, actually, preclude the important work of thinking through good values before you start to grow or build your company.

Another rule: “Tolerate bad Management.” Another: “Ignore Your Customers.”

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Wingnut AR Pest Control shows augmented reality can be silly

wingnutThe narrator, talking through a speaker in the wall, welcomed me to my first day at Wingnut AR Pest Control. Before me was a table with virtual lab equipment and a box. I picked up a stick and was told to “take care of the spider problem.” The spiders were colorful things in a cartoon landscape. I had to move around a bit and squish them. Then I got a baseball bat, and moved around more aggressively. It reminded me of other games with the silly British accents from I Expect You to Die.

Since the glasses have only a wire leading to the puck in your pocket, you are free to move around. So I did. I went up to the spiders crawling around and squished them with the bat. They turned into spider jelly. I barely noticed that they were climbing on real world furniture, like chairs and tables. The narrator suggested I upgrade and so I traded the bat for a sawed-off shotgun. It wasn’t really that accurate, but it did the job.

The Wingnut demo highlighted one of the biggest problems of the glasses, the limited field of view. When you’re looking for spiders, you can’t use your peripheral vision because you don’t have any.

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Dubai Customs to use virtual reality to find hidden drugs, weapons

EP-181019419.jpg&MaxW=780&imageVersion=16by9&NCS_modified=20181015184159Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the GITEX Technology Week, Khawla AlSaleis, the administration affairs director at Dubai Customs, said: "The virtual reality teaches them how to start their day before the inspection - all the safety tools should be ready before they go to the ports. It will teach them how to inspect hidden and illegal items, such as drugs, weapons and others. Each time the inspector finds an illegal item, he will get points. When he receives enough points, he can go on to the next level."

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The History of Augmented and Virtual Reality, From 1838 to the Present (Infographic)

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RBC’s augmented reality payments rely on a human touch

Banks are still in their experimental phase of using virtual and augmented reality to interact with customers, and the key to their success will be embracing the technology's social nature.

And sometimes that means making an app designed for non-customers.

The Royal Bank of Canada is integrating augmented reality — a technology that overlays a digital interface over the real world — into peer-to-peer payments and digital gifting.

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Augmented reality helping future proof school lessons

RM_20181014_GITEX_53At Gitex Technology Week, Apple is showing off a new range of interactive learning tools designed to make learning less of a chore, with coding central to the skills being taught.

Modules like Everyone Can Code are being delivered in selected schools via apps, books and teacher resources from kindergarten level through to university.

“We have a very active professional learning programme in Arabic and English with Apple, here in the UAE,” said Michael Pazinas, who runs his own UK education company, Athena Enhanced Learning.

“The curriculum is tiered, so if you are an adult you don’t have to learn from a child’s perspective. A series of books take pupils through the learning process.”

Using data from approximately 20,000 telephone interviews with parents, researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University assessed the relationship between their children’s technology use and well-being.

Over the course of a month this relationship was measured in terms of impact on emotional resilience, curiosity and positive effect.

“By mixing the physical world with augmented reality, we find that children become much more sociable and are also aware of their surroundings.

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Adobe’s next canvas is augmented reality

1539605880066Adobe is always looking for the next area where creatives will need good authoring software tools. The lack of such tools has been hindering both AR and VR, says Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis.

  • "Before they become mainstream somebody has to step up and write authoring tools," Parasnis told Axios. For AR, at least, Adobe has decided the time is right.

Details: The private beta of Project Aero will focus on iPhones, iPads and a cloud service, for now, with plans to have native desktop versions for Mac and Windows next year. Adobe is not yet talking about how Aero will be priced or bundled into the company's existing subscription products.

The big picture: For brands looking to move into AR, Adobe's move is important because today's augmented reality often requires developers to be familiar with advanced coding or game engines — skills in short supply. The goal with Aero is for a much wider array of creators to bring their work into mixed reality.

What about Android?: The fragmentation of Android hardware makes this effort harder in the Android world, according to Adobe. And while there are already 700 million iOS devices capable of running Apple's ARKit, Google's similar ARCore is only supported on about 150 million devices.

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