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Inside VR (Sep 5th, 2019)

1. Bjork is launching her Vulnicura VR album after four years of development. The Icelandic artist will release the complete version of "Vulnicura VR" tomorrow through Steam, providing fans with a single place where they can experience 360-degree visuals available in the digital museum collection. The project includes seven of the tracks from the album with a 360-degree score composed by Stephen Malinowski. Since starting the project in 2015, the VR market evolved substantially, but the artist's motivation for using the medium has remained consistent. She wanted to leverage the "isolating" properties of the headset to evoke the heartbreak at the core of Vulnicura, and also provide "escapist relief" which she felt in creating the music. VR, writes Mat Smith, served as an artistic medium that could venture beyond what audio or a conventional music video might accomplish. – ENGADGET

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2. Avatour app has launched its Beta to provide shared livestreamed tours in VR. Imeve aims to offer live, human-guided tours of remote locations, complete with responsive audio. Up to five people can currently use the app simultaneously, either with VR goggles or on mobile devices, joining a host in a livestreamed location. Imeve was founded last year by members of Nokia’s OZO camera team, and envisage the functionality being used for remote property tours, project progress reviews, education, and hospitality applications. Businesses interested in participating can register today through October 15 to get early access. – VENTUREBEAT

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3. Throwback Thursday: Oculus Rift Kickstarter

It was almost ten years ago when a fresh-faced 18-year-old entrepreneur named Palmer Luckey started to turn heads in Silicon Valley with his impressive demo of a headset that provided immersive 3D stereoscopic rendering and 90-degree field at ultra-low latency. A passionate gamer, Luckey set out to basically create his version of the Matrix, which would allow him to plug into a realistic virtual world. 

The first prototype of the Oculus Rift was launched two years later in a Kickstarter campaign supported by some of the biggest names in the tech and gaming industry, raising $2.4 million.

Luckey's decision to sell the company to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014, before any of the prototypes purchased by the Kickstarter backers actually shipped, was controversial to say the least, but the publicity around it also helped to trigger much broader interest in VR, and the founder of Oculus has certainly gone on to make many more controversial decisions since then, not least his pivot into supplying immersive and AI technology to the military

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4. The convergence of VR/AR with Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) could make for a future stranger than fiction. Scott Hayden indulges in some future-gazing based on current brain-computer Interface and immersive technologies, arguing that companies such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink have already taken BCI much further in terms of maturity, and that by 2030, when all-in-one AR/VR glasses are a reality, they are likely to interface seamlessly with such "minimally invasive implants" which will not only control our experiences, but also provide multi-sensory stimulation to further immerse us into alternative realities.  – ROAD TO VR

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5. Facebook seeks to clarify its policy on capture and storage of data from its Guardian Feature on Oculus Quest and Rift S headsets. UPLOADVR Editor Ian Hamilton pushes the company on exactly how it uses the extremely granular data captured by its new HMDs in order to create the "safe spaces" generated by the Guardian virtual boundary system. Facebook assured Hamilton over email that this data doesn’t leave the local device. “That said, we’ll notify consumers if this information is required for VR experiences we provide on Quest/Rift S in the future.” “The only information we keep on our servers consists of performance metrics that don’t contain any recognizable detail about your environment,” the email states. – UPLOADVR   

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6.  Does gender-biased design affect the way women experience motion sickness in VR? Paul Lilly investigates the research behind an argument put forward in a recent ABC News article which claims that gender-biased design might play a role in the fact that more women than men experience VR motion sickness. While it is a fact that the average pupillary distance (PD) differs based on gender, and that not all VR headsets allow for the adjustment of that distance, there is yet to be a conclusive study on the subject.  – PC GAMER

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7. Live-action VR drama “Afterlife” explores the concept of grief with branching narratives. The film was produced by Signal Space Lab and follows the grieving Daoust family as they struggle to cope with the death of their son/brother Jake. Juanita Leatham relates how she watched it three times (over two and a half hours in total), experiencing a different ending each time, and praised its refreshing structure, recommending it as a "must-watch VR movie for fans of drama, the paranormal, psychological thrillers, and VR." – AR POST

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8. Researchers have developed a Virtual Reality system to test the concept of "body editing." Adrien Verhulst and his colleagues at Keio University, RIKEN AIP and the University of Tokyo aimed to carry out a "shared body" experiment using Virtual Reality to track a user's body and a head-mounted display to view the direction of both the subject's physical body and a remotely controlled "parasite" robotic arm. "If you put a camera in front of you at a weird angle, and can only see yourself from that camera, you'll have more difficulty to move your arm in a given direction," Verhulst explained. "This means that each time the main body moves, the parasite's body reorients itself." In future such VR systems could be used to study approaches to gather visual feedback on more elaborate and realistic tasks. – TECH XPLORE

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9. Valve's latest release of its VR game "The Lab" appears to contain source code for a prototype of Half-Life in VR.  In April, Valve issued some more hints about a "flagship VR game" which would be available later this year, and speculation among Half-Life fans has been feverish since. The newly surfaced datamined code reveals a project called ‘Codename: Shooter’ which appears to refer to a wave-based shooter set in a holographic version of City 17.–  PCGAMESN

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10. Ubisoft is building a 50-person VR team to work on AAA project. Several positions such as Senior Game Designer, Build & Release Engineer, Senior Level Artist have started appearing on the Ubisoft’s career website, all of which are expected to be at the Ubisoft Blue Byte studio in Dusseldorf, Germany. The studio has previously worked on two location-based entertainment (LBE) for VR arcades Assassin’s Creed Origins: Escape the Lost Pyramid and Beyond Medusa’s Gate, although a spokesperson for the company clarified that the team being built is different from its Escape Room VR team. – VRFOCUS

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This newsletter was written and curated by Alice Bonasio, a journalist and consultant obsessed with the immersive technology space, including AR/VR/MR/XR and any other acronyms that fit into the realities spectrum. Over the past 15 years, Alice has advised a wide range of start-ups and corporations on digital transformation and communication strategy and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tech Trends. She also regularly contributes to publications such as Quartz, Fast Company, Wired, Playboy, The Next Web, Ars Technica, VRScout and many others. Follow her on Twitter @alicebonasio

 

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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