Dear readers, please note there won't be a newsletter next Monday (September 2) as it's Labor Day here in the U.S., so we will be resuming as normal on Tuesday, September 3.
1. "Wolves in the Walls" has won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Media. Based on Neil Gaiman’s book and produced by Fable Studios, the viewer is cast as the imaginary friend of the story's protagonist, Lucy, The second installment of the experience was first unveiled at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, and once the third and final chapter is released, the experience is expected to total 60 minutes. – VARIETY
2. Immersive experiential journalism could revitalize the industry from the decline of print. Kevin Kline argues that the emotional connection immersive stories forge with their consumers could be the key to inspire a resurgence of journalistic storytelling. Recent research has found that experiencing stories in 360° VR increases viewer engagement and subject crediblity, making stories seem more "real." This also means, Kline cautions, that journalists engaging in creating these new types of stories have a collective responsibility to uphold high ethical principles and not leverage it as a propaganda tool that could potentially amplify the fake news phenomenon.– VENTUREBEAT
3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Jacquelyn Ford Morie
By Alice Bonasio
Dr. Jacquelyn Ford Morie is an artist, scientist, and educator working in the areas of immersive worlds, games and social networks. She started her VR career in 1989 when she joined the Institute for Simulation and Training’s (IST) VR Group the Visual Systems Lab, where she pioneered the concept of creating emotionally evocative VR. With her partner, Mike Goslin, she created the VR called Virtopia, which had eight specially crafted VR worlds each designed to elicit different emotional responses. Virtopia was showcased the Florida Film Festival in Orlando in 1992 (the first time a VR project was showcased in a film festival).
Dr. Morie spent 13 years as a Sr. Research Scientist at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), which she helped found in 1999. Her work during this time included the invention of a scent collar for subtle VR smells and an infrasonic floor to elicit a visceral, though unheard, emotional response. Her initial work at the ICT focused on the creation of meaningful multi-sensory, virtual environments. Two basic developments in this work included the design and use of an infrasonic floor to produce a subconscious "emotional score" for the virtual experience, and the invention of a scent collar that was patented in 2004. Other notable works in that area include DarkCon and Memory Stairs, a montage of life event VR environments from before birth to near death, with a full range of 3D audio, scent and other sensory output.
The company she went on to found, All These Worlds, conducts projects including providing Mindfulness classes to soldiers via a networked social VR world (along with the Army Medical Command and the UCSD Center for Mindfulness). In 2016 she completed a 3-year project for NASA to build a VR prototype “Holodeck” called ANSIBLE for astronauts who will be going on long-duration space flights to places like Mars. ANSIBLE is expressly designed to mitigate the effects of sensory deprivation and social isolation inherent in such long missions and was shown to be effective in a recent year-long study in a Mars isolation habitat called HI-SEAS in Hawaii.
Every Tuesday we'll shine a spotlight on the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech and their work. If you have a story you think we should feature, just hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio
4. An Emmy-nominated VR film immerses viewers in the reality of the American black experience. Director Roger Ross Williams says he hopes that "Traveling While Black" can serve as a conversation starter and ultimately leverage Virtual Reality as a tool for social justice. “I think we all know America hasn’t really dealt with the issues around racism, and slavery, and the legacy of slavery,” he notes. “The main thing about VR is that you are totally 100% immersed in a story, it allows the viewer, whether the viewer is an African American who has experienced this racial animusm," he explains. – DEADLINE
5. Mat Chacon provides a first-hand account of how he was inspired to use virtual reality to get into better physical and mental shape. "For years now I’ve been struggling with depression and astronomical stress. Virtual reality enabled me to escape my confines of anxiety and access a world of content in any virtual environment I desired. All I needed was my HMD and since I frequently traveled for work, I always had my HMD with me," he says, describing the experience as magical and life-changing. – VR FITNESS INSIDER
6. Virtual Reality is being leveraged as a propaganda tool, and not only by authoritarian regimes. Simon Chandler argues that although VR is certainly being embraced by the likes of China's Communist government, it is also used by United States, the U.K. and other western nations to recruit and train people for their armed forces. “VR allows content creators to present a ‘world’ that appears real, in which real memories will be created, and that has powerful implications for affecting the mind’s association with certain concepts and situations,” says Michael Ludden, Principal Augmented Reality Product Advocate at the Bose Corporation, adding that VR “essentially grants software developers low-level access to our instinctual/lizard brain and can fundamentally rewire our responses to stimuli and situations in the world. – TRUTH OUT
7. A 200-room, 42,000 sq ft state-of-the-art VR venue is getting ready to open in London's West End. Space 18 is the brainchild of Dalton Dale, an American make-up artist who made his name working on hit TV series "The Walking Dead." Dale estimates the project will cost about £2.5 million: “Our costumes are built by the company that built the Iron Man suit in LA,” he says. “Our make-up designer just finished production on the new Star Wars film. Everything about this show is custom, even the music," he explains. Participants in the zombie-themed experience will wear sophisticated health monitors that are affected by creatures and substances spread throughout the show and will be armed with replica 9mm handguns with realistic recoil and noise. – THE STAGE
8. Los Angeles Dodgers players are adopting Virtual Reality batting practice. After successfully being used by the team to help players get back into practice after recovering from injury, VR is now being fully implemented by the Major League team for the first time this season. “It just adds to the familiarity at the plate,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s not really taking the swing, it’s just more seeing where the ball comes out of, the flight, the lane the ball is getting to home plate.”– LA TIMES
9. According to a recent report, the global immersive market for education is set to grow at CAGR of +10% by 2026. Technologies such as Mixed Reality are increasingly gaining traction among educators, who are using it in order to deliver more engaging content to students. – IT TECHNOLOGY NEWS
10. A relative newbie to VR, Robert N. Adams was wowed by the HOST Room Scale experience at Play NYC 2019, which he called "surreal." "You start the game by looking at a campfire. Things go suddenly dark, and you find yourself inside of a strange, purple room. It quickly dawns on you that the room is alive and that you’ve somehow ended up inside of a massive creature. HOST is all about making your escape," he recounts. – TECH RAPTOR
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).