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Inside VR (Oct 10th, 2019)

1. A patent filed by Sony for a "data processing device" could reveal some new PSVR 2 features. Writer Jamie Feltham analyses the four diagrams in the application, which was awarded earlier this month, speculating that they might feature in a yet-to-be-confirmed PSVR 2 headset. He is particularly intrigued by the camera setup, with two mounted on the front of the device, another on the head ring at the back, and an image of a motion controller that doubles up as a sports a camera. This is a unique concept that might serve to improve tracking accuracy, something the original PSVR struggled with. "The mention of cameras both on the headset and console leaves Sony’s intentions for PSVR 2 unclear. It may be that the unannounced headset utilizes both sets of sensors for a unique mix of both inside-out and outside-in tracking," he muses, adding that there isn't another headset in the market that currently uses both methods. – UPLOADVR  

2. Swiss startup VRMotion has developed a VR system that makes helicopter flight simulator training more accessible. The company is currently working with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on new standards for VR simulation training devices, while customers test its technology which makes full flight simulator experiences vastly more affordable. With VR goggles replacing the conventional dome for image display, the system's weight is cut to 200 kilograms (440 pounds) as compared to 10 metric tons for a traditional simulator, which also requires a vast hangar space for setup. VRMotion CEO Fabi Riesen explains that the company's “pose tracking” system enables avatar animation following the pilot’s movements, while he also claims that the force feedback on the controls and the motion platform is precise enough to make the pilot feel the vibration from main rotor blades and interaction with uneven ground. – VERTICAL MAGAZINE  

3. Throwback Thursday: The Lawnmower Man. For many people, "The Lawnmower Man" was the movie that introduced them to the idea of Virtual Reality, and it was partly based on the colorful character of VR pioneer Jaron Lanier, played by Pierce Brosnan. In this story, the scientist protagonist performs VR-based therapy on a mentally disabled patient. As you might expect, things don't quite go according to plan, however, and as the experiments evolve and the simpleminded gardener becomes a genius, things quickly unravel. 

Real VR equipment from VPL research labs was used in the film, and director Brett Leonard admited to drawing inspiration from companies in the VR space at the time. With films like The Matrix getting renewed attention and a much-anticipated remake, it could be interesting to see what a 2020 version of this whole concept would look like. The original is still a classic though, and well worth it for a look at how far we've come since 1992.

4. While content makers are making progress, hardware and design are still major blockers for women using VR. During a recent press event in New York, Lux Alptraum got a preview of "360° of Lust," the first immersive work by award-winning pornographer Erika Lust, which she describes as a "beautifully crafted sumptuous buffet of erotic action." Yet Alptraum argues that pioneering content makers such as Lust are being hampered by ongoing design bias where it comes to hardware, which still makes it more likely for women to experience discomfort and motion sickness, as she did in this occasion. "With the right settings, most people will be able to enjoy VR without feeling sick. With the wrong settings, the quality of experience can be significantly worse," she says, adding that actually presents a rather interesting feminist challenge that the industry would be well-advised to tackle. – ONE ZERO  

5. The VR Health Institute has launched a free app to help users track the calories they spend in virtual activities more accurately. The VR Health Exercise Tracker - currently in beta iOS and Android - draws on data from hundreds of hours of metabolic testing the company conducted over the past two years, and should be used together with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor for best results. The app will also provide a list of new games that have fitness elements, together with estimated calories burnt, so that users can choose new games based on their goals. Dr. Jimmy Bagleym San Francisco State University assistant professor of kinesiology, says he believes tools like these are necessary for VR exercise to continue to grow and be seen as a common tool for improving health. Developers interested in taking part can request to have their game assigned an exercise rating  – VR FITNESS INSIDER  

6. Travis Hoium counters Wall Street's negative reaction to GoPro's latest product announcement. The company's stock fell 28 percent in the last five days to a share price below $4, reflecting a reduced revenue growth guidance from 9 percent to 12 percent to a new range of 6 percent to 9 percent, yet Hoium argues that GoPro has learned from its past mistakes, and that writing them off might be shortsighted. He is positive about the new MAX camera, which combines all the 360 capabilities of the Fusion model wil the ability to take traditional single-lens shots and ease of editing.  – THE MOTLEY FOOL  

7. Nigerian 360 documentary "Daughters of Chibok" shows a renewed focus on VR storytelling. Alina Mikhaleva reviews the powerful piece which was the surprise winner of the Best VR Immersive Story award at the Venice Film Festival last month.  Produced independently by Joel Kachi Benson and his team it is a simple 360-degree monoscopic video shot with Omni GoPro camera filmed in Chibok, Nigeria, where 276 girls were kidnapped by terrorists from Boko Haram 5 years ago. The film focuses on the aftermath of a community still dealing with the fact 112 of the girls remain missing. Mikhaleva says the film is an indication that the jury for such awards is less concerned with technical prowess and more focused on story substance when making their selections .– IMMERSIVE SHOOTER

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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