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Inside VR (Oct 15th, 2019)

1. At XRDC in San Francisco, Vivian Tan talked about the importance of nonverbal communication in building compelling virtual environments, characters, and experiences. In a very spatial medium like VR, body language translates into elements such as physical presence, facial interactions, eye contact, and gestures, all of which creators had to be mindful of designing immersive content, the Beast Inc co-founder and CEO  explained. Tan shared some of the lessons she and her team learned in designing their own VR sandbox experience Beast Pets, saying that nailing unconscious communication requires conscious effort, as body language is paradoxically easy to overlook since we do it all the time without realizing. "When you’re building VR characters from scratch, you have to make an effort to build it in -- or else everything will feel subtly fake," she concluded. – GAMASUTRA  

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2. Colorado State University has opened its “Immersive Reality Training Lab” which can accommodate up to 100 students simultaneously. The lab’s Samsung Odyssey+ headsets run custom "BananaVision" software which was developed in-house by Chad Eitel, a research associate at CSU. It allows students and instructors, in clusters of four, to visualize life-sized complex 3D anatomical imagery in a shared virtual space, and even dissect virtual cadavers. The multiplayer software allows groups of students to collaborate around the same virtual entity at the same time, while the instructor can "pod hop" and join any group’s virtual room from the front of the classroom. The facility, which is meant to supplement rather than replace traditional learning methodologies, is part of the school’s new Health Education Outreach Center facility which was made possible with funding from CSU and the National Western Center COP. – ROADTOVR

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3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Mikaela Jade

By Alice Bonasio

In 2014, Mikaela Jade started what she believes is the world's first indigenous augmented and mixed reality company, Indigital. The inspiration for this was deeply personal: growing up she felt rather disconnected from her own aboriginal roots and felt that important elements of this culture and heritage were being lost.

Working as a park ranger, she recalled seeing incongruous metal signs explaining places of significance for aboriginal people and feeling as if those 60,000-year-old cultural sites were being almost hijacked by being portrayed from an anthropological or archaeologist perspective. Jade saw Augmented Reality as a way to claim that heritage back and to empower her community both culturally and financially through technology. 

The company uses drones, 4D mapping software, image recognition technology, and cultural law to bring cultural sites to life through an AR app that works even in places with no Internet access. "When I saw augmented reality I thought, 'Wow, imagine you could just put your phone up to a cultural place or an artwork or an object and get a deeper understanding from the voice of the traditional owner that's the custodian of the story for that place or object or artwork',"  she said in an interview for ZDNet.

Jade believes Indigital provides a way for people to get involved in future economies and to be able to understand digital technologies, adding that Aboriginal peoples are usually the last people to receive cutting edge technologies and she wanted them to be the first this time."The best way that we can do that is to make the technology relevant to our culture, to our law, to our language, and to also just draw on the 80,000 years of science experiments that we have the answers to."

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.

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4. A new Resident Evil Immersive experience will be available from Oct. 26. Callum Williams writes that "Biohazard 7: Walkthrough The Fear" will be a multiplayer experience that can accommodate 2-4 players at a time and clock in at around 40 minutes of gameplay. Set in the RE7 universe, it will take place in Louisiana, where players will be trapped in a basement with deranged killer Jack Baker and tasked with finding weapons and ways to escape in classic Resident Evil style. There is no word yet on whether Capcom will extend the availability of the experience beyond this initial release which will be housed at the Plaza Capcom Ikebukuro store in Tokyo, Japan.– GAMERANT  

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5.  A new tongue-in-cheek VR experience plays around with 90s screensaver nostalgia. Screensavers VR allows users to teleport into interactive HD recreations of five classic screensaver animations: 3D Pipes, Starfield Simulation, 3D Maze, 3D Text, and 3D Lasers. According to its creators, LA-based developer FLOAT LAND, "what began as a tool to prevent CRT monitor burn-in of static pixels became a dynamic canvas for whimsy and experimentation,” adding that VR allows for a spatial experience that honors the visual language of this classic software. Those wanting to check it out for themselves can purchase the experience -available from Oct. 22 on PC VR, Mobile VR, 6DOF & 3DOF, and compatible Mobile AR devices  - for $4.99  – VRSCOUT   

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6. Live Planet has released its new Virtual Reality Studio Platform for immersive live streaming. In addition to updating its own publishing cloud and discounting the price of its Live Planet VR Camera from $7,995 to $3,495, Live Planet is also opening up the use of the platform to content creators using a number of VR cameras including the Insta360, Samsung Gear 360 and Kandao Obsidian, among others. The Live Planet VR Studio can be used to store, manage, edit and publish 360 video content to all major VR headsets, video platforms, and social media sites, and the new updates include the ability to Publish VR videos to Google Daydream, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR, YouTube. – IMMERSIVE SHOOTER

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7. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is hosting a range of immersive experiences that are proving popular with visitors. John Wenzel writes about how VR experiences such as "Spheres" have managed to create emotional connections with people of all ages. One member of staff specifically relates the story of someone who brought in their elderly mother, who had always dreamed of being an astronaut, and was moved to tears by her virtual trip through the cosmos.– THE KNOW   

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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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