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Inside VR (Oct 29th, 2019)

1. Haptic gloves will allow Oculus Quest users to feel objects in Virtual Reality. BeBop Sensors first showed the Forte Data Gloves in January 2018 at the annual Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas, and they have been perfecting it ever since while also marketing it to Fortune 500 companies which have been using the technology for training, medical trials and rehabilitation, robot and drone control, and other applications. The company’s latest iteration is a one-size-fits-all device which integrates with Oculus Quest controllers to allow users to experience force, location, size, weight, bending, twisting, and various other presences across any size, resolution, and geometry in VR, all of which they claim to achieve with nearly imperceptible latency. This means that when users move their fingers to grab an object, the response time between the real-world and the virtual world is just under 6 milliseconds due to fast sensor speeds clocking in at 160Hz and six full-range haptic actuators. – VRSCOUT

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2.  A virtual tour shows visitors what it was like to like to live with the Berlin Wall. Thirty years after Germany's reunification there are very few physical traces of the notorious wall that divided the capital. Yet there is renewed interest from locals and tourists alike to learn more about this chapter in history, which is what a company called TimeRide is hoping to provide. Its founder Jonas Rothe was born in the eastern city of Dresden and was a toddler when the wall fell in 1989, and he says he wants to give people a vivid sense of what that world was like. The experience is guided by three virtual protagonists — a rebellious tile layer, a disillusioned true believer, and a West Berlin punk who spent a lot of time in the east’s underground scene who lead visitors on a tour starting at Checkpoint Charlie and across the tense border crossing and beyond. – TIMES OF ISRAEL

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3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Heather Raikes

By Alice Bonasio

Immersive media artist Heather Raikes is Mixed Reality Creative Director at Microsoft and founder of Neopoetics, a catalyst for innovation in immersive media and kinesthetic experience design. She has a doctorate in digital arts and experimental media and has spent the last two decades pioneering innovation in art and technology, probing, discovering and creating next-generation sensory experiences.

"When it became evident in early 2015 that VR was ready to emerge as a mainstream and commercially viable platform, I was just incredibly excited and thought that this is the medium that I have been waiting for and, in many ways, preparing for. In essence, my work is based in a kinetic flow; it explores myth, metaphor and embodied poetics. I focus on exploring and discovering experiences and composition techniques that are completely unique to VR and couldn’t be actualized in any other medium," she told WIVR.

She believes the industry is still too male-dominated and would love to see as many women as possible working and thinking and brainstorming in the immersive space, and to take an active part of it emerging and coming of age as the next major computing platform and communications medium.

"Women have so much to offer VR because fundamentally, this medium revolves around holistic experience and holistic awareness and being able to synthesize a number of different sensory modalities simultaneously. As a creator, I think the holy grail is to harness that potential to produce an exquisite experience in which your senses are simultaneously and harmoniously activated. I think there is something unique about feminine intelligence — and that could be an expression of either a man or woman –that aligns with the fundamental nature of virtual reality, and that can really unleash its potential." 

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.  Viro Move is the latest title to be released in the booming space of fitness-focused VR games. Jamie Feltham demos the game developed by Fit Reality, which combines three main activity types: A boxing mode gets users' arms moving, while a sword-swinging mode will feel familiar to Beat Saber fans. Finally, a shooter segment has you dodging and returning attacks, all while calorie burn and other stats are monitored and stored to help players manage their fitness goals. Viro Move is coming soon to Steam. It’s set to release on Rift and Vive headsets and should be compatible with the Valve Index headset as well. – VENTUREBEAT  

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5. HTC has released a software fix in beta to fix issues with the Vive Cosmos headset.  When the company's latest HMD first launched it experienced serious issues around low-light tracking. Scott Hayden writes that although the company pushed out a hot fix shortly afterward that improved the range of acceptable lighting scenarios, tracking was still far from perfect since. Now HTC has made the Cosmos 1.0.7 software is now available in beta which they claim addresses a number of those outstanding problems. In addition to this update, the headset’s 1.0.5 update was released late last week and is said to include better room setup performance for low-light environments as well as solving a USB audio driver compatibility issue that affected users with certain system configurations.  – ROAD TO VR  

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6. Todd Maddox examines how, from a neuroscience perspective, immersive learning is even more effective for your learners than adults. "Experiential, behavioral, and to a lesser degree, emotional learning systems develop quickly in children, whereas the cognitive system is much slower to develop." Thus, Maddox explains, with immersive learning technologies you not only “spread the wealth” broadly across learning systems in the brain, but you also “spread the burden” of learning so that the learner does not have to rely on the cognitive system exclusively.– TECH TRENDS

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7. A VR documentary screened last weekend in Washington immerses viewers in the horrors of war. "Home After War" uses techniques such as photogrammetry to take viewers into the Fallujah house of Ahmaied Hamad Khalaf, an Iraqi man who fled his home in 2016 when the fighting intensified between IS and the Iraqi army. NowHere Media, partnered with the GICHD – which works to reduce the risks to communities that stem from explosive ordnance - to create the film, with a grant from Oculus, The documentary has been shown at festivals in Venice, Cannes, and  New York, but it is screening at the Arabian Sights Film Festival was the first time it was shown in Washington. One of the filmmakers behind the project, Felix Gaedtke, says he hopes the experience of walking in Khalaf's shoes will broaden people's perspectives of the conflict and open their eyes to its enduring consequences. – MIDDLE EAST EYE

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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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