Inside VR - November 5th, 2019

Inside VR (Nov 5th, 2019)

Jumanji Comes to The Void / Veteran Takes VR Honor Flight / Playing Virtual Pictionary With Jimmy Fallon

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The present and future of virtual reality news and technology

1. The Void has partnered with Sony Pictures to bring a Jumanji VR experience to some of its locations. “Jumanji Reverse the Curse” will be available at select locations starting Nov. 27. Up to four visitors at a time can play the characters of Dr. Bravestone, Ruby Roundhouse, Professor Oberon and “Mouse” Finbar. Together, the group will embark on a quest to rescue the Scepter of Se’payu containing the Red Jewel of Jumanji and return it to the temple from which it was stolen. "As the characters in ‘Jumanji’ are pulled into the game, we naturally had the idea to create a VR experience where fans can do the same," said Sony Pictures senior vice president for virtual reality, Jake Zim. The location-based Virtual Reality start-up, which is backed by Disney, Qualcomm Ventures and James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, currently has 6 VR centers in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Dubai. Earlier this year it also announced plans to open 14 additional venues in cities such as San Diego, Paris, London, and Vienna. – VARIETY  

2. A veteran with Parkinson's disease was still able to go on his Honor Flight thanks to Virtual Reality technology. Daryle "Ole" Olson served in the United States Navy from 1956-1960. While stationed in Rhode Island, he delivered top-secret papers to ships on the east coast. However, because of his ongoing battle with Parkinson's, he was unable to join the physical flight to Washington D.C. organized by the charity which honors veterans for their service. Instead, the charity brought him a jacket, hat, t-shirt and other goodies along with HMDs that allowed him and his wife Darlene Olson to experience the trip in VR. Darlene called the experience "very humbling and very nice," adding that it felt "very honorable as a thank you for serving our country." – VALLEY NEWS LIVE  

3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Lisa Laxton

By Alice Bonasio

Virtual reality consultant Lisa Laxton has worked with both NASA and the U.S. Navy. She first became interested in immersive technologies while working at the Johnson Space Center. There, she supported Space Shuttle Operations, as well as the design and build of the International Space Station.

Laxton eventually started supporting the Visual Simulation Systems in the Integrated Training Facility, which housed a full-size mock-up of a Space Shuttle and cockpit combining visual and physical simulation aspects."Virtual world technology as we know it today, began with these simulation concepts," she told WIVR.

Being a fan of open source and an early adopter of virtual world technology, she joined the Open Simulator community evaluating and testing multiple versions from an engineering perspective, which she believed showed great promise. "I’ve done everything from organic and inorganic modeling to behavioral scripting to scientific visualization. I have experience with just about every virtual world or virtual reality technology to date and am looking forward to what we can evolve together in future technologies!"

Laxton says that "Math is her thing" and that she's greatly interested in realism when it comes to virtual world simulations, particularly physics. "It is far more challenging from an engineering perspective to simulate reality than it is to simulate fantasy," she muses.

Her advice for women choosing a career in the immersive field? Embrace the reality that equality has not yet been achieved, she says, and expect some of the same challenges women in traditionally male occupations tend to face. However, at the same time, she also encourages women to embrace that "outlier" status and think outside the box. "Almost everything I have done involved doing things in a way either none had accomplished, some had failed, or many had not envisioned. Approach every project as a problem-solving exercise with a solution waiting for you to discover it," she concludes.

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. Celebrities had fun playing Pictionary - very badly - in Virtual Reality. Kristen Stewart, Gaten Matarazzo of Stranger Things, and rapper Tariq Trotter joined Jimmy Fallon in using a VR system to draw out the clues to the popular game. The person who was drawing wore a virtual reality headset and the pictures appeared on the big screen on stage. Trotter's clue was the only one any of the participants were able to successfully guess, with Steward accurately guessing The Joker. The huge success of the Tilt Five Mixed Reality system on Kickstarter is a reminder of the huge potential for blending immersive technologies into popular social activities such as tabletop gaming in the real world.  – HOLLYWOOD REPORTER  

5. VR has taken on a new life as an essential tool for artists looking to express themselves and engage with audiences in more meaningful ways. Seth Porges writes that the best and most interesting VR experiences are ones that are impossible to experience outside of a fixed installation, likes one offered by the Phi Centre’s Theater of Virtuality, which he describes as "a traveling art exhibition that weaves together all the realities: Virtual, augmented, mixed, and just plain real." Félix Lajeunesse, Cofounder of Felix & Paul Studios adds that as we move into the immersive age, these technologies will increasingly become seamless gateways into other worlds: "A well-designed installation or exhibit should have no wait times, instead allowing the audience to enter virtual worlds at their will," he concludes. – FORBES

6. The 42nd annual Denver Film Festival is currently showcasing a range of virtual experiences. The festival's Virtual Reality Arcade will be open through Nov. 11 at the McNichols building in downtown Denver and includes an experience called "Imagine! Colorado — Beer Training,” which was created in Boulder by Reality Garage. "It teaches people how to package beer before they have to do it on the job. It’s used to educate people with disabilities to actually go into the virtual reality and learn how to do these in person,” explains Aja Duniven, the Virtual Reality Manager of the Denver Film Festival. Eight of the virtual reality arcades are free to the public, while the other three immersive experiences require a ticket. – CBS  

7. Elizabeth Howell writes about the "overview effect" of seeing Earth as a whole planet in Virtual Reality at the International Astronautical Congress. The experience was facilitated by Dutch nonprofit SpaceBuzz, which toured a minibus outfitted with a VR show. This is something that thousands of Dutch children have already experienced in the classroom, where they undergo a mini "astronaut training school" and sometimes takes tests about what it would be like to live in space. SpaceBuzz wants to expose children to STEM topics, and the proof of concept has been so successful that the company plans to build a second bus and extend the experience online. The nonprofit also plans to create more interactive versions of the experience which could include interactive elements, allowing children to ask and answer questions about space during their mission. – SPACE.COM

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

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