Inside VR - November 14th, 2019

Inside VR (Nov 14th, 2019)

VR Preps Students for the Boardroom / Virtual Smells / Doctor Who on PSVR

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The present and future of virtual reality news and technology

1. Fordham University students are using VR to build real-world professional skills. Students at the institution's “Exploring Entrepreneurship” class are engaging in simulations that teach them how to network among groups of strangers, lead negotiations at high-stakes business meetings, or give presentations in front of colleagues. Washington Post reporter Peter Holley visited the class and observed that while a handful of students were immersed in a simulation, their avatars were broadcast on a projector for the rest of the class to watch and critique their performance in real-time. “Your brain actually assumes you’ve experienced the simulated environment, and it brings educational concepts to life for students,” says Lyron Bentovim, the professor leading the class who is also chief executive of the Glimpse Group, the New York-based AR/VR company behind the technology. “When they leave class, they don’t say, ‘We learned about negotiating today’; they say, ‘I negotiated today,’ or, ‘I led a business meeting today.’ The company is also testing an immersive educational broadcast tool called "Project Chimera" which mixes virtual reality with 180-degree video and real life. It allows students to sit in on a virtual class as if they were physically present, and interact with one another and the teacher through a custom avatar. Bentovim predicts that VR will become, over time, a feature in classrooms at every level of education. – WASHINGTON POST

2. You can now order a haptic mask that adds smells and temperature variations to virtual experiences. The FeelReal can be loaded up with hundreds of different scent cartridges and pairs via Bluetooth with a wide variety of headsets like the Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear to accurately sync up what you see with what you smell. Jordan Minor writes that the oddly anthropomorphic gadget “makes you look even more like a computer is eating your face” but those curious about it can place an order on IndieGogo for as little as $209, with delivery promised for this month. – GEEK.COM  

3. Throwback Thursday: Painted Panoramas

An early ancestor of the motion picture, panorama paintings enveloped spectators within an atmosphere that simulated a continuous surrounding landscape, sometimes accompanied by sound stimulation and three-dimensional elements. In Victorian times, panoramas were widely accessible and extremely popular, but declined in popularity following the spread of cinema, especially in the U.S.

If you're in Los Angeles, however, you can still get a taste of this very early form of Virtual Reality by visiting the Velaslavasay Panorama – the only one painted since the 19th century – which is on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Previous exhibits have included  "Effulgence of the North" (2007-2017) which was the first panorama on view at the Union Theatre - a 360-degree painted panorama that explores the limitless horizon beyond a frigid terrain, illuminated by the Aurora Borealis. The current installation is a painting depicting the city of Shengjing, China from 1910-1930 featuring a miniature 3D terrain, a living garden, a theater, and additional auxiliary exhibits. The Shengjing Panorama depicts an urban Chinese landscape during the years 1910 to 1930 - an era of great technological change, global exchange, and diversity in architecture, religions, and culture.

4. Oculus VR CTO John Carmack says he's not satisfied with the pace the industry is evolving at. In his acceptance speech for the lifetime achievement award he was given this week at the third annual VR Awards, Carmack told the audience that he considers the modern era of virtual reality to have started with Palmer Luckey's Oculus Rift prototype. Although he helped show it off at E3, it has remained relatively niche in spite of huge technical progress. Carmack adds he was "often kind of grumpy around the office," because of what he sees as slow progress in the sector. "When I'm in VR I see the magic there, but my brain is always throwing up these giant 'to do' Post-It Notes on top of everything, reminding me of all the work that's yet to be done. So it's going to be a little while before I really feel good about reminiscing about my achievements," he told the audience. – PC GAMER

5. In Virtual Reality, too much realism can be a barrier to enjoyment. In this opinion piece, Stephen Gibson from RainSoft Games explores how in the design process, too much realism can turn users off from trying a VR experience. "Perhaps what people want is a little more 'Virtual' and a little less 'Reality,' he speculates, adding that beyond well-known issues such as motion sickness, the intensity of VR can often prove jarring or frustrating if not managed. "Adjustable comfort levels are key," explains Rainsoft developer Jim Brodbeck, adding that in developing the company's latest extreme winter sports simulation game, they had to make adjustments to tone down the realism of the experience. "If every bump on the slope causes you to crash as it would in real life, it’s just not enjoyable. As you grow more comfortable you can increase how responsive the game becomes to your movements and the environment," he says.– TECH TRENDS  

6. Players can face off in Virtual Reality against some of the creepiest monsters in the "Doctor Who" lore. The "Weeping Angels" are predators who move very quickly and silently towards their prey when unobserved, but become “quantum locked” and freeze when you look directly at them. Marcus Moresby, the Creative Director of Maze Theory, explains how they incorporated this unsettling premise into the gameplay for the newly released PSVR game "Doctor Who, The Edge of Time."  "One of the main challenges was how to balance the timings of looking away and how quickly the Angels advance in turn. In the show’s lore, they can move incredibly fast but in gameplay that can prove incredibly frustrating. There’s a balance between the distance they need to travel and the tension that ensues," he says. – PLAYSTATION BLOG

7. Does Microsoft need to incorporate immersive tech in its gaming console to effectively compete with Sony? Andrew Mohan says that if the HoloLens 2 was at a place where it was a viable consumer proposition (both in terms of user experience and price) it would be a no-brainer to pair it with the company's new Xbox (codenamed Scarlett). As it stands, however, this is unlikely to hurt sales for the 2020 holiday cycle, he says, adding that VR remains relatively niche: "PlayStation VR hit over 3 million sales last year, a sizable figure compared to other headsets, but that number represents less than 3 percent of the over 102 million PS4 console units sold. – SCREENRANT  

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

Edited by Inside Dev and Inside Deals editor Sheena Vasani.

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