Patricia Marx's VR test-drive @NewYorker | Inside VR - December, 3rd 2019

Inside VR (Dec 3rd, 2019)

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The present and future of virtual reality news and technology

1. Oculus Go was more popular than the Nintendo Switch on Amazon's Cyber Monday. The headset, which normally sells for around $200 had already been discounted to $150 on Black Friday, but patient shoppers who waited a bit longer were rewarded with a further $30 off on Amazon. The $120 price tag proved to be a sweet spot, seeing the device beat popular gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and secure a very impressive third place on Amazon's bestseller list on Cyber Monday (the Oculus Quest also proved popular, but only made it to number 43). Although VR pundits have their reservations about the limitations of the Oculus Go, it is hoped that it will serve as an entry point for consumers to experience VR and go on to invest in higher-end HMDs. – ENGADGET  

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2.  VR revenues are projected to reach $14.8 billion by 2023. Global VR Revenue Forecast, 2018-2023 is the latest report published by ARtillery Intelligence. The analysis is segmented into revenue categories such as consumer, enterprise, and sub-divisions of each, examining VR revenue performance. Although cautiously optimistic, the overall picture it paints is of a sector which still shows early-stage characteristics, including erratic levels of interest and investment.  Growth and scale will come, the report concludes, but likely slower than many industry proponents believe, due partly to the pace of adoption and other signals  – VRARA  

3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Michelle Brown

By Alice Bonasio

Michelle Brown is a Brisbane-based media artist, designer, and spatial thinker whose work explores the combined digital and physical space by creating site-specific relationships between virtual media and the environment. She focuses on utilizing digital technologies to experiment with visual storytelling to transform subjects and reshape the perception of space, inviting viewers to visualize alternative realities by presenting them with the possibility of re-defining the journey they take through a look at contemporary culture and future timelines.

In the last few years, Brown has experimented with creating immersive pieces such as AR-activated prints and VR installations which have been exhibited in Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.  She is currently showing some of her VR work at the Museum of Other Realities and preparing to launch an exhibition using VR and other interactive tech.

"Allegory of Reality" opens on Dec. 13 at West End gallery in Queensland, and is a room-scale virtual reality along with interactive projection mapping and LED lighting activation. It incorporates virtual reality, touch, sound, and projection mapping to create a focus on the impact of climate change. The piece is complemented by Brisbane composer, Taana Rose’s sound design. Playing with scale and visual juxtaposition, participants are positioned in the space to experience a virtual reality installation that includes physical object interactivity, immersing individuals into different environments.

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. Dairy farmers in Russia announced they were testing out VR on their cows. Sarah Webber, Research Fellow in Human-Computer Interaction and Animal-Computer Interaction, University of Melbourne and Marcus Carter, Lecturer in Digital Cultures, SOAR Fellow, University of Sydney give a brief history of virtual reality being used with animals. They conclude that although there is little evidence that they are able to appreciate the content in the same way humans do, the very act of seeing cows or pigs interacting with technology meant for humans creates an empathetic bond that could ultimately lead to improvements in animal welfare. Description: he ConversationCOSMOS MAGAZINE

5. Veteran New Yorker writer Patricia Marx attempts to try out most types of VR. This long-read article was written from the perspective of a new VR user who set herself the task to experience as many facets of the medium as possible within a relatively short space of time. From religious meditation apps to VR porn and even a migraine simulator, to training applications and a virtual tour of Anne Frank's house, the piece really highlights the broad spectrum of content that is now available in the immersive space. Like many people - myself included - who demo VR in all its forms, however, Marx's favorite experiences - “Traveling While Black” and  “Notes on Blindness,” -  turned out to be thoughtful and borderline uncomfortable. –NEW YORKER  

6. VRTL talks to Brazilian filmmaker Ricardo Laganaro about the state of immersive storytelling and the challenges of making VR content in a country where you can't even buy a headset. Laganaro explains how - since neither Oculus nor HTC have made their HMDs available in Brazil, his company - Arvore Immersive Experiences - have had to open location-based venues to create an audience for the medium. "Making global content with a local flavor and a universal theme is something really powerful," he says, also referring to one of his latest projects, "The Line," which won the Best VR Immersive Experience for Interactive Content award at this year's Venice Film Festival. – VRTL ACADEMY

7. Location-based virtual entertainment company Dreamscape partnered with DreamWorks on a new "How to Train Your Dragons" VR experience. The 11-minute “DreamWorks Dragons Flight Academy” experience lets up to 8 people at a time take part in a rescue mission in the "hidden world" with favorite characters from the films such as Hiccup, Astrid, Stormfly, and of course, Toothless. It will be available from Dec. 13 at Dreamscape's flagship location at  Westfield Century City VR center in Los Angeles, and advance tickets (priced at $20) went on sale yesterday. – VARIETY

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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