Inside VR - December 5th, 2019

Inside VR (Dec 5th, 2019)

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The present and future of virtual reality news and technology

1. HTC has launched its Viveport PC Streaming for Vive Focus Plus and other 6DOF standalone headsets. The company released support for 5Ghz Wi-Fi streaming for the HMD which can now play PC VR titles through Viveport much like Oculus Quest’s Link functionality, but without the need for a cable. The Vive Focus Plus starts at $800 and is officially aimed at enterprise customers in the US and Europe, although in China it has been marketed as a consumer device. There are currently 300 games and experiences on Viveport M, the mobile version of Viveport; with the inclusion of official WiFi streaming, this effectively opens that number up to over 2,000 titles. ROAD TO VR  

2.  A new report by PwC predicts that over 23 million jobs worldwide will be using AR and VR by 2030.  ZDNet's Daphne Leprince-Ringuet analyzes the forecast which projects the collective contribution of immersive tech to the global economy to amount to £1.5 trillion (about $1.97 trillion) to the world economy over the next decade. The analysis shows that these technologies are gaining significant traction in the enterprise space and should see wider adoption in the next few years. "We've delivered skills training and development to over 1,000 people in a day in VR, and immersive experiences are a fantastic way to learn," said Sarah Potter, immersive design leader at PwC UK, adding that immersive training platforms such as PTC's Vuforia Expert Capture could prove particularly useful in alleviating the workforce skills gap looming over the manufacturing sector and can lead to as much as  50 percent faster technician training time. PwC's report highlights that some of the biggest barriers to the adoption of the technologies are in fact cultural, yet as use cases develop where AR makes frontline workers more productive and less prone to error, it could lead to a significant shift in the automation debate. – ZDNET

3. Yale researchers developed a virtual reality game about vaping prevention to help reduce rising rates of e-cigarette use among teens. Created in partnership with PreviewLabs and funded by Oculus, “Invite Only” is a free game for the Oculus Go that places players in situations where they get offered vaping products at school or a party, and they have friends who they’re trying to help quit.  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, around one in four high school students in the U.S. have used an e-cigarette product this year, and it is thought that immersive technologies can prove effective in educating teenagers on the dangers of addiction. Veronica Weser and her colleagues Kimberly Hieftje, play4REAL Lab director, and Brandon Sands, postgraduate research associate, will follow up with the 300 seventh- and eighth-grade students in the Milford Public School District who are part of the randomized, controlled trial run by the Yale Center for Health and Learning Games. The final results should become available next year, at which point it would be possible to gauge the effectiveness of the game toward changing students’ beliefs, knowledge and intentions on e-cigarettes and vaping. – WNPR  

4.  Pilot training company CAE claims its new Sprint Virtual Reality system can reduce the time and cost involved in preparing new pilots to fly military aircraft. At the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference currently taking place in Orlando, Florida, the company unveiled the system which includes a VR headset, physical flight controls, a "virtual coach" program and a grading and assessment software called Rise. Faced with stagnant military budgets and competition with commercial airlines for skilled talent, many Western air forces are seeking more cost-effective ways to train new pilots, and this system could optimize that process, serving as a transition to more expensive, higher-fidelity simulators and, eventually, in aircraft. – FLIGHT GLOBAL   

5. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital honored its patients with an interactive VR museum. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital partnered with Facebook, creative agency BBDO New York,  and immersive developer Flight School on the "Hall of Heroes" interactive VR experience which takes users across a variety of colorful floating islands featuring 60-foot statues of real-life St. Jude patients. Users can walk up to the figures to hear more about their battles with cancer and their personal lives straight from the patients and their families. In addition to recognizing the bravery of its child patients, it is hoped the experience will help raise additional funding and awareness for cancer research. The experience is available as a non-interactive 360 video on Facebook, or - as of today - a  fully interactive Oculus Quest demo at select Best Buy stores. A full release via Oculus TV will follow early next year, and there is also a Facebook and Instagram AR lens that allows you to place statues throughout various real-world locations and pose alongside the heroes themselves. – VRSCOUT

6.  VR could be used to encourage more people to get their flu shots. A study published by researchers at the University of Georgia and the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) in Tennessee analyzed the effectiveness of virtual reality as a communication tool for improving flu vaccination rates among "flu vaccine avoidant" 18- to 49-year-old adults. 
The research was conducted by faculty at Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and used VR to show people in the study a range of scenarios and consequences of their vaccine avoidance. Compared to other methods, the VR condition was found to increase participants' concern about transmitting flu to others and more positive beliefs about the flu vaccine and increased intention to get a flu vaccination. "This study affirms there is much to be excited about when it comes to using virtual reality for health communication," Karen Carera, senior evaluation specialist at ORAU, said. "However, the findings suggest that for virtual reality to change beliefs and behaviors, the presentations used need to do more than delivering a story. They need to get users to feel like they are actually in the story."– LAB MANAGER

7.  Tyler Treese gives a comprehensive run-down of 10 VR games that get you to work up a sweat while having some fun. All reviews include comparable exercise ratings provided by the VR Institute of Health and Exercise and range from obvious-sounding choices such as Hot Squat and Hot Squat 2: New Glory to popular games such as Beat Saber and BoxVR to more interesting titles such as Superhot VR, which Treese describes as being not only one of the best leg workout VR games, but also one of the best virtual reality titles in general. "This unique shooter operates on the basis that time only moves when you move. Since you have to bend your body in order to dodge the bullets that are flying your way, you will get a great low-intensity core and leg workout," he explains. – VR FITNESS INSIDER  

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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