Inside VR - January 14th, 2020 |

Inside VR (Jan 14th, 2020)

No-Sweat VR / Virtual Holocaust Experience / How VR Can Hinder Formation of Visual Memory

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The present and future of virtual reality news and technology

1. A Kickstarter project is offering a solution to combat the infamous "VR Sweats." For those blessedly unfamiliar with the affliction, long periods of time spent in VR can lead to discomfort as your body constantly tries to determine whether it is in motion based on what your eyes see. This can, in turn, lead to excessive sweating, something that designer Kyle Frederick proposes to address with a nifty "near-silent" fan for the Valve Index headset. At the time of this writing, the recently launched Kickstarter campaign had already met its $19,000 goal, but supporters can still come on board. Those who donate $31 or more should get the standard Chilldex around April, and those who donate $39 or more will get the Chilldex Premium, which adjusts itself automatically based on the type of content you're viewing. – VR FITNESS INSIDER  

2. A photo of the 1943 liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto has been turned into a Virtual Reality experience. WW2 survivor Martin Stern, 81, was invited to preview the experience created by researchers at the University of Nottingham, which is part of the The Eye As Witness: Recording the Holocaust exhibit at the National Holocaust Centre and Museum. As a child, Stern spent months in Theresienstadt ghetto in Nazi-controlled Czechoslovakia, and he hopes that the experience will help young people connect more meaningfully with the subject. "For a new generation, you need to talk to them in the language they are using," he says. The University of Nottingham's Professor Maiken Umbach adds that they were mindful not to use VR "voyeuristically" by showing too much violence or making the images overly realistic. She said the aim was instead to make people think critically about the photos and what they represent. The exhibition will be touring a number of venues from Monday until March 24, 2021. – BBC  

3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Shari Frilot

By Alice Bonasio

Shari Frilot is the long-time curator of New Frontier and Senior Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, and she has for many years been a fierce champion of integrating immersive technologies in its many forms in the film festival storytelling space. In 2012, for example, she took a chance on Nonny de la Pena's Hunger in Los Angeles, having the vision to predict how the new medium would eventually change the cinematic landscape. (It was in that same year that Palmer Luckey attended the Festival as Nonny's intern).

"VR and how technology is being embraced by storytellers is something that kind of spurted out with the prototype of the Oculus Rift at the 2012 New Frontier," she said in a 2018 interview. "I'm just floored that the experiment worked. It actually did create a new world. It creates these new worlds in terms of the storytelling, but it created a material business that carries on the spirit of the experiment."

These days, New Frontier remains an experimental section of the festival where artists try to figure out what they're trying to do when they cross practices or collaborate with a different genre. 

"I'm out for diverse experiences and expressions and as many different kinds of people who can put practices in the room, the better. I personally feel it's necessary to remember that technology is not something that is separate from us; we literally are made of the same things, the same material. It's an extension and our brains are formed by technology and always have been since caveman times," 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. A new study reveals that the way we interact with Virtual Reality content can impact our ability to retain information in the long term. The research published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology suggests that certain types of VR might inhibit the effective formation of visual memories in the long-term. The experiment consisted of 40 subjects, split evenly between "Active VR" (where the HMD into offering fixed views irrespective of a user’s head movements) and "Passive VR" (where the headset responds to subjective movements and allows subjects to investigate the environment for themselves). While the memory test results from both active and passive groups were similar immediately following the viewing, two weeks later the results in the active group had diminished, while the passive group's memories remained strong. The next steps for the researchers will be to investigate exactly how active VR viewing could be disrupting visual memory formation, and whether some types of object learning (such as carving learning or depth perception learning) may be enhanced by active 3D VR experiences. “To use HMDs more effectively, based on the results of the current study, specific content and instructions for VR should be offered to help students memorize more correctly and effectively,” the researchers concluded. – NEW ATLAS

5. The winners of the NEWVIEW 2019 VR Awards have been announced in Tokyo. The awards are a joint production of co-working company Loftwork, Japanese department store chain PARCO, and Psychic VR Lab, the parent company of STYLY, the VR content creation and publishing platform used by entrants in the competition. The grand prize of $20,000 went to “Takkun Museum,” an experience created by a father for his son, which depicted the inner world of children's imagination and the memorializing of special moments in their lives. “This artwork might be a demonstration of how a family album will look in the future,” NEWVIEW Judge Nemu Yumemi commented. – VRSCOUT  

6. Simon Ogus looks at how Clemson has used technology to achieve one of the most successful runs in college football history. The team's head coach Dabo Swinney has embraced technology in an unprecedented way, and it seems to have paid dividends in the team's ongoing winning streak. This includes adopting Virtual Reality training technology provided by Strivr, which enables players to sift through various plays in a team’s online library, getting extra repetitions without needing to physically be in the practice field. As Ogus notes, with collegiate and professional sports being a copycat industry, other programs are likely to mimic such successful tactics so it is probably safe to expect the use of VR in sports training to continue its upward trend. – FORBES   

7. The BBC is launching its “Doctor Who: The Runaway” free VR experience globally this week. On January 16, the 10-minute animated experience, which had only been available in the U.K., will become available on Steam, Oculus and Viveport stores, as well as in a 360 version on the Doctor Who YouTube channel, where fans can use basic headsets such as Google cardboard to board the VR TARDIS. Jodie Whittaker is currently starring as the Doctor in the long-running show’s 12th series, and here she voices an animated version of her famous role, recruiting viewers to help return the dangerous alien creature “Volta” to its home planet. This was one of the last experiences released under the BBC’s VR Hub, which shut down in 2019. – UPLOADVR  

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 Sheena Vasani, staff writer at Inside.

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