Inside VR - January 28th, 2020 | Inside.com

Inside VR (Jan 28th, 2020)

Immersive Concussion Training to Make Football Safer / Kenyan Refugees Take Virtual Trip to London / Underwater VR at Sundance

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The present and future of virtual reality news and technology

1. USA Football hopes Virtual Reality concussion education can help make the sport safer. Developed in collaboration between TeachAids and Stanford University, VR education platform CrashCourse is part of an emerging niche industry of equipment and technology dedicated to addressing the growing concerns around concussion injuries in contact sports such as football. "VR is an incredibly powerful medium with proven ability to increase empathy and change behavior," explained Dr. Piya Sorcar, CEO of TeachAids. “We hope that these educational materials will provide young football players, as well as youth in all sports, with the knowledge and tools necessary to keep themselves safer." The software is available free to anyone for Oculus Rift and Oculus Go on the Oculus store. – ZDNET

2. A group of Kenyan refugees took a school trip in Virtual Reality to the National Gallery in London. The project, organized by the Vodafone Foundation charity, was conceived to mark the United Nations' International Day of Education. CNN reported that 360-degree cameras were set up in London's famous museum, capturing live footage that was streamed to students at the camp. Tour guide and artist Lisa Milroy showed them works by painters including Vincent van Gogh and Edouard Manet during the 81-minute virtual visit. "It looked just the way that I always imagined and I really enjoyed it because it felt just like I was in London. It felt like I was there with Lisa, together," said 18-year-old student Nyagoa, who was born in the camp after her mother fled conflict in South Sudan, in a quote provided by the organizers. – CNN  

3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Eve Weston

By Alice Bonasio

Eve Weston is a writer, director, and producer. She is also CEO at independent XR content studio Exelauno, which won DreamlandXR's Best Project for Television at CES Las Vegas this year with her show The BizNest, the world's first immersive sitcom. The independent project, which was produced by an all-female team, won against competition from NBC Nightly News, ABC News, CNN, America’s Got Talent, Nickelodeon, National Geographic, NBC Universal and Verizon.

In the process of developing a sitcom specifically for Virtual Reality, Weston and her team developed a new approach for telling stories in a 360-degree environment, fully utilizing the space around the viewer in all directions and creating a rich storytelling environment with a lot more interwoven stories than you might find in a traditional television sitcom. 

“The BizNest is a workplace comedy that takes place in a co-working space where YOU, the viewer, are one of the members. Imagine watching 'The Office' from the desk next to Jim," she explains.  

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. "Spaced Out" shows how aquatic VR is developing into an exciting subcategory of immersive entertainment. Kyle Melnick tried out the 9-minute (literally) immersive experience developed by Ballast at the Sundance Festival in Utah, and was fascinated by the innovative design of their proprietary DiVR headset, which uses water to both magnify the screen (enhancing the visual experience) and deliver audio to the user by emitting sound through the device itself via water vibrations (rather than using any type of headphone). The content takes the user to the moon through a combination of historic Apollo 11 footage and artistic representations designed by Pierre “Pyaré” Friquet. It delivered what Melnick described as a "surreal out-of-body experience that sent shivers down my spine." That experience was so powerful, in fact, that it made him genuinely forget he was floating in a pool. "Only when I rose from the water and saw my fellow attendees lying face down like corpses did my mind return to reality," Melnick recounts.  – VRSCOUT  

5. "Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners" struggles with design issues, but still provides a tantalizing glimpse of what VR gaming can be. In this comprehensive review of the newly released Skydance Interactive game, Ben Kuchera sets out how its developers - Skydance Interactive - managed to create something that showcases both the medium's strengths and current weaknesses. While the level of immersive detail kept him wanting to revisit the game, he writes, the lack of accurate haptic feedback and movement mapping and gesture controls made longer in-game sessions feel uncomfortable and caused frustration. "I cursed the game’s design rather than my own panic after many of my deaths," Kuchera writes, adding that while the title is not quite there yet, it shows what is possible going forward. It is available now for Oculus- and Steam VR-compatible hardware for $39.99. – POLYGON  

6. Augmented Reality needs glasses in order to really take off. Macworld reporter Jason Cross writes that for AR to reach its potential, it must reach us in the form of glasses. He even goes as far as stating that screen-based modes of the technology are a dead end, which is why phone and tablet developers are not rushing to make AR a core feature of their apps. What we have seen so far, he argues, "just barely qualifies as AR, and suffers both cognitive limitations and usability challenges that are almost insurmountable." – MACWORLD 

7. Keith Noonan outlines why he thinks that VR has tremendous potential to turn into a lucrative market that delivers great performance for investors with well-informed approaches and expectations. Noonan explains that there aren't many publicly traded pure-play VR companies to choose from, and the resources needed to develop industry-leading hardware and software in the space means the top players tend to be the established tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon. "The other side of that dynamic, for VR investors, is that these giant companies typically have a wide range of businesses that also have to be evaluated to make sufficiently informed investment decisions," he adds. Noonan also lists the nine biggest publicly traded companies with stocks that can be purchased on U.S. exchanges that have significant exposure to the VR space. – THE MOTLEY FOOL  

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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