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Inside VR & AR (Nov 10th, 2016)

Google Daydream is an “excellent concept” and a good step forward from Google Cardboard, according to Business Insider. Steve Kovach reviewed the new headset with Google’s new Pixel phone and found it comfortable, easy to use and relatively cheap; but he feels there isn’t enough quality content yet to make Daydream a must-have, and VR is still in its early days. - BUSINESS INSIDER

YouTube VR could be the “killer app” that launches Google Daydream. Ben Popper from The Verge writes that the new VR app delivered a great immersive experience with a 360 degree video promoting “The Walking Dead,” and makes significant improvements from earlier apps like Google Play. “For me, YouTube VR is the most satisfying part of a major web property to virtual reality that I’ve ever used, an app I felt like coming back to every day, and one that definitely gives Daydream a bedrock to build on,” he says. - THE VERGE

Microsoft finally announced its VR ambitions at the Windows 10 event, with key takeaways for investors. Microsoft headsets will be tethered to PCs, but will feature “inside out” sensors that can track a user’s position, and they’ll be much cheaper than other high-end models. They could also bring the HoloLens into the mainstream and help Microsoft challenge Sony, Facebook and Google. - THE MOTLEY FOOL

As VR headsets start flooding the market ahead of Christmas shopping season, The Guardian put together a comprehensive guide to virtual reality. The lengthy article summarizes the basic concept of VR and its potential impact on fields like gaming, journalism and entertainment, and compares Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard and Daydream, and other hardware based on price, usability and available apps to try. - THE GUARDIAN

General Electric plans to introduce augmented reality onto factory floors by January 2017. The technology will superimpose images onto a worker’s view to help them assemble complex machinery like gas turbine nozzles. Global Research Center lab manager Matteo Bellucci says the goal is to reduce time and errors and increase quality on the factory floor. - WALL STREET JOURNAL

Snapchat’s new “World Lenses” feature reveals its ambition to be a leader in augmented reality. The latest update to the app builds on selfie lenses to overlay 3D effects on your surroundings — clouds that puke rainbows, for example. While it’s silly and playful for now, it’s another step toward a digital world where all screens are replaced by mixed reality. - BUSINESS INSIDER


First impressions of Google Daydream are the main conversation on the Virtual Reality subreddit today. 

Hectic_ writes, “I wonder when the Axon 7 will be able to  use this.” Getterac7 replies, “Supposedly Qualcomm said Snapdragon 821 is required for Daydream VR, so Axon 7 doesn’t meet the minimum requirements. Although Daydream app development is happening on the Nexus 6p, so who knows.” 

metronegro is less than pleased, to say the least: “F*** Google for getting everyone’s hopes up on the 6P being able to handle this. I will never buy another Google product ever. […] It’s not so far fetched that what is used as dev should be able to support the release. It was well known after that we assume Nexus support would last more than a year instead of being some sort of abandoned model. Sure it’s well known now after everyone bought it but the fact is most wouldn't have bought 6P knowing that its the end of the Nexus line.”

Earlier this week we asked you: "Where do you see VR and AR (or mixed reality) taking our culture over the next twenty years? How do you think a major adoption of VR/AR by the culture will change things for us down the line?"

Vicky had this insightful answer: "First, the latest season of Black Mirror certainly gives a few more ideas (with AI too)! Another area where, within the next 20 years for sure, VR/AR will have a positive impact is in the classrooms. Imagine a group of students, donning lightweight/ cost-effective AR glasses, gathering around a pod. Together, through the glasses they can see anything from the Milky Way, to a car engine, to a dog about to be (digitally) dissected in front of them. Then they can collaborate and 'work on' a project or experiment together, be it 'fixing' a car engine, or seeing how gravity works in space by throwing something, or …dissecting a dog together. BTW, students from across the globe can ALSO participate remotely.

"I know it's hard getting schools to adopt technology, so something like this would probably start in higher ed first. But one can only hope…as this is so obvious to me that it has to be part of the future. I myself would love to pursue this, in say another 3 years :) "

Nicholas writes: "The ability to have people who know stuff and are capable of passing this knowledge on to others (teachers) and people who want to know stuff (students) be connected to a virtual location and sharing and collaboration happens.

"Example: English teacher lives in New Zealand, very much wants to assist people living in Vietnam, however due to issues around food safety and air pollution etc, teacher would prefer to stay in NZ, now with VR/AR they can. Teacher goes into a local classroom in NZ and bam, students from VN show up in the seats. Likewise these students could be in all different cities..."

From Adin: "Have you read Vernor Vinge's Rainbow's End? Not only do I think that's the direction that everything is going, I'm really hoping that we get the dementia/alzheimer's cure at the same time!"

And finally, itsme CEO Pete Forde writes (in part): "Humans are obsessed with their projected identity and we are highly sentimental at the biological level. We are terrified of being forgotten and are preoccupied with living a meaningful life so that our legacy will flatter us.

"So, here goes: I believe that virtual humans + presence will define the next era of computing. Facebook has trained us to curate a facet of our experiences and opinions, albeit in a disembodied way. In a not-distant future, Facebook will become the world's largest memorial for the deceased, leaving our likes and comments behind to speak for us. [...]

"I started itsme because I believe that everybody on the planet will need a way to turn themselves into avatars, the more realistic the better. The current generation of artistic or stylized avatars is a faster horse; people have not yet realized the intensity of what's possible when you share a virtual experience with your friends and the people you care about."

Immerex is hiring a lead virtual reality UI/UX designer (Santa Clara)

afkVR is seeking a Unity developer for a 3D livestreaming platform (San Francisco)

Google is hiring an interaction designer for Google Cardboard and virtual reality (Mountain View)

Within is hiring a designer to create the look and feel of their mobile/VR platforms (Los Angeles)

McKinney is seeking an experiential creative director to work on brand experience programs (New York)

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