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Inside VR & AR

Inside VR & AR (Jan 28th, 2019)

1. Google has teamed up with Boston-based Commonwealth Shakespeare Company to produce a VR version of Shakespeare's "Hamlet." Called "Hamlet 360: Thy Father's Spirit,"  the Bard's classic tale of murder and revenge was tailored specifically for virtual reality, with some scenes lengthened and the overall run time pared way down. Director Steven Maler told the New York Times the production is a way "to show people how exciting it can be to be in the space where it’s happening." The viewer sees the action from the point of view of the ghost of Hamlet's father. Hamlet 360 was filmed on a Yi Halo 360 camera and is posted on WGBH-Boston's YouTube channel. — NYTIMES

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2. Disney has reportedly approved another short VR film project from the director of its Cycles film. Details about the project are still secret, but Jeff Gipson confirmed that it was moving forward. Disney was showing Cycles, a short VR film about the life of a family at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend. Cycles producer Nicholas Russell told CNET that the film is "proving that VR is something that [Disney] wants to explore." —  CNET

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3. Apple representatives met with several AR waveguide suppliers at the 2019 Consumer Electronics show, a new report says. Waveguides are used in AR glasses, including Magic Leap's mixed reality headset. Reports have circulated for some time that Apple may be planning its own AR or VR headset (dubbed Apple Glasses), and company reps likely met with AR companies at last year's CES, too. Apple didn't comment on the situation. —  APPLE INSIDER 

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5. A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia examined yawning in VR. Since most people in the real world yawn when they see others yawn, the researchers wanted to test if yawning would be similarly "contagious" for people in a virtual environment. The results were mixed, which the researchers say confirms the need to recognize the limitations of VR in testing psychological responses such as how people might respond to driverless cars. "Experiences in VR may be a poor proxy for real life,” wrote the study's lead author Alan Kingstone. — VR SCOUT

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6. Sandbox VR raised $68 million in a recent Series A round. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, which included Mike Maples, Stanford University, TriplePoint Capital and Alibaba. Sandbox is different from other VR startups; it focuses on creating VR experiences at public locations rather than developing hardware and software. The company plans to use the funding to add new locations to its VR experiences. — BUSINESS INSIDER

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7. While medical professionals are finding more and more ways to use VR to treat patients, there are still practical challenges. The main uses for VR in patient care include pain relief, increasing awareness, reducing anxiety and to better connect with reality. But Dr. Brennan Spiegel at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center says the biggest obstacle to widespread implementation is the hardware; most patients find VR headsets awkward and uncomfortable to use. — TECH TARGET

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8. The internet is slowly, finally beginning to be able to handle AR demands

9. Students at Cornell Tech developed AR software to help people with hearing loss

10. You can eat real food in VR with Marshmallow Laser Feast 

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This newsletter was curated with care by Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist Kim Lyons, whose byline has appeared in The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review and other local and national publications. Find her on Twitter at @socialkimly

Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at Inside.com, game-master at Screen Junkies) and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).

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