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Inside AR (Jul 9th, 2019)

1. Walmart is continuing to build its corporate virtual training infrastructure. The company, which is the largest private employer in the U.S. has been deploying immersive technology in both its retail and internal training activities since 2017, when it first engaged Menlo Park-based company STRIVR to train associates at its academies. Since then, the Oculus Go VR headsets have expanded to all Walmart storefronts and 10,000 of the 1.2 million employees have undergone the skill management assessment as of February. The latest development uses the technology to place managers in situations that test a range of leadership and customer service skills within standardized realistic scenarios. – USA TODAY

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2. Magic Leap experiences will help promote Hulu's “Light as a Feather." The second season of the paranormal teen thriller launches on July 26, and Awesomeness - the production company behind it - has produced two companion Mixed Reality experiences to be showcased at VidCon (Viacom's flagship conference which takes place on July 10-13). One of the "spatial computing activations," (as Magic Leap refers to the experiences) involves users going on an augmented reality treasure hunt to find clues and objects that will help them break a curse, while the other will give fans a video of themselves acting out a scene with the cast that they can share on social media. – VARIETY

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3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Dinorah Hernandez

By Alice Bonasio

Dinorah Hernandez is a Director and leading voice in VR videography, having spoken at major tech and industry conferences such as SXSW and Web Summit for the past several years as immersive technology has developed. She works with BaDoinkVR, a company based in Barcelona, Spain to produce adult content aimed at a female audience

Her innovative production, which I covered a couple of years ago, is called  Virtual Sexology. It blended entertainment, sex education, and therapy to enable women to enhance their sexual pleasure and performance, both solo and with their partners.

The experience was designed “by women and for women,” with input from experts in the field such as AASECT certified sex therapist Dr. Holly Richmond, Ph.D., who helped to develop the content and exercises featured. The free-to-download experience even offered a free sex toy to women who tried it, and Hernandez also pioneered teledildonics integration with some of the content. 

“We’re striving to appeal to a large demographic of women that have been widely ignored by the adult industry, as we recognized that women tend to have different a mindset compared to men when it comes to adult VR,” she explained.

Every Tuesday we'll shine a spotlight on the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech. If you have a story you think we should feature, just hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio

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4. Augmented reality and 3-D printing technologies converge to make radiological imaging more efficient for clinicians. Nicole Wake, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, explains that the pathway to create virtual models from radiological imaging data is similar to printing, but the actual printing can take as long as 30 hours. She sees the potential of AR to address such limitations, allowing holographic models to be built and visualized on equipment such as the Microsoft HoloLens, which has a significant impact in patient outcomes and satisfaction by making the way that procedures are planned and executed more efficient.  – IMAGING TECHNOLOGY NEWS

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5. The 334th Training Squadron got a more "hands-on" learning experience with the introduction of the first VR training. Airfield management students in the Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, had access to simulations that allowed them to practice their jobs as if they were operational. “They don’t need to imagine it, they can visualize cranes, trees or other things that can affect flight safety,” says Chief Master Sgt. Paul Portugal, Airfield Management career field manager at the Pentagon. Portugal believes immersive technology will improve the overall training of Air Force personnel.–  U.S. AIRFORCE

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6. The U.S. Department of Defense is also considering investing in VR platforms to prepare troops to face nuclear threats. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (which focuses on countering weapons of mass destruction) put out a solicitation this week seeking information on VR training systems that would allow troops to rehearse different scenarios involving “radiological threats.” which may include everything from point radiation sources, area contamination, and nuclear weapon detonation. –  DEFENSE ONE

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7. Disney announced that it will be premiering a new VR short film at Siggraph 2019. In addition to showcasing it at the annual conference on computer graphics which takes place in late July, Jamie Feltham reports that the company promises some brand new immersive content for its D23 Expo fan event in August. It is expected that Disney might be producing 360 video content that places viewers "center stage" in Broadway productions such as Aladdin and The Lion King. – UPLOADVR

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8. A new fund will distribute €1.5 million EUR (about $1.7 million USD) to European XR Startups. Applications are now open for the XR4ALL fund, which is a European Commission initiative under Horizon 2020 Research and Development Framework. Organizations based in Europe (or that meet the initiative’s other stipulations) are welcome to apply whether they are start-ups, SMEs, or research/academic institutions. Projects selected will receive a maximum of €50,000 by undergoing separate concept validation and development/integration phases. The first deadline for applications is on October 31. – VR FOCUS

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9. Columnist Stephanie Haines relates her surprisingly positive experience as a first-time VR user. "I don’t ride roller coasters or do rides at the fair. The last time I went to a planetarium, I got dizzy, so when a friend suggested I try a virtual reality experience, I knew I was going to hate it." she writes. However, the immersive thrills of battling zombies or even just soaking up the atmosphere of the VR environment ultimately won her over to what she described as the "coolest thing ever."  – GREENFIELD REPORTER

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10. Virtual reality is being used in the U.K. as part of an outreach program to spark dialogue between teachers and young people about gang violence. Deaths among teenagers and younger children have reached a 40-year-high in the country's West Midlands region, with up to 280 knife-related offenses a month according to Home Office statistics. Birmingham-based theater company Round Midnight and technologists BDH Immersive created an interactive virtual reality experience, simulating a youth gang scenario. The project has been featured on Channel 4 News, which interviewed pupils, teachers, youth workers, and police to see if this kind of VR experience can offer young people a safe environment to explore subjects of peer pressure, violent behavior and gang culture. – TWITTER

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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

 

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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