Inside XR - April 25th, 2019

Inside XR (Apr 25th, 2019)

Brie Larson and Jimmy Fallon Play Beat Saber VR / Caring About Virtual Characters / The Sword of Damocles

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1. Google has partnered with rapper Childish Gambino on a new AR app. Pharo AR, which is currently available for Android phones, begins with the user walking through an AR portal which opens into a cave which blends into real-world surroundings. Walking through the game reveals an unreleased Childish Gambino track called Algorhythm, while pointing your phone at various neon-lit symbols triggers "spatialized audio loops", which will eventually piece together to uncover the full song. Google promises that an iOS version of the app is “coming soon for iPhones and iPads” – TECH RADAR

2. A VR experience debuting at Tribeca this week creates emotional connections with virtual characters. Seasoned games and VR journalist David Jagneaux was impressed at how connected he felt to Lucy, the central character in Wolves in the Walls: It’s All Over. "She might look like a cartoon, but she feels real," he says. The 20-minute experience produced by Fable Studio is based on he illustrated book Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and Dave Mckean. – UPLOADVR

3. Brie Larson and Jimmy Fallon played Beat Saber VR on the Tonight Show. The Captain Marvel star rose to the challenge, soundly defeating her host as millions of people watched them play the hugely successful game. The episode created some social media buzz among VR enthusiasts like @Nathie who see this type of attention as a big step towards mainstream adoption of immersive tech. – VULTURE

4. Throwback Thursday: The Sword of Damocles

Widely considered to be the first virtual reality head-mounted display (HMD) this amazing-looking contraption was created by Ivan Sutherland back in 1968 when he was working as a researcher at the University of Utah.

For those not familiar with the story of Roman myth: Damocles was one of Nero’s courtiers, who would often tell the Roman Emperor how it must feel amazing to have such wealth and power. Nero eventually offered him the chance to trade places with him for a short while to experience what it was actually like. When Damocles sat on the throne, however, he notices a sword hanging over his head, suspended by a single strand of horsetail hair. Nero’s not-so-subtle point that great power usually comes with great risk is actually quite a nice metaphor for immersive technologies which have such great potential but are also scarily effective in altering human perception and behavior.

The device itself was nicknamed as The Sword of Damocles primarily for the huge mechanical arm attachment that followed users around the room, permanently suspended above their heads. The environments projected were rudimentary wireframe rooms, but it did change perspective based on the position of the user’s gaze, and was an early proof of concept for head tracking, which of course paved the way for much of the amazing VR technology we’re seeing today.

-- Alice Bonasio

5. Four of the five VR experiences up for The Storyscapes Award at Tribeca Film Festival this year were made by women. Anabel Pasarow talks to some of them about their projects which range from a Mixed Reality Experience about an Egyptian lesbian couple seeking asylum seekers, to multiplayer escape room thriller "Traitor."– REFINERY 29

Note: Every Tuesday we also feature the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech. If you have a story you think we should feature in our Spotlight: Women in VR here at Inside VR/AR, hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio

6. Mitsui OSK Lines will install a navigation system using augmented reality on 21 of its crude oil carriers. The AR program will monitor information about other vessels sailing on a ship’s planned route as well as other ocean conditions such as shallow waters.– SHIP TECHNOLOGY

7. The Alpena County Sheriff’s Office viewed its new county jail in virtual reality. The architectural firm behind the project took law enforcement officials on a VR tour of the finalized plan to give them a better idea of what it would look like, what it will contain, and how much it will cost. – THE ALPENA NEWS

8. Troy Osinoff warns that marketers need to beware of the augmented 'shiny object'. There is a fine line, he says, between making a strategic technology investment to improve the bottom line and running the risk of looking like a gimmick to salvage the high upfront costs of creating the experience, so before embarking on any significant investments into AR, companies need to understand how it will enhance their ROI.– AD AGE

9. From the Forums:

VR/AR developer Tony Vitillo - AKA Skarredghost —developed a mixed reality experience that quite literally immerses the user in a flood simulation. In a video released as part of a series of tweets documenting his experiments, Vitillo shows himself using HTC VIVE Focus Plus headset to virtually flood his personal office. – TWITTER

10. Mon Health Medical Center in West Virginia teamed with The Healing Museum to create MONA, VR arts platform designed for pain management and anxiety relief. Dr. Shakuri-Rad began using virtual reality headsets in 2018 to try to change the perception of pain and discomfort and was impressed with the results, which saw many of his patients reduce their dependency on opioids. The next step, Shakuri-Rad says, is to expand the use of the platform into the cancer center.–  DOMINION POST

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); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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