Inside XR - June 5th, 2019

Inside XR (Jun 5th, 2019)

VR Helping the Blind to See / Social Impact Through XR / FOV Explained

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Today sees the third installment of our Jargon Watch series, where we attempt to shed some light on some of the industry-specific terminologies that sometimes baffle the best of us. Here at Inside VR & AR I have opted to dig a bit deeper into some of the technical terms that are routinely used in our industry. As a non-technical person, I still like to learn as much as I can about such things, and doing so never fails to hit me with a sense of awe for the complexity of the challenges the industry has overcome so far, and hope for the amazing things that are yet to come. As always, your feedback on this and anything else we feature here is most welcome, drop me a line on or just hit reply to this email! — Alice Bonasio

1. A blind person is using virtual reality to visualize things in a 3D world. Tia Bertz of Marshfield, Mass. is legally blind, diagnosed with a condition known as optic nerve hypoplasia, which means she can only see a couple of inches in front of her in the real world. After trying out a VR headset at a tech show in Chicago, however, she realized that the technology could compensate for the condition. With the help of government grants, Tia was fitted for specially adapted VR goggles with a tiny camera on them, giving her 20/20 vision and allows her to conduct precision-based manufacturing work and earn a living independently. – WSAW

2.  An event this month will explore how immersive technologies can be leveraged for social impact. Curated by journalist Jesse DamianiXR For Change 2019 is part of the 16th annual Games For Change Festival which takes place on June 17-19 at the Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York City.  It will bring together game experts, developers, technologists, funders and social innovators to discuss how immersive media can be used as a means for civic engagement. – TWITTER

3. – #JargonWatch Field of view (FOV)

In VR, the field of view is the open observable area a person can see, either through their own eyes or via an optical device such as AR glasses or VR goggles. As a general rule, having a wider field of view translates into more immersive experiences, which is why this aspect has been endlessly scrutinized in devices such as the HoloLens, which originally had quite a restricted FOV.

There are two types of FOV that work together to form human vision: Monocular FOV describes the field of view for one of our eyes and is the combination of three measurements. The horizontal measurement from pupil towards the nose for a healthy eye should read between 170 and 175 degrees; the nasal FOV varies between 60 and 65 degrees depending on the size of your nose; and the temporal FOV is the view from your pupil towards the side of your head and is usually 100 to 110 degrees.

We also have different FOVs for various colors but combined, these measurements mean that humans have a viewable area measuring between 200 and 220 degrees. The stereoscopic binocular field of view occurs where the two monocular ones overlap, at about 114 degrees, which as you might have guessed constitutes the 3D sweet spot where most of the action happens in both the real and virtual worlds.

Our eyes are placed about 64mm apart (again, this varies, which is why some immersive devices measure your IPD, or interpupillary distance for best results) sending different images to our brain which combines them into a single, 3D image. The greater the disparity between the two images, the greater the effect, so objects that are closer appear to have a lot of depth and objects that are far away can appear flat.

In VR, what limits our FOV is not our eyes, but the device lenses, which means that in order to get a better, more immersive view you have to either have bigger lenses or move your eyes closer to them. This is where the challenge of making smaller, less cumbersome headsets really kicks in: Using lighter, thinner lenses generally means they need to increase the distance to the VR headset display, making it bigger. Thicker lenses, however, not only add weight but tend to cause distortion. With stronger magnification, you also need higher resolution to avoid the dreaded "screen door effect" where individual pixels become visible. 

The frst Wednesday of each month we’re going to dig deeper into the vocabulary of immersive tech, unpacking some of the jargon and buzzwords that get bandied about in this space. As always suggestions and feedback are welcome, just hit reply to this email!

4. AstroReality has launched a new Augmented Reality App to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the founding of NASA. The company established itself in the immersive educational space with the successfully crowdfunded project Lunar Pro, which overlaid a detailed physical model of the moon with AR. Its latest offering to science fans now includes a NASA AR Notebook and NASA Space Mug, both of which are available as a bundle on the company website for $56.99 or separately for $29.99 each. With the companion AstroReality Explorer app the mug comes alive showcasing views of various landmarks from space, while the notebook's pages detail NASA's history with target images unlocking immersive content such as a virtual solar system. – NEXT REALITY

5. Fast Company has asked some of the alumni from its 100 Most Creative People in Business list how they keep their ideas fresh. Nora Zimmett, chief content officer at The Weather Channel, cites the example of using AR to simulate tornados and forest fires, immersing viewers in these natural disasters so they would feel the dangers in a visceral way. – FAST COMPANY

6. Stephen Jewkes and Isla Binnie explain how a new financial derivative known as a virtual power-purchase agreement is gaining traction. Virtual PPAs are effectively insurance policies for renewable project developers, allowing corporate customers to “virtually” consume the power from the renewable project. It's an interesting insight into how the digital economy is morphing into a virtual one. – CNBC

7. After attending AWE, Brad Templeton offers a current overview of progress in the immersive hardware landscape. While most AR/MR "clunky and geeky-looking" headsets leave a lot to be desired, he says that the fact that most of them are used to perform specific work-related tasks will allow the technology to develop until it gets smaller, lighter and cheaper enough to meet consumer expectations. – FORBES

8.  Designers of nuclear power plants in China have been using VR to simulate scenarios and events through the lifespan of a nuclear reactor. These include extreme incidents like a total meltdown, which help decision-makers assess the safety of new designs and convince skeptical residents near a proposed site about their safety.– ASIA TIMES

9. "Journey of the Gods" is one of the few original titles available at launch for the Oculus QuestProduced by Turtle Rock Studios, it earns high praise from Peter Graham in this review, which calls it a highly stylish action-adventure, and says it is the headset's equivalent to "Legend of Zelda." – VRFOCUS

10. A 12-city VR experience tour is attempting to show Texans the real-world dangers of driving while distracted. About one in five vehicle crashes in Texas involves distracted driving, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) and it is hoped that the 2019 "It Can Wait" campaign, which kicked off last week in San Antonio, will help mitigate the problem. – TEXARKANA GAZETTE

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) and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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