Inside XR - March 23rd, 2020

Inside XR (Mar 23rd, 2020)

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Dear subscribers.

As we continue to transition towards a freemium subscription model to make the Inside Newsletter sustainable in the long-term, you will notice that some of the items on Inside XR are premium-only. 

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Alice Bonasio

@Alicebonasio

1. No new Instagram effects will be approved in the immediate future due to COVID-19. 

In an update posted to its Facebook Group for people who make filters, the company said it is sending its reviewers home, which means they won’t be able to approve or publish new effects.

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2. Churches are offering more VR services as their congregations can no longer gather together physically. The BBC World Service's Faith & Ethics journalist Sophia Smith Galer went to see how Pastor DJ Soto's church, which only exists in Virtual Reality, had already been building upon that trend. As part of the network's "Heart and Soul" program, she also explores how VR is being used to experience aspects of Christian, Sikh, Jewish and Muslim faith. – BBC

3. There is speculation about a possible "Oculus Quest 2" after details appeared online.  

Leaked documentation in the developer portion of Facebook's site showed multiple references to an in-development 'Del Mar' headset paired with a new 'Jedi' controller.

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4. For those running out of lockdown ideas, here are 22 immersive tourism options that should make staying at home a more entertaining (and educational) experience. Many museums and cultural institutions that have been forced to close due to health concerns in the global coronavirus pandemic are offering free virtual tours, exhibits, videos, and performances for people to enjoy from their homes. You can take a walk through Main Street in Disney World's Magic Kingdom, watch a performance at the Met Opera or tour the Guggenheim Museum. The British Museum in London has a free interactive timeline that lets users explore artifacts from ancient civilizations around the world, while the Picasso Museum offers virtual tours of its courtyards, discussing the architecture in relation to the history of Barcelona. But if you fancy a digital taste of the outdoors, Google's online Arts & Culture activation includes a program called "The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks" in partnership with the National Parks Services, and it quite literally brings the outdoors inside. The digital exhibit features five national parks, including Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, and Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. – INSIDER.COM

5. Today is the long-anticipated release of Valve's Virtual Reality game "Half Life: Alyx."

Those lucky enough to have secured a VR headset such as the Valve Index or Oculus Quest before they sold out will finally be able to see whether the hype was justified.

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6. A silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic is that it's finally making us use the internet to actually connect with one another, writes Kevin Roose for the New York Times. As the crisis caused by the global spread of COVID-19 deepens, we will be increasingly forced to live our lives online, from virtual yoga classes and dinner parties to the Chinese invention of “cloud clubbing” (virtual parties in which DJs perform live sets on apps like TikTok and Douyin while audience members react in real-time on their phones). Yet Roose argues that we can use technology to meet the crisis rather than just distracting ourselves from it.  "As the virus forces us indoors, we should be thinking of ways to invest in our digital spaces, and build robust virtual connections that can replace some of the physical proximity we’re losing, as well as mobilizing to support our real-world communities in a time of enormous need," he writes. – THE NEW YORK TIMES

7. The coronavirus is creating higher demand for immersive tech in the real estate industry. 

As the global impact of the coronavirus expands, agents are increasingly using tools such as virtual tours to provide a way for buyers to continue their property search while maintaining social distancing.

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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

Edited by Beth Duckett, staff writer at Inside.

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