The Wall: Samsung Wows CES Attendees With MicroLED TV

In Las Vegas this week, Samsung is showcasing its first MicroLED consumer television. Dubbed “The Wall,” the 146-inch, bezel-less, 4K TV is modular, offering consumers the ability to customize its size and shape by adding or removing sections without affecting image quality. MicroLED’s self-emitting tech uses millions of micro-sized chips that individually emit light, which eliminates the need for color filters or backlighting. If one day affordable, this tech could replace LED for consumer TVs and lead to wallpaper screens. The Wall by Samsung is expected to be available later this year, although pricing has yet to be announced. Continue reading The Wall: Samsung Wows CES Attendees With MicroLED TV

Virtual Reality Execs Advocate VR Standards, Open Systems

Execs from HTC, Hulu, GoPro and Black Box VR looked at “Tapping Virtual Reality’s Real Potential” during a panel discussion at CES 2018. Each company had its own strategies, but everyone agreed on one thing: the need for the nascent industry to create standards and adopt open systems. “If you’re making a fitness app, you don’t want to have to optimize for every platform,” noted HTC senior vice president of virtual reality Rikard Steiber. “It’s too hard, doesn’t scale and isn’t sustainable. We as an industry must push towards an open platform.” Continue reading Virtual Reality Execs Advocate VR Standards, Open Systems

VR Gaming Turns to Cryptocurrencies for Buying Virtual Assets

VR games and cryptocurrencies are joining forces. Social virtual reality company High Fidelity, co-founded by “Second Life” creator Philip Rosedale, began developing a blockchain for in-game cryptocurrency and intellectual protection in 2017. Now the company has debuted Avatar Island, a VR shopping center for avatars created by digital artists around the globe, and will accept payment in a new cryptocurrency running on blockchain. Rosedale notes that Linden Dollar for “Second Life” was one of the first digital goods currencies. Continue reading VR Gaming Turns to Cryptocurrencies for Buying Virtual Assets

Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

The typical VR experience is solitary, but an increasing number of companies are exploring the possibility of virtual realty in the context of a social platform. That trend was made clear by Microsoft’s acquisition of AltspaceVR. High Fidelity is an environment that lets users create their own avatars and social worlds, with a marketplace where they can buy avatars and other 3D elements. And vTime, a stationary platform, lets four people at a time engage in fully rendered environments. Continue reading Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

As part of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to get one billion people into virtual reality, the company has also targeted social interaction as a potential powerhouse, with avatars communicating in a shared virtual world. This vision is already a reality on the company’s software platform Facebook Spaces, headed by Rachel Franklin, who previously worked on “The Sims.” She recently described her team’s philosophy and how that motivates design choices. She also described Facebook’s most successful VR elements. Continue reading Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

At Facebook’s annual Oculus Connect developers’ conference, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a new standalone VR headset and stated that his goal is to get one billion people into virtual reality and ensure that VR is a “force for good.” With the latter comment, Zuckerberg tacitly recognized the tsunami of criticism that Facebook has received for live-streaming suicides and murders, and a recent virtual reality tour of the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, during which he and an employee reveled in the technology, to the chagrin of viewers. Continue reading Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

Amazon has acquired 3D body-model startup Body Labs for a reported $50-$70 million, although some sources say the figure could exceed $100 million. New York-based Body Labs specializes in true-to-life 3D models that are ideal for B2B software applications, including the creation of photorealistic avatars for gaming and virtual approaches for consumers to try on clothing. The latter should be of particular interest to e-commerce giant Amazon. The online retailer could use the scanning and modeling tech to help shoppers select fashion purchases ideal for their body types. Continue reading Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

DisneyNOW Consolidates Three Popular Kids Apps Into One

Until now, Disney had separate Watch apps for children 2-14 that featured entertainment content from the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior. Now, the company has consolidated all three into a single app, thus boosting its pay-TV business. DisneyNOW will offer full episodes and live streaming from all the networks to customers whose cable, Internet TV, satellite or telco providers are participating. In addition to DisneyNOW, the company reportedly plans to create its own movie streaming service when its deal with Netflix expires in 2019. Continue reading DisneyNOW Consolidates Three Popular Kids Apps Into One

AMC Invests $20M in Dreamscape, Plans to Open VR Centers

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain, just invested $20 million in Dreamscape Immersive, a company that has been developing a virtual-reality multiplex for the last year-and-a-half for rollout in the U.S. and U.K. Other investors include Steven Spielberg, 21st Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. Dreamscape’s team includes former chief of Disney’s theme park design, a “Men in Black” series producer, and a live event bigwig. With AMC’s investment, Dreamscape has amassed $40 million. Continue reading AMC Invests $20M in Dreamscape, Plans to Open VR Centers

Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Facebook is ramping up its social VR efforts through live video streaming. “Users of Facebook Spaces, the social hangout in virtual reality that the company launched earlier this year, can now broadcast via Facebook Live,” reports Variety. “The new feature essentially allows Spaces users to host a kind of virtual reality talk show, and stream it to all of their followers, even if those audiences are tuning in with a mobile phone or a desktop browser.” Slate will be the first to use the new feature to produce a weekly live show. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Augmented World Expo: ETC Presents the Dark Side of AR

The ETC@USC’s Phil Lelyveld gave a presentation on the dark side of AR at Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara on Friday. His goal was to raise awareness of some fundamental issues now, before there is resistance to change from established AR and VR business models. Phil began by describing how the AR and VR landscape is integrally linked to the Internet of Things (it feeds data to the AR/VR experience), artificial intelligence (it will shape the end-user experience and avatar behavior), and to a lesser degree, robotics (the relatable face of the AI). Continue reading Augmented World Expo: ETC Presents the Dark Side of AR

Business, Sports, Medicine Embrace Virtual Reality Training

Walmart plans to use virtual reality at its 200 employee training centers. It’s not the only business gravitating to virtual reality, as an increasing number of companies, in industries as diverse as construction to medicine, find that customized 360-degree video is an effective, less expensive and often safer way to teach employees. Walmart, which tested VR in 31 centers, now plans to use it as a key part of training for 140,000 employees annually. As a result, shipments of VR/AR headsets are on track to skyrocket. Continue reading Business, Sports, Medicine Embrace Virtual Reality Training

Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Millennials are paying as much as $50 per hour to be locked in a room that they can only exit by cooperatively solving puzzles. This kind of immersive entertainment has similarities with games, live theater and virtual reality experiences, and is becoming increasingly popular. Among the most notable examples is Sleep No More, a UK immersive theatrical experience that has been a huge hit since it opened in 2011. Director and live experience entrepreneur Michael Counts is making the most of the trend. Continue reading Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Facebook Introduces Voice Recognition Tech to VR Headsets

Facebook announced the beta release of a new voice search feature for the company’s Oculus Rift and Samsung’s Gear VR. “This feature lets you perform voice searches from Oculus Home to intuitively navigate games, apps, and experiences,” explains the Oculus team, noting future plans to “add even more functionality like seeing if a friend is online or contextual commands to invite people to a play a game with you.” While VentureBeat points out the feature “won’t let you look at your friends, your notifications, your profile, your avatar, app updates that you haven’t installed, or individual settings,” the review is largely positive and envisions future applications: “The speech technology might well end up becoming a part of Facebook’s more popular services, like WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and even good old Facebook itself.” Continue reading Facebook Introduces Voice Recognition Tech to VR Headsets

Game Developers Conference: What’s Next in VR Storytelling

VR leaders gathered for day two of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week. Many of the talks addressed techniques for dealing with a medium in which you present a story and a world to the ‘visitor,’ but you have limited control over how the visitor experiences it. The “Job Simulator” team created microstories bounded by story pinchpoints within a macrostory. The HBO “Westworld” VR and Baobab Studios teams rewarded visitors for taking actions that advance the story, but embedded triggers that advance the story when the visitor misses the cues. The “Trials on Tatooine” team learned that understanding and accommodating visitors with varying physical abilities can not only improve user experience design, but inform story development. Continue reading Game Developers Conference: What’s Next in VR Storytelling

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