Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Spatial lets its enterprise customers use VR or mixed reality headsets to meet in virtual spaces. The company now plans to launch support for desktop web browsers, Android and iOS — open to all and free. That support means virtual meetings can include participants who do not have a headset. According to Spatial co-founder and chief executive Anand Agarawala, “in light of COVID, we’ve actually had an intense amount of demand — about a 1,000 percent increase.” He added that, unlike Zoom, “something like VR gives you that level of presence and personification.” Continue reading Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

In 2016, Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard formed Manticore Games to build real-time experiences, adding a tool to quickly test out ideas and insert them into a game and enabling gamers to easily customize the experience with new items. Now they’ve turned those intuitive tools into a service, dubbed Core, currently in closed alpha testing. An open alpha test is expected “in the near future.” As a game creation tool and eventual marketplace, Core is intended to democratize game development. Continue reading Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Technology has just unveiled an app specifically designed for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Spotify Kids, which is available for free to Spotify Premium Family members, is being tested in the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The most notable change is visual: Spotify Kids offers kids the animated creature of their choice to act as an avatar in an environment full of colors and doodles. There are two Spotify Kids versions, one for younger children and another for older ones. Continue reading Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

In Snapchat’s animated series Bitmoji TV, which launches February 1, the user’s avatar stars — and the last person he Snapchatted co-stars — in various TV scenarios, including sitcoms, soap operas and reality competitions. This first season will debut 10 three-to-four-minute episodes, unveiled on Saturday mornings. As Bitmoji founder/chief executive Ba Blackstock puts it, “we’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons.” The series takes off from Bitmoji Stories, which stars the user’s avatar in funny situations. Continue reading Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing. Continue reading Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

When CES 2020 opens on January 7th in Las Vegas, I expect experiences — of which ‘entertainment’ is one option — will be center stage. We will be watching for repositioning of products and services as experiences, as well as for new ideas for experiences themselves. To state the obvious, for mixed reality and immersive experiences to work well, the user experience (UX) should be intuitive and match user expectations. Companies are working to achieve this by dealing in their own individual ways with the convergence of multisensory, multiplatform, immersive media technology and language (VR, AR, MR, XR); AI; 5G; IoT; robotics and autonomous things; and blockchain. Gartner describes this as a shift from technology-literate people to people-literate technology. Continue reading CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

Facebook Unveils New Collection of Virtual Reality Advances

At Oculus Connect, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and AR/VR head Anthony Bosworth showed the next version of the Oculus Quest, which will offer hand-tracking without controllers or external sensors. Also unveiled is Horizon, a new form of social VR to rival VRChat and Rec Room; it will go into a closed beta in early 2020. Horizon provides tools for the user to build her own environments where people can congregate for multiplayer games. Other long-term plans include AR glasses, Live Maps and “shared spaces.” Continue reading Facebook Unveils New Collection of Virtual Reality Advances

NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

NBCUniversal became the latest media outlet to dip a toe into interactive storytelling, with “Series: Your Story Universe,” a mobile game produced by Universal Games and Digital Platforms with Endless Entertainment. The team picked IPs not easily adapted for mobile games that allow users to interact with stories based on favorite TV shows and movies, including “Vanderpump Rules,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Law & Order,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Bridesmaids,” “Sixteen Candles” and “Xena: Warrior Princess.” Continue reading NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

Disney, ILMxLAB and The VOID Introduce ‘Ralph Breaks VR’

The 2018 CG animated movie “Ralph Breaks the Internet” raked in more than $500 million in box office revenues last year and, this year, visitors to The VOID in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas will be able to have the immersive “Ralph Breaks VR” experience. Located in the Grand Canal Shoppes, the experience — from Disney and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB in partnership with The VOID, allows four players to enjoy features not possible in a home VR experience. “Ralph Breaks VR” is available in eight locations including Las Vegas. Continue reading Disney, ILMxLAB and The VOID Introduce ‘Ralph Breaks VR’

Dreamscape Immersive to Expand Location-Based VR in 2019

Dreamscape Immersive focuses on creating virtual reality experiences as location-based entertainment in malls and other venues. From the entrance, a “departure lounge” that immerses visitors in backstories and props, titles such as “Alien Zoo” and “Lavan’s Magic Projector: The Lost Pearl” are intended to feel like journeys. Dreamscape chief executive Bruce Vaughn, who was former chief creative officer of Walt Disney Imagineering said it’s about reframing how audiences view virtual reality. Continue reading Dreamscape Immersive to Expand Location-Based VR in 2019

Computer-Generated Photoreal Influencers, Avatars Are Here

Computer-generated influencers have arrived. The glamorous all-digital Miquela Sousa (also known as Lil Mequela), which was created by Los Angeles-based startup Brud, has been the star of an Ugg advertising campaign, appearing on billboards around the world. Brud believes it can create CGI social media stars that are easier to manage and monetize than human celebrities. It’s not alone in its efforts; Soul Machines, which has debuted dozens of digital humans, is launching its Digital DNA platform to make it easier to create virtual avatars. Continue reading Computer-Generated Photoreal Influencers, Avatars Are Here

8 Circuit Studios Uses Blockchain, Ethereum to Build Games

Creating Metaverse, the digital universe depicted in “The Matrix,” “TRON” and “Ready Player One” and described by novelists William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, sounds like a nearly impossible feat. But Seattle-based 8 Circuit Studios, staffed by veteran gamers, plans to rely on its expertise plus blockchain and cryptocurrency to develop this world more quickly than previously deemed possible. That’s because the company proposes that gamers, developers and publishers will work together to create the Metaverse ecosystem. Continue reading 8 Circuit Studios Uses Blockchain, Ethereum to Build Games

Apple Submits VR Patents for Next-Gen Autonomous Vehicles

According to Patently Apple, “There have been a series of very smart and very cool patent applications surfacing of late covering a future mixed reality headset that could one day be a part of a virtual desktop system designed to edit 3D documents” and a “detailed invention covering an advanced gesturing control system for a heads-up-display system of an autonomous vehicle.” For the latter, the official patent application by Apple reads that the invention could lead to “safe, smaller, and less expensive autonomous vehicles.”

Continue reading Apple Submits VR Patents for Next-Gen Autonomous Vehicles

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

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