Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook has acquired FacioMetrics, a startup spun off from Carnegie Mellon University. FacioMetrics’ IntraFace can detect seven different emotions on peoples’ faces. Since the purchase, FacioMetrics has been removed from the app stores. The acquisition is likely fueling Facebook’s goal to apply its artificial intelligence research to create “gesture-based controls, recognize facial expressions and perform related actions.” Facebook has said it will use FacioMetrics to enhance its augmented reality face masks. Continue reading Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Disavowing popular wisdom that it doesn’t pay to be too specific, Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash delineated what virtual reality tech will look like in 2021 at the Oculus Connect 3 conference last week. With the caveat that he would be proved “wrong about some of the specifics,” Abrash described a high-end VR future that includes 4K x 4K resolution per eye and 140-degree field of view displays, foveated rendering, personalized audio encoding, and “augmented virtual reality.” Abrash was the final speaker in a keynote session that stretched past two hours. Continue reading Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Testing VR and AR as Next Wave of Videoconferencing Tools

Several companies and academic institutions are studying the use of virtual reality as a way to replace the videoconference call. Among those experimenting in the field is the NYU Media Research Lab, which showed a video of researchers using Samsung Gear VR headsets to collaborate in a simulated environment. The Bank of Ireland and U.K. utility National Grid PLC have also tried out early VR software. Skype, the Microsoft company often used for videoconference calls, is working on an augmented reality solution. Continue reading Testing VR and AR as Next Wave of Videoconferencing Tools

The VOID Debuts its First Mixed Reality Attraction in New York

The VOID has opened its “Ghostbusters”-themed experience inside Madame Tussauds wax museum in Times Square. “For $50, visitors can strap on a VR headset and a backpack computer fashioned into a ‘Ghostbusters’ proton pack, pick up a matching gun-shaped plastic prop, and act out a cinematic fantasy in real life,” explains The Verge, which describes “Ghostbusters: Dimension” as “stunningly intricate.” The experience utilizes tracking markers to create full-body avatars of guests and haptic feedback to add unique physical sensations. As Road to VR notes, its success “has something to do with its ‘4D’ components (e.g., the Slimer-cued mist, mock-rickety platforms, the vibrating vest)” and “the user engagement prompted by walking around in and interfacing with a semi-real virtual space.” Continue reading The VOID Debuts its First Mixed Reality Attraction in New York

Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

Microsoft, Magic Leap, Facebook and other companies are working on technologies that may soon make video conferencing obsolete in favor of wearable face computers that permit VR conferencing. Some idealists picture a future where everyone will communicate via a digital persona, not a huge leap for those already using social networks for professional endeavors. A solution such as AltspaceVR allows the user to create avatars that are “cautiously cartoonish,” rather than going after realism, with customizable skin and eye colors. Continue reading Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

CES: Intel Reimagines Experiences with Sensified Computing

Under the theme “Experiences Reimagined,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich kicked off CES 2016 with a keynote presentation packed with product announcements, collaborations and live demonstrations. Today’s products are designed and defined by experiences, said Krzanich, experiences enabled by technology. With a flair of showmanship, the keynote opened with fireworks, presented not with explosives but a record-setting fleet of illuminated drones, and closed with music played with motion sensors, all of which served to illustrate what Krzanich called “the sensification of computing.” Continue reading CES: Intel Reimagines Experiences with Sensified Computing

Nintendo is Shifting Gears with New Moves into Mobile Gaming

Nintendo is building its new online network, Nintendo Account, with Japanese mobile gaming publisher DeNA. Nintendo Account will allow gamers to login to games via consoles, PCs, smartphones and tablets. Nintendo recently announced that its first foray into mobile games would be “Miitomo,” a new take on the popular “Tomodachi Life” series that will emphasize microtransactions, player-to-player communications and dressing up players’ Mii avatars. The company is also replacing its defunct Club Nintendo with the My Nintendo loyalty system. Continue reading Nintendo is Shifting Gears with New Moves into Mobile Gaming

SIGGRAPH 2015: XRoad of Discovery; Emerging Tech Conference Opens in LA

SIGGRAPH 2015, the interdisciplinary conference on the latest computer graphics and interactive techniques, is underway at the LA Convention Center and runs through August 13. SIGGRAPHis unique as a trade event because it showcases both the state of the art in professional production as well as being one of the best places in the world to see and experience emerging technologies, talent and academic research. The conference theme, “XRoads of Discovery,” and the selection of Joichi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab as the conference keynote speaker, underscore the future look. Continue reading SIGGRAPH 2015: XRoad of Discovery; Emerging Tech Conference Opens in LA

Virtual Reality Startups Define Diverse Facets of New Medium

The tech world is awash in virtual reality startups, each of them focusing on developing different aspects of the new medium. Oculus VR, which was purchased by Facebook last year for $2 billion, has made great strides in several areas, including its virtual reality head-mounted display Oculus Rift, but is also working on Oculus Cinema, a consumer-facing movie-watching app. Other companies are creating avatars, virtual worlds and virtual games, and a camera that allows viewers to go on tours of homes for sale and hotel rooms. Continue reading Virtual Reality Startups Define Diverse Facets of New Medium

Oculus Story Studio Explores Ways to Make VR More Social

Oculus Story Studio, a lab program within Oculus VR dedicated to experimentation with the goal of helping virtual reality grow as a platform, is using “Lost Director’s Cut,” a new version of the studio’s short VR film as the basis for a new social experience that promises to change the paradigm of VR experiences from solitary to shared. The purpose of the new demonstration is to show filmmakers and other creatives how far they can push virtual reality beyond current single-person, isolated experiences. Continue reading Oculus Story Studio Explores Ways to Make VR More Social

FOVE, a VR Headset with Eye-Tracking, Thrives on Kickstarter

FOVE, which claims to be the only virtual reality headset with built-in eye-tracking, has surpassed its Kickstarter goal by nearly $100,000 with 37 days left to go in the campaign. A $399 donation awards backers with a headset and development kit, and FOVE plans to deliver both by May 2016. Eye-tracking not only enables users to play games by aiming their eyes, it opens the door to foveated rendering, which reduces the computational demands on real-time processing and provides contextual feedback, avatar eye-mapping, and more. Continue reading FOVE, a VR Headset with Eye-Tracking, Thrives on Kickstarter

E3 2014: Nintendo Unveils New Games, Experimental Robots

In the wake of Wii U struggles, Nintendo hopes its E3 announcements this week will please company loyalists and possibly help generate new fans. The company introduced new figurines with NFC chips that will work with its video games. It also announced integration of custom Mii avatars for the upcoming “Super Smash Bros.” fighting game, a new “Legend of Zelda” game coming to the Wii U in 2015, a kid-friendly shooting game called “Splatoon,” and a variety of other new and experimental game titles. Continue reading E3 2014: Nintendo Unveils New Games, Experimental Robots

Future of Entertainment: Hollywood Considers Virtual Reality

A growing number of Hollywood filmmakers, entertainment industry executives, and video game producers believe virtual reality will be the next big revolution in mass entertainment. Facebook, Sony, and other tech companies are developing the necessary technologies, while entertainment startups and major studios are developing the content. In addition to video games, entertainment professionals are also looking to use VR for marketing, social, and storytelling purposes. Continue reading Future of Entertainment: Hollywood Considers Virtual Reality

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