VR Films Are Expected to Make a Splash at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival in Park City next month, attendees can expect to watch both great films and virtual reality experiences. Ten of the 13 installations in the festival’s New Frontier program involve VR or other digital interactive technology. These projects use several different brands of headsets, from Oculus Rift to Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR, and for one of the first times, the content for these devices will be original, not a promotion for an existing movie. Continue reading VR Films Are Expected to Make a Splash at Sundance Festival

Nintendo Characters Come to Life with Interactive Gameplay

Nintendo recently released a Wii U version of the popular “Super Smash Bros.” in addition to a series of Amiibo toy figurines designed for interactive gameplay. While facing the growing popularity of less expensive games for mobile devices, Nintendo has also recently struggled to compete with other console manufacturers, leading to disappointing overall sales of its Wii U. Nintendo hopes that the Amiibo line can reignite interest in some of its most beloved characters such as Mario and Luigi. Continue reading Nintendo Characters Come to Life with Interactive Gameplay

DreamWorks Developing 360-Degree Rendering for VR Films

DreamWorks Animation is working on new technology that will bring its pre-rendered CGI films to virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and Gear VR. To support headtracking, the company has developed “Super Cinema” technology that pre-renders the entire 360-degree image so that no matter which way a user turns his/her head, the frame is already generated. This technology would allow consumers to have an immersive VR experience even on lower-end hardware. Continue reading DreamWorks Developing 360-Degree Rendering for VR Films

Virtual World Game Offers New Level of Interactive Storytelling

“Dragon Age: Inquisition” is a true testament to how sophisticated story-based virtual world games have become. The video game experience has become as immersive as any other story telling medium, told using compelling techniques that game developers have experimented with over the years. “Dragon Age: Inquisition” — while not the first video game to offer sophisticated interactive narrative — has been deemed one of the most ambitious story-based games of the year.  Continue reading Virtual World Game Offers New Level of Interactive Storytelling

Comcast Updates X1, Critics Concerned About Net Neutrality

Comcast introduced a new version of its television operating system, X1, at a media event in San Francisco on Wednesday. The system runs apps, records content to the cloud, and personalizes recommendations for users. The remote control features voice command, and the software also allows users to summon a technician to fix a problem if needed. These advanced technologies bring criticism that Comcast could become a gatekeeper of TV content, thereby violating net neutrality in the process. Continue reading Comcast Updates X1, Critics Concerned About Net Neutrality

Taylor Swift Music Video Offers a New Take on Virtual Reality

Pop star Taylor Swift’s new music video “Blank Spaces” comes with an app that offers fans an interactive experience in the video’s pristine mansion setting. The app is available for iOS and Android, and it gives viewers a chance to explore the scenes featured in the music video, see Swift dance just a few feet away, and discover Easter eggs with extras such as Polaroids. This app may point to the future of music videos, and could provide an ideal testing ground for virtual environments. Continue reading Taylor Swift Music Video Offers a New Take on Virtual Reality

Ellen DeGeneres Goes Interactive with Ellentube App and Site

Ellen DeGeneres is launching Ellentube, a website and app that will screen exclusive content from her popular daytime television program. The TV personality already runs one of the largest YouTube channels focused on television content. Now, along with executive producers Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin and Andy Lassner, DeGeneres has created Ellentube for interactive use. Fans will be able to upload videos, the best of which will be deemed suitable for a showcase on her daily program. Continue reading Ellen DeGeneres Goes Interactive with Ellentube App and Site

Micro-Content: Cartoon Network Unveils Mobile App for Kids

Turner’s Cartoon Network launched an app last week that features 10- to 15-second clips of the cable channel’s animated shows. “Cartoon Network Anything” is targeting boys 6- to 11-years old, many of whom are shifting towards mobile media consumption. Cartoon Network designed the app to drive young viewers back to the TV with promotions for on-air properties in between the 15-second clips, games, polls, quizzes, trivia, and puzzles. The free app is available for iOS and Android. Continue reading Micro-Content: Cartoon Network Unveils Mobile App for Kids

Oculus Rift Interstellar Experience Coming to IMAX Theaters

Christopher Nolan fans and moviegoers interested in the upcoming “Interstellar” can get a sneak peek at the galactic world through a 3D virtual reality experience. Participants will get a chance to wear Oculus Rift headsets and virtually explore the film’s spacecraft, which took two months for the team at Framestore to recreate. The Oculus Rift Interstellar Experience is hitting select AMC IMAX theaters in New York, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. before the film opens November 7. Continue reading Oculus Rift Interstellar Experience Coming to IMAX Theaters

Guggenheim Museum Testing Beacon Technology for Exhibits

The Guggenheim Museum, a premier art museum in New York City, is making its exhibits more interactive by integrating beacon technology. The beacons are small, box-like sensors that use Bluetooth technology to detect when a smartphone is in proximity. The museum will use its 20 to 30 beacons to track traffic flow through the building. In the future, the beacons may transmit informational alerts to visitors’ phones as they approach a painting or sculpture. Continue reading Guggenheim Museum Testing Beacon Technology for Exhibits

Iowa Newspaper Uses Oculus Rift for ‘Explanatory’ Journalism

The Des Moines Register, which reaches 420,000 readers, has launched a virtual reality story to examine how the demographic and economic changes in Iowa are affecting one farming family. The readers of the paper can step into the Dammann family farm and click on objects to learn about how different issues impact Iowa residents. Only 125,000 Oculus Rift headsets are in circulation, but this story may be one of the first steps toward integrating VR into journalism. Continue reading Iowa Newspaper Uses Oculus Rift for ‘Explanatory’ Journalism

With Startup’s SDK, Movie Theater Ads Could Get Interactive

Audience Entertainment, a startup dedicated to making the big screen interactive, is launching a software development kit that would allow companies to create a new type of advertisement. New content developed with the SDK would allow audiences to control what is on the screen by jumping or performing certain arm movements in unison. The digital cinema company Barco and Audience Entertainment have teamed up to bring this experience, referred to as “iD,” to 3,000 screens worldwide. Continue reading With Startup’s SDK, Movie Theater Ads Could Get Interactive

Spotify’s New Serendipity Feature May Make Music Social Again

Spotify’s Artist in Residence Kyle McDonald created a new map feature known as Serendipity that shows when two people in the world are listening to a song at the same time. The interactive map plays a snippet of the song, which both users had to start within a tenth of a second of each other, and spins around to show the two users’ locations in the world. The new feature may help Spotify rise above other music streaming services, and make music a social experience once again. Continue reading Spotify’s New Serendipity Feature May Make Music Social Again

Beamly App for Android TV to Offer A Personalized TV Guide

Beamly, a social TV startup known for making second screen apps for iOS, Android and the Web, is now developing a first screen app for the new Android TV platform. The Android TV app will feature a personalized TV channel that will continuously show programming from both live TV channels and online video services. The app will also interact with Beamly’s existing mobile apps to offer interactive experiences such as voting during a competitive reality television show. Continue reading Beamly App for Android TV to Offer A Personalized TV Guide

Marvel Experience is Immersive, Next-Gen Traveling Attraction

“The Marvel Experience” is an upcoming traveling attraction that combines a theme park 4D motion ride, 360-degree display, and a collection of popular superheroes. Hero Ventures, the entertainment company behind “The Marvel Experience,” announced that it has tapped Jerry Rees, a Disney theme park attraction director, to help create the multimedia traveling show. Rhythm & Hues and Prana are the studios in charge of the VFX and animation. Continue reading Marvel Experience is Immersive, Next-Gen Traveling Attraction