Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality Directory

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Immersive Storytelling – Which Came First: The Technology or the Creative?

There I was in a cinema 10 years ago captivated, pupils fully dilated, and hit squarely between the retina, chasing technicoloured humanoids and hybrid creatures through a fantasy world across the big screen. The movie? James Cameron’s, Avatar. My emotional and visual senses were in overdrive following complex characters and multi-layered storytelling. I was immersed in these elements, but what also had me jumping in my seat was an insight to the future of technological advancements for instinctive human interactions with technology itself. That magic moment in the movie was seeing data captured and transferred with the quick and casual swipe of a finger from the translucent curved monitor directly on to the movie character’s tablet. Bam! Right there, I knew I needed to be a part of this future. Since then, over the last nine years I’ve been fortunate to work with top industry creative and technical individuals and development teams, sharing our company successes and celebrating theirs. These studios and companies develop mind blowing real-time virtual reality projects and experiences, where authentic motion for 3D animated avatars is needed to deliver a highly convincing and believable player and audience experience. They reside across a broad spectrum of sectors in motion capture, game development, training and simulation, virtual YouTubing, R&D for next-gen realism in facial animation, live broadcast, film and TV, VFX, real-time production, pre-vis, post- production, advertising, live performances, LBVR, holograms, education, social VR, VR collaboration and more. The real-time technologies that support and drive their projects and systems are both cutting-edge and innovative–when they pack the punch with memorable immersive storytelling, then they’ve delivered the full picture to their audience. Human interactions within XR needs to become second nature where our instinct overrides considered actions, which means when all our senses are fired then the more tangible and emotionally connected...

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The VRARA Enterprise Summit: VR Moves from “Hype” to Prototype

With emerging technology, the pace of adoption is typically defined by the “hype cycle,” or a graph developed by Gartner to define the different phases of mass adoption, and rate at which an emerging application or platform is progressing from euphoric, unrealistic predictions to actual, practical applications. According to Gartner, in 2017 virtual reality (VR) was approaching maturity and in the penultimate phase of adoption, known as the “Slope of Enlightenment,” followed by the final phase, the “Plateau of Productivity.” In its 2018 report, Gartner removed VR from its emerging technology hype cycle entirely, suggesting it had evolved beyond this final stage, and wrote: ‘(VR) technology is rapidly approaching a much more mature stage, which moves it off the emerging technology class of innovation profiles.’ 2017: Virtual Reality as the lone technology in the Slope of Enlightenment 2018: Virtual Reality has evolved beyond the Plateau of Productivity While mature, Virtual Reality (VR) is still nascent enough to find its standards in flux across multiple dimensions: what constitutes ‘good’ or effective content, the minimum standards for impactful software and hardware, how to make experiences universally accessible, and how to measure success. Organizations are being formed to help define these standards. For example, the VRARA, or Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Association, is a global trade association comprised of large organizations dedicated to understanding the technology and defining best practices for development, deployment and measurement. Last week, at the annual LiveWorx conference in Boston, the VRARA hosted a day-long Enterprise Summit,attended by and featuring speakers from organizations such as Boeing, ExxonMobil, Hasbro, Johnson & Johnson, Shell, Siemens, Sprint, and Unilever, all sharing insights on how VR is being used in industries as varied as AEC, aerospace &defense, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, and training in an effort to help bring these standards into focus. Several themes were consistently discussed: The challenges...

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Key considerations when scaling virtual reality across the enterprise

Currently most large companies and educational institutes have only just started their exploration of virtual reality technology. Some have engaged third party organisations to develop “one off” applications with no strategic approach, while having some initial success, many are disappointed with the ongoing value. My team and I have been exploring solutions to ensure we can deploy virtual reality across a large organisation and the applications add value to our current curriculum. In our research we have see a lot of focus placed on headset hardware and its maturity, but this is only the beginning: Hardware Maturity The market has been waiting for headsets to have the necessary features to deliver quality virtual reality content via self-contained unit. These features include adequate processing power, high resolution, accurate tracking, battery life at an acceptable price point. The Oculus Quest has delivered these five features (and we’ll hopefully see their competitors following their lead). Headsets as cheap as a tablet and requiring minimal ICT support are crucial for any large organisation to consider them as a viable technology tool. Standalone devices will be the most viable technology option for many organisations. However, PC powered headsets will still be required for more graphically intensive content and it is good to see some great innovation continuing in this space. Device Management While not as interesting to many as VR headsets, the ability to manage these devices at scale is crucial for successful and continued adoption. Device management encompasses: Maintenance and control of the device software, including firmware, OS updates, and network credentials. Device hygiene, charging and security – this is usually an unidentified issue initially when most organisation begin to explore VR. Shared devices require hygiene solutions; like replace face covers or something more sophisticated like the Clean Box. Charging will become a vital requirement especially with controllers and standalone headsets. Security is...

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Shifting the VR consciousness

The other day, I came across a VR booth and two teenagers trying out applications there. They were wearing the latest sneakers;hip sunglasses and they had their Oculus Go VR headsets positioned on top of their heads like fashion accessories and giggling with their new toy. That might not be the intended use of a VR headset, but it made me smile. We’ve reached the point where virtual reality is not just evolving technically but also culturally. What does that really mean? It means that we see all kinds of people having access to headsets or at least trying games, simulations, experiences, caves and other VR applications easily in shopping malls, arcades, theme parks, movie theaters and other similar public events.Now, more than ever, it’s important to grip these different kinds of audiences and create lasting impressions. Just when VR is reaching a wider audience, the lack of meaningful and lasting stories threatens to hold it back. It is vital that we focus less on spectacle — and shift our VR thinking. The content we make for VR should not be seen as a product for onboarding diverse audience, but just like the canonical cinema from the past 200 years — which is still captivating, compelling, gripping and emotionally resonating with different kinds of audience. We should design VR content with a vision to be a part of the long-term virtual landscape. It’s vital to put today’s VR technology into the hands of a more diverse group of VR storytellers tomorrow. While companies are definitely working to simplify the hardware and software used to make VR and spread it far and wide, so that it’s as accessible as possible — and that young kids, senior citizens, people in third world countries, or even refugees fleeing war can make and tell their own virtual...

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Voice + VR, the Next, Next Frontier of Storytelling

There’s a lot of activity happening in the background on Amazon’s Alex platform. Developers and designers are creating voice skills (apps) that allow us to interact with computers and the internet in dynamic new ways. But what happens when that level of interactivity continues and is merged with XR? While there are many implications for this and some tangible examples (RealWares voice-enabled AR headset for virtually assisting field and manufacturing technicians), the opportunity I haven’t heard much on and am personally most excited for, is voice AI and interaction in VR. As a fan of Skyrim I thought, “How cool would it be if I could actually shout the ‘shouts’ (or Thu’um for the hardcore) while playing?’. What if I could have a dynamic conversation with anyone of the characters living in the world and not be limited to the ‘Arrow in the knee…’ conversation. What if I can tell my Mass Effect squad mates where to defend or attack in the middle of a firefight and then learn about their backstory or joke around in a face-to-face conversation afterwards? The opportunity to streamline the VR experience from a UX perspective is important (typing in VR sucks), but the storytelling and immersive aspect is immense. Everything from video games to movies could be incorporated into experiences that are differentiated only by the purpose or objectives while sharing the same level of interactivity. Education could also be transformed. Learning history could become an experience of walking through a military camp, talking to any soldier about the previous battle, about their families, and why they’re fighting, in any order, at any time. What was it like to be an artisan or trader during the Renaissance? Or a Native American? And if the best way to learn a new language is to be immersed in that culture,...

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