Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality Directory

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Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow : XR is still growing

Where to begin.   While there are many things that can be said about virtual reality, the first and not-so-obvious admittance must be to understand exactly where we are in the growth-narrative.   With so many headsets launching every month, and most of them not so dramatically different from one another save a few outlier headsets that have shifted the industry in 2019,  we’re looking at a true nexus for virtual; though XR is very much still in the earliness, of virtual reality, we’ve finally developed sight.   Yes, we’re in the first trimester of XR and we’ve now developed sight.   However. We must now most importantly consider that virtual reality is not a single variable equation, it’s multi-variant. We must consider first and foremost that this technology will one day speak to the better of its promises, with feel, touch, scent and most importantly, human developmental factors.   If we’re going to immersive ourselves, schools, companies and businesses; the case must be compelling and assured for one to leap from one reality to another. It’s pivotal for us to understand what physiological and psychological effects this will have on the human body when it comes to the content we’re using. That’s a topic of needed consideration.   Looking at the Virtual Ecosystem as a whole, we begin to realize that there’s much more to the narrative then sight. It begs the question then as to what are all the essential components to Virtual Reality, specific? What parts do we need to actually fly the ship? Beyond source material, wires and sprockets, where are we headed and what’s needed to get there?   Well, today we now have headsets that are more powerful than anything that’s ever been built for the industry. Laser and light HMDs are in full display and being showcased, globally. Hand tracking made a big deal of itself in...

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Snapchat Lenses Vs. Instagram Filters Which AR Platform is Best for Your Organic Marketing Strategy?

When Instagram Branded Effects came out of beta last August, I had high hopes that AR filters would help democratize product and brand promotion on this platform. My optimistic assumption was that by empowering your audience to insert themselves into your brand’s narrative, AR filters could help mitigate Instagram’s toxic influencer culture as the user’s ability to share branded AR content with their followers would essentially make them a brand influencer in their own right. However, I underestimated the grip that what The New Yorker calls Instagram Face has over any marketing campaign on this platform. Instagram Face, says Journalist Jia Tolentino, is “the gradual emergence, among professionally beautiful women, of a single, cyborgian face….as if the algorithmic tendency to flatten everything into a composite of greatest hits had resulted in a beauty ideal that favored white women capable of manufacturing a look of rootless exoticism.” And while Instagram may have banned all plastic surgery filters, successfully using AR filters for brand marketing has proved to be just as dependent on the same paradigm of beauty as any other marketing tactic on this platform. Instagram AR filters aren’t easily searchable—you can scroll through categories like ‘Selfie’ or ‘Events’, but not by hashtag or name. This means brands are left little choice but to use paid influencers to launch their filter campaigns, or risk having them languish in the filter tab on their feed because Instagrammers simply don’t know it’s there. Interestingly, a new subset of influencer has emerged from within the filter creator community—and out of these so-called ‘filter influencers’, Instagram Face is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst women in this group with the highest follower counts. I’ve also heard more than one AR filter agency explain that they’ll hire female models to help increase the visibility of their demo filters as—let’s face it—nothing...

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Immersive Technology + K-12 Education: Time for high- quality content

Immersive technologies are helping to reshape the ecosystem of learning. From healthcare to K- 12 education, many are looking to incorporate immersive tech into their own teaching practices. Nevertheless, many are often overwhelmed by several barriers like the cost of procurement, maintenance, and high-quality content development. Currently, innovative technology has outpaced the formation of searchable immersive content. Curating educational content that is relevant, ethical, and accessible can be rather tasking. Educators and students are seeking engaging, quality content that survives the novelty of new technology and leads to long lasting learning.   To create valuable experiences, educators need tools to build immersive environments with their students and peers or access to companies or organizations constructing personalized immersive environments. Teachers and students can develop deeper connections with their peers and build essential soft skills. Collaborative-created content fosters a meaningful connection by generating an emotional investment for the learner. This is also important in building long-term high impact engagement, as it has been observed that students are seeking non-routine experiences. For example, 3D virtual tours about any topic are fascinating the first time but the excitement wears off the second time around if one is experiencing the same curriculum. Therefore, the need for quality content is essential to internalizing educational experiences.   K-12 educational immersive experiences should tell a story to amplify the learning opportunity. Storytelling utilizing immersive technology brings compelling and memorable stories into the classroom, giving students the chance to experience the next best thing to the actual thing. A great immersive narrative increases understanding more than a textbook or homework assignment ever could. Imagine studying about an African country like The Gambia through immersive technology. Students can learn about how to work in another culture and country by undergoing “a day in the life of” various individuals - student, physician, street vendor, etc. -...

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For US Manufacturing, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is Here to Stay

For US Manufacturing, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is Here to Stay.   Whenever I’m asked to speak at a high school or provide training to aspiring simulation developers; I often ask them to describe ways that AR and VR technology is being used today.I often receive some interesting responses. I’ve had several people refer to Pokémon Go whenever they describe how AR is used. When it comes to VR; it’s usually associated with cool video games. It’s no surprise that when people think of AR and VR; they associate it with being a form of entertainment. Entertainment is just one of many ways that the technology is being used.AR and VR has the potential to become a huge asset to industries such as manufacturing.   Statistics show that the manufacturing industry is experiencing a major worker shortage due to the lack of skilled workers. It has been predicted that by the year 2025, there will be 2 million positions that are unfilled. The worker shortage is a huge problem that exists within the manufacturing industry. A restrained and scarce workforce makes it difficult to provide proper training and job shadowing. Although training is important, meeting production deadlines are critical to the company’s operations and revenue; therefore, key employees can’t run the risk of leaving their job to provide shadowing to new hires. There are several ways that AR and VR can benefit the manufacturing industry in this area. AR and VR allows workers to train at their own pace. Instead of relying on a physical trainer; the technology has the capability to guide trainees through a series of critical tasks while providing support as they navigate their work environment virtually.   Companies such as BMW has developed an AR and VR-based training system to improve the work of assembly line employees, customer service agents, human...

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VR TO MEET US AND WALK TOGETHER

I never considered approaching Virtual Reality and immersive realities, it was pure chance how it entered my life. It all started with a challenge, creating 360videosin Colombia, where I live, so that they could be sold and exhibited abroad. I immediately loved the idea, being a VR pioneer in Colombia, in a place and time wherethere was not much talk about VR, could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. My background comes from audiovisual, mainly from the creationof documentary cinema with incursions in journalism. As a filmmaker without knowledge of the grammar of this new “language”, I have thrown myself on an empiric journey to discover and recognize this new environment. The goal was to learn how to use immersive technology to tell stories, transporting the audience to the place where events takes place and witness them. At the same time, I was taking a 360 camera where nobody had taken it before, allowing people to appropriate these “new screens” (VR headsets) with shocking contents.   In this solitary learning I have had good failures but I never give up. It has been difficult,without having referents in Colombia, to invest in professional equipment and cutting-edge software. At the end of this experimental and self-learning journey, I managed the entire workflow for the creation of professional-level 360 videos, even experimental versions in 8K resolution, without having the possibility to view the finished products because my PC did not have enough power to playback, at that time I didn't even have a headset!   Much of this trip was a lonesome trial and error process where I was pushed to explore my limits and abilities. Being able to dialogue on different digital platforms with people from all over the world has been fundamental. People I have never met before, but like me, they are contributing and...

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The Promise of VR in Healthcare

This blog is a condensed version of a longer report that discusses the neuroscience behind VR, and shows that VR is effective in healthcare because it broadly engages multiple learning and performance systems in the brain in synchrony. We discuss four specific uses cases in healthcare where we see VR providing the greatest good. These include: Patient and healthcare provider education and training: medical procedure and device training, hospital familiarization, and empathy building Senior care and caregiver support: education and training around cognitive, emotional and physical changes with normal aging and dementia, empathy building Mental health, therapy, and addiction: PTSD, depression, substance abuse and addiction Pain management: alternatives to opioids or during painful medical procedures like venipuncture, or cancer treatment rehabilitation Why is VR Effective? It’s All in the Neuroscience “Learning is an experience. Everything else is just information.” Albert Einstein This quote from Albert Einstein is supported by the neuroscience of learning and performance, and is the primary reason why VR is so effective in healthcare. As outlined in Figures 1 and 2 below, the human brain is comprised of at least four distinct learning systems. As Einstein so eloquently stated, experience is at the heart of learning (and performance). The experiential system has evolved to represent the sensory aspects of an experience, whether visual, auditory, tactile or olfactory (Figure 1). Every experience is unique, adds rich context to the learning and is immersive. Figure 1.The Experiential and Cognitive Learning Systems Figure 2. The Emotional and Behavioral Learning Systems [caption id="attachment_5045" align="alignnone" width="547"] Figure 1.The Experiential and Cognitive Learning Systems[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5046" align="alignnone" width="374"] Figure 2. The Emotional and Behavioral Learning Systems[/caption] The cognitive system is the information system (Figure 1). It processes and stores knowledge and facts using working memory and attention. Critically, these are limited capacity resources and form a bottleneck that slows learning with more information coming in and available...

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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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Why HDR matters more in VR and AR

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a term that is used in relation to describing the increased area of variation in both color and brightness made possible by displays that support it. HDR comes in a confusing handful of standards, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma, Advanced HDR and most recently HDR10+. What matters is that all of theses standards are mapping colors across an increased 'color space'. In the image above the smaller 'HDTV' triangle represents the colors that can be displayed using the 'Rec. 709' color area standard that was developed in the mid-to-late 1990s, for Standard Dynamic Range displays. The larger 'UHDTV' triangle represents the 'Recommendation ITU-R BT.2020.' color area (Rec. 2020) that HDR televisions aspire to cover. Color But wait! The image you are looking at is not an HDR image, and the display you are reading this on may not be an HDR display, your computer/phone is probably not rendering to a HDR framebuffer (10 bits or 12 bits per RGB channel instead of 8), and your browser is probably not capable of displaying HDR content. So the colors you are seeing above are in reality all being mapped within the 'Rec. 709' standard color area, the smaller triangle. If you could see the image in HDR it would look much more vivid. But since you cannot, lets at least examine quantization in relation to the '8 bits per channel RGB frame buffer' that displays use. 8 bits yields 2^8 = 256 possible values per channel, which makes '256 reds * 256 greens * 256 blues' possible. This results in a total of 16,777,216 possible colors. That sounds like a lot! And yet actually it is only going to contain 256 possible grey-scale values (0, 0, 0 through to 255, 255, 255). If you look carefully at the image above on a large display, you'll...

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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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