Adobe’s VR Sound Design Project – #SonicScape

One of Adobe’s newest project involves giving users a 360 interface to edit 3D sounds. Instead of needing to figure out the exact panning, echoing, delays, etc to fake a 3D sounds, this project lets sound designers see and move their audio files in 3D space. This is pretty similar to what I’m used to doing already in 3D games with Unity, but it’s great to see it available for 360 sound design in general.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Innovative way to deal with an interface issue
  • Allows sound designers an easy way to create 360 sounds

It’s just a prototype for now, but may be making into into an Adobe product in the future.

VR Replacement for your PC and 3D Facebook Posts

Oculus’ Connect 4 VR conference held place recently and Facebook announced some awesome stuff. I’ll be focusing on the two that stood out for me, but you can see some others on this article.

First one that caught my attention was the Oculus Dash, Facebook’s new user interface that let’s users customize their VR Home space with the goal of replacing traditional computer monitors in a very Minority Report-style way.

Users can easily open apps and move windows in the 3D space around them. Dash will let users open desktop apps like Facebook, Messenger, YouTube, Spotify, and Chrome.


The next that that caught my attention was Facebook’s new 3D posts in the newsfeed. It will allow users and brands to post interactive 3D models right in their newsfeed. These can be simple 3D objects that users can rotate around and zoom in on, or more interactive. For example, the demo below shows how users can open a 3D car door.


Why it’s hot:

  • Oculus Dash is helping VR become a replacement for PCs, with it’s dropped price point and new features we may see more users picking one up
  • Brands can now make interactive 3D posts on Facebook

More info:

Creating Personalized AR Videos and Interfaces

With the release of iOS 11 came ARKit and a bunch of cool new apps that use the augmented reality technology. This week I saw two that caught my eye for similar reasons.

First is Placenote which allows its users to design interfaces for physical spaces in augmented reality. You could use Placenote to “leave instructions for your airbnb guest, help friends find your apartment, even create and share an interactive museum tour.”

Second is Holo with ARKit, an app that allows users to place 3D objects into their videos/photos.


Why it’s Hot:

  • Holo with ARKit is an awesome use case to show how ARKit can be used to personalize videos. It could easily be adopted by SnapChat or a similar social network
  • Placenotes allows users to create experiences in a new medium. Airbnb recently added the guidebook feature to their app which allowed hosts to add a step by step guide for how to reach the apartment/find keys/get in through photos and copy. This would be a great new feature for them to use for hosts to leave notes for guests in AR.
  • Placenotes could be used at events or shops to give guests information in a unique way.
  • Both of these products are early ARKit examples. Can’t wait to see what could come next with the type of tech!

AR Audio Visualization

An artist created an AR app that displays visualizations for sounds in a 3D space. It remembers the space the device was in when a sound is recorded, creates a visual for it, and plays the chunk of audio for the visualization closest to the user. So, users can “scrub” through audio in AR.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Innovative AR tech
  • Interesting way to interact and visual audio

More info:



Virtual Reality Dating Show

Move aside reality shows, its time for Virtual Reality shows. A new show on Facebook’s new updated video platform came out that puts two strangers together on a virtual date. The people are first 3D scanned and then are placed in a room together wearing a motion capture suit and Vive. They see the other person’s avatar in the virtual world around them. The scans aren’t always the best and the motion capture is hilariously bad, but it kind of adds to the whole thing and allows the soon-to-be couples to easily make jokes about what’s going on around them. The then go on different virtual dates; painting a 3D dream house together, going to space and changing into aliens, or surviving a zombie attack for examples. Afterwards the participants are interviewed and all of them have said the VR aspects of the date helped take a lot of the tension off and allowed them to easily connect without even being able to fully see each other yet and they’ve all chosen to go on a second date so far!

First episode:

VR Blind Date in Outer Space

John and Shelby are set up on a blind date that takes place in a virtual reality world set in outer space.

Posted by Virtually Dating on Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Why it’s hot:

  • Example of the new weekly shows on Facebook’s video platform
  • Great use of VR technology
  • Shows how people feel more comfortable in a virtual world when interacting with someone new

This inspired me to take my girlfriend on a VR date for our anniversary last weekend to Jump Into the Light. It’s a VR arcade in LES that has a ton of great games set up (no multiplayer ones sadly). But we did enjoy giving each other hints when trying to escape Rick’s garage as a Morty clone and help each other fight robots in Space Pirate Training. I definitely recommend going and checking it out!


The Void is Making a Location-Based Star Wars VR Experience at Disney

The Void is known for making “Hyper-Reality” experiences, much more involved than your standard VR experience. The Ghostbusters experience they have in NYC (Which i still haven’t gone to but totes want to if anyone wants to make the field trip) involves users actually physically walking around a plywood maze while wearing HTC Vives, haptic feedback vests, and unique controllers to fully immerse users in the experience. They also have environmental effects like changes in temperature, fans to simulate windy areas, furniture and other props for users to touch and feel like what they see in VR is really there in front of them.

Ghostbusters VR Experience for Reference:

Why It’s Hot:

  • The Void was a startup not that long ago with big dreams that seemed impossible, now they have 4 successful location-based VR experiences in 4 major cities and opening a new one at the holy grail of experiences, Disney.
  • They seem to be the leaders now in this Location-Based VR experiences.
  • Great reference when create completely immersive VR experiences for users.

More Info Here.



Take On Augmented Reality

A game studio, Trixi Studios, posted a music video made with AR.

The studio used Apple’s new ARKit technology to create the music video. ARKit is a tool that allows developers to create AR mobile apps like this one more easily. It will be officially releasing in September and be supported on iOS 11 devices.

Why it’s Hot:

Come out and play festival – Turning NYC into a playground for the weekend!

Come Out & Play is an annual festival of street games that turns New York City & San Francisco into a giant playground. They provide a forum for new types of public games and play by bringing together players eager to interact with the world around them and designers producing innovative new games and experiences.

Over the years, thousands of players have gathered to play dozens of city-wide games. Players raced through the night in a city-wide game of zombie tag. Friends faced off in life-sized Pong using only their ears to “hear” the ball. (Papier-mache) pigeons were pummeled with wiffleball bats. Bicyclists armed with spray chalk and stencils competed to claim and build bike lanes. Strangers worked together to build and race blindly through labyrinths as part of a ancient lost sport. Payphones produced points, and Tompkins Square Park became a putt-putt course.

I’ve attended the festival twice. One of my favorite games, Spaghetti Standoff, involves players protecting a piece of uncooked spaghetti while trying to break their opponents’. Another was a real life version of Angry Birds where players used a giant sling shot and stuffed angry birds to knock down stuffed pigs in cardboard/plastic castles. The game where you had to put Sorry pieces on a spinning vinyl record was so stressful. There’s something magical about playing a game with or against other people in person that is just impossible to accomplish over a digital space.

Why it’s Hot:

  • It’s interesting to see the different challenges and solutions game designers have when designing games for an outdoor space instead of digital
  • It’s tomorrow! You should come!

Easily create 3D models in virtual reality

Google released Blocks, a VR application that allows users to create 3D assets while immersed in a VR environment themselves.

“Blocks lets you easily create 3D objects in virtual reality, no matter your modeling experience. Using six simple tools, you can bring your applications to life, create a volumetric masterpiece, or simply let your imagination run wild.

Get inspired by others’ creations or publish your own to inspire the world around you. No matter your modeling experience, you’ll create beautiful 3D objects in no time.”

Why it’s Hot:

  • Artists can create 3D assets for VR experiences while being immersed
  • Anyone can create 3D models
  • Easy way to create UX documentation for VR projects.

Tapjoy Research Report: The Modern Mobile Gamer: Advertising Preferences Revealed

Tapjoy (one of the largest mobile gaming advertising networks) released a report this week showing how mobile gamers interact and think about mobile ads that appear in gaming apps. The findings aren’t that surprising but a good reminder of best practices when working in this medium/with this audience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consumers prefer rewarded video ads over interstitial by a 4-to-1 margin
  •  More than half of users are “very likely” to engage with rewarded ads
  • More than half of US consumers prefer freemium apps with rewarded ads over paid apps or traditional ad-supported apps
  • Watching videos is a consumer’s favorite way to earn in-app rewards, preferred by at least 6X over any other type of rewarded advertising offer
  • Humorous videos are the best way to get attention; ads featuring Sex Appeal or Famous Celebrities are among the worst ways
  • Ads for Movies & Entertainment are the most popular category, followed by ads for Food & Restaurants, Retailers, Fitness & Healthcare, and Local Services, respectively

See Full Report Here:


Kind of related:

Play NYC, New York City’s first dedicated gaming convention, will be taking place in August. If you want to see some great local indie games and how they integrate reward ads in different innovative ways definitely come grab a ticket. There’s a lot of interesting gamification growth hacking to be learned! +I might have a booth for a game or two that I’ve been working on 😉



VoteBox is a startup that is looking to de-centralize voting by providing a secure service for local politicians, corporations, unions, and associations to create and manage polls.

How it works:

Create your voting event.

Specify the dates, time and questions.
Choose your authentication method and upload your list of voters.


Voters arrive at your branded voting website and authenticate.
When they submit a ballot, the results are encrypted and kept anonymous.
The voter is issued a receipt and is now blocked from voting for this election again.

Counting votes

Once voting has ended the results are immediately generated. You can view the results when logged in along with various reports on voting activity.

You can choose to make the results available to the voters on your voting website and allow your voters to verify them by downloading a file containing votes and receipt codes.



Why it’s hot:

  • Vote from your couch
  • Voting receipt to verify the results

“Everything: A joyfully expansive dream of a game”

Everything is a game that launched recently that successfully creates an interactive sandbox experience that lets players explore and find meaning in their actions.

The game allows users to take control of a random… thing. They can move around, scale, multiple, and dance. Once they want to be something else, they easily just point a cursor at it and now can control the new thing. They can grow up to the size of the entire universe, or become as small as atoms and particles. As they explore, clips from an Alan Watts speech play explaining the spiritual connection between all things in the universe.

“An extravagantly successful project… it is the rare game that may push you to want to lead a better life.” – Washington Post

They did have a bit of a backlash when they went on sale and Steam users got this notification 🙂

Why it’s Hot:

  • The developers really nailed down the UX/Game Design of allowing the player to explore and change the world with very few limitations (compared to No Man’s Sky which has many negative reviews)
  • Games that try to have more meaning generally aren’t as successful as this game has become

More info:

Hands-free typing: Facebook’s brain-to-text initiative

Facebook announced an initiative working towards the ability to type directly from your brain.

Watch Video >

Why it’s hot:

  • Accessibility for users that cannot move or speak.
  • The goal is to have users typing five times faster with their brain than with their phones.
  • Language wouldn’t be necessary. You would just send thoughts to other users.
  • It will be interesting to see if they have plans to integrate it with Facebook Spaces.

Google’s Newest Machine Learning A.I. experiment: AutoDraw

“Drawing on your phone or computer can be slow and difficult—so we created AutoDraw, a new web-based tool that pairs machine learning with drawings created by talented artists to help you draw.”

Using machine learning, Google’s new A.I. experiment can predict what you are trying to draw. It’s like auto-complete for drawing icons.


Give it a try here:

Another A.I. Google experiment that uses the same tech but in more of a gamified way:

Why it’s hot: Our designers will soon be replaced by robots.


TechDay NYC:

ALSO! TechDay, an expo of 600-ish disruptive NYC startups, is on Tuesday at Pier 84 from 10am to 5pm. It’s free but you have to register on the site first! A few of us will be going be going around 3pm if you want to join then or go on your own earlier in the day. It’ll be a good source for some local hotsauce 😉

Basic Attention Tokens – Rewarding users for watching ads

Brave is a browser being developed by ____ the creator of JavaScript and founder of Mozilla.

The Challenge

Digital advertising is overrun by middlemen, trackers and fraud.

Users are abused.

  • Up to 50% of the average user’s mobile data is for ads and trackers, costing as much as $23 a month.
  • Ads use about 5 seconds of mobile load time on average.
  • Ads decrease phone battery life by as much as 21%.
  • Privacy is violated when large media sites host up to 70 trackers.
  • Malware (malvertisements, ransom-ware) is up 132% in one year.

Publishers are hurting.

  • Google and Facebook take 73% of all ad dollars and 99% of all growth.
  • Revenue is recently down 66%.
  • Bots inflicted $7.2 billion in fraud last year.
  • Over 600 million phones and desktops run ad-blocking.
  • Publishers cannot seamlessly monetize value added services.

Advertisers are losing.

  • Advertisers lack good information on what they are paying for.
  • Marketers are often fooled by bogus websites and bots that commit fraud.
  • Targeting is poor, making users more likely to ignore ads.



  • Brave blocks as and trackers
  • Rewards sites based on user attention
  • Decentralized ad exchange using a new currency, Basic Attention Token
  • The token is based on engagement on webpages, different tabs, etc etc
    • Avoids fraud
  • Publishers are rewarded BATs for showings ads on their pages
  • Users can opt-in to have ads displayed or choose to not see any
    • Users are rewarded with a small portion of the BATs to incentivize them to opt-in for viewing them.
    • Users see less, but more targeted ads that are based a lot about their engagement across the whole web since it’s tracked in the browser.
    • Users can then donate their BATs to publisher as tips.
    • Publishers that are paid in tokens can pay users to promote their content.
    • Publishers can charge users tokens for premium content.


Rise of Robot Hotels in Japan

The travel agency H.I.S. Co. opened the Henn na Hotel this week near the Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu. The name comes from a play on the Japanese word for strange, and the hotel certainly doesn’t disappoint in that respect.

The Urayasu hotel is not the first robot dinosaur establishment to open in Japan, however. The same company opened a similar hotel in Sasebo, Nagasaki, in 2015. The original hotel was recognized as the first “robot-staffed” hotel in the world by Guinness World Records. A third hotel is planned to be opened in central Japan this summer.

You can watch a BBC review of their first hotel here:

Their new hotel features a robotic aquarium along with some more dinos:

Hotel’s website:


X-Box One Co-Pilot Mode

X-Box One had an update recently where users can remap the buttons from one controller to be played on two controllers. This allows players that are new to gaming to join more experienced ones playing games. This Extra Credits video explains the feature and its perks.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Audience of people that like to watch games but not play, this gives them a great way to get a taste of the interactive aspects of the products
  • A family mode could be easily added into games so parents can play with their kids
  • Game industry has a big issue with accessibility, this allows people that can’t play a game on one controller remap them to something that works for them
  • No extra work for game developers, feature is right on X-Box and works across all games
  • Could add a whole new genre of Let’s Play channels or e-sports. For example, a competition where 2 people control 1 character in a game

Flying Motorcycle

A company created a prototype of a flying motorcycle:

Why it’s hot:

Drone racing is a new e-sport that is growing in popularity. This adds a big new element to it. And also is 1 step closer to a flying car 😉

Optimizing Store Pages on the App Stores

Beyond ASO: The App Store Marketing Guidebook

This article does a great job at showing the importance of different elements on an app’s store page.

It goes into the differences between the two store.

Shows different layout options that change what content ends up above the fold.

And goes into detailed and sometimes surprising stats.

“60% of visitors decide to install or leave without ever engaging with the page. In other words,  these visitors are only exposed to the creative that appears “above the fold”, and their first and only action is either tapping the install button or leaving the page altogether.”


Why it’s Hot:

App Store Optimization (ASO) is a crucial part for an app’s success. We need to keep all these things in mind when laying out the store pages on the app store.

VR Mo-Cap Suit

Hardlight VR is a new startup that is creating a motion capture suit for users to wear while using a VR device. It will have location based haptic feedback.

Why it’s hot:

VR is a new emerging market that already is seeing all sorts of innovative new input and feedback devices. This is just one of the many ways new developers can interact with users.

E-Sports Industry is Booming

E-sports is an industry that is growing more and more everyday.

Why it’s hot:

Brands have been getting more involved in e-sports. Sponsoring teams and events in esports is a booming new industry that some of our clients could be a part of.