if you don’t like “camera on”, maybe you’ll like “avatar on”…

You’ve likely seen a lot of talk about how the effects of our current pandemic quarantine may forever change how we work. You may even feel the change happening.

Currently, we’re all enjoying full days of video chats on Teams, Zoom, Slack, take your pick. Spatial is a similar collaboration tool that allows teammates to converse and interact in AR/VR.

It may or may not be a substitute for in-person interactions, but at least solves for some of the challenges of brainstorming and ideating when we’re not all in the same “space”.

Why It’s Hot:

While it’s unclear how quickly these types of virtual interactions will begin to become commonplace, a company like Spatial signifies it’s coming. Not just for workplace interactions, but also social ones.


Lowe’s Brings VR to Power Tools

Lowe’s Innovation Labs is using virtual reality as a fun and safe way to let potential customers play with power tools in their stores. Their latest installation involves a hedge trimmer–actual blades removed, of course.

The experience was built on HTC Vive VR, with accurate visual approximation and the real vibrating feel of trimming hedges. It’s also gamified, giving out gold stars for a job well done.

The pilot test across several cities has seen great success. People’s confidence with the product increased 127% after the experience.


Why It’s Hot

This is a smart way to help people test drive products that would normally be difficult to evaluate before purchasing. It also helps people get comfortable with tools that might otherwise intimidate them.

Source: Fast Company

Opioids Haven’t Solved Chronic Pain. Maybe Virtual Reality Can

Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles is one of an increasing number of teaching hospitals testing the technology of how virtual reality can improve patient outcomes. Dr. Brennan Spiegel, one of the clinical researchers leading the charge is focused on pain management. Over the past few years he’s conducted clinical trials that show a pair of 3-D goggles can reduce the experience of pain — all kinds, from joint injuries to cancer — by a quarter. Now he is tackling chronic pain. More than 25 million Americans are afflicted by chronic pain. All too often, addictive painkillers are the only treatment option for those patients. And with opioids claiming the lives of nearly 100 people every day, doctors are scrambling to find non-addictive alternatives. Virtual reality might soon be one of them, if the science can show it really works.

Scientists started probing the power of VR to ease suffering more than 20 years ago. VR pioneer Hunter Hoffman, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, launched the first pain studies in the early 2000s, using an eight-pound helmet hooked up to a computer the size of a small refrigerator. Today, companies, such as AppliedVR, are building collections of 3-D content designed to combat pain, like a VR version of Netflix. “We’re trying to figure out how to prescribe the right experience to the right person based on their needs and their interests,” says President Josh Sackman. So far his team has designed two dozen worlds, each one falling into one of four categories: distraction, relaxation, escape, and education. Patients could choose a variety of experiences, like swimming with dolphins or flying over the fjords of Iceland in a helicopter, or just sitting on a beach and thinking about life. A voice in your ear might talk you through a breathing exercise, or ask you to contemplate the people and things that bring you joy. VR works by distracting your brain. Playing a game distracts the pain by closing down pathways that would transfer pain signals from your peripheral nervous system. The more immersed you are, the less pain you feel.

Why It’s Hot
As Americans learned last week when President Trump declared the opioid crisis an public health emergency, wouldn’t it be great if people coming out of surgeries recovering from an accident could walk out of a hospital with a set of VR goggle instead of a painkiller prescription. In his next study, Dr. Spiegel is working with a major insurance company to evaluate whether or not virtual reality can reduce the number of opioids taken by people who’ve been recently injured on the job. Hopefully, VR will continue showing a strong case that it is an effective way to reach patients. And that it becomes the one, smart alternative to a prescribed painkiller.

Job recruiting with VR: an ethical question

We have on our hands a moral dilemma. Companies are increasingly using VR to train employees (see: KFC, Walmart, US Navy) – and now companies are beginning to explore VR as a recruitment tactic.

But what if the VR experience outshines the reality of the real job? Wired writes:

“To be sure, all recruiting and training materials, including traditional video, tend to accentuate the positive. But the immersive nature of VR means that it can make a stronger, more lasting impression on recruits and employees. “The idea is immersing your future employee in the job,” says Tuong H. Nguyen, a principal research analyst at IT advisory firm Gartner. VR “provides a more dynamic view of what the job is like.” He compares the experience to the difference between reading about or seeing a film of a sunset and seeing a sunset first-hand.”

Why it’s hot:

VR is obviously one of many shiny objects recruiters can use to attract and engage prospective and current employees. Plus, national or global firms who recruit talent from far and wide can use VR experiences to give potential employees a better sense of environments and situations they may experience on the ground, building confidence and interest. But what duties to recruiters have to show the reality, however virtual it may be, without misleading candidates?

disney creates a magical bench…

…you could interact with pretty much anything your mind can dream up.

Disney Research developed a somewhat lo-fi solution for mixed reality that requires no special glasses or singularity type of stuff. Its “Magic Bench” allows people to interact with things that aren’t there, watching the action in 3rd person view, on a screen broadcasting them. It even provides haptic feedback to make it feel like the imaginary character or object truly is on the bench with you.

Why It’s Hot:

1) It’s a great example of technology enabling a physical experience without getting in the way. Historically, augmented/mixed reality required some type of personal technology like glasses/headset, or a phone. This requires nothing from the user but their presence.

2) It shows how Disney is using technology to create experiences that extend its “magical” brand into the digital age.



Leo Burnett Found the Perfect Spokesbird for This Cute, Clever Samsung Gear VR Ad

Samsung has done plenty of commercials for the Gear VR showing humans wearing the virtual reality headset—which we can all agree is usually kind of weird. But in the new spot—which premiered 3/29 at a Samsung event introducing the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones—the marketer tried a different species of VR wearer.

The ostrich, clearly, is perfect, both as a creature that might fulfill its own destiny via VR and as a metaphor for Samsung itself—a grounded bird that’s become a bit of a joke, but could soar if it only just believes.

Why It’s Hot. Creativity and advertising again serve a noble purpose of helping a brand after product debacle (Note 7). Everyone, including a brand, deserves a 2nd chance if it dares to create one.

Billboards, meet VR…you’re new Daddy

A Peruvian highway is prime ad space during the summer months, which forces advertisers to battle it out in efforts to capture the attention of thousands of beachgoers.

But Sodimac, a home improvement brand, set out to capture their imaginations instead by skipping the billboard approach altogether. They did so by creating a 360-degree virtual reality experience along the highway where brand representatives gave out 40,000 Google Cardboard headsets to car passengers. With their VR headsets on, passengers experienced giant-sized virtual Sodimac summer products along the road, making their road trip seem more like a Disneyland Ride, than a car drive. More importantly, they completely ignored all other billboards.

  • We don’t hear a lot about Billboard clutter and we hardly see smart digital ideas that solve for that, which this beautifully does
  • Brought VR to life in a very unexpected space and on a massive scale
  • Tech approach delivered on their brand proposition: They are experts in transforming spaces
  • VR experience was innovative, but also added value to consumers by making their drive more exciting

Hulu Lets You Watch Shows In A Virtual Living Room With Friends

Hulu recently announced an update to its mobile VR app for the Gear VR and its desktop app for the Oculus Rift, both of which will enhance the experience of viewing Hulu-branded content in VR through layered social dimensions.

Slip on a headset and join your friends as avatars composed solely of a floating head and hands, where you can share an Oculus Room and watch movies together. You’ll further be able to play with objects like a TV remote around the virtual space thanks to the inclusion of the Oculus Touch, though lack of avatar customization and the limited use cases for hands help center the attention around Hulu’s media.

Though social in VR is a hot topic, establishing a sense of community within an experience is difficult for a number of reasons – for one thing, most Hulu viewers don’t own a headset. Among those that do, not all of them actually use the platform on their Gear VR or Oculus. Moreover, the physical act of donning a headset is quite isolating; Hulu will have to mold the experience around tech-savvy friend circles who are comfortable sharing experiences digitally despite being distant in the material world.

View here

Source: PSFK.


Why It’s Hot:

Social VR is a category to keep an eye on. Brands are trying to take the “coldness” and “oneness” out of VR and recreate experiences of time with friends and family.


See the large batch of earth like planets through virtual reality!

So! Nasa found 7 new earth like planets 40 light years away and is letting you experience it through virtual reality!

The below depiction is based on the latest scientific data about this planetary system, and this world’s sister planets can be seen as bright points of light in a dark sky. Each world is roughly in Earth’s size range, in terms of both mass and diameter. Further observations will be needed to determine whether any or all of these worlds might be habitable.

Trappist- 1D is the star like planet similar to the sun.

Why its hot!

  • This has gone viral on social but is gaining traction on multiple channels.
  • Virtual reality is increasing in popularity and although it isn’t a new trend,  this video was sent to me by people who don’t care about space (like i do).
  • Nasa isn’t a brand trying to sell a product. They created this for people to have an experience for something that is larger than us.

The future of VR filmmaking

I shared this with the Army team but if you haven’t seen it it’s worth watching. My Brother’s Keeper isn’t your typical VR movie. The PBS film, which premiered at Sundance last week, uses its period setting to show off several new filmmaking techniques, including the first 120 fps slow-motion recording in VR and the use of a customized action camera rig.

Why It’s Hot

We’ve all seen VR/360 video examples with lots of bells and whistles. But very often the techniques eclipse the story. As Engadget described “…most important, it uses all of that technical wizardry to craft a genuinely moving story.” When form and function meet art and heart.

Ready Player One?

A company called “Tesla Studios” has teased the idea since 2015, and last year teased us again with the “Teslasuit”, a full body haptic suit to provide an extra sensory touch/feel experience, enabled through digital means. The suit would allow those wearing it to physically feel the effects of any virtual interactions – which could be triggered through a phone, gaming console, or virtual reality experience, among other ways – as if they were happening in the so called real world. They’re not the only ones working on the idea, but they do seem to be the most prominent.

Why it’s hot:
It shows what could be the ultimate culmination of the trend toward digital invading our everyday physical world. Right now we’re interacting with each other and brands through websites, messaging, apps, chat bots,etc. A lot of the applications of this have been focused on gaming, but imagine if you could touch and feel the things you want to buy, get yourself physically examined by a doctor, or just rub a friend’s back virtually. While this may be further off, it shows the trajectory of digital’s invasion into our physical world – how the physical world is being transformed by digital means.

Puppies + VR = happiness

The first-ever Puppy Bowl Virtual Reality brings viewers nose-to-nose with the gridiron canines through the Discovery VR iOS and Android apps, Samsung Milk VR and on Animal Planet’s YouTube page. Using virtual-reality goggles such as Google Cardboard, fans can step inside Geico Stadium for a 360° experience as puppies scrimmage, scamper and sniff out field goals.

For this year’s Puppy Bowl XII, Animal Planet worked with 44 different animal shelters and rescue organizations in 25 states across the USA to fill the rosters of #TeamRuff and #TeamFluff with adoptable players.

Source: USA Today

Why it’s hot:

Immersive video is being used by brands — and now VR is almost mainstream. Puppy Bowl is high visibility and if all goes smoothly it could open the door for more immersive experiences in everyday viewing.

AR glasses from Facebook

Earlier this week, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, the clunky VR headset, shipped to the market. But Facebook has hopes for the tech and form factor to be reduced to the size of a normal pair of glasses.

During a recent developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated a concept pair of smart glasses that he envisions being able to view both virtual reality AND augmented reality. It would be similar to what Google Glass has tried to establish.

To distinguish, AR provides you overlays of data and information while you view the real world through the glasses vs VR, which is a virtual rendering of worlds.

There may be a race to market heating up as Microsoft just shipped its HoloLens headset to developers and Snapchat is apparently working on its own augmented reality glasses.


Why It’s Hot

AR and VR show true integration of the real world with information and data that can enrich our experiences. Particularly with augmented reality, overlaying information into your field of vision that is contextually relevant to what you are experiencing, can augment and enrich the experience.

VR to manage pain

With the overreliance on opioids to manage pain in the news today, one solution may be just a joystick away. Research has shown that psychology plays a critical role in how we experience both acute and chronic pain. The research also shows that pain sensations can be altered by what we think and feel.

Virtual reality games and rapid advances in technology have shown promise in tackling pain presumably by helping the person focus on other things. For example, virtual reality systems are starting to be used during painful procedures, such as dental procedures or changing burns dressings.
A new study published in the Royal Society Open Science let a group of healthy volunteers immerse their hands in cold water to the point where they could no longer tolerate it, while simultaneously playing a VR game. The study found that the highest pain tolerance levels occurred when both visual and sound sensory inputs were combined versus alone.

Why It’s Hot
With addition to prescription pain killers deemed an epidemic in the United States, alternative ways to manage acute and chronic pain are a necessity. Technology, specifically the use of virtual reality immerse technologies, may help provide one way to manage pain.

Coke Repurposes their Boxes as VR Headsets

Ahead of last week’s Mobile World Congress, Coca Cola released this video on YouTube which shows users how to repurpose specially designed cardboard Coke boxes as VR headsets. The video allows Coke to tap into the hype around VR in a way that is both fun and thought provoking. Though Google Cardboard has existed for a few years, this type of packaging engages casual users who might not be aware that such a thing even exists.

The video brings up questions about what the average user will be willing to spend on technology that is not a ‘must have’. If VR can be experienced using a smartphone, some free apps and a free viewer, then why pay a lot of money for a bulky headset that will undoubtedly be outdated in a few months?

Story on BGR

Why It’s Hot

Part gimmick, part Coke marketing effort, this idea forces the VR headset market to think about the implications of the pricing of VR hardware. HTC announced their Vive headset recently at a $799 price point. Enthusiasts and early adopters will fork over a lot of money for the superior tech experience, but what about the average Joe? “Free” seems like a better price point for non-gamers and the casual user who is reluctant to buy more hardware.

Virtual Reality to help stroke victims

2016 could become the year that virtual reality lets you do more than just see incredible images and play games. A Swedish research company, MindMaze, has received a $100 million investment to use virtual reality in the treatment of stroke victims. Use of VR goggles for such treatments has already won regulatory approval in Europe

As an example of Mind Maze’s potential, imagine that a stroke victim has lost use of her left hand but can use her right hand. With the Mind Maze goggles, she sees an avatar of her left hand that moves when she moves her right hand. “That triggers areas in the brain to say, ‘Wait, let’s regain control of the hand,’ says CEO Tej Tadi. And that process of tricking the brain into seeing something that’s actually not there in the real world accelerates recovery.”

Why It’s Hot

VR technology is in its infancy and has enormous potential to impact all types of fields, including,medicine, undersea exploration, and product testing. We are barely scratching the surface and VR will be as ingrained into society as smartphones are today. It has the potential to greatly reduce product development costs and time, and as this article shows, advance human health through the treatment of illnesses and conditions that were not treatable before.

It’s not a video game: Your next surgery may be done through Virtual Reality.

There are upwards of 70 million surgeries in the United States each year. While many are somewhat safe — knee replacement, open-heart surgery, gall bladder and organ removals– a large number are extremely risky and depend upon the skills and confidence of the surgeon. Surgical Theater is a leader in pioneering the use of Virtual Reality in the actual surgical theater. By bringing in new leadership who pioneered the use of VR in aviation the adoption of Virtual reality use in surgical settings is now accelerating.

How does it work?

VR Hot sauce 1.27.16

While the YouTube video portrays the VR “view”, the real magic is the actual process of how it is applied. Surgical Theater’s Virtual Reality and Image Guidance extends into the operating room. Coupled with intra-operative navigation systems, Surgical Theater’s platforms provide dynamic visualization capabilities in real time, allowing surgeons to perform a real-time “fly-through” of the surgical pathway, establish multiple views, and rotate and interact with the navigation image.

Why is this hot? Bottom line? The surgeon “performs” a highly difficult surgery before they actually do it.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, Virtual Reality got a lot of press and buzz. But beyond gaming and the marvel of the sheer immersive experience, the use of it for doctors is another ripple of the wave of digital innovation that will allow for more accurate surgery, better outcomes, and happier patients. After all, if you had a rare brain tumor, you would want the surgeon not to use an old CT scan or MRI, but a 3D ‘experience’ – no guess work, identify the exact tumor within millimeters.

As one doctor aptly put it: (Dr. John G. Golfinos): “The Surgical Theater system was crucial in determining whether an endoscopic approach to this tumor would be possible. With this technology, we were able to distinguish the tumor from the surrounding ventricles. Using the Surgical Theater system, we planned our surgical corridor and endoscopic approach which enabled a much safer and effective resection of the entire tumor”.

Human-speak? The doctor walked into that surgery confident and with a much smaller margin of error.

This app is like Shazam for your beer

So many beers, so little time.


With so many options between the hoppy, the fruity, the wheats, the stouts, the ales, the seasonal pumpkin brews and splices you’ve never dreamed of, your next mystery bottle could either be sinfully good or horribly awry. Don’t you wish someone had told you before you opened it?

It’s about time there’s an app for that.

Letsee Beer, created by Korean startup Letsee for iOS and Android, uses your smartphone camera to scan the labels and shapes of beer bottles and cans (no draught, though). It brings up the beer’s basic info, plus hashtagged descriptions ranging from #fruity to #damntasty and reviews that other users have left to help you determine whether the brew is worth a try.

The creators hope to do more than build a user-generated database to help beer fans know what they’re drinking before they open the bottle. They’re also utilizing augmented reality technology to bridge the virtual and physical worlds and to nurture a social media network that shows the app’s impact with real users.

“By using the more intuitive AR interface, the users will be able to focus on the user-created content itself instead of getting distracted by cumbersome app interfaces,” Ahn Sangchul, founder and CEO of Letsee, tells Tech in Asia. “People may enjoy sharing their drinking experiences with others using our service, and we hope to encourage them to love beer even more.”


Source: Mashable

Why It’s Hot

There are many apps for many things, but the incoming element of VR is appealing. It can be used to help connect the physical to the online world — and there are definitely implications that go way beyond beer.

NY Times launches NYT VR in partnership with Google

On Thursday, The New York Times took a step into virtual reality.

NYT VR is a mobile app that can be used — along with your headphones and optionally a cardboard viewing device — to simulate richly immersive scenes from across the globe.

You can use the app on its own. But the experience is even better with a special virtual reality viewer. Thanks to a partnership with Google, NYT will be sending free Google Cardboard VR viewers to all domestic New York Times home delivery subscribers who receive the Sunday edition.

Times Insider subscribers who have chosen to receive marketing emails will also receive promotional codes via email that can be redeemed for free Cardboard viewers.

To start, The Times Magazine presents three portraits of children driven from their homes by war and persecution — an 11-year-old boy from eastern Ukraine named Oleg, a 12-year-old Syrian girl named Hana and a 9-year-old South Sudanese boy named Chuol.

The stories

War has driven 30 million children from their homes. These are the stories of three of them.

The Displaced: Introduction

Nearly 60 million people are currently displaced from their homes.

Lebanon: Hana’s Story

At 12, she has lived one-quarter of her life in a debilitating state of suspension.

South Sudan: Chuol’s Story

At 9, without his parents, he was forced to flee to the swamps.

Ukraine: Oleg’s Story

At 11, he is living in the ruins of his former life.

Source: NYTimes.com

Why It’s Hot

NY Times is staying relevant through technology, and I think this is an important step in making VR more mainstream.

“I think it’s kind of a seminal moment regardless of whether it’s journalism or not,” says Brian Blau, research director for innovative personal technologies at Gartner. “It’s Google and the Times, two well-known brands. They’re giving away more than a million of these. That, I think, is the biggest deal… Having this many Cardboards out there is great. I’ve never heard of another organization attempting to give away that many for a single purpose.”

Experience is Understanding…


(image via University of Arizona Engineer)

We can try and understand what it’s like to physically experience certain things, but we really can’t understand what it’s like to do so until we have.

This week, researchers and engineers from the University of Arizona unveiled an app to be used with Google Cardboard that lets people experience the symptoms of a concussion. They specifically designed it for college athletes, who often will stay in a game despite experiencing those symptoms, at least sometimes because they may not really know what they feel like. Plus, they may not know how continuing to play despite a concussion can negatively impact other players and their team. This gives them a tangible and memorable experience, so that if they feel the same effects on the field, they’ll know it’s time to see the doctor. It also probably has at least some influence on how they handle those in-game decisions on whether to come off the field or not.

Why It’s Hot

We’ve seen virtual reality experiences enabled by Occulus and Google Cardboard before, but I thought it was an interesting thought that by allowing people to experience something they never have, we can enlighten them (in this case what it’s like to be afflicted with some injury). Some say technology is making us less human, less empathetic, but perhaps this type of virtual experience of putting ourselves into shoes we might otherwise never be in might actually give us more understanding of what different things are like for different people.

The Void: Virtual Reality Theme Park

A small team of engineers and designers in Utah have taken VR to a new level with an experience that is a seamless blend of virtual reality and real, physical environments.

voidvoid headset

The Void is still in alpha stage, but is the furthest advanced application of VR as a truly immersive and interactive environment.

Business Insider Review

Video Tour

void landscape

Alien landscapes with hot breezes and falling rain, or an Aztec Temple where you feel the heat of your torch. This is the Star Trek holodeck come to life, a true mapping of virtual world over physical world and its being developed by a small group of enthusiasts– setting the bar for companies like Oculus to beat.

Why It’s Hot

The most advanced of the true VR experiences and its moving rapidly toward deployment worldwide. But its also setting the bar for the category in timing and sophistication.

Virtual Reality now a possibility for Bipolar Disorder treatment

Medical professionals are looking to Virtual Reality to either train future doctors or as treatment for a number of different psychological conditions, including people suffering with bipolar disorder. Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London and King’s College Hospital are looking at how virtual reality video game technology could be used to help those with mental health issues learn to deal with the disorder in a safe environment alongside traditional treatments like psychotherapy and medication.bipolarsoftware


The researchers are using Oculus Rift head-mounted displays (HMD) with various different types of software to trigger emotional responses, as the immersive aspect of virtual reality has the same effect as real life, creating anxiety, joy and other emotions.

Why it’s hot:
Virtual Reality has been tested in medical illnesses when Second Life was used as a tool for cancer caregivers and patients and we are currently advertising on non-endemic gaming sites like Wild Tangent which attracts a sizable portion of BPD patients from different levels of the funnel. If virtual reality treatment for BPD is successfully implemented, I think it might be adopted or atleast tested by people on an individual level as well and would open more advertising opportunities for our clients.

Oculus Shows Its First Consumer Headset And Circular Hand Controls

Oculus reveals its first consumer virtual-reality headset, Oculus Rift, and hand controls for interacting with digital objects and making gestures. oculusx519_0

Oculus Rift, won’t be released until next year and a price has not yet been revealed, but it got a little closer to reality today as the company officially unveiled it along with a unique pair of circular controllers.

The device is perhaps the most anticipated of the coming virtual-reality headsets. The company, which was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014, plans to release it during the first quarter of next year.

“It’s really lightweight, it’s comfortable,” CEO Iribe said. “You can slip it right on.” Oculus founder Palmer Luckey also showed prototypes today of hand controls called Oculus Touch that the company hopes will make it easy to use your hands in virtual reality, whether you want to pick up and fire a gun or give a friend a virtual thumbs up. The gadget looks like a tiny game controller for each hand, complete with buttons and a trigger, surrounded by a black semicircle. It will be released in the first half of next year.

Luckey said the controllers are meant to allow precise, quick control of virtual objects without requiring the user to really think much about it. With the controllers, users can also make hand gestures like pointing, waving, and giving a thumbs up, he said, and developers can add haptic buzzes to games that you’ll feel with the controllers.

In addition to the small handheld controllers, Oculus is partnering with Microsoft to include a wireless Xbox controller with the Rift headset, and the Rift will work natively with Windows 10. The Rift will also work with games made for Xbox; Oculus created a virtual cinema where the games will be available.

While a number of gaming companies—including Gunfire Games and CCP Games, who were on hand today—are already making games for the Rift, the work with Microsoft will make many more games available for the platform right off the bat, and could entice more game developers to build games expressly for Oculus.

Why Its’ Hot. Virtual and augmented reality could enable all kinds of applications from gaming to health care. 



Mattel’s View-Master going virtual

On February 13, 2015, Mattel and Google announced a partnership to infuse the beloved toy with virtual reality technology.  Using Google Cardboard technology, which lets you create a 3D viewfinder out of cardboard and a smartphone as the virtual reality screen, Mattel plans to update the popular toy.

Now inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fam, the View-Master was introduced in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair after inventors Harold Graves and William Gruber visited the Oregon National Caves the year before.  Graves, president of Sawyer’s Photographic Services, went to the caves in 1938 and saw fellow camera buff William Gruber using two cameras strapped together. The two then collaborated produce the 3D color slide viewer.

According to an article in Yahoo: Tech, “The Internet search giant and the toymaker plan to use Google’s Cardboard virtual-reality platform to offer virtual reality, augmented reality and “photospheric” images, using a smartphone as the display inside a plastic View-Master casing.

The companies plan to come out with the product in October, in time for the holiday season.

    Mattel's View-Master Is Back, and Now It's a Virtual Reality Headset

Why It’s Hot

Nostalgia is always popular, and reintroducing a favorite toy can evoke great memories plus a delight among new generations.  As important, it shows how technology can give new life to older products and make them popular again.

Virtual Reality Aims for the Mobile Phone

A smartphone-based virtual reality headset from Samsung and Oculus VR could make the technology more accessible, but it also demonstrates a new set of challenges. gear_vrx299

Above is the Gear VR headset, developed by Samsung and Oculus VR. VR = Virtual Reality. We’ve heard of Oculus VR quite recently when the news came out that Facebook bought the startup for 2 billion dollars.

The consensus among the major players is unequivocal: the dominant way most consumers will experience virtual reality will be on mobile devices. The Gear VR is just a little pet project that test software, hardware, screen, etc. The major shifts in the industry are expected to happen within next 2-5 years.

Mobile seems a logical platform for the technology. When you find yourself fully immersed in a virtual realm, the illusion is compromised by the dim awareness that you remain attached to a PC via a cat’s cradle of wires. Mobile devices, theoretically, offer a more liberating experience. They’re not only self-contained but also cheaper to buy and run.

And yet there are significant technological hurdles to overcome before the Gear VR, or its successors, can become mass-market products. To name a few: Heat, Positional Tracking (needed to accurately transpose the user’s head movements into the virtual space), Battery Life, Compelling Software.

The applications are vast, starting from gaming, entertainment and communication industry to medical applications (VR was proven to lessen degree of pain from significant burns and other pain inflictions). The company even hopes to make this a more social experience by letting people inhabit the same virtual spaces together, and adding physical representations of each person.

Why it’s hot: Virtual reality may offer fundamentally new ways to experience entertainment and communicate with other people.



Endgame – Blending Print, Film, Gaming, and a Global Treasure Hunt


(image The Verge)

Author James Frey released his latest novel, Endgame, on October 7th. It holds an elaborate code, directing readers towards a key hidden somewhere in the real world. That key will open a case containing a half million dollars in gold. This is the premise of Endgame, which is not so much a book as a grand attempt at a story that will span across every piece of conceivable media. The author has teamed up with some of the largest names in media (Google, Fox, Harper Collins) to tell a multi-platform story that incorporates books, movies, social media, TV, mobile, online video, search, image results and online virtual worlds.

In the words of Author James Frey: “It was conceived as a project that would exist across multiple platforms, and that the story would be told in books, novellas, games, film, and TV. [We also knew it] would have a social media presence, and exist in places – such as search results and mapping coordinates and YouTube – that aren’t traditionally mediums for storytelling and writing.”

via Publishers Weekly

Why It’s Hot

As the worlds of media continue to collide and people’s expectations evolve to become channel agnostic, stories no longer have to remain silo’d to specific types of media. Stories can now be merged across a tapestry of interwoven pieces of media and technology. Each of which can tell pieces of the story which are unique to that medium but are only parts that make up a complete, multi-faceted story experience. Being everywhere all the time used to be an impossible task to accomplish, but these days technology is capable of doing it and in this case, inviting people to be apart of the much larger picture.

First Oculus Rift Surgery

Surgeons in France used special 3D stereoscopic cameras to film a hip replacement operation that was then turned into a VR video experience for use with the Oculus Rift.

The intent is to use the virtual reality experience as a teaching tool. Positional tracking for virtual reality headsets does apparently work for the video, meaning leaning your head forward puts you closer to the action.

“When you are a surgeon in training, you watch a lot of procedure, but you are very rarely in place of the primary surgeon. This project uses virtual reality to improve surgical training by putting the trainee in the shoes of the surgeon,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas Gregory, who performed the hip replacement at European Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris.

Why It’s Hot

Facebook acquired Oculus Rift for $2 billion earlier this year. The headset displays a fully immersive 3D experience that makes you feel like you are actually in the experience. But others are unsure of the purpose of Oculus and why there’s so much fuss surrounding it. Oculus Rift, which is not yet on the market, has been discussed most significantly within gaming circles. This shows how VR can be used in other immersive application such as teaching.



Virtual Reality Journalism

use of force

Use of Force is a VR simulation, that places the viewer as a witness to a real-life incident where border guards beat a non-resisting man to death. It uses actual cell-phone audio, 3D imaging of the location and witness accounts as the basis. It was created by Nonny de la Pena, a former Newsweek journalist to change the way we perceive events being broadcast to us. It mirrors the way television changed our perceptions of the Vietnam War.

While most applications now talked about are gaming or virtual meetings (social and/or business), this kind of VR experience has the potential to radically change our perceptions– good or bad. Studies are showing our perceptions of VR experiences are fundamentally different than other immersive even 3D experiences.


Why It’s Hot

As VR simulations become more immersive than ever, these emotional moments will feel more and more like the human perception of memories, like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.

Brach’s candies introduces a virtual taste test

Head on over to Brach’s website and you’ll discover the brand new virtual taste test.  

What you do is you select a product, and then see a digital metaphor that showcases what the candies taste like through music and graphics. After selecting a description, you move on to the next one until the virtual taste test ends with a completed phrase you made up from the selected word.Then you are given the option to share with friends on Facebook or Twitter and receive a coupon for $1 off any two Brach’s items.


Why it’s hot:

As technology moves us to smell-o-vision and other virtual sensory experiences, sometimes we forget beautifully shot ingredients and evocative music could stir our emotional desires for what we love – candy.  In addition, the share and couponing functionality propels us to take action.


MIT Invents A Shapeshifting Display You Can Reach Through And Touch

At the MIT Media Lab, the Tangible Media Group believes the future of computing is tactile. Unveiled today, the inFORM is MIT’s new scrying pool for imagining the interfaces of tomorrow. Almost like a table of living clay, the inFORM is a surface that three-dimensionally changes shape, allowing users to not only interact with digital content in meatspace, but even hold hands with a person hundreds of miles away.

Put it in the simplest terms, the inFORM is a self-aware computer monitor that doesn’t just display light, but shape as well. Remotely, two people Skyping could physically interact by playing catch, for example, or manipulating an object together, or even slapping high five from across the planetat’s only the beginning

TouchingvirtuallyMIT Touching Virtually

Why It’s Hot

The virtual world and the real world are bound to connect, in the near term. What this means for brands and marketers–including companies like eHarmony and Facebook–is the ability to now enable sensory relationships between their prospects and products–to “feel” the shape of a new phone, for instance, or to enable people living apart to touch each other.