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Virtual Reality on Steam

Rec Room

Early Access, VR, Multiplayer, Sports

The Lab

Free to Play, VR, Action, Singleplayer

Arizona Sunshine

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Early Access, VR, Simulation, Action

SUPERHOT VR

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Job Simulator

Simulation, VR, Funny, Singleplayer

Tilt Brush

Design & Illustration, VR

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope

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GORN

Early Access, Violent, VR, Gore

Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

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Bigscreen Beta

Simulation, VR, Utilities

Google Earth VR

VR, Free to Play, Simulation, Casual

Space Pirate Trainer

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Virtual Reality | FOX Sports

FOX Sports VR App

FOX Sports VR lets you watch top live sports events in Virtual Reality from your own VIP stadium suite or from on-the-field camera positions.

We’re constantly adding new events to the schedule, check back here for the latest updates!

Gold Cup

UEFA Champions League Final

Super Bowl LI

The BIG EAST Tournament

MLS Cup

The Big Ten Championship Game

The Battle of Bedlam

The Red River Rivalry Mexico vs. Venezuela

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Virtual Reality | FOX Sports

Gear VR with Controller Virtual Reality – SM-R324NZAAXAR …

2 Compatible with the following Samsung Galaxy smartphones: USB Type-C: Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, microUSB: Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge and Galaxy S6 edge+. Galaxy smartphone sold separately.

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Gear VR with Controller Virtual Reality – SM-R324NZAAXAR …

Samsung’s virtual reality strategy has an upgrade problem – TechCrunch

Today, Samsung showed off its flagship Note 8, the device has a big, beautiful screen, the S Pen and a battery thats a little bit smaller. The company also announced that theres a new $130 Gear VR on the way that youll have to buy if you want to try Samsungs brand of VR on the Note 8.

Whats new over past models? Not much.

Samsung has made several upgrades to the Gear VR headset since the device, which was built in conjunction with Oculus, was first introduced in 2015. The company added a little controller earlier this year and has continued shuffling buttons around, but for the most part these updates have just been focused on supporting the expanding sizes of new Samsung smartphones.

While headsets like the Daydream View from Google (Which Samsung launched S8 support for last month) are fairly future-proof when it comes to new devices thanks to NFC communication being used to perform the calibration, the flush physical connection through the phones bottom port on the Gear VR has required users to buy new headsets or connectors for bigger Samsung devices with different ports.

Googles Daydream View

Its not a big deal at all for those who are buying the headset for the first time but for those on a yearly upgrade cycle with the Galaxy or Note, its really annoying.

Youve seen the writing on the wall, the VR market is struggling as investors and founders deal with headset sales that arent meeting expectations. Its hard enough to get consumers to buy a headset once, Samsung expecting its die-hard customers to do it multiple times is a tall order.

Its obviously unwise to base the form factor of a major flagship device based on what can fit inside a mobile VR headset, but its also a little shortsighted for Samsung to have even forced that choice on itself. NFC would be great move if the platform could grow to support it. Something like a flush external cable may look a bit junky, but how sexy does a plastic headset you snap your phone into really have to be?

In January, the company announced that it had shipped 5 headsets and a lot of those were giveaways. Samsung shipped free Gear VR headsets with pre-orders for both the Galaxy S7 and S8 line and had a number of deals over the past couple years attempting to brute force their way into the VR market through giveaways.

As its smartphone upgrades shovel its old Gear VR headsets into obsolescence, it seems that Samsung is pretty much wasting a lot of these previous efforts. The Gear VR is due for a real upgrade to bring in a number of VR features, but its hardware also needs to mature to the point where its not alienating those who upgrade their Samsung phone every year or two.

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Samsung’s virtual reality strategy has an upgrade problem – TechCrunch

The Power of Virtual Reality – HuffPost

Virtual Reality is clearly a very powerful medium. Its capacity for illusion is so strong that, for example, one is able to help patients with phantom limb pain. Thrive Global posted an article earlier this summer that inquired into the possibilities of using VR for mental health.

Its really about illusion, Alex Miller, a computer scientist creating virtual realities for the neurology department at the University of Pennsylvania, says: you manipulate what a patient sees in their virtual self and their virtual world, and their brains will literally incorporate these things into the body image. While still early, results indicate that using the Penn neurology games does indeed reduce the intensity of phantom limb pain.

Oxford psychiatrist and VR specialist Daniel Freeman told Thrive Global: VR could become the method of choice for psychological treatment out with the couch, on with the headset.

When in the VR environment, because of the embodied quality mentioned above the power resides in its unique ability to immerse. In other words one embodies the experience one sees. However, what are the pitfalls of such possibilities?

What is the possible dark side of VR/AR in conjunction with AI especially? How can we manage these more difficult and potentially risky aspects?

To answer some of these concerns please find below another snippet from the event at AWE ( Augmented World Expo in Silicon Valley) of Techforgood under the auspices of the Virtual World Society (organization founded by the grandfather of VR Tom Furness focused on building better lives with VR) and DigitalRaign (new tech impact community and accelerator focused on Tech for good) .

Phil Lelyveld of the USC Entertainment Technology Center was also a part of the special tract at AWE on Tech for Good. In his presentation he pointed out that Artificial Intelligence will inform our world view from here on out. And therefore, it will also reshape Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality as it already is: Facebook is already integrating AI into AR (article in Wired for more details). Additionally the Internet of Things will also be connected to VR/AR/MR and AI, which in turn therefore will also inform the robotics sector. Because of the sheer scope of the movement, and the many businesses employed in the new technologies sector, it is crucial to understand that there may be an incredible lack of security protections in the field of VR/AR/MR. This lack of security may be relevant to everyone in the very near future, if not already now. This challenge may in turn add complexity and cost, factors that up until now Phil points out, have not been properly addressed.

What are possible solutions to this complex set of challenges?

-give people control over their own data

-create a marketplace for the exchange of data

-make privacy and anonymity a starting point

Most urgently the concern rests with the possible impact of AI and VR/AR/MR.

Here Philip suggests various possibilities:

is the data used good, reliable and reasonable?

what is the goal for the data?

is there a discrepancy caused by diversity or are there errors in assumptions and design that could help or hurt specific populations?

Is there a long term monitoring set up that will check for feed back loops that may bloom into biases over long term use?

AI is a new technology and whilst it has been established that machines can now learn to learn no one really knows the outcome yet: we can build these models but we dont know how they work. (Joel Dudley, Deep Patient team leader, Mount Sinai Hospital, NY from MIT Technology Review).

Why is this important? It leaves the human being open for emotional manipulation in VR/AR/MR. Research shows that the concept of the self is very fragile, through embodiment and through the impact of these platforms on self image and self worth (Mel Slater, ICREA, Research Professor at University of Barcelona, Spain. Leader of the Experimental Virtual Environments- EVENT Lab for Neuroscience and Technology).

The factors that make VR/AR/MR so appealing to use in therapeutic settings make it equally vulnerable to this dark side of manipulation or abuse of data for gain. The AI audit proposed by Phil Lelyveld is a clear start to setting up necessary boundaries and checks in the field.

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The Power of Virtual Reality – HuffPost

KFC’s New Employee Training Game Is a Virtual Reality Nightmare … – Eater

In case being a fast-food employee wasnt hard enough, KFC is now putting its workers through a bizarre initiation rite: a creepy BioShock-esque virtual reality escape room replete with narration from an omnipresent, mildly demonic-sounding Colonel Sanders. Cool!

Per a press release, the chain is incorporating the VR environment experienced via Oculus Rift headsets into its employee training program to show trainees how to make its signature Original Recipe fried chicken. In order to get out of the virtual escape room, employees will have to play as a pair of disembodied hands to demonstrate (virtual) mastery of the five-step cooking process inspecting, rinsing, breading, racking, and pressure-frying all the while being cajoled by a cackling Colonel.

But why? The press release notes that this VR exercise takes workers through the chicken cooking process in just 10 minutes, as opposed to the 25 minutes it takes IRL, so perhaps the idea here is to speed up the training process (and to avoid potentially wasting product). Or hey, maybe somebody at KFC HQ just got a really good deal on a whole pallet of Oculus Rifts.

KFC has delved into plenty of weird tech recently see the takeout box that also functions as a phone charger and the chicken bucket that incorporates a photo printer but those are typically limited availability items that serve more as publicity stunts, rather than demonstrations of new technology the company is actually incorporating.

Experience KFCs fast-food dystopian nightma err, virtual reality training environment, below:

9 of the Weirdest Things KFC Has Done to Sell Chicken [E]

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KFC’s New Employee Training Game Is a Virtual Reality Nightmare … – Eater

3 Ways Virtual Reality Is Transforming Medical Care | NBC News – NBCNews.com

Aug.22.2017 / 2:13 PM ET

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Think virtual reality is just about gaming and the world of make-believe? Get real. From product design to real estate, many industries have adopted VR and related technologies and nowhere are the benefits of VR greater than in healthcare.

We are seeing more and more of this incorporated faster than ever before, said Dr. Ajit Sachdeva, Director of Education with the American College of Surgeons. VR has reached a tipping point in medicine.

As NBC News MACH reported previously, psychologists have found VR to be good for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. And stroke doctors, pain specialists, surgeons, and other medical practitioners have found their own uses for VR. In some cases, medical VR involves the familiar headsets; in others, 3D glasses and special video screens give a VR-like experience.

The use of VR and 3D visualization technology in medicine isnt brand-new. Medical researchers have been exploring ways to create 3D models of patients internal organs using VR since the 1990s. But advances in computing power have made simulated images much more realistic and much faster to create.

X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans can now be turned into high-resolution 3D images in under a minute, said Sergio Agirre, chief technology officer of EchoPixel, a Mountain View, California firm whose visualization software is being used in hospitals across the U.S. Twenty years ago, it would probably take them a week to be able to do that.

These days, common surgical procedures like appendectomies or cesarean sections are often pretty routine one case is similar to the next. But some especially complicated procedures including the separation of conjoined twins present unique challenges that can be met only with meticulous planning. For these, 3D visualization is proving to be a game-changer.

Recently, VR played a vital role in the successful separation of conjoined twins at Masonic Childrens Hospital in Minneapolis. The three-month-old twins were joined far more extensively than some other conjoined twins, with intricate connections between their hearts and livers. That meant the surgery to separate the twins would be unusually complicated and potentially very dangerous for the twins.

Before surgery, the surgical team took CT, ultrasound, and MRI scans and created a super-detailed virtual model of the twins bodies and then ventured inside their organs to identify potential pitfalls and plan how these would be avoided during surgery.

You look through the 3D glasses, and you can basically walk through the structure, peeling apart parts so you can look at exactly what you want to, said Dr. Anthony Azakie, one of the surgeons who separated the twins. He said the high-resolution visualization helped minimize the number of surprises that we were potentially dealing with.

VR technology is also being used by vascular specialists like Dr. In Sup Choi, director of interventional neuroradiology at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts. When he uses interactive 3D visualizations to prepare for procedures to fix aneurysms and blocked arteries, he said, he gets a better idea of what types of devices we have to use and what approach might work best.

If doctors are donning VR gear, so are their patients. Theyre using the headsets to immerse themselves in a peaceful virtual world that takes their focus off discomfort associated with medical problems and treatments.

Because anesthesia and sedation can be risky for some patients, including those who are frail or very elderly, some hospitals are offering these patients VR headsets as a way to help control pain during minimally invasive procedures. Its still experimental at this point, but the results so far have been successful.

Similarly, VR has been shown to reduce anxiety in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy infusions. VR is even making injections and other painful or potentially frightening procedures less distressing to children.

But burn patients may be some of the biggest beneficiaries of VR technology. From daily cleaning and bandaging of burns to skin grafts, severe burn patients experience some of the most painful procedures in medicine, said Dr. Hunter Hoffman, a University of Washington scientist with expertise in the use of VR for pain relief. Pain medications help, but theyre often not strong enough.

For these patients, Hoffman helped create the VR game SnowWorld, which features imagery designed specifically to distract burn patients from pain. Patients who play the game during treatment report up to 50 percent less pain than similar patients not playing the game, according to preliminary research. Other research suggests that patients playing the game actually show changes in the brain that indicate theyre feeling less pain.

SnowWorld is now being evaluated in clinical trials at four sites in the U.S. and at two international sites.

VR shouldnt be considered a replacement for pain-killing medication, Hoffman said, adding that combining drugs and VR could be especially effective.

VR is also helping patients overcome balance and mobility problems resulting from stroke or head injury.

Using VR, I can control whats going on around the patient and measure what kind of impact its having on that patients ability to change, said Emily Keshner, a professor of physical therapy at Temple University in Philadelphia. We expose them to this repeatedly and we give them feedback about how they can respond to prevent themselves from falling.

Research has shown that VR-mediated rehabilitation can speed the pace at which these patients regain physical abilities. Theres a long way to go in conducting all the research needed to validate these results and make these techniques part of routine practice, Keshner said but its on the way.

One study of stroke patients showed that VR rehab led to more improvements in arm and hand movement compared to conventional rehab after four weeks of therapy. The VR-assisted patients had better mobility when the doctors checked in two months later. Other research has shown similarly successful outcomes for patients with cerebral palsy undergoing rehab for balance problems.

The power of VR [for therapy] is that youre really changing the way people perceive the world, Keshner said. They learn how to respond. And after practicing in that virtual world, they are much more confident and capable.

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3 Ways Virtual Reality Is Transforming Medical Care | NBC News – NBCNews.com

Myanmar’s startups map past, shape future with virtual reality – Phys.Org

August 23, 2017 by Phyo Hein Kyaw The data recorded by drones allows those with virtual reality headsets to explore Myanmar’s temples,their crumbling centuries-old walls so close it feels like you can touch them

Gasps echo across the hall as the Myanmar school kids trial virtual reality goggles, marveling at a device that allows some of Asia’s poorest people to walk on the moon or dive beneath the waves.

“In Myanmar we can’t afford much to bring students to the real world experience,” beamed Hla Hla Win, a teacher and tech entrepreneur taking virtual reality into the classroom.

“If they’re learning about animals we can’t take them to the zoo… 99 percent of parents don’t have time, don’t have money, don’t have the means,” she added.

Few countries in the world have experienced such rapid discovery of technology than Myanmar which has leapfrogged from the analogue to the digital era in just a few years.

During the decades of outright junta rule, which ended in 2011, it was one of the world’s most isolated nations, a place where a mobile phone sim card could cost up to $3,000.

For half a century its paranoid generals cut off the country, restricting sales of computers, heavily censoring the Internet and blocking access to foreign media reports.

But today phone towers are springing up around the country and almost 80 percent of the population have access to the Internet through smartphones, according to telecoms giant Telenor.

Budding startups

Tech startups are emerging around the commercial capital Yangon, many seeking to improve the lives of rural people, most of whom still live without paved roads or electricity.

“The increase in activity from last year till nownew startups, more people determined to become entrepreneurs and working in the tech sector in generalis significant,” said Jes Kaliebe Peterson, CEO of community hub Phandeeyar.

Virtual reality is the latest advance to cause a stir, with a handful of entrepreneurs embracing tech for projects including preserving ancient temple sites to shaping young minds of the future.

The Phandeeyar incubator works with more than 140 startups. Among them Hla Hla Win’s virtual reality social enterprise 360ed which is using affordable cardboard VR goggles attached to smartphones to break down barriers in Myanmar’s classrooms.

She founded the non-profit last year after 17 years working in the woefully underfunded education system in a bid to bring learning to life.

“I see it as an empathy machine where we can teleport ourselves to another place right away,” she told AFP.

And it’s not just school children who benefit from stepping into places they could only ever dream of visiting.

360ed has used virtual reality to help Myanmar teachers attend training courses in Japan and Finland and is working on setting up deals with schools in India, Pakistan, China and Bangladesh.

“With VR there’s no divider, there’s no distance,” Hla Hla Win said.

Mapping the past

While 360ed is thinking about the future, Nyi Lin Seck is obsessed with the past.

Some 600 kilometres (372 miles) north of Yangon, the budding tech entrepreneur and founder of 3xvivr Virtual Reality Production launches a large drone into the skies above Bagan, one of Myanmar’s most famous tourist sites.

The drone, which carries a 360-camera, circles one of the many ninth-to-thirteenth century temples that dot the landscape of what was once a sprawling ancient city.

The data it records allows those with virtual reality headsets to explore the temples, their crumbling centuries-old walls so close it feels like you can touch them.

A former head of the local TV station, Nyi Lin Seck says he makes most of his money providing virtual reality footage for hotels and luxury apartments.

But after an earthquake damaged the Bagan site last year, he vowed to use the tech to preserve a digital replica of Myanmar’s archaeological treasures.

“A lot of artworks on the pagodas collapsed and were lost. Using this technology, we can record up to 99 percent of the ancient art,” he says.

Explore further: Intel ventures into virtual reality with headset and new studio

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Intel is diving head-first into virtual reality, announcing Tuesday at its annual developers forum in San Francisco that it is working on its own headset, collaborating with Microsoft to bring the medium to PCs, and opening …

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Phone makers, trying to renew consumer appetite, are turning to virtual reality headsets that can be paired with their devices to view videos and play games.

Shares of GoPro jumped to a five-month high Thursday after the company’s CEO said the company is getting into the drone and virtual reality business.

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An upcoming update to Google’s Android software finally has a delectable name. The next version will be known as Oreo, extending Google’s tradition of naming each version after a sweet treat.

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Myanmar’s startups map past, shape future with virtual reality – Phys.Org

Walking through space in NASA’s Virtual Reality Lab – The Verge

Astronauts arent made in a day. To first qualify for a mission assignment in space, NASAs astronaut candidates typically have to complete up to two years of training here on Earth. And that includes a rotating roster of activities, workouts, and assignments that change every single day.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of astronaut training is learning to work in simulated space environments, something we explore in the second episode of Space Craft. For NASA, a crucial asset is the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, a giant pool located at the Sonny Carter Training Facility in Houston, Texas. It measures 202 feet long and 102 feet wide a little less than half the size of a football field. It also stretches 40 feet deep and houses a full-scale replica of the International Space Station inside. Working in the pool is one of the best ways to train for future spacewalks, since its a pretty fair representation of how it feels to work in microgravity outside the ISS.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of astronaut training is learning to work in simulated space environments

But there are other ways to simulate spacewalks apart from diving into the NBL. NASA was an early adopter of virtual reality, using the technology over the last decade to help astronauts train for upcoming space missions. NASAs Johnson Space Center in Houston is home to the Virtual Reality Lab, where astronauts plan out their future excursions inside and outside the International Space Station.

VR is a useful tool for better understanding the scope of a spacewalk, for instance. It gives astronauts a sense of how far apart segments are going to be on the outside of the station, as well as how theyll need to grip handrails or twist their arms to properly scale the ISS modules. Astronauts who are assigned to missions in space usually plan months to years in advance for any of their spacewalks. And at the Virtual Reality Lab, they can simulate the exact spacewalk scenario that they need to practice over and over, before doing the real thing in lower Earth orbit.

While VR is good for making plans in advance, its also critical for preparing astronauts for the remote possibility of those plans failing. In the VR Lab, astronauts can also experience virtually what its like to get disconnected from the ISS during a spacewalk. Such a scenario has never happened accidentally before; astronauts are always tethered to the station when they do their spacewalks, but NASA likes to prepare for the remote possibility of an astronaut floating away freely. To get back to safety, astronauts can operate a jet backpack called SAFER, which uses tiny thrusters to propel someone through space. Its not the easiest tool to maneuver, however, and VR is great at demonstrating the difficulty of using SAFER in an emergency scenario.

The Johnson Space Center doesnt train astronauts with just VR technology. Its also home to the Systems Engineering Simulator, a facility that contains mock-ups of space vehicles that astronauts may be tasked to operate in the future. For instance, astronauts can train how to work in the future space capsules that SpaceX and Boeing are building, which will be carrying astronauts to the space station in the next couple of years. The facility also has mock-ups of rovers that can traverse other worlds, like Mars. Its a vehicle that astronauts probably wont be driving on Mars for decades, but thanks to the SES facility, at least theyll be somewhat prepared.

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Walking through space in NASA’s Virtual Reality Lab – The Verge

France, Britain Lead Europe’s Foray Into VR Content Creation – Variety

Theyre already home to two of Europes most vibrant film industries. Now France and Britain are leading the way in the region in creating VR content.

SEE MORE: From the August 22, 2017, issue of Variety

Between them, the two countries have eight of the 22 titles competing in the upcoming Venice Film Festivals new virtual-reality section the worlds first competitive VR strand at a film festival. Add in an entrant apiece from Italy and Denmark, and the number of European titles in the competition exceeds that of the U.S.

The VR industry is booming in Europe, which is great for all of us, said Sol Rogers, CEO and founder of Rewind, the British creator of Ghost in the Shell VR, with U.S. banner Here Be Dragons, and Home: A VR Spacewalk, which just picked up an award at Cannes Lions.

A report in August identified 487 virtual-reality companies operating in Europe, up from the 300 recorded in February.

But in contrast with the U.S., where virtual-reality creation is mainly being funded by deep-pocketed corporations and private investors, the VR industry in France and Britain is being driven in large part by public broadcasters, TV channels, government institutions, independent producers and tech studios.

In France, where the entertainment industry is highly subsidized, the National Film Board has funneled more than 3.5 million ($4.1 million) into VR projects via two schemes: one for writing, development and production and another for technology expenses. The board backed 33 VR projects in 2016, compared with just one in 2014.

Okio, one of Frances top VR companies along with Agat Films (Notes on Blindness) and Camera Lucida (The Enemy), has raised about a third of its budget from subsidies. Most of the money is allocated to development.

The company premiered I, Philip at the Cannes Film Market and will be attending Venice to pitch its upcoming VR experience Lights. It is also developing a segment for an eight-part VR series commissioned by Arte. The segments budget is 120,000, two-thirds of which comes from Arte and the rest from government subsidies.

Antoine Cayrol, producer at Okio, said that steering the subsidies into development is what makes the French virtual-reality experience so original and ultimately popular among festival programmers and platforms. Were able to hire skilled creatives and crews [and] spend time on the graphic bible, the script, said Cayrol. So when we start pitching Arte, Amazon, Oculus or Hulu, we have a well-developed proposition.

I remember someone at Oculus who once told me, We get a lot of people in the U.S. who send us three pages and ask for $3 million, and in France, producers send us treatments of 25 pages and ask for $25,000, Cayrol quipped.

A handful of pure VR players, such as HTC and Oculus, are starting to invest in content creation overseas and can help finance bigger-budget, more ambitious projects. Facebook-owned Oculus is developing projects with Agat Films and Okio. It also pre-bought Okios latest experience, Alteration, and made up 30% of the projects budget, Cayrol said.

Broadcasters such as the BBC, Arte, France Televisions and Germanys ZDF are considered VR pioneers in Europe and have been key in pushing for strong VR-native content. More channels are following suit, including Frances TF1, which recently launched an app dedicated to the technology and commissioned its first VR experiment, Sergeant James.

The channels see their investment as a way to nurture emerging talent, attract younger audiences and boost their brands. It also equips them to compete with Hollywood and Asia. If we dont invest in VR today, in a few years the VR landscape will be fully dominated by American or Asian content, said Gilles Freissinier, Artes head of digital.

In Britain, VR players can apply for funding from government body Innovate U.K. and have access to a strong talent pool of post-production experts, FX specialists and other creatives who have flocked to London and the British entertainment industry.

Theres brilliant stuff from institutions, and from the BBC with Taster, but also a huge amount from the private sector as people work out what VR is, what the business model is and how we can make the experience different and superior to TV or standard games, said John Cassy of VR studio Factory 42, which is developing a hologram project with Sky, Londons Natural History Museum and David Attenborough.

The challenge is to make the VR industry scalable enough to sustain it, said Tom Burton, head of interactive and VR at BBC Studios. So far, there is no return on investment, he noted. Its a medium thats barely a few years old.

Alchemy VR is working with Londons publicly funded Science Museum on Space Descent, which re-creates British astronaut Tim Peakes journey back to Earth from the International Space Station.

There is no template or set business model for VR, said Emily Smith, Alchemys director of marketing and business development. Its a mixed economy. With Space Descent, the Science Museum had the Soyuz capsule and commissioned us to make a visceral VR experience. We also have pay-to-download experiences on the PlayStation Store. There are different models for different projects.

While prospects for monetization remain limited in Europe, one emerging revenue stream is location-based VR. MK2, one of Frances biggest film companies, recently opened Europes largest permanent virtual-reality facility in Paris.

Location-based VR is crucial to give virtual-reality content a commercial life, create a business model and a chain of revenues for right holders, as well as initiate consumers to the technology and have them embrace it before it hits the mass market, said Elisha Karmitz, managing director at MK2.

The company kicked off international sales of its VR content at the Cannes Film Festival. And one of its films is competing in the VR section at Venice: Franois Vautiers aptly named I Saw the Future.

Continued here:

France, Britain Lead Europe’s Foray Into VR Content Creation – Variety

Virtual Reality Platform Created For Lab Animals – IEEE Spectrum – IEEE Spectrum

Scientists have devised a virtual reality platform for lab animals. Let that sink in.Zebrafish have swum with the aliens from the video game Space Invaders, mice were afraid of virtual heights, and fruit flies circled illusory obstacles.

This new holodeck for animals can help researchers see how freely-moving animals respond to a variety of illusionswork that could help scientists better understand human genes and brain circuitry, researchers say. The researchers, from the Vienna Biocenter in Austria, detailed their findings in todays edition of the journal Nature Methods.

FreemoVR, immersed animals in arenas where the walls or floors were computer displays. Each screen depicted photorealistic images that accounted for each animals perspective as it walked, flew, or swam.

Up to 10 high-speed cameras monitored the precise 3D position of each animal. FreemoVR then updated its video imagery within milliseconds of each animal’s movements to create the 3D illusion that they were moving in environments that changed in response to their actions.

The researchers compared FreemoVR to the holodeck, a fictional environment in [the TV show] Star Trek in which humans enter a computer-controlled virtual world, says Andrew Straw, a neurobiologist at the Vienna Biocenter who was co-senior author of a paper detailing the study. They can freely move, have no need to wear special clothing or headgear, and are immersed in a computer-controlled environment, which can be made completely realistic or arbitrarily unrealistic.

The researchers tested FreemoVR on mice, fruit flies, and zebrafish, three species commonly used in lab research. The virtual landscape with which these animals interacted included vertical pillars, floating rings, checkerboard floors, virtual plants, and a swarm of digital aliens from Space Invaders. They even had distinctive portals that could instantly alter the virtual environments to make it seem as if zebrafish swimming into them had teleported elsewhere.

The animals apparently found the illusions realistic. For instance, fruit flies circled virtual pillars just as they did real ones placed in the platforms. Moreover, mice generally avoided tracks that looked as if they were suspended at great heights, just as they would in real life.

The animals also changed their behavior in response to illusory animals. For example, zebrafish normally circled the periphery of their fishbowl near the screens, but when teleported into settings with swarms of Space Invaders, the zebrafish tended to move toward the middle of the fishbowl.

We wanted to study collective behavior because that is something incredibly difficult to do with real animals or with robots, Straw says. “We wanted to show how real fish respond to the motion of a swarm of simulated agents and to show that we could create a hybrid biological-computational swarm.

In addition, the researchers developed a photorealistic model of a swimming fish, and showed that real zebrafish most reliably followed the digital fish when the virtual animal matched its swim direction to the real fish. The fact that researchers can vary the appearance of virtual animals from cartoonish to realistic will allow experiments to test how important the exact visual appearance of other animals is as opposed to, say, the pattern of motion, Straw says.

This new platform will let scientists investigate animals as they behave relatively naturally and unrestrained by conventional VR gear in realistic virtual environments they can manipulate extensively. By tinkering with animal DNA or brains in such experiments, the researchers can learn what role certain genes or brain circuits play in these animals, and potentially in humans as well. Brains evolved in the real world, and to understand how and why neural circuits process information in the way they do, we need to understand them in this context, Straw says.

Straw notes that humans would notice several imperfections with FreemoVR. Primary amongst those is that our system does not create two distinct views for the two eyes, and thus the stereo cues important for depth perception would be gone, he says. However, Straw notes this is not a major concern with the animals they are experimenting with; the eyes of these animals are so close together that the differences between the view from each eye are limited.

Straws lab is now conducting experiments where they can silence the activity of single brain cells in fruit flies and examining the roles these cells play in the insects behavior in virtual erality.

IEEE Spectrums biomedical engineering blog, featuring the wearable sensors, big data analytics, and implanted devices that enable new ventures in personalized medicine.

Sign up for The Human OS newsletter and get biweekly news about how technology is making healthcare smarter.

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Virtual Reality Platform Created For Lab Animals – IEEE Spectrum – IEEE Spectrum

3 Ways Virtual Reality Is Transforming Medical Care – NBCNews.com

Aug.22.2017 / 2:13 PM ET

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Think virtual reality is just about gaming and the world of make-believe? Get real. From product design to real estate, many industries have adopted VR and related technologies and nowhere are the benefits of VR greater than in healthcare.

We are seeing more and more of this incorporated faster than ever before, said Dr. Ajit Sachdeva, Director of Education with the American College of Surgeons. VR has reached a tipping point in medicine.

As NBC News MACH reported previously, psychologists have found VR to be good for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. And stroke doctors, pain specialists, surgeons, and other medical practitioners have found their own uses for VR. In some cases, medical VR involves the familiar headsets; in others, 3D glasses and special video screens give a VR-like experience.

The use of VR and 3D visualization technology in medicine isnt brand-new. Medical researchers have been exploring ways to create 3D models of patients internal organs using VR since the 1990s. But advances in computing power have made simulated images much more realistic and much faster to create.

X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans can now be turned into high-resolution 3D images in under a minute, said Sergio Agirre, chief technology officer of EchoPixel, a Mountain View, California firm whose visualization software is being used in hospitals across the U.S. Twenty years ago, it would probably take them a week to be able to do that.

These days, common surgical procedures like appendectomies or cesarean sections are often pretty routine one case is similar to the next. But some especially complicated procedures including the separation of conjoined twins present unique challenges that can be met only with meticulous planning. For these, 3D visualization is proving to be a game-changer.

Recently, VR played a vital role in the successful separation of conjoined twins at Masonic Childrens Hospital in Minneapolis. The three-month-old twins were joined far more extensively than some other conjoined twins, with intricate connections between their hearts and livers. That meant the surgery to separate the twins would be unusually complicated and potentially very dangerous for the twins.

Before surgery, the surgical team took CT, ultrasound, and MRI scans and created a super-detailed virtual model of the twins bodies and then ventured inside their organs to identify potential pitfalls and plan how these would be avoided during surgery.

You look through the 3D glasses, and you can basically walk through the structure, peeling apart parts so you can look at exactly what you want to, said Dr. Anthony Azakie, one of the surgeons who separated the twins. He said the high-resolution visualization helped minimize the number of surprises that we were potentially dealing with.

VR technology is also being used by vascular specialists like Dr. In Sup Choi, director of interventional neuroradiology at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts. When he uses interactive 3D visualizations to prepare for procedures to fix aneurysms and blocked arteries, he said, he gets a better idea of what types of devices we have to use and what approach might work best.

If doctors are donning VR gear, so are their patients. Theyre using the headsets to immerse themselves in a peaceful virtual world that takes their focus off discomfort associated with medical problems and treatments.

Because anesthesia and sedation can be risky for some patients, including those who are frail or very elderly, some hospitals are offering these patients VR headsets as a way to help control pain during minimally invasive procedures. Its still experimental at this point, but the results so far have been successful.

Similarly, VR has been shown to reduce anxiety in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy infusions. VR is even making injections and other painful or potentially frightening procedures less distressing to children.

But burn patients may be some of the biggest beneficiaries of VR technology. From daily cleaning and bandaging of burns to skin grafts, severe burn patients experience some of the most painful procedures in medicine, said Dr. Hunter Hoffman, a University of Washington scientist with expertise in the use of VR for pain relief. Pain medications help, but theyre often not strong enough.

For these patients, Hoffman helped create the VR game SnowWorld, which features imagery designed specifically to distract burn patients from pain. Patients who play the game during treatment report up to 50 percent less pain than similar patients not playing the game, according to preliminary research. Other research suggests that patients playing the game actually show changes in the brain that indicate theyre feeling less pain.

SnowWorld is now being evaluated in clinical trials at four sites in the U.S. and at two international sites.

VR shouldnt be considered a replacement for pain-killing medication, Hoffman said, adding that combining drugs and VR could be especially effective.

VR is also helping patients overcome balance and mobility problems resulting from stroke or head injury.

Using VR, I can control whats going on around the patient and measure what kind of impact its having on that patients ability to change, said Emily Keshner, a professor of physical therapy at Temple University in Philadelphia. We expose them to this repeatedly and we give them feedback about how they can respond to prevent themselves from falling.

Research has shown that VR-mediated rehabilitation can speed the pace at which these patients regain physical abilities. Theres a long way to go in conducting all the research needed to validate these results and make these techniques part of routine practice, Keshner said but its on the way.

One study of stroke patients showed that VR rehab led to more improvements in arm and hand movement compared to conventional rehab after four weeks of therapy. The VR-assisted patients had better mobility when the doctors checked in two months later. Other research has shown similarly successful outcomes for patients with cerebral palsy undergoing rehab for balance problems.

The power of VR [for therapy] is that youre really changing the way people perceive the world, Keshner said. They learn how to respond. And after practicing in that virtual world, they are much more confident and capable.

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3 Ways Virtual Reality Is Transforming Medical Care – NBCNews.com

Walking through space in NASA’s Virtual Reality Lab – The Verge

Astronauts arent made in a day. To first qualify for a mission assignment in space, NASAs astronaut candidates typically have to complete up to two years of training here on Earth. And that includes a rotating roster of activities, workouts, and assignments that change every single day.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of astronaut training is learning to work in simulated space environments, something we explore in the second episode of Space Craft. For NASA, a crucial asset is the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, a giant pool located at the Sonny Carter Training Facility in Houston, Texas. It measures 202 feet long and 102 feet wide a little less than half the size of a football field. It also stretches 40 feet deep and houses a full-scale replica of the International Space Station inside. Working in the pool is one of the best ways to train for future spacewalks, since its a pretty fair representation of how it feels to work in microgravity outside the ISS.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of astronaut training is learning to work in simulated space environments

But there are other ways to simulate spacewalks apart from diving into the NBL. NASA was an early adopter of virtual reality, using the technology over the last decade to help astronauts train for upcoming space missions. NASAs Johnson Space Center in Houston is home to the Virtual Reality Lab, where astronauts plan out their future excursions inside and outside the International Space Station.

VR is a useful tool for better understanding the scope of a spacewalk, for instance. It gives astronauts a sense of how far apart segments are going to be on the outside of the station, as well as how theyll need to grip handrails or twist their arms to properly scale the ISS modules. Astronauts who are assigned to missions in space usually plan months to years in advance for any of their spacewalks. And at the Virtual Reality Lab, they can simulate the exact spacewalk scenario that they need to practice over and over, before doing the real thing in lower Earth orbit.

While VR is good for making plans in advance, its also critical for preparing astronauts for the remote possibility of those plans failing. In the VR Lab, astronauts can also experience virtually what its like to get disconnected from the ISS during a spacewalk. Such a scenario has never happened accidentally before; astronauts are always tethered to the station when they do their spacewalks, but NASA likes to prepare for the remote possibility of an astronaut floating away freely. To get back to safety, astronauts can operate a jet backpack called SAFER, which uses tiny thrusters to propel someone through space. Its not the easiest tool to maneuver, however, and VR is great at demonstrating the difficulty of using SAFER in an emergency scenario.

The Johnson Space Center doesnt train astronauts with just VR technology. Its also home to the Systems Engineering Simulator, a facility that contains mock-ups of space vehicles that astronauts may be tasked to operate in the future. For instance, astronauts can train how to work in the future space capsules that SpaceX and Boeing are building, which will be carrying astronauts to the space station in the next couple of years. The facility also has mock-ups of rovers that can traverse other worlds, like Mars. Its a vehicle that astronauts probably wont be driving on Mars for decades, but thanks to the SES facility, at least theyll be somewhat prepared.

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Walking through space in NASA’s Virtual Reality Lab – The Verge

Recreating the Past with Virtual Reality – R & D Magazine

Virtual reality (VR) is providing intriguing opportunities for companies to create new products.

This emerging technology has yielded applications in healthcare, where aspiring physicians can view realistic simulations to prepare themselves for surgeries. Entertainment has become another area of growth for VR, and a swath of tech firms and movie studios have developed immersive experiences where users can further explore the worlds found in their favorite movies.

However, one startup in Australia called Lithodomos VR has taken a different approach to harnessing this enterprising technology.

The firm is utilizing VR to recreate historical archaeological sites like Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and the Colosseum in Rome. Lithodomos VR offers a fulll library of content featuring historical landmarks that be viewed via VR.

Lithodomos VRs software can be used at a historical site to make the experience more immersive, or as an educational tool elsewhere.

Today, many of the ancient worlds secrets lie buried or destroyed. For most people, seeing a pile of ruins is hard to contextualize and visualize what was once there,said Dr. Simon Young, the co-founder and CEO of Lithodomos VR, to R&D Magazine. Virtual Reality is the perfect tool to reconstruct these ancient places and spaces, allowing people to explore them in a 3D environment when they are on site, or from thousands of miles away in their own home or classroom.

To view these digital restorations, users can either pay a one-time royalty fee anytime they want to access the archive for a tour or pay a small fee to set up a recurring subscription. Significant effort goes into creating each virtual reconstruction, said Young.

Our reconstructions stem from academic publications and researchto ensure experiencesareas accurate, realistic and enthralling and engaging aspossible.This practice rests upon the foundation of a long tradition of archaeological reconstruction practices. First, detailed published archaeological reports are gathered, and these form the basis of our scope. Next, archaeologists work intensively with our team of 3D artists to direct the meshing and texturing of the project. Finally, the scenes are signed off by the lead archaeologist and delivered to our library. The time needed for the process varies a great deal depending on the complexity of the scene, but on average, a few weeks, explained Young.

Their offerings can be downloaded through Google and Apples respective app store.

Putting history in perspective

Young said that the goal of his venture is to offer people the ability to instantly form a connection with the place they are in.

Some ancient sites attract thousands of visitors every day, but most of the time these visitors cant connect on a personal level to the ruins, he continued.

The mobile VR headsets used to view these locales are intended to be like, binoculars into the past, which can enhance and enrich each viewpoint from a variety of locations.

Young acknowledged that visitors have an obvious fascination with big ticket destinations like Rome and Athens, but he noted Lithodomos also sees immense value in building models of archaeological sites that are less well-understood.

One example in Lithodomoss library is the Odeion of Agrippa located in Athenian Agora.

This destination was once a concert hall that would have once hosted events like musical performances, poetry recitations, and exhibitions of rhetorical skills. It was constructed around 15 B.C. with a seating capacity of about 1,000. It was built by a member of the Roman elite that Young felt was viewed as a symbol of Romes respect for contributions the Greek culture made to humanity.

Today it is mass of ruins that visitors pass by without a second thought, Young noted adding that his company brought the location back to life in its full glory.

The Future for Embracing the Past

There are a lot of advantages for using VR in providing deeper insights into history, but there are some disadvantages as well.

Young said that when the content creation process is taken up by non-specialists, the results can lack scientific rigor and accuracy.

As content creators of cultural heritage materials, we have a responsibility to strive to ensure that the information presented to viewers is correct and backed up by solid research, he explained.

Young noted his company is always looking for new frontiers and opportunities where they can expand their content library including potential sites in China, India, and South Korea. Also, they are finishing work on their distribution platform so customers can undertake self-guided tours of any place with enhanced audio capabilities.

Ultimately, Youngs thoughts on the future of VR is that the wave of popularity is building, but will crash down in the future.

In time, everyone will have a VR headset, but penetration rates are slower than originally anticipated. Many have taken this as a sign that VR will peter out it will not, said Young.

Excerpt from:

Recreating the Past with Virtual Reality – R & D Magazine

HTC cuts price of Vive virtual reality system by $200, could spur more enterprise pilots – ZDNet

HTC cut the price of its Vive virtual reality system by $200 in a move that follows discounting by Facebook’s Oculus Rift.

In a blog post, HTC said it would offer its Vive system for $599. That bundle includes headset, sensors, and motion controllers. Oculus in July said that its Rift and Touch were available for $399 for a limited time. Both Oculus and HTC are chasing Sony’s Playstation VR, which has sold more than a million units so far and goes for $399.

If you’re looking at the consumer market, it’s easy to argue that HTC’s price cut doesn’t do much. However, HTC noted that the Vive hardware has attracted enterprise partners such as Intel, UPS, Volkswagen, and Salesforce as enterprise partners.

UPS has outlined how it is using virtual reality and Vive for driver training. At $599, the Vive has become more affordable for businesses looking at proof-of-concept pilots.

HTC added that more global brand partners will be announced in the second half of the year.

Certainly, Vive hopes to play in the gaming space, but the win for HTC may be the enterprise. Yes, augmented reality will initially have more use cases, but HTC Vive can garner traction for training, maintenance ,and other enterprise tasks. Indeed, developers are already gravitating toward Vive and Rift.

Another key reason HTC has a shot in the enterprise: It is one of the few early players focused on corporate uses. Microsoft HoloLens rhymes with virtual reality, but is more augmented reality. Google Glass is more augmented than virtual reality.

Add it up and HTC’s price cut may be more about business than landing a mass of consumers.

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IDC projected that AR and VR headsets will grow from just under 10 million units in 2016 to nearly 100 million units in 2021.

How virtual reality is improving end-of-life care

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Researchers in Oslo have been working for years on turning 2D medical imagery into 3D but now they’ve used Microsoft’s HoloLens to give surgeons more precision in operations.

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HTC cuts price of Vive virtual reality system by $200, could spur more enterprise pilots – ZDNet

Virtual Reality Platform Created For Lab Animals – IEEE Spectrum – IEEE Spectrum

Scientists have devised a virtual reality platform for lab animals. Let that sink in.Zebrafish have swum with the aliens from the video game Space Invaders, mice were afraid of virtual heights, and fruit flies circled illusory obstacles.

This new holodeck for animals can help researchers see how freely-moving animals respond to a variety of illusionswork that could help scientists better understand human genes and brain circuitry, researchers say. The researchers, from the Vienna Biocenter in Austria, detailed their findings in todays edition of the journal Nature Methods.

FreemoVR, immersed animals in arenas where the walls or floors were computer displays. Each screen depicted photorealistic images that accounted for each animals perspective as it walked, flew, or swam.

Up to 10 high-speed cameras monitored the precise 3D position of each animal. FreemoVR then updated its video imagery within milliseconds of each animal’s movements to create the 3D illusion that they were moving in environments that changed in response to their actions.

The researchers compared FreemoVR to the holodeck, a fictional environment in [the TV show] Star Trek in which humans enter a computer-controlled virtual world, says Andrew Straw, a neurobiologist at the Vienna Biocenter who was co-senior author of a paper detailing the study. They can freely move, have no need to wear special clothing or headgear, and are immersed in a computer-controlled environment, which can be made completely realistic or arbitrarily unrealistic.

The researchers tested FreemoVR on mice, fruit flies, and zebrafish, three species commonly used in lab research. The virtual landscape with which these animals interacted included vertical pillars, floating rings, checkerboard floors, virtual plants, and a swarm of digital aliens from Space Invaders. They even had distinctive portals that could instantly alter the virtual environments to make it seem as if zebrafish swimming into them had teleported elsewhere.

The animals apparently found the illusions realistic. For instance, fruit flies circled virtual pillars just as they did real ones placed in the platforms. Moreover, mice generally avoided tracks that looked as if they were suspended at great heights, just as they would in real life.

The animals also changed their behavior in response to illusory animals. For example, zebrafish normally circled the periphery of their fishbowl near the screens, but when teleported into settings with swarms of Space Invaders, the zebrafish tended to move toward the middle of the fishbowl.

We wanted to study collective behavior because that is something incredibly difficult to do with real animals or with robots, Straw says. “We wanted to show how real fish respond to the motion of a swarm of simulated agents and to show that we could create a hybrid biological-computational swarm.

In addition, the researchers developed a photorealistic model of a swimming fish, and showed that real zebrafish most reliably followed the digital fish when the virtual animal matched its swim direction to the real fish. The fact that researchers can vary the appearance of virtual animals from cartoonish to realistic will allow experiments to test how important the exact visual appearance of other animals is as opposed to, say, the pattern of motion, Straw says.

This new platform will let scientists investigate animals as they behave relatively naturally and unrestrained by conventional VR gear in realistic virtual environments they can manipulate extensively. By tinkering with animal DNA or brains in such experiments, the researchers can learn what role certain genes or brain circuits play in these animals, and potentially in humans as well. Brains evolved in the real world, and to understand how and why neural circuits process information in the way they do, we need to understand them in this context, Straw says.

Straw notes that humans would notice several imperfections with FreemoVR. Primary amongst those is that our system does not create two distinct views for the two eyes, and thus the stereo cues important for depth perception would be gone, he says. However, Straw notes this is not a major concern with the animals they are experimenting with; the eyes of these animals are so close together that the differences between the view from each eye are limited.

Straws lab is now conducting experiments where they can silence the activity of single brain cells in fruit flies and examining the roles these cells play in the insects behavior in virtual erality.

IEEE Spectrums biomedical engineering blog, featuring the wearable sensors, big data analytics, and implanted devices that enable new ventures in personalized medicine.

Sign up for The Human OS newsletter and get biweekly news about how technology is making healthcare smarter.

Intel says its new Olympics sponsorship is about changing the experience for the digital generation 21Jun

All the most bizarre virtual reality projects from CHI 2017 10May

High Fidelitys decentralized architecture aims to power the next generation of virtual-reality worlds 30Jan

Neurable’s brain-computer interfaces enable hands-free control in virtual reality 7Aug

It generates random numbers based on fluctuations in thermal noise 9Aug

The CDC 7600, released in 1969, featured blue-glass doors and walnut trim 28Jul

Researchers build the most complex RNA-based computer in living bacterial cells 26Jul

Smart glove features rubbery sensors, costs less than US $100, and converts sign language into text 17Jul

Blind quantum computing in the cloud could keep computation results secret even for remote classical-computer users 14Jul

Freeing processors from doing the grunt work of communications accelerated the connected world 30Jun

Reading listings on the bulletin-board system was free, but posting cost a quarter 29Jun

Qudits can have 10 or more quantum states simultaneously compared to just two for qubits 28Jun

A startup challenging Google and IBM sees opportunities for quantum computing in both the short term and long run 26Jun

HAX executives preview trends in hardware startups 26Jun

The massive 1 billion project has shifted focus from simulation to informatics 21Jun

Personalized medicine, self-driving cars, big data, AI, and machine learning will mainstream supercomputing 21Jun

For the first time since 1996, the U.S. holds none of the world’s top three supercomputers. An upgraded Swiss machine takes third 19Jun

Silicon Valleys top employers made big staffing changes, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal 15Jun

Neuroscience will give us what weve sought for decades: computers that think like we do 2Jun

Why the merger of the Raspberry Pi and CoderDojo foundations makes senseand why it doesnt 2Jun

Read more here:

Virtual Reality Platform Created For Lab Animals – IEEE Spectrum – IEEE Spectrum

LCD Soundsystem’s Latest Music Video Is an Interactive Virtual Reality Dance Performance – Variety

LCD Soundsystem has teamed up with the Amsterdam-based design studios Puckey and Moniker as well as with Googles data arts team to produce a kind of abstract, interactive music video for their latest single Tonite. Dance Tonite, as the piece is called, lets owners of high-end VR headsets dance to the singles music, capturing their motions and then broadcasting them to anyone visiting the projects website with their computer, phone or Daydream VR headset.

Its a fun idea thats hard to put in words, which is why Google produced a video to show what Dance Tonite is all about:

The uncanniness of the Dance Tonite experience is super entertaining and weird, and I really enjoy it. I didnt expect to enjoy it, said LCD Soundsystems James Murphy. I like the simplicity of it.

Dance Tonite uses WebVR, a technology that makes it possible to develop VR experiences for the web, where they can be consumed with any browser. Anyone visiting the experiences website with a capable device can switch to VR mode, and enjoy it as a spectator or even participant.

We wanted to see if we could treat a VR device as a tool for self-expression and Dance Tonite fits perfectly within a series of participative interactive music videos which weve directed over the years, said project creator Jonathan Puckey. Taking a piece of music likeLCD Soundsystems Tonite as a starting point can act as the perfect scaffold to create something within.

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LCD Soundsystem’s Latest Music Video Is an Interactive Virtual Reality Dance Performance – Variety

Team to use virtual reality to help with real-world arms control – Princeton University

Efforts to reduce nuclear stockpiles soon may get a boost from a team of Princeton University researchers and a socially responsible gaming company that are seeking to use virtual reality to help improve systems to discover and monitor nuclear materials worldwide.

Alexander Glaser, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and international affairs, and New York City-based Games for Change were awarded a $414,000 grant last month from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the MacArthur Foundation. Their project, one of 11 selected, seeks to employ virtual reality for innovation, collaboration and public awareness on nuclear arms control and materials security, according to a corporation and foundation announcement.

The project participants will develop a full-motion virtual reality (VR) to design and simulate new, cohesive arms-control treaty verification approaches to reduce and secure nuclear weapons and materials, according to the proposal.

The first part of the project is meant to provide governments with new opportunities for cooperation in traditionally sticky nuclear arms-control efforts. The second part of the project will focus on raising awareness of the continuing dangers of nuclear weapons and material.

While nuclear weapons are still very much around and relevant, and the risks posed by them are just as high as they used to be, the issues are much less salient today than they were during the Cold War, Glaser said.

Glaser along with Tamara Patton, a third-year doctoral student in the science, technology and environmental policy program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs worked with Games for Change to develop the proposal and pitch it to the Carnegie Corporation and the MacArthur Foundation.

The basic idea is, can we leverage this new technology of virtual reality to actually facilitate collaboration in a virtual environment where the security risks are essentially nonexistent, Patton said. Its much less expensive, its much more flexible. And, of course, we can do it remotely.

The researchers program will feature virtual depictions of arms control inspection sites as shown here.

Photo courtesy of the researchers

Glaser said virtual reality can create a simulated world in which inspectors and others can see and document issues involving nuclear material. Demonstrating new verification techniques can encourage nation-to-nation cooperation with an aim of reducing nuclear materials around the globe, he said.

Virtual reality can be used for training and demonstration, which in turn can convince nations that inspections do not present insurmountable hurdles, Glaser said. The current version of the virtual reality setup is hosted at Princetons Council on Science and Technologys StudioLab.

There is a pressing need for innovative ideas, such as the use of virtual reality, when it comes to nuclear weapons control, said Allison Macfarlane, a former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and now a professor of public policy and international affairs and director of the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

Its essential to develop some new thinking around how to reduce the numbers of these materials, said Macfarlane. She called Glaser a top-notch scientist and policy expert who is uniquely qualified to deliver on the projects promise.

Hes one of the few people really thinking outside the box, Macfarlane said of Glaser. Part of the innovative nature of the project is the Princeton teams collaboration with Games for Change, a nonprofit company which aids in the development of games designed to foster awareness of and promote solutions to real-world problems.

Games for Change will take the lead creating a virtual reality game that could be used in classrooms or other learning spaces to raise awareness of the continuing dangers of nuclear materials.

Virtual reality offers a number of engagement opportunities for consumers,” said Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change. “First of all, it gives them the opportunity to be in an environment in a safe manner rather than being exposed to something that is toxic or that has a high risk element to it. The second piece is the ability to transport somebody and immerse them into a world that otherwise is difficult to imagine.

Patton said the consumer world is in the midst of a VR renaissance in which headsets are now reaching a wider consumer base than before. The increased sophistication and availability of virtual reality simulations present an opportunity to overcome the issues involved with access to nuclear sites.

Before Alex and I even started working together, we were both watching this development, and it occurred to us that this would be a really useful space for our problem, Patton said.

We really have to get the younger generation on board with understanding what the threats are and then thinking about how to manage them, Macfarlane said. I think we have to meet them where they are, and virtual reality is a really innovative way to do that.

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Team to use virtual reality to help with real-world arms control – Princeton University

I was one of the first humans to see a solar eclipse in virtual reality – Ars Technica

Enlarge / Look all you want… in VR, this kind of view of the Sun is completely safe to stare at.

I’ve been told that being present for a total eclipse of the Sun is a life-changing experience. But I wasn’t able to get my act together to travel to the path of totality for today’s event. Luckily, I am part of the first generation to be able to experience an eclipse vicariously through the magic of virtual reality. While seeing a total eclipse in VR wasn’t exactly a life-changing experience, it was one of the best examples I’ve seen of the power and promise of live, 360-degree video.

I first tried to view CNN’s 360-degree Facebook Live video coverage of the eclipse on my Oculus Rift. Despite numerous tries, though, the livestream never showed up as a choice on the list of “New” or “Top Pick” videos available on the Oculus Video app. Without a built-in search function or any way to navigate to a specific URL or some such, viewing the eclipse on the Rift was a bust.

As a backup, I dug out the latest Samsung Gear VR headset and a Galaxy S7 Edge. While I waited for some necessary updates to download, I was able to watch CNN’s “VR” coverage in a simple Web browser window. I used the mouse to tilt the virtual camera between the people on the ground and the Sun in the sky. Having control of the viewpoint was nice, but watching through a small window on a laptop screen didn’t really feel all that different from watching similar coverage on TV.

I finally got the stream working on the Gear VR in time for the eclipse to hit Wyoming, the third of seven eclipse locations CNN was covering in VR. The video started out extremely grainy, but it got a bit sharper as the bandwidth caught up with itself. Even with the highest-quality stream from the 4K cameras, though, the relative image I saw on the Galaxy S7’s 1440×2560 screen was much blurrier than the same stream viewed on my Macbook Air screen.

In VR, facial features of people are hard to make out if they were more than a few feet from the camera, and details on the horizon almost completely lacked definition. There was also none of the “stereoscopic 3D” effect you usually get from most other apps in virtual realitythis was more like looking at a 2D video projected on a 360-degree dome surrounding me.

This adorable Girl Scout group in Missouri was looking up at the eclipse with me in VR (all these images are taken from the Facebook Live 360 video feed on a laptop, but the same content was viewable in the Gear VR).

A few onlookers in Wyoming look up with me just before totality.

While the Sun was just a small dot in the VR sky, CNN’s zoomed-in “eclipse cam” gave me the detailed crescent Sun view I craved.

That tiny white dot is all I could see of the Sun in VR during totality.

A cloudy Nashville main street a few minutes before totality.

The same Nashville street lit up during the total blackness of the total eclipse.

The VR image also had a fair share of compression artifacts, especially when the sky grew dark and the streaming algorithms struggled to differentiate between the small gradations of black. While people live on the ground started talking about seeing individual stars and even planets in the darkened sky, I could only see large, color-banded blobs of different shades of black. It reminded me of nothing so much as watching grainy RealVideo streams in the early 2000s, only with a viewing “window” that surrounded me completely.

What the VR experience lacked in sharpness, it made up for in its overwhelming, all-encompassing nature. Watching the eclipse in VR, I could really get the sense of the sky darkening quickly all around me as totality approached. I got the sense of a rapid dawn when the Moon’s shadow started to recede. It was incredible being able to turn in place and see a virtual, eclipse-generated “sunset” in all directions on the horizon from the comfort of my own kitchen. Hearing the whoops and hollers of onlookers alongside the confused chirping of birds and crickets picked up by the microphones only increased the immersion.

I also appreciated the variety of eclipse locations CNN was able to cover over a two-hour span, from a wide-open field in Idaho, to a neon-covered street in Nashville, to the seat of a helicopter floating above Charleston. Through it all, a variety of hosts and guests rambled, repeating themselves quite often about the “once in a lifetime” grandeur of it all and the way ancient humans were awed by what is now an utterly predictable astronomical occurrence. CNN also superimposed some ethereal “space music” on top of pretty much any eclipse moment, which was a bit distracting.

The rest is here:

I was one of the first humans to see a solar eclipse in virtual reality – Ars Technica

Zooculus rift lab animals get their own virtual reality system – Digital Trends

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Why it matters to you

This lab animal VR platform allows scientists to study animal behavior in more controlled and dynamic environments.

Lab animals can now enter immersive virtual reality environments thanks to researchers in Andrew Straws lab at the University of Freiburgin Germany. Dubbed FreemoVR, the system resembles the holodeck fromStar Trekand monitors the movements of common lab animals like mice, zebrafish, and fruit flies, projecting photorealistic environments onto a screen to simulate movement in the real world.

To understand how an animal responds behaviorally to visual stimuli, I always wanted something like the holodeck in Star Trek, Straw, a neurobiologist at the Vienna Biocenter, told Digital Trends. Gradually, it dawned on me that a lot of the bits and pieces I had built over the years could be extended and combined to achieve what we now have done.

Straw and his team arranged as many as 10 high-speed cameras to track the position of the animal as it ventured around the space. Within seconds, the FreemoVR software projects a new image, from digital pillars to checkerboard floors, and even Space Invader aliens. Unlike human VR systems, there is no need for the animals to wear special garments or headgear.

This might sound like a bunch of fun and games but the researchers hope the system will help them study animal behavior in new and unique ways.

Straw and his team found that the animals often responded to the various environments as though they were real. Mice demonstrated caution when the environment depicted a scene suspended up high. Flies flew around the digital pillars, as seen in the video above. And zebrafish showed a propensity to swim after a photo-realistic virtual fish when the digital model matched its swim direction.

If we do not put the animals visual sense in strong conflict with other senses, we do not find any differences between behavioral responses to real world versus VR stimuli, Straw said.

The virtual worlds were not all realistic. Along with Space Invaders, the researchers intend to experiment with more cartoonish and gamified environments, including one that simulates teleportation animals.

We could test stimuli that would be impossible to create in the real world, Straw said. So far fish seem OK with being teleported virtually!

A paper detailing the study was published this week in the journal Nature Methods.

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Zooculus rift lab animals get their own virtual reality system – Digital Trends


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