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Category Archives: Virtual Reality

The Best VR Headsets for 2020 | PCMag

Posted: May 14, 2020 at 5:30 pm

How to Choose the Right VR

Virtual Reality is a fascinating way to travel using nothing more than the power of technology. With a headset and motion tracking, VR lets you look around a virtual space as if you're actually there. It's also been a promising technology for decades that's never truly caught on. That's constantly changing with the current wave of VR products, especially as the biggest names in the industry are starting to really hone and tweak their headsets.

Oculus has both tethered and standalone headsets from the Go, to the Quest, to the Rift S. HTC has the Steam-friendly Vive and Vive Cosmos, and the developer-focusedVive Pro. Sony has the PS 4-focused PlayStation VR (that will apparently work with the PlayStation 5 if and when that system comes out), and Microsoft is supporting its Windows Mixed Reality platform with a variety of headsets from different manufacturers.

Google and Samsung still offer phone-based VR headsets in the form of the Daydream View and the Gear VR, and even Nintendo has gotten into the game with its Labo VR Kit for the Nintendo Switch. However, these shell-like headsets, which require a phone or some other device physically inserted into them, feel like novelties next to more powerful headsets that can provide more immersive experiences.

Modern VR headsets now fit under one of three categories: Mobile, tethered, or standalone. Mobile headsets are shells with lenses into which you place your smartphone. The lenses separate the screen into two images for your eyes, turning your smartphone into a VR device. Mobile headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream View are relatively inexpensive at around $100, and because all of the processing is done on your phone, you don't need to connect any wires to the headset.

While they can offer a taste of VR, mobile headsets don't provide the full experience. They tend to offer three-degrees-of-freedom (3DOF) motion tracking, following your direction but not your position. They also only come with one motion controller, which is also 3DOF-only. You don't get the same immersiveness you do with six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) motion tracking and dual motion controllers, which might be why Google and Samsung have been largely quiet lately about their mobile headsets. The Nintendo Labo VR Kit is its own unique case, but it's more of a novelty for Switch owners.

Tethered headsets like the Oculus Rift S, the HTC Vive Cosmos, and the PlayStation VR are physically connected to PCs (or in the case of the PS VR, aPlayStation 4). The cable makes them a bit unwieldy, but putting all of the actual video processing in a box you don't need to directly strap to your face means your VR experience can be a lot more complex. The use of a dedicated display in the headset instead of your smartphone drastically improves image fidelity, and either external sensors or outward-facing cameras on the headset provide full 6DOF movement tracking.

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The trade-off, besides the clunky cables, is the price. The least expensive tethered options are currently around $400. And that's before you address the processing issue; the Rift S and Vive headsets needpretty powerful PCsto run, while the PS VR requires a PlayStation 4. If the cost isn't a deal breaker but the cables are, HTC offers a wireless adapter for the Vive, but it requires a desktop PC with a free PCIe slot to work. There are also third-party wireless adapters for the Rift, but we can't guarantee how well they work.

Standalone headsets were at first a useful novelty that offered a taste of VR without an investment into a gaming PC or a flagship phone. The Oculus Go and the Lenovo Mirage Solo are both capable headsets that work well on their own, but they have the same limited controls as mobile headsets. The recently released Oculus Quest, however, has really sold us on this category. The Quest uses similar outward-facing cameras to the new Rift S to provide 6DOF motion tracking, and uses the same Oculus Touch motion controls. Combined with a faster Snapdragon 835 processor compared with the Oculus Go's Snapdragon 821, the Quest offers a much more compelling and immersive VR experience, all without the unwieldy cable or PC requirement of the Rift S. We hope to see more standalone 6DOF, dual motion controller headsets in the future, like the upcomingHTC Vive Focus Plus.

HTC's Vive is a comprehensive package that includes a headset, two motion controllers, and two base stations for defining a "whole-room" VR area. It's technically impressive, and can track your movements in a 10-foot cube instead of just from your seat. It also includes a set of motion controllers more advanced than the PlayStation Move. PC-tethered VR systems like the Vive need plenty of power, with HTC recommending at least an Intel Core i5-4590 CPU and a GeForce GTX 970 GPU.

The recently released Vive Cosmos has a much higher resolution than the Vive, features outward-facing cameras that can track your position without any need for base stations, and includes two redesigned, improved motion controllers. It's a solid upgrade, but it's very expensive at $699.

The Oculus Rift was the first big name in the current wave of VR, and Oculus is still a major player. The Rift S has a higher resolution than the Vive (but not as high as the Vive Pro or, strangely, the Oculus Quest) and newer and lighter Oculus Touch motion controllers, and doesn't need external sensors to work. It does, however, need DisplayPort; if your PC only has an HDMI output, you might want to hunt for the previous Rift and deal with the extra cables.

The Oculus Store has plenty of fantastic VR games, just like SteamVR. You can also use SteamVR games with the Rift, but this requires some software wrangling, and can have its quirks.

The PlayStation VR is compelling thanks to Sony backing development for it and the affordability and availability of the PlayStation 4 compared with gaming PCs. All you need is the headset, a PlayStation 4, and a PlayStation Camera (now included with most PlayStation VR bundles). There are some excellent games on PS VR like Moss, Rez Infinite, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, with Sony and other developers working on several more (including Five Nights at Freddy's VR).

Many PlayStation VR games work with the DualShock 4, so you don't even need motion controls. However, those motion controls are where the PlayStation VR lags behind; the headset still uses the PlayStation Move wands from the PlayStation 3 era, and they aren't nearly as capable or comfortable as the Oculus Touch controllers. They're also expensive, and not always included in PlayStation VR bundles.

Microsoft has been promoting its partnership with multiple headset manufacturers to produce a series of Windows 10-ready "mixed reality" headsets. The distinction between virtual reality and mixed reality is so far dubious, but it indicates an integration of augmented reality (AR) technology using cameras on the helmet. Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung are some of Microsoft's partners in this mixed reality program.

From the different headsets we've tested, the hardware is sound and the setup is simple, but position tracking isn't as accurate as tethered headsets with external sensors or the Rift S' new outward-facing tracking cameras. Also, the Windows Mixed Reality store doesn't have as many compelling VR experiences as the Rift and SteamVR stores, though you can use SteamVR games on Windows Mixed Reality headsets, again with some software wrestling. Windows Mixed Reality does have one thing going for it, though: the highest resolution in consumer VR with the HP Reverb, at 2,160 by 2,160 pixels for each eye.

If you thought the HTC Vive Cosmos was expensive, just wait until you see theValve Index. Valve's own PC-tethered VR headset costs a whopping $999 if you want everything you need for it to work (except the computer, of course). You can save some money by reusing your HTC Vive base stations, cutting the price down to $749, or get only the headset (and provide your own motion controllers and base stations) for $499. Those are hard prices to swallow, even if the Index sports a 120Hz refresh rate notably higher than most of its competitors (with an experimental 144Hz mode), and the controllers feature an advanced grip system for more natural, precise interaction. We have yet to test the Valve Index.

The Oculus Go is the least expensive way to jump into virtual reality. At $200 it's pricier than mobile VR headsets, but unlike those headsets, you don't need a compatible (and usually expensive flagship) smartphone to use it. The $200 investment gets you right into a Gear VR-like virtual reality experience, complete with an intuitive controller. It makes some compromises for the price, like using a dated Snapdragon 821 processor and offering only 3DOF motion tracking, but it's still enough to try out Netflix on a virtual theater screen or play Settlers of Catan in VR.

The Oculus Quest costs twice as much as the Oculus Go, but it's well worth it. It has a more powerful Snapdragon 835 processor and a sharper OLED screen, but more importantly it offers full 6DOF motion tracking with dual motion controls. In fact, it uses the same Oculus Touch controllers as the Oculus Rift S. It's limited to Oculus' mobile software store, like the Oculus Go, so it won't provide the same selection as the PC-based Rift S and its much bigger Oculus Store. Still, there are already some very compelling experiences on it, like Beat Saber and Superhot VR, that make it well worth your attention.

The Lenovo Mirage Solo is the Google Daydream version of the Oculus Quest, but it doesn't quite hit the mark. It has the same Snapdragon 835 processor and outward-facing cameras for 6DOF position tracking for the headset itself, but it includes only a single 3DOF motion controller, which severely limits its capabilities. It feels like a half-step between the Go and the Quest, using Google's Daydream platform instead of Oculus, and simply isn't as compelling as the other standalone headsets because of it.

HTC has branched out beyond tethered headsets with the standalone Vive Focus series. Originally launched only in China, the Vive Focus came to North America late last year, and its 6DOF follow-up, the Vive Focus Plus, will see worldwide release later this year. Both are completely self-contained VR headsets similar to the Lenovo Mirage Solo, capable of full motion tracking and room mapping. The Vive Focus headsets are currently being aimed at the enterprise market rather than consumers, emphasizing their ability to offer virtual training and conferencing in a business context.

Google and Samsung were the biggest names in mobile VR, with Google Cardboard and the Daydream View, and Samsung's line of Gear VR headsets. They respectively worked with Google's and Samsung's flagship phones, like the Pixel 3 and the Galaxy S9. However, both companies have been very quiet over the last year or so about the category, with Samsung in particular not having pursued a Gear VR that works with the S10 or Note 10 phones.

Google continues to support the Daydream View, though we'll see if any update is revealed when the Pixel 4 is announced later this year. If you have compatible phones, these headsets offer functional 3DOF VR experiences for just $60 to $130. You slide your phone into one, put it on your head, and start tapping away with the included remote. It's interesting, but underwhelming next to tethered and 6DOF standalone VR experiences. And, if you don't have the right phone and are fine with 3DOF, spending $200 on an Oculus Go is less of an investment than using either of these.

Nintendo's Labo series of games/arts-and-crafts sets for theNintendo Switchhave interested us since the firstLabo Variety Kitcame out. You build your own controllers with cardboard and play games using the Switch and motion-sensing Joy-Con controllers. Now Nintendo has returned to VR (a field it hasn't set foot in since the ill-fated Virtual Boy) with its fourth Labo package, the Labo VR Kit.

The Labo VR Kit has you building a mobile VR headset out of cardboard, like the older Google Cardboard headsets, which you insert the Nintendo Switch into. You then build other controllers, like a camera or a blaster, and attach them to the headset to play games. It's fun and engaging, but even with an impressive game development kit in the software, it's ultimately just a novelty. The Labo VR Kit mostly provides 3DOF motion control, even if it uses the Joy-Cons' motion sensors in some very clever ways (one controller creates a triangulated 6DOF motion control system using both Joy-Cons in tandem), and the Switch's 720p screen offers some of the simplest and grainiest VR graphics we've seen in years. It scores so highly with us because as its own product, a crafts kit for kids who want to learn about VR and game development, it's excellent. It just isn't a feasible VR platform like the other systems discussed here.

The newest breed of mobile headsets can also be considered "tethered," because instead of inserting your phone into the headset itself, you physically connect your phone with a USB-C cable. Qualcomm has been emphasizing the VR and augmented reality capabilities of its Snapdragon 855 processor, and is promoting a new ecosystem ofXR viewers(including both AR and VR devices). These use the aforementioned USB-C connection to run all processing from a smartphone, while keeping the display technology built separately into the VR headset or AR glasses.

Unfortunately, we haven't really seen any consumer AR glasses through the entire Snapdragon 855 generation, though some enterprise devices like theEpson Moverio BT-30Chave shipped. Perhaps we'll see more devices come out when the Snapdragon 865 is released, but for now it's slow going with XR viewers.

You might have seen some other famous visual headsets pop up over the last few years, including theMicrosoft HoloLensand theMagic Leap One. They aren't on this list for a few reasons, but the biggest one is that they're augmented reality (AR) headsets, not virtual reality headsets. And yes,there's a difference.

Basically, these AR headsets have transparent lenses that let you look at your surroundings, instead of completely replacing your vision with a computer-generated image. They can still project images over whatever you're looking at, but those images are designed to complement and interact with the area around you. You can make a web browser pop up in the middle of a room, for instance, or watch animals run around your coffee table. It's fascinating technology that couldhint at the future of computing.

The emphasis here is future, as in several years away. That brings us to the second biggest reason the HoloLens and Magic Leap One aren't on this list: They aren't consumer products. Both devices are purely intended as development hardware, so AR software can be made for their platforms. Even theHoloLens 2, the second iteration of Microsoft's AR headset, is aimed specifically at developers and enterprise users rather than consumers.

Considering each headset costs several thousand dollars (the Magic Leap One is $2,300 and the HoloLens 2 will be $3,500), you shouldn't expect a large library of AR experiences similar to the Oculus and SteamVR stores for a while. It's an early adopter playground at best, and not for most users.

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The Best VR Headsets for 2020 | PCMag

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Why virtual reality is still a pipe dream for the NHL – ESPN

Posted: at 5:30 pm

8:48 AM ET

Greg WyshynskiESPN

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis believes sports are a "communal resource." Even as the coronavirus pandemic shutters arenas and postpones games and creates a murky uncertainty about the future of sports, Leonsis believes the community will have access to that resource again.

"I'm not buying, in any way, that we won't be able to eat in restaurants before a game at Capital One Arena and all be together," he said recently, during a web chat with The Economic Club of Washington. "It's just a matter of what time frame that has to happen in."

Until it happens, Leonsis suggested an alternative means for fans who aren't in the arena to experience the game: "Maybe it's through virtual reality."

Virtual reality and the NHL are like that couple that talks about engagement for a decade but never gets around to ring shopping. I remember back in 2015 when the league tested a 360-degree virtual reality experience at its Stadium Series game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium. Cameras were mounted on the glass, filming HD images. The results were encouraging, providing a panoramic view of some recorded on-ice action. One test even allowed fans to go from watching a play in the stands to floating above the goalie and the goal line. It was pretty cool.

The expectations coming out of that experiment were nothing short of VR eventually changing the way fans watch the game, perhaps even solving the most vexing riddle for the NHL on television: How to transfer the unparalleled joys of watching hockey in an arena to someone's rec room. With VR, it's not only about capturing the speed and scope of live hockey, but also recreating that personal experience for the fan.

"There's going to be a technology soon where you're going to be sitting at home and pick where you want to watch the game. You could be sitting at home and still watch it from your seat," said John Collins, then the league's COO, at the time. "That was the thing that was pretty cool about it: It was a live experience."

That was five years ago.

Surely, virtual reality is ready to bridge the fan experience from the couch to the arena during a global pandemic, right?

"So many people have thrown that out there," San Jose Sharks president Jonathan Becher told me last month. "I'm sorry to say it, but the tech's not there."

Sigh.

This has been the story of VR for my entire life: The virtual promise, followed by the underwhelming reality.

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It was the story when I wore clunky headsets at Six Flags during the summer, spending $5 to "ride" a virtual coaster. It was the story when 1990s movies like "Hackers" and "Disclosure" ineptly incorporated VR into their plots -- remember a digitized Michael Douglas looking for a file in a virtual palace, and it taking about 25 times longer than using a laptop? It was the story with Nintendo's "Virtual Boy." It was the story with Batman: Arkham VR.

It was the story when we asked if VR was a bust in 2016 and when it was a "promise unfulfilled" in 2019 and in The New York Times this week, when author Kevin Roose lamented that "every time, I've found myself excited by the promise of futuristic VR and disappointed by the inevitable letdown of experiencing the actual limited systems" --before extolling the potential of the next generation of VR hardware.

Roose's story asks why, in this time of social distancing, VR hasn't had its moment. Sales of Oculus Quest and PlayStation VR have been brisk, as their limited quantities were snatched up. But as an immersive alternative to ... well, "life as we knew it," there's no strapping on a headset and feeling like you're at the Winter Classic.

Which has to be frustrating for the NHL. VR demos have made more appearances at the All-Star Game in the past five years than Alex Ovechkin has. As the league contemplates how to turn empty arena games into must-see television spectacles, virtually transporting fans into those barren stands to watch playoff action would have been a game-changer. Especially when we're not sure if fans will be back in arenas for the start of the 2020-21 season, either.

"It's great in theory, focusing in on the social aspect -- that you can be watching with your dad or a friend, virtually next to each other," a source that's worked on the NHL's VR ventures told me last week. "But unless the camera tech and compression technology gets better, it would be a very hard lift to have VR be the primary broadcast."

Problem No. 1: The current VR cameras do not zoom, making a live stream of games a staid experience. Problem No. 2: Stitching together multiple camera feeds in real time -- or even a day later -- would be a significant task. That's to say nothing of the file sizes for VR, which are still elephantine, especially since the tech involves an array of HD cameras rather than just one.

"Over time, it may become a reality," said the source, "but it's certainly no short-term solution."

Oh well. Maybe next pandemic.

Some preemptive measures for the eventual return to arenas:

Look, after waiting an hour to enter the building through one designated entrance, getting a temperature check, making our way to our socially distanced seat and cheering for our favorite team through a mask ... if we see you skipping around the concourse in a COVID-19 Jersey Foul, I can assure you that you will not leave the arena wearing that jersey.

The Colorado Avalanche are reportedly ready to bring back the Quebec Nordiques' classic sweaters to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the franchise's relocation. And really, what better way to celebrate than to remind an entire swath of a province of that time a perennial loser abandoned them right before a run of 10 straight playoff appearances and two Stanley Cup championships?

But that got us thinking about other out-of-circulation jerseys we'd like to see make their comebacks in the NHL:

1. New York Rangers: "Liberty Head"

As an Original Six team, I've always believed the Rangers were better than their diagonal text sweaters, which look like a temporary jersey they wore until the actual logo was finished. The "Liberty Head" arrived in 1996 and was worn on and off through 2007.

It's basically perfect, from the gorgeous dark blue to the aggressive spikes on the crown of New York's most iconic woman outside of Cardi B. It's big. It's bold. It's befitting a team from Manhattan. Sure, it's a jersey most closely associated with a period of post-Cup failure and big-budget flops, but what's New York City if not a place for second acts?

2. Buffalo Sabres: "Buffaslug"

As long as we're taking sweaters out of mothballs for anniversaries, 2021 marks the 15th anniversary of the infamous "Buffaslug," on which the Sabres poured salt in 2010. You remember all the detractors: It's an "angry cashew" or "terrible hairpiece" or "embarrassing, even for Buffalo." Has time treated them better? Well, they're clearly not the worst Sabres sweaters of the past 20 years, thanks to that truly terrible 2013 golden alternate jersey. Maybe bring it back for just one night, to see what Jack Eichel looks like in one?

(For what it's worth, the "Slug" has been in the news lately. Please recall it was originally inspired by the San Diego Chargers' logo. The Chargers' flattened new logo, and the L.A. Rams' new look have gotten "Buffaslug" comparisons.)

3. Edmonton Oilers: McFarlane Jerseys

I once asked comics artist Todd McFarlane about the backlash to these jerseys, which he designed and the team wore from 2001 to '07 -- and he said he wasn't aware of any. "If somebody doesn't like something, I don't get hung up on it, because we don't live in a penal colony," he said.

His goal was to create a homage to the Oilers while also making it look cool enough for people outside of Edmonton to buy it, mostly by not putting "Edmonton" or "Oilers" on the logo. (This was his rationale, not mine.)

I loved these jerseys, even if the logo looks like a loogie hocked by Doctor Doom. I think they'd sell more than a few of them with "McDavid 97" on the back. Or maybe I'm just a big fan of Image Comics and still play with my McFarlane Toys. One of the two.

We could have talked to Kevin Bieksa for 10 hours on the podcast this week. Great stories and observations, from the Sedins to the 2011 Cup Final to TikTok stardom. Plus, AHL president Dave Andrews joined us to discuss the league's canceled season. We also talk NHL season restart and more. Listen, subscribe and review here!

Winner: Dave Andrews

Andrews has served his league, and this sport, for 26 years as AHL president. He's stepping down in June, with Scott Howson taking over. It's such a bummer that he won't hand out the Calder Cup at the end of his last season, but he's working hard behind the scenes to make sure the AHL is set up well for a return to the ice in 2020-21. One of the most well-regarded executives in the game, and for good reason. Godspeed.

Loser: "Hockey culture"

Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull lamented that "the fun is gone" in a discussion with Sportsnet's "Hockey Central" on Friday about Brendan Leipsic's sexist and misogynistic comments in a leaked group chat that got him released by the Washington Capitals.

"We did the same things, we said the same things, but there was no way to get caught. We can go out after games, we can go to strip clubs, we can go to bars, and we could do whatever we wanted, and it would all be hearsay. There's no hearsay anymore. It'll be on an iPhone," he said.

Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski take you around the NHL with the latest news, big questions and special guests every episode. Listen here

For the record, Hull called Leipsic and his cohorts "idiots that should have known better, because that can happen." So there's that. He also lamented that pro athletes can't go out after games in the same manner they used to because of the pervasive nature of modern technology, social media and invasive fans. That's fair. But Hull then created a false dichotomy, which is that players bring their Xboxes on the road because they can't go out anymore. "It's so sad, but it's the nature of the game: Do you want to go out with everyone's cellphone on you, or do you want to make sure you don't get in trouble?" he said.

How about this: Guys in their 20s bond over video games and can also leave for some velvet-roped-off bar if they so desire. Crazy, right?

But the biggest problem with Hull's comments were the ultimate context, which is that "the fun is gone" because you never know when "the fun" might leak into public discourse. Look, if "the fun" is sexist or misogynistic or homophobic, and that gets out, the players not only have to answer for it but could lose their spots because if it. That's not how it was with "the fun" back in Hull's day, but thankfully this antiseptic sunshine lighting up the toxic sludge of hockey culture will eventually make the sport "fun" for more people, from a variety of demographics, who don't find any of this stuff "fun" but more causes for why the sport seems repellant to them.

Winner: Washington Capitals

The swiftness of their rebuke of Leipsic's leaked Instagram messages was commendable, as was their decision to release him. Rather than praise the move, many questioned whether they would have done the same for a better player. It's a worthy hypothetical, but let's not lose sight of the fact that there are more grunts like Leipsic on rosters and in the minors than stars like Alex Ovechkin, and this example serves all of them notice to be better.

Loser: The "good old days"

Globe & Mail columnist Cathal Kelly's piece on the Leipsic situation traffics in the worst kind of "Canadian exceptionalism" stereotypes.

It's an impressive feat to cram explanations for hockey's growth, demographic, marketing, personality and cultural problems into one paragraph, and then summarily ignore their consequences.

Winner: Blackhawks and Rangers

The NHL is currently focused on a 24-team playoff in a season restart, which would expand the postseason to include the Rangers (.564 points percentage) and Blackhawks (.514) and their nationwide fan bases that would have nothing else better to do than watch them compete in the NHL postseason. Unless, of course, the NHL does something bonkers and adopts that "divisional" playoff format that's been discussed, where the Sabres (.493) and Ducks (.472) are seeded in play-in series instead.

Loser: Minnesota Wild

According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, the NHL has informed the Minnesota Wild that there is likely "zero chance" that their top prospect Kirill Kaprizov will be permitted to make his NHL debut this summer if the 2019-20 season resumes. "But when the NHL suspended this season March 12, the league instructed teams that no contracts for draft picks or college, junior and European free agents could be signed with a start date of this current season" he wrote.

Why he can't jump into an extended postseason and have a Cale Makar-like impact for Minnesota is just baffling.

Sidney Crosby on a 24-team playoff: "I'd prefer that. There's so many factors, right. The safety of players is No. 1, and if you're able to establish that then you want to keep the integrity of what the playoffs have been for a long, long time. It's difficult to win the Stanley Cup, and you want to win it the right way and that's four best four-out-of-seven series, so that's how we know it. In a time like this, we're all open to ideas and formats and things like that, but you hope we can keep that."

Pavel Datsyuk wants to keep playing. Alas, it appears that would be in the KHL.

Good chat with NHL content boss Steve Mayer, including whether we could see a documentary like "The Last Dance" on Alex Ovechkin in 20 years

What if the Philadelphia Flyers hadn't cut ties with Eric Lindros after the 2000-01 season? "With Lindros back in the fold, instead of wasting away with Mark Messier and the Rangers, we could have a line of Lindros, Simon Gagne, and Mark Recchi. You could also put Jeremy Roenick or John LeClair with him as well. You would have one of the most dominant lines in hockey."

We're rewatching some of the best games of the 2019-20 season and highlighting what to watch for in each of them:

Hurricanes-Maple Leafs, Feb. 22 Watch the replay here Blues-Golden Knights, Feb. 13 Watch the replay here Flyers-Penguins, Jan. 31 Watch the replay here

The St. Louis Blues president and CEO of business operations thinks his city should be a hub arena for the restart. "There will be some [markets] that would be more difficult to play in based on the level of the virus. So yes, we have shown interest and have provided the league with different scenarios and insights around our buildings and how and why we think we'd be a fantastic hub city in the event that that happens."

In case you missed it, this incendiary report by The Victory Press on the NWHL's problems with facilities and general treatment of players burned up the web this week. "There was no bathroom. Once you had your skates and equipment on, you couldn't access the lobby bathrooms. So a lot of players, including myself, we had to pee in a trashcan before practice, once you had your equipment on, because there was just no way you could get to a toilet."

Switzerland has announced a 350 million Swiss franc ($362 million) rescue package for its professional soccer and ice hockey leagues, but insists the money should not be used to pay wages to high-earning players.

Can EA Sports' NHL 20 increase your hockey IQ?

The first openly gay male hockey player believes that the NHL is hypocritical to condemn Brendan Leipsic without changing its culture. "It would be very easy to take a fringe player, cancel him, and then go, 'See, we don't tolerate that,' and then not do any of the work to actually evolve the culture and educate players at the NHL level and grassroots up to actually shift it so players aren't using these words in conversations amongst each other, in locker rooms, in group chats, or anywhere."

Hockey tl;dr

In case you missed this from your friends at ESPN

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Why virtual reality is still a pipe dream for the NHL - ESPN

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"Incredible things are happening" in virtual reality, say architects – Dezeen

Posted: at 5:30 pm

Architects are turning to virtual worlds for both working and socialising during the coronavirus pandemic, with everything from site visits to social events happening in cyberspace.

"Incredible things are happening," said Lara Lesmes of Space Popular, an architecture studio that has pioneered the use of virtual reality in its projects.

"We spend a lot of time in VR," said the London studio's Fredrik Hellberg. "I think we probably both met more new people during the lockdown than we normally would."

"Normally, it'd be really difficult to get people to find a time when everyone can meet up but a lot of people have time to do meet ups in VR."

VR art gallery designed for AA

In the last few days, Space Popular has launched a series of VR environments including the AA Earth Gallery, a virtual showcase created for the Architectural Association school, and SquAAre, a virtual gathering place for unit meetings and socialising.

They have also launched El Laberinto de Pikachu y Badtz-Maru, a simple labyrinth for children to explore, as well as a private world created as a gift for Lesmes' young niece who celebrated her birthday under lockdown in Spain.

All these environments have been created inMozilla Hubs, one of the simplest VR environments and one that can be visited without a VR headset.

More complex VR projects created by the duo include The Venn Room, an installation that explores how virtual reality could create hybrid living spaces where people's lives intersect through the technology.

"VR offers really different kinds of experiences"

Besides work projects, Lesmes and Hellberg spend a lot of time in "social VR" environments.

"It's basically like social media but you wear a headset and you have an avatar and you're in the world together with other actual real human beings," said Hellberg.

"It's like a multiplayer game but it's purely for socializing," said Lesmes. "There is no aim. There is no mission other than being together."

"VR offers really different kinds of experiences and interaction," said architect Arthur Mamou-Mani. "I'm very excited by it."

Last month, Mamou-Mani called on gaming designers to help him realise a VR version of an amphitheatre designed for this summer's now-cancelled Burning Man festival.

Mamou-Mani, who heads Mamou-Mani Architects, said he had received about 30 emails from game designers offering to help.

"They invited me to a virtual Burning Man online and then I went there and had a site meeting," Mamou-Mani said. "It was so surreal because I never really had a virtual site meeting. All the constraints, the physics of things falling down, you don't really have to think about that."

Mamou-Mani has been invited to several virtual festivals set up on different VR platforms. "I've experienced one virtual Burning Man inside something called AltspaceVR, which is a platform you can download," he said. "I'm experiencing other things in Second Life."

"You just suddenly feel space in a different way," Mamou-Mani added.

Space Popular spoke live to Dezeen last week as part of the Screentime series of live interviews set up as part of Virtual Design Festival, while Mamou-Mani took part in a live discussion with Dezeen Awards judges and winners.

Architect Sarah Izod, who was also part of the Dezeen Awards session, said her clients were now asking her to consider building virtual experiences to replace cancelled real-world events.

"That's something that I'm working on at the moment, said Izod. "There are so many brands who would have been launching new products that are looking for new opportunities in which to do that."

Dezeen Awards 2020 judge Talenia Phua Gajardo of Singapore art platform The Artling said galleries were turning to VR to allow clients to experience larger artworks.

"In terms of Virtual Reality within the art world, we're seeing it already," she said, citing the virtual museum set up by collectors Sylvain and Dominique Levy, a new virtual gallery by Hauser & Wirth and Frieze art fair, which has launched a virtual fair.

"One of the barriers when people are shopping online, whether it's for design pieces or artworks, is the sense of scale that's quite hard to get," said Phua Gajardo. "VR solves that problem."

"5G is gonna open a lot of doors"

Space Popular's Lesmes and Hellberg said that virtual reality had failed to live up to the early hype due to issues with uncomfortable headsets and slow internet connections.

"Technically it's an issue of hardware and software," said Lesmes, who said improvements to the experience were "just around the corner".

"5G is gonna open a lot of doors," she said. "At the same time, we now are seeing incredible improvements in real-time engines, so we don't have to wait for a render any more."

"The virtual is not going to replace anything physical"

"We're finding ourselves in that kind of fax machine moment," said Hellberg, referring to the way that facsimile technology was quickly replaced by superior digital tools.

However, Lesmes cautioned that VR was not about to solve issues created by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Everyone is rushing now to try to use the virtual as a bandaid for the problems that we have at the moment," she said. "It doesn't work like that. They complement each other but the virtual is not going to replace anything physical."

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Augmented and Virtual Reality Radiology at the Center of Medical Technology – Diagnostic Imaging

Posted: at 5:30 pm

Augmented and virtual reality are among some of the newest technologies to reach a sophistication viable for medical use. Augmented reality (AR) is the integration of virtual components onto the background of reality, while virtual reality (VR) is a complete and isolated virtual display.

The most popular utilization of AR and VR is in entertainment devices, such as video games, but the versatility and responsiveness of the technologies have allowed for exciting developments in healthcare, as well. In some ways, it can be said that interventional radiologists have been using these techniques for their entire existence. In essence, anytime a fluoroscopic projection is used during a procedure, that is technically an augmentation of reality used to help visualize internal structures in real time.

Utilizing recent AR and VR technological advances, radiographic data can now be used to create a display with more integration and interaction. In addition to its utility in image-guided procedures, AR and VR have also found niche roles in the education of trainees and for direct benefits to patients, as well, though the technology is not without its drawbacks.

One of the most promising uses of AR technology, specifically, is procedural planning and guidance. In the operating room, AR displays are generated using advanced algorithms that interpret CT data into a 3D map of structures delineated by density (Tang et al.). This map can, then, be displayed in several ways, such as on a screen nearby, through a headset, or projected onto the patient themselves depending on the needs of the procedure. Then, a plan can be drawn onto the augmented surgical field before the first cut.

Not only can structures, such as vessels and tumors, be overlaid onto a display of the surgical field, but organ movements and deformations can be accounted for in real time to update the display. This gives some compensation for the lack of tactile feedback during laparoscopic procedures and allows for a better real-time visualization of underlying structures. Tang and colleagues demonstrated the value of these displays for hepatobiliary surgery, but these techniques can be applied to just about any surgical procedure that can be planned far enough in advance.

AR projectors can already integrate navigation aids in MRI-guided procedures to assist in carrying out the procedure such as Mewes et al. describes. Wherever radiographic information exists before or during a procedure, AR stands to improve the integration of that information in the OR, and radiologists are the gatekeepers of this technology with their knowledge of medical informatics and mastery of radiologic anatomy.

With AR and VR already in the public consciousness as powerful tools of media consumption, it should come as no surprise that they have been quickly modified to work as compelling interactive forms of education. Progress has been made in developing AR tools for the advance of tele-mentoring, the use of displays to mentor trainees at long distance (Andersen et al.). AR allows for mentors to annotate directly on the students display so the trainee is no longer required to shift attention between a separate screen and their work and the training procedure can be done collaboratively. This system would also allow a more experienced interventional radiologist or surgeon to assist one doing an unfamiliar procedure without the need for transportation of the expert to the patient.

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Virtual Reality The New Normal – monroviaweekly

Posted: at 5:30 pm

Man wearing a VR headset. Courtesy photo byEugene CaponfromPexels

By Terry Miller

Amidstthe COVID-19 outbreak, people across the globe are being urged to work from home in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. We have to re-think how we communicate with our colleagues to ensure continued performance and, importantly, morale, this, according to Forbes.

Its odd to think that only 57 days ago, the very word virtual was not really part of our lexicon and yet now, some parts of our lives appear to be computer-generated, in some shape or form.

Dentists are now offering virtual visits as are regular general practitioners. (Now, that I really like. Pain free, indeed.)

I believe were close to virtually not touching or seeing anyone in person, unless we absolutely have to or want to.

We have virtual meetings via Zoom or conference calls and virtual happy hours (not really sure how that works).

Virtual reality(VR) is asimulatedexperience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world.Applications of VRcan include entertainment and educational purposes. Currently, standard VR systems use eitherheadsetsor multi-projected environments to generate realistic images, sounds and sensations that simulate a users physical presence in a virtual environment. A person using the equipment may be able to look around the artificial world, move around in it, and interact with virtual features or items. The effect is commonly created by VR headsets consisting of ahead-mounted displaywith a small screen in front of the eyes, but can also be created through specially designed rooms with multiple large screens. VR usually incorporatesauditoryandvideo feedback, but may also allow other types of sensory feedback.

According to Forbes:

A video call is better than a traditional phone call. However, VR still has advantages over video conferencing because the participants are in the same virtual space. Therefore, you can share and work together in real-time in a truly collaborative manner. You can import custom environments or 3D objects, and you can work together via interactive whiteboards. Participants can also revisit simulations to better process and record the content.

An additional benefit of VR is that all distractions are removed and people can be fully focused on what is happening around them. In fact,MeetinVRclaims that there is a 25% increase in attention span when meeting in virtual reality compared to video conferencing. Furthermore, research suggests we retain more information and can better apply what we have learned after participating in virtual reality.

Historically, high quality VR has been expensive but Facebook released a VR headset, Oculus Quest, which is more affordable.

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Virtual Reality Blood Flow Simulation To Improve Cardiovascular Interventions – Duke Today

Posted: at 5:30 pm

Biomedical engineers at Duke University are developing a massive fluid dynamics simulator that can model blood flow through the full human arterial system at subcellular resolution. One of the goals of the effort is to provide doctors with guidance in their treatment plans by allowing them to simulate a patients specific vasculature and accurately predict how decisions such as stent placement, conduit insertions and other geometric alterations to blood flow will affect surgical outcomes.

One of the largest barriers to clinical adoption however, is developing a user interface that allows clinicians to easily explore their options without needing any expertise in computer science. As any programmer will tell you, designing a smooth, intuitive interface that people from all types of backgrounds can quickly master is a tall task.

In a new study published on May 7 in the Journal of Computational Science, the Duke researchers report on their initial foray into creating a user interface for their blood flow simulation tool called HARVEY. They explored various interfaces ranging from standard desktop displays to immersive virtual reality experiences and found that, while users might be comfortable using a standard mouse and keyboard, some more futuristic interfaces might hold the key to widespread adoption.

HARVEY currently requires knowledge of C coding and command line interfaces, which really limits who can use the program, said Amanda Randles, the Alfred Winborne and Victoria Stover Mordecai Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Duke. This paper introduces a graphical user interface weve developed called Harvis, so that anybody can use Harvey, whether theyre surgeons trying to figure out the best placement for a stent or biomedical researchers trying to design a new type of stent altogether.

Randles has been developing the HARVEY code for nearly a decade, having begun the work as a doctoral student in the research group of Efthimios Kaxiras, the John Hasbrouck Van Vleck Professor of Pure and Applied Physics at Harvard University. In that time, she has demonstrated that HARVEY can accurately model blood flow through patient-specific aortas and other vascular geometries on longer scales. Shes also shown the program can model 3D blood flows on the scale of the full human body.

Putting HARVEY to work, Randles has helped researchers understand stent treatment of cerebral aneurysms and the growth of aneurysms. She has created a quick, noninvasive way to check for peripheral arterial disease, and to better understand how circulating cancer cells adhere to different tissues. With steady progress on the computational abilities of the code and demonstrated usefulness in real-world applications, Randles is now working to make sure others can make the best use of its abilities.

As cardiovascular disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the US, the ability to improve treatment planning and outcome remains a significant challenge, said Randles. With the maturity and availability of VR/AR devices, we need to understand the role these technologies can play in the interaction with such data. This research is a much-needed step for developing future software to combat cardiovascular disease.

In the new study, Randles and her biomedical engineering colleagues, research associate Harvey Shi and graduate student Jeff Ames, put the Harvis interface theyve been developing to the test. They asked medical students and biomedical researchers to simulate three different situations placing a conduit between two blood vessels, expanding or shrinking the size of a blood vessel, or placing a stent within a blood vessel. The test users attempted these tasks using either a standard mouse and computer screen, a Z-space semi-immersive virtual reality device, or a fully immersive virtual reality experience with an HTC Vive display device.

The results show that the students and researchers could use the standard mouse and keyboard interface and the fully immersive VR interface equally as well in a majority of cases both quantitatively and qualitatively. The semi-immersive display, basically a special pointing tool combined with a monitor and 3D glasses, however, ranked behind the other two devices, as the users had some issues adjusting to the unique hardware setup and controls.

The study also presents a generalizable design architecture for other simulated workflows, laying out a detailed description of the rationale for the design of Harvis, which can be extended to similar platforms.

While the study did not find any major differences between the most and least immersive interfaces in terms of quality and efficiency, Randles did notice a major difference between the users reactions to the equipment.

People enjoyed the 3D interface more, said Randles. And if they enjoyed it more, theyre more likely to actually use it. It could also be a fun and exciting way to get students engaged in classes about the vasculature system and hemodynamics.

Randles says she plans on running experiments to see if her 3D blood flow interface can help medical students retain important knowledge better than current standards. In the future, tools like this could assist with treatment planning such as placements of stents using a more intuitive virtual reality interface. Randles also expects these types of tools will facilitate biomedical research in the personalized flow space.

CITATION: Harvis: An Interactive Virtual Reality Tool For Hemodynamic Modification And Simulation, Harvey Shi, Jeff Ames, Amanda Randles. Journal of Comp. Sci., 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.jocs.2020.101091

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Cemtrex Receives Virtual Reality (VR) Application Order from VF Corp – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 5:30 pm

Brooklyn, NY, May 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- - Cemtrex (Nasdaq: CETX, CETXP, CETXW) announced today that it has received an order from VF Corporation (VFC) to build a virtual reality (VR) application. The VR application is aimed for corporate and third party use around creating better retail experiences for customers. The application also provides training solutions for VF Corps employees and its retail partners.

In the wake of COVID-19, many companies are turning to virtual reality to deliver on the needs of customers while getting around social distancing protocols. Virtual reality provides new avenues for collaboration, training, and engagement around employees that are now working from home. Additionally, VR offers companies the opportunity to reach customers at a time when almost all retail stores are shuttered with no end in sight. Many companies like VF Corp are getting out in front of the challenges stay-at-home orders have presented by investing in the latest VR technology to adapt in this rapidly changing environment. Cemtrex already has a head start in developing VR applications and has developed numerous VR applications and products for a diversified group of clients over the past two years.

CemtrexLabs, a division of Cemtrex, will be delivering the application within this quarter and it will be built on Oculus Quest. The Company sees this order as a long-term opportunity to work with VF Corp to roll out cutting-edge, VR applications, that can scale across their many brands and retail touch points.

CemtrexLabs is an award winning, full-stack creative agency made up of artists, designers and engineers who have worked with some of the worlds leading brands, such as Richemont, AARP, Live Nation, Essence and WMagazine, to create engaging experiences and elevate their digital presence in their industries. CemtrexLabs has expertise in AR/VR development, machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), user experience and interface design, data migrations/ re-platforming, web, and mobile. They offer help from developing brands strategy to engineering concepts into a reality.

Chairman and CEO of Cemtrex, Saagar Govil, commented, We are continuing to see increased demand for virtual reality development services, and we believe this market is going to explode over the next 24 months. More and more companies and organizations are converging on virtual reality as the long-term solution to foster engagement, collaboration, and innovation in this new environment. As one of the leading developers in the space, we believe we are well positioned to capitalize on this market as it continues to expand.

Augmented and Virtual Realities are among the fastest growing business areas, which are expected to reach over $500 billion by 2025. The industries that will generate VR and AR opportunities include industrial design, medical diagnostics, entertainment, sports, training simulations, productivity tools, social experiences, manufacturing optimization, app development, tourism, & advertising. All industries whether retail, education, social media, healthcare or manufacturing, will experience widespread disruption and innovation in their products and services by utilizing VR & AR solutions to increase their profitability in the coming decade.

About Cemtrex

Cemtrex, Inc. (NASDAQ; CETX) is a diversified technology company that is driving innovation in a wide range of sectors, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices, virtual and augmented realities (VR & AR) applications and development, intelligent security systems leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), and industrial solutions. http://www.cemtrex.com

About Cemtrex

Safe Harbor StatementThis press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements relating to our new product offerings or any proposed fundraising activities. These forward-looking statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in or implied by such forward looking statements. Statements made herein are as of the date of this press release and should not be relied upon as of any subsequent date. These risks and uncertainties are discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" contained in our Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All information in this press release is as of the date of the release and we undertake no duty to update this information unless required by law.

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For further information, please contact:

Investor RelationsCemtrex, Inc.Phone: 631-756-9116investors@cemtrex.com

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Is Virtual Reality Missing Its Moment? – TechSpot

Posted: at 5:30 pm

When Facebook announced they were acquiring VR pioneer Oculus in early 2014 for $2 billion, I was a bit perplexed. Less than two years removed from its splashy debut on Kickstarter, Oculus flagship Rift headset still a developer kit at that time was under new ownership after having been marketed exclusively as a gaming accessory.

Many believed VR would take video games to the next level. Legendary game maker John Carmack was so convinced that he resigned from id Software to devote his full attention to Oculus as the companys CTO.

Facebook was also building a name for themselves in the gaming industry as they served as the backbone for social networking titles like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. Perhaps Facebook had a genuine interest in realigning itself with gaming and intended to use virtual reality as a vehicle to do just that?

Well, not so fast.

While Facebook would continue to dabble in VR gaming over the next several years, it became clear that founder Mark Zuckerberg had other plans for Oculus. Zuckerberg said at the time that mobile was the platform of today but Oculus had the opportunity to help create the most social platform ever and change how we work, play, and communicate.

Zuckerberg let us in on that vision a few years later. At the 2017 F8 developer conference, Facebook launched an open beta for Facebook Spaces. Spaces was a VR version of the social network where people could interact in imaginary environments as cartoon-style avatars.

The keyword here is was. Facebook abandoned Spaces last year alongside Oculus Rooms, an app that let users create virtual spaces and invite friends to hang out, watch movies, play games, and so on.

Spaces seemed solid enough in theory but like many early virtual reality games, it was lacking. The whole thing felt primitive and rudimentary more like a tech demo than a compelling experience with any true depth or fun factor. Simply, Spaces wasnt as good as what it was trying to replace, just as early VR games couldnt hold a candle to traditional games.

Many factors contributed to VRs early fumbles, although this was to be expected for novel technology. Initial VR goggles were bulky and expensive, requiring powerful computers to drive their visuals. Even with a capable computer, the optical components within the goggles werent up to snuff, resulting in shortcomings like a limited field of view and a screen door effect due to low resolution panels.

The industry attempted to address the high cost and low adoption of VR headsets by joining forces with handset makers to create VR viewers that relied on smartphones to power their experience. The most famous example of this came through a collaboration involving Samsung and Oculus known as the Gear VR.

Consumers showed some initial interest in these at first but that didnt last. Samsung has since abandoned support for Gear VR.

So where does VR stand today? Thats difficult to say, really.

On the gaming front, titles like Eve: Valkyrie, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and No Mans Sky have all moved the needle in a meaningful way although none more so than Half-Life: Alyx. Valves VR adventure has earned top marks (92/100) and is considered by many to be a medium-defining game.

All of these titles are far more complex than the first wave of VR titles (heres looking at you, Job Simulator) and a lot more fun, too. VRs trajectory could have looked much different had quality games like these been available a few years earlier.

The hardware is getting better, too, across a variety of price points.

The Valve Index, launched nearly a year ago, remains a hot commodity thats still tough to come by. The standalone Oculus Quest, which can also be plugged into a PC, continues to be a top contributor as one of Facebooks non-advertising revenue streams. In the most recent quarter, Facebook said this division generated $297 million in revenue, an 80 percent increase compared to the $165 million its non-advertising bets brought in during the same period a year ago.

According to Steams April 2020 hardware survey, fewer than two percent of users have VR headsets. Sony has done alright with its PlayStation VR, having moved in excess of five million units, but thats still just a fraction of the more than 106 million PlayStation 4 consoles that are in the wild.

The third pillar social is arguably the furthest behind the eight ball.

Oculus said last year that it was working on a successor to Facebook Spaces. Currently out in beta and scheduled to launch on a larger scale sometime in 2020, Horizon will task newcomers with creating an avatar to express their individuality. From there, youll be dropped into a bustling town square where you can meet and mingle with others or teleport to new worlds filled with adventure and exploration.

Using the World Builder, anyone will be able to create new worlds and activities, from tropical hangout spots to interactive action arenas where you can build, play or simply hang out. That all sounds a bit exhausting, no?

Facebook Horizon feels more akin to experiences we already have. Online virtual world Second Life launched way back in 2003. Minecraft has supported VR since 2016. And most recently, Epic added a Party Royale mode to Fortnite that delivers a virtual playground loaded with all sorts of activities that actually look fun.

Even with better games and more impressive hardware, the sobering realization is that VR remains far from widespread adoption.

Even with better games and more impressive hardware, the sobering realization is that VR remains far from widespread adoption. Without a strong social presence, itll be that much harder for virtual reality to garner the mainstream traction needed to reach the masses and become a game-changing medium.

Facebook may have had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capitalize on an unfortunate circumstance with the pandemic. Practicing social distancing with stay-at-home orders in place for two months now (and counting) would have given people the time, opportunity, and desire to connect with others through virtual reality. It could have supplemented human interaction at a unique time when we are being told to stay away from others.

Perhaps the situation hit us, but VR in general is simply not there yet.

You may argue Facebook has squandered a major opportunity. Much of Oculus original staff has departed over the past few years including co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe. Carmack also stepped down as CTO to focus on artificial intelligence.

Six years in, it's clear Facebook is no closer to figuring out social VR than it was when it bought Oculus. Perhaps fortunately, Facebook doesnt have a monopoly on social media and virtual reality. While the company is in the best position to explore social connectivity with VR, the market is wide open for anyone to swoop in and create a compelling experience. Things will eventually go back to normal but theyll never be the same again.

Image credit: Andrush, Road to VR, Tinxi, GamerToTheEnd, IRINA SHI

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Benedict Evans on the virtual reality winter – Scoop.co.nz

Posted: at 5:30 pm

InTheVR winter Benedict Evans writes about virtualreality and its failure to take off:

Silicon Graphics teased journalists with a vision ofhow the technology might work for business analytics. Itsounded convincing at the time.

The idea went somethingalong these lines:

And soon..."

A more practical and topical use ofimmersive three-dimensional graphics might allow researchersto walk around and explore a giant model of, say, a virus tohelp identify weak spots that medicine or a vaccine couldaddress.

In his story, Evans works through most of thereasons why virtual reality never took off. In part it wasalways too niche. He offers other reasons, but I think hemisses something in his story.

I've yet to see a VRexperience which is not so bad that I'm embarrassed for thepeople who made it. There was a VR presentation at anAuckland press conference a year or so ago. Apart fromfeeling slightly sick and disoriented during thepresentation, it was, to say the least unimpressive.

Threeyears ago at Mobile World Congress a slew of mobile handsetcompanies showed VR systems based on phones. There were atleast seven displays, but between them there were only twopieces of content on show. Most shared the same rollercoaster ride VR demonstration.

At the time I noted thatthe fact so many huge names had to show the same content atone of the world's biggest tech events implied there'sprecious little worthwhile content. At last year's MobileWorld Congress, the most visible VR content was the samedemonstration. The technology may or may not have beenbetter. Either way it left me cold. Yet the companiespushing it hadn't bothered to invest in creating the contentto show it off.

For VR to take off it needskiller content, but creating immersive, high resolutioncontent is expensive. Far more expensive per minute ofcontent than the cost of a blockbuster movie. And yet almosteveryone can watch a blockbuster movie. Only a handful ofpeople can watch VR. Not enough to make it worth creatingthat blockbuster content.

So until this is resolved oruntil someone creates a mainstream business applicationusing the technology, VR going to remain a backwater. Everyso often the idea will get dusted down and presented againbefore it's put back in the too hard basket.

Benedict Evans on the virtual realitywinter was first posted atbillbennett.co.nz.

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Bill Bennett publishes technology news and features that are directly relevant to New Zealand readers.

Covering enterprise and small business computing, start-ups, listed companies, the technology channel and devices. Bennett's main focus is on New Zealand innovation.

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US expansion for Derby digital visualisation and virtual reality company – East Midlands Business Link

Posted: at 5:30 pm

Digital visualisation and virtual reality company Bloc Digital has created a North American office and appointed its first permanent US member of staff.

The Derby-based firm, which supports business through 3D modelling, animation, immersive (VR and AR), and web solutions, has experienced rapid growth within UK and European markets in the last five years.

Director Keith Cox said: The digital nature of our business means we have a truly global reach, being able to work with international customers as easily as those based within the UK.

We have been enjoying fundamental growth in the North American manufacturing and technology sectors over the past 12 months, with income generated there multiplying by more than a factor of 10. The establishment of a permanent US base is a logical and strategic development to continue our strength.

Bloc Digital was founded as a start-up in 2000 by Keith Cox and Chris Hotham, both former technical illustrators.

The business now has a growing portfolio of international clients across engineering, pharmaceutical, technology and manufacturing sectors. It has simultaneously expanded into a wider Bloc family with three new specialist markets (Bloc Media, Bloc Creative and Bloc Arch Viz) and now employs 50 people across the four divisions.

The appointment of US Client Manager Sam Swayze, who will focus on developing engineering and manufacturing markets, marks a significant milestone in the companys development.

Creative Director, Chris Hotham said: Recent global events have shown the increased need for businesses to embrace digital technologies and solutions, particularly within virtual and augmented reality environments.

Our solutions and products deliver real-time benefits to businesses, enabling them to work smarter, operate more efficiently and deliver greater impact. Were incredibly proud of our US growth, to be flying the flag for UK talent, skill and success and strengthening our position at the forefront of this industry.

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