Recapping the top stories covered on the VRScout Report, a weekly live video show and podcast discussing the best in VR, hosted by Malia Probst. You can enjoy the full audio recording below:
In this week’s VRScout Report, we discuss Microsoft and Intel teaming up to influence the development of VR/AR with mixed reality headset Project Alloy. Deepak Chopra wants to guide your VR meditation and STRATA uses your biometric data as a control scheme. We also cover brain-machine interfaces with VR helping paralyzed people regain some control over their limbs, as well as the New York Times continuing to build out its VR plan.
1. MICROSOFT AND INTEL’S NEW BABY: PROJECT ALLOY
Wintel is back at it: the two giants whose 1980s alliance established standards in the tumultuous early microcomputer industry are attempting the same thing in the current nascent consumer VR/AR space. At the three-day Intel Developer Forum, the two companies showed a united front as well as a cordless mixed reality headset called Project Alloy. Microsoft has been pushing the term “mixed reality” for the Hololens, its augmented reality headset, and now they are introducing another phrase: “merged reality.” Project Alloy, although more of a prototype, is aiming at the mid-market: higher quality than mobile-powered VR/AR, but lower than a tethered PC rig like the Rift of HTC Vive. Project Alloy will be open source and the dual RealSense cameras will reportedly let you bring your hands into the virtual environment… or merged reality space. Whatever we’re calling it today.
Also, hey Angelenos – Intel is moving in. The chipmaker is building a new studio in LA to help third parties create virtual reality using their technology, and taking aim at the sports and entertainment industry.
2. TAKE A VIRTUAL RIDE INTO CONSCIOUSNESS WITH DEEPAK CHOPRA
Deepak Chopra, the world-renowned New Age bestselling author and speaker, has made a guided meditation experience with WEVR along with his filmmaker son, Gotham Chopra. Although not yet officially released, I got to experience a preview – and it’s fantastic. A calming trip through the cosmos, it’s a beautiful exploration of color therapy and traditional Hindu symbolism – a dizzying yet soothing experience led by Deepak’s famous harmonious voice.
3. THE BODY AND BRAIN AS CONTROLLERS IN VR THERAPY
A gorgeous experiment from The Mill, STRATA is a virtual reality experience that builds procedurally-generated worlds (built to be unique every visit) from your biometric data. The system measures physiological markers like your breathing, heart rate, and the audio and visuals of the world are generated from these markers. The “goal” of STRATA is to soothe you – the more calm you become, the higher you float in the responsive world. It will be interesting to see how biometrics as a control scheme in virtual reality consumer products will evolve – as well as present a host of ethical and security issues.
At Duke University in North Carolina, 8 paralyzed people have regained some use of their limbs thanks to brain-controlled robotic system training. After a year of training, a diagnosis of complete paralysis was updated to partial paralysis. The subjects spent a minimum of two hours a week using their mind to control their avatar, or digital likeness, in a virtual reality environment. Practicing with brain-machine interfaces like this is thought to re-awaken spinal nerves that are intact but have stopped communicating.
4. NOKIA OZO ON SALE… SORT OF
…and you’ll still have to cough up $45K. The Nokia Ozo, originally $60,000, is a professional end-to-end solution for high-level 360 degree film shoots with big budgets. Releasing to China in September, the Ozo has been snapped up by studios like Disney and a spokesperson claims “sales have been better than anticipated.”
5. YOU CAN’T BUY LOVE, BUT THE NEW YORK TIMES BOUGHT FAKE LOVE
A virtual reality-focused agency, Brooklyn-based Fake Love, was acquired by the New York Times. The NYT has been in the VR space for a while, partnering with Google to give away millions of NYT-branded Cardboard headsets as well as producing content for its own freestanding VR mobile app (one of the favorites available for iOS). Fake Love is part of the NYT’s aim of adding to its revenue streams by offering ad agency services, and will be helping the Times enlarge its internal marketing arm T Brand Studio. The company has offices in Dubai as well, and has already been working with the Times on experiential projects for big brands like Coca-Cola, Google, Nike, and Twitter.
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