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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Virtual Reality
Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:22 pm
IMAX forecasts profits in the field of virtual reality. Image source: IMAX.
IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX)is the acknowledged industry leader in the premium large theater format and has built its reputation on the continuous innovation of its digital movie camera and high-performance laser projection system. With that expertise, it should come as no surprise that, whenAlphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) Google decided to enter the field of virtual reality, it partnered with IMAX to develop the best “cinema-grade virtual reality (VR) camera.” IMAX is providing a crew of engineers and technicians that will collaborate with Google to develop a high-resolution camera from scratch to address the unique challenges presented by virtual reality. It will leverage Google’s Jump platform, which stitches together 360 degree video into a seamless panoramic view, providing an immersive experience.
IMAX then announced a virtual reality location-based initiative, in a joint venture with the game developer Starbreeze AB. This agreement would integrate the company’s StarVR headset, which provides an industry-leading 210-degree view, and its library of virtual reality games and entertainment with content produced on the IMAX Google VR camera. Going further, IMAX is looking to leverage its existing relationships with Hollywood studios and directors to create new movie-based content.
Google’s Jump 360 degree camera rig. Image source: Google.
Several notable Hollywood heavyweights are already onboard.Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE:LGF-A)will lend the lead character from its John Wick movies to the effort. Peter Levin, President of Interactive Ventures and Games for Lionsgate had this to say:
We are big believers in location-based entertainment VR and this is a great opportunity to expand the reach of our VR portfolio.
Michael Bay, best known as the director of Hasbro’s (NASDAQ:HAS) highly successful Transformersfranchise said:
I’ve always been a big believer in IMAX, which has been a great longtime partner…As a filmmaker, IMAX’s location-based VR offering presents an exciting opportunity to transport audiences even further into the worlds we create. We are in advanced discussions with IMAX now on some fun VR concepts and I look forward to test-driving their new technology.
John Wick joins IMAX VR team. Image source: IMAX.
IMAX envisions a communal virtual reality experience that friends would enjoy together, which would be available at multiplexes and shopping malls, as well as popular tourist destinations. Late last year, the company announced that it, and a number of its partners, had completed the first round of funding — which amounted to $50 million — to create 25 pieces of content over the next three years.
This technology may be in the early stages, but it is ramping up fast. A reportby Goldman Sachs estimates that virtual reality — and its kissing cousin augmented reality — could become an $80 billion industry by 2025. Investing now in this revolutionary technology could pay significant dividends in years to come. IMAX feels it is a natural fit with its existing business. On its most recent conference call, IMAX said:
The core requirements of launching a location-based VR experience line up nicely with our company’s core skill sets. We have studio and film maker relationships on the content side; capture mechanisms for new content; relationships with exhibitors and real estate developers for potential VR sites; and a brand that is synonymous with immersive experiences.
IMAX has tied the disparate parts of the virtual reality experience together in a nice neat package. With its own cutting-edge filming and projecting technology, Google’s Jump, Starbreeze headsets and games, and buy-in from Hollywood heavyweights brandishing premium content. Investors looking to invest in the nascent area of virtual reality should grab some popcorn. The movies about to start.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Danny Vena owns shares of Alphabet (A shares), Hasbro, IMAX, Lions Gate Entertainment Class A, and Lions Gate Entertainment Class B. Danny Vena has the following options: long January 2018 $640 calls on Alphabet (C shares), short January 2018 $650 calls on Alphabet (C shares), and long January 2018 $15 calls on Lions Gate Entertainment Class A. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Hasbro, IMAX, Lions Gate Entertainment Class A, and Lions Gate Entertainment Class B. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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Posted: at 3:22 pm
Deakin virtual reality experts are using technology to help medical students become better doctors and nurses by creating “real” medical scenarios. They were demonstrating the latest technology at the Geelong Pivot Summit. Video: Elle Richards
Ed Hassall has learnt to use his VR headset in short bursts to avoid eye strain and dizziness. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
OPTOMETRISTS have issued a warning that virtual reality could be damaging peoples eyes as a new study shows that Australians are on the cusp of a VR revolution.
Bupa Optical senior optometrist Karen Makin said there was early evidence linking VR headsets to eye problems but there needed to be more research into long-term use.
Theres not been a lot of research done in the field and thats the concern because it is unknown, he said.
Virtual reality is wonderful technology and will play a big role in our future, but the reality is that we just dont know yet what the impact it will have on peoples eyes in the long run.
The problem with VR headsets, which have been linked to eye strain and dry eye problems, relates to what eye specialists call the convergence-accommodation reflex.
In the real world, our eyes converge and focus on the same point. In the virtual world the eyes focus on the screen which remains a set distance from the eye but the convergence of objects changes as they move around the virtual space.
Sony PlayStation VR will kick off virtual reality boom, experts say
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Optometrists have called for more research into the effects of long-term use of VR headsets. Picture: Jake NowakowskiSource:News Corp Australia
If youre looking at a computer screen, or a smartphone, or a tablet or a book, the eyes are converged so that theyre meeting at that distance wherever youre holding it from you and the focus of your eyes is focused at that distance at well, so theyre in synch, Ms Makin said.
But with the virtual reality, the screen is only a short distance.
Makers of virtual reality headsets, including Google, Samsung and Sony, recommend that people only use them for short periods of time, taking a 15-minute break every half an hour and that they are not suitable for children under 12.
Ed Hassall, 39, of Ivanhoe, who has been using a Samsung Gear VR headset for nine months, said he experienced the problems of eye strain and dizziness the first time he dived into virtual reality.
I remember with my first session, I probably went a bit long and used it for about 40 or 45 minutes. I felt really dizzy and a little bit sick, he said.
Mr Hassall said the immersive experience of VR made it easy to forget about taking regular rests but he tried to restrict his sessions to the recommended time of under 30 minutes to eliminate the eye strain problems and travel sickness feelings that can be linked to VR use.
The Telsyte Australian Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Study 2017 this week shows that 200,000 Australians bought a VR headset in the last year. By 2021, the report predicts a quarter of Australian homes will have a VR headset.
Ms Mankin said vision problems linked to VR headsets were likely to become more common as the technology became mainstream and the content became more immersive.
Potentially you just get sucked in and before you know two hours is gone and youve stared at this thing for all of this time, Ms Makin said.
She said people using VR should come back to the real world every 30 minutes to rest their eyes.
In that break I wouldnt suggest you hop on your smartphone or tablet, she said. Go for a walk out your backyard and do something different.
Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:27 pm
New York Times
California Today: In Virtual Reality, Investigating the Trayvon Martin Case
New York Times
In turning the Trayvon Martin tragedy into a virtual reality film, the director Nonny de la Pea combed through public court records and stitched together 911 calls to structure an auditory narrative of the rainy night that ended in the shooting death …
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Posted: at 6:27 pm
CLEVELAND– The Cleveland Auto Show starts Friday at 5 p.m. at the I-X Center with more than a thousand vehicles on display.
For more information, including dates, times, admission and schedule, click here
While every brand offers its own unique features, there is one car that is completely unlike the rest. In the Chevrolet section, you’ll find the Lego Batmobile.
It stands 7 feet tall and 17 feet long with more than 344,000 Lego bricks. Master builders spent 222 hours designing the Batmobile and another 1,833 putting it together.
Another highlight of 2017 Cleveland Auto Show is the virtual reality test drive. Put on the headset to experience the look, feel and acceleration of the 2017 Honda Civic Si in Monument Valley, Ariz.
See what happened when FOX 8’s Roosevelt Leftwich got behind the wheel.
There are more traditional ways to test drive a vehicle and Camp Jeep draws a crowd. Take a seat and ride along with a professional driver through a course that demonstrates Jeep’s off-road capabilities. New this year is the Ram Truck Territory, which takes participants through an obstacle course, plus shows off the trucks’ torque and payload.
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Posted: at 6:27 pm
Virtual reality is quickly gaining steam in the gaming industry. But an MIT startup is now aiming the technology at a different demographic, putting it to use as a health care tool for the elderly.
At last nights MIT Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize pitch competition, Rendever earned the $25,000 grand prize for creating a virtual-reality platform that gives residents in assisted-living facilities the chance to explore the world virtually. The platform also provides cognitive therapy and tracks movement data to aid in early diagnosis of dementia.
Were using virtual reality to improve the way we age, so you dont become isolated, dont become depressed, and you can keep your mind happy and healthy, said Rendever co-founder and CEO Dennis Lally, an MIT Sloan School of Management student who launched the startup with classmate Reed Hayes.
Rendever was one of eight finalist teams winnowed down from 50 applicants to pitch health care innovation ideas to a panel of expert judges and a capacity audience last night at the MIT Wong Auditorium in the Tang Center. The competition, part of the 14th annual MIT Sloan Healthcare and BioInnovations Conference (being held today in the MIT Media Lab), is organized by the student-run MIT Sloan Healthcare Club to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the health care space.
A second-place prize of $4,000 went to Need-a-Knee, a team of MIT mechanical engineering undergraduates developing an inexpensive leg prosthetic that allows users to sit cross-legged an important part of culture in countries such as India, where current models dont allow for such flexibility.
Day Zero Diagnostics, a team from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, earned a $1,000 audience-choice prize for developing a diagnostic tool that makes the detection of specific bacterial infection in hospitals much faster, reducing wait times from days to hours.
Other competing teams were: CareMobile Transportation, an Uber-like medical-transportation startup that employs social workers to transport and care for people with disabilities; Manus Robotics, a wearable robotic gripper that helps stroke survivors with impaired hand functions; Patients Like This, an analytics tool that improves mental health patient outcomes by using electronic health record data; Neurosleeve, a computerized glove that measures electrical function of nerves in the hand to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and other conditions; and #1, a wearable device and app system that treats urinary incontinence by tracking pelvic muscle training and measuring moisture associated with incontinence.
Socializing, therapy, and diagnostics
In the teams winning pitch, Rendever said its system includes multiple virtual-reality headsets, custom software, and a tablet. The software syncs headsets together, so users can join together in a virtual world, visiting childhood homes, exotic locales, sports games, or a relatives wedding across the world. The headsets can be controlled simultaneously by caregivers, using the tablet. All content is also custom-made by Rendever, based on 20 million gigabytes of content mined from the internet.
Apart from providing a socializing tool, the system can double as a form of reminiscence therapy, which involves discussing past experiences, with aid of photographs, familiar items, and music or virtual cues, in the case of Rendever.
According to trial studies, Rendevers system has increased overall resident happiness at the Brookdale Senior Living Community in Massachusetts by 40 percent, Lally said. The startup is currently working with the MIT AgeLab to validate those statistics.
Rendever also hopes to leverage virtual-reality data to aid in diagnosing dementia, which currently relies on qualitative studies and expert opinion. Were creating a data-driven [diagnostics] solution, Lally said.
Users are asked to work through real-life simulations, such as making dinner, completing a series of tasks. In the process, Rendevers software collects thousands of data points per minute on movement, reaction time, and executive function. All this can lead to earlier interventions for dementia patients and help measure the efficacy of treatments.
We can track very precisely how someone moves through this space, and what they were doing, Hayes, Rendevers chief operations officer, told MIT News. We also built a machine-learning model thats currently being trained to help find patterns [characteristic of] someone who has early-stage dementia versus someone of healthy mind.
Rendevers prize money will help fund research and development, with a second trial study kicking off soon. Hayes attributes the teams win to tapping into an underserved need. Everyone has a parent or grandparent whos getting older and not much can be done when they cant leave the house, he said. The solution we built is a fun way for them to re-experience the world again, to be explorers. Were bringing that to a demographic that has lost the ability [to explore].
Last year, Rendever entered the pitch competition its first entrepreneurship contest ever and made it to the semifinals round. By refining the business and technology through MIT classes at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship under the watchful eye of managing director Bill Aulet the team came out on top, Reed said. Its this awesome story for us to come back [to the competition] and win, he said.
Pushing ideas forward
There were only three prizewinners last night. But MIT Sloan student Maddie Thoms, co-president of the MIT Sloan Healthcare Club that organized the competition, said the aim is to help all the entrepreneurs further refine their ventures. Its not just about one or two teams walking away with a good prize. Were hoping to push a bunch of teams forward in their endeavors, she said.
In the weeks leading up to the pitch competition, teams were offered mentorship, networking opportunities, and a one-day workshop on developing business pitches. The competition consisted of two semifinal rounds, where judges provided further coaching.
Teams were each required to have at least one MIT or Harvard University student. Criteria for choosing competing teams included determining the novelty of the invention, its technical feasibility, any hurdles in governmental and other regulations, and whether the team has acquired customers or made its first sale.
With the competition, organizers also hope to strengthen the health care community at MIT, in neighboring Kendall Square, and across Boston by fostering connections between teams, judges, and local mentors and investors. Thoms said that networking helps get the right ideas connected with the right people, ventures, or partner companies.
Competing amongst similar startups helped second-place team Need-a-Knee solidify a business plan, said team member Matthew Cavuto, a mechanical engineering student and a 2017 Marshall Scholar. The team built a rotating disc with a simple push-button spring-pin mechanism at the knee joint of a low-cost prosthetic. Pushing a button on the disc releases a pin inside, which lets users rotate the disc and snap it into place at an angle to sit cross-legged. In India, for instance, people sit this way for praying, eating, and other activities, but current inexpensive prosthetics arent designed for the position.
Most engineering for the prosthetic was completed in one semester, Cavuto said, and the competition helped demonstrate how major global problems can be tackled quickly. There are real needs that can be solved in a fairly short amount of time in the developing world, and theres a big market thats not usually seen here in the United States, he said. The teams $4,000 prize money will go toward International Organization for Standardization testing, which will certify it for safety and compatibility with humans.
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Posted: at 6:27 pm
Inside Imax's first virtual reality arcade: Gaming
Out March 3 for $299, the Nintendo Switch is the company's brand new hybrid console. Here's what's in the box. Play video. Video: The best mobile games of 2017 (so far). The best mobile games of 2017 (so far). 1:44 February 22, 2017. Counting down in …
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Posted: at 1:15 pm
Qualcomm Corp. QCOM, -0.08% is doubling down on its virtual-reality efforts as it seeks to make its processors more attractive to headset manufacturers over rivals, such as Intel Corp. INTC, -0.11% The company announced Thursday a head-mounted display accelerator program designed to help original equipment manufacturers enter the virtual-reality market by subsidizing some of their engineering costs. Qualcomm said it will help to reduce the time it takes to create, develop and go to market, and estimates the program will help manufacturers get a commercial product available “within just a few months.” Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips, which compete with similar chips produced by Intel, power the technology behind immersive virtual-reality experiences. Last year, the company said it was developing a standalone headset that could be easily adapted to specific manufacturers’ specializations. At CES this year, Intel also showcased its own standalone virtual-reality headset called Project Alloy. Shares of Qualcomm were inactive in premarket trade. They’ve declined by more than 16% in the past three months, underperforming a 7.2% increase for the S&P 500 SPX, +0.02% Intel’s shares are up 2.5% in the past three months.
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