09 November 2018, issue 185

Blocking Facebook's Vertigo

Headline of the Week: IBM is combining blockchains with augmented reality.
Deep Dive: Oculus is moving away from movies and squarely into gaming.
Hardware & Ecosystem: New project tests vertigo using custom hardware.
New Releases: K Pop concert uses a combination of holograms and AR.
Worth a Thousand Words: Samsung shows off some AR filters.
The Light Side: Disney and Universal are both getting VR rides.

Headline of the Week

IBM Patent Uses Blockchain To Build Trust in AR Gaming 

“IBM's document describes a solution which "deters augmented reality game players from intruding on undesirable locations," such as private property, culturally sensitive locations, or areas deemed high-risk -- which could potentially include locations linked to high levels of crime. ”

The idea seems to be creating a responsive database of "undesirable" locations that the augmented reality system checks in with, and then doesn't display tokens in those places. The blockchain element makes the system more secure and less easily hacked, so people couldn't deliberately add or remove locations in a malicious way.

Deep Dive

 

Facebook Reorganizes Oculus for AR/VR’s Long Haul 

"The shift obviously communicates that Facebook believes Oculus could be running more effectively. Organizing the company around areas of expertise rather than broader divisions is probably more appropriate for a moonshot effort that can’t afford redundancies, on the other hand, keeping expertise siloed could isolate new approaches and advancements from reaching other teams."

The article doesn't specifically mention a decision I read about earlier, which is to focus on gaming rather than entertainment. Instead it says the focus signals a shift away from the moonshot ideal and towards a more holistic drive to make VR and AR part of the general strategy of Facebook.

Hardware & Ecosystem

VRTIGO Lets You Test Your Nerves in Virtual Reality 

“The VRTIGO experience, although amusing, provides valuable data for scientists studying human anxiety. The data are completely anonymous; volunteers are asked to fill out a short questionnaire on their antecedents and emotional state. During the experiment, the system's sensors relay information about users' physiological responses, while accelerometers track their body positions, movements and the directions in which they are looking. Samples are also taken of users' saliva to determine their cortisol levels – an indicator of how much stress they feel.

The software is what gives researchers the tools to scare their victims—er, their subjects—but the hardware is where it gets really interesting. They've specially developed a system that can scan minute reactions like body positions, heart rate, breathing, etc. Plus a saliva swab at the end, just like every good experiment.

New Releases

Riot Puts on an AR K-Pop concert for League of Legends

"It was a small K-Pop concert featuring artists Cho “Miyeon” Mi-yeon and Jeon “Soyeon” So-yeon of the group (G)I-DLE and American pop artist Madison Beer. Perhaps the most exciting part of the concert, however, were the augmented-reality Kai’Sa, Ahri, Akali, and Evelynn dancing and singing on-stage alongside them. Not only that, but Riot released a music video to celebrate the new song and the Worlds performance."

Holographic musicians are hardly new, but creating holographic versions of video game characters to dance alongside real artists is pretty awesome. Personally I would have liked to see Aatrox or Amumu dancing in spandex and high heels instead of Akali or Evelyn, but maybe that's just me.

Worth a Thousand Words

Samsung to Put Spotlight on AR at Developer Conference 

"But aside from such eye candy, Samsung is also going to use the event to highlight more cutting-edge AR developments. One of them is Project Whare, an AR cloud initiative the company quietly has been working on out of its Samsung Next incubator. ... The project has been described in job listings as a set of “cross platform developer services that will power multi-user, shared AR experiences and applications at scale” meant to “enable a new generation of augmented reality applications.”

Shared AR will be key to large-scale adoption, and a lot of people are running to be the first across that finish line. Can't wait to see what Samsung is doing.

The Light Side

Disney and Universal Put a Spin on Reality With Latest Patents 

"Under Disney's proposed system, your surroundings would not be independent from your actions. In fact, they wouldn't even need a green screen. Disney's system would monitor what you are doing and, based on that movement, create an image where your virtual surroundings change in response to your movements and actions."

HOLODECK. Sorry, I get too excited when I see anything that resembles the Holodeck. So far, theme parks haven't done well trying to integrate VR into their rides. The big thing holding it back is headsets, which are slow to put on and take off, and a pain in the $%^ to clean. Something you just walk around in that interacts with you would solve all of those problems.