07 December 2018, issue 189

Vermeer's Girl with the VR Headset

Headline of the Week: Helping eyewitnesses remember crime scenes with VR.
Deep Dive: How does VR really help the music industry?
Hardware & Ecosystem: What are the best headsets for 360 videos?
New Releases: Vermeer's works can all be viewed at once in one virtual gathering.
Worth a Thousand Words: Dickens' Christmas Carol in MR is spooky fun.
The Light Side: Instead of distracting MRI patients, why not put them in a virtual MRI?

Headline of the Week

Solving Crimes With The Help of Virtual Reality 

“Realistic-looking crime scene visits are now possible through VR, even if the scene itself has already been changed. A witness wears the VR glasses and describes how the crime unravelled, while his or her view of the reconstructed crime scene is recorded. "It's thought that it's easier for a witness to remember things when he or she is at the scene, either in reality or virtually", says VR engineer Till Sieberth. "

Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable: false identification is cited as a factor in 78% of US convictions later overturned by DNA testing. But there's nothing better than having someone actually see a crime. So how do you make that testimony more reliable? Police believe one way is to let witnesses "return" to the scene of the crime. And if the crime scene has been altered? VR can help.

Deep Dive

What's The Actual Business Case For VR In Music?

"At large, VR has already had a profound impact on sectors as diverse as filmmakinghealthcareretailOlympic sports training and automobile marketing—but it seems like many music professionals still aren't convinced about the tech's long-term staying power. In replies to my tweet, users cited low monetization, rudimentary feedback tech and lack of added value on top of already-existing experiences (e.g. going to live shows in person) as the primary reasons VR still falls short of a meaningful use case for music."

The author goes into a fascinating dive into the "payphone problem". The original Bladerunner featured payphones with video capabilities. They couldn't begin to imagine cell phones, instead placing "futuristic" tech on the tech of their own day. The author suggests that's what we're doing with VR and music - adding tech unnecessarily to the experiences of today, instead of truly reimagining the tech of the future.

Hardware & Ecosystem

Best VR Headsets For a Real Time 3D Experience 

“Virtual Reality headsets are an interesting method to travel around the world using just the intensity of innovation. With a headset and movement following, VR headsets give you a chance to check out a virtual space as though you're actually there."

This article from the Times of India has a completely different list of VR headsets than you've likely seen before. It's fascinating to see which brands are taking off in different markets, and how the hardware might affect consumers' understanding of what virtual reality is, and what it's capable of becoming.

New Releases

Want to See All the Vermeers in the World?

"Johannes Vermeer, whose acute eye captured the quiet beauty of Dutch domestic life, was not a prolific artist: Just 36 paintings are widely acknowledged as his work. Still, anyone who wanted to see them all had to travel far and wide — to New York, London, Paris and beyond. Until now."

Thanks to an augmented reality app, you'll be able to view Vermeer's entire collected works in one place - wherever you happen to be. Of course, you can already view his paintings in 2D on any computer screen. So will the app provide a greater sense of being there, of seeing the minute details of the paintings?

Worth a Thousand Words

Chained Mixes VR and Live Actors In a Dark Christmas Tale 

"I was wearing a VR headset, standing in the middle of a dark, gothic take on A Christmas Carol. A grisly Jacob Marley asked me what I missed most about my childhood, and I told him I missed the hope and optimism of youth, when it seemed like anything was possible. When the Spirit of Christmas Past subsequently visited me, he pointed out a pair of ghostly, shadowy children chasing each other a few feet away. The spirit leaned in close. “Look at them,” he whispered, “so full of hope and potential.”

Truly personalized content is a big promise in VR, but until artificial reality gets significantly better, it's not on the immediate horizon. This interactive play solves that by combining the power of immersive reality with the strength of interpretive actors, making an event that's personalized, spooky, and powerful.

The Light Side

VR App Could Diminish MRI-Induced Claustrophobia

"VR has been used to successfully desensitize patients with phobias for many years by providing them with simulated realities where they can safely learn to tolerate the things that they fear on their own timelines. Inspired by this success, the team hopes applying VR to MRI-related claustrophobia can improve patient care. "

Instead of trying to soothe fears by letting you experience what it's like inside an MRI machine (guess what? it's awful!), why not use VR to let them escape during the MRI? It would be a lot less scary if instead of seeing a giant metal wall an inch away from their nose they were seeing a pretty bunny in a meadow! Of course, you can't have metal in an MRI machine, so that might be an interesting challenge...