25 January 2019, issue 196

Lyft's Golden Fingers

Headline of the Week: Lyft plans to bring in VR, but who's going to pay for it?
Deep Dive: Golden Knights are trying out tech to help along VR.
Hardware & Ecosystem: Apple has patented finger controllers for AR.
New Releases: 10 AR apps that don't suck even a little bit.
Worth a Thousand Words: In VR, kid feels comfortable enough to talk about bullying.
The Light Side: Using VR to battle carsickness. But what battles the VR sickness?

Headline of the Week

Lyft Plans To Bring AR and VR Experiences to Transportation

"The VR patent, filed in July of 2017, aims to create an immersive, interactive, three-dimensional experience that will be partly-guided by inertial forces; that is, the bumps along the turns your driver takes as he or she blazes through the city to get you to the airport. Rather than watching the gray skyline of Manhattan disappear as you edge into Queens, you could instead find yourself on a virtual tour of the countryside or – and this is actually suggested in the patent – at the helm of a spaceship firing a laser at flying saucers. Virtual road rage, anyone?"

The article doesn't bring up the large price tag most TV services and headsets bring along. Given that Lyft is a company of subcontractors driving their personal vehicles, it seems likely it would be up to individual drivers to shell out for the system. And that seems like unfair pressure to put on the average driver.

Deep Dive

Golden Knights Weren’t Bothered by NHL’s New Tech

"The league tested new tech during the Knights games against the New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10 at T-Mobile Arena by adding sensors to the players’ shoulder pads. The league wants to use player tracking data to enhance broadcasts, create virtual/augmented reality experiences and create new opportunities for sports betting. "

The NHL is getting really smart about technology. They've realized that the current offerings aren't quite hitting it, and that they need to get ahead of the game. Technology like this allows them to build out better offerings by giving them the data they need. Live feeds, player profiles, whatever you can imagine!

Hardware & Ecosystem

Apple’s Finger-Controller Patent is a Glimpse at MR’s Future

"Each finger wearable is outfitted with a number of sensor types. Optical sensors, for one, measure the movements of the fingertips. Accelerometers help measure motion. This enables a number of touchless gestures for navigation and control, including “taps, force input, persistent touch input, air gestures, and/or other user input,” the patent says. The wearables leave the fingertips exposed, and contain sensors that detect the “press” or “roll” of the fingertip on a surface."

I'm generally against any wearables that are awkward, and having to put on five little bands every time I want to use my phone definitely lands squarely in the awkward camp. But Apple is good at design and comfort, so I'm willing to give them some time to see how this shakes out. I hope they don't expect us to wear them all day, though. You'd at least have to take them off to use the bathroom!

New Releases

10 Cool Augmented-Reality Apps You Might Actually Use 

"Despite the glut of semi-functional, questionably valid AR apps out there, many developers have made great use of this nascent technology, releasing AR apps that are useful, effective, and enjoyable. Not all of them are perfect, yet — but many give a sense of what’s possible in this realm. "

Normally these lists are just an annoying repetition of "Google Translate" and "that Ikea app", and while both of those make their presence felt on this list, there's actually some new stuff that looks pretty cool. I'm definitely downloading the one that helps you find your car after you park! If you ever visit Vancouver, it's a rite of passage to get lost in the Metrotown parking lot.

Worth a Thousand Words

Kid Uses VR To Open Up About Being Bullied

"Virtual reality can be a welcome outlet for those struggling with insecurities, depression, and personal trauma. A young kid demonstrated this principle in action––and captured the internet's heart. Bullying can have devastating effects on young children. YouTube user Syrmor posted to the platform a virtual chat with a young boy who opened up about his experiences. The video has since gone viral."

This touching video really does demonstrate how much easier it is for people to talk and share their feelings with a step of removal. Unfortunately, it also knows that some people have a hard time interfacing with real emotions, as we can see from the adults he's chatting with. The heartfelt video is awkwardly broken up by stupid jokes from the chat hosts. VR is an empathy machine, but it ain't magic.

The Light Side

Carsickness-Battling VR For Self-Driving-Car Passengers 

"German start-up Holoride has designed a virtual-reality experience for the backseats of taxis, for passengers in autonomous vehicles or for kids on long car trips. Holoride'sgames and visualisations provide entertainment that's specifically tailored to passengers, incorporating the car's real-time movements, such as acceleration and steering. The resulting experiences are not only immersive, they help to combat motion sickness by syncing what the passenger sees with what they feel."

This is genius. It seems weird to take a technology that causes motion sickness and add it to another technology that causes motion sickness in order to cure it, but if they're on to it, it could really work. I'd be curious to see how the sync the motion of the car with what you're seeing in VR; the whole reason people get motion sickness is because they feel like they're moving but the landscape isn't going by at the right speed. So what would they be seeing?"