01 February 2019, issue 197

A Bird in the Box is Worth Two in the Lab

Headline of the Week: Customers want exercise bikes and VR for long flights.
Deep Dive: Designing in VR takes timeline from two months to twenty hours.
Hardware & Ecosystem: Curved displays are coming to a VR headset near you.
New Releases: Hamlet in VR lets you be the ghost.
Worth a Thousand Words: ICE STORMS! Yup, the Weather Channel is back, kiddos.
The Light Side: Bird Box has got nothing on HoloLen's scanning tech.

Headline of the Week

Customers Request Exercise Bikes, VR For 20-Hour Flights 

"Focus group research as well as customer surveys of those who have flown on its 17-hour non-stop route from Perth to London have found health and wellness are the top trends, Qantas said in a statement. Passenger suggestions include spaces for gentle exercise, providing wireless noise-cancelling headsets and installing an in-flight cafe with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, the airline said."

I don't know if a cafe with drinks and snacks is really part of health and wellness, but it makes sense that passengers want things that help them forget they're stuck in a giant tin car hurtling through the air for the better part of a day.

Deep Dive

Ford's Designers Learn to Create 3D Cars in Virtual Reality 

"Using Gravity Sketch will give them the power to skip that first step completely and dive straight into 3D -- all they have to do is wear a VR headset and use a controller. That will apparently shave so much time off the design phase that what used to take weeks will only take hours. "

The better article with the actual numbers was autoplaying sound, and you know we don't truck with that. But this program really does take the design process down from several months to 20 hours. Pretty incredible.

Hardware & Ecosystem

Samsung Wants to Bring Curved OLED Displays to VR 

"Samsung is throwing a curveball into VR headsets.... or at least, a curve. The technology manufacturer has filed a design patent for a future VR headset, one that makes use of a curved OLED display instead of a flat screen.​"

Of course, a patent application isn't the same thing as a product, and who knows if this will be the route they end up taking. But for now it seems like an interesting angle (pun intended) to pursue.

New Releases

‘Hamlet’ in Virtual Reality Casts the Viewer in the Play

"And if you look to your left, you will see your own reflection in a gilded mirror. You will appear haggard, bloody, ferocious and, in fact, dead. Because in this virtual reality version of Shakespeare, you are the ghost of Hamlet’s murdered father. "

It can be hard to know how you're supposed to feel as a viewer in VR. Are you part of the story? Are you just watching it? Why are you standing around like an idiot instead of sitting comfortably in a chair? Just having the chance to wander around usually doesn't feel satisfying enough to justify the awkward. Casting the viewer in the role of ghost is a perfect way to make that disconnect work for you instead of against you.

Worth a Thousand Words

This VR Video Shows Why Ice Storms Can Be So Deadly

"Meteorologist Jim Cantore, using the Weather Channel’s Immersive Mixed Reality technology, takes you through the layers of the atmosphere to prepare you for Harper’s arrival.​"

There's something really magical about ice storms. When every leaf and blade of grass is coated in a thin layer of crackling crystal, and you can hear the song as they click together. But these storms are also incredibly dangerous, and the Weather Channel knows just how to bring that to life!

The Light Side

Microsoft HoloLens Can Save You From Bird Box Situation

"Netflix issued a warning on Twitter regarding the Bird Box challenge as people are taking it to the next level by challenging others to try things blindfolded leading to accidents and injuries. Recently, The Holo Herald mixed reality community took the Bird Box challenge in their own way. They demonstrated how Microsoft HoloLens can save you from Bird Box type situation."

Super cute way of demonstrating a new technology with a current twist.