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Virtual Perceptions

The Immersive Wire
Weekly analysis of the immersive industry
By Tom Ffiske // 15 July 2020

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THE BIG STORY
I'm not looking forward to the release of Ready Player Two (RP2). Not because of the book itself; I enjoyed Ready Player One (RP1), and I'm curious to see how the author could continue a great ending. It's the public perception I dread. The onslaught of VR pseudo-influencers who grab snippets of the text and push the false narrative of mainstream VR adoption.

My caution started early. A PR reprasentative of Warner Bros. invited me to a press screening of RP1 ahead of its release in their London location. Journalists crowded into the room and silently absorbed the flick, some making notes while most zoned in. I spoke to one, and predicted that it would be a great popcorn movie; all fat with no substance. He expected an onslaught of references to buoy the narrative. 

We were both right. Grab a blender, and shove in some sci-fi characters, Willy Wonka, and a dash of Steven Spielberg magic... and you get RP1. I enjoyed it, and I still do. Like a Marvel movie, it's very easy to watch and enjoyable by its own right, with enough connections to external media to make it feel massive. 

But beyond the movie and book, it's the early evangelism which irked me. Before the film's release I read LinkedIn posts of people shouting about RP1 and making strange claims about VR. Palmer Luckey pushed some of the narrative while he was at Oculus, giving new recruits a copy of the book as 'essential' reading. Influencers preached false connections between a popular fictional film and hardware adoption. Yes, VR may reach the heights of the Oasis as a hub and home of social interactions. But not then, and not now. 

Will it happen again with RP2? I hope not, but I expect similar stories to crop up in my news feeds again. 
OTHER STORIES
Trying out a new format for stories. Got any feedback? Too long or detailed? Reply to this newsletter and let me know. 
  • The VR Awards announced their finalists. Check out the list, and see if you recognise anyone. Next step is to see how well they cope with making it an all-virtual event. 
    • I should note that there is a 'free' tier for the event, so check it out if it tickles your fancy. 
  • More immersive theatrical productions are coming into VR. All of them are really neat, and getting the attention they deserve. Here is a recent example from the NYT. 
  • Yoni Binstock updated his book on AR. 'What is Augmented Reality? Everything You Wanted to Know Featuring Exclusive Interviews With the Leaders of the AR Industry' is the... concise title he chose. Ironically each of the chapters are relatively short and good to consume over a commute.
  • Want to train your brain? Virtuleap launched their VR brain training app. Think of it like Brain Training from the DS, only better and without losing the stylus behin the sofa.
    • 'Our vision is to mine the big data of volumetric gameplay patterns with the help of machine learning in order to create a new digital health marker that we believe will allow our games to anticipate a cognitive illness or disorder years before it onsets.' says Hossein Jalali, cofounder and CTO and Virtuleap.
  • Rockstar is working on a AAA VR open world game. While I am excited, I hope the company doesn't boast about their employees crunching 100 hours of work each week. No, seriously. 
  • Women in Immersive Technologies Europe (WiiT Europe) partnered with Facebook to drive diversity. The group keeps hitting it out the park with their initiatives. 
    • 'As we continue to invest in augmented and virtual reality, fostering diversity is critical to ensuring our products meet the diverse needs of the people who use them,' said Christina Weaver Jackson, AR/VR Policy Manager at Facebook.
    • WiiT Europe is looking for support, so check them out and see how you can help. 
  • Know anything about VR in Iceland? Me neither, until now. Iceland Venture Studio announced it has newly raised $2M (in addition to its $1m fund from 2019) and has made additional investments into its first portfolio companies.
    • These include Flow, which is developing immersive VR-enhanced meditation programs, and RetinaRisk, who have created an innovative new algorithm to predict diabetic retinopathy years in advance.
  • Safe to say the pandemic messed up laboratories. A startup created an MR solution where scientists can work remotely. Nice. 
  • Igloo Vision launched their Igloo Immersive Media Player. The aim is to make it as easy as possible to view immersive content via an easy-to-use system and a lot of integrated apps. 
    • 'Not only can an immersive space be used for physical or virtual events, but it can also be used for meetings and collaboration. Or ideation and brainstorming, or data visualisation. Igloo Immersive Media Player offers all this functionality while being simple enough for people who aren’t technical experts to use,' said Colin Yellowley, Founder and Managing Director of Igloo Vision. 
JOB BOARD
Make Real
  • Role: Senior Unity Developer
  • Location: Brighton, United Kingdom
  • Salary: £50,000+ depending upon experience
  • Type: Full-time / Permanant
  • More information can be found here
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BlackWall Labs
Network Programmer:
  • Experience with Photon PUN 2 (essential) and photon voice
  • Syncing VR player avatars over network with photon
  • Helping set up system for leaderboard
  • Using a cloud based database (specifics tbc) for storing leaderboard and internal stats collected
  • SQL and php/javascript experience to hook database leaderboard into unity game
Unity Specialist:
  • Implementing UI and interactive menus
  • VR experience
  • Gameplay programming skills, for example:
  • Powerup system, scoring and combo system for rhythm game
UX Designer:
  • Design all menus layout and flow for a multiplayer VR rhythm game
PEOPLE MOVES
  • Robert Boers is the new CEO of Virtalis. Robert is taking over from Guenter Dahm, who is still part of the company. 
THE IMMERSIVE WIRE INTERVIEW

Aaron Ralby is a language and memory training specialist and entrepreneur. He is currently developing Munx VR, a Virtual Reality platform for building memory palaces.

We explore how memory palaces can be built in VR, and explore what benefits they bring to learners. 

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