By Tom Ffiske // 27 January 2021
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When heavy snowfall hit the UK last weekend, many households built snowmen in public parks. The snowmen looked cold, depressed, and miserable... accurately reflecting the public mood 🤷
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The Main Story
Let's talk about VR and children's education. My perspective hasn't shifted over the last few years; schools and teachers have more important aspects to focus on than the high-end power that VR can bring. In the UK we have underpaid teachers who work long hours, and some schools struggle to even service their own teaching supplies. No matter the power of VR, I still think funds should flow towards other vital areas right now. (Feel free to reply to this newsletter if you disagree, I'm always up for a debate). 

But if your classroom is fortunate to have the capabilities, VictoryXR's experience is well worth a go. Via the ENGAGE platform, a class can wander through a labyrinth and answer clues related to Leonardo da Vinci (yes, I heard
DA VINKI in my head too), navigating traps and puzzles. Each puzzle has a painting / drawing, a historical anecdote, a question, and four potential answers. Answer right, and the class can proceed. Wrong, and an axe rends you in two or you get crushed by spikes. What fun.

What I like about it is its customisability. Users familiar with the ENGAGE platform can create a new labyrinth of their own and create quiz-like questions on any topic, such as science or history. It's this custom element which makes it a powerful platform to use. While it is finnicky at times, it is an intersting and engaging way to learn new content - exactly where VR works best. 

Anyway, the maze is a part of the VictoryXR Campus, built on the ENGAGE platform. If you're interested,
take a peek. 
Want to get axed when you get a question wrong? Credit: VictoryXR. 
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Leadership and development consultancy, Explore Performance, used Igloo Vision's immersive technology to deliver a hybrid workshop to onsite and remote participants. Check out Igloo's blog for the four BIG learnings that emerged.
Analysis of the top stories
Got a news story? Let me know at tom (at) virtualperceptions (dot) com.

Exclusive: LVE unveiled Tobacco Dock Virtual, a virtual / real venue. 
  • Developed with Sansar, Tobacco Dock Virtual recreates the London venue and comes with virtual gaming opportunities (and works in VR). But the cool part is this; once normality returns, shows will take place across the physical and virtual venue simultaneously.
  • I'm excited for this because, post-COVID, I can see many events incorporating virtual and real elements to their events, as a new revenue driver. Not everyone can travel to an event, so why not offer an online alternative? (And not replace physical events, for sure). Tobacco Dock Virtual may well be a precursor for significant global changes to come. Still, the real-life version is lovely; Tobacco Docks is a great place for events, from what little I remember after a particularly heavy night out.
  • (I thank LVE for letting me exclusively reveal Tobacco Dock Virtual in this newsletter).
LEGO is moving into AR (again) with Vidiyo, which looks kinda neat. 
  • LEGO plays with AR a lot, and the latest outing uses small tiles to signal animation sequences on their new app. Think of it like LEGO Movie Maker, but adapted for the 2020s rather than the 1990s. Oh, and with sugar-fuelled children snapping vids with the energy of a TikTok reel. 
  • The app also includes a community element where people can share their creations... but considering LEGO's high cost of entry, I wonder how active the community might be. 
  • In any case, LEGO has always been good at blending their hardware and software offering; Vidiyo is the next evolution of their work. 
Facebook Reality Labs' boss shared an internal memo regarding privacy.
  • As this spans across Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), it impacts Oculus, Spark AR, and Portal. But really, the memo itself isn't the story; it reaffirms their goal to build trust with users, which we already know.
  • The real story is its context, as millions of users fleeing Facebook's services as they wish to protect their data. How much of this trend will bleed into FRL's work? 
  • I suspect very little. Remember when Oculus started requiring a Facebook account to use its services? The implementation did not lessen the Oculus Quest 2's successful launch. A vocal minority care, but the majority don't mind the hurdle if they can access fun titles. The sentiment may change, but signs point towards passive acceptance. 
Other stories
  • Amazon acquired Umbra, a company specialised in handling massive 3D models in the cloud. The Ghost Howls suspects that this may tie into its expansion towards AR cloud streaming.
  • Andreas Juliusson from Fast Travel Games said that child-friendly title Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets out-sold their hardcore title Apex Construct eight weeks after the Oculus Quest 2 launch. What this tells us is that families and more 'casual' people are on the platform.
  • Apple (in case you missed the story) is working on a headset precursor to its AR glasses.
  • Aryzon lets you print your own headset. Wild. 
  • Belfast Photo Festival has opened £6,000 in funding for VR designers and developers. 
  • Magic Leap is now working with Google to deliver content via Google Cloud. It's worth noting that Google is also working to deliver AR via their cloud services. A new growth segment for their cloud operations, perhaps?
  • Poplar worked with Sotherby's to create a neat Instagram filter. 
  • Ready Player Me now works with LIV
  • Spark AR unveiled their curriculum to help teach users how to create AR effects.
  • Tilt Brush will go open source, but will not be actively supported by Google.
  • Unity hired Peter Moore, previously CEO of Liverpool FC, as senior vice president of sports and live entertainment. The likely purpose is to help Unity get used in sports broadcasts.  
  • Valve hints that they are making new VR games after the success of Half Life: Alyx. 
  • Varjo's XR-3 is so good you can thread a needle while wearing it. 
  • Virtuleap unveiled Maestro and Harmonize, which help build memory and processing skills. 
So aesthetically pleasing, you almost forget that LEGO sets can cost as much as the PS5. Photo credit: LEGO. 
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That's all for this week! Want to have a chat, let me know about a news story, or talk business? Either reply to this email, or contact tom (at) virtualperceptions (dot) com. Have an excellent day! 

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