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The past 30 years have set the stage for technological and cultural change at an unprecedented scale. The digital world, however, holds little resemblance to our physical world — after all, the former is still governed by screens and 2D imagery. But that’s bound to change. The recent rise of Virtual Reality has brought new ways of experiencing information into the light, inspiring a new wave of interaction design and experiential software that enjoys a true sense of presence in digital worlds. It's real and it's here.
While different forms of VR arcades have been around since the late ‘90s, it hasn’t been until recently that new virtual reality gaming centers have been gaining massive popularity around the world, first in China, then in other parts of Asia and soon widespread in Europe and North America. Earlier this week, the senior vice president of HTC’s virtual reality efforts announced initiatives meant to make it easier for people to open these arcades as small businesses. My inner child is coming out.
Magic Leap has operated in extreme secrecy since it was founded in 2011. Only a few people got to see its technology, even fewer knew how it worked, and all of them were buried under so many nondisclosure agreements that they could barely admit the company existed. But now the company is coming out of the shadows. In a rare interview Abovitz says Magic Leap has spent a billion dollars perfecting a prototype and has begun constructing manufacturing lines in Florida, ahead of a release of a consumer version of its technology. The future is near.
An American tourist is lured to a British game development studio to test a new augmented-reality horror game that engages directly with each player’s brain via a biorobotic implant. The AI program mines the character’s darkest fears and manifests them into the real-world as photorealistic graphics. Inevitably, terror and mental breakdown follow. The idea of a video game that can analyze a player’s personality and change accordingly may seem like the stuff of outlandish sci-fi, but it isn’t. This could well be where game design is heading. Reality games.
After the dust settles, the real takeaway from Instagram’s cloning of Snapchat is that the connected camera revolution is just beginning. Instagram Stories sends a powerful message to hundreds of millions of people for the first time: No moment is too small to capture with your smartphone camera. And in a world in which time spent in virtual reality keeps going up, interesting parallels start to emerge with our phones and headsets. Immersion is the next frontier.
Brace yourself: The future might be the worst thing ever to happen to dating. “Online” now ranks as the third most common way people meet — second only to “school” and “mutual friend.” Mobile apps Grindr and Tindr have forever changed falling in love. But what will happen when virtual and augmented reality technologies, prime candidates for future dating, come next? Dating won't be dating as we know it.
The New York Times just bought Fake Love, an experiential design studio with a focus on virtual reality and augmented reality, Fake Love will help expand T Brand Studio, the Times' internal marketing arm, which has already become the fastest growing part of the The New York Times Co.'s advertising business. Adding Fake Love will allow the Times to further integrate VR and AR into existing and future ad products. Love don't cost a thing, but fake love does.
Movies and gaming, right? Wrong, says Stanford’s top VR expert, Jeremy Bailenson. The key to understanding virtual reality is that it’s both potent and taxing. It’s potent because it’s so visceral and immediate that it can trick your brain into mistaking it for reality. Early VR pioneers are rejoicing at the success of VR, but also worried that companies and investors are missing the point. Immersion comes with costs.
Brands, publishers and content creators are now faced with the inevitable truth that engaging audiences predictably in this fractured media environment has been permanently altered. It's time now to reset and reimagine the future of storytelling through mobile experiences that are emotionally immersive, culturally aware and embrace a renewed spirit of creative invention and curiosity. In virtual reality we may have already found just that - enabling an entirely new interpretation and expression of the brand experience. Brilliance can emerge.
We’ve witnessed a boom of “Gold Rush” proportions as companies, brands, and artists scramble to develop virtual reality tools, platforms, and content. All the while, though, Average Joe has had little more than a passing sense of its existence. But all that’s about to change as VR finally enters mainstream this year. Here are some basic rules to know as a new crop of filmmakers and storytellers take the leap toward production in VR. The audience creates the story.