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Category Archives: Presence in the News

News stories explicitly or implicitly related to presence from a wide variety of sources

France’s Molotov creates a VR coffee shop to watch TV together

[A company in France is launching a streaming TV service for virtual reality; this story from TechCrunch describes what it’s like to use it to create a social presence viewing experience. See the original version for two more images. –Matthew]

Molotov creates a VR coffee shop to watch TV together

Romain Dillet
December 11, 2018

French startup Molotov is slowly becoming the leading platform to stream TV in France. With a single account, you can watch TV on your phone, tablet, computer and set-top box. The company is about to release a VR app that lets you watch TV using a virtual reality headset — but there’s a twist.

The new service is called Molotov Together and is an interesting experience in many ways. I tried an early version of the service a couple of weeks ago. Read more on France’s Molotov creates a VR coffee shop to watch TV together…

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Facebook wins patent for human-eye ‘retinal’ resolution VR headset

[Many factors interfere with effective presence illusions in virtual reality but image resolution is one of, if not the, most important. This story from UploadVR describes industry efforts to address the problem. The original story includes four more pictures, and read the comments section for some interesting insights. –Matthew]

Read more on Facebook wins patent for human-eye ‘retinal’ resolution VR headset…

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The robot waiters in this Japanese cafe are controlled by people with paralysis

[Here’s a great example of how telepresence can make it possible for people to participate in activities they’d otherwise be excluded from. See the original story from Digital Trends for two videos. –Matthew]

Read more on The robot waiters in this Japanese cafe are controlled by people with paralysis…

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The future of VR gaming is in arenas

[This story from The Daily Dot describes MassVR’s new presence-based gaming environment, designed to offer more settings and social interaction than competing models. See the original story for more pictures. –Matthew]

The future of VR gaming is in arenas

Nick Moutvic
December 3, 2018

“Go ahead,” a voice probes me. “Take the leap.”

I look down. I’m 20, maybe 30 feet up, defending my fortress from invaders. Looking across the courtyard, then down at the precipitous drop below me, I know that if I step off the edge, I won’t really fall. But the digital world I’m inhabiting looks real enough to make me hesitant to move forward.

I finally lift one foot off the edge of the platform I’m protecting, and in an instant, I’m airborne.

To an observer, it may just look like I’m walking, albeit a bit awkwardly, but from my perspective, I’m falling through the air, as gunfire erupts around me. As I take in my surroundings—a futuristic space compound, ripped from the pages of a comic book—it’s easy to forget that back in reality, I’m just standing in the middle of a 6000-foot warehouse, as unassuming as any other on the northwest side of Chicago.

I’m wearing a VR headset, participating in MassVR’s new ambitious gaming experiment. While based on some of the same technology as the ballyhooed consumer VR releases from Oculus and HTC a couple of years ago, MassVR is a different vision for what the future of VR can be. Think multiplayer VR meets laser tag arena. Read more on The future of VR gaming is in arenas…

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VR and presence help students understand effects of climate change on ocean life

[This story from CleanTechnica describes the use of virtual reality and the presence it evokes to teach people about the threats of climate change to ocean life. The original version includes the 2:57 minute video (also available via YouTube). –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Credit: Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab]

Virtual Reality Helps Students Understand The Reality Of Ocean Acidification

December 4th, 2018
By Steve Hanley

Virtual reality can be so much more than another device that lets young males carve each other up in interesting new ways in combat-themed video games. Researchers at Stanford and the University of Oregon have created a VR presentation they call the Stanford Ocean Acidification Experience and presented it to nearly 300 high school and college students. Participants see themselves as part of a living coral reef and watch as it deteriorates to become a lifeless ecosystem infested with weeds.

“I believe virtual reality is a powerful tool that can help the environment in so many ways,” says Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communications at Stanford and co-author of a study detailing the reaction people had to the immersive VR experience. The study was published November 30 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. “Changing the right minds can have a huge impact,” he says. Read more on VR and presence help students understand effects of climate change on ocean life…

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‘Ralph Breaks VR’ is brilliant, game-changing virtual reality experience

[Aside from the extremely positive characterizations, this review of a new VR attraction is notable for its description of presence experiences (without using the term; see the paragraph that begins “Which brings up a major point…”) and predictions about the future of interactive, presence-evoking storytelling (see the second-to-last paragraph). The original version on the Forbes website includes the 1:17 minute trailer and for more on the attraction see The VOID website. For even more information see other (positive) reviews in The Verge and io9 and a roundtable discussion with the creators in Laughing Place. –Matthew]

[Image: Promotional image for “Ralph Breaks VR.” Credit: ILMXLAB]

‘Ralph Breaks VR’ Is Brilliant, Game-Changing Virtual Reality Experience

Mark Hughes, Contributor – I write about films, especially superhero films, & Hollywood.
November 30, 2018

We are on the cusp of monumental changes to the way we think about and experience entertainment, as augmented reality and virtual reality continue to evolve and bring new opportunities for experiencing storytelling and gaming. I’ve written about this topic several times, and moderated a panel at SXSW a couple of years ago about the future of VR, but a few weeks ago I participated in something that has once again changed how I think about VR and the potential for crossover with various mediums and storytelling formats. The VOID and ILMxLAB developed the new virtual reality experience titled Ralph Breaks VR, to coincide with the release of Disney’s animated blockbuster sequel Wreck-It-Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, and what they’ve accomplished is a transcendent, game-changing virtual reality experience that is on the cutting edge of the next stage in VR evolution. Read more on ‘Ralph Breaks VR’ is brilliant, game-changing virtual reality experience…

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Christmas presence: Immersive “A Christmas Carol” weds VR with motion-capture live actor

[The new production Chained is an intriguing model for personalized, vivid, narrative-based presence experiences. This story about it is from CNET – see the original version for several other pictures and a 3:23 minute video. –Matthew]

This VR-live actor mashup is like your best absinthe-fueled nightmare

Chained, an immersive reimagining of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, weds virtual reality with a motion-capture live actor. Could it be the gateway that makes VR a hit?

By Joan E. Solsman
November 29, 2018

As a chain-laden ghost, I lumber through slices of moonlight in a dark, fire-lit room. I morph into a demonic specter, arching and slumping my massive frame around a pauper’s kitchen, before I re-materialize as a faceless floating apparition, taking you by the hand through a snow-covered graveyard.

At least, that’s what I would look like to you. In your Oculus Rift headset, I become the main character in Chained, a 20-minute immersive VR reimagining of A Christmas Carol and one of the hottest tickets in Los Angeles right now.

In real life, I’m dressed head-to-toe in a black bodysuit covered with tiny gray balls to capture my movements, and all I want to do are cartwheels.

Chained is the latest experience experimenting with a new trend in virtual reality that marries motion-capture live performers with scenes, sets and characters that exist only inside an audience member’s headset. The added wrinkle is that these actors are standing right next to you, taking a supernatural form thanks to VR.

“I think of the characters almost like the best costumes you could possibly have. You start living in a completely different body,” said Michael Bates, the motion-capture actor who plays all of Chained’s VR characters.

I first went through Chained as a guest in VR, donning the headset and shrieking in surprise when Bates’ real hand grasped mine and jerked me into the haunted Victorian virtual world. But I also got a behind-the-scenes look at how Chained performances happen. I wore a mo-cap suit alongside Bates as he tutored me in the movements he uses for each of Dickens’ ghosts. Read more on Christmas presence: Immersive “A Christmas Carol” weds VR with motion-capture live actor…

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What it’s like to eat at Tokyo’s Tree by Naked virtual reality restaurant

[High-end restaurants are utilizing presence-evoking technologies to enhance the dining experience in interesting ways – here’s a first-person report from Food & Wine; see the original story for more pictures. –Matthew]

I Ate at a Virtual Reality Restaurant and … It’s the Future?

Tokyo’s Tree by Naked is one of the most unique dining experience in the world.

Maria Yagoda
November 28, 2018

Aside from using and abusing the failed portable gaming console Virtual Boy in 1995, I’ve never been excited by virtual reality and its many promises. My reality is vivid, and grotesque, enough—why would I seek out extra reality?

But when I visited Tokyo in October, a city known for its exceptional, wildly diverse dining (and the most Michelin stars of any city in the world), I put one restaurant on the top of my to-eat list that I suspected would pull me out of my comfort zone: Tree by Naked yoyogi park, the new virtual reality dining concept from artist Ryotaro Muramatsu. Increasingly, artists and chefs alike are experimenting with melding multi-sensory story-telling elements into the experience of dining. Ibiza’s Sublimotion, for example, is essentially a molecular gastronomy opera—and one of the most expensive restaurants in the world at over $3,000 a head.

Opened in July 2017, Tree by Naked is the wacky masterpiece of Muramatsu, a visual artist famous for his films and global installations, and eating there, you can tell an artist is at the helm, which perhaps set this concept apart. Fortunately, the food matches the visuals; the Tree by Naked experience comes with eight precise courses of seasonal Japanese cooking. Read more on What it’s like to eat at Tokyo’s Tree by Naked virtual reality restaurant…

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Spatial audio design is key to creating ‘presence’ in VR and AR

[Too few stories about presence acknowledge and discuss the importance and dynamics of audio in presence experiences, and too few use the specific term presence; this story from VentureBeat does both. See the original version for two more images, including one of the “Cone of Experience.” –Matthew]

Spatial audio design is key to creating ‘presence’ in VR and AR

Amir Bozorgzadeh
November 18, 2018

George Lucas once received a hearty round of applause back in 2011 when he declared that “sound is half of the experience of a motion picture.” If that’s true, what happens to the equation in the setting of VR and AR, where the vicarious experience of a 2D cinematic transcends into experiential 3D immersion?

After all, immersive worlds are creative imitations of the real world, in which sound and the auditory function play far more of an operative role than we tend to realize.

“Sound is usually an afterthought. Sound is invisible; it is vibrations of molecules and we cannot hold it in our hands, it exists only in time, and is the sonic expression of an object in motion.” said Laura Sinnott, a sound designer and doctor of audiology, at the NYVR Expo I attended.

Indeed, it is important to acknowledge the fact that in the process of growing up in a modern world filled to the brim with jumbled layers of noise, our brains respond and adapt to the chaos by numbing and tuning out (synaptic pruning) much of the full spectrum, and all for the sake of streamlining our daily lives.

Triggering an auditory renaissance

Sinnott kindly educated me recently on how fundamental hearing is to our very existence; that it serves not only as a medium for communication, but is key to our emotional well-being, cognition, and, perhaps more relevant in the past than our present reality, but even to our survival. Hearing, she says, is one of the first senses to be developed in the uterus, primarily hooked to our instinctive center, and although it is an organ that we have lost significant sensitivity to, XR has the potential to help restore it.

“The sense of hearing is one of the most primitive senses; it likely evolved before vision, although after the balance system. It behooves sound designers, whether designing immersive audio for web or even traditional mono radio, to understand a little bit about just how powerful sound is.” Sinnott said.

Even if it is the case that this primary sense organ has somehow been relegated in our collective minds to playing the role of second fiddle, the panel last month at the NYVR Expo that was filled with experts in spatial audio made me a believer that XR can open the door to a kind of auditory renaissance in humanity’s appreciation for it. In the backdrop of the panel, the slides read: “Our eyes can only see what’s in front of us, our ears can take in the world all around us.”

Spatial audio design is key Read more on Spatial audio design is key to creating ‘presence’ in VR and AR…

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Origibot2 telepresence robot is armed for interactivity

[This is a short description of a telepresence robot that has an arm so that the user can not only move through but manipulate a remote environment. The story is from New Atlas, where it includes two more pictures and a 2:58 minute video (also available via YouTube). For much more information see the product’s Indiegogo page. –Matthew]

Read more on Origibot2 telepresence robot is armed for interactivity…

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