VRARA Digital Health Committee

Written by Craig Stanland, Virtual Reality Observer

To people outside of the industry Virtual Reality (VR) is most commonly associated with gaming. While the technological investments and forward progress in gaming carries benefits for all other industries, news outside of gaming is often overlooked.

VR has already had a major impact on all the major industries including, Architecture and Design, Entertainment, Education and the Health industry. Health is particularly of interest to us due to its overall impact on society. Better health care practices benefit us all.

The healthcare Industry has increasingly been turning to simulation and the virtual world for training and education of its staff.

With its launch of the Digital health VR AR committee the VR/AR Association has acknowledged the importance and impact of VR on the Healthcare industry. The committee will create best practices, guidelines, and call to actions (e.g., recommendations for standards) for VR AR in Digital Health, Medical, Healthcare, and Education.

With 10 industry experts already on the committee, they are off to a great start. Still in the early stages the 10 experts are crafting a working doc which will set the foundation for the committee moving forward.

The VR/AR Association (VRARA) is the global industry association for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality, connecting leading solution providers with brands and customers. VRARA goals are to accelerate growth, foster research and education, and help develop industry standards, connect member organizations and promotes the services of member companies.

“This Digital Health Industry Committee already has representatives from Meta Co, Medical Realities, Mativision, doctors and surgeons like Rafael J. Grossmann, MD, FACS and Shafi Ahmed PhD FRCS, and digital health experts like John Nosta, indicating the importance of this vertical and the industry’s willingness to work together to accelerate the VR AR industry with smart growth.“ Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VRARA.

This is an amazing opportunity for health care professional to participate in the early stages of this emerging technology and practice. You can be a part of change that benefits us all.

The first official kickoff call for this Industry Committee is being scheduled at the end of January, early February. Anyone who’s interested in DIgital Health/education/healthcare should join.

Interested to learn more or participate? Email kris@thevrara.com

Original article was published by VR Observer

Candy Lab Taps Orchard Capital Partners for Exclusive Distribution of its Groundbreaking Augmented Reality Technology in the UK and Ireland

IRVINE, Calif., January 10, 2017 - Candy Lab, the award winning augmented reality technology company, signed a deal today with Orchard Capital Partners to bring its groundbreaking location-based augmented reality technology to the UK and Ireland.

 

Augmented reality technology is making exciting inroads across the globe and Candy Lab began its search for the right partner to bring its cutting edge technology to the UK market during the second half of 2016. Orchard and Candy Lab first met in London in October 2016 and quickly realised they shared a common vision for the tremendous potential for the technology. The deal provides Orchard with the exclusive opportunity to drive the growth of location-based augmented reality throughout the UK and Ireland.

 

“As a technology company, this is the best way to get our AR engine in the hands of those who want it and can implement mass adoption”, said Andrew Couch, CEO of Candy Lab. “We believe everyone should have access and the opportunity to experience augmented reality. License agreements are a large part of our 2017 strategy as we look for the right partners, who understand the needs of the industry, our somewhat complex technology and how brands can adopt the technology and give their customers immersive experiences. Orchard came with a lot of knowledge of the space, the right relationships and most importantly the passion that we have in Candy Lab”.

 

Adam Kulick, Managing Partner of Orchard said “The popularity of Pokémon Go has proven the potential for location-based augmented reality to excite, entertain and educate broad segments of the population. We are thrilled to be working with Candy Lab and are already fielding strong interest from brands and agencies about using this powerful and innovative technology to engage and grow their customer base and audiences.”

 

Industry analysts predict that revenues from augmented reality are set to reach 150 billion dollars by 2020 which could be the driving force for the interest in the AR engine that Candy Lab built and owns.

 

For more information, please contact:

Josephine Munis, CMO

josephine.munis@candylab.com

 

 

About Candy Lab:

Candy Lab is an award winning location-based, augmented reality company. We have built the only Augmented Reality engine that combines GPS and Beacons and a content management system. Our Augmented Reality technology is used to power mobile games and apps. We advocate for brands to create immersive experiences to deepen customer engagement.  Learn More at www.candylab.com

 

About Orchard

Orchard Capital Partners is a media-focussed boutique investment and advisory firm. Specific areas of expertise include digital media, virtual reality, augmented reality, film and television. 

theDirectory - The Most Comprehensive Searchable Database for VR AR MR Companies

NEW YORK, Jan. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The VR/AR Association (VRARA) launched theDirectory today, the most comprehensive database of solution providers in VR and AR, globally. Members of VRARA get access to this database allowing them to quickly and easily find solution providers or partners based on categories, qualifications, geography and more. theDirectory has over 1,000 companies in the system that are searchable by company name, category, location, and comprehensive search tags. For example, if you're a company looking to solve a 360 audio software stitching challenge, as a member of VRARA, you go to thedirectory.thevrara.com and search "360 audio", and you'll see a list of several companies globally sorted by category and city. You'll see their contact information and other important information on the company, making it easy to evaluate and get in contact.

"The launch of theDirectory helps fulfill our mission at the VR/AR Association of making it easier to connect, grow and gain knowledge in the VR and AR ecosystem at global scale," said Nathan Pettyjohn, Founder & President of the VR/AR Association.

"With nearly 300 new companies per month entering the VR and AR ecosystem over the last year, it has become a major challenge for brands and companies to know who is in the ecosystem, where they are located, and what they do, said Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VRARA. "Our team at VRARA will be working everyday to build upon theDirectory to help connect our members at a global scale."

Companies wanting to make sure they're included in theDirectory can submit their information for validation here: thedirectory.thevrara.com

About the VR/AR Association

The VR/AR Association (VRARA) is the global industry association for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality, connecting leading solution providers with brands and customers. VRARA accelerates growth, fosters research and education, helps develop industry standards, connects member organizations and promotes the services of member companies.

Media Contact: Kris Kolo, The VR AR Association, 6506905361, kris@thevrara.com

VRARA SF Audio Briefing: VR/AR Basics

What's the current state of VR and AR, and where are they each headed? What are the basic definitions and fundamentals that drive them? These were a few topics recently explored by VR/AR Association SF Chapter Co-President Mike Boland.

The discussion was part of an interview with Electronics 360's Nancy Ayala. The article is here, but the more expansive audio briefing provides additional color. It can be seen in full below, starting with basic definitions then moving onto more advanced principles.

Stay tuned for lots more commentary and multimedia from VRARA. 

Everything VR & AR Podcast: Magic Leap

 

Magic Leap. Two words that make up the name of the company that many consider to be the unicorn of the virtual, augmented and mixed reality industry.

To this date we have seen no real life demonstrations, but a number of short videos that can make your jaw drop as you watch whales leaping out of a gymnasium floor while numerous school children cheer or the destruction of enemy robot attackers inside a home office.

Is this really what Magic Leap looks to unveil for the world when they do pull the curtain back on what they have been working on with financial backing of over $1.5 billion dollars?

Karl Guttag knows quite a few things about patents and display technology and has been doing some research into the patents that Magic Leap has and has been sharing his findings on his personal blog which has been getting quite some attention as he tries to solve the puzzle that is Magic Leap.

Have a listen and make sure to share your feedback on this episode with us via the methods below and also share with your friends who you know would be interested in learning more about what may, or may not, make Magic Leap tick.

Listen here

December Recap from The VRARA Vancouver

December was an eventful month for VRARA Vancouver. We officially launched in Vancouver with a sold out event on December 5th during a snow stormy day, that didn't stop 160+ attendees to join us at Unbounce. The event featured speakers and fireside chat panel from industry leaders, as well as VR/MR demonstrations. The first speaker, Eric Hine from Archiact VR, discussed the next 5-10 years in VR and MR, while Ryan Peterson CEO of Finger Food Studios discussed further on what to expect with Mixed Reality in the near future. While there is a lot of conversation around gaming in VR, we were able to showcase practical applications of VR and MR. Some of these demonstrations included a VR Real Estate Walkthrough, education demo, as well as a VR Simulator in orthopedic surgery.  See more here.  

VR/AR Assocation Vancouver launch event: VR/AR/MR The Future of Computing at Unbounce

VR/AR Assocation Vancouver launch event: VR/AR/MR The Future of Computing at Unbounce

Just few short days following the launch event, we helped organize the Pacific Roadshow. We had the opportunity to network with some of the most exciting VR Companies from the West Coast including Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. While on the road, we attended the VRX event hosted in San Francisco.  This event was all about discussing the possibilities of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality and how it can be integrated in the years to come. Some of the speakers/attendees were industry leaders from companies such as Oculus, HTC Vive, Magic Leap, Intel, Audi, BMW as well as top venture capitalists investing in immersive technologies.

As we geared into the holidays and the season of giving, our chapter had a very special opportunity to bring smiles to the children at the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice on December 16th. The Canuck Place provides care and support for children and families living with progressive life-threatening conditions. With the help of a couple VR headsets, we were able to bring the children into the depths of the sea, the jungle, and their first roller coaster rides. The three children we met were mesmerized by how realistic the games and demonstrations were, and didn’t seem to want to take the headsets off. This special experience brought smiles to the kids, as well as the families and staff, and we realized the potential and future opportunities for the Vancouver chapter to become more involved in our community by bringing virtual reality. See more here

The VRARA Vancouver wishes everyone a happy holidays and fruitful new year! Watch out for exciting events and initiatives coming in 2017, we're looking ahead!

Post by Laura Ryu

VRARA Member EON Reality to Establish a VR Center in New York City

The Center will support a Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality certificate program offered through the Lehman College School of Continuing and Professional Studies

EON Reality Inc., and Lehman College, a public, senior college located in the Bronx that is part of the City University of New York (CUNY), announced the establishment of an Interactive Digital Center (IDC) as part of Lehman College's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. This IDC will support the training of new VR and AR professionals as well support the development of VR and AR applications that will assist in teaching Lehman's students. 

As established industries continue to be disrupted by technological advances, workers who have been displaced will need retraining to find a new trade. The VR and AR industries are quickly growing and require an infusion of talent to meet the market's demands, which some project to be around $150B by 2020. Additionally, EON Reality's seventeen years of experience in using VR for training and education will empower Lehman to create VR learning modules to help train workers for other industries.

"Lehman College is a perfect partner for EON Reality," said Dan Lejerskar, Chairman of EON Reality. "New York City is a place where our unique combination of training and education can make a difference in people's lives, especially when combined with Lehman College's expertise. VR and AR lets people learn by doing. This speeds up the entire learning process, improves retention, and helps learners make the right decisions in stressful situations. This technology is perfect for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies in one of the world's most dynamic cities."

"This vital partnership with EON Reality, is but one example of how Lehman is cementing its place as the most important, mission-critical senior college of The City University of New York," said José Luis Cruz, President of Lehman College. "This effort will provide invaluable state-of-the-art experiential training to students of our School of Continuing and Professional Studies -- positioning them well for the opportunities of the burgeoning VR/AR industry."

The first phase of the IDC is a VR and AR training facility and development lab, which will train future VR and AR professionals. Students will engage in a yearlong program that involves three months of classroom training followed by seven months of project-based learning that includes project work done for real customers. Additionally, the facility will include an Icube Mobile, a four-wall immersive Virtual Reality room, that will enable the students to experience and test their creations.

The IDC will open in the second quarter of 2017 and is now accepting applications. For more information please visit: www.eonreality.com.

Excerpt: VR and AR Soon-to-Be-Seen Virtually Everywhere

This post is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in Electronics 360, based on a briefing with VRARA SF Chapter President Mike Boland. It can be read in full here


On Thanksgiving Day, scores of people were grateful for one thing: the Microsoft Store on Fifth Avenue in New York was open for business.

It was also the first day of the Microsoft Flagship Experience Tour, which hosted demonstrations for fans and the curious about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) with Facebook’s Oculus Rift. Viewers watched a holographic image of Jimmy, the blue whale, as he swam in a confined digital area on the third floor of the building. Later they had the opportunity to experience AR while donning a HoloLens, which showed an immersive experience in Manhattan.

For all the excitement that the VR market generates, VR devices are nowhere near reaching a mass audience. Yet the tremendous interest and astronomical growth potential could reach $120 billion by 2020, according to Digi-Capital’s Augmented/Virtual Reality report.

Though the VR and AR market remains in the toddler technology stage, market research firm IDC, in August 2016, at the height of the Pokémon Go craze, estimated the VR and AR market to be $5.2 billion.

“We’re all seeing this path of opportunity,” Mike Boland, chief analyst of BIA/Kelsey, and chapter president of the VR/AR Association, San Francisco, told Electronics 360. “It’s kind of all on faith—we believe that this will be the next major technological transformation or shift.”

As VR and AR continue to expand in new directions in the technology industry, Boland points out that the technological shift began in the last 30 years with the PC, moved to the internet, and then to the introduction of smartphones.

The following are projections for 2017:

  • Content creation will fuel headset purchases and will be the driver of high-end VR purchases.
  • VR arcades will allow people to pay by the hour and not own the equipment, harking back to video arcades from past decades.
  • Adoption of three major HMDs, or head-mounted displays: PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

People will not be incentivized to purchase headsets if the content is not there, while creators wrestle with the costs if a market does not exist. But, Boland pointed out, “It’s slowly being chipped away by people creating cool stuff."

“With all three on the market now, I believe there’s going to be a lot of price competition that will start to drive the price down and make it more tenable for mainstream audiences.”

Read the rest.

Let us showcase your product during Consumer Electronics week in Las Vegas

The VR FEST Las Vegas during CES will feature a wide variety of programming including Opening and Closing Night Gala events, VR Award Show, VR Academy Workshops, Panel Discussions plus the new VR Arcade and Nightclub Exhibit showcasing the best in VR, AR and Mixed Reality content experiences provided by some of the world’s leading purveyors.

The VR/AR Association has a booth at the event and is looking to showcase the best in VR AR. If you have product/solution you would like us to showcase, email kris@thevrara.com 

VRevolution Event at Nasdaq NYC

VRevolution event in NYC featured 300+ executives from brands like NBA, Red Bull, PEPSICO, Six Flags, among others, and focused on building immersive brand experiences through VR and AR. Corporate and brand leaders got the opportunity to develop the strategies and relationships that they need to drive progress in consumer engagement or enterprise initiatives. 

VR/AR Association member STRATA was one of the vendors in the exhibit area. 

VR/AR Association Boston Chapter President, Mike Festa, was one of the many speakers: 

VRARA Sweden at the World Congress of Science & Factual Producers

In early December, VRARA Sweden, along with GoPro and Sony and others, attended the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP), an industry conference for producers, broadcasters and distributors working in specialist factual television and digital media. The conference featured the VR AR Innovation Zone, which we filmed the 360. Enjoy! 

Commentary: A Tale of Two Apples

This post originally appeared in UploadVR. VRARA's recent commentary on Apple can also be seen here.

One thing that’s always defined Apple is its ability to shape tech’s future. But lately, it’s been characterized as a company sitting back and watching others drive the next transformation: VR and AR.

Though AR’s true potential will take longer to arrive, VR has a head start and is moving fast. In the past month, we’ve seen the sector accelerate with a string of events such as OC3, PSVR and Google Daydream.

All this action is precisely where Apple’s absence is felt. Sexy and futuristic VR launches stand in stark contrast to Apple’s own Fall hardware event, where its gadget-centric keynote spotlighted … a new keyboard.

This either means Apple will miss this next tech shift, or that it’s playing the long game. The latter could involve a deliberately late VR/AR entrance, just like some of its past market-defining moves (e.g. tablets, mp3 players).

If it’s a long game, what and when will Apple’s entrance be? Evidence points to AR rather than VR. That’s due to AR’s larger commercial potential, as well as Tim Cook dropping hints all over town about it.

We can also triangulate Apple’s AR play through recent products. The iPhone 7 Plus’ dual cameras could be a step on the path to a device sensing through stereoscopic vision. That’s a key component of computer vision, which in turn drives AR.

This would put Apple’s 2013 acquisition of 3D-sensing company PrimeSense in more relevant light. Speaking of acquisitions, its 2015 purchase of AR software company Metaio further supports an AR play.

More clues are in AirPods. The tech press focused on the hardware, but the real story could be the new shape of AR. Rather than graphics, ambient audio — via always-in AirPods — could be the new informational overlay.

The iPhone is where Apple generates most of its profits, meaning its operational structure and supply chain are entrenched in the slab format. Any moves in AR would likely start there.

It also aligns with the overall business case for mobile AR. Though glasses are a sexier format, an installed base of 2.6 billion smartphones makes mobile the nearer term (and less glasshole prone) opportunity.

All of this means that Apple isn’t necessarily late to VR and AR… It could simply leapfrog the former to get to the bigger opportunity held by the latter. And because AR’s time horizon is further off, Apple could be just in time.

The VR/AR Association Launches Industry Committees for Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

See the Industry Committees here

Committees seek to establish best practices, guidelines and call-to-actions to further accelerate the VR/AR market.
 

NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2016, - The VR/AR Association (VRARA) is soliciting participation in Industry Committees for Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The committees will work with members and the industry at large to create best practices, guidelines and call to actions for VR/AR verticals. 

VRARA is the global industry association for VR, AR and MR, connecting leading solution providers with brands and customers. Members and sponsors include Aisle411, Amplified Robot, ArchiactVR, AT&T, EON Reality, Locus Labs, Finger Food Studios, Mativision, NYU, Orange, Touchstone Research, Trick3D, Samsung, USA TODAY NETWORK, Walgreens and other VR/AR hardware, software, and content companies. 

Entering its second year and passing the 100 member mark with 17 global chapters, the VRARA believes it's time to accelerate smart market growth even further. As such, the association is seeking participation for the following committees: 

Digital Health - Join representatives from Meta Co, Mativision, Rafael J. Grossmann, MD, FACS, Shafi Ahmed PhD FRCS, John Nosta and other experts from the industry to work on VR/AR as it relates to medical, healthcare, and education.

Experiences, Story Telling and Audiences - Join representatives from USA TODAY NETWORK, A+E Networks, and other leaders to work on a common goal: how to grow the audience for VR.

VR Content Licensing - Join Mark Caplan, recent SVP Global Consumer Products at Sony Pictures Entertainment whom was part of the executive team that established the VR initiative and planning for the company and who served as a West Coast VP of the (LIMA) Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association and other experts to help companies navigate in the entertainment space, e.g., digital, content owners, theme parks, merchandise, VR/AR, mobile game companies, to get a better understanding on the movie, TV, comic, and other IP for use in product.   

Advertising -  Join the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies), which represents U.S. advertising agencies and other leaders in defining what advertising should or should not be in VR/AR.  

Co-Located - Join representatives from NYU's Motion Capture Lab and other leaders to expand the palette of creative and technical tools for makers in the VR space, engage in discussions around UX and implementation, and build a strong network of practitioners.

Retail & eCommerce - Join representatives from Aisle411 and other industry leaders testing new forms of AR and VR used in-store and out-of-store to enhance and analyze purchase behavior. 

Other committees include Public Safety & Emergency ResponseEducationMobile VR, among others. 

For more information please visit www.thevrara.com
 

About The VR/AR Association

The VR/AR Association (The VRARA) is an international organization designed to foster collaboration between innovative companies and people in the virtual reality and augmented reality ecosystem that accelerates growth, fosters research and education, helps develop industry standards, connects member organizations and promotes the services of member companies.

MEDIA CONTACTS: 
Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director kris@thevrara.com   650-690-5361

See the Industry Committees here

Mobile and Enterprise are the Keys to VR/AR Scale

This article originally appeared in TechCrunch

Though PC and console VR are the sexier formats we’re all excited about, is mobile where VR will really scale in the near term? This is a question I’ve been posing to investors and innovators for an upcoming research report.

For example, despite impending HMD commoditization, IDC projects 2 million tethered VR headsets will be sold this year. That’s dwarfed by the 2.6 trillion global smartphones that represent mobile VR’s addressable market.

Though it’s a stripped-down version (no positional tracking, etc.), mobile VR is improving with things like Google Daydream. Its mainstream-friendly price point and accessibility also make it the gateway drug that VR needs.

The same goes for AR. Rudimentary forms — a la Pokémon GO — are giving the mainstream a taste of what’s to come. And though that’s not “real AR,” it will do the technology a favor through that same gateway-drug effect.

Silicon Valley business strategist Kristie Cu also reminds me that VR and AR align with 5G network roll-outs. That’s good timing, given that massive data payloads will make use of those bigger pipes.

“Between 2015 and 2018 [Orange has] committed 15 billion euros to get this infrastructure out,” she said. “So there’s a lot of money behind 5G, and VR is one of the driving factors in having the bandwidth.”

Cu is joined by Comcast Ventures, Lenovo and several other corporate investors currently vetting or sinking their teeth into VR and AR. And in the process of due diligence, they see a lot.

Comcast Ventures’ Michael Yang has an investment thesis grounded in VR and AR’s long run position as primary computing platforms. But more important is that they scale by crossing geographic and industry borders.

“It’s both consumer and enterprise, especially AR,” Yang told me. “It’s also very global right out of the gate. Other sectors we invest in aren’t as immediately global.”

CV portfolio company NextVR, for example, brings VR to a media staple with massive reach: live sports. Beyond the consumer angle, live sports is broadcast’s saving grace against cord cutting… and VR amplifies that.

Lenovo is meanwhile attacking these opportunities on two levels: It manufactures high-octane PC rigs for VR’s heavy graphical processing needs, and it’s pioneering mobile AR through the Tango-infused Phab 2 Pro.

Lenovo’s director of worldwide innovation, Joe Mikhail, expressed his vision of AR’s future, including his lead role on Meta’s Series B round. He believes the long-run opportunity is enterprise utility.

This is one reason we’ll see AR leapfrog VR in market size. Mikhail says that AR’s value will truly be unlocked with everything from workplace productivity to manufacturing and industrial design (think: 3D modeling).

The name of the game is to improve operational efficiencies, he says, as a means to real bottom-line results — and that’s what will really compel wide-scale AR adoption.

Yang agrees, advising a vertical-focused approach. “For a general-purpose developer, trying to understand a vertical is harder,” he said. “I’m looking for people from oil and gas, or aerospace or construction who envision AR overlays that make processes more efficient and intelligent. That’s the future we’re particularly excited about.”

The VR industry’s biggest threat is underwhelming content

By Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh, VRARA Amsterdam Chapter President. Original article posted on VentureBeat.

Vrideo, the portal that started back in 2014 with the lofty aim of being the YouTube of virtual reality, called it quits earlier this week. Two years is like a decade in “VR-years”, as those in the fast-moving industry can readily testify, and while Vrideo’s founders tried to stretch the $2 million they raised from early 2015, it could only take them so far before the well dried up.

One reason Vrideo failed to get the traction it needed to survive was its inability to deliver enticing content that would have brought users back repeatedly for more. And that same traction challenge faces most other VR content companies.

While 2016 has been the year when hardware players delivered on getting a sufficient supply of VR headsets into households at increasingly attractive price points, the pressure is now on content makers to make the immersive medium stick as a mainstay for mass consumption. VR’s ability to achieve staying power will almost wholly depend on it.

“Content, be it a lack of content or poorly created content that underwhelms people when they try VR is the biggest threat to mainstream consumer adoption.” Nic Mitham, cofounder and CEO at WEARVR, told me.

I wrote last month that the VR industry hasn’t done a good job so far on safety research, but it also hasn’t done a good job on market research. Very few quantitative studies are available, and it doesn’t look like content creators are sufficiently testing the appeal of what they are churning out, which may be partly due to a lack of time and resources to make it a priority.

“The number one problem facing the VR industry right now is the lack of quality VR content with a high replayability factor,” Hess Barber, cofounder and President of First Contact, told VentureBeat last month.

The anecdotal evidence is that most people trying out VR for the first time at exhibitions and trade fairs aren’t impressed. The common complaint I hear is that the experience was surprisingly poor or, even worse, gimmicky, which to a content creator, or really anyone with a vested interest in the industry, is like hearing a chalkboard being scraped.

Yes, the walled garden operators at Oculus, HTC, and Samsung are all engaging the developer community in order to prioritize high quality, premium, engaging content, but it’s a tall order. It’s unclear whether developers will be able to produce high quality experiences, quickly, in order to satisfy the anticipated demand.

“It’s important to create solutions and content that will be better because of VR technology, not just the same services and narratives on a new platform,” Therkel Sand Therkelsen, founder at CopenX, told me.

For example, does VR as a medium offer a superior experience for learning math? And, in the case of the just-shuttered Vrideo, how compelling is 360-degree video? According to Presence Capital’s Phil Chen, not very:

“360 degree video is the wrong capture method for VR. Volumetric capture needs to work for creatives, movie directors, filmmakers, and the like to create this new medium. I think it’s a mistake that 360-degree video and VR are almost synonymous now. For a general sense of space, 360 is fine. But if you want to truly tell a story – to zoom in, zoom out, gauge reactions and create empathy and emotions – it’s terrible for those things.”

Content that fails because of technical shortsightedness like not designing the UX so that users are free of any threat of nausea is becoming less of an occurrence. What’s more essential is resisting the urge to transform content into VR experiences without considering what the value-add is. An example is this 360 video of Richard Branson playing tennis.

“Creators should ask themselves why the content is created for VR and how the technology can add value. If not, it could be a risk to the industry.” Therkelsen adds.

You can’t simply throw any story into VR and win over audiences by that merit alone. It has to be wrapped around the medium, which may in some cases require a reimagining of the content. A good example is the Verge’s exclusive VR interview with First Lady Michelle Obama on how she mastered social media. As a user, you feel more intimate with the content and may even experience a pinch of presence in the environment as the narration guides your attentive gaze.

If content makers don’t step up and instead leave users hanging with a library of VR content that lacks variety, richness, and the unique depth that only genuinely immersive experiences can provide, then the devices that have made their way into people’s homes may start collecting dust, and future hardware sales may not be as impressive as those of us in the industry are hoping for.

Pilot projects show how VR will revolutionize education

By Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh, VRARA Amsterdam Chapter President. Original article posted on VentureBeat

A research report recently published in China entitled “The Impact of VR on Academic Performance,” asserts that virtual reality improves student test scores and knowledge retention. VR-based learning also tends to leave no student behind since it is able to appeal to even the least responsive of users, the report states.

The study, which compared test performance of students who had learned a stubject via VR versus students who had learned by traditional means, suggests that VR could the secret sauce to learning that teachers have been dreaming about for years.

I can’t vouch for the credibility of the study. It’s unclear whether the companies that sponsored it — Beijing Bluefocus and Beijing iBokan Wisdom Mobile Internet Technology Training Institutions — have a vested interest in the VR space. But we’re hearing similar things from a couple of companies in Europe.

Last week, HTC aired the latest episode of its This is Real series, featuring a visit to the offices of Immersive VR Education, a two-year old startup based in the Viking city of Waterford, Ireland, a 90-minute drive from Dublin. The company makes Engage, a platform that changes the scope, scale, and substance of what distance learning can offer lecturers and students from all around the world when VR is brought into play.

“It’s not just something that’s a bit different. This is a new medium. It’s not what we’ve been traditionally doing,” David Whelan, CEO at Immersive VR Education, says at the start of the episode.

Engage is free, and lecturers and presenters can use it to rally up to 30 users into a single session. It can be used simply as the “PowerPoint for VR,” as a tool for conducting meetings, or for anything, really, that allows users to express and share ideas and collaborate in real time at the depth of digital experience only VR can offer. A teacher reading aloud from a textbook about prehistoric vegetation to a class of 20 can suddenly teleport everyone to a great grassy plain crowded with irate dinosaurs.

An early prototype of Engage went live on Steam about three months ago and has had 35,000 downloads to date. An update in January will roll in more features and accessible content.

This kind of technology transforms distance learning into the premium mode of education. And education goes from abstract to visceral in the blink of an eye.

With the availability of tools like this, we can expect to see VR have a significant impact on how we educate. One key feature is the immersive medium’s capacity to transport us into environments that heighten engagement by making subjects alive, interactive, and therefore relatable and relevant. Another is that it transcends physical limitations that, coupled with social features, can eliminate what is in reach for anyone, anywhere.

“I’m very excited about the concept of virtual lessons, in which a teacher instructs students inside a virtual classroom and can teleport them to various locations,” says Dominic Barnard, Cofounder at VirtualSpeech. “Imagine a history lesson, where after five minutes of going through slides, the whole class is teleported to the trenches in WW2 to experience what they have just learned with 360 images and videos.”

Barnard brings us to another application in particular where VR will have an impact: language learning.

A few weeks ago, the team at UK-based VirtualSpeech released the beta version of Language VR, their initial approach of tackling what is usually considered to be the tedious task of learning a new language. It’s already developed a variety of programs that teach vocabulary, grammar, games, roleplaying, and even culture.

For example, users get to explore different parts of the UK, immersed in stunning 360-degree images while learning English as part of the ride. The roleplaying scenarios allow travelers, for instance, to practice ordering a meal at a restaurant or booking a hotel room.

“People say the best way to learn a language is to visit the country. VR in a way does just that. It can immerse you in a different language and culture as if you were there.” Barnard said. “With improvements in speech-to-text and conversation modules, soon we’ll be able to have realistic conversations with virtual avatars in various countries and situations, such as ordering a train ticket in Paris or renting an apartment in London.”

One major barrier, of course, is getting this technology into schools. The K12 system isn’t known for its sizeable budgets or its swiftness in adopting new technologies.

Everything VR & AR Podcast: Niko Chauls of USA TODAY NETWORK

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Joined by Niko Chauls who is the Director of Emerging Technology at the USA Today & Gannett Network on this episode to learn more about what his team is doing in the augmented, mixed and virtual reality space across their 110 locations in the United States.

Niko discusses what the purpose is behind the VRtually There YouTube channel, along with sharing more information about just what is the yearly StoryNEXT event that he is the Executive Director of.

Also Niko share some wonderful insight on the Hololens and what direction Microsoft is looking to head with it and so much more that it is just best to hear what he has to say.