Bay Area: Join Us AT UX Next in October

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UX and design are increasingly important functions throughout tech, and especially in AR and VR, as we explored recently. In that spirit, VRARA SF has partnered with the UX Next conference taking place 10/30 & 10/31 in Palo Alto.

Among other things, that means discount codes (contact us) for VRARA members for 25 percent off registration. We'll be there in full force, covering the show and meeting with industry players. We hope to see you there.

More from the conference organizers:


There is an exciting and clear paradigm shift taking place in the market; a pivot point in UX capabilities, which will impact the future of services and devices, and provide opportunities and challenges for all companies in the ecosystem.

From the creators of the industry leading Internet of Things World comes UX Next, the brand new event showcasing the evolution and future direction of service enablement. Taking place at the Crowne Plaza Palo Alto in San Francisco, CA on the 30 – 31 October, join 400+ tech disruptors, 50+ pioneering speakers and 50+ exhibitors to embrace the digital roadmap and multiplatform UX. With an unmissable agenda across two days, featuring global heavyweight speakers from Netflix to The New York Times, don’t miss your chance to meet and network with the technological leaders defining the future industry roadmap.


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Oculus featured ‘Spark of Light’ Sets New Standard for Mobile VR Games

VRARA Member Spotlight

With the release of ‘Spark of Light’ on the Samsung Gear VR, Dutch VR studio Pillow’s Willow has released its first full featured game. As the game is highly appreciated by the test group, expectations for this triple A game are to boost VR sales.

Spark of Light, featured by both Oculus and Samsung, is a non-violence VR game that can be characterized by its outstanding visuals. "We are told our game really raises the bar for visual quality standards on mobile VR,” says Chief Creative Officer Peter Kortenhoeven. “Our 'DreamLight’ system illuminates the game in a unique way. Spark of Light will also be available on Google Daydream as of September.

The storyline evolves around Nerow, a little boy who lives peacefully alongside mystical creatures such as Mothlings and giants. Their peace is disturbed when the greedy Moth King abducts the sun, leaving Nerow and his friends in the dark. Nerow asks the player to help restore balance by retrieving light sources and light up the world by solving environmental puzzles.

The ‘virtual dreamscape’, as Peter Kortenhoeven calls this type of game, is like an interactive dollhouse, that is presents levels in a 360° view, ‘wrapping itself’ around the player. “Spark of Light combines a fairytale-like experience with challenging gameplay”, says Andy Lürling, CEO of Pillow’s Willow VR Studios. “We managed to create a VR game for a more diverse group besides the ‘hardcore’ gamers. By developing high quality content we believe to contribute to the evolution of the VR industry.”

ABOUT Pillow’s Willow VR Studio

Pillow’s Willow VR Studios was founded in 2016, and is located in Eindhoven, the
Netherlands. The studio creates ‘Virtual Dreamscape’ games for both mobile and high-
end VR HMDs. All games are developed in the so-called Pillow’s universe, where each
game title has its own recognisable identity. Having a shared universe allows the game
title characters and certain game elements to enter other games seamlessly. This
enables multiplayer options between games as well as different VR platforms.

Peter Kortenhoeven - Chief Creative Officer
peter@pillowswillow.com
+31 637011569

Andy Lürling - Chief Executive Officer
andy@pillowswillow.com
+31 618479999

A+E Networks Sponsors the VR/AR Association

A+E Networks' TechLab sponsors the VR/AR Association Stories and Audiences Industry Committee. This committee is creating best practices, guidelines, standards, and call to actions for VR Experiences in order to grow the audience (user base) for VR. The Committee recently published the Top 10 VR Best Practices

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A+E’s TechLab is proud to sponsor the Stories and Audiences Industry Committee and the committee’s recent White Paper on Best Practices. Not only do we believe in the VRARA’s mission to foster collaboration, research and education in the virtual reality and augmented reality ecosystem; we’re eager to contribute to that mission and connect with others who share our passion for a vibrant and relevant future of VR and AR as mediums for storytelling.
— JEANNE KELLY, Director, Product Design and Experience | TechLab | A+E Networks
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Bay Area: Come Talk About Lightfields with Us (9/13)

Register here. VRARA members, choose the member option at checkout. 

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For the VR/AR Association's next San Francisco chapter event, we'll dive into lightfields. Join us on September 13 for an evening of networking, food and illuminating discussion.

We'll examine the future outlook, as well as work being done today for volumetric photo capture in interior spaces like real estate. 

What's a lightfield, you ask?

Several technologies are required for VR's holy grail: the fabled holodeck. We already have graphical VR experiences that let us move throughout volumentric spaces, such as video games. And we have photorealistic media that lets us look around a 360 plane from a fixed position (a.k.a. head tracking).

But what about the best of both worlds?

We're talking volumetric spaces in which you can move around, but are also photorealistic. In addition to things like positional tracking and lots of processing horsepower, the heart of this vision is lightfields. They define how photons hit our eyes and render what we see.

Because it's a challenge to capture photorealistic imagery from every possible angle in a given space -- as our eyes do in real reality -- the art of lightfields in VR involves extrapolating many vantage points, once a fixed point is captured. And that requires clever algorithms, processing, and whole lot of data.

Join us on June 14 to learn more about this key lynchpin in VR's future

Please note that this is the rescheduled occurrence of our June event of the same name. Registrants for June's event will be admitted free. Please respond to this email for a comp code. VRARA members also get in free, as always (choose "member" option at checkout).



Speakers

Alex Song, Director of Engineering, VR, Lytro

Alex Song, Director of Engineering, VR, Lytro

Colvin Pitts, Senior Architect, Lytro

Colvin Pitts, Senior Architect, Lytro

Eric Trabold, Chief Business Officer, Avegant

Eric Trabold, Chief Business Officer, Avegant

Ryan Damm, Lightfield Thought Leader, Co-Founder, Visby

Ryan Damm, Lightfield Thought Leader, Co-Founder, Visby

Emily Olman, SF Chapter Co-President, VRARA; Founder, Hopscotch Interactive

Emily Olman, SF Chapter Co-President, VRARA; Founder, Hopscotch Interactive

Mike Boland, SF Chapter Co-President, VRARA; Chief Analyst, ARtillry.

Mike Boland, SF Chapter Co-President, VRARA; Chief Analyst, ARtillry.


Learn more about the VR/AR Association, San Francisco Chapter here


VRARA Real Estate Industry Research & Survey

The Real Estate Committee is conducting an industry survey to that will be compiled and published. The purpose of this survey is to:

#1 study & understand customer's expectations and decisions in the new real estate market, specifically, with regards to visual content, 3D content and virtual reality tools provided by real estate developers and sellers.

#2 study & understand real estate developers’ experiences, expectations and difficulties, specifically, with regards to 3D content and virtual reality implementations in marketing and sales.

  1. If you're a company, fill out this survey.
  2. If you're an individual, fill out this survey.
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The Keepers of VR (HuffPost Feature about Top 10 Virtual Reality Best Practices)

By Davar Ardalan, HuffPost Contributor

COURTESY OF WORLD OCEANS FESTIVAL VR Pavilion at the 2017 World Ocean Festival on Governors Island in New York featuring Making Waves a film on aquaculture innovators in Tanzania. (L-R) Stephanie Kimber of DFATiXc, and Matt Scott, Davar Ardalan, and Ben Kreimer of SecondMuse.

COURTESY OF WORLD OCEANS FESTIVAL

VR Pavilion at the 2017 World Ocean Festival on Governors Island in New York featuring Making Waves a film on aquaculture innovators in Tanzania. (L-R) Stephanie Kimber of DFATiXc, and Matt Scott, Davar Ardalan, and Ben Kreimer of SecondMuse.

When I first met Jeff Olm, he told me about Under the Canopy, a VR film that was shot using moving cameras and drones in the Amazon. It felt surreal to mount the VR headset and descend into the rainforest, in full stereo might I add. I asked to learn more about the production and Olm sent me a series of links. I especially loved going behind-the-scenes with a sloth in VR.

Jeff Olm is a VR/AR creative director and also co-chair of the VR/AR Association’s Stories and Audiences Committee. Together with several other industry thought leaders, we recently published the Top 10 Virtual Reality Best Practices in an effort to capture into one source the rapidly evolving knowledge about VR.

The radically new experiences that the medium provides today have been decades in the making. As part of this living document, we seek to present not only our experiences with the hardware and software, but also to dig into the specifics of development and content production. This work is especially timely given that analysts are projecting VR will transform into a multi-billion dollar industry in the next decade.

Jeanne Kelly is director of Product Design and Experience at A+E Networks, and an associate member of Tesla Lab’s VR/AR Initiative. At A+E, part of Kelly’s responsibility is to explore the potential of new technologies and to understand and present their value and impact to the business. Kelly is also co-chair of the VR/AR Stories and Audiences Committee. While storytelling is always A+E’s primary focus, they’re also exploring ideas in VR and AR games, marketing, and education experiences. The Network has invested in VOKE and live streamed in VR from the red carpet for the Golden Globe Award. Currently A+E has an investment in Littlstar, the premium 360 and VR content distribution platform.

Kelly says even though both VR and AR are currently in complementary and contradictory states of existence, she believes accessibility and distribution constraints are surmountable when the benefits outweigh these obstacles. “VR creates presence, allowing you to be somewhere you are not, doing something you are not doing – reacting to objects and events that are not real.”

Adaora Udoji produces and manages media at the intersection of emerging technologies. She’s an angel investor and also a contributing editor to our best practices document. “It’s magic time in immersive technology,” Udoji says. “Innovations and applications are sprouting like wildflowers and this white paper by the VR/AR Association will be fantastically useful. It’s a supercharged resource by working professionals in the space, aggregating information and lessons. The faster knowledge and information spread, the faster and more efficiently the industry will grow. No one needs to reinvent the wheel on basic questions and we hope to help prevent that and spur rapid and successful evolutions,” she adds.

On Storytelling and Building Narratives:

David Hamlin, executive producer of USA Today’s VRtually There explains that VR is different from traditional media in the way viewers engage with content and become immersed in an experience. But Hamlin points out a VR storyteller’s challenge remains the same as in all preceding platforms. “We still have to deliver on the promise of an engaging narrative, a story that offers and pays off a cathartic journey filled with obstacles, conflicts, drama, and resolution. To me, the social contract between viewers and filmmakers hasn’t changed. It’s just the tools at our disposal and the viewer’s visceral experience that’s being transformed,” Hamlin says.

Tash Tan of S1T2 feels that building narratives around characters needs to be considered within the greater view of interactive drama, the latest evolution of which can be found in virtual reality. “360-video and real-time VR applications may be distinctly different in creation but the understanding is that they both, to varied degrees, allow for the user to be a spectator and a player — you are the audience but also a character. This dual role is the key to building a successful narrative in VR; you should block, choreograph, and script to accentuate this multiple identity,” Tan adds.

USA Today’s Hamlin has learned there are critical questions to ask when deciding to produce a VR story: “What makes this opportunity uniquely VR? Is the location(s) and protagonist(s) going to effectively fill the entire space? Is the action inherently ‘spherical’? Is the world I’m documenting truly cinematic in this VR medium? Will I actually deliver on the promise of a valid and entertaining 360 experience?”

On Monetization and Driving up ROI:

Currently, one of the biggest drivers of VR growth arises from marketing budgets for products, series, and other media tent-pole events. These “VR” strategies manifest through marketing budgets because they result in novel products, and the majority of the time lead to earned media — a key metric in gauging the success of a marketing campaign. Luis A. Navia is co-founder and CEO of ODYSIA and co-chair of the VR/AR Stories and Audiences Committee. Navia says if we can begin to shift the industry’s perception from seeing VR as a marketing tool to embracing VR as a business unit within their businesses, we will see exponential growth as an industry at all levels, both micro and macro.

“For example, when a major corporation decides to invest in a VR business unit, it sets off a chain of events that generate economic value by driving technology forward, and it creates engaging content on innovative platforms for consumers. The industry has seen explosive growth in the form of record-breaking investments, creation of multiple types of headsets, and a burgeoning start-up ecosystem that continues to push forward the boundaries of VR technology, platforms, and content. Once we begin to see mass adoption across multiple industries,” Navia contends, “we’ll obviously start experiencing VR as a societal norm. This will help drive ROI up and subsequently fuel the industry to reach market-shaping size.”

On Social Impact and Capacity Building:

From the United Nations to the World Bank and the Australian Aid program, development agencies are among the first out of the gate to experiment with immersive VR/AR technologies. Their purpose has been to build empathy and educate local communities as they work to improve the challenging environments surrounding them. There is a commitment to understand how new communication technologies can be accessed and leveraged by individuals in developing nations to inspire positive change, and help create bridges between otherwise disconnected human experiences.

In October 2016 together with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s innovationXchange and emerging media technologist Ben Kreimer, SecondMuse traveled to the Southeast Asian island nation of Timor-Leste and documented the work of food innovators in the cities of Dili and Baucau, using 360˚/VR storytelling. Our film, Eating With the Seasons, was soft launched in Canberra, Australia, on August 8, 2017.

While in Timor-Leste, Ben and I provided a Samsung Gear 360 camera and smartphone to local producers, and incorporated one of their scenes in a 360°/VR experience. In this way, we are working to illustrate and better understand how simple, accessible, and low-cost consumer hardware can be leveraged by people in a non-western context by focusing on and encouraging the capacity building aspects of the medium. We believe that storytellers everywhere should have access to immersive storytelling tools, and that they don’t need cinema-grade cameras and teams of people to produce compelling, impactful content.

Another VR/AR/AI project for social impact is LAUNCH Legends — using emerging technology to encourage children to eat more nutritious food. In partnership with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s innovationXchange, LAUNCH Legends explores the potential for interactive narratives to help restore pride in traditional eating, and promote healthy food choices in the Pacific region where a worsening double disease burden of under- and overnutrition is devastating local communities.

Why We Produced this Best Practices Doc:

Juanisa McCoy has worked on UI/UX concepts and wi-fi performance for VR in-flight travel entertainment/e-commerce experiences. She will be expanding her VR/AR exploration into the performing arts, education, consumer goods, and gaming. McCoy is also a member of the VR/AR Stories and Audiences Committee. Her focus is to apply user experience philosophies to VR/AR in order to provide the best and safest engagement for audiences. She champions the awareness for empathy and accessibility in tech, design, and VR/AR.

“The latest development in virtual and augmented reality presents us with a unique level of challenges and opportunities to explore,” says McCoy. “With this new ecosystem, we need to establish optimal technical and experience standards that will offer continuous audience engagement, industry skill development, and socially impactful stories. These practices will allow industry leaders to successfully influence the audience’s journey and how they relate to our stories and the world.”

Download the Top 10 VR Best Practices to:

  • Identify the differences and similarities between virtual and augmented reality
  • Learn how virtual and augmented reality enhance user interaction and storytelling
  • Learn about development agencies producing VR for social impact
  • Gain technical insights on approaches for cameras, lighting, audio, design, and editing
  • Consider how and when to advocate virtual and augmented reality for better audience engagement
  • Focus on stories with spatial and audio perspectives and depth

As members of the VR/AR Stories and Audiences Committee, we see this as an opportunity for practitioners and stakeholders to share their experience and knowledge. As a committee we intend to update this material every six months. We encourage industry feedback to keep this a living document.

At SecondMuse we build purpose-driven networks using innovation to tackle the complex challenges of our time. We are doing this work in communities, cities, and countries around the world. We help organizations solve systems-level grand challenges, governments more effectively utilize their resources and connect with citizens, and corporations leverage their strengths and break silos to solve complex problems. We have implemented projects in six continents and worked with organizations such as NASA, Intel, Nike, IKEA, USAID, the World Bank, the US Department of State, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the City of Melbourne. We are a certified B Corp and have locations in Portland, San Francisco, New York City, Washington D.C., Melbourne, and Copenhagen.

The SecondMuse Storytelling Unit is a dedicated global team focused on expanding engagement and amplification for social, economic, and environmental impact. We share stories, and we empower our partners to tell them. Our films have won awards including a 2017 Telly Award; and our global campaigns have reached over 95 million people on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. SecondMuse is also co-chair of the VR/AR Global Association and together with USA Today, A&E Network, and other industry thought leaders has produced the Best Practices in Virtual Reality with an emphasis on VR for social impact.

Original article here

VRARA Partners with WeWork to Offer Co-Working Office Spaces to VR AR Companies Around the World

The VR/AR Association (VRARA) has partnered with WeWork to offer co-working office spaces to VR AR companies around the word. With over 40 chapters in major cities, and over 3800 companies registered (many of which are startups needing co-working office space), VRARA continues to provide value to its Members and the VR AR ecosystem. See all the benefits here.

We are excited to announce this partnership with WeWork and help our members, especially entrepreneurs and young startups. In addition to the working space, members will be able to connect with each other to find freelancers or companies, posting jobs and matching needs with skills within the same location but also around the world.
— Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director

If you need co-working office space, email us info@thevrara.com  

Is it Feasible to Use VR in a Hospital?

By Brennan Spiegel, VRARA Co-Chair, Digital Health Committee

For decades, inpatient health care providers have recognized that patient management does not merely entail acute symptom management; hospitalized patients may also experience anxiety, uncertainty, and boredom exacerbated by a radical change in living environment and loss of customary rights and privileges. In order to care for the whole patient, hospitalists must consider not only the biological impact of illness, but also the psychosocial impact. However, the dynamic nature of hospital medicine, coupled with limited time to spend with individual patients, pose challenges to offering holistic inpatient care.

Recent advances in virtual reality (VR) technology offer a compelling opportunity to address inpatient biopsychosocial distress. VR devices provide immersive, realistic, three-dimensional experiences that “transport” users to novel environments. Thus, VR has potential to alleviate negative aspects of hospitalization by providing multisensory information and allowing patients to “escape” to pleasant locations and realities.

Improvements in software and hardware design, as well as associated cost reductions, have made VR promising for widespread use in health care. However, the practicality and qualitative experiences of using VR at scale in the general acute hospital setting has not been formally evaluated. Because the hospital environment poses unique challenges that outpatient clinics or rehabilitation units do not, it is important to understand the “real-world” practicality of using VR in hospitalized patients—this is a necessary first step before pursuing more extensive evaluation of VR on inpatient outcomes and resource utilization.

Thus, we assessed the eligibility, usability, and acceptability of VR equipment and software in a diverse cohort of hospitalized patients in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: an urban, community-based, academic hospital in Los Angeles.

In our study, we found two overarching and somewhat contradictory results. First, we found that despite evaluating 510 inpatients for VR, only 30 (5.9%) were both eligible and willing to experience the technology. Strict application of exclusion criteria, including presence of motion sickness, stroke, seizure, dementia, nausea, and isolation status, rendered 82.9% of participants immediately ineligible. Of the remaining eligible patients, 66% refused to participate for a variety of reasons, including anxiety about the technology and high levels of illness severity. In short, despite seeking to apply VR to a cohort, only a small number of patients were ultimately able and willing to participate. Future research should evaluate patient knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about VR in the hospital, and enumerate specific reasons why some patients are unwilling to use VR.

Second, among participants, most patients found VR to be a positive and pleasant experience. Patients described how VR could ease anxiety, reduce pain through distraction, and provide an “escape” from the confines and boredom of the hospital room. These qualitative results were further supported by endorsement of most participants that they would use VR again if given the opportunity. Common reasons for enjoying the experience were distraction, immersion, being away from the hospital, doing something beyond their means or ability, and the novelty of the experience. In this manner, VR may support the unmet need for patients to virtually “escape” the hospital environment and achieve some degree of normalcy. 

Similar to other evolving digital technologies, we found that patients willing to try VR were significantly younger than those who refused. Older individuals can have more difficulty than younger individuals in adopting new technologies—a term described as the “digital divide” that results from variations in self-efficacy and confidence with technology. However, although older patients were more hesitant to participate in this VR study, they tended to be less critical of the technology than younger patients were, and most participants enjoyed the experience, independent of age. Based on this observation, encouraging older patients to use VR may offer benefits to some individuals even if there is initial hesitancy to use the technology.

Although most patients described benefits of using VR, there were important limitations identified as well. The goggles were frequently described as too heavy, hard to fit, uncomfortable, and difficult to focus. In addition, because the VR goggles were considered a medical device by our institutional review board, they required meticulous cleaning between patients, application of fresh liners for each use, and provision of a head cap to minimize infection risk. These technical shortcomings may limit the scalability of VR in the hospital and provide opportunities to improve the form factor of current devices. Optimally, a disposable device, such as Google Cardboard goggles or Homido clip-on goggles, could be used to minimize infection risk and logistical concerns, although the current disposable goggles do not yet provide the same immersive experience as higher-end sets.

The notion of a “Virtualist Consult Service” that offers tailored VR experiences for hospitalized patient is appealing. However, to realize this vision, several intermediate steps will be necessary. Based on our study, we believe that next steps should be to test different goggle sets and form factors, evaluate longer video experiences, offer VR directly through primary providers, and evaluate the impact of VR on both patient reported outcomes (eg, pain, satisfaction scores) and objective outcomes (eg, vital signs). If VR is shown to be pragmatic, scalable, and effective, then we should evaluate its cost-effectiveness and budget impact by monitoring resource utilization (eg, pain medication), length of stay, and readmissions. Our group at Cedars-Sinai is undertaking this research now and will report more results as they become available.

You can read the full open-access paper, published in JMIR Mental Health, at this site

VR/AR Opportunity Spotting is All About Knowledge

AR and VR are poised to become the next transformational platform shifts, reaching nearly all aspects of our lives and work. And that vision holds business opportunities accross several verticals -- everything from gaming to retail.

But the opportunity is counterbalanced by substantial challenges, such as detecting the right gaps in the value chain. As always, it's a matter of optimal timing and go-to-market execution. And that process is all about being empowered through a knowledge position.

Against that backdrop, we announce ARtillry Insights, a research and intelligence subscription. Through a partnership with the SF-based Intelligence firm ARtillry, we'll deliver a monthly package consisting of original and curated intelligence. 

Its main goal: to equip subscribers in AR and VR sectors -- or those entering from other industries -- to make informed business decisions. To find out more, see sample work or subscribe, go to the ARtillry Insights main page, or contact us.

VRARA Members receive a subscription discount.

Transforming Digital & Marketing Agencies with VR and AR | Q&A Series #3 featuring Pound&Grain

This is the third feature in the series showcasing Vancouver digital and marketing agencies (non-traditional VR/AR companies) 

Our own Laura Ryu (Marketing and Communications Manager at VRARA Vancouver) sat down with Michelle Knight of Pound&Grain based in Vancouver. They've worked with a number of clients on their interactive digital and brand strategy including SAP, Arc'Teryx and Lululemon.

Tell us about your agency & what you've been working on.

At Pound & Grain we work hard to add value to the brand by creating something useful for the user. We found creating a VR experience is an all-round win. It’s a tool with immersive qualities that are unparalleled. We’ve used VR as a demo tool for SAP and to show off CFL’s new Adidas gear. We also love the odd passion project.

Tell us about a VR or AR campaign that you've enjoyed or were inspired by.

We are huge horror fans (sisters), but when it comes to VR storytelling we first fell in love with loVR. Who knew a data led love story could be so beautiful? It was the game changer for us, or as some would say our ‘Jesus moment.’ That being said, cowzVR is a pretty fun and an incredibly random experience.

We are starting to see competition build up in advertising, especially with big players such as Saatchi & Saatchi building on-site VR labs. What are your thoughts on competition and what do you think will set apart the strong agencies from the rest?

We’re in such an exciting time right now! For us, a VR experience should only be created if it makes sense for our client and the concept is VR first. Today, like any new platform, there are gimmicky experiences that don’t add as much value. The difference between the ‘strong’ and the ‘weak’ VR agencies will come down to content and of course context.

How do you think the structure of agencies and its landscape will change in the next 5 years given anticipated rapid growth in VR/AR technology?

There will be an AR team and a VR team and the two technologies will exist independently of each other, with the odd overlap during integrated campaigns. It will also become a more specialized and integrated role throughout the agency at a deeper level. We hope AR will become a tool people rely on to get from A-B, to cook, to shop etc. While VR will allow the user to escape into a new role – hopefully interacting at a greater level with the possible addition of haptic responses and more attention to sound.

What is currently your biggest challenge (or as the industry) in regards to integrating VR/AR?

Getting headsets onto faces is still a pill the smaller brands are battling to swallow.

We know that VR/AR will be disruptive in many different industries, how will this affect your company and clients?

VR will allow us to share our client’s emotional and intellectual being in a space of presence. AR will allow us to communicate and create ways that make brands more useful and integrate them into everyday life.

Why is it important for agencies to be onboard now and join the VR/AR Association?

VR is the coming together of many, many skills and mindsets. And we are all in a learning stage, we want to harness all failures and celebrate all successes together. This combined knowledge will allow us all to experiment and learn at a much greater pace.

What benefits do you see in being a member?

Collaboration and insight. We are part of two committees with professionals that are open to share and learn from each other. Being part of the VRARA means being part of an inclusive group of professionals playing with one of the most powerful storytelling tools that’s ever existed.

 
 

We'd like to thank Michelle Knight from Pound&Grain, please visit them at www.poundandgrain.com

Join the VRARA Marketing Committee and others, here

Augmented Reality is Growing Up

Disney, Crayola and student targeted AR Campaigns lead Augmented Reality growth in brand adoption. Disney Research just shared a walk up AR experience for its animations; using nothing more than a bench, cameras and a screen. ‘Magic Bench’ uses depth and RGB color sensors of a Kinect to create a scene in which 3-D animated characters ‘interact’ and sit on the bench with users. The Disney team is able to modify the 3-D construction to 2-D and use that as a ‘flat’ backdrop. The entire experience runs on a game engine. But what is exciting is that multiple people can sit on the bench and see the animations on the screen at once for a fun Disney moment. If you're interested in AR for brands, join our Marketing Industry Committee

Likewise, Crayola partnered with DAQRI to bring coloring books to life. The user (kids) colors and customizes the character, and then uses a smartphone or tablet camera to hover over the page using the Crayola Color Alive App to animate the characters on the page. Originally released in early 2015, Color Alive (2.0) now has 8 new versions that were released in 2016; including Disney’s popular Frozen. If you're interested in AR and Publishing, Books, and Media, join our Committee on this topic here! 

Finally, teens and students alike are engaging with AR via targeted AR advertising campaigns. The English Brand, New Look, with over 700 stores in the UK, Europe and Asia; launched an AR Campaign in the UAE. The brand hired Engine Creative, to create an experience which enabled students to scan their New Look Student Card and reveal special offers and ‘create their own look’ by overlaying New Look products using their phones. For Brand engagement, users spent an average of 6 minutes 53 seconds inside the app and had over 10,000 interactions in one month. And icing on the cake, the entire experience was integrated for social sharing and contextual metrics for the brand. If you're interested in Advertising, join our Committee on this topic here! 

With Apple's ARKit, expect to see more of AR experiences in traditional/existing apps, as well as new apps centered completely around experiences enabled with AR. 

380M iPhones are ARKit-ready

This article originally appeared in Upload by VRARA SF's Mike Boland. It highlights data that is available through VRARA's new research subscription. More information can be found here

We’ve all heard the story: Apple’s ARKit will accelerate augmented reality’s market penetration by creating the world’s biggest developer platform overnight. The premise is based on the platform’s software-centric approach that makes it compatible with a whole lot of existing iPhones.

But how many is it? We’ve heard “tens of millions,” “hundreds of millions,” and of course “a crap ton.” So to ease the suspense, we at ARtillry did the math. The verdict: there are 381M ARKit-compatible iPhones active today, 505M projected by the end of 2017 and about 850M by 2020 (chart below).

Not including iPads (more on that in a second), this is essentially the installed base of iPhones that have A9 or A10 chips. That translates to the iPhone 6s and 6s+, or greater. Taking into account its September 2015 launch and the 2.5 year replacement cycle for iPhones, number crunching ensued (more here).

But perhaps more interesting than the current snapshot is the future projection. As noted, we project about a half billion units by end of year, or 65 percent of total iPhones at the time.  This will be driven by holiday-quarter sales that tend to move 75M+ units, not to mention a shiny new AR-centric body.

By the end of 2018, replacement cycles will wipe out all but 48 million non-ARKit-compatible phones in active use. Moving toward 2020, almost all 850M iPhones we project as an installed base will be ARKit-compatible, considering a very small portion of (second-hand) active devices older than 4 years.

But the takeaway isn’t just AR-compatible devices’ share of the iPhone universe. It’s also the degree to which that universe itself will grow. Year-over-year iPhone sales have waned; an AR-packing unit could give it the sales resuscitation it needs (though a rumored $1k price point could temper this).

As for iPad, we project 32M ARKit-compatible units by the end of the year. The smaller total has a lot to do with components like processing and optics. AR apps on the iPad could also be narrower, based on range of motion and portability, but we’ll certainly see at least some bigger-screen use cases develop.

Market-sizing credentials can be seen here. 

Market-sizing credentials can be seen here

ARtillry INSIGHTS: Gain a VR/AR Knowledge Position

VRARA Members receive a subscription discount.

In any emerging area of technology, history has taught us that the name of the game is detecting openings for business opportunity and gaps in the value chain. And that process is all about being empowered through a knowledge position.

With that backdrop, we announce ARtillry Insights, a research and intelligence subscription. Through a partnership with San Francisco-based analyst firm ARtillry, it will deliver a monthly package consisting of original and curated intelligence (sample report below).

Its main goal: to equip subscribers in AR and VR sectors -- or those entering from other industries -- to make informed business decisions. To find out more or subscribe, click the button below or go to the ARtillry Insights main page.

Please also note that VRARA members get a signifigant discount on the subscription. Contact us with any questions, or to become a member. 

VRARA Top 10 VR Best Practices Report

To get your copy of this report, email info@thevrara.com

This report was created by the VRARA VR Stories & Audiences Committee. This Committee is creating best practices, guidelines, and call to actions (e.g., recommendations for standards) for VR experiences in order to grow the audience (user base) for VR. The Committee is a group of technologists, journalists, business leaders, entrepreneurs, visual artists, immersive sound technicians, and storytellers. 

This report is an effort to capture into one source the rapidly evolving knowledge about VR. The Committee seeks to present the hardware, the software and to dig into the specifics of the development and content production. The Committee sees this as an opportunity for practitioners and stakeholders to add their experience and knowledge. The Committee intends to update this material every six months.

Monetizing VR is a critical question for which there is little data in understanding what will be primary drivers of revenue. Currently, tech and manufacturing companies are spending tens of millions of dollars on developing hardware and software. On the content side, marketing budgets have been an enormous source of funding for content development and production.

The industry has seen explosive growth in record breaking investments in the billions, the creation of multiple types of headsets, and a burgeoning start-up ecosystem that continues to push the boundaries of VR technology, platforms, and content. Once the mass adoption begins, that we expect, across multiple industries, we believe we will start experiencing VR as a societal norm. This will drive ROI up and subsequently fuel the industry to reach market shaping size.

Oath, a Verizon Company, become a Member of the VR/AR Association VRARA

This week, we are excited to announce Oath’s membership of the VRARA - a global industry association for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. 

By connecting cross vertical knowledge at a global scale, the VRARA helps members accelerate their go-to-market strategy. If you’re a brand or enterprise looking to deploy a VR or AR solution, there are now thousands of solution providers globally. The VRARA can help you learn from case studies and connect you with the best solution providers for your use case. 

David Murray, Head of Ad Creative Technology, EMEA, at Oath said: “Virtual & Augmented Reality technology provides an exciting opportunity for users, content creators & brands to create and experience the next generation of interactive content. The doors are being opened to truly immersive experiences that have the potential to shift how people consume content. At Oath, we want to lead the way. There are challenges ahead so it is important to work and help the wider industry to solve issues such as standardisation & scale. The VRARA will help us join the dots in the industry and we want to help drive towards this new frontier.”

Original post here

VR/AR Association New Zealand gets a Centre for Mixed Reality

Wellington’s virtual and mixed reality centre Projectr has officially opened with a launch event today in collaboration with MBIE.

Minister of Economic Development Simon Bridges opened the centre and released the latest New Zealand ICT Sector Report to an audience of over 160 private and public sector attendees.

Wellington City Council, foundation partners helping with the establishment of PROJECTR, see the centre as an opportunity to boost and combine the skills of our AR/VR talent in one location, enabling collaboration to increase technology and product development which can be exported to the world.

“Artificial Intelligence will drive tomorrow’s world” says Councillor Simon Marsh, Economic Development portfolio lead. “PROJECTR, is an opportunity to showcase Wellington’s creative ability on a global scale. Wellington is an intelligent city that brings innovative ideas to life and PROJECTR will drive innovation in the virtual and mixed reality space, adding to Wellington’s reputation as leader in digital enterprise. Wellington City Council are proud supporters of PROJECTR and innovation that encourages a collaborative working approach”

Victoria University of Wellington has also partnered with PROJECTR’s research and development lab to support R&D innovations. The first collaborative project, with help from Victoria researchers is underway and focuses on innovations in the health sector.

Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Kate McGrath says the university-business nexus is one that is critically important for Victoria as a global-civic university and New Zealand’s top-ranked university for research quality.

“Through this partnership, our staff and students have the opportunity to work alongside people with different skill bases and perspectives, apply their knowledge and expertise, and gain access to an extensive array of the latest commercial technology advances.

“This partnership also helps in enhancing New Zealand’s capacity and capability to support social and economic growth and change, particularly important in this heightened period of technological advancement and disruption as virtual, augmented and mixed realities become pervasive technologies.”

The ICT report shows that the computer services sector invested more in R&D than any other sector ($436m in 2016) and 34% of computer system design firms invest in R&D compared to an average of 9% across other sectors. Centre Executive Jessica Manins, who has brought the centre to life, said she is keen to see more companies investing in research to accelerate the rate of technological innovation and its associated economic benefits for New Zealand.

“R&D is at the heart of our centre and we’re encouraging as many companies to drop in, try out the latest technology and use our centre as a space for testing, playing and developing proof of concepts with our cities innovators”

Founding tenants at PROJECTR include leading AR/MR production studio Mixt, The New Zealand VR/AR Association, ShowHow VR training platform, Synty Studios, BeVR, Swibo, StaplesVR, Imersia and The New Zealand Game Developers Association.

“The New Zealand Game Developers Association is excited to partner with PROJECTR in Wellington as we see great opportunities for collaboration between game developers and the many industries exploring VR and AR,” says James Everett, Chairperson of the NZGDA, and PROJECTR mentor.

Co-working residents have access to mentors, shared work space and the ability to work on collaborative R&D projects within the centre making it a key point of difference from any other shared workspace. International mentors include the Head of VR at HTC Vive, Vinay Narayan, Partner Program Manager for Education at Microsoft, Dan Ayoub and local experts from Weta Workshop and Victoria University. Other key partners of the centre include Ernst and Young, Ricoh, AWS and Crestline.

PROJECTR has been set up on level 2 of the six-storey NEC House owned by The Wellington Company. Its newest tenant since a major refurbishment programme was undertaken on the high-profile Taranaki Street building, PROJECTR has benefited from significant support by The Wellington Company. 

Transforming Digital & Marketing Agencies with VR and AR | Q&A Series #2 featuring Domain 7

This is the second feature in the series showcasing Vancouver digital and marketing agencies (non-traditional VR/AR companies) 

Our own Laura Ryu (Marketing and Communications Manager at VRARA Vancouver) sat down with Kevan Gilbert, Director of Engagement Strategy of Domain 7 based in Vancouver. They've worked with a number of clients on their interactive digital strategy including Microsoft, Telus and UBC.


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Tell us about your agency & what you've been working on.

Domain7! We've been working on using virtual reality as a way to inspire our partners to envision a more positive future. From in-studio demos to taking the technology to conferences, we see this as an opportunity to help people reduce their cynical barriers, and start dreaming together about the future we want to co-create. 

Tell us about a VR or AR campaign that you enjoyed or was inspired by. 

We're loving the demos coming from ARKit from Apple, including the portal-to-another-world demo: http://mobilesyrup.com/2017/06/30/new-video-of-apples-arkit-shows-off-interdimensional-portals/

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We are starting to see competition build up in advertising, especially with big players such as Saatchi & Saatchi building on-site VR labs. What are your thoughts on competition and what do you think will set apart the strong agencies from the rest? 

Rather than simply stealing attention or building on negative habits, the way our over-optimized 2D web has become, perhaps the work that will stand out in VR is work that answers this question well: "Does it help the human who is using it live the life they want to lead?" 

How do you think the structure of agencies and its landscape will change in the next 5 years given anticipated rapid growth in VR/AR technology?

I think it will remain important-as-ever to invest in healthy workplace cultures, since there will be more competition amongst agencies for smart technologists, designers, writers, creators, etc. How can we grow healthy workplaces that affirm human value even in this coming gold rush, where companies may become tempted to start taking shortcuts in hiring and culture.

 

What is currently your biggest challenge (or as the industry) in regards to integrating VR?

The chicken-and-egg-ness. What comes first: becoming an expert in the technology, or waiting for client demand? Since the technology doesn't have wide adoption in the user base, clients aren't necessarily asking for it. But in the meantime, they'll never ask if they don't see expertise and opportunity. 

We know that VR/AR will be disruptive in many different industries, how will this effect your company and your clients?

I'm curious to see how, in 10 years time, fully integrated VR/AR solutions have the opportunity to influence HOW we work, not necessarily what we work on. For instance, workspaces are very physical right now, because of the need for computer monitors, and the human desire for social proximity that has no other outlet. But if through VR/AR, the work isn't on your screen, how would we redesign the workplace? Similarly, if through VR/AR I can "feel" like I'm right beside my colleagues, even when I'm in my house, do we still need offices in the same way? And if a certain percent of the workforce can become not just "remote" workers, but "virtual" workers, how can this influence commuting, and thus, carbon emissions and air quality? (I'm not saying we'll all become hermits, but I do hope we ask ourselves more, "Why am I commuting, and is there another way?")

Why is it important for agencies to be onboard now and join the VR/AR Association?

To anticipate what's coming, to develop your imagination, and be part of a community of changemakers. 


 
 
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We'd like to thank Kevan from Domain 7, please visit them at www.domain7.com

Join the VRARA Marketing Committee and others, here

Introducing ARtillry INSIGHTS: Gain a VR/AR Knowledge Position

VRARA Members receive a subscription discount.

In any emerging area of technology, history has taught us that the name of the game is detecting openings for business opportunity and gaps in the value chain. And that process is all about being empowered through a knowledge position.

With that backdrop, we announce ARtillry Insights, a research and intelligence subscription. Through a partnership with San Francisco-based analyst firm ARtillry, it will deliver a monthly package consisting of original and curated intelligence (sample report below).

Its main goal: to equip subscribers in AR and VR sectors -- or those entering from other industries -- to make informed business decisions. To find out more or subscribe, click the button below or go to the ARtillry Insights main page.

Please also note that VRARA members get a signifigant discount on the subscription. Contact us with any questions, or to become a member.