The Fourth Transformation Will Be About Diversified VR/AR Strategies

First there were mainframe computers, then PCs. Then ten years ago, the iPhone marked the beginning of the smartphone era. Now, the Fourth Transformation is upon us. 

Defined by VR, AR and AI, this transformation is the topic of the latest book from Robert Scoble and Shel Israel; and of their fireside chat at VRARA SF Winter event

To kick things off, we heard from Lenovo which has lots of irons in the fire. This includes VR-ready PCs, a windows holographic headset, an enterprise AR headset and of course Tango.

Altogether it's a diversified VR/AR strategy. That's impressive for a global hardware player, given that VR/AR could cannibalize hardware standards. It's a classic innovator's dilemma. 

Lenovo's Joe Mikhail asserted that despite these potential threats to current hardware standards, it's hard to deny that VR and AR are the future... and Lenovo needs to be there. 

Not only is it blitzing VR/AR, but each product maps to different opportunities. Its AR headset addresses enterprise AR, while the Windows Holographic HMD has consumer use cases. 

In each case, it's about accelerating the adoption curve by getting more devices in more people's hands. The goal there is to seed the marketplace by bringing hardware costs down. 

Lenovo is meanwhile Google's biggest partner for Tango. The depth sensing and room mapping tech fuels Lenovo's flagship Phab2Pro, and will push AR further into users' hands. 

"Hands" is the operative word there, as both Mikhail and Lenovo's Carter Agar believe that mobile is the nearer term AR opportunity that will scale before headsets do (we agree). 

The use cases for Tango include home design and renovation... where getting an accurate read on furniture and room orientations will resonate with consumers and avoid costly mistakes.  

Lenovo is also working with brands to expand the use case. Agar in fact announced a new Amazon partnership allowing users to visualize the perfect flat screen fit before purchasing. 

The entire interview is below, with lots more insights from Mikhail and Agar about how to piece together a diversified VR/AR Strategy. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more San Francisco events.

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Augmented & Virtual Reality: Possibilities & Potential

25th of April: Engaging Content Creation & Production

Learn how to leverage today's digital platforms to create cutting-edge interactive and immersive experiences, which push the boundaries of content creation, curation and production across all industries.

26th of April: Augmented & Virtual Reality in Business

With augmented and virtual technologies reaching maturity in the next decade, you may soon be using them on a daily basis. Our Summit will cover the future of interaction, augmentation and technology in business - from digitally transformed tables, to virtual task management, eye-ware and beyond!

27th of April: Augmented & Virtual Reality: The User Experience

As the new dawn of virtual, augmented & mixed reality breaks, key questions regarding the user need asking; how do we ensure optimum engagement? Do we need to differentiate between our reality and these new tech realities? What affect will the innovations have on society? These and many more answered at this Summit.

VR for Producers featured Verizon envrmnt, Littlstar, and Associated Press at NYU Data Futures Lab

By Chris Pfaff 

The first VR/AR Association New York Chapter event of 2017, ‘Virtual Reality for Producers: How to Create and Deliver for the New Content Frontier,’ took place last Wednesday night, February 15th, at the NYU Data Futures Lab, and it delivered not only a full standing-room-only crowd of 95 people, but some of New York’s finest producers working the VR scene.

It has been almost a year since Chris Pfaff Tech Media helped launch the New York chapter of the VR/AR Association (www.thevrara.com), and the organization now boasts chapters in 12 countries.

Kris Kolo, New York chapter head of the VR/AR Association, introduces the goals and benefits of the organization

As more New York producers learn the craft of producing in VR, the industry will grow concomitantly. Wednesday’s session was an ideal session for learnings from the likes of Paul Cheung, direct of interactive at Associated Press (AP); Alissa Crevier, global head of partnerships, at Littlstar, and Christian Egeler, director of VR/AR product development with Verizon envrmnt.

Chris Pfaff introduces the speakers and sets up the event

 

Paul Cheung guided the audience through his learnings with the almost dozen VR cameras that he and his team have tested. He discussed some of the work that AP has done with branded content partners, and how to adapt the standards of the AP (an organization that literally developed the journalistic standards known as “AP Style” over the past 180-plus years) to VR production. In other words, while shooting a scene, do you keep the DP and/or the producer in the shot, or matte that out? For AP, that choice is obvious: leave the production team in the frame. Cheung described some of the learnings in VR as they apply to the overall production work that his interactive has to deal with, enabling a smoother workflow scenario.

Paul Cheung discusses the range of VR cameras that AP has tested and and used

For Alissa Crevier, Littlstar’s work has grown to the point where the company is as much a platform for content as it is a stand-alone producer of VR content. This has created a new kind of channel for VR partners, and the Littlstar roster of clients includes the who’s who of major content distributors, including Disney/ABC, Discovery, Nat Geo, Showtime, and the Wall Street Journal, among others. Crevier’s experience with Spotify, and the music industry in general, have helped her navigate clearances and understand the vagaries of the live music scene, and live streaming, to understand the value of WebVR versus individual VR platforms, such as Oculus, Gear, or Vive, among others.

Alissa Crevier presents Littlstar’s productions and its content platform model

Christian Egeler took the audience through the Verizon envrmnt learnings, and how they have applied to the studio’s growth in areas that include their Social VR platform. The envrmnt cross-platform SDK has gained traction in the industry, including with the March, 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, which includes an AR app, a native app, and integrated envrmnt SDK so that trigger images are easier to recognize. Egeler also showed an Alpine Village demo with dynamic updates (first showed at the Amazon Web Services Invent and Nvidia conferences). He hinted at the possibility that envrmnt might release a “build your own” 3D engine later this year. A VR experience produced for Super Bowl LI was also demonstrated.

Christian Egeler shares learnings from Verizon envrmnt’s studio work, and showcases new work, including its Social VR platform

The audience, mostly comprised of producers, was intrigued by the experiences that the three presenters had. The lively panel discussion dove into issues surrounding the growth of an industry that still has yet to standardize areas of production and post-production, as well as the growth of WebVR, in the wake of a still-early headset market.

Paul Cheung during the panel discussion

Mina Salib (right, speaking), program manager at the NYU Futures Labs, introduces the audience to new opportunities at the Labs

Paul Cheung (rear of photo, against window), and Alissa Crevier (right front), address audience questions after the ‘VR for Producers’ event

Everything VR & AR Podcast: Human Motion Tracking in VR Immersion

Roman Kulikov from Moscow Russia joins the show to discuss such topics as human motion tracking for full immersion VR experiences. We also discuss his experience first attending and now teaching at the National Research University MPEI (Moscow Power Engineering Institute) in Moscow.

Other topics include learning more about the VR/AR technology scene in Moscow along with the accelerator his company is a part of and what the Pokemon Go experience is like in his area.

Another website that Roman shared regarding work his team is doing can be found here and the English translation of the front page of the site is below:

SCM: Tracking for Virtual Reality

The idea is to create a wireless tracking system with high accuracy by the use of nonlinear tracking filter based on the model of the user's movements for more information about the likely dynamics of the marker points on the body of the user.

Listen here

Recap of VRARA NYC Event: VR for Producers

At the heart of the VR experience is a core group of producers who, on a global basis, are leveraging early funding from state organizations, as in France, as well as major media firms, in Canada and the United States. As with high-definition video, a small but passionate group of production companies have taken on the task of defining the early grammar of VR. Teams such as RYOT have created immersive journalistic VR experiences, while Felix & Paul Studios have delivered high-end commercial experiences. Dozens of small shops create new worlds for clients daily (just search theDirectory to see just how many!).

Speakers and demos included:

 

See pictures from the event including the lessons learnt shared by the Associated Press (AP):

 

Verizon also demoed their Social VR:

Healthcare Solutions in VR AR MR

People are constantly asking how to move forward or more to the point, what’s beyond the hype in the VR industry? So let me say that what is clearly gaining traction in the market is improved Health Solutions. People want more, faster, and less evasive diagnostic, treatment and technology options.

The VRARA Digital Health Committee is proof. Since the inception of the committee, both companies and healthcare professionals wanted in. The goal is to develop and share best practices as the industry matures.

Everyone from Medical Doctors to private companies are participating to build tangible tools based on real use cases. The entire process of the patient journey; not to mention education both for patients and medical personnel alike is being parsed and planned.

As an example of the possibilities on this topic, we need look no further than  Cambridge University; who is now working on a program to render 3D VR treatment for cancer.

“We want to create an interactive, faithful, 3D map of tumors that can be studied in virtual reality that scientists can ‘walk into’ and look at it in great detail,” said lead researcher Greg Hannon in a Cambridge news post.

A 3D model would be ideal for researches to study and analyze with in-depth precision; showing the minutia of the cancer which has never done before.

“I think this is the very cutting edge of how people will in the future understand not only cancer but organismal development,” said Hannon in a video from the university.

This and more medical research utilizing VR/AR & MR is now happening and hopefully setting the new standard in excellence of care.

Recap of VRARA Boston Chapter Event

By Mike Festa, VRARA Boston Chapter President

BOSTON – Feb 7th: The Boston VRARA chapter kicked off with a launch event hosted at the Wayfair global headquarters. Despite a snowstorm, there were about 70 prospective members in attendance. Crazy Dough’s pizza was well received, and beer was flowing from the Wayfair taps.

Johnny Monsarrat fired up the crowd with his talk on AR gaming and building the successor to Pokémon Go. He built his first gaming company, Turbine, back when the internet was the new thing and now he wants to do it again utilizing the next platform, AR.

Shrenik Sadalgi, mixed reality apps team lead at Wayfair Next, explained why the largest online retailer of home goods wants to get in early on the action for AR and VR. These technologies are going to revolutionize the way that people shop from home and is going to increase the speed at which this segment shifts online, away from brick and mortar.

John Werner, a VP at Meta and organizer for AR in Action, showed how the first annual AR in Action conference was inspired by TED talks and created more than 70 videos. That event drew in more than 1,000 people and put Boston on the map as a capital of all things AR.

Mike Festa, chapter president, ran through the benefits of VRARA membership and spoke about how we are going to connect our well established local community in the VR/AR space to the rest of the world. In addition, he highlighted that Boston is a hub of cross functional technologies (biotech, education, architecture, defense, e-commerce) that will all be able to enhance their workflow through the adoption of VR and AR.

At the end of the night, there were several demos to try. Some of the devices include the Meta 2 headset, Google Tango in the Phab 2 Pro, the Occipital Bridge headset, the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and a custom built 3D scanner for rapidly digitizing products. We hope that everyone had a great time and look forward to the next event: Boston VR meetup on February 22nd.

More photos here

Everything VR & AR Podcast: Aaron Nicholson & John Dewar of Studio Transcendent

Listen here

Learn more about Studio Transcendent from co-founders Aaron Nicholson & John Dewar as they join Kevin on this episode of Everything VR & AR.

We discuss one of Studio Transcendent's previous releases called Rapid Fire: Brief History of Flight along with another project they have worked on with AppliedVR called Guided Relaxation which Aaron & John talk a bit more about.

Studio Transcendent also releases a very informative weekly newsletter sharing things going on in the industry which you can have delivered to your email or visit on the web called VR Digest which you can sign up for here.

The Fourth Transformation: Who, What, When and How?

First there were mainframe computers, then PCs. Then ten years ago, the iPhone marked the beginning of the smartphone era. Now, the Fourth Transformation is upon us. 

Defined by VR, AR and AI, this transformation is the topic of the latest book from Robert Scoble and Shel Israel; and of their fireside chat at last week's VRARA SF Winter event

Having applications and use cases in everything from shopping to healthcare and education, the Fourth Transformation will redefine our lives and work. 

As we discussed on stage, the Fourth Transformation will play out in three waves over the next decade: VR, MR (advanced AR), then the shift to ubiquitous smart glasses. 

We recommend the book, but to hear the breakdown directly from Scoble and Israel, our fireside chat is embedded below. The duo was as informative and entertaining as ever. 

Also stay tuned for more session video, such as our interview with Lenovo about its diversified VR/AR strategies. And more San Francisco events will be announced soon. 

Verdict Analysis: Why the Jury Awarded ZeniMax $500 Million in Oculus Lawsuit

Original article posted on RoadtoVR

Following the news of a $500 million plaintiff award in the ZeniMax v. Oculus lawsuit, a detailed breakdown of the verdict reveals the jury’s specific findings, and who is responsible to pay for the damages.

Guest Article by Matt Hooper & Brian Sommer, IME Law

Matt is a Partner at IME Law, where he represents clients in the immersive media, entertainment and technology industries. He represents several of the leading VR content creation and software companies in the United States. He also serves as Co-Chair of the VRARA Entertainment Committee. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mhooplaw.

Brian is an interactive media and entertainment attorney at IME Law, where he focuses his practice on the intersection of traditional entertainment and immersive media. He also serves as Co-Chair of the VRARA Licensing Committee. You can follow Brian on Twitter @arvrlaw.

Breaking Down the Jury Verdict in ZeniMax v. Oculus

After only a few days of deliberating, the Oculus jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs ZeniMax and id Software totaling $500 million. ZeniMax was awarded money damages against Oculus, founder Palmer Luckey, (former CEO) Brendan Iribe and CTO John Carmack, but parent-company Facebook escaped monetary liability (although Oculus is a subsidiary of Facebook).

Before the jurors started deliberating, Judge Ed Kinkeade provided them with nearly 90-pages of jury instructions. The jury instructions read like a missive and questionnaire, detailing the laws the jury must apply and includes spaces for the jury to fill in their award decisions (each count has to be reached unanimously, and there were nine jurors). Since the jury is a cross-section of people with different levels of education and experience, the judge wrote the jury instructions in easily digestible format, being careful to not distort important legal significances and nuances. The Oculus jury was comprised of six women and three men, with a wide-array of diverse backgrounds.

The following summarizes each count in the jury instructions and how the jury ruled:

Common Law Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

Defendants: Oculus, Facebook, Luckey, Iribe and Carmack
Jury Award (Defendants’ Liability to Plaintiffs): $0

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants misappropriated their trade secrets. The court explained that a trade secret is defined as “a formula, pattern, device or compilation of information used in a business which gives its owner an opportunity to obtain an advantage over his competitors who do not know or use it.” Plaintiffs asserted that their trade secrets included the following technologies: (1) distortion correction technology; (2) chromatic aberration correction method; (3) gravity orientation and sensor drift correction technology; (4) head and neck modeling technology; (5) HMD view bypass technology; (6) predictive tracking technology; and (7) time warping methodology.

To prevail on their claim for misappropriation of trade secrets, the plaintiffs needed to prove that: (1) a trade secret existed; (2) the defendants acquired the trade secret through breach of a confidential relationship or by improper means; (3) the defendants made commercial use of the trade secret in their business without authorization; and (4) the plaintiffs suffered damages as a result.

The jury found that ZeniMax failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence that any of the defendants misappropriated the trade secrets claimed by the plaintiffs. With respect to most civil claims, a plaintiff need only prove each element of a claim by a “preponderance of the evidence.” To establish an element by a preponderance of the evidence means to prove that “something is more likely so than not so.” This is a significantly lower burden than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard which is used for criminal cases.

Because the jury found that ZeniMax failed to prove that any of the defendants misappropriated its trade secrets, the jury did not award any damages to ZeniMax for this claim.

Copyright Infringement

Against Defendants: Oculus, Facebook, Luckey, Iribe and Carmack
Jury Award: $50,000,000 in actual damages against Oculus

All the defendants were alleged to have copied ZeniMax or id Software’s computer programs code in violation of their copyrights. There is no copyright protection in a computer program for ideas, program logic, algorithms, systems, methods, concepts or layouts; only original “expressions” of work embodied in a computer program are eligible for copyright protection. For example, literal elements such as source code and non-literal elements such as program architecture, structure, sequence and organization, operation modules and computer-user interface may enjoy copyright protection. A computer program can be original even if it incorporates elements that are not original to the author. Accordingly, computer code copyright infringement cases require filtering and separating uncopyrightable elements of the computer program from the protected parts, an expensive and complicated analysis usually involving expert witnesses.

The plaintiffs were granted the $50 million dollar copyright infringement against Oculus because the jury concluded the following: (1) the computer programs in question were copyrightable; (2) ZeniMax or id Software own the copyrights; and (3) Oculus copied the copyright-protected computer programs owned by ZeniMax or id Software.

Elements (1) and (2) were relatively easy issues for the jury to reach, because the plaintiffs registered their computer programs with the Copyright Office. Proving the third element was the complicated, contested part of the trial.

To prove the third element and find Oculus liable, the jury had to answer yes to both of the following questions: (1) did Oculus copy computer programs; and (2) if there was copying, was the copying “substantially similar” to plaintiffs’ copyrighted computer programs.

The Oculus court used the Abstraction-Filtration-Comparison Test (“AFC Test”) to analyze whether the non-literal elements of Oculus computer programs were substantially similar to ZeniMax or id Software copyright-protected computer programs. Essentially, the AFC Test involved breaking down each computer program into constituent parts, examining each of the constituent parts, sifting out non-protectable code and then comparing Oculus and plaintiffs’ programs to determine whether the copyright-protectable elements were substantially similar to warrant a claim for infringement.

Plaintiffs used Dr. David Dobkin, Professor of Computer Science at Princeton, to shepherd jurors through the AFC Test. At the end of his testimony, Dr. Dobkin concluded he is “absolutely certain Oculus copied from ZeniMax code,” and the jury agreed. Prior to the jury verdict, Oculus contended in its January 30, 2017 Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law that the AFC Test is “invalid and unconstitutional.” This issue may play a central role in expected appeals.

Breach of Contract

Defendants: Oculus and Luckey
Jury Award: $0 Luckey / $200,000,000 Oculus

The plaintiffs alleged that Luckey and Oculus had a contract in the form of a non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”) with the plaintiffs, and that Luckey and Oculus breached the NDA. Oculus disputed that it was a party to the NDA, as Luckey signed it in his individual capacity before Oculus was formed. The court explained in the jury instructions that Oculus would be bound to the NDA if the jury finds: (1) Oculus is a “mere continuation” of Luckey’s prior business (because a business that takes over assets from a prior business (even a sole proprietor) may have to assume the prior business’ obligations); and (2) Oculus manifested acceptance of the NDA through its conduct; or (3) Luckey assigned his obligations under the NDA to Oculus (a principle called “quasi-estoppel” provides that a party cannot maintain a position inconsistent with a position to which it previously acquiesced, or for which it previously accepted a benefit).

Luckey and Oculus raised the doctrine of laches in their defense. Laches is an affirmative defense, which means that Luckey and Oculus had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that: (1) there was a delay by the plaintiff in asserting a right or claim; (2) the delay was not excusable; and (3) there was undue prejudice to the party against whom the claim is asserted (the prejudice can be due to a loss of evidence or the defendant having changed its position in a way that would not have occurred had the plaintiff not delayed).

The jury found that Luckey breached the NDA, but it decided that the doctrine of laches barred the plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim against Luckey. The jury also found that Oculus was a party to the NDA on all three bases listed above: (1) mere continuation; (2) manifested acceptance and (3) quasi-estoppel (one would have been enough). Similarly, the jury found that Oculus breached the NDA. The jury provided an award of $200,000,000.00 in damages for Oculus’ breach of the NDA.

Tortious Interference With Contract

Defendants: Facebook
Jury Award: $0

The plaintiffs alleged that Facebook tortuously interfered with the NDA. In order to establish a tortious interference with contract claim, the plaintiffs had to establish that: (1) the NDA existed between plaintiffs and Luckey/Oculus; (2) Facebook willfully and intentionally interfered with the NDA; (3) the act of interference was a proximate cause of damage to plaintiffs; and (4) the plaintiffs suffered actual damage or loss as a result.

The jury found that Facebook did not tortuously interfere with the NDA, so no damages were awarded. The jury does not provide commentary on which of the four elements plaintiffs failed to prove, so the strength or weakness of this claim is unknown.

Unfair Competition

Defendants: Oculus and Facebook
Jury Award: $0

The plaintiffs alleged that Oculus and Facebook engaged in “unfair competition” with respect to the plaintiffs’ contracts, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. “Unfair competition” is a form of unlawful business injury arising out of business conduct which is contrary to honest business practice in industrial or commercial matters. It requires that a plaintiff prove that the defendant committed an illegal act that interfered with the plaintiff’s business.

For the purpose of the case, the potential “illegal act” by Oculus could have been any of the following: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets; (2) copyright infringement; (3) trademark infringement; or (4) breach of contract. The potential “illegal act” by Facebook could have been any of the following: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets; (2) copyright infringement; or (3) tortious interference with the NDA.

The jury found that Facebook and Oculus did not engage in unfair competition, so no damages were awarded for this claim.

Conversion

Defendants: Carmack only
Jury Award: $N/A

The plaintiffs alleged that Carmack “converted” the plaintiffs’ property. The term “converted” means that Carmack wrongfully exercised control over the plaintiffs’ property. To prevail on their claim, the plaintiffs needed to prove that: (1) the plaintiffs owned or had legal possession of (or were entitled to possession of) the property; (2) Carmack, unlawfully and without authorization, assumed and exercised dominion and control over the property to the exclusion of, or inconsistent with, the plaintiffs’ rights; (3) the plaintiffs demanded return of the property; and (4) Carmack refused to return the property.

Carmack raised two defenses against the conversion claim. First, he claimed that the statute of limitations barred the claim because the applicable statute of limitations was two years, and the plaintiffs waited longer than that to file its conversion claim. Carmack also claimed the doctrine of laches as a defense (see “Breach of Contract,” above, for the elements of that defense).

The jury found that Carmack converted plaintiffs’ property by taking ZeniMax documents and RAGE (2011) code. The jury found that the statute of limitations and laches defenses did not bar the claim. However, no specific damages were listed as awarded despite Carmack being found liable for conversion.

Trademark Infringement and False Designation

Defendants: Oculus, Iribe, and Luckey
Jury Award: $50,000,000 Oculus / $150,000,000 Iribe / $50,000,000 Luckey

The plaintiffs alleged that Oculus, Luckey, and Iribe infringed the plaintiffs’ trademarks. To prevail on their claim, the plaintiffs needed to prove that: (1) ZeniMax owned legally protectable trademarks; and (2) Oculus, Luckey and Iribe used one or more of ZeniMax’s trademarks without its consent, in connection with the offer of products in a manner that was likely to cause confusion as to the source, affiliation, or sponsorship of the products. A likelihood of confusion means a probability of confusion (not just a mere possibility of confusion), and that a reasonably prudent purchaser or user is likely to be confused as to the source of the product in question.

The plaintiffs also brought a claim for false designation against Oculus, Luckey and Iribe. The court explained to the jury that “any person who makes commercial use of any word, term, name, or symbol, or combination thereof that is likely to cause confusion as to that person’s affiliation, connection, or association with another person, or that misrepresents in advertising the nature, characteristics, quality, or geographic origin of that person’s goods or services, is liable to any person who is or is likely to be damaged by the false designation of origin.”

Oculus, Luckey and Iribe raised multiple defenses. They alleged that: (1) they had an express or implied license to use the trademarks; (2) ZeniMax acquiesced to the use of its trademarks; (3) they used it to accurately describe their goods and services (“nominative fair use”); and (4) the doctrine of laches prohibited the claim.

The jury found that Oculus and Iribe intentionally and knowingly infringed ZeniMax’s trademarks, but found that Luckey did not. The jury found that the defenses of license, acquiescence, nominal fair use and laches did not serve as a viable defense. The jury found that the actual damages that the plaintiffs suffered as a result of the trademark infringement was $0.

The jury found that Oculus, Luckey and Iribe are all liable for false designation, in which they intentionally and knowingly engaged. The jury again found that none of the foregoing defenses bar the plaintiffs’ claim. The jury found that actual damages that the plaintiffs suffered as a result of the false designation were as follows: $50,000,000 Oculus; $50,000,000 Luckey; and $150,000,000 Iribe.

Within hours of the court announcing the verdict, Oculus released a statement vowing to appeal. Meanwhile, ZeniMax is mulling over seeking injunctive relief to temporarily halt the sale of Oculus Rift headsets.

Iribe is reported to have a net worth valued around $2 billion, while Luckey’s net worth is reported around $700 million, so they are armed with enough cash to continue litigating (or perhaps their defense fees are paid by contract with Oculus).

Expect more motions to get filed in the trial court, including ZeniMax seeking millions in attorney fees. Although the verdict has been announced, it’s not likely the end of the case, but actually a second beginning. Given the high stakes of this case, expect a number of post-verdict motions and appeals, resulting in the case dragging on indefinitely. The appellate process can take years. Often, parties will settle during the appellate process for an array of reasons, ranging from business concerns to legal uncertainty to resource drain. This matter is far from over.

Recap of VRARA LA Event - Taco Tuesday the Tech Remix: VR AR Edition

By Natalie Cole, VRARA LA Chapter

Taco Tuesday the Tech Remix: VR and AR Edition kicks off a great year in VR and AR for LA Chapter

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality enthusiasts, investors and experts gathered to mix and mingle with each other during Taco Tuesday this week. The energy was electric and the feedback was phenomenal.

Residents of Los Angeles may not be able to turn down some great tacos but the power of VR and AR was apparent as guests from all fields came to share their love for the technology.

“This is the future” was a common theme as to why this event was the choice for attendees.

The event provided a chance to network with pioneers in the industry, with those who want to use AR and VR in their respected fields and business, but it also warmly welcomed those who admire the technology from afar.

The mix of people and the anticipation was high and it was hard not to get caught up in the moment. Besides the endless possible connections that sparked from all angles, there were demos from two companies; Vantage.TV and Candy Lab, Inc.

Vantage TV, had a three chair set up and once seated, guests had the difficult choice of picking between ASAP Rocky or Major Lazer at one of the most iconic running musical festivals: Coachella!

From the comfort of Los Angeles, were front row seats to a chart breaking musical performance without the manic of a Coachella throng thanks to Vantage TV. With the help of headphones and Virtual Reality goggles, one could say we got to experience only the most amazing parts of Coachella! The technology never ceases to amaze!

Candy Lab, who was so gracious to sponsor the event also demoed their location-based augmented reality engine. True to form, they stayed with the theme: collect tacos and margaritas in AR. After the Augmented Reality scavenger hunt was over, guests had the option to help themselves to delicious Tacos and Margaritas… in reality!

Besides the two great demos that gave curious guests a cool introduction to the enigma that is VR and AR there were presentations to give guests an intro to the association.

The president of the Los Angeles Chapter Josephine Munis took to the stage and introduced her hard-working eclectic team, including Vice President: Doug Lorenzen, Head of Design: Livia Jenvey, Board Advisor: Andrew Couch and Marketing Manager: Natalie Cole.

Guest speaker Neal Gray, introduced his company GML, highlighting the fact that he was on the hunt for innovative VR startups as he represents entertainment companies looking to implement VR technology experiences.

VR AR Association members Talespin, Paper Triangles and Candy Lab also introduced their startups to the crowd and after each speaker, the spacious room interrupted with applause.

Guests were thrilled by the content, eager to be a part of the community and best of all, wanted to be involved in the success of the VR AR Association in Los Angeles.

For a re-launch in the city of angels, we had an incredible event with an unexpectedly high turnout and it was a wonderful introduction to the VR and AR community here in Los Angeles.

Check out videos and pictures from our event here:

YouTube

Instagram

Twitter

Interested in becoming a member? Contact Josephine@thevrara.com

 

 

Proven Value in VR/AR - Facebook, Snap Inc, and Apple

With market news dominating this week’s quarterly earnings report; Apple, Facebook and Snap Inc come into focus for the VR/AR/MR industry. Apple is the surprise leader with earnings beating forecast and it capitalizing on strong iPhone 7 Plus sales. What also should be noted is that Apple appears to be planning for object recognition with it’s recent patents and dual camera’s capacity for depth perception.

Facebook is pushing for VR adoption (Oculus) but also is keeping traction with the market as a whole via Instagram. The bold strategy of Instagram to add new features to copy Snap’s core functionality, a la ‘ Instagram Stories,’ is paying off. Both active users have increased for Instagram ‘Stories’ and a decline in ‘Snapchat Stories.’  Also,  Facebook is said to be casting a wider net with Brands and movie studios for Branded "animated masks" and filters, i.e., augmented reality.

Ultimately, Snap Inc. is poised for big things! I’m sure future iterations of it’s ‘Stories’ will be improved and actually I’m super excited to see what Spectacles will have to offer in terms of AR. Reports that Snap Inc. is testing AR overlay’s on scenes viewed with Spectacles, which will recognize landscapes and faces. This has my eyes wide open with rainbows and advertiser dollars.

Also read: 

Snap's AR Camera Strategy - It's about Story (Content) Creation and "Advertising"

Snapchat (Snap Inc) is a Camera and Augmented Reality Company

Everything VR & AR Podcast: Laura Hall & Daniel Sabio talk about Singularity event in Atlanta

Kevin is joined by Laura Hall who is the Atlanta Georgia Chapter President of the VR/AR Association and Daniel Sabio who is the Community Manager for TechSquare Labs, also based in Atlanta.

TechSquare Labs held an event on January 28, 2017 called Singularity which was Atlanta's first live virtual reality concert.

Laura & Daniel talk about how this event came to be, how it was received by those in attendance and ways to improve the experience for future events like this.

For details about the upcoming Atlanta Chapter event, please visit this link to get signed up to attend.

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The VR/AR Association (VRARA) is pleased to announce that the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has become its newest member

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Both the VR/AR Association and the BCIT are dedicated to fostering growth, education and research in the virtual reality and augmented reality/mixed reality communities.  As a member, BCIT  will participate in the Association's Educational Partner Program by which BCIT's research groups will be connected with VR/AR/MR companies to accelerate research, development and learning. In addition, the Association will help enhance networking opportunities for BCIT students in the VR/AR/MR industry.

"We're very excited to have BCIT join the association, having one of BC's largest post-secondary institutions is going to be key to our growth and for us to continue supporting our goals to making Vancouver & BC as a hub for VR/AR/MR" says Dan Burgar, President of the VR/AR Association Vancouver Chapter.

BCIT has a number of VR headsets, including the Microsoft Hololens, that are loaned out with the support of their advanced Learning and Teaching Commons. Instructors, students, and staff all have the ability to borrow the technology to integrate into their own learning. James Rout, Associate Vice President Education Support and Innovation, says that "this kind of democratization has already lead to impressive projects spearheaded across many programs."

"It is integral that BCIT students have the opportunity to learn and train with VR and AR/MR technology, because they will almost certainly be encountering it in their future workplaces," saysRout. "By joining the VRARA, we're providing BCIT students with the resources they'll need to navigate a rapidly-changing technological landscape."

In the BCIT Automotive Technician program, instructor Vince Piva took advantage of a 3D scanner to scan a transmission. Using VR technology, students will be able to break down and rebuild a transmission – before ever touching a real car.

"What they're doing at BCIT is transforming the learning and education field, it's shifting the paradigm of the way students retain information and that's exciting," says Burgar

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, augmented reality & mixed reality ecosystem that accelerates growth, fosters research and education, helps develop industry standards, connects member organizations and promotes the services of member companies.

About BCIT
BCIT is one of BC's largest post-secondary institutes, with five campuses, 300 programs, and more than 48,000 students each year. BCIT's credentials range from certificates and diplomas to bachelor's and master's degrees in areas such as Applied and Natural Sciences, Business and Media, Computing, Engineering, Health Sciences, and Trades and Apprenticeships. Our programs are developed in consultation with leading employers and industry associations, and our instructors have years of industry expertise. With a history of excellence in applied education and research, industry partnerships, and economic impact, BCIT is developing real-world solutions born from real-world challenges

Media Contact: 

Dan Burgar, VR/AR Association, Vancouver Chapter President dan@thevrara.com

Kris Kolo, VR AR Association, Global Executive Director kris@thevrara.com

Vancouver Pushes its Global VR Hub Potential

Original article posted at on BIV

Virtual reality firms launching centre for excellence and new industry group

Dan Burgar, director of business development and partnerships at Vancouver-based virtual reality firm Archiact Interactive, showcases some VR headgear. Over the past two years, the company has opened offices in China and secured a $4-million investment from Shanghai's 37Games | Photo credit: Chung Chow

San Francisco and Seattle are known for tech and gaming, and Los Angeles has the market cornered on film and TV.

But a little farther north you’ll find the one West Coast city possessing deep enough expertise in gaming, tech and entertainment to emerge as a global virtual reality hub, says David Gratton.

After the CEO of Vancouver-based Work at Play tried on the Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) Holo
Lens headgear in 2015 he decided it was time to pivot his digital agency and become a centre for excellence in virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR).

Gratton is in the midst of locking down a site near downtown Vancouver that could house as many as 50 VR/MR experts who would collaborate in a collective workspace.

One of the requirements is that workspace occupants, who will share access to VR/MR hardware and boardrooms, must meet once a week to share best practices.

“This is not a collective for somebody who’s just looking for space to lock themselves into their office and never come out. It will be a requirement to participate,” Gratton said.

He plans to launch the space by April and is counting on competing firms to actively collaborate on problem solving in an industry still in its early stages.

“Content is a big component of what this new type of computing requires,” he said. “And it requires 3D content, and we have a robust games industry here and we have a games legacy that is very, very, very, very strong and that has the technical ability to deliver 3D assets.

“Further to that, you have this technology that is a new way of certainly storytelling and immersing an audience. And we have a film and television industry here as well in Vancouver.”

Edoardo De Martin, director of Microsoft Vancouver, told Business in Vancouver that his office would be supporting the collective workspace upon its launch.

“The talent that you’ll find in 3D development across video games, special effects and animation in British Columbia is ideal for the growing VR/MR industry,” he said in an email.

“There’s an opportunity for Vancouver to establish itself as a global leader in this sector, and spaces like the one proposed by David Gratton will help us move faster.”

Wren Handman, who writes about VR at the Axiom Zen innovation studio, said Vancouver is the only city she’s aware of that is launching a VR co-operative working space.

“We have this very interesting geographic position, kind of in the centre of the triangle, almost, that gives us a leg up over other Canadian cities like Montreal and Toronto,” Handman said.

And beyond West Coast U.S. cities like Seattle, San Francisco and L.A., the last side of that triangle Handman refers to is China.

“In China there’s a big market for VR, but there’s a lot of the copycat hardware type of platforms and not very good content. But the appetite there is huge,” said Dan Burgar, director of business development and partnerships at Vancouver-based virtual reality firm Archiact Interactive.

Over the past two years Archiact has opened offices in China and secured a $4.12 million investment from Shanghai’s 37Games. The Chinese company in turn took a 10% stake in Archiact.

Last fall, Beijing-based Match-Light Interactive Entertainment Technology Corp. opened its first North American office in Burnaby, where it launched a North American subsidiary known as Fire-Point Interactive.

Fan Zhang, the local office’s games publishing manager, told BIV in November the company launched Fire-Point Interactive to capitalize on the level of talent already emerging from the local VR sector.

Handman said it’s unclear why the content being developed in China isn’t as strong as what’s emerging from North America. But developers on this side of the Pacific are benefiting from China’s advancements in hardware.

“They can do things with hardware that we can’t [in North America] because our patent laws are very different,” Handman said.

“It’s copying designs and then being able to rapidly innovate in a way that we can’t here because we have so many different patent laws, and different people own so many different parts that innovating on someone else’s design here is illegal.”

Bill Tam, CEO of the BC Tech Association, says the region is being helped considerably by having a head start over other potential global hubs.

“It probably goes back to early days when Vancouver was at the cutting edge of a lot of 3D work, whether it was 3D animation or 3D special effects – you can go back easily 10 years,” he said.

Much like Work at Play, Archiact has pivoted its own business with the launch of more consumer-oriented VR hardware over the last year and a half.

Starting as a gaming company in 2013, Archiact’s move into VR and augmented reality highlights the industry’s search for solutions to real-world problems, Burgar said.

“To build demos or experiences for VR, it’s just not really going to move the technology along and it’s not really going to do much to build [Vancouver] as a VR hub,” he said.

Surrey’s Conquer Mobile is developing VR training for medical professionals, Port Coquitlam’s Finger Food Studios is helping firms create life-size holograms with the HoloLens, and Archiact has been creating content for the real estate industry.

The region’s proficiency at developing VR content pushed Burgar last month to launch a local chapter of the VR/AR Association, a global industry group with offices in London, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Archiact’s own growth has been swift the past year – its workforce has expanded from 35 to 80 people since February 2016 – and it’s one of the few VR firms bringing in revenue, Burgar said.

Finger Food Studios, meanwhile, brought in an estimated $20 million in revenue in 2016, according to CEO Ryan Peterson.

“Out of all the chapters, Vancouver’s leading the way,” Burgar said. “It surprised the head office at the VR/AR Association because they’re like, ‘Vancouver – where is this?’ We’re really building it out to be the potential next Silicon Valley for VR and mixed reality.” 

VRARA's Co-Chair of the Licensing Committee Take on the $4B ZeniMax v. Oculus Case

Update: Verdict was reached, see here

Original article posted on RoadtoVR

Guest Article by Brian Sommer, IME Law

Brian is an interactive media and entertainment attorney at IME Law, where he focuses his practice on the intersection of traditional entertainment and immersive media. He also serves as Co-Chair of the VRARA Licensing Committee. You can follow Brian on Twitter @arvrlaw, and @IME_Law

This week the eyes of the virtual reality industry are on a federal court in Dallas, Texas where ZeniMax (and child company id Software) and Facebook (and child company Oculus) have been engaged in legal battle over a dispute which could cost Facebook $4 billion. ZeniMax alleges that a former employee used VR code that it owned after being hired by Oculus, and further that Facebook should have known that the code was ZeniMax property. With jury deliberations now starting, a verdict could come as soon as today. Here’s what you need to know about the case.

For 13 days, attorneys in the Dallas federal court have been selling the jury very different stories. “One of the biggest technology heists ever” is how ZeniMax attorney Tony Sammi described to jurors Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus in opening statements. In Thursday’s closing arguments, Oculus attorney Beth Wilkinson told jurors ZeniMax and Id Software are “jealous, they’re angry and they’re embarrassed” over the success of Oculus and the acquisition by Facebook.

At first blush, this lawsuit appears to be a complicated mess involving two plaintiffs, five defendants, nine causes of action, over 900 court filings (many sealed from the public) and a demand for more than $4 billion in damages. Without having access to many of the critical motions filed in the case (due in part to the Court’s order sealing such filings), it is not possible to assess in exacting detail certain critical arguments made by each side. But, from arguments, publicly-available filings and reports that have been made available to the public, it appears that the essence of the lawsuit can be distilled down to this: this is a dispute about who owns the intellectual property (“IP”) that was vital in creating the Oculus Rift.

Will the jury agree with ZeniMax that its proprietary computer code was a foundational component of Oculus’ success, or will the jury side with the defense’s argument that Oculus code was developed independently and based upon publicly known code and different solutions?

Starting today, jurors begin sorting through hundreds of facts and applying them to the issues contained in the jury instructions, weighing the credibility of witness testimony and evidence presented. Here are three key issues that could drive jury deliberations:

1. Did Palmer Luckey and Oculus Misappropriate IP That Zenimax Disclosed Through a Nondisclosure Agreement?

Defendant John Carmack is heralded as one of the most recognized and accomplished video game programmers and virtual reality engineers in the industry today. He co-founded Id Software (plaintiff), which was later acquired by ZeniMax (plaintiff). In April 2012, while employed as Id Software’s Technical Director, Carmack discovered through an Internet forum that Palmer Luckey (defendant)—who would go on to become the founder of Oculus—had developed a prototype virtual reality headset called the “Rift.” Carmack contacted Luckey, and Luckey sent Carmack a very early Rift prototype. Carmack is alleged to have immediately started to evaluate, analyze and modify the Rift prototype using research, software code and tools owned by id Software.

Carmack and Luckey’s friendship quickly turned business-like by May 2012 when Luckey in his personal capacity signed a nondisclosure agreement (“NDA”) with Id Software’s parent company ZeniMax, according to information from the case.

Companies use NDAs to ensure ideas or trade secrets disclosed to another party remain confidential. NDAs usually prohibit the recipient of confidential information from using or disclosing any information that they receive under the NDA, except for agreed purposes. Since an NDA is a contract, all of the legal principles surrounding contract law (e.g., elements needed to form a contract, defenses, etc.) are used to analyze an alleged breach of an NDA.

In June 2012, Luckey formed Oculus on the heels of successful demonstrations by Carmack (employed at the time by ZeniMax) and Luckey at the E3 Convention. ZeniMax alleges that through early 2013, and while bound by the NDA, Carmack and other Id Software employees collaborated with Oculus and Luckey to debug and refine the Rift.

ZeniMax alleges Luckey breached the NDA by taking ZeniMax-owned proprietary information and then using it without permission and disclosing it to Facebook. Oculus and Luckey contend the NDA is unenforceable for a number of reasons, including because the NDA was signed by Luckey in his personal capacity before Oculus was founded, a key material term was never defined, and for other legally nuanced reasons. In response, plaintiffs assert that Oculus is bound by the NDA because Oculus is a mere continuation of Luckey’s prior work. The jury’s outcome may hinge on the many factual findings related to the NDA.

2. Did Carmack Misappropriate Zenimax IP and Use It at Oculus?

Prior to Carmack meeting Luckey, he and his team of Id Software employees were researching and developing technological innovations associated with virtual reality. After receiving the Rift prototype, Carmack and other Id Software employees modified the Rift to work with Id Software’s popular computer game DOOM 3: BFG Edition (2012). ZeniMax has alleged that Carmack had a continuous, collaborative relationship with Luckey and Oculus.

By the summer of 2012, the meteoric rise of Oculus culminated with a Kickstarter campaign that raised $2.44 million based on a funding goal of just $250,000. Meanwhile, the only written contractual relationship between ZeniMax and Luckey was the NDA. Spurred by the successful Kickstarter fundraiser, ZeniMax and Oculus engaged in contract negotiations through early 2013, but they never could reach a deal.

Meanwhile, ZeniMax and Oculus continued to collaborate with one another despite no written agreement being in place with respect to their financial relationship. ZeniMax and Oculus exchanged offers and counteroffers in an attempt to reach an agreement as to financial assurances and equity (among other things), but they moved further apart rather than closer together. The relationship between ZeniMax and Oculus began to sour by early 2013. Carmack’s employment contract with Id Software ended in June 2013. Two months later, he joined Oculus as its Chief Technology Officer.

During the trial, Carmack admitted that on his last day at Id Software, he copied thousands of work emails (which included ZeniMax-owned computer code) to a portable drive, but he contends he did not use ZeniMax’s proprietary code in his work at Oculus. To support the theory that Carmack copied and used Id Software code for the Rift once at Oculus, ZeniMax called computer science professor David Dobkin to testify. Dobkin compared and analyzed large sections of ZeniMax and Oculus code and concluded there was evidence of copying, including aberration correction, time warping and drift correction. To also show Carmack’s influence on Oculus, ZeniMax referenced various emails between Oculus and Carmack to establish that Carmack’s IP contributions were essential and embraced by Oculus as instrumental to its success.

The defense told a different story. Oculus sought to debunk the credibility and findings of Dobkin, undercutting his expertise and seeking a distinction between literal and non-literal copying, among other things. Oculus’ strategy also focused on downplaying Carmack’s actual IP input once at Oculus, contending Carmack acted mainly in an advisory role at Oculus, and producing emails where Carmack himself said computer code developed by Oculus engineers was superior to his efforts while at Id Software.

A pivotal point in the case could be how the jury interprets the circumstances that led to Carmack’s defection to Oculus—was there motive or reason for Carmack to misappropriate Id Software IP? Jurors were introduced to a January 2013 email from Carmack to ZeniMax leadership, urging the company to lead the VR wave, but leadership was dismissive of VR and told Carmack to focus on DOOM 4 (2016). Since Carmack’s employment would not expire until June 2013, jurors could conclude evidence supports Carmack sought to make up for lost time riding the VR wave by integrating allegedly misappropriated Id Software code once employed by Oculus.

3. How Does Facebook Fit into the Equation If the Main IP Issues Started with Oculus, Luckey and Carmack?

In March 2014, Facebook announced it would acquire Oculus for about $2 billion in cash and stock. But the IP allegedly owned by ZeniMax and unlawfully used in the Rift occurred well before Facebook’s acquisition—how is Facebook potentially liable?

Five of the nine causes of action name Facebook. They are: common law misappropriation of trade secrets, copyright infringement, tortious interference with contract, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. While ZeniMax’s allegations are extensive and nuanced, it essentially is alleging that when Facebook bought Oculus it knew or should have known (had it performed reasonable due diligence) that the Rift uses ZeniMax IP.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify at the trial, and his testimony was illuminating about the details of the acquisition. ZeniMax’s cross-examination of Zuckerberg was aimed at establishing that Facebook rushed to purchase Oculus, and in doing so, inadequately conducted due diligence that would have revealed that ZeniMax IP was made part of the Rift.

Zuckerberg also testified that he had never even heard of ZeniMax before the lawsuit. But evidence presented included a note Zuckerberg wrote to John Carmack while he was CTO at Oculus, saying it had been surreal to meet him and how he grew up playing games Carmack designed.

The defense contends ZeniMax sued Facebook seeking a “chance for a quick payout”—the lawsuit was filed within two months of Facebook’s announcement of acquiring Oculus. If the financial negotiations were breaking down between Oculus and ZeniMax in early 2013, but ZeniMax decided to sue for IP infringement after the Facebook acquisition announcement a year later, the jury could be persuaded that ZeniMax was ultimately going after the deep pockets of Facebook.

ZeniMax attorney Sammi posed to Zuckerberg: “So your plan for a $2-point-something-billion deal was to begin legal diligence on Friday, and sign the deal on Monday, over a weekend, right?” “Yeah,” Zuckerberg replied.

Ironically, jurors also have had this weekend to consider the complex facts at issue in this case and could deliver a verdict as early as today.