Sundance and the Rift

CNN has a story today about the increasing role of VR in film, and specifically how the Sundance Film Festival is rapidly expanding its VR footprint.

After bringing a handful of Oculus Rift installations to Sundance in 2014, the festival’s New Frontier program, which focuses on innovation in filmmaking, is doubling down and bringing in a much larger slate of virtual reality experiences for 2015. Of the 13 installations in the program, nine feature VR and one of the remaining four—a videogame-esque piece about the Iranian Revolution in 1979—could have a virtual version one day.

For one person to whom I demoed an Oculus Rift, movies was his first thought.  He travels a lot, and was thinking he could sit on a plane and instead of a tiny little seat-back or iPad screen, he could be looking at the biggest home theater system in existence through the goggles.  In a previous post I mentioned that the corporate training market is several times bigger than the video game market.  Well, movies are another market that is significantly larger than games (although the gap is narrowing), so it’s not crazy to think that this is where VR could impact the average consumer.

Ads. Yay?

TechCrunch covers MediaSpike’s demo reel of how they can put ads into VR.  I’m not sure many people would say they like ads, but a lot of people do seem to like the “freemium” model of software distribution.  I suppose bringing it to VR might expand the available content substantially.  And as the author notes:

My overall impression of the demo was positive. Was it kind of weird to see ads splattered every I went driving around in the city? Not really, because there were fewer than I’d see in the same amount of time walking or driving around in an actual city.

Virtual Tourism in British Columbia

ABC News covers a tourist app created by Destination British Columbia that gives a Rift user a “choose your own adventure” tour of the Great Bear Rainforest.  It looks pretty cool, and I like the idea of using virtual reality to give people a taste of travel to an area.  They even have a making-of video.  But…

Destination British Columbia said they hope to bring the virtual trip to trade shows in 2015 and make it free to download as soon as the headsets are available to consumers.

Why not just release it now?  Seems like it would get more attention and developers are tourists, too.

Virtual Eyes

Virtual Reality Reviewer has a really interesting review of the latest five VR experiments from Tore Knabe.  I love these VR experiments, and really like the way Virtual Reality Reviewer does a movie (worth watching for the clips from the experiences) and a text version of the same review.

She will look you in the eyes, following you if you move your head, and then, seemingly of her own accord look away. Sometimes this is quite socially uncomfortable – without any conversation you’re forced to read body language, and it’s very easy to feel like you’ve been dropped in at the end of an unpleasant conversation. You’ll try to recapture her attention by leaning into her line of site. She will often, but not always, then turn her attention back to you – this unpredictability has a big impact on making this character opposite you feel like they have an inner life.

Haptic Happenings

A “New Scientist” article is making waves in the VR community which describes a team using sound waves to allow virtual reality users with a Leap Motion to feel what they see.  It uses precise, directed sound waves to cause a sensation in the fingertips when the Leap senses they’re in the right place, tricking the mind into “feeling” the surface.

The level of detail in the virtual objects is limited, but using more, smaller, speakers should improve the resolution of what can be projected, says Long. The shapes do not need to be perfect to conjure an immersive experience, though. “Even if there are discrepancies, the brain will bend what it sees and feels to fit the overall picture,” says Kuntz.