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Oculus

Tanto los analistas como los jugadores aún están escépticos ante la realidad virtual. Sin embargo, es un hecho que este mercado genera millones de dólares anualmente. Motivo por el cual cada vez más empresas están dispuestas a tomar riesgos con esta tecnología. Jason Rubin, vicepresidente de contenido de Oculus, habló del panorama general actual de la realidad virtual y afirmó que falta mucho por ver.
De acuerdo con el directivo, la tecnología VR tiene muchas aplicaciones, una de ellas son los videojuegos. No obstante, Rubin cree que cada vez será más común ver el funcionamiento de la realidad virtual en nuestra vida cotidiana. “Puedes imaginar un mundo en el que la realidad virtual pueda hacer literalmente cualquier cosa que imagines. Por lo tanto, si juzgamos la realidad virtual en el mercado actual, cometeremos un error”, afirmó el vicepresidente.
Con su última afirmación, Rubin se refiere a los reportes y análisis sobre el fracaso de la realidad virtual. Si bien este mercado se encuentra en una etapa de crecimiento, el directivo cree que es cuestión de tiempo para verlo triunfar en diversos ámbitos. Razón por la cual los pronósticos de su fracaso no tienen justificación.
“El potencial de VR es literalmente infinito (…) Incluso si la profundidad de la desilusión es más profunda de lo que muchos analistas hubieran querido”, agregó Rubin. El directivo también hablo sobre la comparación de la realidad virtual con otras tecnologías, como Kinect y los controles de movimiento de Wii.
Rubin afirmó que el fin de Kinect se debió a que no alcanzó su mayor potencial de manera rápida y eficaz. Una vez que se trabajó más con el dispositivo, los desarrolladores se percataron que su futuro no era nada claro. Por último, el miembro de Oculus dejo en claro que eso no ocurrirá con la realidad virtual, pues continúan trabajando arduamente para hacerla un fenómeno mundial.
“Una generación de realidad virtual se apoderará del mundo. Ese es un potencial infinito. Y es por eso que no me gusta ninguna de estas analogías. Para mí no tienen sentido”, finalizó Rubin.
Para cumplir con esta meta, Oculus presentó recientemente Oculus Go, un nuevo headset de realidad virtual de bajo costo. Para tener más impacto en el mercado VR, la compañía decidió cerrar Oculus Story Studio, división especializada en la creación de cortometrajes y diversas experiencias narrativas en realidad virtual. Visita este enlace para conocer más sobre esta tecnología.
¿Estás de acuerdo con Rubin? ¿Crees que la realidad virtual se vuelva una de las principales tecnologías en el futuro? Cuéntanos en los comentarios.
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Harry Potter Go – RA

Harry Potter Go - RA

Luego del éxito del videojuego de realidad aumentada Pokémon Go, la compañía Niantic se encuentran trabajando en una versión parecida con el mundo mágico de Harry Potter.

De acuerdo con el sitio web TechCrunch, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite se basará en la premisa iniciada por Ingress y seguida por Pokémon Go, los jugadores podrán ser divididos en equipos, posiblemente las casas de Hogwarts.

La decisión de desarrollar este nuevo juego fue por la petición que hicieron los fanáticos de la saga a Warner Brothers.

Debido a los rumores de que la firma consideraba desarrollar este juego desde que habían adquirido los derechos de la franquicia, entonces algunos fans crearon vídeos como el que se muestra en esta nota.

El nuevo juego de realidad virtual se lanzará en 2018.

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Apple estaría desarrollando un visor de realidad aumentada

Apple estaría desarrollando un visor de realidad aumentada

Bloomberg filtró que Apple se encuentra desarrollando un nuevo producto más que interesante. Se trata de una especie de visor de realidad aumentada, al estilo de los Google Glass. Si la información es cierta, el producto se presentaría en el 2019 y saldría a la venta en el 2020.

A diferencia de las mayoría de los actuales dispositivos de realidad virtual y realidad aumentada, el producto de Apple no necesitaría un smartphone para funcionar, contaría con su propia pantalla y funcionará con un nuevo chip y un nuevo sistema operativo,que actualmente están en desarrollo y se conoce internamente cómo rOS.

De acuerdo con Bloomberg, las recientes declaraciones de Tim Cook, CEO de Apple, relacionadas con las bondades de la realidad aumentada en contraposición de lo “aislante” de la realidad virtual, son detonadas por el desarrollo de su nuevo y misterioso producto. Otra prueba sería que, hace tan sólo un par de meses, Apple presento su ARKit para iOS 11, un kit de desarrollo para aplicaciones enfocadas en la realidad aumentada.

La filtración también señala que los ingenieros de Apple dentro del proyecto, dirigidos por Mike Rockwell (ex jefe de ingeniería en Dolby Labs), actualmente están buscando distintas e innovadoras formas de controlar las apps de su nuevo dispositivo, entre las que se incluyen gestos con la cabeza, controles táctiles y control de voz a través de Siri.Las primeras apps también ya están en desarrollo, y se enfocan en mapeo, mensajería y “salas de reuniones virtuales”. Estas aplicaciones podrían salir antes, gracias al enfoque del iPhone X en la realidad aumentada.

Será interesante ver un producto final, hasta ahora sólo se han filtrado diseños de patentes presentadas por Apple en otros momentos. También será curioso ver si Apple logra triunfar con este producto, luego de que las Google Glass nunca alcanzaron éxito entre el público masivo, y las HoloLens de Microsoft, por ser exageradamente caras, siguen siendo un producto de nicho.

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The Ultimate Escapism

Atech innovator develops biological software that conjures a virtual reality in one’s mind, partly in the hopes of reviving her brother, who has been held in a comalike state. But the software, which is really a sophisticated drug, can be extremely addictive and socially isolating—and the government has its own designs to use it for virtual imprisonment.
That’s the idea behind OtherLife, a new indie sci-fi movie that had its North American premiere at the San Diego Film Festival in October and recently came out on Netflix. It highlights beneficial applications, risks, and ethical conundrums of virtual reality, including its misuse or excessive use, in a possible not-too-distant future. “If the brain doesn’t really know the difference in a chemical sense between what we consider a real or an unreal experience, then if we seek fulfillment and satisfaction and comfort and engagement with that, then what are the implications?” asks Kelley Eskridge, who wrote both OtherLifeand the novel Solitaire, on which the movie is loosely based.
OtherLife joins a long tradition of films to explore the addictive potential of virtual reality. Back in the ’90s, there was a virtual reality boom—not unlike the one we’re seeing today—and the hype was reflected on the screen with movies like The Lawnmower Man, Strange Days, The Matrix, and eXistenZ, as well as a Star Trek TV series. In many cases, these stories focused on how VR could cut people off from the world. Only in some stories would they eventually struggle to find their way back.
For instance, after a character in a 1998 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode loses his leg in battle, he suffers phantom pain, flashbacks, and other post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, which his counselor encourages him to treat in the “holodeck,” a futuristic VR environment. He starts to improve, but he spends more and more time on VR surrounded by virtual friends while his real relationships deteriorate. After his real friends and colleagues confront him and shut down the program, he realizes the extent of his trauma—and that it will take time for him to recover.
In the 1995 movie Strange Days, the main character, played by Ralph Fiennes, is a dealer of illegal SQUID discs—first-person point-of-view scenarios that people can watch, à la virtual reality. But the devices are outlawed because they can be used to “play back” scenes from another person’s life without their permission, and because of the risk of addiction—users who “jack in” are like drug users. The ban doesn’t work, however, creating a black market on which users buy new experiences. Fiennes’ character uses them himself, seeking to escape his reality and struggling relationships by immersing himself in a virtual reality of his past, when times were better.
But is VR addiction really something we need to worry about now? Currently, eye strain, cybersickness, and a lack of sense of touch in VR make it far less immersive than portrayed in sci-fi. You can’t yet plug in for hours and hours. “It’s not at a holodeck level yet. I don’t think you’re seeing a public health challenge,” says Albert “Skip” Rizzo, director of medical virtual reality at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies. In fact, experts have been speculating and researching how VR technologies could be used to treat addiction. For example, alcoholics immersed in a virtual bar or a virtual party can be taught to manage their cravings and develop coping and refusal skills so that they can prevent a relapse when they’re near the real thing.
With each technological advance, critics and public health advocates raise concerns, which may be legitimate or exaggerated depending on one’s perspective. Where kids’ time spent fixated on television screens once alarmed their parents, now smartphone screen time and social media perform that function. Each time, people worried about tech alienating people and contributing to social isolation. In the 2000s, for example, some people feared it would become all too easy to send an email or a text rather than to call a friend or visit them in person. “It’s the same age-old question that everyone’s asked: Is the internet addictive? Are video games addictive? Can your cellphone be addictive?” says Patrick Bordnick, a behavioral scientist and dean of Tulane University’s School of Social Work. These diagnoses are controversial, but obsessive behavior around anything can damage a person’s life. Ultimately, most people find ways to adapt to these technologies and sometimes use them to increase, rather than reduce, their social connectedness.
Nevertheless, scientists are studying the risks of immersive VR with lab rats, for whom they’ve specifically designed little VR-style devices. Mayank Mehta, a neurophysicist at UCLA, and his colleagues are looking for changes in the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in making memories and in Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, and epilepsy. They have set up a realistic virtual world for the rodents to explore, including a maze and a dispenser of sugar water—they’re drawn to sweetened beverages as much as humans are. The rat’s eyes and ears tell it when it’s nearing the reward zone, and it salivates as it pads its virtual feet toward the virtual soda fountain. “It starts licking before it get the reward—that’s the sign of addiction. We can now create reward anticipation entirely with virtual images,” Mehta says.
But just as VR helps doctors and therapists sever patients’ connections between an experience they’re addicted to and their pleasurable response, it may create new links elsewhere. “Neurons that are wired together fire together,” Mehta says, “and we’re trying to figure out if VR is rewiring the brain.”
If that’s happening, it’ll confirm what we’ve seen from Hollywood for decades: For better or worse, when you change your reality, you change yourself.
This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.
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Virtual reality's next big leap is real-world Pong and Pac-Man

Virtual reality's next big leap is real-world Pong and Pac-Man

Munich-based HolodeckVR is using optical and radio tracking to create giant VR gaming arenas

Jonathan Nowak Delgado is turning empty public spaces into virtual reality playgrounds by strapping headsets on people to let them roam freely.

“You’re not playing Pac-Man, you are Pac-Man,” says the co-founder of Munich-based HolodeckVR. Once a player puts on a headset they’re surrounded by virtual walls and can see collectible items and monsters.

“It’s very different to what gaming has looked like before,” Delgado says. “This location-based VR and setup encourages you to move around.”

At present, the 12-person company has developed a number of different testing scenarios built around classic games. As well as Pac-Man-a-like HoloPac, there’s also HoloPong (that’s Pong in VR) and a version of Bomberman.

For the tech to work, HolodeckVR needs space. Delgado explains the company is creating two different arenas for people to play within: 20 x 20 metres and an “extra large” 200 x 200 metres. “There can be up to 20 other people in the large Holodeck and up to 100 in the extra large size,” he says.

The company is currently using Samsung Gear mobile VR headsets and a combination of tracking technology it has developed in-house. Delgado, who has recently recruited Electronic Arts founding member Jeff Burton, says a combination of radio and optical tracking is used to spot where people are within the gaming space.

“We combine two signals at any given time – optical signal and radio frequency signal,” he says. This is achieved by attaching a radio sensor onto the VR headsets and positioning cameras around the room. “We could also track other things like the hands and the physical props like guns or moving objects physical objects like doors you would open.”

HolodeckVR isn’t the only firm trying to create virtual gaming spaces in the real world. In the US, The Void is creating virtual theme parks, where groups of people can visit and play games together. The Utah-based firm has partnered with Disney to create a Star Wars gaming experience. And to do this, The Void has built its own headsets.

HolodeckVR has similar ambitions and is working to introduce its technology into theme parks. Delgado says the company has been in discussions with six of the ten biggest theme park companies in the world. While he isn’t able to name them, he says three have already placed orders for HoloDeck spaces.

Theme parks have already shown they’re interested in VR technology, with several creating their own experiences. In March 2016, Alton Towers, launched the world’s first VR rollercoaster. The rides have since been copied elsewhere.

For content in the virtual games, HolodeckVR isn’t planning to create its own. Instead, it wants to partner with existing designers and owners of intellectual property to build games and events. Some games could last just a couple of minutes, others up to ten.

Away from theme parks, Delgado says, there are a few other places where virtual gaming spaces can exist in the real world. Shopping malls, sports halls and casinos are all targets for his firm’s arenas.

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