Archive for December, 2016

Will VR Technology Change Marketing Forever?

Virtual reality (VR) technology has been discussed and hinted at for years, but we’ve finally seen some significant progress made this year. And while there’s still a lot of ground to be made before it can be considered a mainstream technology, now’s the perfect time to take a look at the role of VR in business and how it will impact marketing, specifically.


Top AR And VR Devices You Must Know in 2016

It is safe to say that the era of Virtual reality (VR) is upon us all over again. The concept of VR is not new. Every other day torrent of devices and content are being launched. The tech space is circulating and continuously being changed.


Virtual Reality Changes the Game for Online Casinos

Forget what you know about online casinos, the game is about to change. The power of virtual reality technology is transforming online casinos into immersive, interactive experiences that are the next best thing to being there. Although social gaming and online gambling platforms have grown loyal customer bases over the last decade, VR casinos will soon begin to siphon off gamers and gamblers, alike, from 2D and 3D gambling platforms.


THE DARK SIDE OF VR

WHY DO I look like Justin Timberlake?” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on stage wearing a virtual reality headset, feigning surprise at an expressive cartoon simulacrum that seemed to perfectly follow his every gesture.


Fove cofounder talking about VR in 2017

Lochlainn Wilson, CTO and cofounder of Fove has spoken about Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) during the interview to VRstatus. He hardly believes that from a hardware perspectives the upcoming 2017 won’t be a year of major new HDMs.


VR and AR dev spaces are starting to pop up everywhere

We’ve seen a steady stream of physical spaces devoted to VR and AR popping up recently — hubs where VR and AR developers can share resources, experiment, and network.


UNITY BOSS: VR WILL BE MAINSTREAM BY 2020

2016 was the year when a new wave of virtual reality peripherals launched. Despite this, the costs have been high, with few games being made, and the sales haven’t really stunned anyone. The technology just isn’t there yet, in many people’s opinions.


The Best VR Headset for Your Phone So Far

Smartphone VR headsets are a great way to try virtual reality without spending a fortune. They’re the only midrange options between cheap cardboard and expensive, complicated desktop VR devices. In our testing, Google Daydream View narrowly beat out Samsung Gear VR as the best mobile virtual reality headset. It’s comfier to wear and comes with a hand-tracking controller that makes gameplay easier and more immersive. However, the competition is so close, and the tech so new, that you can’t go wrong picking whichever headset works with your phone. (Our main picks only support a handful of Android phones each; iPhone users don’t have good VR options yet.) If you don’t have a phone that works with either, VR isn’t enough reason to buy one, but it could be a factor next time you buy a phone.


Virtual Reality Can Leave You With an Existential Hangover

When Tobias van Schneider slips on a virtual reality headset to play Google’s Tilt Brush, he becomes a god. His fingertips become a fiery paintbrush in the sky. A flick of the wrist rotates the clouds. He can jump effortlessly from one world that he created to another.


Second Life’s creator is building a ‘WordPress for social VR’

None of this is real. The rocks, the stars, the enormous transmitter standing upright like a needle. It’s all a mixture of pixels presented by the Oculus Rift. As I stand on Mars, I urge my senses to surrender to the illusion. I long to be Matt Damon, growing potatoes in a makeshift greenhouse. In reality, I’m standing in a “scene” created by Linden Lab for Sansar, a new virtual-reality platform. A few feet to my left is chief executive Ebbe Altberg, standing in a dinosaur outfit. His avatar waves goofily, breaking my dream within a dream. I can’t help but sigh, accepting once more that I’m just a virtual sightseer.


 

 

We wish a happy and healthy holiday season to all and lots of happiness, health, 

and success in 2017 as well.

 

Thank you for your support, feedback, and wonderful panoramas and 360º videos.

 

We hope 2017 brings lots of wonderful panoramas, stereoscopic 360º images, 360º videos,

virtual reality experiences and fast Internet connection for all of us.

 

The Oculus Touch Controllers are a Modern Miracle

The controllers come in a package as sturdy and stylish (but bulky) as the headset itself. Each controller takes 2 AA batteries, and allegedly lasts for about 9 hours on a single charge. There is no on/off switch – the buttons are capacitive (more on that later), so even with vibration and constant use, they can last a while. It has been over a week of frequent use now, and they are both still in the green – so it’s far, far more than 9 hours.


Sensics is Building a VR Headset Specially Made for Arcades and Theme Parks

OSVR co-founder and long-time HMD maker Sensics is building a new ‘Goggles for Public VR’ headset which is designed for the unique needs of the Out-of-Home market.


Now you can talk to customer support in virtual reality

PNB MetLife India Insurance Company has announced an on-demand virtual reality customer service platform called “conVRse”.

The platform will enable insurance experts to interact with their customers through a virtual reality headset, in a 3D simulated environment.


AR & VR at The Museum

We love that museums ignite the human imagination. So naturally, we’re excited that virtual technology has two major roles in the cultural education of today’s museums. Augmented Reality can enhance the experience of interacting with museum exhibits. Virtual Reality can bring the museum to you, be it a trip downtown or around the world


AR Assisted Surgery & Medical Training with Matt Witkamp of Citizen, Inc. – Show 5

Matt Witkamp has seen the future of AR-assisted surgery and medical training. In fact his team at Citizen Inc., in partnership with Stanford Medicine and Microsoft, have literally invented it.


Virtual reality doesn’t mean what you think it means

Blame the media. Blame Google search. Blame lazy marketing. But just like hoverboards that don’t actually hover, everything you view in Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR or any number of other VR headsets is not necessarily “virtual reality.”


Best VR Headset: Which headset is worth your money?

Now that the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR are all finally here, it’s time to decide which headset to put your money on this Christmas or if you’re thinking about taking the plunge in 2017.

PC owners can choose between Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive – the most advanced headsets on the market. Both are seriously powerful devices, but they need equally powerful PCs to run.


7 REASONS WHY SOCIAL VIRTUAL REALITY WILL DISAPPOINT MARKETING PROFESSIONALS

SOCIAL VIRTUAL REALITY HAS GOT MARKETING PROFESSIONAL’S HOT UNDER THE COLLAR.  IT IS THE FUNCTIONAL COMBINATION OF TRADITIONAL SOCIAL NETWORKING AND VIRTUAL REALITY ENVIRONMENTS.  IT WILL ALSO BE THE SOURCE OF FRUSTRATION AND ALCOHOLISM FOR MANY CREATIVE AGENCIES AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICERS IN COMING YEARS.


Personalized PBL and Virtual Reality Bring History To Life

Because we believe in the potential of personalized, project-based learning, we’re big fans of New Tech Network (NTN)–a national nonprofit design partner for comprehensive school change. Through its proven school model, a project-based learning platform and powerful professional development, they coach schools toward lasting change and ongoing improvement. There are nearly 200 schools in 28 states and Australia in the New Tech Network.


Six steps to successful virtual reality marketing

The number of people owning virtual reality headsets is predicted to grow to over 200 million by 2020. With all this in mind I expect a surge in brands looking to introduce VR tech into their campaigns. Now we are looking at a bright new future for marketing thanks to this amazing creative tool. But, the marketing community always has the ability to foul up with its propensity to over-hype and under-deliver.


VR Post: Hybrid workflows are key

Shooting immersive content is one thing, but posting it for an ever-changing set of players and headsets is whole other multidimensional can of beans. With early help from software companies that have developed off-the-shelf ways to tackle VR post — and global improvements to their storage and networking infrastructures — some facilities are diving into immersive content by adapting their existing post suites with a hybrid set of new tools. As with everything else in this business, it’s an ongoing challenge to stay one step ahead.


 

After a short break we are now back with some of the most beautiful panoramic photos uploaded to 360Cities recently. Here they are!

 

Pechersk Lavra and Sophia Square by Maxim Ritus (click the pictures to open the panos)

For a start, Maxim takes us to Kyiv. Thanks to these two aerial shots, you have the chance to get to see what Ukraine’s capital looks like in the winter, when the whole city is covered with snow. With the street lamps lit, it looks amazing!

 

Noumea Resort l’Escapade Coral Reef by Richard Chesher (click the picture to open the pano)

The winter has come and it’s been really cold so far. So let’s move somewhere a bit warmer, maybe for a little dive? This underwater pano was take in Noumea and it shows you the beauty of the sea world. Great job!

 

The Vršatec Castle by Sergej Esnault (click the picture to open the pano)

This one feels warm, too! There’s a fantastic view across the Slovak countryside from the top of the Vršatec castle – just have a look around and admire the beauties of this central-European country.

 

Marischal Square by Darren Wright (click the picture to open the pano)

A little bit to the north-west, you’ll find the Marischal square in Aberdeen, Scotland. But how come it is so empty, when the decorated trees show that the Christmas time is just around the corner?

 

There’s more coming your way!

 

Pantheon by Eugene Orlov (click the picture to open the pano)

Sea Light Harbor by bibouroku tabito (click the picture to open the pano)

Les Chaises Volantes by Christian Kleiman (click the picture to open the pano)

The BBC by Ben Smart (click the picture to open the pano)

Western Wall, Jerusalem by stas krupetsky (click the picture to open the pano)

Solano Nuev Vizcaya Public Market by Carlo Salgado (click the picture to open the pano)

The Costs of Making a VR Game

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There’s been a little bit of talk recently about VR game funding, where money comes from, how much games cost and all that. Mostly this discussion comes up around money being received from companies like Oculus, and the exclusivity rights that are a result of accepting the money. There’s been a lot of posts about how working in VR is expensive, and we developers need money to live. And since there isn’t a lot of money in VR right now, we have to go where the money is. I even wrote about the difficulties of VR game


 

Headset adds what VR on iPhone was missing

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This was supposed to be the year of virtual reality. It kinda was, but it mostly wasn’t, if you judge by how much it actually penetrated the mainstream.

Why Digital Agencies Should Invest in Virtual Reality

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Digital marketing agencies tend to be early adopters of technology. Agencies blend technical and creative expertise, which makes them particularly adept at identifying and taking advantage of marketing trends. As Virtual Reality becomes more widespread, digital marketers that don’t incorporate VR into their offering mix are going to be at serious disadvantage.


 

Chris Hardwick: VR Addiction Is ‘Going To Be A Problem’

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Chris Hardwick made it his life’s business to talk about the nerdy things he loves most when he co-founded Nerdist Industries over four years ago. Now, Hardwick is seen across a variety of TV shows, most notably Talking Dead, the recap talk show that follows each new episode of The Walking Dead on AMC. It should come as no surprise then given his background that he is an avid gamer, lover of D&D, and consumer of virtual reality content. That last bit, the VR love, also comes with a certain degree of trepidation.


 

What VR Headset Makers (not analysts) Have Actually Said About Sales Expectations

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If you’re at all involved in the VR space, you likely recently saw a flurry of downtrodden headlines describing “slow,” and “modest,” holiday VR headset sales, with some even calling VR “the biggest loser this holiday.”


 

Why Qualcomm believes that the future of VR and AR is mobile

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Qualcomm Technologies is bullish on virtual reality and augmented reality, but it isn’t satisfied with the technology yet.

The company is crafting its latest mobile processors and other technology so that VR and AR can become untethered, show imagery with higher resolution, use better displays, and be lightweight and energy efficient enough so that we’ll be able to wear headsets for a long time. Over time, Qualcomm wants to bundle all of the tech necessary for VR in smaller and more comfortable packages.


 

Interview: Merge VR Co-Founder Andrew Trickett

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It’s comfortable, it’s fashionable, it’s purple. It’s the Merge VR Goggles by, you guessed it, Merge VR. Many of our readers may already be familiar with this great Google Cardboard compatible headset which stands, in this writer’s opinion, as one of the better mobile headsets out there for viewing Cardboard experiences. Kelly Rada of Andoscia Communications contacted me recently with an opportunity to cover a new press release from Merge VR concerning their upcoming hand controller currently being called Moonshot.


 

Building a Business Model in Virtual and Augmented Realitystar-wars-darth-vader-vr-teaser-1000x520 vr-business-model-top

Virtual and augmented reality is oftentimes referred to as the new wild west of production and modern entertainment. With major media moguls like Sony, Facebook and Google playing in the arena, each armed with their own VR and AR platforms, how can businesses prepare to lay out a foundation for the most successful business model?


 

VR enthusiasts are furious people are funding great VR games, and I don’t get it

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There’s next to no money to be made in virtual reality.

That’s the reality of the situation. There hasn’t been enough hardware sold yet to create an ecosystem where large teams can spend large amounts of time creating large games and then expect to turn a profit — or even break even — just by software sales.


 

Microsoft thinks virtual reality is the digital LSD of the future

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Virtual reality technology will soon be so powerful that it will cause drug-like hallucinations, Microsoft has predicted.

One of the tech firm’s top researchers said VR would be able to warp reality and catapult users into a new world.


 

 

Holiday Discount

 

We’re happy to tell you as our licensing customer that as of today, all purchases of panoramic photo licenses are 50% off through midnight (GMT), December 31st, 2016. Just use discount code HOLIDAY when checking out.

Come and enjoy our immersive 360-degree world at 360cities.net: search our massive database, roam over our world map, or enjoy the eye candy in our editors picks gallery.

Research help is free, so if you’d like us to assist in finding what you need, contact us at info@360cities.net.

The sale continues through midnight (GMT), December 31st, so be sure and take advantage!

 

holiday discount

Happy Holidays,

The 360Cities Team

5 Best 360° Cameras for Making Virtual Reality Videos

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One of the futuristic things that’s getting insanely popular all over the world, are the Virtual Reality (VR) videos. In case you’ve been living under a rock, a VR video is a kind of video that gives you a first-person visual experience giving you the impression that you are actually there at the scene.

How We Built the Jaunt ONE

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The first two posts in this series followed Jaunt from its early experiments in designing a VR camera to the first models we used in the field, capturing everything from a Paul McCartney concert to mountain climbers in Moab, Utah. At this point, we and the burgeoning VR industry had discovered that the power of immersive VR filmmaking was real and we set out to build the first professional-grade VR camera system.


 

Pilot projects show how VR will revolutionize education

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


 

VR & Memory, and Fate vs Free Will in Simulation Theory

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Hassan Karaouni is one of the 11 winners of an Oculus Launch Pad scholarship for his project My: home, which allows people to share 360 videos of locations that are meaningful to them. In my Voices of VR episode about Google Earth VR, I talked about how the principle of embodied cognition explains how our memories are tied to geographic locations. But right now Google Earth’s resolution at the human scale is really uncanny, and you can’t go inside.


 

How construction companies are using virtual reality to plan, build and manage complicated projects

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Construction can be a tricky business.

There are a lot of moving parts in any big project, whether it be a high-rise apartment tower, a heavily mechanical industrial building or a hospital. As they go, builders have to document everything and update stakeholders and regulatory agencies on their progress. These updates have traditionally come in the form of photographs and on-site tours. But the proliferation of virtual and augmented reality is changing that.


 

Why you should be starting VR/AR/MR design & development right now

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If you haven’t noticed, things are about to change. I’m not talking smallchange. I’m talking big time, a fundamental shift in the way we interact with technology on-a-daily-basis kind of change. And it will all happen within the next two years…


 

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The highly-anticipated Oculus Touch controllers are nearly here. The first customers will receive their motion controllers on December 6, which will bring the wonders of VR hand presence to thousands of eager Oculus Rift owners. Most people will likely settle for the default tracking configuration, but a few adventurous souls will take on one of two experimental Touch configurations: 360-degree tracking and room-scale tracking.


 

VR-capable Frostbite Engine Suggests More AAA VR to Come from EA

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It’s been confirmed that the soon to launch Star Wars Battlefront X-Wing VR Mission on PlayStation VR is powered by DICE’s coveted Frostbite Engine, a strong hint that more AAA VR development is on the way from the company.


 

The Way We Walk in Virtual Reality

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Virtual reality allows us to enjoy new, immersive experiences – we could be world-class runners, footballers or even soldiers serving in a special military unit. To fully become immersed in these experiences, the VR equipment should cover our entire body and all of our senses. There have been many advances in these fields; in this article, we will focus on walking in VR, and the upcoming gadgets which enable us to transmit our real-world leg movements into the virtual world.


 

ILMxLab’s Rob Bredow Explains What VR Opens Up For ‘Star Wars’

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Disney’s ILMxLab has been busy of late. In addition to the free Trials on Tatooine virtual reality experience for HTC Vive, the studio released a 360-degree video that serves as a prequel to the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The POV experience, available through Verizon, chronicles the first discovery of the Death Star and puts viewers inside the cockpit of an X-Wing pilot. ILMxLab also worked with Electronic Arts and developer DICE to allow PlayStation VR users to pilot those rebel ships in the upcoming Dec. 6 Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One: X-Wing VR Mission.


 

How VR will make astronauts out of all of us

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VR is set to shake up many different aspects of our lives, from entertainment and education to on-the-job training and sex. But arguably it has the most potential to really capture our collective imagination – to keep us coming back for more and provide the most educational value – when the experience feels like something you couldn’t ever go and try out for yourself in the real world.


 

Thomas K Sharpless is well known in the panoramic world as one of the true pioneers of panoramic and VR photography. Thomas has an extensive background in computer programming and he has contributed  a number of techniques and ideas to the panoramic photography community, most notably the “Panini” projection.

Thomas has been a stereoscopic panoramas evangelist since 2014 and he has evangelized us too. 360Cities, with Thomas’ support, is pleased to launch stereoscopic panoramas – you can read more about stereoscopic panoramas on 360Cities here (link to help guide)

-Please can you briefly describe what 3D or stereoscopic panoramas are and how they are created?

Thomas K Sharpless

The right word for this type of photo is “stereoscopic”.  “3D” should be reserved for objects or spaces that really have 3 dimensions, not for images (though that misuse is very common).

A stereo photo is a pair of images, taken simultaneously with two lenses placed like our eyes, about 65 mm apart and looking in the same direction.  When presented to the two eyes by a stereoscope, these images give most people the impression of seeing a 3D space.  A stereo panorama is a pair of 360 degree images, which when viewed with synchronized pano viewers presents a stereo pair.  The most popular stereoscope for viewing stereo panoramas is a virtual reality headset.

Stereoscopic depth perception results from the brain comparing small shifts of position, called discrepancies, between the left and right images.  It is important to know that this process depends very strongly on the discrepancies of fine details and textures, as well as of the perceived outlines of objects.  And that about one person in 6 has little or no stereo depth perception.

The most obvious way to make a stereo panorama is to stitch together a series of stereo photos, taken by turning a pair of cameras.  But such photos will not easily stitch to two seamless spheres, because each series was taken from a moving viewpoint, not from a single fixed point as assumed by standard stitching software.

There are two basic ways to handle this problem:

  1. Take a large number of closely spaced stereo views.  Then the panorama contains just a narrow vertical strip from each photo.  If they are narrow enough, the errors between adjacent strips will be too small to see.  This method is very reliable but has problems with moving subjects.
  2.  Take a small number of stereo views, as for a regular panorama, and hide the errors by careful composition and masking.  Moving subjects can be handled by masking, as in normal panography.

Both of these methods have single-camera variants, that need a really static subject because the left and right views are taken at different times.

In any case, the stitching process must faithfully preserve the stereo discrepancies captured by the cameras.  That means the left and right images of each stereo pair must be aligned and warped the same; any variation will lead to “muddy” stereo views.  This matching requires special stitching techniques.  My PT3D software makes it easier to achieve.

-When and why did you begin to create stereoscopic panoramas?

I have long wanted to make stereo panoramas in forests, because it is so hard to see the space between the trees in 2D photos.  That is still a largely unrealized project.

I made my first stereo panoramas in late 2014, with the single-camera, many-views method.  At that time I was involved in a project using photogrammetry to build 3D models from sweep panoramas taken with iPhones, and I also experimented with rendering those as stereo panoramas.

By mid-2015, like several other panographers, I was using a stereo pair of small mirrorless cameras and the few-views, clever-stitching approach, which suited my preference for shooting ‘live’ scenes from a monopod.  The great difficulty of that method has led me to develop software that helps PTGui align and warp such panoramas much better than it can do on its own.

-Why do you think stereoscopic panoramas are so compelling? (this might be addressed in the question above)

Much more than conventional photos, 360 panoramas are about space.  So it is really satisfying to be able to ‘see’ the space in a stereo panorama.  This greatly enhances the sense of presence in a VR viewing situation, even without the full motion-parallax provided by a 3D model.  I have seen two people, when putting on a headset showing a stereo view of a big church, start walking forward — a sure sign of “presence”.  That never happened with a 2D version of the same image.

-How many photographers do you believe are currently creating stereoscopic panoramas and how large do you expect the community can become as VR adoption increases?

I know of about a dozen commercial panographers who produce stereo panoramas, and would guess that there are at least as many more unknown to me.  The facebook group “3D Stereo Panoramas” currently has 1,408 members.  More than 30 people have asked to be beta testers of PT3D, which will go commercial next month.  Its sales figures may tell the story better.  But in any case it is clear that interest in stereo panography is growing quite fast.

A big thanks to Thomas for this interview and his support.