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Virtual & Augmented Reality

  • VR: 3 steps to prepare for the ongoing revolution

    Virtual reality may be the buzziest tech of 2016, but it hasn't hit critical adoption levels quite yet. Despite its recent advancements, VR seems to many casual observers like a clunky throwback to '80s science fiction. Setups like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Playstation VR require large headsets and, in some cases, a wired connection. Less feature-rich smartphone VR options are a nice introduction to the medium, but when it comes to true immersion, users are thirsty for more. For hardcore gamers, VR's immersive capabilities are well worth the wallet-draining, laborious setup. Regular consumers, however, don't have much need for...

  • Miss Obama’s final speech? Rewatch it in 360-degrees

    Like saying goodbye to a kid finally leaving for the big wide world, outgoing US President Obama gave his final speech to a nation on the brink of change on Tuesday evening in Chicago. But while it was a momentous occasion for both Obama and the American public, it was also fairly big for emerging technologies. Alongside traditional broadcasts, the speech was the first of a US president to be aired as a 360-degree video on Facebook, Periscope/Twitter and YouTube. Using three of Nokia's OZO camera rigs, virtual reality company VRScout alongside Radiant Images and vantage.tv recorded and beamed the feed...

  • 3 ways virtual reality will become a major part of our future

    Different types of virtual reality have been around for years, but there’s been a recent push, which began just a few years ago. At first, it was laughed at. Google Glass, the eyewear that acted as a computer and could project images right in front of you, was almost wholly rejected by techies, and there are countless other gadgets with a similar story. But recently, things have changed. More people are excited about the approach of Oculus Rift, and programs like Pokemon Go show everyday users that virtual reality may have a prominent place someday. All in all, VR has...

  • Google purchases eyeball tracking firm Eyefluence

    "Eyeball tracking" might sound like the stuff of science fiction horrors, but it's an essential focus for those in the virtual and augmented reality spaces. And who better to know this than Google? The company has bought eyeball tracking firm Eyefluence, which should help it in its present and future VR and AR ambitions. Financial information was undisclosed, but according to Mattermark, Eyefluence raised around US$21.6-million in two funding rounds. Eyefluence, founded in 2013 by Livescribe founder Jim Margraff, develops technology to "create a more natural, intuitive way to interact with augmented and virtual reality displays". "Over the last three and a...

  • Watch The Simpsons’ latest, greatest couch gag in VR

    Fox's immortal animated show The Simpsons always had a knack for predicting future technology, so it's only fitting that as a tribute to its 600th episode, it uses some modern technology of its own. The creators of the show along with the Google Spotlight Stories team have co-developed "the first ever VR couch gag" dubbed Planet of the Couches. The short, which is a complete virtual reality environment fit with 360-degree interactive vistas and audio cues, is directed by David Silverman -- the man at the helm of nearly 200 The Simpsons episodes. And of course, the short boasts everything you should...

  • Are South African brands ready for augmented reality?

    Although augmented reality (AR) technology is not new, it is only now beginning to gain the attention of media and marketing professionals. The big question remains: Are South African CMOs ready to include AR into their brand strategies? AR has moved away from its early days when it was reliant on expensive, specialised hardware. The rapid adoption of smartphones and even faster evolution of their AR capabilities means that AR is now well within reach of the average South African. However, CMOs who choose to go the AR route without integrating it into their holistic brand delivery strategy will miss out...

  • 6 terrible, terrible places to use Pokemon Go Lures

    One of the coolest Pokemon Go-related things we've seen are businesses using the lure module item to attract people to their premises. The item attracts rare Pokemon to the area for a period of time, allowing players to catch them in the process. Let's face it though: there are some businesses and premises that shouldn't use these items -- we picked a few. Adult stores No matter your opinion on sex shops, placing a Lure Module to attract customers to Adult World might just result in some under-age people wondering into the store. Not exactly legal. Or imagine the conversation when a child tries dragging...

  • You can soon watch the Serengeti’s Great Migration in virtual reality

    There's no denying that virtual reality (VR) has changed the way we see the world around us. A new documentary, Exodus: The Great Migration, is but another way to push the boundaries of the tech though. The Serengeti trek sees hundreds upon thousands of wildebeest, gazelle, zebras and more travel a vast distance in search of fresh grazing and water. Along their route they cross dangerous predators that are constantly on the prowl for fresh food. So what does the Great Migration and VR have in common? Well, the VR tech will place you in the thick of the migration. South African born entrepreneurs Ulrico...

  • Jesus Christ is getting his own virtual reality movie

    Virtual reality has taken the worlds of gaming, medicine and entertainment by storm, but what about religion? Well, enthusiasts of the burgeoning technology have found inspiration in Jesus. Production and tech companies Autumn Productions and VRWERX will soon debut a virtual reality movie of Jesus's life dubbed Jesus VR: The Story of Christ. It'll be a 90-minute journey covering pivotal moments in Christ's life -- his birth, his death, and his resurrection. And if that sounds familiar (like a certain Mel Gibson-directed movie), The Passion Of The Christ's executive producer will reprise his role for this virtual reality movie. Jesus VR will...

  • Bjork’s Digital Tour uses HTC Vive to bring her music to virtual reality

    Virtual reality's usually only good for impressing family at impromptu gatherings, or giving wearers palpable, throbbing headaches. But HTC and Bjork are taking the Vive to the next level, musically at least. The Icelandic songstress's 2015 album will be part of the artist's Digital tour -- part of a multi-city exhibit taking fans through some of the hit tracks in virtual reality using the HTC Vive headset. Bjork notes that at each exhibition, 80 of these headsets will be used in a communal setting, allowing a number of fans to experience the same pseudo-concert at the same time. " feel the chronological...

  • Facebook acquires VR company Two Big Ears, introduces 360 Spatial Workstation

    If you think Facebook's VR game was a joke then you were dead wrong. The company has announced the acquisition of Scottish VR company Two Big Ears. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed The company specialises in immersive audio products based on solutions for both cinematic VR and gaming, and Facebook has not wasted any time putting the company's expertise to good use. Alongside the announcement, it also introduced 360 Spatial Workstation, a software suite for designing spatial audio for 360 video and cinematic VR. The Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation has plugins for popular audio workstations, including a time...

  • Facebook will turn your neglected panoramas into 360 photos for VR

    Let's be brutally honest for a second. Panorama shots don't get as much love as they should. It could be argued that social media platforms and websites deserve some of the blame, often delivering a clunky way to view them. But they do make for inherently awkward viewing on most platforms anyway. Fortunately, Facebook and Oculus are doing something about this, as the two announced that your panoramas can now be viewed with virtual reality headsets. The duo revealed that this functionality should hit news feeds and Gear VR headsets "in the coming weeks". Got a Gear VR? Then you should visit the Oculus 360 Photos app to...

  • 7 seriously innovative ways brands are using VR

    Aside from games and movies, what else is possible with virtual reality? Well, there are actually quite a few innovative and mind-blowing ways we're seeing VR being used. Between vehicle test drives and public speaking sims, these are some of the more notable applications of the technology by brands. Buying tickets? Check the view first! The USA's StubHub came up with a rather smart idea for VR, using it to show event attendees what their seat will look like. The company used it for tickets to an NBA event, giving customers a full 360 degree view of the arena with the aid of Gear VR or Google...

  • What can VR do for your business? Check out this Cape Town showcase

    Between the GearVR and Oculus Rift, it's clear that virtual reality (VR) is gradually becoming mainstream. And like any piece of tech, there's always one industry you can depend upon to get to the table first. Well, aside from the porn industry... We're talking about the advertising industry of course, and Cape Town is no exception as VR studio SenseVirtual hosts a showcase for businesses this week. Africa's Virtual Reality and 360 Video Showcase takes place on April 14 at Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock - so what can attendees expect? SenseVirtual founder Tyrone Rubin says that people will be able to view CG experiences and...

  • IKEA embraces virtual reality shopping with HTC Vive app

    IKEA isn't a company synonymous with bleeding-edge technology, but virtual reality and online retail seem to go very well together. At least judging by the company's latest move. In a bid to sell more online, the Swedish company has announced a virtual reality test app that features a "virtual kitchen experience," and effectively lets the shopper use products from the IKEA catalogue, build a kitchen and even change perspectives. IKEA explains that "consumers can use the app to explore one of three differently-styled kitchen room settings." "The user can change the color of cabinets and drawers with a click. Another feature is...