VR+ cuz I’m Struggling with a Title

A photo — essay of sorts from a tech week.

A 4D world contrived as 3D, inspired by Chris Nolan’s Interstellar from a previous article, was how I imagined future London in this conceptual work below doodled on my way to London’s largest gathering of techs, TechXLR8.

Disruptive (DT) vs predictive thinking (PT). One mode breaks inviolable rules and alienates its protagonist for daring to unsettle convention. Its purpose is believed by few — often only by its architect. The other rides the populist wave of emergent trends. Everyone is heading in that direction. They’ve glimpsed the future land as befitting what is acceptable.

The Internet of Things, 5G, Apps, AI Machines and Bots are contemporary populists themes being discussed and shopped at TechXLR8. Today’s disruptive thinking has given way to predictive elements and many want a piece of this future pie. TechXLR8 attracted huge crowds — 150,ooo, from 125 different countries, say the organisers. Within this architecture are planes of disruption. Over three days, that’s what I’m seeking here and off site focusing, largely as a storyteller, on AR/VR.

It is the enfant terrible, at present, VR, AR and MR, with staggering statistics of its uptake being thrown around. ABI Research suggests 50m unit sales by 2020. Such hype around a new tech is to be expected, given its sibling 3DTV flopped dramatically after huge investments. Hence, this is Tech’s pay back. It needs to work.

New strategies include manufacturers considering giving away headsets. Google’s cardboard viewer continues to be popular. Apple’s arrival in VR will boost interests and Facebook’s Framestore partnership is also seen as a industry kick.

Meldody VR, Rewind and VF+4360.com are behind a number of innovations for storytellers. Melody for its music with a number of brands and innovative productions, whilst Rewind’s VR Director Greg Furber for its high end cinematic work. Furber distinguishes between nominal YouTube video’s and their cinematic imagery acquired from the use of the Sony A7 and Red cameras.

A point to make here, ‘cinematic’, is characterised by a number of variables e.g. sound, camera angle, editing rate etc. Cinema journalism (see footnotes) for followers of the school of advanced videojournalism — a new movement I’m part of — covers plot, arcs, etc. However in both cases the spectre of the image is a prominent force. The immersive experience of VR says Furber is enough to make viewers literally cry, when they produced Bjork’s Stonemilker. What do you think?

A project for the BBC a year ago, which a resigned Furber said is yet to be published by the broadcaster is another exemplar. A virtual space walk with real time feedback creates different conditions for users depending on their heart rate. Furber’s belief is resolute. VR’s power is so overwhelming it has the ability to create false memories in children from a study by Stanford scientists.

VF4360.com provided an experiential, inspiring and educational use of VR. Its simplicity belies its power whereby you’re left pondering, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’

Paul Speight (below), who’s in the emergency services has constructed, with his team, a car accident where emergency services act in character around prevailing difficult conditions — an example of a VR docudrama. Also, on an industrial site the viewer gets to experience the surroundings of a building reduced by fire. In one scene, you’re standing at a ledge, looking down. Acrophobia truly takes over.

Continuing criticism around VR exists in its metrics and reach. The figures are paltry at the moment compared with television or Youtube’s 2D stats. Nausea is also a common feature and manufacturers say increased frame rate, 60 FPS, and bit download around 8gigs will reduce the effect of motion sickness.

360 That #Voice

Ricoh, renowned for their industrial printing, are among the leading manufacturers of consumer 360 video and VR cameras. Other brands include the Insta 360 Nano and Samsung Gear . At XLR8, Ricoh pretty much had the conference to themselves. Richoh’s learning curve is relatively shallow, I can confirm. The camera’s native video form is these two spherical images (below), which is rendered into 360 in Youtube’s engine and third party apps.

Marketing in Today’s Global Age

Across town at BDO LLP, Marketing in Today’s Global Age was the headline whose key speakers were Eric Fulwiler, Executive Director at Vayner Media. It’s named after the Gary Vayner, one of the world’s leading vlogger; Miles Lewis, Senior VP at Shazam; and Alex Smale, MD of Tribe Mix.

As Executive Director at NYC based VaynerMedia, Fulwiler shone a light on the company’s philosophy behind its growth and future motives.

He emphasised the following:

  • Influencers and word of mouth will out do traditional advertising because it provides more targeted responses and immediate returns.
  • If you’re doing good business now, your consumer flow is about to be disrupted, so look for new models and innovate relentlessly.
  • Attention is the commodity we’re all chasing or should. He disagrees that our attention spans are getting shorter, more we’re being assaulted with greater content to choose from.
  • VaynerMedia combines both media planing and creative production as an efficient workflow and believes the current division of labour is defunct and expensive.

Three university friends upset that US radio station DJs weren’t name checking songs is the story that underpins this $1bn platform said Miles Lewis, Senior VP at Shazam.

Shazam’s breakthrough in identifying music wasn’t its major win he continued. It was figuring out how the audio algorithms could overcome the inherent difficulty of funnelling music through a speaker and microphone.

Playfully critiquing Fulwiler, Lewis said TV spots would still continue for a while as their USP was building brands, rather than products, which required time for maturity.

Alex Smale, MD of Tribe Mix has the first enterprise contract with FB’s Oculus. He talked about Facebook moves in AR and VR and stressed the audience pay attention to the following:

  • Post-google glasses that will look like ordinary glasses. The speech to action, in the way Google glass performed functions, is now the norm.

I got into Glass as one of the testers — at my Uni. News of its demise has been greatly exaggerated as a number of industries e.g. medical (Xperteye) engineering have relied and built upon Glass’ platform.

Smale continued, saying that FB’s augmented platform will be on your phone, following on from Snapchat and Pokemon Go.

  • SLAM simultaneously localisation mapping constructing virtual objects on fixed environments will become commonplace.
  • Blank walls will become the new real estate for AR advertising spaces, converting mapping, say, Hogsworth castle, from Harry Porter, onto a traditionally 80s designed house.

The Future Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chat Bots

One of the most enjoyable talks demands more attention in its write up, perhaps just as much as the previously mentioned. Yet, this session rode the wave of a technology, still fairly new in the public sector. It’s what one of the speakers referred to as ambient computing — using voice activation. Here’s a medium piece I liked that explains some background written before this session. I’ll post this talk in

End part 1.

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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