The VR Photography Experience

May 16, 2016   |   filed under Uncategorized

Who remembers Pokemon Snap? The game was released in 1999 for N64 as a rail “shooter”, and let you take pictures of Pokemon while riding through different courses. But while your path through each level was predetermined, the photographs were not. Meaning users had free control of the camera and absolute discretion in what they could photograph and which type of shot to use.

Now, almost 20 years later, one VR game developer has brought this idea into the 21st century by making a photography demo for the HTC Vive.

Made by Chicago-based game developer Robomoto, the aptly-titled “VR Photography Experience” puts you in the shoes of an action sports photographer stationed at the top of a halfpipe, while a skateboarder skates from side to side.

While the default view just makes it feel like you are standing there in VR, you have the ability to “raise” the camera and enter a viewfinder mode, which lets you snap shots of the action. Interestingly, the VR environment goes from 3D to 2D when a user raises the viewfinder, something that the developers said took a great deal of fine tuning and work.

The developer noted on Twitter that the demo is part of a broader goal of using VR to “relive memories” instead of just play games. It’s not hard to imagine the simulation genre becoming a mainstay of VR gaming, whether it is photography games, flight simulators, or anything else that lets you experience what it’s like to do someone else’s job that is much cooler than yours.

Currently, the experience only exists as an internal prototype, but the team said they are looking at various options to release it to VR audiences. The demo video also teases other real-life VR photography “missions” including paparazzi, wildlife (literally Pokemon Snap), war journalist, and stake out.


Dive head-first into the cosmos with SpaceVR

April 29, 2016   |   filed under Conversation, Culture, Participation, Technology, Video

One of the major promises of virtual reality is the ability to find yourself transported to exotic locations. Nothing is quite so exotic as the final frontier.

SpaceVR wants to launch high-definition 360-degree cameras into space so that users can experience the majesty of the cosmos on their virtual reality headsets.

The small 5-person company just raised a $1.25 million Seed round led by Shanda Group with participation from Skywood Capital. This money is going to quite literally throw their company into the sky.

SpaceVR launched a KickStarter this past September to begin the process of getting their cameras into space. They raised over $110,000 with the goal of presenting viewers the same views as the International Space Station.

Fast forward a few months and the company has gotten more ambitious— they want to launch their own satellites. To do so they’re looking to recruit the help of a little company called SpaceX to launch their eye 200 miles into the sky. The camera, dubbed the Overview 1, will have a pair of 4K fisheye cameras capturing the vast space around it and a lifespan of 6 months.

VR filmmaker Chris Milk has famously called virtual reality the “ultimate empathy machine.” SpaceVR founder and CEO Ryan Holmes believes that VR in space only heightens that emotion. I chatted with Holmes about the “overview effect,” where people, when presented with a view of earth from afar, are much more likely to empathize with others and see the pettiness of so-called major issues in the face of viewing our little planet.

“Prioritization changes,” Holmes told me. “There’s more of a focus on making the world sustainable, and [people] freak out about a lot of the stuff we’re doing to the planet now.”


Your Phone’s Next Superpower? Putting Awesome VR in Your Pocket

April 25, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Culture, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology


For all the attention lavished upon the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and Magic Leap, most people will experience the wonder of VR with the same device they use to send a text and summon a car.

It’s all going to be on your phone.

“While mobile VR may not trump PC-based VR gaming,” says Nick DiCarlo, Samsung’s head of immersive and VR products, “we do believe mobile VR can be the best when it comes to videos and social interactions.” This makes sense when you consider two things. First, no other tech approaches the smartphone’s scale: 6 billion people will own one by 2020, according to one report. And second, phones are relatively cheap. Even Oculus founder Palmer Luckey concedes that a Rift for everyone remains years away.

Meanwhile, smartphones are approaching the Rift’s capabilities. Throughout the industry, virtual reality is driving the next generation of features and technology. Your next phone will be a kickass virtual- and augmented-reality machine. This new design focus will change everything about smartphones, from the chip to the chassis. The first wave of smartphones led us all far beyond calls and texts. The next will take us into entirely new worlds.

Continue Reading at WIRED

Infinite Arcade Makes It Simple to Build Your Own Videogames

April 22, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Interaction, Participation, Technology

Players can build their own worlds by painting different kind of terrains into environments TINYBOP

Harkening back to an age where kids in the early 80’s could build their own video games, the new Infinite Arcade (out April 28) revolves around constructing worlds. The app lets you choose from a handful of templates, from pinball to pong to runner games, and customize just about anything within them. Players begin by choosing a setting (desert, cave, candy land) and a character. “They all have slightly different behaviors,” says Gutierrez. He points to a square-jawed green character reminiscent of Frankenstein’s monster. “This one runs around chomping things,” he says.

Infinite Arcade draws on game tropes of the 1980s and ’90s without feeling retro. “I wanted to do a hardcore pixel game, but our designers were like, ‘We want to use curves!’” Gutierrez says. Terrain blocks, manipulated by dragging a finger across the screen, provide the game’s foundation. Each has a different function. Lava, for instance, is a deadly obstacle that kills any character that touches it. A trampoline tile propels you into the air. Faux bricks crumble under foot, and water is, you know, water. Players can add enemies like a zombie or evil snail, or collectibles like coins, or bricks that burst into coins when you collide with them. The app offers quite a bit of customization, and players can make levels as complex as they like, says Gutierrez. “This is the Minecraft generation of kids,” he says. “This is the generation of kids who are already immersed in worlds that are super complex.”

Less obvious is the ability to create narratives. Players can attach speech bubbles and audio to any component the character can run into, essentially allowing them to build a story in game form.


“The World’s First Virtual Human”

April 21, 2016   |   filed under Uncategorized

Watch the EPIC Games and Ninja Theory teams join forces in creating a virtual connection for human actors to interface with game characters.

YouTube now offering support for 360-degree live streams and spatial audio

April 18, 2016   |   filed under Music, Participation, Technology, Video

YouTube will today begin supporting 360-degree live streaming on its service, confirming reports from earlier this year stating that such a feature was in development. One of the first videos to take advantage of this more immersive format will be this year’s live stream from music event Coachella, where select performances from the festival will now be live streamed in 360 degrees.

With this announcement, YouTube is the first to launch 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio at scale, we should note.

Spatial audio means playing sounds the same way people actually hear – or as YouTube explains, it’s about letting you listen as you do in real life – “where depth, distance and intensity all play a role,” writes Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer for YouTube on the company blog.

For YouTube creators, all that’s required to take advantage of this new feature is a camera that supports the technology. Other than that, there’s no change to the current live streaming process, YouTube tells us.

While all these technologies offer a new means of telling stories through video, they’re very new. Their ability to boost user viewing metrics in terms of engagement and minutes-watched in the long-term still remain unproven. That said, there’s definitely growing consumer interest in 360 degree videos and VR. Starting today, anyone will be able to do live 360-degrees on YouTube. Coachella will happen on the weekend, and will be the first high-profile example of the new live streams on the site.

Meanwhile, from the end user perspective, there’s no extra technology or headsets required to watch 360-degree live streams – they’re available on any device, including desktop, tablet, iOS or Android.

SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH Allows Creators To Build Their Own Video Streaming Sites and Apps

April 14, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Conversation, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology


Unreal entertainment is set to launch their new platform, “”, which provides users with the necessary tools to build their very own streaming site and app.  Monetization possibilities through includes advertising, paywalls, subscriptions, and merchandise sales.  The best part?’s first $1 million will go entirely to creators, and it is completely free!  After the first million, the revenue share deal is 85% to creators, and 15% to Unreel.



Oculus Demos a VR Selfie Stick

April 13, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Conversation, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology, Video

Oculus is now allowing the user to go anywhere in the world instantly, look like yourself while you’re there, and take a photo while present.  Each Oculus VR user will have a customized avatar, that actually looks like them.  The life-like avatars are possible through the social test bed’s internal drawing tool (via Facebook).  Unfortunately, this technology won’t be released just yet, but the news remains exciting.




These Two Apps Let You Pretend You Actually Handwrote That Greeting Card

April 12, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Conversation, Interaction, Participation, Technology


When was the last time you received a hand written note in the mail?  Chances are you don’t remember, but, that may change.

Felt and Punkpost allow the user to send personalized cards from their phone, that look as though they were written by the sender themselves.  Felt lets the user handwrite with a stylus, or their finger! Writing with one’s fingers can be tricky, and not everyone has a stylus, so Felt has quite a few fonts for the card to chose from.  In addition to the card being handwritten, the envelope can also be handwritten!  Finally, the app allows the sender to add photos, or confetti to their card, for that extra hand written/ home made touch.  Pricing varies from $3-6 depending on the photo package one may choose. 



Slidebox brings its photo management app to Android

April 11, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Interaction, Social Media, Technology

A new application called Slidebox aims to help Android users clean up their photo library by swiping to delete unwanted photos, as well as use other tools to more easily organize photos into albums. It’s sort of like a “Tinder for Photos” with a few extra features, in fact.

The app is now one of many utilities arriving to address a longtime challenge smartphone users face – that is, our devices make it simple to take unlimited photos, but they don’t offer the same ease of use when it comes to reclaiming free space from our phone’s limited storage. Designed by former Amazon developers who originally built the app because they, too, struggled with having too many photos and no good way to organize them, the idea with Slidebox is to let you quickly move through your many images and make instant decisions on what to do with each one, using gestures.

The app is a free download on Google Play, and all the current features are also free. A future release may introduce new, premium features you can buy via in-app purchase.