Category Archives: Virtual Reality

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Technology and the Art World

The age of robots is quickly approaching if not already here, and it may pose a threat to aspiring artists. There are two technological advances that will have a particular impact on the art industry: Virtual/Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence.

Virtual Reality devices provide fully immersive experiences that allows users to personally interact within a computer-generated, three-dimensional environment. Virtual Reality is not limited to video games. Graphic Designers may want to take a look into this, not only for game design but also for social media platforms and educational platforms. Videographers ought to consider adapting to this trend by training themselves on how to use 360° cameras. Painters may want to have a go at Google’s Tilt Brush, which allows you to paint inside a virtual reality. Augmented Reality devices allow users to function in the real world, supplemented by computer-generated information. There are an increasing number of exhibitions that allow viewers to interact with art pieces that ‘come to life’ through augmented reality with their smartphone. Those who like to stick with traditional mediums may want to consider using augmented reality to show photographs of their artworks at multiple galleries at the same time.

Machines with Artificial Intelligence function in ways normally thought to only be associated with human minds. For example, some AIs are self-learning or are able to understand human speech. What does this have to do with artists? Well, people have created algorithms that allowed them to 3D-print an original painting that looked exactly like a Rembrandt.

Scared now? But Artificial Intelligence cannot possibly encroach on the beauty of the human soul…can it? Take a look at Cozmo, an AI robot designed to mimic human emotions. Of course, this robot is not the end-all-be-all; but neither were flip-up cell phones. It may not be impractical to predict that one day, AI will be able to do everything that we artists can do.

A few consoling thoughts; I expect that ours would be one of the last occupations to be replaced by AI, considering how challenging it is to quantify emotions and personalities. I also imagine that after the robot-craze over digital realities, autonomous vehicles, 3D-printers and AI, people may look once again to the value of the ‘human touch’ and the raw, natural world. Humans are flawed, and we may need to be prepared to market that aspect of ourselves; our struggles are what makes us unique – what makes us beautiful.

It is very important for us artists to begin asking ourselves how we are going to adapt to this increasingly technological world. Once upon a time people bought from whatever artists were in the local area. Now, people can buy from any artist they like via the internet, making it all the more challenging for each one of us to stand out among millions of other artists. How exactly do we do that?

Let me explain one approach with a personal experience of mine. Two summers ago in Anchorage, Alaska, I found a very nice handmade belt with native designs on it, made by a man who called himself Ziggy. We talked briefly about our lives, and he told me that he painted most of the murals in Anchorage, learned more than 100 trades throughout the course of his life, and ran for mayor of Anchorage 3 times. After I bargained the belt down to $75, I watched him finish making it by customizing it to fit my waist. Had I seen the same exact belt for sale at Macy’s, I would never have bought it in a million years. But I got a handmade Alaskan belt made by a man with a scraggly beard who ran for mayor three times – I do not regret a thing.

There is a saying that people do not buy artwork – they buy the artist. Marketing one’s artwork on social media is just the beginning. One needs to market their personality, their character, their visions, and even other passions. Our art is not the only thing that has to be relatable; the more relatable you as a person are, the easier it becomes to make exchanges.

In summary, current technological advances have as huge an impact on our industry as any other. I strongly encourage other artists to think critically about how they can adapt to current and incoming trends in order to share their individual gifts and insights to the world.

 

This is a rough-draft article expected to publish on The Stillman Exchange sometime in the near future.

What I Have Learned about Virtual Reality

Along with the rest of the Virtual Reality team, I too made my own video explaining some of the most important things that I learned from the investigations my group and I have done on VR and AR. Extending beyond some of the basic information about virtual reality that you can read on Wikipedia, I hope this video will make you think about the ways that we use these technologies in our everyday lives. Hope you like it and please feel free to leave a comment below with any questions or criticisms.

How DT&L and Virtual Reality Changed Me

Hello everyone! For my blog post this week, I thought it’d be fun to share a video of how DT&L, and Virtual reality really opened my eyes. In the video I discuss my reasons why I took Disruption, Technology, and Law, what VR and AR are, and the most interesting aspects of them I learned. It’s been an eye opening class, and I don’t regret taking it at all. DT&L is and always will be an eye opening class. I have learned more about myself that in any other course. Enjoy my video, and feel free to leave comments!

What Has Kathrine (Katie) Learned?

Over the course of the semester I have obviously learned a myriad of diverse things. In the video above I have described all factors I have learned as well as my thoughts and opinions about these topics. All of my information is based off our previous blog posts or personal knowledge gained from the classroom.  I hope you enjoy my video and I would love to ponder about your thoughts if you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to email me kathrine DOT dwyer AT student AT shu DOT edu. I would like to thank my teammates Allison, Spencer, and Daniel for having a successful semester as well as Professor Shannon. Thank you Professor for all your patience, guidance, and trust in me. And always pushing me to exceed your expectations to make me into a stronger student. Enjoy the video 🙂

Virtual Reality: Ethical Issues, Global Impact, and Impact on your Career

Virtual and Augmented Reality Ethical Issues:

There are a few ethical issues in regard to virtual environments which need to be addressed. These are related to human behavior, motivations, and inappropriate/ uncensored content in open sourced VR worlds. There are also physical and physiological health concerns in regard to the virtual reality experience.

As the researchers point out, there are good reasons to be especially concerned about the influence of virtual reality on the human brain, as opposed to television or non-immersive video games. Concerns have been raised about a possible relationship between virtual reality and desensitization. This refers to virtual reality games in which there are high levels of violence or training exercises for the military in which soldiers engage in simulated combat scenarios which include killing. Desensitization means that the person is no longer affected by extreme acts of behavior such as violence and fails to show empathy or compassion as a result. This has been noticed with gamers, especially those who play first person shooters or role playing games which involve a high degree of immersion. Unlike other forms of media, VR can create a situation in which the user’s entire environment is determined by the creators of the virtual world.

The VR experience can introduce a number of opportunities for new and powerful forms of mental and behavioral manipulation. Virtual Reality is just like any other experience in the real world in the sense that it can hurt people in the same way that real-world situations can affect people in a psychological sense. To avoid an ethical dilemma in regards to VR, it is important to remember:

  1. Experiments using virtual reality should make sure that they do not cause lasting or serious harm to the subject.
  2. Those participating in the experiment should be made aware of possible psychological and physical effects from VR.
  3. Create awareness about the many ways VR can be used for something other than its original intention.
  4. Adopting procedures through policy and law that ensure a user’s privacy and safety is protected and maintained.

Virtual reality is a form of technology that is continuously developing, because of this continuous progression VR may cause some problems that many of us have not encountered before. There will be problems that include poor ergonomics and then there are psychological issues. These issues are moral and ethical concerns that need to be looked upon with these technological advancements. There are physical effects and time constraints. Due to a person’s perception being distorted VR can provide users motion sickness. Some people are affected by this after spending only 30 minutes in a virtual environment whereas others can go several hours before they notice any ill effects. This is also known as cybersickness. These virtual realities and their devices unfortunately take a very long time to create and maintain, and as we should all know, time is money. Wasted time causes many issues within the surface of a company, the products it produces for the customers, the customer service, the research, the future technological advances, and so on. Researchers are attempting to create a balance between hyper-realism and production time but the equation is yet to be solved at this point.

How Virtual Reality Will Impact Businesses In The Next Five Years:

  1. We’ll Experience Our Reality Through Virtual Reality
    • AR and VR will be tools for our future to capture knowledge. The educational world and the way we will learn will dramatically change 5 years from now. VR will truly become an essential tool in the workforce. These technology-driven tools are getting better, more realistic, and are already accepted by those entering the workforce.
  2. Prototyping Will Go to the Next Level
    • VR and AR will allow companies to present their project in newer and better ways than ever before. These virtual prototypes will allow the customers, builders, and developers to have better planned designs and models which will lead to a higher rate of sales and a higher quality of goods sold as every minute detail of a project can be shown. Decision makers and end-users will be able to provide better and more valuable feedback early in the game. This will allow business to focus and spread out their timing more throughout the company and waste less money holistically.
  3. Certain Niche Markets Will Be Impacted
    • These devices will provide happiness and ease to travel around the world without flying or spending thousands of dollars to enjoy simple moments. However, these devices will be extremely expensive to purchase and most likely maintain.
  4. Advanced VR Will Become the Social Laboratory of the Elite
    • VR and AR will be simulating business strategies, assist government policies, and so on. These choices and devices are supported by billions of dollars in capital which makes this an audience and a market to dive into rather than to ignore.

VR and AR on a Global Level:

The insurgence of VR and AR has massive global implications. International Data Corporation (IDC) has projected that in just four years, the VR/AR market will reach sales up to $162 billion. More and more 360o videos have been showing up on video channels such as Youtube, subtly reminding viewers that they could be getting a better experience via a VR device. VR and AR are by no means constrained to video gaming. As mentioned in a previous blog post, VR is already having an impact in the medical industry, education, social media, and business. Surgeons could be using VR for surgeries, and patients for therapy sessions. Education could become much cheaper if entire courses begin to be taught by one teacher embedded into an immersive software. Social media platforms will become entirely new realities with virtual social spaces and avatars. Mark Zuckerberg has created a plan to do something like this in combining Facebook and VR.

So VR is not restricted to gaming; gaming is simply the gateway to people’s interest in VR. But the “gods of technology” seem to have greater plans for Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality will forever be an experience that takes us away from the present and physical world around us. AR, however, could potentially become an everyday part of our lives.

 

Having trouble believing this could be a close representation of our future? Samsung has already put in patents for smart contact lenses. Get ready world!

Poll for the Future Results

Are you familiar with disruptive technology? What about virtual and augmented realities? Over the past two week, we have created a survey to analyze people’s understanding and opinion on VR and AR. The following results were complied to show some shocking results. Poll of the Future explain in depth about the results that we found, as well as providing answers to how VR and AR can disrupt the workforce and daily lives.

Poll for the Future

Over the past two weeks a main theme within the classroom has been whether or not our classmates, family members, or friends know what we are talking about. This can discussion can lead to many talking points but as a group we collectively thought of simply questions to see whether or not people knew what we were discussing in class?

These questions include the following:

  • Do you know what Augmented Reality is?
    • Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real life atmospheres. AR creates a new environment based off the existing one rather than formulating a new environment overall, this provides a new layer of information on top of it. Augmented Reality functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality with creating this new environment. Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced augmented reality technology, the world becomes interactive and digitally malleable.
  • Have you experienced virtual reality personally?
    • The majority of these people have not personally have experienced VR. We believe a portion of these users most likely have used a VR device but do not know exactly what VR is. Most of the time, whenever you walk into a Verizon store or any electronic device store for that matter the employers promote the newest VR device that pairs with the cellphones.
  • Do you believe technology will be disruptive in the workforce?
    • To gain a perspective on the many industries that VR can be disruptive in you just need to think of all of the physical limitations that the physical world has. Wherever the physical world is difficult to access like travelling to distant places, or simulating a training experience for vital industries like healthcare or the military. Looking at our past blog posts it is clear that there is a lot of potential for this newly emerging and highly disruptive technology.
  • Do you think that VR will become mainstream in the next decade (or in the next few years)?
    • This link from a previous blog post predicts that VR technology will be everywhere in just a few short years. Also, many people may not have seen the recent advertisements for VR products, but check out this article about all of the devices that are already available.
  • Will headsets be a commodity or a source of competitive advantage?
    • This question clarifies whether or not headsets will be a resource or a luxury.
  • Can this technology be used for anything more than entertainment purposes?

The majority of the class can obviously answer these questions but when we spread out the questions to our peers and parents the answers were not as we assumed. We surveyed 82 people as of Wednesday night. The most surprising statistic to the majority of was whether or not the people whom filled out the survey knew what augmented reality was.

52.4 % of the voters knew what augmented reality was. While 39% did not and 8.5% said maybe. This provides us some clarity in order to show that at minimum 50% of friends, classmates, and parents know what we are talking about. The majority of our survey was given to college aged students. Katie and Allison had their parents fill out the survey as well as Katie’s younger siblings and their friends (middle schoolers and high schoolers).  The other statistics are as followed on our poll.

the-results

survery

Overall we found this poll to be very enlightening. We found out that our friends may not be so in the dark as much as we thought but that does not necessarily mean we will be on the same page as them tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or years to come for that matter.

Fast Delivery…Even Faster

Imagine ordering an item online, and having it delivered within the hour. Sounds impossible right? Well for British luxury etailer Matchesfashion.com it’s not so impossible. During the Women’s Wear Daily Global Fashion Forum in Beijing, CEO Ulric Jerome stated that in the next 18 months one-hour delivery will be the norm in big cities. In addition, the company is also looking at 360-degree video ahead of a move into virtual reality. Surprisingly, Jerome dismissed the need to use drones to achieve the ambitious delivery target, saying airspace regulations could be a stumbling block. Instead, he’d rather focus on perfecting fast delivery. But what fueled this bold mover? Mobile sales are moving upwards with 48% of sales now coming from either a smartphone or tablet. As luxury shoppers are said to be “the most connected customer in the world,” and Jerome is working on another initiative to help Matchesfashion.com with customer engagement. He plans on doing so with stylized shoppable fashion videos. These videos will act as the stepping stones towards 360 degree videos, which will give customers the freedom to interact with the 420 brands the online retailer offers and later virtual reality. Matches sees the importance of joining fashion and technology. Thus, they plan on launching the 360 videos first, and follow up with virtual reality. In the below video, Jerome speaks about E-Commece and the future of retail in the luxury space.

Loss of Human Touch

On one hand we need to look at how close virtual reality (VR) can come to being the same as the physical world or an authentic experience. And on the other hand we need to look at the ways that VR can enhance the human touch, like the visualizations of an architect or the experiences students have through VR that are impossible in the real world. VR is currently a rarity, not in the sense that there are only a few products, but in the sense that not too many consumers have purchased them. However we should be ready for a huge surge in the purchase and sale of VR devices according to a prediction made by Forrester.

Virtual reality is known for taking a user to an imaginary realistic world with goggles. Augmented reality (AR), meanwhile, is known for allowing a user to see and interact with imaginary things in real life through a device.

The video (mature content) above describes and displays how a device can allow you to experience the physical connection of being the opposite sex. The human touch is mutual between the two users. Each action is taken with caution and the view is in the goggles of the opposite user. This gives the users the true perspective of the physical attributes of being a male or female. This human touch experiment provides the opposite user empathy for the opposite sex as well as enlightenment. Not only are you seeing out of their eyes, but you are given the illusion of touching what they touch. You ultimately become someone else for some time and learn about the other person quite quickly.

There is no doubt that advancements in virtual reality have changed the way we behave. VR has made us more connected, informed, educated, and aware of disruptive innovation. Sounds like a good thing right? But what about human touch? What about in-person connectivity and social interaction? Is that lost forever? Are we developing into a society that no longer possesses skills for real life relationships? Oculus creator Palmer Luckey says if you can perfectly simulate reality, why do you need to actually go see people in real life? In our lives we exhibit emotions, hold relationships with others, play, fight, and so on. We each play a role in each other’s lives. Throughout our lives we have learned social values, morals, and actions. We learn what is socially acceptable, and how to behave. We are now faced with a challenge. If we adapt virtual reality into our lives, how will human touch last?

It is quite possible that the concept of human touch will evolve. While physical touch may become more obsolete, other methods of ‘touching’ people could become more emphasized with VR and AR. For instance, a California startup has developed Altspace VR, a social platform for people to connect with each other in a more personal way than, say, a group chat. According to this article by Virtual Reality Reporter, using a virtual platform like this that is unbound by physical reality allows people to be more imaginative and specific in how they create and share meaning with one another.

Additionally, AR technologies such as the Meta 2 are groundbreaking in that they allow people to collaborate in both a physical and virtual reality simultaneously. In the first few minutes of his TED Talk, Meron Gribetz explains how our currently integrated technologies (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) can still create a disconnect between human interaction. We hear it all the time; many people argue that people are becoming less sociable because of technology. But, according to Gribetz, AR is designed to enhance human interaction and capabilities.

How will this affect the visual arts, which are currently and primarily physical representations of things? Will the arts become overshadowed by fascinations in digital expression, or will the delicate, flawed stroke from a human hand on a muddy canvas become all the more precious? Or perhaps the potential scarcity of physical human touch will become all the more valuable? With the integration of VR we will be able to take more risks with less fear of their consequences – after all, regardless of what happens in virtual reality, our physical body is safe. That being said, will we develop a deeper appreciation for pain and the lessons it teaches us?

The implications of VR and AR’s effect on human touch are huge, while the underlying question remains; can VR and AR replace the interactions that humans have with one another and/or replace the interaction that we have with nature? This article from GameSpot.com puts it very well; the author says that he enjoys speaking to people face to face, and enjoys spending time outdoors in nature. However the author then questions, similar to Luckey, why these authentic experiences would be different from the same experience in VR or AR if they become indistinguishable. It frightens people when reality is replaced with a virtual form. For example, in the Disney Pixar movie Wall-E, humans develop a lazy mentality to a point where they have replaced basic human abilities with virtual technology. This prediction seems dramatic and unfounded, but many people have a similar fear that the human race will become even more lazy than we already are because of this technology. The bottom line is that we shouldn’t expect the human touch to go away anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that it may slowly be replaced by virtual experiences.

VR Effects on Education

Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to revolutionize industries like healthcare and entertainment, but a little known disruptive possibility for VR is in the education industry. VR is the type of technology that allows for a unique experience that can only be rivaled, if at all, by the same experience in the physical world. The advantage that VR has over the physical world itself is that it can let people experience things that are impossible to see in the physical world, or things that are imaginary in the first place. VR has the ability to allow students to observe things in a more inclusive environment, or to even interact with their surroundings – such as a VR flight simulator or surgical simulation training using VR. The possibilities for VR in education are endless.

One VR education experiment in particular called the “World of Comenius” is using VR technology to give kids learning experiences that they could not get before, like moving around a cell or meeting people from history and understanding the environment of others. “World of Comenius” is an educational software that aims to utilize the VR to show people things that weren’t possible before.” Similar programs to this one exist like Google Expeditions, which has aimed to provide educational experiences for all kids by providing teachers with cheap means to lessons that allow students experiences that are outside the limits of the physical world. Google says that their Expeditions program is accessible to everyone; “all teachers need to do is download the Expeditions app onto a set of devices and choose which one of the over 200 Expeditions they want to take their class on.” The only other materials needed are the smartphones and the smartphone headsets that students will use.

One of the leading developers of VR education is Unimersiv. Taking Edgar Dale’s “Cone of Learning” to heart, they claim that people retain 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, but 90% of what they do or simulate.

Cone of Learning

It logically follows that VR is an incredibly effective learning tool that will enhance the speed of learning. Better yet, it is free. While it still has yet to develop into a full-fledged educational system, Universiv marks the expansion of VR into education. Who knows, if outfitted with a sophisticated system of performance measurements and copious amount of content, perhaps we will eventually be able to obtain college-level degrees through VR. The company that provided it would simply be selling a copy of the software – no campus, no buildings, no parking lots, no school supplies. Combine this service with a platform such as Slack with a teacher and other students, and we now have ourselves a pretty good gig going. Imagine how many doors would open up with this kind of affordable and highly effective learning. The question remains, then, whether or not colleges will be able to adapt to this disruptive technology before students open their eyes and realize they are wasting their money and time.

One issue with using VR to advance and disrupt education is the digital divide. Between the educated and uneducated there are many factors that come to play when it comes the digital divide and the continuous technological advances surrounding society. The ability to use the Internet, to obtain news, and to be involved economically tend to be the top tier points of the educational system we are involved with today. The cost and affordability of information and communication with technology deters citizens away from education and technology as not only a pairing but as a whole. This unfortunate situation creates a deeper hole in hardships rather than focusing on the expansion of technology and its advantages for the everyday person – no matter how big or small the enjoyment that comes along from using the advances to our advantage. Only 40 percent of people have the ability to own and use a computer. This statistic appalls me to no end. I believe we all should be more grateful to our lives and privileges given to us. I totally agree that new technology could provide society easier devices to use such as computers and mobile communication. But I also feel that many people across the world do not necessarily have access to the Internet. Since they do not have the personal means to purchase these devices, they find other means to access the news with word of mouth, newspaper, television, etc. There are other options out there for most to obtain this information, but for some, the goal of holding the news freely in their hands is simply unattainable. How this affects virtual and augmented reality is far from simple. Education in the classrooms allow students to explore outside the classroom while being in a physical one across the world.

Students are provided devices to allow them to “travel” all over the world to showcase history, technology, advancements, and so on. This allows the students to finally step outside the box of the linear path of thinking. They have never been taught to do something much more beneficial for themselves in the future because of this restricted thinking. Classrooms around the world have already started to prepare for this next phase in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With these generations continuing to live in a technology based world, the baby steps of this process are to allow technology to be used and create a resourceful tool for these classrooms at all times. Classrooms around this city, country, and even the world are finally implementing the use of iPads, tablets, and video cameras that have many programs and resources for the students to learn from. These lessons that they will learn will change their lives dramatically, just like this Disruption, Technology, & Law course is doing for the majority of us. The goal is to teach these students these methods at an early age to ensure their path to success is continued throughout their entire lives without giving up on learning and falling behind like the older generations will eventually have to do. Virtual Reality is the next step in this direction, and it is important that we give our students the best opportunity possible to reach their fullest potential.

The world is slowly opening doors to the less fortunate by providing them computers. Children finally have a lost cost, rugged, low- power, connected laptop for them to finally own. This gives children an outlet to obtain a great education on their terms to truly learn, share, and create greatness together.

Scientists predict that by 2018 the number of mobile phones will equal the world population. These are facts that should awaken Governments all over the world. It also should awake the awaiting citizens who are looking for their great big break. This statistic means so much more than an arrangement of numbers, it leads to our futures becoming great again. People need to come together to power through the issues that keep us divided. As students in America who are blessed with much, being grateful for what we have is a great way to start contributing to this effort. When we are grateful, it becomes easier to help those who are in need.

The Knight Foundation has tried to find ways to bridge the digital divide in Detroit, where less than 40 percent of households have broadband access. They approached the challenge of the digital divide by focusing on three high poverty neighborhoods, and set out to fund a broadband network there in addition to digital literacy training. Partnerships were arranged between local community organizations, private companies, libraries and government by the project to fulfill its goals. The program’s achievements included a federal stimulus grant that brought in additional funding, and the donated, refurbished laptops. Through partnerships with the University of Minnesota’s Digital Divide Initiative and the Geek Squad, several hundred families have received refurbished computers for their home use and on-going instruction on how to safely use and maintain them.

In conclusion, VR is projected to have an immense impact on education, spearheaded through apps such as Google Expeditions and Unimersiv. These kinds of innovations will drive down costs and increase learning retention. But nobody said this would be a walk in the park; disruption is always messy. Colleges and other educational institutions are slow to change, and the digital divide remains a pressing issue at hand. In any case, VR will disrupt education and learning, and we should prepare ourselves for it.

We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!