Monday, September 14, 2015
The World Isn't Ready for Virtual Reality Simulations of Horrific Realities Like 9/11 (Yet)
Provoking a heated conversation even among Reddit's Oculus VR fans, here's the virtual reality simulation we should have expected:
If you're worried about clicking, don't fret -- it's actually not a great simulation, which ironically, means it doesn't come anywhere close to capturing the full horror people in the World Trade Center must have felt that day. (The bad graphics and the stilted, European-accented dialog are pretty immersion-killing in themselves.) You can actually see far more immersive (and disturbing) simulations of terrorism in the solo campaigns of Call of Duty and other modern conflict games. Which means while this particular demo isn't all that immersive, we should soon expect them to improve, and become truly compelling. And terrifying.
So the question becomes, is the wider world ready to watch simulations like this?
Awesome 3D Mural of Noah's Ark Created in Second Life
User-created creatures in Second Life are literally hobbled by the existing platform, and therefore don't move around very convincingly. They do, however, make for some great 3D murals and screenshots. Check out this tribute to the Noah's Ark fable by Sandrika Broono (click here to embiggenate) as an uniquely impressive example of that. This is actually submission in Canary Beck's "Paradise Lost" photo contest, a social promo for Ms. Beck's upcoming feature machinima based on the Milton masterpiece.
Top Four New World Notes Posts from Last Week!
- "This is Who I Am": Why a Woman With Parkinson’s Sees Both Her SL Avatar & Her Physical Body as Real
- Even the Top Virtual Reality Blogs Are Still Relatively Niche
- Pocket Metaverse iOS App for SL Now Compatible with iOS 9
- AR/VR Glove Project Uses Arduino Kit for Inertial Tracking
Friday, September 11, 2015
Polygon Features Second Life's Monstrous UI/UX on "Monster Factory", But Just Relax & Watch
Hoo boy, Polygon is starting to make "Let's Play"-style videos in Second Life, so let's watch:
Hosted by Polygon's Griffin McElroy with commentary from an unnamed sidekick bro, it's part of the major gamer site's "Monster Factory" series, where I guess the idea is to make an avatar as f-ed up as humanly possible:
How, how, how have we not done a Monster Factory on Second Life up until this point? It's a game that gives you basically unlimited control of your avatar's appearance, giving you free reign to make a human garbage disposal with a butt like an endtable. You can attach anything to anything in Second Life, and, sweet lord, we do.
The video is actually a lot of fun, though a lot of the fun of "Monster Factory" is at the expense of SL's monstrous UI and user experience. But given that Linden Lab has basically given up on trying to improve SL's UI and UX in any substantial way, why not enjoy the fun in which it's intended.
Illustrated Web Guide & Tutorial for Second Life Merchants
Auryn Beorn, owner of the Black Tulip brand, has an epic, multi-part guide and tutorial on running an SL-based business, with lots of useful advice which may seem common sense to longtime SL merchants, but then again, will come as useful news to probably many more. Such as this module on using your SL avatar as a business card, and the reasons for using an alt business account:
A 9/11 Survivor Builds a Virtual Memorial in Second Life
Fourteen years ago today, Liam Kanno was in downtown Manhattan on a perfect morning when the sky ripped apart. He was three blocks from the World Trade Center as the planes came scything in, and as the buildings and bodies collapsed around him, he stumbled into a stranger's house to survive. Shortly after, he quit his high paying advertising job, abandoned his luxury apartment several blocks from Ground Zero, and returned to school, to study humanities. He traveled the country, he visited remote monasteries, he painted. As part of this recovery process, Liam submitted a design in New York's official memorial competition, but it was not accepted. But there was another call for designs, this one for a memorial site in the virtual world of Second Life. [Read the rest here]
Thursday, September 10, 2015
"This is Who I Am": Why a Woman With Parkinson’s Sees Both Her SL Avatar & Her Physical Body as Real (Excerpt, Coming of Age in Second Life)
Coming of Age in Second Life, the award-winning book by anthropologist Tom Boellstorff, now has a second edition with a new preface, and it tells the inside story of Fran, a woman with Parkinson's who's reported significant physical recovery from using Second Life. I was fortunate to first learn about Fran in 2013 from Tom, and even luckier that he's letting me run a related excerpt from his book:
An island dance
I first met Fran on Namaste Island, next to her daughter Barbie and some other friends in a cabin with wooden walls. It was a support group for people with Parkinson’s Disease; I do not have Parkinson’s myself, but was conducting research about illness and disability. That is why I found myself sitting in this circle with Fran as our leader, sharing troubles, joys, challenges. I will never forget when Fran said “I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease about six years ago. And when I got my diagnosis, it was like a punch in the gut.” Yet Fran not only supported others, but kept active on Namaste Island: “I’ll just walk around, go to the beach, even go horseback riding.”
VR vs. AR Smack Talk: Magic Leap CEO Claims Virtual Reality Headsets Like Oculus Rift Might Cause Brain Damage
The Vanity Fair feature on the Oculus Rift covers pretty well-trodden territory, but it does include this very revealing passage featuring Rony Abovitz, CEO of Magic Leap, the Google-backed augmented reality company:
Abovitz is widely believed to be a genius, which means that even his wildest proclamations are taken seriously. Crucially, he has implied that virtual-reality systems, such as the Oculus Rift, could do more to a person’s brain than cause seasickness. “The brain is very neuroplastic,” Abovitz claimed during a Reddit Ask Me Anything interview. “And there is no doubt that near-eye stereoscopic 3D systems [like the Rift] have the potential to cause neurologic change.” What he means is that Oculus’s full-screen immersion might cause brain damage, unlike his projections onto the real world. This is partly gamesmanship—there’s no independent evidence to suggest that Abovitz’s version of a virtual reality will be any better for your brain than Luckey’s—and yet his claim may also contain more than a little truth. Some research suggests that both television and the Internet may hamper brain development, and it seems reasonable to think that a more intense, more immediate communications technology would be even worse.
Setting aside the last part of the passage for a bit (because it definitely deserves its own post), it's notable to me that we're starting to see some VR/AR smack talk happening in public. It suggests the industry is no longer just a community of supportive techie boosters, but an actual industry where competition's about to get pretty bruisey.
Oh, another nice passage from the Vanity Fair piece features Second Life's co-founder with his hand in the air (like he actually care):
Wednesday, September 09, 2015
Even the Top Virtual Reality Blogs Are Still Relatively Niche
HyperGrid Business has a really useful list of top virtual reality-focused blogs, with the Road to VR looking to be the largest by far, as it has about 640K monthly visits, according to SimilarWeb. That's quite decent, but based on typical web traffic patterns, that probably translates to around 70-100,000 monthly unique visitors -- i.e., in all likelihood, the early adopters who already own a VR rig of some kind. (Oculus Rift has sold just over 175,000 kits.) Those numbers may very well grow very quickly in the next few years, but in opposition to predictions we keep hearing that VR will soon be used by hundreds of millions, it's important to keep the hard (and still fairly niche) numbers in mind.