As usual, Google handed out an array of freebies to attendees of its I/O conference, hoping to entice developers to build applications for its devices. Among them: a square smatchwatch—their choice of the LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live, the round Moto 360 watch, and a piece of cardboard.
Though attendees were confused by the cardboard gesture, they soon realized the flat piece of pasteboard could be folded to construct a virtual-reality headset powered by an Android phone. And as with the smartwatches handed out, Google wants apps for Cardboard.
Mike Woods from Oscar-winning VFX company Framestore discusses the creative and technical issues to confront before entering the virtual world.
Virtual reality is here to stay. Facebook confirmed that with its mega purchase of Oculus. But now that the dust has settled, how do we educate brands, content creators, and marketers how to use it?
Unlike many other zeitgeist-busting pieces of tech that arrive on the scene, VR brings with it an entirely new language of storytelling. We’re creating a new form of narrative that includes the viewer. This becomes a strange hybrid of first-person shooter game and an almost Brechtian approach to live theater (think Sleep No More or Secret Cinema). It’s resulted in a very different set of rules to learn, and, consequently, some perilous pitfalls. That’s something I’m grappling with every day at my own company, Framestore, as we pioneer launching a full-fledged VR and Immersive Content Studio.
For others who are even just considering dabbling in VR, here are eight considerations to aid your production and business process and help you understand how to use the medium correctly.
Jaunt just scored $6.8 million in funding for its camera that can make movies for the virtual reality Oculus Rift headset. Using the Oculus Rift dev kit—which the company purchased off of Craigslist! — Jaunt has created the algorithms necessary to give viewers the feeling of being inside a movie. Read more>
A giant defense contractor and a special effects giant have launched a virtual world where players can even feel when they’re shot.
Participants also feel pain when injured; two muscle stimulators attached to the triceps administer electric shocks when a user is “shot.” Users can continue to play with non-fatal injuries, but head or chest shots immediately remove them from the training exercise. The electric shock is comparable to one encountered in physical therapy, says Raytheon’s Ellen Houlihan.
The idea behind exposure therapy is for people with PTSD to relive their traumatic experiences in a safe environment. Traditionally, the way therapists would help soldiers access their painful memories was by asking them to vividly imagine the sights and sounds of war. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) takes matters a step further by actually presenting those sights and sounds.
The findings are part of a four-year study conducted by the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology, which partnered with the Defenses Center for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and the Department of Psychology at Madigan. VRET uses 360-degree interactive computer-generated environments, according to the Army, running a program called “Virtual Iraq.” Patients wear a head-mounted display, while the doctor orchestrates the relevant stimuli—helicopters overhead, gunfire, or even a Muslim call to prayer. A typical session lasts 90 minutes.
VRET isn’t entirely new; it had been shown to be effective in Vietnam veterans and survivors of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Literature on the therapy extends back at least to 1999. But the recent study extends its relevance to active-duty populations.
Dr. Greg Reger, lead author of the study, also thinks that since this generation of soldiers was reared on technology, it makes sense virtual reality would appeal to them. Said Reger in a press release: “It is possible that virtual reality exposure therapy would provide a more appealing treatment option to a young, technologically savvy generation of service members and veterans. In addition, it is possible that a treatment option like virtual reality exposure would be viewed by some service members as less stigmatizing than traditional treatment approaches,” thereby accessing service members who otherwise wouldn’t seek treatment. In other words: while seeing a shrink is embarrassing for certain soldiers, a video game is pretty cool.