Category : VR

The advertising and augmented reality

Consumer Society, which was formed in the late twentieth century, has both advantages and disadvantages. Its advantage consists in providing a great number of new jobs (at least before production robotics), rich, thriving economy and a huge variety of different products and services. On the other hand, it is a large number of unnecessary goods, additional financial loading on the middle and lower classes of society and, among other things, the active development of advertising technologies, including their most aggressive forms.

The story of Henry Kuttner, one of the classics of the American school of fantastic fiction, tells us about difficulties the society may face in the further development of advertising. In his work “Year Day” (1953) describes the world in which advertising has the incredible pressure on people. Using new technologies advertising content is projected in the streets, on the premises, even in private hoses. Thus, “… pushing, driving, the hypnotic whirl of colors, superadvertising planned by the best psychologists on earth, twisting everybody’s arm to squeeze out of them their last cent because there wasn’t enough dough to go around any more”. The stream does not weaken for a second, and the only way to protect you from this pressure is the expensive advertising blocker.

In 1953 the Kuttner’s world looked too grotesque and obviously sick – how can such inexcusable invasion of privacy exist? Why was such practice not legally prohibited? And is it possible to live normally under such pressure? But today we see nearly the same thing on the Internet. You can experience it every time you try to find a cross on the screen popped up in the middle of an advertising banner. And what if you look forward a little? Today, many companies are working on the widespread introduction of the augmented reality goggles. It is a remarkable technology that should be very helpful, both at work and in everyday life. It provides great opportunities for placement of advertising content virtually everywhere!

The recently released video clip of Keiichi Matsuda, «HIPER-REALITY» allows you to see how the world might look like, in which a person will be continuously connected to the augmented reality.

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VR: the influence on the real world in terms of safety

At the beginning of our series, we have already touched upon the problem of cyber-security, the potential threat against the real world from the virtual one. In movies and literature, the stories about hackers who can easily hack into any database, military, and corporate systems are popular. But are they really dangerous in fact?

Charles Miller, one of the most famous cyber-security experts, worked at the National Security Agency (NSA). He was the author of the report, “How to create the cyber army and attack the United States” presented in NATO Cyber Security Center. In fact, it was a possible scenario in which it would be possible to successfully paralyze all network components of the state’s economy, to get a virtually unlimited access to information and to create huge losses to the enemy.

In this scheme, it was planned to establish 9 working groups with their own, clearly set goals: experts on vulnerabilities (search for safety system defects and software vulnerabilities of the enemy); exploit developers (creating programs that use vulnerabilities to provide access to the system); collectors of bots (infection of third-party computer for future use); support of botnets (support of communication with the third-party infected computer); agents (a group of people coming to work in the key institutions that get an access to the internal network of the enemy); operators (internal system penetration using agents); developers (creation of infected computers remote control means ); testers (testing of efficiency and reliability of equipment and software); administrative and technical staff.

There is no need to go into technical details. The Miller’s plan provides a long, about 2 years training, after which the attack is made. The attack results are:

  • Malfunctioning of the of civil and military services management systems;
  • Complete blackout or power supply failure;
  • Chaos in the systems of control of air and rail transport;
  • Cellular communication is disabled or running with considerable interruptions;
  • The Internet does not work;
  • Faulty transmission of financial data (bank transfers, electronic payments, and so on.);
  • The country is paralyzed.

To attack:

  • The European Union you need 750 people, and $ 112 million;
  • The United States, you need 592 people and $ 98 million;
  • The Russian Federation, you need 517 people and $ 86 million.
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Holoportation by Microsoft

Has everybody seen “StarWars”? We remember the communicators that have been shown in the film, blue, twitching from the holographic interference of interlocutors’ models. Microsoft Holographic teleportation is different because of best quality, there is not only blue among colors and, finally, it is a reality, not a movie!

How does it work out?
The technology of the far-distant galaxy could not suddenly appear in our world. However, it never came. Microsoft created a working model of the transmission the volumetric image of the interlocutor at a distance. At this point, the widespread of this technology using is extremely problematic.
To operate the system, every other person should be placed in a room with special cameras. Cameras scan a person in real time, making his model which is covered by textures and projected “on the other end”. But unlike the famous space saga, where the interlocutor model was projected as a hologram, you can see your vis-à-vis through augmented reality glasses.
In the future, Microsoft offers HoloLens to be used for these purposes. When this device will be modified and accessible for the average consumer, this may dramatically change our understanding of the possibilities of virtual communication.

Using Areas.
If in the near future it is possible to make a “holoportation” (as it is called by the developers) of higher quality, and most importantly affordable to purchase and use, it will be a significant impact on many areas of activity:

  • Education – a virtual presence in the classroom will be helpful both for students and teachers;
  • Business – the negotiation process between partners can greatly simplified, there will be less need to organize a trip for a personal meeting;
  • The entertainment industry – if you want to see a concert “Aerosmith” close to your place, but do not want to push in the fan zone, it can be arranged without any problems;
  • Personal communication and much more.

Butterfly Effect.
Besides the obvious advantages, the introduction of this technology can cause the appearance of additional software. For example, a simple application that allows you to apply new textures to your body model, so that you will be able to stand in front of your companion, even in the form of candlestick from the “Beauty and the Beast” cartoon. Gaming opportunities will be greatly expanded and so on. It seems that we are on the verge of changes that have occurred with video conferencing prevalence: people could communicate over the phone before, but the opportunity to see your interlocutor has significantly influenced on our communication.

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Augmented Reality – NOW

Augmented reality continues to break into our lives; Microsoft representatives have announced about a new headset HoloLens out. Last year, the development appeared in several exhibitions. Apparently, the reviews were so good that the developers have finally decided to start selling. Unfortunately, only developers will have an access to HoloLens, while ordinary consumers can only be content with demonstrations on the news shows.

And what is inside?
Microsoft is not in a hurry to disclose the information about the hardware devices. It is well known that HoloLens contains one inertial unit (IMU), a sensor of environmental changes, a few microphones and cameras. Computing power is provided by 32-bit Intel processor based on Cherry Trail. Two lenses with high resolution are responsible for the image (2.3 million points of light).

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Microsoft is actively attracting partners to work together on their new product:

  • NASA;
  • Case Western Reserve Medical School;
  • Audi;
  • Volkswagen;
  • Japan Airlines;
  • Airbus.

First applications.
The conference “Build” introduced several business applications that had been created by Microsoft and its project partners. Now a set of programs has more a demonstration character, for example: RoboRaid; Actiongram, to work with holograms; virtual tours via HoloTour; Skype, which within augmented reality will hang as a flat screen in the air.
However, in addition to rave reviews, work on HoloLens is far from completed. Presented at the exhibition applications were not extremely difficult, but the hardware part periodically encountered difficulties. The developers have done a stand-alone device that solves the problem with wires, but at the same time limits and HoloTour power.

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Hopes and fears.
It is cannot say that the market has a new competitor for the Oculus or for announced virtual reality helmet from Sony, the augmented reality does not compete directly with VR. It is rather difficult to predict how Microsoft plans are ambitious for HoloLens. Considering the starting price tag of $ 3000, we can only hope that the market will have not just another GoogleGlass wannabe, but a completely new product with unique capabilities.

Images from Microsoft.

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VR and the economy

Virtuality influenced a different way on the economy. You can find many virtual stores online, where it is possible to order almost any product that will be delivered to the buyer. But in this case, the order will be done virtually. But a product itself that will be delivered is quite real. And how should we refer to the network purchase of music, movies, software, or any other commodity that exists only in binary code? On the one hand, this is a huge opportunity for services market, cinematograph, sound recording or IT companies, and many other business areas. But there are terrible problems with copyright protection. This issue has been being on the agenda of almost all over the world since early 90s. Despite the fact that there were many attempts to solve this issue, the problem has not disappeared. On average, more than 300 songs/per second are illegally downloading in the United States, and this figure is constantly growing.

At the end of 2010, while interweaving to one TV channel, Minister of Communications and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation, Igor Shchegolev, announced a change of counteraction tactics of the online counterfeit products spread. It is necessary to create adequate price market for the intellectual property sailing, which allow right owners to receive a steady income due to the number of downloads or plays. Unfortunately, despite of some progress in this area, the main problem of piracy hasn’t been solved.

Virtual economy is also growing in the field of online games. A set of computer games designed for online playing appeared after 2000. Some of them had story restrictions, others had rigid frame of the game world. There were also those that were created as a full, in many respects, self-organizing systems, limited only by capacity of the used equipment.

Incredible freedom of the player was their basic difference, as well as the opportunity to interact with other players from all over the world and, moreover, the ability to spend real money in a virtual space. In November 2010, it was made the most expensive buying in the history of online gaming. On the resource Entropia Universe, one of the users purchased virtual, not existing property, for $ 635,000. It is an incredible of its recklessness acquisition, isn’t it? Maybe, but only if you don’t take into account the buyer’s motivation. The fact is that the shopping, entertainment and sports complex of buildings acted as a real estate. Within the game, the user can be rented a trading area for the sale of any goods from the owner for real money. The calculation is carried out through the money transfer from one account to another. You can buy your character a subscription to the pool or the gym, go shopping, paying the seller for his goods, or by paying a pass to the gym to its owner. As a result, the income of the previous complex owner was about $ 200,000 a year!

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VR in games: Quantic Dream studio experience

David Cage – the head of games development studio Quantic Dream the scriptwriter and director of such projects as “Fahrenheit” (2005) and “Heavy Rain” (2010). This role is rather unusual for game developer as such phrase is more common for film titers or playbill.
In general, these two games are the complete interactive films where the right of choice is given to spectator, defining the character actions. The genre of these two works can be seen as drama and psychological thriller, sowing the elements of mystery, if not to go deep into details.
Several characters tell the story. Each of them plays key part in the story and the actions of each might change the story further development. The characters interact to each other with the help of joystick and gyroscope. It allows the character’s and gamer’s interaction options’ enlargement. The gamer should simulate on joystick the actions performed by the character. For example, in order to close the window in “Fahrenheit” game, you need to move joystick up and down and even horizontally, in order to make simple action, – brush one’s teeth – in “Heavy rain”.
It goes about too unimportant details, at first sight. But the moment when the gamer makes the same things as his virtual character he`s interacting with the virtual world not by a mouse click but by making the same efforts for the performance of simple and not very simple operations – the person comes to a totally new level of association with its virtual prototype.
At the same time, it is worth remembering that is goes more about interactive film than a video game. While the story goes, the gamer runs into difficult choice or extreme situation. The scriptwriters, artists, sound creators skillfully manipulate the gamer, by causing excitement or joy, fear, anxiety or even panics. It is very hard to perceive such works as video game only. It is more like the birth of totally new type of entertainment, allowing direct interaction with the story. The most important things are that it goes about one of virtual reality stages development and the modes of plunging into it.

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VR in the movies

The idea of virtual reality became very popular amoung the moviemakers. Here are some of the most patent examples. Later we will post detailed reviews of each of these movies. Foolow us on ReaBits.

Tthe epoch-making movie “TRON” by Steven Lisberger was made in 1982. This movie virtually brought a user inside the computer. There, every program becomes a living person. The user lost his usual power over virtual reality and was forced to act as a computer program.

Another movie, “THE LAWNMOWER MAN” (directed in 1992 by Leonard Brett) dwelled on another aspcet of the VR phenomenon. It presented a conjugation of a man and a program as a way of becoming an overhuman. But everything comes with a price: after connecting to the net and stimulating mental activity with scecial devices, protagonist started to use his power over VR to control physical world (the “SkyNet syndrome”).

In 1995 one of the most popular novels by William Gibson, “JOHNNY MNEMONIC”, was adapted for big screen. It a very “typical-Gibson” distopic world of future a freedom of data access becomes crucial in a struggle of powerful TNCs.

This year can be considered a starting point of a romanticism in VR-themed moveis because of another milestone movie, the “HACKERS”. Unlike the movies above, this film was relatively easy for the audience, still advocating for the idea of free cyberspace.

“NIRVANA” (1997) is often regarded as the best movie of this style. It is a peculiar narrative of Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave”.

And finally, “THE MATRIX” (1999), an iconic movie, which became a sub-total of VR-themed films.
An editor Gardner Dozois enunicated the main cyberpunk criteria: “High tech. Low life”. This genre explores the dangers of rapid technological advancement. It states that it is very unsafe to improve our possibilities while leaving modern social problems unsolved. At the same time these movies center on a man in the net. VR can only grant in illusion of super power – but this illusion sometimes is too tempting to remain in the real world. VR becomes a version of earthly heaven.

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The writers about VR

“Anything that can be done to a rat can be done to a human being. And we can do most anything to rats. This is a hard thing to think about, but it’s the truth. It won’t go away because we cover our eyes. This is cyberpunk”.
Bruce Sterling, an essay “Cyberpunk in the 90-s”.

In the last quarter of the 20th century the idea of VR became one of the leading themes in the art. Its rise in the literature begun in the eghties. William Gibdon first introduced the term “virtual reality” in his short story “Burning Chrome”, edited in 1982. William Gibson originated a whole new genre – the cyberpunk, which soon became one of the most infuential amoung the sci-fi authors. Gibson introduced the main features and frames of cyberpunk world: a world in the near future, where information has become the most precious value. This world is far from perfect. The main problems of our world, such as povetry, overpopulation, food shortage, drug dealing, crime and terrorism, are hyperbolized. This world is the dark side of the information sosiety, the regulal result of liberalistion and globalisation. New technologies, including the complete VR-diving, have never solved the problems of our society. The real world, the one that man tried to leave behind, to escape from through the computer, remained grim and dull. The consumerism was reinforced. The never-ending software and hardware update results in surplus profit for corporations – and allows them to enhance their hold over the states. TNCs are becoming new superpowers in this world.

This world has its own heroes, champions for justice and freedom. Here they are the talanted hackers, struggling against TNCs and corrupted government. Each of them becomes a kind fo overhuman after connetcing to the net, being able to hack almost every database.

Cyberpunk became largely popular in Russia. Most noted Russian cyberpunk writers include Sergej Lukjanenko (his novel “Labyrinth of Reflection”, 1997-1998) and Vadim Panov (“The Enclaves”, 2005-2010). These authors are noted for shifting away from traditionally dark “gibsonian” vision of future. Lukjanenko tried to explore the idea of a virtaul town with virtual economy. VR in his world is a total reflection of physical reality: the companies are renting virtual office spaces, it has its own virtaul bars and eating houses; for a fee, one can visit virtual concerts and discussion clubs instead of usual net forums, etc. All of this became possible because of a special program, which makes a person to percieve VR as a physical reality. An array of new VR-specific services appear – from already existing virtual cinemas to virtual realty.

Vadim Panov described a collision between a new, rapid-growing world of VR and cyberspace, and old, traditional world. New world was names “Cygher Age”. It is built upon a total digitalisation of information, maximum net/reality integration; it even allows to transfer human consciousness to cyberspace.

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VR: main ideas

The science fiction has often anticipated the appearance of various inventions. The idea of virtual reality first appeared in the novel of Stanislaw Lem – “Sum of technologies”. Having offered the notion of “fanthomology” the author had been trying to give his own answer to the question, if the reality that would have differed from familiar reality of intelligent creatures obeyed to other laws. Virtual reality (lat. virtus — potential, possible and lat. realis — the real existing one; Engl. virtual reality, VR) goes for totally new world made with the help of technologies. While interacting with any user, VR replaces reality, for him to believe in the reality of a world created by the software. The highest level of VR development is a complete replacement of reality, the simulation of all organ of senses for deep plunging into illusion.
The virtual reality is often seen as an analog of the “cyber space”, but this is a mistake. At first, VR is an illusion trying to replace reality. While cyber space is an abstraction, metaphor, depicting separate space where the data is stored and transmitted. Generally, this term goes for the communication and information flows.
The Aspen Movie Map can be considered as an example of virtual reality). In 1977, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created the first prototype of virtual reality – the simulation of walk in Colorado City. It resembled modern Google Maps in the city walking mode.
Generally, the development of virtual reality informational technologies and virtual economy is related to the appearance of first signs of informational society, followed by post-industrial period. The informational society is characterized by:

  • The growing role of information, knowledge and informational technologies in the life of society;
  • The growth of the number of people taking up informational technologies, communications and informational products, manufacturing in GDP;
  • The growing informatization of society with the use of telephones, radio, TV, Internet, traditional and electronic media;
  • The creation of global informational space.

The global informational space provides:

  • People efficient informational interaction;
  • Access to informational resources – world-wide;
  • Satisfaction of needs in informational products and services.
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VR: introduction

The idea of virtual reality has been actively developing in last three decades. It`s appeared as an abstract notion of science fiction, implemented in the visualization software and first models. The birth of cyber punk gave a sharp jump to the understanding of virtual reality notion. It appeared in literature, cinema, music, painting, theoretical science and forming the image of VR, we see today.

The constant data flow a modern person has to digest today, immense paces of computers development, information space enlargement causes the irreversible changes of the world we got accustomed to. And society needs time to accept these changes.
It is worth mentioning some important nuances before we continue:

  • First of all it`s necessary to make some range of notions clear. Lots of them are new and the world isn`t accustomed to them yet, while some of them are perceived in incorrect way;
  • Secondly, it is necessary to trace the development of virtual reality idea in mass culture and the process of widely known notions formation. At the same time it`s necessary to trace various deviations arising in simplification of theories and concepts, when they are put in masses, just for comfortable sense of understanding;
  • Thirdly it`s worth replying a question on how the stereotypes, formed by society, reflect existing reality. Science fiction, spatial sagas do not touch the matters of daily routine: the audience is hardly to be interested in the daily routine issues of time adventurer, daily routine problems of spatial colonists expedition ( though, “Martian” has proved to be opposite) or boring daily routine of hackers’ group preparing DDoS-attack;
  • Finally, it is necessary to move the border between fantasy and falsehood, to see how virtual reality has really influenced the modern world.
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