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Hospitals Use Virtual Reality So Kids Battling Cancer Can See the World

Hospitals Use Virtual Reality So Kids Battling Cancer Can See the World

StJudesCancerVR

March 29th, 2016

Dream Adventures is a pilot program launched by Expedia that uses Virtual Reality to allow the children at St Jude Children’s Hospital to travel the world. Most of the children at St Jude’s battling cancer can be there for months or years, and they do not have the opportunity to travel. The Dream Adventures program uses special rooms, 360-degree cameras, and live-streaming to transport kids from their hospital room in Tennessee to see wild horses in Argentina, dig for Dinosaur fossils in Talampaya National Park, or explore the depths of the Ocean by the Great Maya Reef in Mexico.

 

 

The program started with four children at the hospital who were able to view live tour guides who were on the scene in each of the travel locations. So, not only were the children able to walk around a room immersed in their location but they could also interact and ask questions in real-time with the guide on the scene. Expedia has set up this site for Dream Adventures where you can get more information and watch videos of the kid’s adventures. Expedia plans to build a permanent installation at the hospital and bring the experience to more children. You can watch the documented story of one of the children’s adventures below.

 

 

Another hospital using Virtual Reality for their patients is Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The Samsung Gear VR and Oculus DK2 headsets are used in their patient treatment and therapy programs. The VR applications include a flyover trip to Iceland, an art studio where patients can make a painting, and an underwater experience where they can swim with dolphins and other sea creatures. Cedars-Sinai is taking the program a step further by analyzing results with their patients afterwards to see how VR can be used to improve the patients’ hospital experience and recovery process.

 

 

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan is yet another hospital using VR headsets to transport kids from their hospital rooms into virtual reality experiences as shown in the video below. It is obvious the benefits that travelling to another place in virtual reality can bring to patients who are trapped in hospital rooms for long periods of time. It is wonderful to see them adopting these uses so quickly to improve the quality of life for these patients.

 

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20160108_142028


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CES 2016 CONCEPT CARS More Articles Hulu Investing Heavily Into VR Hulu Investing Heavily Into VR Add Hulu to the list of companies getting bullish on Virtual Reality. Ben Smith, Hulu’s Head of Experience recently told Variety they are “spending a lot of time on virtual reality.” The company has been working on an app

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Reviews

Street View VR Review

Street View VR Review

Street View VR Title

9-5 Stars

Gear VR IconCardboard Icon

This app is much more awesome than I expected! At its heart, it is still the Google Street View you can view through a browser on your computer. However, the VR app does a very good job of making you feel like you are actually there. The 3D and 360-degree viewing are done very well with no fishbowl effect, and the resolution is very high. As far as I can tell, this app will take you anywhere the regular browser-version of Street View can take you.

 

StreetViewVRScreenshot01

 

The app loads with a particular street view around you right away and also displays a tutorial. The tutorial guides you through a very robust set of controls for the app. After the tutorial, there is a menu system hovering in front of you with an aerial view of a map. With this menu system, you can type in addresses to go to, see specific landmarks or points of interest, and change the app settings. Options in the settings menu include Wikipedia integration, a compass, and a quality setting for the resolution. Another option will jettison you to a specific point of interest such as the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, or St. Stephens Basilica.

 

 StreetViewVRScreenshot02

 

The main purpose of the menu is to enter in certain destinations or specific addresses just like you would in the browser-version of Street View. By clicking on the search bar, a keyboard will appear. You use your gaze and tap the headset control or controller button to type in an address using the keyboard. Once you hit the enter button, your surroundings change to the new location almost immediately. I was very impressed with how fast the new locations render. As soon as the location renders, you are able to view your entire surroundings in 360-degrees. You can also use the controls to move a blue circle in front of you and transport to that new spot, which effectively allows you to explore and travel the area.

 

StreetViewVRScreenshot03

 

If you have not checked out Street View VR yet, I highly recommend doing so. It may feel like you have already seen this because of your familiarity with the browser-version but I promise…you have not seen it like this. In fact, I typed in the address of the home I grew up in from Philly. I then spent hours travelling through my old neighborhood and on to downtown Philly. The novelty and nostalgia this app can recreate for you is unparalleled.

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Reviews

Land’s End Review

Land’s End Review

Lands End Title

8-5 Stars

Gear VR Icon

Land’s End is a great game for introduction into Virtual Reality. It is game that allows you to explore a world made up of cartoon-style graphics. The object is to explore each level by completing fairly simple puzzles to progress and ultimately find your way out of the constructed world for that level. It also utilizes a pretty fun gimmick to simulate moving objects with your mind.

 

LandsEndScreenshot01

 

The worlds in Land’s End are made up of islands surrounded by vast bodies of water and by caves. The graphics are fairly simplistic but seem designed to really emphasize the 3-D viewing VR offers. The game utilizes waypoint navigation by having the user focus on the next closest waypoint until it moves you in a straight line from your current position to the waypoint. As a result, this game will not have a negative effect on your stomach. You can travel back and forth in each level but, for the most part, there is one direction of travel to continue through the game.

 

LandsEndScreenshot02

 

There are puzzles along the way that must be solved to progress through the level. The puzzles consist of points on rocks within your view that you must connect with a line. To create the line, you stare at the first point and then connect to the next point with your gaze. This is repeated with all of the points until the final connection is made. Most of these puzzles are fairly straightforward and creating the connection between each point is simple. As the levels progress, these connections can get tricky enough where you have to stop and think about the most efficient way to create the connections. The more entertaining gimmick comes when you have to move large rocks that contain points in a way so you can make the required line connections. There are specific rocks you can move by focusing on a certain area of the rock to pick it up. Then, by moving your head around you will also be moving the rock around in midair, which gives you the impression of being able to move things with your mind. In my opinion, this is the best part of the game.

 

LandsEndScreenshot03

 

Currently, the game has five levels. The first two levels are very easy and you get the impression this game is best suited as an easy demo for VR. The third level finally provides some challenge where you have to spend a little more time figuring out the puzzles. The difficulty increases a little more with the fourth and fifth level. While you may feel disappointed with purchasing the game in the first two levels, the remaining levels make the purchase worth it. The game could become a must-buy if there was a future update with more increasingly difficult levels. However, Land’s End is definitely fun in its current state based on the scenic worlds it takes you to and the mind control-movement aspect of the game.

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Escape Room VR Review

Escape Room VR Review

Escape Room VR Screenshot01-5

5-5 Stars

Gear VR Icon

Escape Room VR has the promise to be pretty good but it is currently limited with only one level. Right now, the game shows two other levels that appear to be in development, and it has said more levels may come. However, the game is worth a download to get a taste for the room escape style games and what they could become.

 

Escape Room VR Screenshot02

 

With Escape Room VR, you begin inside a room with a locked door. The voice in your head narrates that you do not know how you got here. The phone in the room rings and the voice on the other end advises you need to find a way to escape the room.

 

Escape Room VR Screenshot03

 

Navigation is completed by focusing on an object in the room and the tapping the headset to “teleport” to that location. Movement in this way means there is no getting sick or dizzy while playing the game. There are a few codes you need to find to open locked areas. You have 10 minutes to find all of the codes and get out. With this first level, the puzzles are very simple and you are likely to escape the room on your first or second try.

 

Escape Room VR Screenshot04

 

Although the game is easy, it shows promise and provides an example of what a room escape in VR feels like. The game is fine for a first level. We can only hope additional levels are added with increasing difficulty that could eventually make this game a must have.

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Gear VR Now Has Native Screenshot & Video Capture!

Gear VR Now Has Native Screenshot & Video Capture!

Statue of Liberty

March 20th, 2016

The update to Gear VR this week has finally added the long-awaited native screenshot and video capture options. The screenshots and videos are captured in single perspective with a flat 1024 x 1024 resolution as opposed to the dual-perspective fishbowl captures from each eye that people have been using as a workaround with third-party apps. Both the Statue of Liberty and Golden Gate Bridge pictures in this article were taken using screenshot feature inside the Streetview VR app.

 

Golden Gaet Bridge

 

To use the screenshot feature from within an app, click the Back button on the headset to pull up the Settings menu. Then, on the right side of the menu, click in the Utilities icon. From here, you can choose either Screenshot or Capture Video.

 

If you choose Screenshot, the device will go back to the app and there will be a blinking red dot toward the upper right-hand corner of the screen. The blinking will increase in speed right before it takes the screenshot, and you will hear a camera shutter sound when the screenshot is captured. You have about 3-4 seconds to frame your image before the screenshot is saved.

 

Instead, if you choose the Video Capture option, the device will go back to the app and the recording starts right away automatically. It will continue to record everything you do until you hold the Back button on the headset again long enough to go back to the Settings menu. Any screenshots or videos you take will be visible in the phone’s Gallery section.

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Hyperloop Working on Augmented Reality Windows for Passengers March 15th, 2016 Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is currently working on a way to liven up the journey for its future passengers using Augmented Reality. CEO Dirk Alhborn gave a talk at South by Southwest this week demonstrating the concept according to this article by Karissa Bell


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Hyperloop Working on Augmented Reality Windows for Passengers

Hyperloop Working on Augmented Reality Windows for Passengers

Hyperloop

March 15th, 2016

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is currently working on a way to liven up the journey for its future passengers using Augmented Reality. CEO Dirk Alhborn gave a talk at South by Southwest this week demonstrating the concept according to this article by Karissa Bell at Mashable. A video of the idea is shown below.

 

Another look at Hyperloop’s augmented reality window concept, Ahlborn says it could include ads #SXSW2016 pic.twitter.com/ahHobjdx4D

— Karissa Bell (@karissabe) March 13, 2016

 

For those that don’t know, the Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system where capsules blast through tubes on an air cushion at proposed speeds of 760 mph. It was originally put forth by a team working with Elon Musk. The design could get a person from LA to San Francisco in about 30 minutes.

 

Travelling through enclosed tubes could get pretty boring and induce claustrophobia in some people. A big part of reducing these effects while travelling is the ability to view the scenery and landscapes a person is travelling though. The technology HTT is working on would not only have a digital display on the window but it would also have head tracking. This allows the scene to change as your head moves around to mimic a person looking out of a real window. This gives a more natural look and feel. HTT said it could also be used for advertising opportunities and the video seems to demonstrate other potentially important travel data displayed on the window.

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Meta 2 Launches Preorders

Meta 2 Launches Preorders

Meta_2_Development_Kit

March 4th, 2016

The second iteration of Meta’s augmented reality glasses opened up for preorders on March 2nd, and the response from people who have been able to use them so far has been impressive. There has been such a significant advance with Meta 2 compared with their previous version that their main engineer has stated he uses the glasses as his main display. He codes for Meta inside Meta.  The preorders launched at $949. Their launch video is shown below.

 

 

At $949, they are much less than Microsoft’s Hololens, which go for $3,000. Meta is tethered though, and it needs a PC to run the glasses while Hololens is a standalone device. Its resolution is 2560 x 1440 and it has a 90-degree field of view (FOV), much larger than the FOV for Hololens. As a comparison, the Gear VR has a 98-degree FOV while the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both have a 110-degree FOV. The FOV can be much more important in augmented worlds compared with virtual worlds. This is because in an augmented world, you will still have your natural field of view and objects will disappear as you turn your head when they should still technically be in view. However, in a virtual world the graphics take up the entire view, and outside of this there is just darkness that is tuned out. There is no overlay of other noticeable objects making you aware your FOV is limited.

 

 

Meta 2 is also equipped with a 720p front-facing camera and a 4-speaker near ear audio system. It also has a sensory array for hand interactions and positional tracking. There are demo videos of users wearing the glasses and passing a holographic object back and forth to the holographic image of a another person seen through the glasses. The ability to interact with the objects is much cleaner and more intuitive than the previous Meta version and this includes actions such as moving objects around, spinning them, resizing them, and handing them off to others.

 

There is no approval process for the Meta 2 and you can preorder it here. Shipping is expected to being in the third quarter of 2016.

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Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Review

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Review

Keep Talking Title

10new Stars

Gear VR IconOcuclus Icon

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes might just be the best overall VR game to date! This game breaks the typical one-player-at-a-time VR mold by requiring at least two players at the same time. One person has the VR headset on and is required to describe an about-to-detonate bomb while another person outside VR reviews a bomb diffusing manual and has to explain how to disarm it. This game requires problem solving skills, good communication, patience, and a steady mind.

 

Keep Talking 02

 

Inside VR, this game starts at a desk with a briefcase lying on it. The briefcase is a bomb that you must pick up and spin 360-degrees in front of you while describing out loud everything you see. The briefcase contains several different “modules” such as a set of wires, an electronic password system, a Simon Says imitation, and others. There is also a timer counting down on the briefcase. Outside VR, there is at least one other person holding a 23-page manual containing the methods to diffuse the various modules (the manual can be downloaded on the Interweb.)

 

Manual

 

The goal is to diffuse each module before the countdown gets to zero, and the bomb explodes. To do this, the person inside VR must explain what they are seeing while the people outside VR search the manual for the correct module. Each module often has several layers to it. So the communication must continue back and forth between the person inside VR and the people with the manual to explain how everything changes with each interaction. If you get the modules wrong three times or the countdown expires, the bomb explodes and you all lose.

 

Keep Talking 01

 

Not only is the game fun to play but the puzzles are definitely challenging. The first time you see a new module, it usually takes a few times to figure it out. However, even after you have figured it out, there is usually a learning curve among the players as you look for ways to effectively and efficiently communicate the information, which is where the real fun and tension is! There are also several levels to the game that get increasingly difficult. There is nothing disorienting about this game because you sit a desk the whole time. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is fun and definitely challenging but it especially wins because they have made a VR experience that multiple people can play together with at the same time. This is the first VR game that can legitimately be used as a party game!

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Neverout Review

Neverout Review

NeveroutTitle

7-5 Stars

Gear VR Icon

Neverout is Gear VR’s version of the movie Cube. If you haven’t seen Cube, it’s a movie where people wake up trapped inside of a large cube-shaped room and have to figure out puzzles and traps to escape into the next cube-shaped room, where a new set of puzzles and traps lay. In Neverout, you start inside a cube-shaped room. There is a visible hatch in the room that you must navigate to and then slide down through it into the next cube. With each cube you are in, there is a navigational puzzle you must solve to progress to the next cube-shaped room.

 

Neverout01

 

Overall, the game is fun and I definitely like the idea of the game. I enjoyed the movie and I feel the concept transitions well into a similar VR puzzle game. Each cube-shaped room is made up of square tiles. You move around the room by moving one square at a time. You can walk across the room and onto the walls and ceilings as well. When you walk onto a wall, the room rotates so you keep the same perspective and gravity is always directed toward whatever is down. This comes into play in later levels. The navigational puzzles include box obstructions in your path, electrical currents, fences you climb and drop off of, as well as spiked crates that fall as gravity in the room shifts.

Neverout02

 

Neverout is another game that is easy to just pick up and start playing for a while. There also seems to be a good amount of content compared to other VR games as there appears to be about 100 – 120 rooms to discover and solve. On one hand, the puzzles are pretty easy to solve, at least in the beginning. However, I can see how that is a good thing as being stuck for too long in the same room could quickly turn people off from continuing to play the game. This is also another game that is easy on the stomach due to lateral only movements. There are no curved or rotating movements to make you queasy. Neverout is a good game for people who like to solve quick puzzles and explore new rooms, while also having several hours of content to play with.

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