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Tag Archives: virtual reality

Small update: Gear VR, ArcheAge, SL

Sorry for neglecting this blog. I have two half-written posts but I ran out of steam and interest before they were done. So, a small update to get back in the swing of things:

I’ll have more coming about the Samsung Gear VR soon, but I haven’t picked it up again after the first day I tried. Why? Mainly because I’m doing other things in my free time and a VR headset doesn’t allow for multitasking. I’ve also been having headaches; wearing a headset that might make them worse is unappealing. But, I’ll confess, it’s also because I was underwhelmed with my first experiences. 360 degree photos didn’t seem more interesting just because I could move my head rather than my mouse to look around. The few short videos were unimpressive and overall, the things I viewed were low resolution and sometimes blurry. My phone overheated before I was able to try more. I’ve downloaded a few free apps and I’ll try a game or two soon.

Reading some forums about the Gear VR made me wonder if I might be jaded by more than a decade in Second Life. I often wander SL in mouselook (first person) view, where I can scan a full 360 degrees. Moving through a 3D environment and looking around is second nature to me and maybe I don’t feel much of a difference between turning my head and using a mouse. Earlier, when I saw videos of people freaking out because they could look all around a VR scene, I wondered if there was some magical mind-body integration that I couldn’t yet imagine. So far, I haven’t seen one. I’m certainly leaving the possibility open and hoping to be wowed soon. Anyone else have an experience to share?

During the holidays I got more swept up in ArcheAge and even gave up my solitary ways to spend time causing mischief with guildmates and chatting in TeamSpeak. There is so much drama, soap opera writers would roll their eyes! I’m trying to keep some separation between myself and the worst of it, but I’m in a divisive guild with a polarizing leader. I’m stunned by how much time and money others pump into this MMORPG. I’m limited in both, which keeps me out of the upper tier of players and under the radar for a lot of trouble. However, my gaming/virtual world time being spent more in that world than any other… for now, until I get bored or the drama gets to be too much.

I’ve been trying to divide the mainland parcel I own in Second Life to get down to a lower tier payment, but since I’m dealing with a couple of premium accounts and a group land bonus, the math is complicated and I’m trying to find a last ~100 m² to cut off. It’s been almost a month since Jakob died and spending too much time at that parcel still makes me melancholy. At least his sister has stopped sending me photos of his coffin and grave. It was kind that she included me and recognized that we had been important to each other, but those photos were very hard.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2016 in Digital Devices, Gaming, Side Topics

 

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All the warnings on the Samsung Gear VR headset

First of all, lots of Christmas thanks to my husband:

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Expect a review in coming days, after I’ve had a chance to play with it. My first experience has been reading all of the warnings in the Getting Started Guide and the thicker Health & Safety and Warranty Guide included with the headset. My heavens. Page through and you’ll see bold lettering, “Warning!”, “Caution!”, “Important!” and sections with larger fonts. The contents include choice quotes such as these:

  • “The foam cushioning may get dirty if your face is sweating while wearing the Gear VR. … Ensure that you keep your face clean and dry when wearing the Gear VR.”
  • “Take special care to ensure that you are not near other people, objects, stairs, balconies, windows, furniture, or other items that you can bump into or knock down when using, or immediately after using, the Gear VR. Do not handle sharp or otherwise dangerous objects while using the Gear VR.”
  • “Never wear the Gear VR in situations that require attention, such as walking, bicycling, or driving.”
  • “Watching videos or playing games with the Gear VR may affect the visual development of children.”
  • “We recommend consulting with a doctor before using the Gear VR if you are pregnant, elderly, have psychiatric disorders, suffer from a heart condition, have pre-existing binocular vision abnormalities or suffer from a heart condition or other serious medical condition.”
  • “Just as with the symptoms people can experience after they disembark a cruise ship, symptoms of virtual reality exposure can persist and become more apparent hours after use.”
  • “Ease into the use of the Gear VR to allow your body to adjust; use for only a few minutes at a time at first, and only increase the amount of time using the Gear VR gradually as you become accustomed to virtual reality.”
  • “These post-use symptoms can include … excessive drowsiness and decreased ability to multi-task. These symptoms put you at an increased risk of injury when engaging in normal activities in the real world.”
  • “A comfortable virtual reality experience requires an unimpaired sense of motion and balance.”
  • “Take at least a 10 to 15 minute break every 30 minutes, even if you don’t think you need it.”
  • “Do not use the Gear VR when you are tired, need sleep, are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are hung-over, have digestive problems, are under emotional stress or anxiety, or when suffering from cold, flu, headaches, migraines, or earaches, as this can increase your susceptibility to adverse symptoms.”
  • “Do not use the Gear VR while in a moving vehicle such as a car, bus, or train, as this can increase your susceptibility to adverse symptoms.”
  • “The Gear VR may be equipped with a ‘passthrough’ feature which permits you to temporarily see your surroundings for brief real world interaction. You should always remove the Gear VR for any situation that requires attention or coordination.

So, as soon as I’m sitting perfectly still, with a freshly washed face, no headache or cold or alcohol, I should be ready to give this a very brief try.

I still think it’s going to be very, very cool. Merry Christmas, everyone!

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2015 in Digital Devices

 

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Roundup: Star Wars, holiday tech gifts, ArcheAge, yada yada yada

Thank you for all your kind comments about Jakob. Once the waves of grief subsided, I started finding peace with his death. His illness was never going to have a happy ending and it’s a relief to let go of the constant tension of worry and sadness. I don’t have to dread a new crisis each time his sister writes to me. His funeral is Thursday and I’m grateful that it was easy to send flowers to a village in the Rhineland from the other side of the world. Jakob will always be part of who I am.

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Image above from Berkeley Breathed of course. Some heresy: I really don’t care about the new Star Wars movie. I adored the first film of the original series. Robots! Space! Scary creatures in the desert! Darth Vader! Star Wars action figures moved into my Barbie Dreamhouse. After that? Meh. The other two in the first series were fine. A date took me to a midnight premiere of The Phantom Menace and it was hard not to dim his enthusiasm with my wtf exclamations. I hope the new movie is good and more coherent than the last few. If you see it and it’s awesome, let me know.

What technology is on your holiday gift wish list? I’m seeing a lot of hits on my review of the Amazon Echo. I’ve had mine a year and still use it daily, though there’s plenty of room for innovation and improvement. If you’re still looking for ideas, I’m pretty excited about the Anova Precision Cooker I picked up recently ($129 from the Anova website, more expensive elsewhere). This Gizmodo review explains why, with plenty of food porn. As for me, I’ve asked Santa for a Samsung Gear VR. I see it as a starter headset and the device that could spread VR from the narrow band of the innovator market segment into the early adopters.

I’ve remained moderately active in ArcheAge long after I thought I’d give it up from boredom, which says something about the game though I’m an atypical player. I’m not social, I don’t spend lots of money, and I don’t play for hours on end (except for a lazy afternoon on the weekend, perhaps). I’ll never be in the top tier but I’m satisfied. This week I moved from my boring guild of farmers and fishermen to a high level guild that often leads faction raids. I was evaluated on my level, gear, and had to pass a voice interview before I was accepted. It felt good to do my first sea raid with many of my new guildmates and to be praised for my play style. Earning the admiration and respect of one’s peers is a boost, no matter what arena that takes place in. Until No Man’s Sky arrives for the PC next year, you’ll probably find my gaming time spent in ArcheAge.

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Lately I’ve been in Second Life a lot more, relearning how to make small talk and upgrading my neglected avatars (I love the Maitreya Lara body so very much). This week I need to attend the RL holiday party for my husband’s company and that small talk practice will help tame my shyness at the event. Part of that is learning to apply filters to my stream of consciousness again; I’ve had a few years of not holding anything back when talking with my husband and Jakob. When a new acquaintance recently asked some probing questions, in a conversation where I felt that optimistic honesty would be appreciated, I told him the truth about Jakob and my health struggles. His response was more robotic than actual robots and he vanished in a cloud of dust. Ha! I’m not a roleplayer so if I’m asked a personal question that I’m willing to answer, that answer will be true. It will take practice to get back to answering truthfully without spilling my whole life, no matter how nicely phrased.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Side Topics

 

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Wednesday Film: The Singularity is Near (full)

This is Ray Kurzweil’s expansion of ideas from his book, veering off into a virtual reality/augmented reality science fiction plot. The movie is surprisingly cheesy and the quality of this upload isn’t ideal, but it’s still interesting. Some of the film was shot in Second Life, though of course this was a few years ago and the scenes are not representative of that world today.

Update Feb 26 — Well, it lasted for a day and a half before it was pulled for a copyright claim.  Hope you got to see it!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in Research, Transhumanism, Virtual Life in Pop Culture

 

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A VR interface design manifesto

I just finished watching this video from Mike Alger and I had to share.  He hits many points that I agree with, based on a background both in tech and anthropology, and at the end of the video he looks at his own bias, assumptions,and reasons behind his interest in this field. Good stuff. Applications that base interaction on things we do naturally and intuitively will have faster mainstream adoption than those that require us to learn new paradigms, and VR is another space to get that right or get it terribly wrong.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2015 in Side Topics, Video

 

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Teledildonics, VR movies, holograms… what a roundup!

I’m trying to be more active on Twitter lately because I find fascinating articles daily but don’t have time — or enough insightful thoughts — to write a lot of commentary. You can follow me @AvatarAnthro if you want to keep up with that.  In the meantime, here are some very recent favorites:

  • Finding the future of sex tech at the Adult Entertainment Expo from The Daily Dot.  NSFW, obviously. Teledildonic (yep, it means what you think it means) products have existed for some time, but the latest entrants in the market claim short latency and use sexual stimulation devices on both ends of the connection: a vibrating dildo or egg for a female user and an enhanced silicon-cushioned tube for a male. The article also talks about VR porn, tools for cam models, and one manufacturer who insists that the mainstream doesn’t want their toys to connect to the Internet. I think there’s a larger market than he believes, and it’s growing.
  • At Sundance, a Virtual-Reality Movement Soars from the Wall Street Journal Digits blog. This article is about filmmakers beginning to explore what storytelling can be in an immersive VR experience. They’re learning some things that SL creators could have told them a long ago, like how to allow the viewer to get his bearings first and that aggressively driving a single story line is a waste of the environment. One filmmaker mentions that tech is changing so quickly now that by the time he finishes a project, it looks outdated and hard to watch on new equipment. It’s a risk of rapid change but oh how exciting.
  • What is holographic, and what isn’t? from the blog Doc-Ok.org. This is a technical analysis that looks at the hype of various products and “holograms” appearing in the media and defines what is actually holographic based on six depth cues that tell our eyes an object is 3D. I learned some things and it also gave me a better understanding of the different display products currently in development. Especially relevant when the Microsoft HoloLens is the latest focus.
  • Some personal news: Jakob will be out of the hospital in a couple days! He’s been in since November for tests, surgeries, and radiation treatments, but they’re letting him go home. He’s excited to be able to “come home” to our place in Second Life as well, and I can’t wait to have the first full conversation with him in months.
 
 

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Blending physical and holographic worlds with the MS HoloLens

I can’t help it; I’m a complete fangirl about some speculative technologies that could revolutionize the way we interact online and in the real world in the next 5-10 years. Even though Microsoft has broken my heart many times before, the promo video for the HoloLens has me bouncing in my desk chair with excitement.

 

See what I mean? TechCrunch has more information and another video.  Of course I’m skeptical for all the basic reasons: another headset with a camera, pricing and battery life concerns, realistic applications beyond design.  But it’s still awfully damn cool to realize we live at a time where things like this are possible.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Digital Devices, In the News

 

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