Tag Archives | Virtual Reality

Being and Nothingness: Virtual Reality and the Pioneers of Cyberspace

John Perry Barlow via Medium:

Facebook buys Oculus for $2 billion, identifying virtual reality as the operating system of the future. Hollywood begins making movies in VR. Google creates VR “Spotlight Stories” that make Android phones into VR devices. A sub-branch of VR, “augmented reality,” overlays a virtual world over our real one. (Did I say “real”? That’s a relative term now.)

In short, we are smack in the middle of a virtual reality boom. But it’s not the first time. In the early 1990s, experimenters and entrepreneurs were immersing lucky test-users in fantastic (and sometimes nauseating) artificial worlds. The equipment was funkier, the resolution was spottier, and the money wasn’t nearly as big — but writers and pundits at that time were expounding on the same themes that captivate us about virtual reality in 2015.

No document in that period captured the virtual zeitgeist as well as John Perry Barlow’s 1990 “Being in Nothingness.” Barlow, who had been a Wyoming rancher and a lyricist for Grateful Dead, had only recently turned his prodigious attentions to technology (he would wind up co-founding the Electronic Frontier Foundation).

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Project Elysium: VR to revive deceased loved ones

A development screenshot from Project Elysium.

A development screenshot from Project Elysium. Paranormal Games.

Mark Walton via Ars Technica:

How far is too far when it comes to pushing the boundaries of virtual reality? As VR devices grow ever more sophisticated—and the tools to create software for them ever more accessible—where do we draw the line between what’s ethically acceptable in the real world and what’s ethically acceptable in the virtual world?

One of the developers putting this question to the test is Australia-based Paranormal Games. Project Elysium, its entry into the upcoming Oculus VR Jam 2015, treads some shaky moral ground by promising to create a “personalized afterlife experience,” reuniting people with loved ones who have passed on. Exactly how the developer hopes to do this isn’t clear at this point (it will be required to showcase screenshots by April 27, followed by video footage the week after to be eligible for the jam’s grand prize), although a screenshot from Project Elysium’s development does show a friend of the studio being transformed into a 3D model.

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Open Source Virtual Reality

Razer's OSVR

Razer’s OSVR

I was just surfing the electronic category of VoucherBin. I could see the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is now in full swing and already there are some weird and wonderful gadgets being presented.

One of the most impressive and exciting pieces of news comes from the tech development company “Razer,” which has been demonstrating that after decades of hard work, the technology may finally be good enough for a commercially released Virtual Reality system. The product entitled “OSVR” which stands for “open source virtual reality”. What is exciting about this is that Razer has made it very open to users. Because various markets that would otherwise be heavily invested in this technology have not gotten around to creating products that could be used with virtual reality, Razer have instead made it very easy for people to utilise its technology.

Razer have truly made their product “open source” by making all of the schematics available for viewing online, which is a bold move for a smaller company.… Read the rest

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Google Announces Launch of SnuggleNet [Satire]

By James Curcio

As luck would have it, Google had just launched SnuggleNet, billing it as “an iPhone you could snuggle.” And you were getting no kind of affection from virtual friendships. It seemed a worthwhile purchase.

SnuggleNet is a peripheral, already connected to all the social networks you’ve been a part of since you were a child. “It knows what you need and when you need it,” the advertisements said.

After a difficult day of work, it will wrap you in a warm embrace and say, “hey, you need to watch some Venture Brothers. And fuck that, you know, thing that piece of shit @heretic357 was saying about you on Twitter—”

You will quickly discover SnuggleNet is kind of a notorious shit mouth.

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This is What Anti-Capitalist Virtual-Reality Art Looks Like

Shot of the Oculus VR

Shot of the Oculus VR

Sady Doyle via In These Times:

Silicon Valley touchstone and media theorist Marshall McLuhan once noted that the real effects of technology are never noticed until it’s too late. Any machine we use, also uses us; the real impact of tech, then, is not what it does, but how it changes our thinking.

“The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity,” McLuhan wrote, “just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception.”

If this is true, then it’s one more reason to be grateful that Erika M. Anderson is a serious artist. Anderson is primarily a musician, and records under her initials as EMA. Her new multimedia installation, I Wanna Destroy, continues the same fascination with cutting-edge technology and late-capitalist isolation seen in her 2014 album, The Future’s Void. On The Future’s Void, she focused on how technology affects what McLuhan might call “patterns of perception:” what it felt like to be a woman, to fall in love, to grieve, with the thick veil of the Internet in the way.

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Could virtual reality change religion — and terrorize children?

Phil Whitehouse (CC BY 2.0)

Phil Whitehouse (CC BY 2.0)

Via Nathaniel Mott at Pando Daily:

Worship usually requires a large building with uncomfortable seating and the holy text of that particular religion’s choice. But a reverend in Florida believes virtual reality could be used to help other worshippers, such as those who live in remote areas or are otherwise unable to attend church and participate in prayer.

Here’s what Rev. Christopher Benek of the First Presbyterian Church of Ft. Lauderdale said in an interview with Hypergrid Business last week:

Personally, I think that as technology like Oculus Rift becomes more developed, immersive, and available to the general public, we may soon be able to easily develop virtual worship and Christian education experiences. This would be a great asset to the church universal, as it will enable the infirm, homebound, and potentially even the poor to participate from afar regardless of their personal mobility or lack of affordable transportation …

Benek’s points about virtual worship don’t actually require virtual reality.

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3D Printing and the Translation of Imagination – Free Radical Media Podcast

In this episode, Free Radical Media Technology Correspondent Atom Jaay re-joins the crew to discuss the newest developments in 3D printing and the Maker community. The conversation also turns to virtual reality technologies and the “translation of the imagination,” the process of creating new things in the virtual realm and translating them into actual objects. We discuss the potential of these technologies for radical social change, transformative culture, and new economic models. Join us and Atom for these and other topics in this fun, engaging conversation.

Atom Jaay can be reached on Twitter.

You can find more from and contact Free Radical Media via:
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Why Did Facebook Really Buy Oculus Rift?

oculusThe tech blogs are outdoing themselves to gush praise on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s megabillions bet on virtual reality company Oculus Rift sample the excitement below from Gizmodo); but do disinfonaut skeptics have other ideas as to what’s driving Zuckerberg’s interest in VR?

The news today that Facebook will buy Oculus—the makers of the best virtual reality experiencein existence—caused paroxysms of upsetment and surprise. That’s fair! But once the smoke clears, this could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the most promising technology we have.

If you’ve been tracking Oculus since its early days as a Kickstarter project, today’s acquisition is frustrating. Facebook is your trying-too-hard uncle; Oculus is the homecoming queen. Of course seeing them together would give you the creeps.

It shouldn’t. Oculus offered a beautiful dream, but you can only get so far on Kickstarter funds. Facebook offers the financial wherewithal to make the Oculus Rift a truly mass product, to realize its vision beyond just a gimmick-driven game engine.

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Virtual Reality: It’s Easy to Say That Nothing Would Ever Beat the Real World When We’ve Never Had a Decent Contender

A thought-provoking little video from the team at THUNK, a video podcast series devoted to science and philosophy.

I wasn’t that crazy about The Matrix, honestly, but I freely admit that I probably wasn’t who the Wachowski siblings had in mind when they made the movie: I was in my mid-twenties when it came out and was already familiar with the philosophical conundrums with which Neo and gang were wrestling. When I heard Morpheus say “Free your mind” it probably didn’t help that all I could think in response was “…and your ass will follow!” – Thanks, Funkadelic. I do think that the movie was a fantastic way to get a lot of kids to start questioning things, thought, and you look at it that way, The Matrix itself was a major Red Pill.

Regardless of my feelings about the film as a whole, I’ve often considered Cypher’s choice, myself: For all he or anyone else knows, the war being waged by Neo and friends is another illusion, and not a very enjoyable one at that.… Read the rest

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Video Games Change How You Dream, Increase Lucid Dreaming

video games Are video games dreaming practice? The Verge writes:

Gackenbach is a psychologist at Canada’s Grant MacEwan University and arguably the world’s preeminent expert on how video games can impact dreaming. “The major parallel is that, in both instances, you’re in an alternate reality, whether a biological construct or a technological one,” she says.

In her most recent paper, published in the latest issue of Dreaming, Gackenbach and her colleagues solidified a key earlier finding: that so-called “hardcore” gamers (characterized by regular playing sessions of more than 2 hours, several times a week, since before the third grade) were more likely than their peers to experience lucid dreams.

With subsequent studies she has also found that during lucid dreams, gamers had control only over themselves as a character. They were also able to toggle between first and third-person point-of-view.

She’s also noted in other studies that some heavy gamers seem to be non-plussed by dreams that would qualify as nightmares.

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