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Instant VR Gonna Get You

posted Nov 9, 2015, 8:00 PM by Ellen Pearlman   [ updated Nov 9, 2015, 8:24 PM ]

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The New York Times Google VR viewer for your smart phone - courtesy New York Times

The New York Times broke the VR (Virtual Reality) barrier by sending out an inexpensive Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer to all of its digital subscribers this week that they can use in conjunction with their smart phones. Concurrently, the National Football League (NFL) is amping up its VR arsenal for training purposes. The Minnesota Vikings now have the option of their football coach being able to enter the VR world with them to work off the rough edges of a touchdown play gone bad. 

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Jeremy Bailenson, the Stanford scientist Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook met with before purchasing the Oculus Rift - courtesy NFL Next

I was pleased to see Jeremy Bailenson, the cutting edge HCI (Human Computer Interaction) expert was deeply involved with the NFL in adapting these immersive systems for the league. I encountered Bailenson during  at the Tribeca Talks: Imagination Panel powered by The Hatchery at the Tribeca Film Festival where I sampled his designs for VR via an Oculus Rift.  Bailenson knows the relationship between the eye, brain, and motor coordination better than anyone else.  His VR piece, which I experienced while wearing an Oculus Rift headset fooled my brain into thinking I had crashed into a solid object, though I was fully aware there was no real object in front of me.

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Scoping out a virtual football player, courtesy NFL Next

The technology is so developed it can track a players physical movements in real time.

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Tracking a football player’s body motion in real time

Strvr is the VR system  the NFL seems to prefer at the moment. It incorporates a multi camera setup that allows the player to re-enter the scrimmage after the fact, re-experience it, and reevaluate it virtually, running the play from many different angles as many times as the player, or the player and his coach want.

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Multi-cameras ready to record immersive experiences.

In the future sports stadiums and sports bars will also see fans purchasing virtual viewing tickets for a variety of prices: from box row seats for premium prices to further up in the bleachers for as little as ten dollars. 

One other creative project that does not quite use VR, but instead the implication of VR through drones and projection mapping is the music video directed by Daito Manabe and TAKOM, “Cold Stares” by Chance The Rapper and the O’My’s.

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Dancers huddled on stage, blue circle is the light on top of a camera drone

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This is part of the projection mapping image that flashes on screen from the processed drone image during the performance

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This is taking a different view of immersion and cameras that the NFL did not quite dream of. Though media and sports will power the adaptation of these technologies, the arts already thought this one through, starting with Stan VanDerBeek’s movie projection dome in 1969. 


And then there is Nonny de la Pena’s post in FaceBook about the prototype viewer being developed in 2012 by Perry Hoberman and USC ICT - Where they gave it to Google. For free!. 

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