Mouse brain in action

How Brain Scientists Outsmart Their Lab Mice

Scientists can now observe the brains of lab animals in microscopic detail as the animals go about some action. A technique called two-photon imaging, in particular, allows neuroscientists to watch thousands of neurons working in concert to encode information. The trouble is, two-photon imaging requires the animal’s head to stay fixed in place. That would seem to preclude watching the brain as the animal does anything of much interest. One creative solution is virtual reality—a computer-generated environment experienced through a headset. ….[READ]


How humans trust robots

A New Study of Robot Faces Suggests the ‘Uncanny Valley’ Is Real

The complexities of human-robot interaction are solid fodder for sci-fi, but they’re also starting to have increasingly practical implications. As robots become more and more prominent in daily life, it’s going to be important to build ones that humans are comfortable interacting with. The “uncanny valley” is a key concept to this discussion. The basic idea, first proposed by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970, is that while there’s an overall relationship between how human a robot looks and how friendly humans will find it, there’s a catch — as you approach humanness, there’s a point at which robots, from a human perspective, occupy an unnatural, uncomfortable-seeming middle ground — they’re pretty human, but still identifiably something else. ….[READ]

VR beyond video games

5 Fields Virtual Reality Is About to Revolutionize

As far as consumers are concerned, virtual reality lives in the realm of developer kits and demonstrations at conferences and expos. Video games are probably the first category of virtual experience to come to mind when people start to think about what will come out soonest. But virtual reality has applications reaching far beyond games and even beyond entertainment. Here are some of the more surprising uses surfacing as the new medium prepares to take off. ….[READ]


How to advertise in a videogame

Player’s performance in video games can steer attitudes about brands

A company’s brand may crash and burn if video game players perform poorly when they use branded products as part of the game, according to a team of researchers. In a study, the performance of players in a racecar video game influenced their attitude about the actual brand of the car they used in the game, said Frank Dardis, associate professor of advertising and public relations, Penn State. The easier the game, or the better the people did, the more they remembered the brand they used in the game and the more their attitudes changed in a positive direction toward the brand,” Dardis said. “But, the people who had the more difficult game or had a bad experience — by crashing too much, for example — remembered the brand less and had a negative attitude change toward the brand.” ….[READ]


Making eye contact with another person

High Fidelity avatars to make eye contact

Eye tracking inside the Oculus Rift records where exactly in the virtual scene a user is looking and enables people to make eye contact with another avatar in a virtual space. “We need life-like avatars to convincingly recreate real-world interactions in virtual reality such as talking, shaking hands or looking at each other,” said Philip Rosedale, founder of High Fidelity and of Second Life. ….[READ]


Does social virtual reality exist?

Watching Netflix in the Gear VR is great, but it’s not social

Social experiences are at the core of this year’s Oculus Connect. This isn’t surprising — Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg bought Oculus largely because of VR’s social potential. But Oculus has only recently started focusing on shared experiences. Earlier this year, it showed off a very, very subtle two-viewer mode for its short VR film Lost. At E3, its Toybox demo let two people see each other as stylized heads and hands. At Connect, it expanded on this with the Medium sculpting app for the Rift. On the Gear VR, it had something more dramatic: streaming video apps that let people watch Twitch, Netflix, and more while sitting with their friends in virtual chairs. ….[READ]


Teleportation in gaming

‘Bullet Train’ Made Me Believe I Was A Superhero

Oculus Connect was jam-packed today with updates and new demos for attendees to jump in and try. However, there was one demo that really stuck out from the rest. It seemed like any conference attendee you asked about their favorite demo experience, they all seemed to respond with a resounding Bullet Train. Epic Game Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney revealed their sci-fi shooter Bullet Train for the Oculus Rift on stage today, which takes advantage of the Oculus Touch controller for locomotion. ….[READ]