A virtual experiment in the financial district

Fidelity Makes a Virtual City of Stocks In this town, everywhere could be the financial district. Fidelity Labs, a research arm of the financial services firm FMR, has released a virtual reality tool that makes stocks into make-believe urban buildings. Their height is a measure of the stock prices, and the footprint is based on trading activity over the preceding 90 days on one side, shares outstanding on the other. Green roofs mean a stock is going up, and red means it is selling off. Neighborhoods” are sectors, like Health Care, Technology, or Construction. In a video illustrating the concept, … Continue reading A virtual experiment in the financial district

Motion tracking for smartphones

Pinc is a whimsical VR iPhone case that tracks your hands There are as many kinds of VR headsets as there are proposed uses for the nascent technology. There’s the famous Oculus Rift, made of somber black plastic with thick foam padding. There’s Samsung’s white, bulbous Gear VR and Sony’s glowing, Tron-like Project Morpheus. There’s Google Cardboard and any number of other cheap paper eyepieces. But I’ve never tried on anything like the cartoonish pink box that is Cordon Media’s Pinć. Pinć (pronounced “pinch”) is a 3D-printed headset that looks neither gritty nor futuristic. It’s a brightly-colored iPhone 6 case … Continue reading Motion tracking for smartphones

Taking flight through a drone’s-eye view

Drones and virtual reality headsets are a delicious combination We’re going through an exciting period in the development of consumer drones. DJI has perfected the formula for a unit that bridges the gap between something anyone can fly right out of the box, but still packs enough power to excite professional fliers and filmmakers. Parrot, which built one of the more successful among the first generation of consumer drones, is trying to take things to the next level with its new unit, the Bebop. Even better, they are building it with a simple integration to virtual reality headsets like the … Continue reading Taking flight through a drone’s-eye view

Consumers are ready for the VR experience

Why Virtual Reality Is Happening Now Since the Oculus Rift first made waves with its successful Kickstarter, there’s been a consistent line of criticism based in the notion, “why would it work this time?” It’s a fair question — you can go back decades and see myriad failed attempts to build virtual reality gear for the masses. “Many very smart people have attempted to do this! What didn’t they see that Oculus and its compatriots see today? People didn’t want a Virtual Boy in 1995, why would they buy a Rift in 2015?” That perspective misses one of the most … Continue reading Consumers are ready for the VR experience

Does rat’s brain recognize virtual reality?

Brain’s reaction to virtual reality should prompt further study, suggests new research by UCLA neuroscientists UCLA neurophysicists have found that space-mapping neurons in the brain react differently to virtual reality than they do to real-world environments. Their findings could be significant for people who use virtual reality for gaming, military, commercial, scientific or other purposes. “The pattern of activity in a brain region involved in spatial learning in the virtual world is completely different than when it processes activity in the real world,” said Mayank Mehta, a UCLA professor of physics, neurology and neurobiology in the UCLA College and the … Continue reading Does rat’s brain recognize virtual reality?

Adventure game for social workers

‘Virtual veteran’ helps prepare social workers to talk to the real thing A new program from USC lets social workers hone their counseling skills by interacting with a computer simulated veteran. The first of its kind technology aims to improve how caregivers relate to the growing number of vets struggling with mental health issues. Imagine walking into a room that looks like a therapist’s office and seeing a life-sized projection of a young man staring back at you. That’s Mike Baker, a hyper-realistic computer simulation developed at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies. He blinks, he fidgets, and social workers can … Continue reading Adventure game for social workers

Can VR improve empathy?

Virtual reality can make us nicer There’s been quite a bit of debate about whether violent video games can make people more violent in real life — though no conclusive research. With the advent of virtual reality — immersive, interactive experiences in which users feel as though they are actually characters inside a different world — this debate is likely to become even more heated. But it’s not enough to look at whether virtual reality can make people more violent — the opposite might also be true. And, in fact, according to a new study from the University of Georgia, … Continue reading Can VR improve empathy?