The VR gold rush in moviemaking

Spike Jonze and Chris Milk Discuss the Future of Virtual Reality Film A few weeks ago, I found myself in Spike Jonze’s Chinatown home dodging Syrian kids as they played soccer. I was wearing a headset that had me immersed in a 360-degree virtual reality documentary shot at a refugee camp in Jordan. As I turned my head to follow the action on the field, I lost my balance and kicked the leg of the nearby kitchen table. I wasn’t used to watching a convincing virtual reality movie (who is?) and felt bested by technology, like when an old person … Continue reading The VR gold rush in moviemaking

You are going to care about virtual reality

Virtual reality is coming to sex, sports and Facebook Reality has a stalker. Its name is Virtual Reality. Once a concept that lived solely in the domain of science fiction novels (1992’s Snow Crash) and movies (2009’s Avatar), VR now is poised not only to challenge reality’s stranglehold on the way we engage with life, but possibly even eclipse it for sheer thrills. Gaming. Concerts. Family reunions. Sporting events. Even sex – all of it will be experienced in a hyper-real fashion and with a commonness that technologists predict will rival our incessant smartphone use today. The promise of VR … Continue reading You are going to care about virtual reality

Avatars for young children

A Wi-Fi Barbie Doll With the Soul of Siri Ever since Siri appeared as a regular feature on the iPhone, certain young children — and, let’s face it, some of their parents — have spent hours chatting up the virtual assistant, curious about the details of her humanoid back story. Siri, where do you live? Siri, do you have a boyfriend? Siri, how old are you? At a time when grown-ups can use voice commands to find restaurants, change channels on their TVs or get directions, it seems logical that children would now expect devices to understand their speech and … Continue reading Avatars for young children

The rise of cognitive computing

Artificial Intelligence Is Almost Ready for Business Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an idea that has oscillated through many hype cycles over many years, as scientists and sci-fi visionaries have declared the imminent arrival of thinking machines. But it seems we’re now at an actual tipping point. AI, expert systems, and business intelligence have been with us for decades, but this time the reality almost matches the rhetoric, driven by the exponential growth in technology capabilities (e.g., Moore’s Law), smarter analytics engines, and the surge in data. Most people know the Big Data story by now: the proliferation of sensors (the … Continue reading The rise of cognitive computing

Is VR an eye-popping trip?

A Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Reality Virtual reality might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but if you’ve ever played with a ViewMaster, you already have a sense of what this technology is like. With the classic toy, you’d peer into the plastic viewer and see 3-D photographs of far away locales, ranging from cosmopolitan London to the African Savanna. Virtual reality—or VR—is similar but more immersive. A 3-D moving image fills more of your field of vision, and it’s interactive, not static: Turn your head to the left, and the entire view, say, of the Golden Gate Bridge, … Continue reading Is VR an eye-popping trip?

The business of virtual reality

Virtual Reality Advertisements Get in Your Face I’m sitting in a desk chair in an office in Mountain View, California. But with a virtual-reality headset strapped to my head and headphones over my ears, it looks and sounds like I’m standing in the belly of a blimp, flying high above silent city blocks dotted with billboards for a Despicable Me theme-park ride. The blimp ride is part of a demo built by MediaSpike, a startup that’s making ads for virtual reality. Even the blimp itself is an ad: before boarding it, I can see its exterior is covered with a … Continue reading The business of virtual reality

Can robots be creative?

Why Not Utopia? Some quake in terror as we approach the Terminator scenario, in which clever machines take over the world. After all, it isn’t sci-fi when Stephen Hawking says things like, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” But before the robots replace us, we face the challenge of decreasing real wages resulting, among other factors, from automation and outsourcing, which will itself be automated before long. Inequality (you don’t need more statistics on this, do you?) is the biggest social challenge facing us. (Let’s call climate change, which has the potential … Continue reading Can robots be creative?