Dystopia, brought to you by…

*** SPOILER ALERT: This article contains plot information related to the book READY PLAYER ONE If you have not read the book and do not wish your experience spoiled, please return to this link when you’re ready (Player One). ***

My friend Alvin Wang Graylin, China Regional President of HTC Vive, recently authored a thoughtful op-ed piece entitled, “Real world lessons for the VR-First future: An industry insider’s analysis of READY PLAYER ONE”, the English version of which is published on technode.

As Alvin observes, Ernest Cline’s best-selling book, READY PLAYER ONE, is an insightful fictional take on our virtual reality future, and recommended reading for pretty much everyone, irrespective of your current interest (or lack thereof) in VR. READY PLAYER ONE imaginatively portrays the transformative possibilities of virtual reality across every aspect of our lives. The book also vividly illustrates the dystopian consequences that may arise from the neglect of actual reality in the embrace of virtual reality. At its core, READY PLAYER ONE is a cautionary tale of the consequences of immersive escapism in the face of increasing ecological crisis, economic disparity and socio-political disintegration.

I’ve given Alvin plenty of well-intentioned ribbing regarding HTC’s ongoing use of READY PLAYER ONE’s sandblasted mobile home stacks as a backdrop for their presentations on the “VR-first future.” Mobile home stacks are, to put it mildly, a bad ad: suitable for the poster image of VR contrarian / convert(?) Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming READY PLAYER ONE film adaptation, but questionable as consumer enticement for a VR hardware manufacturer. Imagine a surfboard company advertising with a JAWS poster. 😉

If, as maintained in the technode op-ed piece, “READY PLAYER ONE will do for VR what AVATAR did for 3D in general awareness,” the question naturally follows: “Does this awareness make the general public more or less favorably inclined towards VR?” In other words, is this “VR-first future” a future you want to live in? The hero of READY PLAYER ONE provides a succinct answer: “For me, growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth.” His explanation doesn’t get any more complimentary from there.

The global energy crisis, wars, social calamities and ecological disasters which characterize daily life in READY PLAYER ONE aren’t caused by VR technology, but they are facilitated and exacerbated by it. Not only does technological saturation deplete the world’s resources, but VR escapism provides an easy alternative to real-world problem-solving: a new “opiate of the masses.”

I came away from READY PLAYER ONE with three thoughts… (full post on AWN)

Dystopia, brought to you by…

Beijing in the round

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While in Beijing taking spherical reference snapshots for an AR project with my trusty Ricoh Theta, it occurred to me that the “flatties” could serve as templates for 360-degree hutong doodles.

Following are a few such sketches, with the wrapped versions available here on Facebook. (full post on AWN)

Beijing in the round

Cooking up a Chinese VR short

360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F1840

Earlier this month, immersive content development took an experimental step forward with China’s first improvisational VR “table read” on the interactive cinematic VR short film, FOUR DISHES AND A SOUP. (full article on AWN)

360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F187D

Cooking up a Chinese VR short

The Apple of your eye

Daniel Eckler’s article, “The Future of Apple & AR,” reiterates that personal computing is on the verge of a paradigm shift toward augmented reality, and notes that Apple’s recent hires, acquisitions and patents point towards this AR future, as does the tech embedded in their current product line (particularly the much-maligned AirPods, which can be properly appreciated as voice-activated computers that nestle in your ears).
Regarding Apple’s prospective AR endeavors, Eckler observes, “If AR glasses are going to be a success, they’ll need to tether with a powerful computer (the iPhone), and they’ll need to do so seamlessly while introducing new ways to interface with computers (Airpods + Siri).”
Yes, AND…

While I share Eckler’s opinion of Apple’s intentions, I believe Apple’s odds of success are predicated as much on the practical as on the technical. In order to achieve mass market AR adoption, Apple must attractively address the following points: (full post on AWN)

The Apple of your eye

The Art of Indirection @ Jelly Monster

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Thanks to Toony Wu and the talented team at Jelly Monster in Beijing for hosting an iAVRrc salon yesterday afternoon, featuring my presentation on “The Art of Indirection”, and a few words from Nokia’s Jill Smolin on the creative potential of the OZO virtual reality camera.

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The Art of Indirection @ Jelly Monster

Mixed reality takes off in the Middle Kingdom

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Rick Garson is a unique figure in entertainment. A colorful, controversial executive and entrepreneur, Rick’s range of experience includes promoting Michael Jackson’s “Bad” tour as well as creating and producing the Billboard Music Awards. He career has also been defined by innovation such as his development and promotion of the Rolling Stones’ “Steel Wheels” pay-per-view music special, the first of its kind.

Rick first hit China’s radar in 2008, when he produced the Beijing Olympics’ “Divas in Beijing” concert TV series. Since then, he’s had his hands dirtied and his nose bloodied in the rough-and-tumble world of Chinese events and entertainment. Rather than turn tail and go home, Rick doubled-down and moved to China in 2013.

He’s now breaking new ground in mixed reality with his latest venture, VX Entertainment. VX Entertainment provides world-class content for the immersive media era, and features what may be the first high-end mixed reality showroom (at least the first of its kind in China) combining projection technology, virtual reality and holography.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Rick in his Beijing studio, experience VX Entertainment’s mixed reality showroom for myself (one word review: awesome) and ask some questions about where he is and where he’s…(full post on AWN)

Mixed reality takes off in the Middle Kingdom