In Los Angeles, Dreamscape Immersive’s Location-Based VR Brings You Into a New World

In Los Angeles, Dreamscape Immersive’s Location-Based VR Brings You Into a New World

As certain ­forward-thinking magazines predicted last year (ahem), VR’s first mass-culture moment has arrived not as a device but as a destination. There’s far more immersive potential in a dedicated VR facility—with its stagecraft and high-end components—than what’s currently possible in your living room. Already, companies like The VOID and Star VR are running bespoke experiences where you can roam imaginary worlds untethered, and Imax has installed virtual reality centers in three of its multiplexes. Next up: A new outfit called Dreamscape Immersive promises to supercharge the escapism of “location-based” VR.

The key is a nifty motion-capture algorithm. By putting trackers on your hands and feet, plus a laptop on your back, Dreamscape can extrapolate what your limbs are doing. The result is a system that brings your full body into VR and enables you to share the experience—and props—with others. Playing catch with a flaming torch; reaching out and feeling the head of a creature that has sidled up to you; swinging a baseball bat and connecting with a real pitch: It’s all unlike anything else in the medium. “We’re not going to be a ‘VRcade,’” says Dreamscape CEO Bruce Vaughn. “This is a chance to transport people into imaginative worlds.”

When can you give it a go? This year. The top floor of Los Angeles’ Westfield Century City mall will soon be home to an array of Yves Béhar–inspired Dream­scape “pods”—and is previewing the experience via a pop-up location until March 7. If you can’t make it to LA, AMC has committed to installing pods in at least six other cities. Oh, and Steven Spielberg is an early investor. E.T. in VR? ZOMG.

1 Everything about your avatar, from hairstyle to fashion, will be customizable. Nice jacket, bro.

2 Headsets are enhanced by a formidable tracking system.

3 With the computer on your back, you’re free to roam.

4 An algorithm relies on just a few body-tracking points to generate your avatar’s full range of motion.

Other virtual venues around Los Angeles

  • Disneyland: In the Void’s collaboration with ILM, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, you infiltrate enemy territory disguised as a stormtrooper. Pew-Pew!
  • IMAX VR Centre: Panoramic headsets and multiplayer gaming galore—including a John Wick tie-in that makes you feel like Keanu (in a good way).
  • Virtual Room Hollywood: You’ve played room escape games, but have you done it … in VR? Team-based egress, 21st-century style.

This article appears in the March issue. Subscribe now.


via Wired Top Stories

February 20, 2018 at 09:12AM

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This 3D Printed Arduino-Based Hexapod Robot Can Bust a Move!

This 3D Printed Arduino-Based Hexapod Robot Can Bust a Move!

I have often mentioned the wisdom of robot maker and Make: contributor I-Wei Huang who says that you can get away with a lot in a robot creation if you make it cute, characterful, and funny. This comes across in spades with Vorpal, a 3D-printable hexapod with real character and presence. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love.

Vorpal was devolved via a Kickstarter project. You can now buy a full kit with all of the parts or you can put together your own parts and 3D print all of the body components. The project is fully open source. As “Maker Noob Joe” points out in the video, you may have a bunch of the parts already. Vorpal requires 12 servos and 2 Arduino Nanos. If you have that kind of hardware just laying around, you’re a bigger nerd than I. Joe says that, if you spec and buy the parts yourself, it shouldn’t cost you more than $60. Then, of course, there’s the time and expense of 3D printing all of the body parts. But even with that expense, given what Vorpal can do, the cost is actually quite low.

I love projects like this that have a thoughtful and fun design, lots of buy and build options, a passionate user community, and that are designed as gateway projects for teaching both kids and adults the joys of coding and building robots. And, come on, check out this little guy. Vorpal can bust some serious moves!


via MAKE

February 19, 2018 at 04:48PM

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Amazon will reward Prime members for shopping at Whole Foods

Amazon will reward Prime members for shopping at Whole Foods

Amazon has announced that its Rewards Visa will now offer users the same level of reward when they shop at Whole Foods as they receive at Amazon itself. Eligible Prime members will now receive a flat five percent bonus on all purchases at Whole Foods, just as they do online. By comparison, shopping beyond Amazon’s universe will net you two percent back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and a single percent elsewhere.

The key note here is that if you’re a Prime member, then you’ll receive the five percent bonus, for lesser mortals, the return is three percent. But as Amazon’s vast ecosystem of products and services begins to coalesce, users will have less reason not to sign up to Prime. And the more you succumb to that pull, the more time you’ll be spending inside Amazon’s benevolent embrace.

Source: Amazon (BusinessWire)


via Engadget

February 20, 2018 at 04:18AM

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Doom on Switch may have changed everything with new motion controls

Doom on Switch may have changed everything with new motion controls

id Software

id Software and partner studio Panic Button rolled out a patch to the Nintendo Switch version of Doom on Monday, and players dug in, hopeful for fixes to a few glaring issues. Indeed, we saw updates to issues like frame-rate snags and audio bugs. But the patch’s most interesting effect was a complete surprise: a new “motion control” toggle.

Wait, what? Is this some sort of Wii-like waggle thing?

Far from it, turns out. id Software has surprisingly borrowed a page from Nintendo’s playbook—but in doing so has also delivered a first for a first-person shooter.

Still sick from SixAxis

When you think of motion control in shooter games, you might think of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption or Red Steel from the Wii. Both of those shooters required aiming a Wii-mote as a pointer at all times, and this enabled a remarkable level of precision. Trouble was, holding your wrist up to aim for extended periods could hurt, and higher-speed “aiming your head” controls were tough to nail.

Or you might think of PlayStation 3’s disastrous Lair, which launched with horrendous wave-your-SixAxis requirements.

When you turn motion control on, you can adjust motion sensitivity and toggle Y-axis inversion. The latter is a nice touch, while the former would be better if it had separate horizontal and vertical sliders. But it's still pretty easy to tweak, thanks to the menu being accessible at any point in a <em>Doom</em> Switch session. (FYI: aim assist is automatically disabled in motion mode.)
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When you turn motion control on, you can adjust motion sensitivity and toggle Y-axis inversion. The latter is a nice touch, while the former would be better if it had separate horizontal and vertical sliders. But it’s still pretty easy to tweak, thanks to the menu being accessible at any point in a


Switch session. (FYI: aim assist is automatically disabled in motion mode.)

Doom‘s updated version on Nintendo Switch doesn’t really resemble either of these. It instead gives players a common FPS control scheme, as seen in series like Halo and Call of Duty, in which all moving and aiming is done with joysticks… only it also lets you simultaneously fine-tune your up, down, left, and right aiming by gently nudging any Switch control scheme around in those directions in your hands.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because Nintendo implemented similar controls in its Splatoon series and to some extent in the Wii U’s Star Fox Zero. Only, Nintendo being Nintendo, it did it differently. When motion control is turned on in either Splatoon game, players must waggle their hands to control all vertical-axis aiming. (Horizontal-axis aiming, on the other hand, continues to work both in motion and on a joystick.)

Splatoon‘s biggest fans and pro players will tell you that its motion controls are the way to go. I said otherwise in my review of both games, and I stand by my reason: that Nintendo didn’t open up its motion control options so that players could assign motions however they saw fit. It continues to feel so-close-yet-so-far.


via Ars Technica

February 20, 2018 at 07:50AM

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The Father Of The Internet Sees His Invention Reflected Back Through A ‘Black Mirror’

The Father Of The Internet Sees His Invention Reflected Back Through A ‘Black Mirror’

In 1984, two men were thinking a lot about the Internet. One of them invented it. The other is an artist who would see its impact on society with uncanny prescience.

First is the man often called “the father of the Internet,” Vint Cerf. Between the early 1970s and early ’80s, he led a team of scientists supported by research from the Defense Department.

Initially, Cerf was trying to create an Internet through which scientists and academics from all over the world could share data and research.

Then, one day in 1988, Cerf says he went to a conference for commercial vendors where they were selling products for the Internet.

“I just stood there thinking, ‘My God! Somebody thinks they’re going to make money out of the Internet.’ ” Cerf was surprised and happy. “I was a big proponent of that. My friends in the community thought I was nuts. ‘Why would you let the unwashed masses get access to the Internet?’ And I said, ‘Because I want everybody to take advantage of its capability.’ “

Clearly, Cerf is an optimist. That is what allowed him to dream big. But, in retrospect, some of the decisions his team made seem hopelessly naive, especially for a bunch of geniuses.

They made it possible to surf the Internet anonymously — unlike a telephone, you don’t have a unique number that announces who you are. We know how that turned out. People with less lofty ambitions than Cerf used that loophole for cybercrime, international espionage and online harassment.

Vint Cerf, now a Google vice president, is often called the “father of the Internet.” He admits that when he and his team created the Internet, he never imagined how it would turn out.

Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

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Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Cerf admits all that dark stuff never crossed his mind. “And we have to cope with that — I mean, welcome to the real world,” he says.

And in a way, why would Cerf have imagined all this? He was a scientist deeply engaged in solving a great technical problem.

While Cerf and his colleagues were busy inventing, the young aspiring science fiction writer William Gibson was looking for a place to set his first novel. Gibson was living in Seattle, and he had friends who worked in the budding tech industry. They told him about computers and the Internet, “and I was sitting with a yellow legal pad trying to come up with trippy names for a new arena in which science fiction could be staged.”

The name Gibson came up with: cyberspace. And for a guy who had never seen it, he did a great job describing it in that 1984 book, Neuromancer: “A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.”

Somehow Gibson was able to imagine the potential scale of it — all those computers connected together.

William Gibson: “There Will Never Be Enough Bandwidth”

But, it isn’t just the Internet that Gibson saw coming. In Neuromancer, the Internet has become dominated by huge multinational corporations fighting off hackers. The main character is a washed-up criminal hacker who goes to work for an ex-military officer to regain his glory. And get this: The ex-military guy is deeply involved in cyber-espionage between the U.S. and Russia.

Gibson says he didn’t need to try a computer or see the Internet to imagine this future. “The first people to embrace a technology are the first to lose the ability to see it objectively,” he says.

He says he’s more interested in how people behave around new technologies. He likes to tell a story about how TV changed New York City neighborhoods in the 1940s.

“Fewer people sat out on the stoops at night and talked to their neighbors, and it was because everyone was inside watching television,” he says. “No one really noticed it at the time as a kind of epochal event, which I think it was.”

William Gibson: “I Didn’t Know That People’s Mothers Would Be On It”

After years of covering Silicon Valley and speaking with brilliant inventors, I found Gibson’s point a revelation. Our tech entrepreneurs are focused almost exclusively on how their devices will be used by individuals — not how those devices will change society. They want to make things that are addictive and entertaining. That is why I’ve started to take science fiction more seriously.

Among the sci-fi artists looking at today’s latest technologies is Charlie Brooker, the creator and writer of the Netflix show Black Mirror.

Brooker has a certain amount of frustration with the leaders in tech. “It’s felt like tech companies have for years just put this stuff out there,” he says. “And they distance themselves from the effects of their product effectively by saying, ‘Oh, we’re just offering a service.’ “

Brooker sees each new technology more like an untested drug waiting to launch us on a very bad trip. Each episode of Black Mirror is like its own laboratory testing a technology that is already out, but pushing it by mixing in common human behaviors and desires.

Charlie Brooker: “We Use Technology In The Way Shows Like The ‘Twilight Zone’ Would Use The Supernatural”

In one episode, everyone ranks one another on how well they interact socially in real time. It’s like Yelp on steroids. The result is a nightmare society — every smile is forced; it’s impossible to be honest with anyone.

In another episode, a grieving women hires a service that scans social media and other accounts of her deceased lover. It uses the information to bring him back as a humanoid robot. He speaks and responds almost exactly like the man she lost. And in case you’re wondering: Such technology is already in the works.

Brooker says he does admire inventors. He knows he could never be one.

“I could scarcely have invented the shoe,” Brooker says. “I’d be worrying that that would restrict your feet.”

There is a kind of optimism that it takes to be an inventor. But the father of the Internet thinks inventors need the artists.

“It’s the mind-stretching practice of trying to think what the implications of technology will be that makes me enjoy science fiction,” Cerf says. “It teaches me that when you’re inventing something you should try to think about what the consequences might be.”

The artists are the ones who recognize a fundamental truth: Human nature hasn’t changed much since Shakespeare’s time, no matter what fancy new tools you give us.


via NPR Topics: News

February 20, 2018 at 04:03AM

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New Toyota EV motor needs less rare-earth metal, so costs less to make

New Toyota EV motor needs less rare-earth metal, so costs less to make

TOKYO — Toyota has found a way to reduce the amount of a key rare earth metal used in magnets for electric car motors by around 20 percent, which could tame the cost of producing electric cars and reduce the risk of a supply shortage of materials needed for their production.

The Japanese automaker on Tuesday said it had developed a magnet which replaces some of the neodymium, a rare earth metal used in the world’s most powerful permanent batteries, with more abundant and cheaper lanthanum and cerium, adding that it aimed to use the magnets in electric vehicle motors within the next 10 years.

As production of hybrid and other electric cars is expected to ramp up in the coming years, automakers and electronics companies have been developing new high-powered magnets which require less rare earth metals to reduce costs and trim exposure to possible fluctuations in supply.

A temporary export ban of neodymium by major supplier China in 2010 during a territorial dispute with Japan and periodic supply shortages have highlighted automakers’ dependence on these materials.

“An increase in electric car production will raise the need for motors, which will result in higher demand for neodymium down the line,” Akira Kato, general project manager at Toyota’s advanced R&D and engineering company, told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo.

“If we continue to use neodymium at this pace we’ll eventually experience a supply shortage … so we wanted to come up with technology which would help conserve neodymium stocks.”

At the moment, magnets used in most automobiles to operate motors for everything from hybrid and other electric drivetrains to power steering systems comprise a total of around 30 percent of the rare earth elements neodymium, terbium and dysprosium.

Automakers including Honda have found ways to eliminate dysprosium and terbium, which cost around $400 and $900 per kilogram, respectively, from magnets by increasing the amount of neodymium, which costs around $100 per kilogram.

Toyota has come up with a way to cut out the expensive metals from the magnets and also reduce the amount of neodymium in favor of lanthanum and cerium, which each cost around $5-$7 per kilogram.

Kato declined to give specific details on cost reductions, but said that Toyota could replace up to half of the neodymium used in magnets for motors which operate conventional vehicle functions like power windows with lanthanum and cerium, and around 20 percent for electric motor magnets.

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu

Related Video:


via Autoblog

February 20, 2018 at 08:25AM

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See How Much Money a Congressperson Has Taken From the NRA With This Chrome Extension

See How Much Money a Congressperson Has Taken From the NRA With This Chrome Extension

We’re at a point where most everything you read could probably use a fact check or two, especially when it comes to politicians.

Read more…


via Lifehacker

February 19, 2018 at 02:42PM

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