TECH CROSSING

Called virtual reality’s “Year Zero” because of the huge wave of virtual and augmented reality consumerism that took over, 2016 saw the technology and its potential grow leaps and bounds. 2017 is already shaping up to be an even more productive year for the VR and AR industries as headsets are selling and applications are earning. VentureBeat dived into what 2016 had to offer and are now looking ahead at the current year, making 6 predictions and 4 wishes for the evolution of the technology over the next 12 months. From iPhone 8 predictions to a hope for more social interaction opportunities, check out their full list!

What's better than an explosively awesome firework show?! How about finding a way to beat the crowds and watch them in the comfort of your own home? We are talking even better than watching on TV - we are talking about virtual reality firework shows! There are some July 4th activities that just won't cut it in the virtual world, but fireworks sure are a fun way to experiment with the new technology. Inverse has a great breakdown of different ways to catch shows via different headsets. From Google Cardboard to Oculus, if you are a VR junkie, you should check out the list here!

After sitting back and watching the complex jump from analog to digital over the past few years, you'd be forgiven if you couldn't quite keep up with it all. It has been easy for many of us to get lost in the nitty gritty details of all the new technology on offer. Sometimes you have to take a step back and think, did many of us ever really know how film worked in the first place?? While we are so obsessed with the here and now as well as the future, it’s always great to learn (or refresh our memories) about the past and the history of analog media. Head on over to Gizmodo to get a quick course on the workings and history of film and check out the "What Is …" youtube video for a more visual breakdown.

Hyper-Reality is a short video that plunges us into a somewhat terrifyingly futuristic world where virtual/augmented reality is integrated into nearly every bit of our actual reality. However, instead of a fun world of possibilities, it’s a vision of ads, pop-ups and messages following us everywhere we go. A crazy, colorful non-stop world, this video is an interesting, eye-opening look at what may or may not become of our advancing technology. Check out filmmaker/designer Keiichi Matsuda's video and more info behind its design here.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Computer Visions Laboratory have just created a new way of possibly taking photos. Their experimental “camera” device has elastic optics and a flexible sheet, resulting in a widened field of view that allows the device to wrap around the object it is capturing. The Columbia University team is now trying to create a smaller version of the device which could be used out in the field. It has a long way to go as the resulting images are still a tad bit blurry, but it’s an interesting start to a new way of looking at things. Could also lend itself well to video! Read here for more info and gifs on this possible future flexing camera.

While Tribeca Film Festival is hosting a great deal of interactive, exciting VR events this year, today marks the start of the 5th annual TFI Interactive Day! From holograms to electric paint, there’s a lot to take in. The folks over at Observer spoke with Opeyemi Olukemi, Senior Director of Interactive at Tribeca Film Institute, and Andrew Essex, CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, about what we can expect. Read here for the full interview and to learn more about what’s on schedule for the day!

NexGear, a Mumbai-based startup, is looking to make capturing and instantly sharing moments much easier via their Frodo Adventure Camera. The product is designed to record and auto-edit the best scenes out of hours of footage into an instant, ready-to-share final product. The super portable camera can even be worn on wrists, resembling a simple, everyday sports watch that connects to mobile devices, allowing users to stream and edit their videos instantly, skipping their computers in the process. To learn more about the Frodo read here, or check out their Indiegogo campaign to support the creation of this on-the-go camera! 

Patrick Milling-Smith, President and Cofounder of Vrse.works, a specialised virtual reality production studio, sat down and decided to outline both the challenges and opportunities that virtual reality presents to brands and the advertisement field now and in the near future. As technology has made the industry’s work a little harder (think ad blocks and commercial fast-forwarding), advanced tech is also making brands think of new ways to communicate with their consumers. As these experiences start to pop up, brands will need to start thinking about how they can create immersive audience experiences that embed themselves in consumers’ memories. For the full breakdown of possibilities, read Milling-Smith’s article here.

Kit Tea in San Francisco is just another one of the many cat cafes springing up all over the country. Around $20 will get you an hour-long visit with the lounging kitties, where you have the opportunity to play, pet or even adopt one. A novel idea. Want to experience a cat cafe but don’t live near one or feel pretty strapped on cash? Well you’re in luck! Everything is Film has just released what they are claiming to be the “biggest cat video in the world”, made with a crazy 1 trillion pixels. You can spend two hours of virtual reality goodness inside the cat cafe by only going to youtube. Sure it doesn’t offer the tactile experience that cat cafes are so popular for, but hey, take what you can get! Everyone knows the secret formula to success is sometimes as simple as cat+youtube video. Whether you are allergic to cats or have two hours to kill, the may fit the bill. Not only can you experience VR in a unique way but also...cats!!! Get your supported app ready and check out the video here!

Ah, the art critic. Once a powerful medium and influencer in the art world. Of course, things are always changing within the field. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we introduce Berenson, a robot art critic. Naturally. Berenson currently roams the galleries of Paris’ Musée du quai Branly, focusing on the fitting 'Persona: Oddly Human' exhibition. Dressed to the nines in a black coat, bowler hat, and white scarf, he certainly looks the part. Berenson is actually named after art critic Bernard Berenson, an American art critic who famously wore a bowler hat.  And like an art critic, he silently roams the hall and judges the pieces of art before him. Through a camera in one of his eye, the robot records people’s reactions to artworks. All of his recordings are then stored in a computer, hidden within the exhibition space. Positive reactions are green circles, while negative ones are red circles. Berenson then reacts with a smile or frown to certain pieces of artwork, depending on the influx of green or red circles he receives. This system, called Prométhé, is how Berenson is forming his own personal taste levels. If you want to see this nifty, somewhat simplified version of an art critic in action, Berenson will be at Musée du quai Branly sporadically through November. Read more about the robot here and make sure to watch this video of Berenson doing his thing.

Augmented reality is a tech that seeks to combine the real and not-real in a way that can being the user into a whole new world. The one major drawback to this tech is that it always requires special hardware, such as VR headsets. However, some pretty cool people just posted a tutorial on Instructables explaining step by step how make your own augmented reality book….with no glasses or apps or anything special needed to experience the effect! The whole setup involves a projector, a Kinect 360, video mapping, tracking software...as well as some pretty serious coding. Be warned, it’s not for the everyday hobby! Read more about the tech here and watch their video to see how it looks!