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Todd Suomela

Jaron Lanier on VR and empathy - the double-edged sword | Digital Bodies - 0 views

  • What Lanier doesn’t say here – though he is well aware of the issue from his work on social media – is that the way content production is funded will impact how VR is used.

    In social media, the loudest voices get promoted through the algorithms (and get the views). We’ve been fortunate in the early stages of VR that the medium has been in the hands of artists who care deeply about humanity. They’ve been self-funded, backed by grants from film festivals and other organizations, and relied on a lot of goodwill.

    That’s not a sustainable environment for creating immersive content. VR content is not going to be free but outside of specific professional areas (e.g., medical education) and corporate use (eg., Wal-Mart’s training program) we don’t have a working business model. Resolving this issue is not just a business question – it’s a content question. It will directly shape the types of virtual environments and experiences we’ll have in the future.

    Lanier makes the point in another interview on UnDark,

    Let’s suppose that after Gutenberg, there was this movement to say all books must be free. Nobody can charge for a book. But it’s okay for books to have advertisements. What we would have ended up with is advertisers determining what books there were.

Todd Suomela

The Promise and Disappointment of Virtual Reality | Literary Hub - 0 views

  • Of course, whether it is using VR for the treatment of vertigo and PTSD, or drawing our attention to unconscious biases like racism, it is possible that VR does have the ability to change our perception of the world around us, that the knowledge we gain from this technology can be transformative.

    But Plato’s Cave presupposes that those freeing the prisoner from their chains to reveal the true nature of “reality” are altruistic in their intent—that the world being shown the freed prisoners is indeed the truth. It is an allegory that does not allow for the world as it is today, or the pervasive desire to escape it.

    The continued commercial failure of VR may represent an unconscious resistance to jettisoning our connection to the real. Maybe we are waiting for that blockbuster game to drive mass-market appeal. Perhaps the technology simply is not good enough yet to simulate a truly authentic—and profitable—experience. In this sense we are trapped. We crave authenticity of experience but, despite the efforts of philosophers, authors and auteurs, our imaginations appear limited to what we can individually consume and identify with. While capitalism lumbers on, we cannot see anything but the shadows on the wall.

Todd Suomela

This VR cycle is dead | TechCrunch - 0 views

  • Occasional training tool and/or the future of high end entertainment — just possibly. But, hey, no one likes to feel sick at the movies. Feeling like you want to barf is only a good use of your time and energy if you’ve eaten something that might otherwise kill you.

    The wider question in the gaming space, which excels at entertainment and escapism, remains how big VR might get when the hardware isn’t so pricey and clunky, and when investing time and energy in building compelling content can start to look like less of a sinkhole prospect for developers who can now be seen pulling their horns in.

    These same types of content makers may well be having their heads turned by the potential of AR gaming. Which can, as noted above, already point to the existence of essential content generating wild excitement among millions of consumers.

    Rather like the solar eclipse, AR has been shown turning masses of heads and even gathering huge crowds of like-minded folks together in public.

    For now there is simply no argument: AR > VR.

  • As TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney noted: “Over the past several months it’s become clear that the war is no longer HTC and Oculus trying to discover who is Betamax and who is VHS, now they’re just trying to ensure that high-end VR doesn’t turn out to be LaserDisc. Though few of the big players are keen to readily admit it, many investors and analysts have been less than thrilled with the pace of headset sales over the past year.”

    The bald fact that neither HTC nor Facebook/Oculus has released sales figures for their respective VR headsets speaks volumes. (Analyst estimates aren’t generous, suggesting <500k units apiece.)

    Sony did put out some sales figures for its Playstation VR headset in February which caused some initial excitement — with the company claiming 915,000 units sold since October 2016.

    But by June that figure had merely drifted past 1M.

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