#VR

Can VR become a political tool?

Animersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

Most entertainment mediums often find themselves implemented in ways the creators did not foresee. Social media is almost always used during political campaigns to spread different messages. This may not have been what they were designed for, but it is what they are particularly good at.

Now virtual reality has many different potential applications, but up until now, they have remained fairly apolitical. But this may not necessarily remain so. The beauty of VR is that it allows you to live another life. You get to experience something that doesn’t exist in the real world, or you get to do something that doesn’t correspond to how you live day to day.

This ability would allow users to not only live fantasy lives, but real ones too. Developing empathy for someone else by living a day in their shoes would be one of the best ways to compel someone to think what you want them to think. Now, the political uses become clear. Convincing people to change their minds is difficult, but by giving them a way to see through someone else’s eyes, it becomes easier. Wherever one finds themselves on the political spectrum, being able to convince others that your way is the right way is a vital tool for any campaign.

The problem is that VR is famous for allowing us to immerse ourselves in worlds that aren’t real. So this means that people one other side of the political spectrum could concoct a fantasy world for users to immerse themselves in. This way, they would be able to convince us that their version of things is the truth, when in fact it may not be.

VR is powerful, and its ability to create stories is perhaps unparalleled. When used to create obviously fictional scenarios, it is undoubtedly effective. But when the lines between fact and fiction become blurred, the potential application for VR becomes a little more troublesome.

How to make VR more social

Animersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

For virtual reality to be appealing, it must be genuinely immersive. In fact, heightening the user’s immersion is one of the areas of the technology which is most invested in. All external light must be blocked out, any distracting sounds nullified, and the whole experience tailored to make the user forget that the world outside the headset exists at all.

The potential problem here is that generally, the more immersed you are, the less social the experience can become. Putting on a headset blocks out the real world, making it difficult to communicate with people on the outside, and impossible for them to communicate with you. This means that having a good VR experience is less social that playing a traditional video game, where you can at least talk to people in the room with you. Until we can interconnect people into a shared VR experience, at which point it becomes a singularly unique social experience.

But all that could be about change. Some modern establishments are dramatically re-thinking the traditional application of the VR experience, in an attempt to make it more social. Taking a cue from retro gaming bars full of arcade machines, some places, by connecting VR devices to a TV screen, allow customers to enjoy watching their friends move around in virtual reality. Being able to cater to spectators means that others can share in the experience as well as the user, where previously this was impossible.

Now of course that doesn’t change the feeling of immersion for the user. They still can’t really interact with their friends whilst actually wearing the VR headset. But once they take it off, they can talk to their friends about the experience safe in the knowledge that it was shared. Instead of having to describe what happened, everyone saw it with you.

Putting expensive, cutting edge technology in a room with people who may well have had a few drinks before using it might not seem like a bright idea, but the bars that have implemented it have put extra safety measures into practice. Chest straps and harnesses are used to stop wires getting tangled, or users straying too far.

Check Out Our DeepFrame One at the Great Exhibition of the North

Animersion UK | User Interface Development | Holograms Logo

We are delighted to be headlining the country’s largest event of 2018 – The Great Exhibition of the North – with Animmersion’s unique revolutionary mixed-reality display, DeepFrame One.

The event – launched 22nd June – will feature a programme of exhibits, live performances, displays of innovation, new artworks and experiences packed into 80 days and spread across three hubs in the city of Newcastle. 

We are proud to be showcasing these experiences through the UK’s first DeepFrame One – invented by the Danish company Realfiction – which is set to change the way viewers see things. Merging the real and virtual world allows viewers to experience lifelike visuals never before seen without the use of traditional and immersive VR eyewear.

With a window like display, the DeepFrame One is the largest mixed-reality display of its kind and will be featuring in The Great Exhibition of the North for nine weeks across some of the exhibition’s key venues.  These include:

·        Eldon Square for two weeks showcasing how car showrooms could look int the future together with a Lego display that will include some of the most breath-taking visuals

·        The Hancock Museum for a further six weeks where an incredible raptor experience will take viewers into the prehistoric world together with a commissioned artist, Arcus Studios, that take the viewer on a journey through five hundred and seventy million years of Earth’s history, stopping off at the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras

·        The Sage Gateshead where the public will be invited to create their own immersive musical experience encompassing some of the North Easts best known landmarks.

As one of the most high-profile and visually stimulating events that the region has seen for some time, we are absolutely delighted to have been asked to be an integral part of this through the use of the DeepFrame One.

To find out more about the event, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Are we Sims or like Neo in the Matrix?

Animersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

The concept of a simulation has been around for a long time. Using computers, we have been able to predict how certain series of events may play out, using simulations, which has the benefit of being pretty much risk free in the real world, at worst, they waste a bit of power.

But with the international success of the movie The Matrix, and of course the amazing ‘Ready  Player One’ a new idea, that we ourselves could be living inside a computer simulation, has been thrust forward, with some very high profile exponents – according to Elon Musk

“The strongest argument for us probably being in a simulation I think is the following,” Musk said. “40 years ago we had Pong. Two rectangles and a dot. That’s where we were.”

“Now 40 years later we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, we’ll have augmented reality.”

“If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, just indistinguishable.”

When you consider the developments in VR and AR, is it impossible to believe that one day both VR and AR – combined with haptics – will become indistinguishable from reality? If so, then statistically it is likely that this has in fact already happened, and we are indeed living within it.

Whether Musk is right or not, we would probably never know, what is more interesting, we believe, is what sort of simulation is the most likely?

There are a two main different prospects, both of which have been championed by different thinkers. The two kinds of simulation we will be talking about are the kind proposed in Nick Bostrom’s now famous Simulation Argument (2003), which is available online, and the Neural Simulations proposed by Barry Dainton in his piece “On Singularities and Simulations.”(2012)

Bostrom proposes something he calls an “ancestor simulation” which involves our descendants using their super powerful computers to simulate consciousness within a machine. From there, they would simulate humanity’s history, complete with their ancestors, all of who would be fully conscious beings, but would exist in a computer like in The Sims video game, rather than a brain.

The other kind of simulation is more like what we see in the movie The Matrix, where we are plugged into something that makes us think we are living a certain life, with certain memories. Our own consciousness would be saved on a back-up, ready to be re-installed at a moment’s notice. Put simply, it is a controlled hallucination, where we think we are someone else, and have all their memories instead of our own.

Both of these ideas have their positives and negatives. To create an ancestor simulation requires that we be able to create consciousness in a machine. Philosophy of the mind has a huge body of literature, but what is clear is that people disagree as to whether consciousness can exist outside a human brain or not. A neural simulation doesn’t have this problem. But, it is a lot harder to successfully manipulate consciousness to the sufficient degree that one might think. But if Musk is right, then despite it being featured in a blockbuster movie, we think it is the most likely.

For more information about this, and in order to make up your own mind about which option is more likely, we thoroughly recommend you seek out the work of the two philosophers we have discussed.

The Simulation Hypothesis by Nick Bostrom is available free online, and Barry Dainton’s On Singularities and Simulations was published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies in 2012.

Bibliography
Bostrom, N, Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?, Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 53, NO. 211, pp. 243 – 255, 2003
Dainton, B, On Singularities and Simulations, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 2012

What is the future of achievements in VR and Games

Animersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

The words “calm down, it’s only a game,” have been heard, in all likelihood, by almost everyone over their lifetimes. It tends to come in response to a negative reaction to something in a game, from losing Monopoly to the Champions League Final.

And for those of us who play video games, this turn of phrase is even more common, and even more aggravating.

Being killed or otherwise defeated in a video game, over and over again, is at best annoying, and at worst, costly in terms of in-game currency. Perhaps you lose experience points, or virtual money used to buy items, but whatever it is, the outcome is often the same. A heartfelt, often passionate feeling of anger and sadness. But why? Because, as is rightly pointed out, often in the immediate aftermath of such an outburst, it really is just a game. So what if you lose in-game money?

You can’t spend it in real world anyway. You haven’t actually lost anything. Or so what if you die in game? You can just try again, you haven’t actually died in real life, so stop complaining. The answer is, of course, that we have failed to achieve our targets in game, and this failure is what generates these negative emotions. The odd thing is that, in some cases, the feeling is exactly the same as if we fail to do something in the real world, although often not as long lasting or as extreme.

Now this last point is key. At the moment, if you concede a 90th minute equaliser on a football game, what happens? You are annoyed, sure, maybe even genuinely upset. But no one would argue that this feeling compares to how you would feel if you were actually a footballer whose team had just conceded the same equaliser in real life. Why? Well because that’s real, whereas the video game isn’t. Why does that matter? Well because you’ve trained years for that one moment, enduring plenty, and to have victory snatched away so cruelly in real life, given this, is completely different to someone who picks up a controller and plays a game.

Currently, this is an adequate response. But the onset of Virtual Reality, in a vein similar to the new movie Ready Player One, might just lead is to re-think this. Because just as one can lose in a video game, one can also achieve. It’s really hard to complete some of the achievements in a huge RPG like Dark Souls, for example. It takes skill and dedication. And yet, when someone does manage to do it, instead of their achievement being celebrated, often it is at best it is often ignored and at worst, ridiculed. But a fully immersive Virtual Reality experience may lead us to change our tune.

The example I am going to use to illustrate the point, whilst it may seem far-fetched, is not so unlikely if the relevant philosophical literature is to be believed. Firstly, consider this. Why do we idolise and respect those who climb Mount Everest? Obviously, because it’s really hard to climb. It takes years of training, unbelievable levels of endurance, and, I would imagine, really hurts. If I were to ask you, whether me climbing Everest on a computer game compares to the real thing in terms of difficulty, the answer would be no. All I’m doing is sitting on my sofa playing on a console. Therefore, I don’t deserve the reception that a real mountain climber deserves.

But now consider this. You put on a headset that is so realistic if you didn’t know any better you’d swear you were on Everest.

Furthermore, you are wearing a full body suit that can mimic, down to a T, every sensation one might have climbing Everest. Every bite from the freezing wind, all the aches and pains that undoubtedly ravage the bodies of people who climb Everest, perfectly accurately. So to put it simply, it is just as physically demanding for you to climb Everest, in terms of pain, as it would be for someone actually climbing the mountain. Would this be regarded as comparatively impressive?

This is still a video game, one might say, your body hasn’t actually moved anywhere, so one could argue that because of that fact, no it wouldn’t be. But again we come back to the earlier question. What’s so hard about actually moving your limbs in such a way so as to climb Everest? It’s really difficult for a number of reasons. But in the near future, every stress and strain you would expose yourself to on the mountain may be simulated artificially in your brain. After all, our brains tell us when something hurts. For you, it wouldn’t matter that you hadn’t actually been there, your body would hurt just as much as if you had.

This is a specific example, but the same could apply to a virtual experience where you swim the English Channel, or complete a marathon. Now when it comes to how much credit we give someone for doing something, there are things other than physical endurance we take into account. Perhaps you are running the marathon for charity, which is admirable and worthy of praise even if you come last.

But, it seems to us that the experiences would be comparable on a physical level, and thus, effectively, playing a video game where you climb Everest would warrant congratulations in the same realm as those you would give to someone who had actually been and done it.

VR Induction Training Programme successfully launched

Animersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

Our Operations Director, Sam Harrison, has recently unveiled a new virtual reality (VR) induction programme that has been specifically designed by Animmersion for one of Scotland’s leading construction organisations – Morrison Construction.

The VR induction programme – which is a mandatory requirement for any employee or subcontractor at Morrison Construction to undertake prior to entering a new site – is cleverly set in a CGI construction site. Users complete three modules whilst being immersed into an animated environment wearing VR googles and using hand controllers to navigate through the training programme.

In a real-time setting, users will be able to make mistakes and experience where they went wrong first hand, therefore knowing not to repeat this onsite, ultimately helping to minimise risk onsite.

Users will have to demonstrate their competencies and pass the induction programme before being allowed onsite. This provides Morrison Construction with full reassurance that all of their workers have a thorough understanding of the site itself and its potential risks.
Not only does the VR programme provide incredible engagement and stimulation for users, it also enables Morrison Construction to have a consistent training programme that has been developed around HSE policy and procedures meaning all workers will have the same level of training adhering to the same procedures.

We are hoping that our innovative solution will pave the way in helping to improve health and safety training in the construction sector, whilst also help companies to reduce spend on their training requirements in the long run.

If you would like to find out more information about the project, please feel free to email Sam at sharrison@animmersion.co.uk.