Cool Things

I’m coming across progressively sophisticated and ambitious VR/AR experiences. These products cross the spectrum from enterprise to consumer, and especially in content. That’s not to say they have been executed perhaps as fully as the creators would like, but conceptually more and more of the content has a broader lens and elements. I would argue that’s in part because the basic tools are getting easier to access to greater audiences; programmers or not. These basic building blocks available to non-technologists are increasingly more lifelike and interactive or engaging

Three of the coolest things that I saw at the end of 2016 were in New York City.

Take Smash Party released by, Viacom NEXT on Steam for the HTC Vive.

Smash party from the media and entertainment giant is great fun. Imagine holding a bat in an you imaginary world, with the ability and many opportunities to smash all sorts of vividly colorful cool and, unusual objects inside a cage surrounded by an excited cartoon crowd cheering you on. The objects come fast and furious. It’s entertaining and therapeutic … addictive.

Another one I really liked was built by students at the School of Visual Arts.

They are experimenting with inspirationally great ambition. I met them while guest commented on a class taught by seasoned VR technologist Tyler Hopf, creative director at IrisVR. All five student experiences were both incredibly noteworthy because many of the creators are not programmers. The group was a combination of visual-art students, including photographers and graphic artists, among other interdisciplinary skills conceived the concepts and built them.

This said a couple of things to me: first, the platform tools, especially Unity, has become more accessible for non-technical folks, and second, the cross-functional teams creating VR experiences right now, today, are among those laying the roadwork for the next-gen experiences of new, cutting-edge immersive experiences. One of those experiences involved the concept of the afterlife, starting in a doctor’s office then moving through a sea and into the cosmos. They used both 2D and 3D elements. It was impossible not to see potential in that riveting experience.

The last experience was designed by a startup called MediVis that’s creating the future of medical imagery visualization.

It was co-founded by a brain surgeon. The company is pioneering new AR applications that allow for 3D viewing of medical images such as X-rays and MRIs using infrared spatial mapping, customized voice commands, and advanced gesture controls for an unparalleled user experience. The vision of founders is to leverage the power of predictive modeling and artificial intelligence to gain deeper insights and make better decisions. I talked to the co-founding doctor and he explained that it gave him far more information than he currently has access to before he takes a scalpel to someone’s brain. I think we would all agree that we all want our surgeons to have as much information as possible before they open us up.

Gone are the days when being sent to the emerging-tech department at a media company was considered punishment.

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