Virtual Reality Out of the Newspaper and into the Mainstream

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Virtual Reality Out of the Newspaper and into the Mainstream

Virtual reality is creeping into every industry, even journalism. The New York Times recently sent out Google Cardboard VR handsets to all their subscribers as a way to promote New York Times VR content.

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New York Times shows the way to the VR experience and kids program an 18° of freedom interactive VR interface. Perhaps VR has arrived!

One week ago the New York Times sent all of its home delivery subscribers a Google Cardboard VR viewer as a way of introducing the paper's first step into virtual-reality content. They released four short pieces and a simple smart phone app to play them with the Google Cardboard.

  • The Displaced: Introduction

  • Lebanon: Hana’s Story

  • South Sudan: Chuol’s Story

  • Ukraine: Oleg’s Story

More information about the stories and how to get the NYTVR viewer app can be found here. It's worth noting that the audience that the New York Times is courting does not overlap much with the Oculus-Rift gamer population which has been the core driving force up to this time.

I have personally helped several of these non-technical New York Times readers set up their viewer and experience these compelling stories. Their response was similar to what most VR newbies say: "immersion changes everything", "this is more powerful than I anticipated", "it was much more real than watching it on a screen".

So it seems that there will be a broad potential audience for a broad range of VR content, which leads us to the inevitable quandary: Who's going to make the content? Certainly journalists will be a big part of the content for publications like the New York Times, but the techniques, styles and artistic innovations will be driven by people who don't have an "old media" bias. It will very likely be children that open our eyes to a new way of seeing.

Schoolchildren are already building smart phone applications that incorporate all sorts of modalities (speech input, speech synthesis, GPS, motion, images, etc.) using simple building block SDKs. One excellent example is the MIT App Inventor 2.

It only seems natural that there should be an SDK for VR that uses 18° of freedom to control a virtual reality and augmented reality experience... And it should be easy enough for a kid to use! Realiteer is one of what I predict will be an ever growing collection of easy to use tools to build VR applications. Keep a lookout for what the kids are doing at their Maker Faire tables: Virtual and Augmented Reality!

augmented reality, iot, mobile, sdk for devices, virtual reality, vr

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