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Pivot Fast: next generation immersive simulation

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Simulation and training are becoming more immersive as providers and businesses seek lower costs and greater feedback and analytics. This recap of the latest episode of the Pivot Fast web series is from VRWorldTech editorial board member Sophia Moshasha, of Brightline Interactive

The world is experiencing a mass shift to virtual technologies. As we migrate from physical to virtual presences, people across industries are becoming more aware of the possibilities and capabilities of immersive technologies, including the enhancement of training and simulation.

While most of the world is still exploring the incredible potential of this technology to deliver a fully contextualised experience, we as an industry are already moving quickly beyond the world’s current understanding.

Various companies have been tackling large scale problems to enhance VR and AR. Specifically, a select few are creating immersive training and simulation solutions such as head-mounted displays that are operable in any environment, full body suits that are creating the ability to track your body in space, brain computer interfaces (BCIs) that understand patterns in the human brain, and software creation engines that allow all of this to happen.

For this discussion, we brought together leading technologists that are working within the art of the possible to introduce the next generation of enhanced immersive training capabilities.

Featured speakers

Sebastian Loze, Simulations Industry Manager, Epic Games/Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine, Epic Game’s software creation platform, provides the ability to create interactive and immersive experiences. Unreal allows developers to digitally recreate real life experiences and exercises in virtual environments, and is at the forefront of the lifecycle of simulation. 

Dimitri Mikhalchuk, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer, Teslasuit

Teslasuit’s revolutionary full body, sensor integrated suits provide the ability to focus on creating realism with the interaction of physical elements of simulation. Taking it a step further, the technology influences neural elasticity, the amount of memory our brains will allocate to learning and training, which has never been done before, Humans’ pace of life is changing with the evolution of technology so that we now expect more efficiencies in the way we learn and train, and Teslasuit is actively working on providing real solutions to meet those needs. 

Adam Molnar, Co-Founder and Head of Partnerships, Neurable

Neurable is one of the leading companies in neurotechnology working on BCIs, integrated with VR devices, and is creating ways to measure human cognitive performance that translate to immersive environments. Neurable is working to quantify aspects of the cognitive experience in immersive simulation to understand human cognitive states that have been, historically, based on more qualitative and subjective means. The team is making large strides in building new systems to ingest and analyse attention, cognitive load, and neural efficiencies to significantly enhance and personalise training.

Urho Kontori, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Varjo Technologies

Varjo offers a variety of incredibly capable products in VR and MR. Varjo was created with the goal of revolutionising the training, simulation and design markets. Its main focuses include providing high resolution viewing experiences. Perfecting acute human eye-resolution is key for virtual training and VR at large. Varjo is also focusing on an eye tracking capability for gathering analytics on passive viewing performance.

MR is where Varjo continues to focus the rest of its efforts. The XR-1 headset allows for video passthrough MR and selective occlusion of the physical environment. 

The combination of all of these technologies and capabilities allows for the creation of the ultimate immersive training environment.

Value of immersive technology

There are three key pillars in the value of immersive technology: 

➨ Significant cost savings;

➨ A reduction in a timeframe to learn; broken down to receive, retain and deploy data; and

➨ The ability to measure in an unprecedented capacity.

Beyond the initial, more obvious, value that immersive technology brings, companies such as Varjo, Teslasuit, Neurable and Epic Games are making incredible strides to advance capabilities by providing even more value through intense data collection and analysis that have never been achieved before.

These capabilities will ultimately allow businesses to spend less and get more out of training. Once we collectively arrive at the conclusion that immersive technology is a holistically better way to train, we can then advance the basis of the technology with capabilities such as those represented in this discussion. We can do things like map the body’s perfect motion through space, understand cognitive load, track and measure passive focal attention, and even automate the training environment based on the combination of all of these factors.

Budget always becomes the driving force in simulation and, because of that, immersive training is the most obvious solution to overcome budgetary constraints. In fact, many programmes anticipate being able to cut their training costs significantly with the incorporation of immersive training. When it comes to cost savings and revenue generation, it starts with the software creation engines. One of the things that Epic Games did to reduce costs was to make its creation platform, Unreal Engine, free to developers to help incentivise creation and interaction between the community in order to spur faster innovation.

Personalised analytics are another big part of what these companies are offering to advance training. As immersive technology companies, we constantly ask ourselves how we can act as an interpretation layer to feed into the training system in a manageable and understandable way. Handling a large amount of data has been tricky in traditional simulation systems. We have a responsibility as leaders in the space to move beyond the raw data and numbers into discovering new findings and understandings to gather and interpret that information.

To help facilitate this, the solution providers in this discussion are working to integrate with other hardware and software providers to make sure that users and developers are able to use the immersive reality tools of their choice to create the appropriate simulations for specific use cases. Monolithic solutions in simulation do not exist anymore so the industry needs to make sure to be inclusive of all the hardware and software solutions, in order for creators to be able to combine the best of these various solutions.

We traditionally learn through translation methods such as reading text, watching video, viewing photos, or listening to lectures in a classroom. In doing this, the trainee will naturally fill in the gaps for how the information they are learning fits in with the actual context of a certain scenario. Immersive technology allows us to recreate that original context to get the most amount of fidelity and realism, and to facilitate higher levels of comprehension and lower levels of distraction. The trainee is then able to recall that original context a lot faster and much more accurately in their minds. We can recreate original context by keeping in the important aspects of the scenarios that allow users to learn and leave out aspects of original context that are distractions and limit our ability to learn. These attributes are significant enhancers to traditional means of learning and training.

Adaptive virtual environments

Immersive technology developers have achieved the ability to give users a realistic, embodied experience for the ultimate training tool. The teams in this discussion are working on ways to take these personalised experiences to new levels by automating the environment so it is objectively tailored to the user or trainee’s performance, with the ability to track, measure and manipulate cognitive state, and focus focal areas at any given point in time and what the user is doing at any given point in time.

Brightline Interactive’s Performance Adaptive Virtual Engine (PAVE) enables VR scenarios to be adaptive to a user’s active or passive performance. The simulation learns both the individual user behaviour and the trends of the collective so that we can uncover aspects of training effectiveness that have not yet been addressed or answered. Cognitive human performance is a big focus within the US Department of Defense. The understanding of an individual’s passive performance, combined with automated tailoring of training, has created opportunities to perfect individualised training at scale.

In addition to enabling better training for end users, with automated virtual systems, we are able to create next-generation instructors by reducing manpower and logistics, and removing unnecessary distraction from the instructors. We now have the opportunity to bring instructors into the contextualised training experience in order to maximise instructor effectiveness of transitioning knowledge from one human to the next. Immersive technology is helping instructors to learn how to interact with these new tools and how to best use these tools to maximise impact.

There are significant ways that immersive technology will continue to enhance training and simulation effectiveness. Thanks to our guests on this episode of Pivot Fast, we will continue to push the boundaries of these capabilities to create robust, smart training systems.

About the author

An evangelist in immersive technology, Sophia Moshasha spends her time educating the community on applications of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). She is currently director of immersive platforms at Brightline Interactive, an immersive technology company that produces custom interactive technology, to include VR and AR experiences, for brands, agencies and government entities. Sophia is also vice president of the VR/AR Association Washington DC chapter, co-chairs the association’s marketing and defence committees, and co-hosts the association’s podcast, Everything VR & AR.

LET US KNOW ABOUT YOUR EVENT VIA EDITOR@VRWORLDTECH.COM AND WE’LL CONSIDER IT FOR PROS+CONS

Main image: Sebastian Loze, Dimitri Mikhalchuk, Adam Molnar and Urho Kontori

Source: https://vrworldtech.com/2020/07/28/pivot-fast-next-generation-immersive-simulation/

AR/VR

A Wake Inn Pulls Those Trailer Strings Ahead of a 2021 Release

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There were plenty of virtual reality (VR) titles announced during the week that would normally have been the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), VR Bros’ A Wake Inn being one of them. An immersive horror experience originally slated for this year, the team has just released a new trailer moving the launch to early 2021.

A Wake Inn is a scary title featuring a classic horror staple, mannequins, those lifeless, dead-eyed entities which work so well at terrifying almost everyone. The twist here is that not only is the art deco hotel where the gameplay is set filled with an army of living dolls, you also happen to be one. And then there’s the mysterious Doctor Finnegan, owner of the estate who talks to you via a shortwave transmitter.

The story revolves around you finding out who you are, how you ended up here, and how to get out whilst avoiding the other not so friendly dolls. As VR Bros puts it: “Is it time for the player to take revenge on their maker and set themselves free, or perhaps they’re just a puppet being pulled by its strings?”

In a similar fashion to Last Labyrinth, you’re bound to a wheelchair, making A Wake Inn an entirely seated experience. That’s where the similarity ends, as in this experience you’re given free rein to explore the hotel and figure out its various escape room-style gameplay elements. You operate it just as you would any manual wheelchair, moving the controllers as if pushing the wheels.

Further thought has been put into the gameplay interactions as well, a flashlight for lighting up the darkness which does run out of batteries, a radio with custom stations, and the cinema room where you can watch tapes found around the building.

A Wake Inn will support HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Valve Index when it launches next year. For further updates on this wheeled horror, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/a-wake-inn-pulls-those-trailer-strings-ahead-of-a-2021-release/

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Working Up a Sweat With FitXR’s Dance Workouts

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The UK is nearing the end of its second lockdown and even with that coming to an end plenty of restrictions will still be in place. With the winter weather kicking in and gyms closed if you want to stay healthy at home VR offers an entertaining solution. So VRFocus picked up its Oculus Quest and tried out one of the latest ways to get yourself moving, FitXR’s dance workouts.

FitXR (formerly BoxVR) previously only offered boxing style workouts, hitting pads with jabs, hooks and uppercuts in time to music. The title then diversified this month by adding dance workouts, helping to not only emulate a more traditional fitness class but also add a less stringent gameplay mode.

Selecting between beginner and intermediate classes you’ve got a central fitness instructor to follow who’ll tell you the next move and you simply replicate, easy. There were a number of different workout times depending on how energetic you’re feeling but for the gameplay video below VRFocus kept things nice and easy with a brief 3-minute session.

None of the moves were too complicated but they did get the whole body moving – rather than just the upper body – with the speed stepping up a notch toward the end. Even if the stock, pre-recorded phrases from the trainer occasionally repeat it’s nice hearing them, aiding that motivation on the longer sets. Plus, thanks to FitXR’s multiplayer functionality, you’re joined by others for more of a group workout.

For a bit of added competition if you get the moves spot on then you’ll be awarded points which tally on a live scoreboard behind the trainer. Having a quick glance and seeing where your position is helps to give a little kick, especially if you’re competitive.

The dance-inspired workouts are available on Oculus Quest and Quest 2 as part of the main videogame. For further gameplay videos keep watching VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/working-up-a-sweat-with-fitxrs-dance-workouts/

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Best VR Engines for Enterprise applications

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Virtual reality (VR) is a simple term that refers to and describes a variety of technologies associated with immersion into a simulated 3D environment. It can be considered primarily as the point where human-computer interaction, computer graphics, computer visions and 3D sensing meet.

Once virtual reality engines were associated with gaming only, but now it has gained momentum in all industries. VR in the enterprise and consumer sector has taken the world of tech by storm. It has transformed from a figment of science fiction imagination into a billion-dollar business. According to expert estimations, the virtual reality (VR) market is forecast to reach 18.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, representing a 78% increase in spending from last year.

Virtual reality app development has become a highly competitive space, with several companies offering excellent VR engines for businesses and other large enterprises. With so many VR options available in the market, it is easy for company executives to get confused about the best ones that suit their business. We will look at some of the best VR engines for enterprise applications.

Top VR engines to consider

Amazon Sumerian

The Amazon Sumerian is the virtual reality engine developed by AWS. When using this VR engine, you don’t need 3D graphics or VR programming skills. The engine works with the popular VR platforms, including Oculus Go, HTC Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, and Lenovo Mirage. The Amazon Sumerian engine also works well with Android and iOS mobile devices.

The good thing about this VR engine is that it has numerous enterprise applications. You can use it for cases such as employee education, training simulation, retail & sales, virtual concierge, and field services productivity,

Some of the powerful features of Amazon Sumerian include;

·         Sumerian editor;

·         Sumerian hosts;

·         Asset management;

·         Capability to script the logic in any scene you create.

Amazon Sumerian offers several learning resources that make it easy for you to use the VR engine. The resources have valuable information for virtual reality developers.

Maya

Maya is one of the most widely used VR enterprise applications. The R software development tool from Autodesk is used for various purposes including D animations, motion graphics, and VFX software.

It is currently one of the most powerful VR engines as it is used for various functions such as dynamics, 3D rendering, effects, 3D animation, 3D shading, 3D modelling, motion graphics, pipeline integration, and more.

Unity

Unity is a popular VR engine as it allows you to develop solutions for various sectors. With Unity, you can create VR solutions for sectors like automotive, transportation, manufacturing, media & entertainment, engineering, construction.

The tool comes with numerous perks for developers such as;

  • Artist and designer tools;
  • A powerful editor for creating Unity 3D VR assets;
  • CAD tools; and 
  • Collaboration tools.

Google VR for everyone

Google VR is the engine developed by the search engine giant, Google. The development tool allows you to create an immersive VR experience for your company. The tool and other VR engines are available on the Google VR developer portal.

The Google VR engine can be used to develop VR tools on numerous platforms such as Android, iOS, Unity, Unreal, and web. Google has software development kits (SDKs) for the various VR platforms it supports and can be accessed easily.

The Google VR offers numerous perks, which include;

  • Low cost
  • Easy to set up and use for developing VR apps
  • Various VR platforms available, making it easier for developers to choose.

Final thoughts

Using VR for your business can open up a whole new market for you. The VR engines discussed in this post are some of the best for enterprise applications. They allow virtual reality app development for different purposes and on multiple platforms.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/best-vr-engines-for-enterprise-applications/

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Full VR Support Rolling out December for Microsoft Flight Simulator

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It was great news when Asobo Studio revealed back in July that the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator would feature virtual reality (VR) support, but slightly surprising that the HP Reverb G2 would be the only compatible device to begin with. If you’ve been awaiting further news then wait no longer, the studio has confirmed full support is coming for PC VR headsets next month.

The Microsoft Flight Simulator team held a live developer Q&A yesterday via Twitch where Martial Bossard, Executive Producer at Asobo Studio confirmed the incoming update. “We are going to open the VR for everyone,” he said. “It will also be open to all devices, the Oculus family, Valve family, every family of headset is supported there.”

Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann followed that up by saying: “The feedback has been so positive [from the closed beta] that we think we’re ready to put this out before the holiday season.” The VR addition will be part of Sim Update 2 which is dated for 22nd December and will be free.

Further details regarding VR implementation will be revealed during a Feature Discovery Series published on 17th December. As Bossard mentions in the Q&A its not just the main simulator itself which will be VR compatible but also all the menus – alpha players had to remove their headset to navigate these areas.

As the roadmap indicates, Asobo Studio has plenty in store recently releasing a World Update for the US with a World Update for the UK coming in January.

Third-party creator community stats have been released showing that 214 airports have been created so far, with another 48 announced and an additional 118 are in production. 9 aircraft have so far been released another 56 are coming whilst another 20 are on the cards.

Microsoft Flight Simulator gives players the entire world to explore with real-time weather and traffic systems. For further updates on VR compatibility, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/full-vr-support-rolling-out-december-for-microsoft-flight-simulator/

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