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Why VR providers are pinning their hopes on profiting from ‘Zoom fatigue’

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James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

What is the latest marketing strategy for virtual reality software providers? If the Covid-19 pandemic will cause the new normal to become the normal full stop, Zoom and their ilk are not going to cut it long-term.

Meet AfterNow. The California-based startup, which describes itself grandly as ‘building the future of human computing with augmented reality and artificial intelligence’, is looking to help users against ‘Zoom fatigue.’

The company has launched its new software platform, AfterNow Prez Remote, in private beta. The platform aims to deliver ‘more meaningful and engaging remote meetings’ through AR and VR, and connects with Oculus or Microsoft headsets.

AfterNow is previously known for its work as a Microsoft mixed reality partner, creating AR presentations for Fortune 500 companies. Prez Remote supports one presenter with up to 500 participants and enables uploading of images, audio, video, and 3D objects. Those interested in participating in the beta can sign up, with priority given to teams who have existing presentations they wish to port to virtual reality.

“Over the past few years, we’ve been building high-end custom immersive presentations for the largest companies in the world, and we’ve seen how effective the technology is – we’ve seen positive outcomes when our customers have used AfterNow Prez for sales and internal meetings,” said Philippe Lewicki, co-founder of AfterNow. “This private beta of our new remote platform is the first step to bringing this technology to everyone – small and medium companies, schools and universities.”

A survey published last week by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a company which helps employees find new roles, found almost three quarters (73%) of organisations polled planned to keep working from home initiatives post-Covid-19. However, the research also found that video meetings can cause ‘additional burnout’ to workers already anxious due to the pandemic. “The phenomenon known as ‘Zoom fatigue’ is a reality,” said senior vice president Andrew Challenger.

Companies are beginning to rubber-stamp their remote working policies – which may have been convened hastily as the pandemic took hold globally – and in some cases preparing for the long haul. As reported by CNN, Google is allowing employees to work from home until at least July 2021.

This is where VR and AR companies seek to differentiate themselves. Denmark-based MeetinVR, which is focused squarely on the immersive business meeting space, launched on Product Hunt last month, achieving a silver medal for #2 product of the day on June 10. In May the company partnered up with headset manufacturer Varjo, to both bolster enterprise usability of VR and provide a better user experience for remote working.

The key in providing a better UX comes from replicating an office environment. This may be admittedly tricky if users have to don headsets, but some companies are looking elsewhere.

Spatial, an augmented reality startup, launched a free version of its platform in May enabling support for web browsers on desktop, Android and iOS. “Zoom is not a good replacement for being in the office with other people, whereas something like VR gives you that level of presence and personification,” Anand Agarawala, Spatial CEO and co-founder, told WIRED.

The virtual reality market continues to hold cautious promise. With use cases and adoption still a teething issue short-term in spite of the pandemic, addressing ‘Zoom fatigue’ could eventually be the answer.

AfterNow attempts to paint an optimistic picture in its closing remarks on its beta launch announcement. “The coronavirus pandemic can be seen as the type of black swan event that illustrates dire circumstances often lead to innovation,” the company said. “Humans are three-dimensional creatures, and with AfterNow Prez Remote, moving away from 2D flat screens and into immersive technology to better learn, communicate, convince and understand proves the future just got real.”

Is this the first indispensable use case, or just the latest marketing bluster? You be the judge.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech ExpoBlockchain ExpoAI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

Source: https://virtualreality-news.net/news/2020/jul/29/why-vr-providers-are-pinning-their-hopes-on-profiting-from-zoom-fatigue/

AR/VR

Horror-Comedy Hello Puppets! Continues Performance on Steam

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Otherworld Interactive loves to scare virtual reality (VR) gamers, originally launching Sisters for mobile VR and then Hello Puppets! arrived for Oculus Rift last year. Just in time for the spooky season, the studio has now expanded Hello Puppets! support to Steam.

Hello Puppets

There’s nothing like a dead-eye puppet suddenly appearing in your peripheral vision and with Hello Puppets! there are loads to watch out for. With a back story involving a failed children’s show called Mortimer’s Handeemen which used hand puppets, a fire destroying the studio killing eight people and a magic spell gone wrong, the scene is set for an amusingly terrifying experience.

You play a college reporter who goes to the dilapidated location to see if the rumours that it’s haunted are true. Events take a turn for the worse where you end up with a puppet called Scout attached to your non-dominant hand. The foul-mouthed sentient puppet might swear a lot but she’s there to help you, and as the developer says, only: “slightly less evil” than all the other murderous puppets.

Hello Puppets! is filled with puzzles to solve as you look for a way to escape the horror , and the jump scares. A “Puppet Mode” will let you see the world from Scout’s eyes, with the new perspective helping to solve puzzles, uncover secrets and escape the many enemies lurking in the dark.

Hello Puppets

You’ll also have to watch out how you treat Scout as she remembers your interactions, depending on what she thinks of you she’ll react differently.

Hello Puppets! is available now via Steam for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index, with a 10% discount available until 29th October. For further updates from Otherworld Interactive, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/horror-comedy-hello-puppets-continues-performance-on-steam/

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AR/VR

Somnium Space’s Next Updates to Add Buildable Worlds, Web Access & More

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The race is definitely on to see who can create the biggest and most impressive social worlds, whether that’s Sansar, Facebook Horizon, VRChat, Sensorium Galaxy and others. Somnium Space has been working in this space for several years now and today announced a major series of updates which will give users more freedom to create, expand and invite people inside their worlds.

Somnium Space

There are three main components being rolled out over the next few months, with the most important for current users being Somnium Space Worlds. If you already own a parcel of digital land then the feature will allow you to broaden your creative mind, building a new interactive world for others to join.

Created by utilizing the Somnium UnitySDK, these worlds can make use of Unity components such as custom scripts, shaders and other advanced creative tools. Build your own arcade or even a multiplayer game for other Somnium Space players to try out. The only limit to the size of the worlds is the land parcel size you already own. There will be three worlds available: Small (75MB), Medium (200MB) and Extra Large (500MB). Somnium Space Worlds is expected to launch in Q1 2021.

A virtual world needs to attract as many people as possible to build a vibrant ecosystem, so making it as easily accessible as possible is a must. Somnium Space already allows both VR players on PC VR headsets and non-VR players via desktop to interact but in December this will go a stage further with Somnium Space Web. Every piece of land – or Parcel as it’s termed – will get a permanent link so it can be directly accessed via the web.

Somnium Space Worlds

The feature will offer cross-platform live voice-enabled multiplayer so that those accessing the parcel via a browser can still chat and interact with those using the native Somnium VR client.

“Mobile VR support? WebXR? Of course! We are taking Web experience to the next level. You will be able to visit your WEB PARCEL in Virtual Reality. Simply use VR compatible browser such as Mozilla or Oculus Browser and dive into your PARCEL right away. No installation nor waiting times! VR anywhere, anytime! Fire up your Oculus Quests!,” notes a blog post.

And starting on 1st November will be Somnium Space’s Second Land Offering (SLO), selling a total of 350 land Parcels and 70 Somnium Worlds tokens. For further updates on this expanding virtual universe, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/somnium-spaces-next-updates-to-add-buildable-worlds-web-access-more/

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AR/VR

Captain Toonhead vs the Punks from Outer Space Unleashes FPS Tower Defense in 2021

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Years ago titles like Defense Grid 2: Enhanced VR Edition brought classic tower defence gaming to headsets but there’s been a lull of late. Developers like Teravision Games are looking to change that whilst tailoring the genre to VR, combining it with first-person shooter (FPS) action for its upcoming project Captain Toonhead vs the Punks from Outer Space.

Captain Toonhead

Revealing the first gameplay trailer today, Captain Toonhead vs the Punks from Outer Space is a quirky single-player adventure where you’re cast as the titular character who teams up with a cartoon-obsessed spaceship technician called Elliot Salazar to save the world from Earth’s last dictator, Nikolas Voorhees.

You’ll need to defend your base from an onslaught of technologically-enhanced creatures from copter cats and T-Rexes to merciless cyberchickens. You’ll be able to place and upgrade and variety of towers and then head directly into battle with a unique range of weaponry or jump into one of the towers.

“Captain Toonhead started with a fantasy,” said Enrique Fuentes, CEO of Teravision Games in a statement. “How awesome would it feel to experience a tower defence if you were fighting waves of enemies from the front lines, in first-person — while fully immersed in VR?”

Captain Toonhead

“It was very important to us to make something genuine to who we are as developers,” added Fuentes, “so we didn’t shy away from including some Latin American elements like our super-powerful chancla and a piñata-launching tower. Even our hero was designed to be a true reflection of us and our love for geek culture. All of us here at Teravision Games are ‘toonheads’, and hopefully we created something that many other toonheads out there will enjoy.”

Captain Toonhead vs the Punks from Outer Space will support Oculus Rift/Rift S, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR when it launches in the first half of 2021. As Teravision Games release further details VRFocus will let you know.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/captain-toonhead-vs-the-punks-from-outer-space-unleashes-fps-tower-defense-in-2021/

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