Museums Association: Online game enables users to curate Birmingham Museums collections. “The trust has formed a partnership with the recently launched online game and art platform, Occupy White Walls, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to enable players to collect and curate their own exhibitions in a virtual world. The collaboration means that users can access an initial 200 pieces from Birmingham Museum and Gallery’s art collection to curate, design and build digital art exhibitions. The available collection includes some of the city’s most famous artworks, such as The Last of England by Ford Madox Brown and Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.”
Mashable: Google’s Australian addition to its mobile AR puts koalas in your house . “Google has added eight Australian animals to its collection of mobile AR creatures, allowing users to size up animated 3D renditions of the country’s native fauna. It’s an entertaining little update, and a good tool to help you determine which ones you could take in a fight.” Well, um, that escalated quickly.
University of Bristol: Interactive virtual reality emerges as a new tool for drug design against COVID-19. “Bristol scientists have demonstrated a new virtual reality [VR] technique which should help in developing drugs against the SARS-CoV-2 virus – and enable researchers to share models and collaborate in new ways. The innovative tool, created by University of Bristol researchers, and published in the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, will help scientists around the world identify anti-viral drug leads more rapidly.”
Engineering and Technology: Review: V&A’s Curious Alice VR experience. “Ahead of the opening of its much-anticipated Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition in March 2021, London’s Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum has released a VR experience: Curious Alice. This is not a dodgy reconstruction of its existing galleries or upcoming exhibition; it is a creative little companion piece well suited to the medium and offering a brief escape from reality.”
ScienceDaily: New virtual reality software allows scientists to ‘walk’ inside cells. “The software, called vLUME, was created by scientists at the University of Cambridge and 3D image analysis software company Lume VR Ltd. It allows super-resolution microscopy data to be visualised and analysed in virtual reality, and can be used to study everything from individual proteins to entire cells.”
Gizmodo: Google’s Daydream VR Is Officially, Really, Finally Dead. “If you happen to be one of the few people who still use Google’s Daydream VR platform, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s officially dead. (If you didn’t know Daydream was a thing, that’s totally OK. I forgot it was, too.) Spotted by Android Authority, Google recently issued a service update for Daydream letting any lingering users know the software is no longer supported.”
VentureBeat: Will Facebook Horizon be the first step toward the metaverse?. “The excitement around a metaverse is growing, as it’s not just an idea from science fiction anymore. Facebook Horizon, a user-generated virtual reality world that is still in closed beta testing, might be one of the first steps toward creating one. The metaverse is the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. Facebook is building its Horizon world in virtual reality, where people can immerse themselves in a virtual space with other friends and create their own social spaces akin to game worlds.”
The Next Web: Facebook announces the Oculus Quest 2, starting at $299. “The Oculus Quest 2 is, like its predecessor, a standalone headset that can be connected with a PC via the Oculus link cable. It’s smaller and lighter, with redesigned, more ergonomic controllers. The internals are also getting an upgrade with a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2, 6GB of RAM, and 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, and the headset will support a 90Hz refresh rate.”
Christian Science Monitor: Beyond the gallery wall: Art world retrains the public, virtually. “When a pipe burst in January at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, it caused a flood that shuttered the popular museum in Rockland for a few months. The crisis forced a deep dive into technology to keep audiences engaged – and it left the CMCA staff better prepared for the pandemic-related shutdown in mid-March. ‘The flood gave us a head start so that when COVID hit, we could respond rapidly and continue to offer the three-dimensional, virtual tours that we’d just produced,” says CMCA Executive Director Suzette McAvoy. “We’d also received some great feedback by then, so we were awarded a grant that has helped us move forward.’ As museums and art galleries look for the resources to stay open and preserve staffing, some are finding that a hybrid approach – part virtual, part in-person – is the best way to engage with the public.”
Hypebeast: Facebook Launches Public Beta for Social VR Space Horizon. “Facebook has just launched a public beta for Horizon, a VR space for social interaction amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Horizon’s beta demo can only be accessed on an invite-only basis.”
The Register: The sun is shining, the birds are singing. You can shut the curtains and tour The National Museum of Computing in VR. “The world’s largest collection of working historic computers, kept at England’s wartime code-cracking nerve centre of Bletchley Park, has thrown open its doors – virtually – so anyone anywhere can view it. With but a click, you will be whisked away to a 3D render of the Buckinghamshire hoard, then zoomed down into the museum’s entrance lobby. From there, you can navigate the long white halls of computing history in Google StreetView style.”
HCIL: Development of Early VR. “In 2018, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) decided to make its video archives available online…. Between class project obligations, trying to wrangle hundreds of copyright permissions, and digitizing all of the VHS tapes, we’re happy to announce that these pieces of history will soon be accessible to view through the ACM Digital Library. This is a massive treasure trove of 300+ demos which were originally presented at the annual ACM CHI conferences from 1983–2002, and they will soon be viewable online alongside their original papers.”
Malta Independent: Through virtual reality, the general public can now visit underwater cultural heritage sites. “The project features 10 sites, where each site is given a detailed description and videos which show the sites in great detail. The project is in collaboration with the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), the University of Malta and Heritage Malta, with an investment of €100,000 over three years.” I can’t find a link to the actual site in the article! It’s at https://underwatermalta.org/ . Also, the headline kind of makes it sound like you need a VR headset to use the site. You don’t, it’s a great explore even without.
Mashable: Facebook reveals the future of VR headsets, and it’s more ‘CSI Miami’ than ‘Tron’. “Immersing yourself in virtual reality can feel like a sci-fi fantasy come true, but bulky, cumbersome VR headsets almost make it more trouble than it’s worth. There have been various attempts to slim down VR headsets, such as Dlodlo’s lightweight V One headset and Panasonic’s prototype goggles shown at CES 2020. Now Facebook has revealed its own glasses-like prototype headset with a display measuring 8.9 mm thick — about the same thickness as a smartphone.”
EurekAlert: New open-source software aims to reduce cybersickness in VR use. “Cybersickness, or motion sickness during the use of virtual reality, can be a major roadblock to the development and adoption of augmented and virtual reality technology. Now researchers at UTSA have built GingerVR, the first open-source Unity software tool kit that allows developers to use proven techniques and innovative solutions against cybersickness in future extended reality environments.”