Chapter 1: Sam Chensmith

Ships

Sploosh. Sam receives a blob of antibacterial gel in his reluctant hand. “Welcome aboard the Serenity, Royal Norwegian’s finest!”, says a crewman with respectful eye contact and a measured smile. The couple next to him rub their hands together with their doses and make their way gingerly to the elevators, gold identification cards neatly tucked into the lanyards hanging around their necks. Sam tilts his head, purses his lips and nods approvingly. Passengers continue to step off the gang way and pass through security. “Buffet?”, shouted a middle-aged Asian man in a polo shirt and khaki’s. The Caucasian woman following a few steps behind translates “He means lunch. Where can we get a bite to eat dear?” Sam’s mind glitches momentarily but uses his practiced fobby accent to lament “Sorry, no Engrish”. “Your staterooms are being prepared as we speak. You may relax in one of our public areas or take the elevators up to Deck 14 for lunch”, relayed the eager crewman. …

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History of the Future” reads like Ready Player Two. A teenager in a trailer with an infatuation and boundless optimism for a dream he thought few shared. It transports me instantly to a virtual reality called the Past where my own story crossed paths. I remember visiting the Oculus Irvine office and watching my TNG experience getting featured on Oculus Share on Christmas day. I try to forget all those fights I had with my wife over why I was throwing away my career over this thing that wasn’t going anywhere. I’m heartened by the stories of how deeply Altspace has helped some people. …

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Earlier this year, Ready Player One came out and Oculus Go launched. In August, people started creating their own Worlds:

In December, we launched new avatar customizations, a new tutorial, a new media player, and much more.

And all of this means people are able to create richer and richer experiences for each other like a reading of “The Polar Express”:

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of Altspace this year. Even more experiences coming in 2019 and beyond!

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist, David Brooks, gave a talk recently entitled “Trump and Afterwards: The Next American Culture”. He describes how America has moved from we’re all in this together to I’m free to be myself to return to tribe.

This broader cultural trend isn’t specific to America. With relatively peaceful times and the onward march of technological advancement, globalization has increased trade, immigration, and communication at a pace that has surprised and scared us. Billions are getting their first computer and coming online with low-cost mobile phones. All kind of borders are disappearing as the Internet connects the world so we can, for example, read tweets about an earthquake before the seismic wave reaches us. Bitcoin has the potential to be the Internet of Money, decentralizing finance and starting to “bank the unbanked” billions. …

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My impromptu Late Night show

I’m hosting my first VR masterclass today on vlogging in VR. If you don’t know where that comes from, check out this video by a Youtube sensation:

Casey is my idol

VRlogging is kinda like #AnimojiKaraoke but for your whole body. You record yourself and friends in a virtual world and you have fun with it. The class is hosted in AltspaceVR, our creative playground. Basically, we hook you up with a virtual video camera that you can grab and place in mid-air. …

The following is a rough accounting of our (mis)adventures in Virtual Reality — may it help those who come after.

Front Row

As Greg’s framed cocktail napkin says, “this shit is bonkers!”. Basically, we’re streaming the performers’ avatars simultaneously to a potentially infinite set of virtual rooms. I love the Golden State Warriors but their season pass waitlist is now at 40k people. What?. The idea is to give everyone a “front row” seat at these events. Doesn’t matter if you’re Rihanna or A16Z VC Ben Horowitz, you can sit court side. Doesn’t matter if you’re at home in your boxers, get comfortable! You see the real world is harsh because of scarcity. Not enough parking spaces. Not enough seats. We can democratize live events by increasing the immersiveness of the show and lowering the cost of attendance. …

In web and mobile development, having good UX means users are able do things quickly and easily like pay their bills, watch videos, or buy more dog food. If you were making a e-commerce site, you want to get the user signing up, browsing your wares, and then confirming their order all before their coffee gets cold. For a mobile app, you want to get the user customizing their next coffee and pre-tipping the Door Dash guy before they see the flop on the poker hand. For VR, we can’t use the abbreviation, UX, anymore.

In VR, the User Experience could mean making a user sob or chortle (when’s the last time an app made you chortle?). The User Experience encompasses what you hear and touch as well as what you see (when you hear web UX it’s probably an ad). User Experience should now include new dimensions like creepiness and surprise. When you add an avatar and it makes people cringe while sucking their head inward like a turtle, you gotta turn down the creepiness. When you spawn objects too close and it makes people jump, you gotta turn down the surprise. …

You may think it was because of the $800 price tag or because this launch started at 7am versus 8am. Nope. I’m exhausted from the deafening horn of the hype train.

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via /u/Damo3000 on /r/oculus

The noise level in the VR community is out of control. So much whining about everything from ergonomics to the VAT, whatever that is. Many who complain can’t even make a fair comparison — including Notch, the creator of Minecraft, who tweeted that he was “spitefully” glad the Vive is better than…the DK2. The bickering has shifted from AR vs VR to Oculus vs Valve/HTC (What happened to our common enemy, Magic Leap?) …

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Frisbee, Golf, and VR is an awesome combination and one of the new experiences you can have in AltspaceVR. The learning curve is a little steep but hopefully these tips can help you improve your score.

The date is set: March 28th, 2016. That’s when the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift will ship (I preordered, did you?). For a while now, the fire has been building. Oculus helped rekindle the flame from the burnout in the ’90s and Facebook added a $2 Billion-dollar log. Other companies like Samsung and Sony have added their own logs and word has spread beyond the game industry. But is it too soon?

Hardware Companies

“Not soon enough”, said Samsung, HTC, and other hardware companies who are struggling to remain profitable selling mobile phones. Margins have disappeared due to rabid competition and the commoditization of mobile phone technology. Apple is dominating the high end and Chinese upstarts like Xiaomi are expanding into the medium-to-low end. …

About

Jimmy Zhang

Adventures in Mixed Reality

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