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Party in Your Headset: The Week’s VR + AR News

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In a crazy turn of events, VR/AR might end up befriending–and saving–brick and mortar. Upload VR is opening up a VR coworking hub in Los Angeles, where all the cool cats can collaborate. Amazon, the retail serial killer, is eying VR and AR to breathe life into furniture stores. And Nomadic, “the Ikea flat pack of VR” hopes to use VR to drive traffic to malls and movie theaters.

Can MelodyVR Nail Live Music in 360?
TVREV — Cortney Harding

Since the start of the current VR wave, it’s been thought that the ability to experience live music in 360 would help drive mainstream consumption of the technology. Some of the same problems that plague other forms of VR content are also present in the live music space. So can MelodyVR, the hotly tipped UK company with two major label deals (Warner Music, Universal Music Group) in the bag, provide any solutions? According to co-founder Anthony Matchett, whom I recently interviewed, they’ve worked with over 500 artists to shoot concert footage and are currently building up a content library in anticipation of a launch later this year. He said that in terms of the camera height issue, it’s been a process of trial and error. But they’ve finally found a height that seems natural for most people and won’t make users feel like they’re 10 feet tall.

Upload Wants to Turn Its New Office Into a Los Angeles Virtual Reality Hub
Variety — Janko Roettgers

Upload is about to open its co-working space on April 13 in Marina Del Rey, offering anyone working on virtual and augmented reality a variety of work spaces, ranging from floating desks that you’d have to share with others to dedicated offices for a select group of VR startups. Upload will be close to a number of other VR startups, including WEVR, Within and Vertebrae.

As the Oculus Rift Turns 1, Facebook is Still Responsible for Where VR Industry Goes Next
TechCrunch — Lucas Matney

The virtual reality system very well may have been the most important consumer gadget to be released last year, and for all the critiques and praise that have pushed it through 2016, it’s clear we’re still looking at a technology that hasn’t scratched its fullest potential. For better or worse, Facebook’s Oculus has been the poster boy for VR and will likely continue to be.

Forget Out of Home, Try Out of This World Advertising With VR
Advertising Age — Garett Sloane

Adobe currently offers custom ad placement in partnership between brands and VR publishers, but the company is looking to streamline the process to work at scale in an unobtrusive way. Adobe believes that by offering a means to effectively monetize VR content, they can spur the further creative output in the medium.

How to Prepare for Mobile Advertising’s Fast-Approaching New Frontier
Adweek — Anna Bager

At Mobile World Congress, we heard about how Lufthansa will soon provide virtual reality headsets to passengers on certain flights, building customer loyalty by giving them a unique experience during a time period when they are already isolated and looking for something to read or watch. The intimacy of the new media environments requires advertisers to be less interruptive and more polite than ever before.

Virtual Reality You Can Touch: Nomadic Wants to Bring VR Experiences to Malls, Movie Theaters
Variety Janko Roettgers

Nomadic isn’t the first company to add physical cues to virtual reality experiences. But the company does have a novel concept of getting these kinds of experiences out in the marketplace. Instead of building and operating its own VR locations, Nomadic wants to partner with bigger players that already have a lot of real estate at their disposal and are now looking for the next big thing to retain and monetize audiences. Think mall operators, theater chains and the likes.

Apple’s AR Debut Will Look More Like Pokemon Than Magic Leap
Fast Company — Mark Sullivan

When Apple launches its much-anticipated foray into augmented reality, it is likely to start with a version that works on your phone, not on a dedicated headset or pair of glasses, analysts say. Though somewhat underwhelming, it’s a necessary first step for a technology that could eventually transform personal computing.

Disney Turns Down Virtual Reality For Augmented Reality Experiences
VR and Fun — SJ Kim

Disney CEO Bob Iger recently stated that reality-destroying headsets would be “ersatz” at Disney theme parks, according to LA Times. The CEO has ordered his team not to even think about using those mobile virtual reality headsets found at smaller theme parks such as Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags. Instead, the company will be focusing on adopting augmented reality technology.

Why VR Stores Will Be a Hard Sell
Advertising Age — Alex Krawitz

VR can’t match the convenience of shopping online, on mobile, or with a simple voice command. Alternatively, VR technology, while rapidly improving, cannot yet match the tactile fidelity of an in-store, in-person experience.

Adobe Touts Integrations with Alexa and Microsoft HoloLens
Marketing Dive — Dan O’Shea

Adobe’s project with Microsoft HoloLens will let retailers visualize analytics details on shopper behavior and foot traffic patterns in their stores with the help of a virtual reality overlay created with data derived from in-store Internet of Things sensors.

Facebook Debuts AR Stories, Taking on Snapchat
Marketing Dive — David Kirkpatrick

Facebook is officially rolling out Facebook Stories, its Snapchat lookalike feature . As part of the launch, Facebook is also introducing a new in-app camera that provides users with a variety of AR effects that can be applied to photos and videos.

Facebook Hires Apple Veteran to Lead Virtual Reality Hardware Efforts at Oculus
TechCrunch Lucas Matney

The company is hiring Michael Hillman, a 15-year veteran of Apple, as head of VR hardware. Hillman is listed as an inventor on numerous Apple patents related to batteries and displays.

IMAX + Warner Bros. Making ‘Justice League,’ ‘Aquaman’ Virtual Reality Experiences
Variety Brent Lang

IMAX and Warner Bros. are partnering to create 3 VR experiences that tie into the DC cinematic universe. The companies also were first round investors in “Dreamscape Immersive”, an L.A. based startup that intends to build its first VR multiplex later this year.

How Virtual Reality Could Revolutionize The Real Estate Industry
Forbes Azad Abbasi

VR has the potential to lower the barriers involved in purchasing a house. Through VR, one could tour properties without having to physically visit and get a better sense of the space than they would get from pictures.

Can Virtual Reality Help Brands Dodge Marketing Mistakes?
Mobile Marketing Watch — Michael Essany

Acuity Intelligence is rolling out a new tool designed to help marketers better understand modern buyer behavior. “Research suggests that shoppers routinely purchase the wrong item because of similarities in packaging and where products sit on a shelf, resulting in frustration and dissatisfaction,” according to the team.

Amazon Considers Opening Augmented Reality Furniture Stores
Engadget Jon Fingas

Amazon explores possibility of brick and mortar shops peddling furniture and appliances. The stores may use AR / VR to allow customers to see how items would look in their homes before the purchase is made.

A Virtual Reality Application That Will Go Mainstream First — Likely Very Soon
Forbes Patrick W. Watson

VR experiences, movies, and games seemingly get the bulk of media attention, but the application that brings VR to mass market might be a souped-up version of video chat.

Can Tech Make Ads Less Annoying? 7 Experiments from Adobe Labs
TechRepublic Jason Hiner

At Adobe Summit 2017, the tech company discussed how various pieces of its advertising cloud toolkit can come together to more effectively track consumer journeys and hit target demographics more efficiently.  

YouTube Stocks Up On 360-Degree Music Videos From Artists Like Gorillaz
Tubefilter Sam Gutelle

Google Daydream is an upcoming VR platform to be built into the new generation of Android phones. YouTube is pushing to flesh out a library of VR content before the launch, including 360 degree music videos from a variety of artists.

Can a Location-Based VR Startup Help Revive Shopping Malls and Cinemas?
Fast Company — Daniel Terdiman

Nomadic is a new location-based VR experience company. Built around a system of “modular environments,” essentially quick-to-install physical components like walls, doors, cabinets, and planks, that can be set up or torn down in just hours, and rich, prop-filled, story-driven virtual content, Nomadic is “the Ikea flat pack of VR,” says CEO Doug Griffin.Those environments are likely to be 40-foot by 60-foot spaces, and the experiences will last up to 15 minutes, either for individuals or multiple players. In the future, Nomadic hopes that some of its many different forms of content will be tied to motion pictures and may even be installed alongside the very theaters showing them.A big part of Nomadic’s plan is that it would refresh the content it makes available to its partners frequently, perhaps every 90 days.

VR Needs a ‘Chewbacca Mask’ Moment
Advertising Age — Emma Hall

Marketers at Advertising Week Europe believe that VR needs a worldwide viral hit– akin to Chewbacca Mask or Pokemon Go– to take off. Marketers also believe that social VR could help it take off, veering from solitary experiences.

The Future of Virtual Reality: 5 Things to Know
Pantagraph — Chris Neiger

Although most recognize VR tech is still far from mainstream use, it was a $16.9 billion dollar industry last year and could represent not just the future of entertainment, but also computing as we know it.

I Worked Out In Virtual Reality For A Month And This Is What Happened
Forbes Zara Stone

VR peripheral VirZOOM is a stationary bike that pairs with any VR headset to game-ify cardio workouts. Verdicts: Enjoyable, but a little bit finicky and could use a larger games library.  

The Virtual Reality Company Announces A New Animated VR Series Called ‘Raising A Rukus
VR and Fun — SJ Kim

The Virtual Reality Company hopes to follow bring animated stories to life experimental digital animation series called Raising A Rukus. According to co-founder and CCO Robert Stromberg,  “It’s too powerful to just go away. Over time, people will recognize its power. I’m really proud to be in a position with VRC that we are taking these leaps into the darkness. When the sun rises in VR, we will be there standing.”

Samsung’s Virtual Reality Ostrich Ad Is Delightfully Weird
TIME — Alex Fitzpatrick

Getting people interested in virtual reality gear is tricky. It’s pretty much impossible to convey the VR experience without some hands-on time. So what’s a marketer to do? Use an Ostrich– of course– to show that anything is possible in VR.

Each week, we bring you the most relevant stories covering the business of virtual and augmented reality, which we produce with our partner Vertebrae, the native ad platform for VR/AR.