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This Week’s VR/AR News: VR Has an Artsy Side

Given the current political climate, Fast Company calls on VR developers to make our country more empathetic. App Annie predicts mobile VR will outperform PC-based devices, helping drive the mobile market which is predicted to reach $166 billion this year. Time reports on how AR and VR could soon replace traditional computing systems. Mark Zuckerberg reminds investors of his ten-year vision for VR, relating the adoption rates to that of smartphones. Digiday reveals that 36% of publishers are trying VR or AR while Snap Inc. pushes further into augmented reality, as The Information reports that Snap is working on a more advanced version of its “World Lenses.”

Arguably the biggest TV event of the year, the Super Bowl LI, will have its highlights broadcasted in VR thanks to a partnership between Fox and LiveLike. If you’re not a football fan, check out the Puppy Bowl in VR, including a pup’s eye view of the games.

VR takes the art world by storm, as detailed by The New York Times and BBC. A recent study reveals that VR was almost a $2 billion business in 2016. Even high fashion embraces VR, as Vogue details Visionaire’s one-night VR experience at the New York Public Library. Music lovers can experience Lil Wayne in VR, in the first episode of Hulu + Live Nation’s “On Stage” VR series.

VR Has Arrived in the Art World. Now What?
By Jason Farago @ New York Times

Virtual reality is finally shaking up the art world, which is always slower than cinema to embrace new technologies. Google has partnered with numerous museums to produce walk-throughs, and you can now stream 3-D imagery of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, BOZAR in Brussels, the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro and the Robben Island Museum in Cape Town. Even more interesting are museums leveraging VR inside the museum (like the Jewish Museum in New York) or artist embracing VR as a creative medium (like Ian Cheng or Jordan Wolfson).

How VR is Transforming Art
By Karin Giannone @ BBC

London’s Royal Academy’s been showcasing the work of three VR pioneering artists, expressing themselves in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

Go Inside Fifty Shades Darker VR Experience
By Ale Russian @ People

To promote the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel, the studio is releasing a Fifty Shades Darker: The Masquerade Ball VR experience. It’s available as a 360 video online, or in VR on the LIFE VR app.

VR was Almost $2 Billion Business in 2016
By Daniel Terdiman @ Fast Company

According to SuperData Research, consumer VR accounted for $1.8 billion in sales in 2016, while there were a total of 6.3 million units sold. The best seller was Samsung’s GearVR. The majority of content was non-games, with games accounting for only 44%.

Senior Citizens Explore Virtual Reality
By Aaron Kinney @ The Mercury News

At the new Atria senior living center, residents are encouraged to try virtual reality. “If we’re able to help them see new things, experience new things, that helps with their overall wellness,” said Atria’s technology specialist, Shannon Wilson, before taking Hartnett and Mednick on their virtual trip to Rio. An 82-year-old simply remarks “Isn’t that something” while staring at Christ the Redeemer in VR.

Apple Files Augmented Reality Patent for a ‘Wearable Information System’
By Joe Durbin @ UploadVR

Apple just filed a patent is for a “wearable information system having at least one camera,” hinting at its AR intentions. It’s for a small piece of a technology that could be highly relevant for AR — that is, the ability for whatever wearable computer you’re using to have enough power to last all day.

Rec Room Social VR App Creator Against Gravity Raises $5 Million
By Dean Takahashi @ VentureBeat

Rec Room lets VR users from around the world meet and interact through VR games and chatrooms. Rec Room users have played more than a million games together, and more than 100,000 played in the second half of 2016. It’s novel enough to enable its developer Against Gravity to raise an additional $5 million in funding for Rec Room.

Why AR will be Big in Business First
By The Economist

AR’s first success will probably come in the workplace, where employees can use headsets with little concern for social norms. AR glasses and hardware seems likely to follow the same path to popularity as smartphones, getting smaller and more socially acceptable over time.

Mark Zuckerberg Discusses VR’s “Chicken and Egg” Problem
By Nick Lucchesi @ Inverse

During Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg told investors that it will take 10 years for Oculus to hit iPhone-levels of adoption. He noted “ten years to get to 1 billion units” for smartphones, after they were introduced in 2003. “I don’t think that there is really a strategy to pull this in from 10 years to 5” for VR. This is a problem for content creation, as there aren’t enough paying users yet to compel most game developers to make VR content.

36% of Publishers are Trying VR+AR
By Digiday

Digiday surveyed its VIP attendees at the Digiday Publishing Summit: 36% are creating VR or AR video, 21% are AR only, 2% are VR only, 13% are both AR and VR. Partnering with startups or other third parties also helps reduce production costs, a tactic both the AP and Time Inc. are employing.

HTC Flip-Up Face Mount Exceeds Expectations
By Michael Rougeau @ Digital Trends

Revolve, a third-party head mount for the HTC Vive, surpassed its Kickstarter goal by almost six times, with nearly $30,000 raised. The Vive mount’s appeal is that it lets you easily flip the VR headset up away from your face so you can quickly switch between VR and actual reality.

What’s Next for Snap’s Augmented Reality Lenses
By Raymond Wong @ Mashable

According to The Information, Snap Inc. is working on a more advanced version of the real-time “World Lenses” that were introduced last year, further expanding into AR with environment-detection that’ll augment your surroundings. The Information points out that the feature will be available to users before it’s available to advertisers, which is reassuring if you’re worried about getting served augmented reality ads.

DigitalBridge Lets You “Try On” Home Décor Products
By Steve O’Hear @ TechCrunch

U.K. startup Digital Bridge offers tech thats can be integrated into a retailer’s existing website– it uses computer vision and machine learning so customers can take a photo of their room and remove furniture, wallpaper and other decorations, and replace them with items from a retailer’s catalog. Digital Bridge is using computer vision and machine learning instead of AR, because AR requires a dedicated mobile app which all retailers dislike.

AR and VR Could Replace the Keyboard and Mouse
By Tim Bajarin @ Time

VR and AR are on track to become the dominant method of computer interaction within the next 10-15 years, driving all kinds of new hardware and software innovations. According to Strategy Analytics research, roughly 11.4 million American adults will purchase a PlayStation VR, Microsoft HoloLens, Nolan Bushnell’s new Modal VR gear, Google Cardboard or HTC Vive by the end of 2017.

VR lets you Sit ‘Courtside’ at NBA Games
By Bill Oram @ The Mercury News

The NBA catapulted live streaming in VR toward the mainstream early in the fall, announcing that Newport Beach-based NextVR would broadcast a live game every Tuesday night during the regular season. It is available to subscribers of NBA League Pass, which, for $200, allows fans to watch any out-of-market regular-season game. The NextVR co-founder talks about the technicalities of broadcasting in VR plus stereoscopic imaging and data points and platforms on which NextVR will soon be available.

Super Bowl Highlights Will Be Available in VR
By Terry Collins @ CNET

Fox Sports just announced a partnership with LiveLike, a San Francisco-based startup that specializes in showing sports in VR, to air pivotal moments of the Super Bowl for the first time in VR. During the regular season, the NFL partnered with NextVR and Voke for a series of in-game and postgame highlights packages. Fox’s partnership with LiveLike started in September, showing three college football games in VR.

VR Broadcasting: Where Esports and VR Meet
By Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh @ VentureBeat

Earlier this month, Sliver.tv announced its partnership with the ESL and the DreamHack esports tournament series– a significant move for VR finding longevity in mainstream entertainment. Finding footing in esports may help increase headset adoption.

2016’s VR/AR Venture Funding Totals $1.8 Billion
By Clifton Dawson @ Road to VR

According to a year-end report from Greenlight Insights, venture funding of VR/AR companies reached $1.8 billion in 2016, ending significantly above 2015. Both median deal size and total number of deals in 2016 outpaced those in 2015, with a 58% increase in average deal size and 30% more deals.

Visionaire’s Virtual Reality Experience at The New York Public Library

By Ashley W. Simpson @ Vogue

Visionaire teamed up with M&Ms and contemporary artist Kaws for a one-night VR experience at the New York Public Library. Visionaire’s Cecilia Dean says, “We love it. It’s not a commercial. It’s not an advertisement. It’s a beautiful collaboration. I feel like it’s the future of advertising, the future of art, and the future of corporations.”

How VR is Changing the Music Industry
By Nicola K. Smith @ BBC

VR is making fans’ dreams come true– Last year Queen collaborated with Google Play and Enosis VR to create a 360 degree virtual reality experience for Bohemian Rhapsody. Users are willing to pay for these immersive experiences– people pay $2.99 to enjoy Wevr‘s Old Friend VR experience, and Wevr co-founder Anthony Batt says sales are “in the thousands”. Wevr also has a VR subscription network called Transport. VR company Vrtify specializes in taking traditional music content and transforming it into an immersive experience, returning 70% of its income back to artists.

What a US$166-billion Mobile Market will Look Like
By Alexandra Whyte @ Kidscreen

App Annie predicts gross mobile ad spending, including app store and advertising, will reach US$166 billion this year—up significantly from last year’s US$129 billion. Companies like Google with the Daydream and Samsung’s Gear VR are emphasizing on-the-go VR rather than PC-based devices like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, and App Annie expects mobile VR will outperform the latter.

Sunoco Reinvents Motorsports Marketing with Augmented Reality
By Mark J. Burns @ SportTechie

Sunoco worked with creative agency A&G to create the Essence of Racing: Sound app, where fans can hold their smartphone over the advertisement to experience the sights and sounds of racing as race car driver Jimmie Johnson conducted an unconventional symphony. The augmented experience combined parts of three 30-second commercial spots throughout 2016 in addition to sounds from Sunoco’s online application where fans could create their own soundtrack.

VR Builds Empathy and More Inclusive Businesses
By Will Byrne and Dale Knauss @ Fast Company

Following this weekend’s sweeping immigration ban, VR may have to become more of a tool for building empathy as it lets people appreciate new perspectives. Leading media outlets are embracing this trend–  The New York Times partnered with Google Cardboard to use 360-degree video to transport subscribers to the front lines of global events. We at Presence worked with Discovery to build one of network TV’s first virtual reality experiences, bringing the toothy stars of Shark Week floating into viewers’ living rooms.

Cycle Across the USA in VR
By Steven Runnels @ VR Fitness Insider

It is now possible to cross the country in VR. The Route 66 Challenge and Land’s End to John O’Groats Challenge allow one to travel across the United States and Britain through VR, thanks to Conqueror Event Series. The experience is accessible through the web, Android Apps and iOS.

Oxford University Launches VR Game App
By Mary-Ann Russon @ International Business Times

University of Oxford physicists have developed a free smartphone app to help teach the general public about high-energy particle physics by letting them play games to detect three-dimensional neutrino particles in both VR and AR. The VENu app, available on both iOS and Android, consists of data from the MicroBooNE Experiment, which is a long-running collaboration by 150 scientists from 28 institutions in five countries.

Animal Planet and Pedigree Add VR to This Year’s Puppy Bowl
By Jason Lynch @ Adweek

Animal Planet and Pedigree are bringing VR to the Puppy Bowl, airing during the Super Bowl, for the first time, providing a “pup’s-eye view” of the games. The VR content is available via Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl hub page, YouTube, Discovery’s VR apps and Facebook. Jason Goldberg, VP of client and brand partnerships at Discovery Communications adds that “VR has been a corporate priority for us. We’re one of the leading producers of VR content.”

Framestore and Intel Present a VR Recreation of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
By Peter Graham @ VR Focus

Intel has collaborated with Framestore, VALIS Studios, 8i and xRez Studio to recreate the second floor east wing of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in virtual reality. The experience is built for room scale VR, and lets anyone in the world visit the museum.

This Female-Led Startup Wants to Be the Squarespace of VR
By Valentina Zarya @ Fortune

Two women created Entrypoint to be the “Squarespace of VR”– creating a one-size-fits-all platform to stitch together VR content. Entrypoint, based in New York, closed a $2 million round of seed funding. Led by Samsung NEXT (the VC arm of the South Korean giant) and Two Sigma Ventures (a division of the investment manager of the same name), the round also includes Indicator Ventures, KBS Ventures, Galvanize Ventures, Social Starts, Female Founders Fund and Virtual Reality Investments.

Hulu + Live Nation Premiere First Episode of “On Stage” VR Series
By Janko Roettgers @ Variety

Hulu just released the first episode of “On Stage” featuring Lil’ Wayne on its Hulu VR app– a 2D version is also available on their website. “On Stage” is made through a partnership with Live Nation. Hulu debuted its VR app last May, and partnered with RYOT in September to debut a VR news show and VR comedy show.

FX Series ‘Legion’ Gets Augmented Reality Art Experience
By Kyle Melnick @ VRScout

FX promotes its new X-Men-related show with cool augmented reality art murals in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco and LA. Users simply download the Blippar app and point it at the murals to watch Legion come to life.

Each weekday, 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.