Augmented Reality Stars

Looking back on some of our earlier lessons and thinking about the future of emerging media technologies, I suspect that through a combination of augmented reality, 3D printing and even 360 cameras, TV watchers of the future will be able to step into their favorite shows, on demand, and become a part of select scenes.

The way we currently use augmented reality, a person can feel surrounded by alternate universes that are created digitally, but from what I’ve seen in my career working for a television network, the future could hold so much more opportunity for augmented reality and television.  Using 360 cameras to shoot scenes, 3D printing to capture objects within the scene and then an augmented reality device to recreate all of the surroundings and elements in a anyone’s personal space is the future of how AR will begin to work with the television industry.

Anyone with an AR device, watching a program that has been optimized for this type of technology will be able to step inside their favorite show and interact with objects as if they are a part of the program.

I predict that there will be many challenges and problems to solve in order to create this level of augmented reality– producers might also have to rely on some sort of sensors to adjust scenes based on a viewers actions, but in the future anything is possible! The television and entertainment industry has come a long way in terms of creating more opportunities for viewers to engage and letting viewers experience shows through AR devices would be the ultimate in emerging media capabilities.

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Things Could Finally Be Looking Up At The Jersey Shore

Drone journalism stories should be both informative and visually compelling to make the most out of this emerging media technology. In the tristate area around NYC, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and its effects on the Jersey shore still make headlines and I believe this would be a strong story to cover using aerial footage.

Using drones to shoot video showing the damage that still remains and efforts to rebuild the area would be impactful as it would allow journalists to completely cover this expansive area.

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Viewers would also get a bird’s-eye view of the national relief efforts that are being made here. Drones could safely show the enormous amounts of sand that is being poured into areas like Toms River that was left severely damaged after Sandy. The sand will be used to widen the beaches and build protective dunes to help prevent something like this from happening again. In total, there will be enough sand to fill over five football stadiums and I can’t think of any reporter that should be tasked with covering that kind of space; this is exactly the kind of story that drones should be used to enhance.

Turning My Field Test Ideas into [Virtual] Reality

A big part of my field test is using photogrammetry to create 3D avatars and highly detailed fashion designs to scale.  While I believe that virtual dressings rooms could be a viable solution to the online shopping industry, I’m learning that designing this emerging technology is an ambitious project for someone who could barely import objects into a 3D landscape.

So far, I’ve managed to collect data in support of my hypothesis that there is a much higher rate of return from online purchases than in-store shopping—30% compared to 9% in 2015 (Invespcro).   I’ve also started developing a brief survey which I plan to distribute to my test subjects in this field test to determine their level of interest in utilizing the virtual dressing room technology and personal avatar that I plan to create—questions included are intended to measure whether or not an individual would invest in having a personal avatar created, how much time they might spend customizing their avatar and if they would trust results provided by their avatar when making online shopping decisions.

Sample Survey Questions:

  1. Would you spend time making your own custom avatar?
  2. Would you pay for a customized avatar of yourself?
  3. Would you use an avatar for online shopping?
  4. Would you trust an avatar dressing room?
  5. Would you expect retailers to begin offer this as a service?

All of the above steps in my field test seem to be the easy stuff—it’s actually using 3D landscapes and photogrammetry to recreate a representative likeness of individuals that I’m most nervous about as I continue on with my field test.  Through my research I’m learning that there are much more practical uses for VR than just gaming, but it’s certainly not easy.  Wish me luck!

Using sensors to create a story

For many adults, work seems to be the most stressful aspect of their lives. Whether the cause is not getting along with colleagues, heavy workloads or work that is life-changing and complex, they each have a similar effect on us.  Being more transparent about careers or companies that seem to cause the most stress could be valuable information for students deciding on a career field, recruitment strategies and health care industries to name a few. Using Single Lead Heart Rate Monitors, I would use information collected from various employees in range of industries to spot trends and make some generalizations about most stressful careers.  I think that a story like this would gain a lot of attention as well as have a high probability of remaining relevant for quite some time.

In a field test, a version of the Single Lead Heart Rate Monitor will be given to employees of all levels in Tech, Academia, Finance, Medical, Entertainment, Fashion and other fields. Sensor data will be collected to track the heart rate which will be linked to stress levels for Senior to administrative level employees.  My hypothesis is that attention will be drawn to stress levels of mid-level employees that often seem to bear the burden of executing the most tasks with limited resources, causing the most stress.

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I hope that a story like this would encourage employers to reevaluate work environments and create more opportunities that young adults will be excited pursue.

Crashing of the Costa Concordia in VR

The conviction of a cruise ship captain that capsized in Italy made headlines again this week as Italian courts ruled that the captain was at fault for this accident. As sad as this story has been, I remember seeing footage of the ship going underwater in 2012 and wondering what it must have been like for the 4,200 passengers inside.

I think this would make a compelling Virtual Reality story because of the strong visuals and experiential content.

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Hypothesis: Offering a 360, VR tour of the Costa Concordia ship before and during its capsizing would give viewers the opportunity to become closer with the layout and better understand how frightening the experience of being overturned and sinking would have been for passengers.

Similarly, to the Feguson VR story, this VR experience would have strong, suggestive content that may not be appropriate for all audiences and would need to be labeled as such.  I believe that creating a VR story on this topic would have certainly affected the minds of some jurors in the captains court case, which may or may not be the first measure of success for this story.

Another measure to determine the success of this story would be to identify the areas explored by viewers of this story.  The article stated that the ship crashed during dinner when most passengers were in the dining area—I would like to know if VR viewers would like to experience the simulation there or from other areas of the ship like the captains’ chair or somewhere else.

Although this is a grave and scary story to recount, I believe it is one that has strong enough sensory content, making it ideal for VR.

Navigating Foreign Land

Full disclosure—I don’t play video games and I’m only familiar enough with my computer to let Netflix know I’m still watching and create the occasional spreadsheet or presentation for school and work.  I use my computer at the most basic level so when I was assigned to build a landscape in Unity3D I had no idea what I was in store for.

My first attempt on Saturday afternoon was met with confusion and a certainty that I downloaded a bum version because even following along with the instructions word-for-word, it seemed like my version had lots of missing elements. After deleting the software and downloading a second time, I still had no idea what I was doing so I called it quits for the day.  I came back determined to finish on Sunday evening, only because I had to. I watched, re-watched, paused and repeated the instructional video no less than 60 times trying to figure out why my terrain looked different or why I couldn’t view the sky and why the move tools were so hard to maneuver! It was really, really frustrating. Once I finally started to make some progress with smoothing out my mountains and downloading the perfect skybox and I thought I sort of knew what I was doing, but after putting in the 1st controller to move around inside my new world, I realized I had only gotten this far by chance apparently, because I still really didn’t have an understanding of how I got that far. The navigation tools in Unity3D were not easy for me to work with—I never quite understood where I was in my landscape or how to get where I thought I needed to be. I didn’t find the site to be very intuitive because I got lost, stuck and frustrated more times than I ever have in my life and I’m terrible with directions so that’s really saying something.

With all that said, once finally I exported my scene and started interacting with it on my desktop I felt extremely accomplished. I finally heard the walking movements and I could use my standard arrow keys to move forward and change directions. Now that its over, I love my little landscape–this foreign land was hard to create but I think it turned out quite nicely.  My only disappointment is that when recording my screen with Quicktime, I couldn’t capture the walking step sounds.  This was very hard for me and I have a new appreciation for video game and virtual reality developers.  Check out my Unity3D fantasy world below and let me know what you think.

Farewell Facebook?

Depending on who you ask about Facebook, you might hear that it’s the best social site on the web or that it’s a space that no one wants to be publically associated with.  The latter is far departure from where Facebook started, but it’s an increasing trend amongst teens and young adults.  I remember in 2004 when ‘The Facebook’ was so exclusive that it was only available for students at top tier universities—then gradually it opened to all collegiate level students, then high schoolers and I guess after that someone said at the company said—screw this, just let [almost] everyone in.  This may have been a defining moment in Facebook’s Innovator’s Dilemma that I’ve been thinking about recently.

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There was so much excitement about this site, that I believe was due in part to its exclusivity. Parents didn’t really know about it—grandparents certainly didn’t; it was where the kids “hung out” in this new digital age. When Facebook did away with its early registration requirements and became a forum for any and everyone to join, including mom and grandma, it opened the market for alternative digital spaces where users could still connect, but in more curated ways.

Twitter launched only two years after Facebook as a way for people to interact with other users who were interested in talking about the topics—not all that different from Facebook, but it created a new and more concise social media option (goodbye Facebook rants!).  A few years later, Instagram was born—again, very similar to Facebook’s photo albums and wall posts, but  now there were filters to jazz up your images.  Since then we’ve gained so many new social sites that are seemingly just portions of all that Facebook can do.

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I think that Facebook’s Hype Cycle peaked so high that many young people are unenthusiastic about exploring its features and instead run towards other social platforms that may actually offer far less, in terms of network building and diversification of capabilities. Facebook may still be the largest and most successful social network—but for some groups like teens and young adults, it’s an afterthought and perhaps even in danger of becoming a relic of the early social media space.