December VR/AR News #3: new Samsung hardware, virtual world building and our bodies in VR

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Samsung announced it is working on a successor to the Gear VR headset and a mixed reality device that The Verge compares to the Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap.


The game Cartel by Zach Caceres and Brendan Poloney for Improbable’s SpatialOS.

Google has partnered with British startup Improbable, which according to Wired, “offers a new way of building virtual worlds, including not just immersive games à la Second Life or World of Warcraft, but also vast digital simulations of real cities, economies, and biological systems.” Its program SpatialOS is now available to anyone to create virtual worlds and relies on the Google Cloud Platform.

In its predictions for journalism in 2017, the Neiman Lab argues that VR will move from experiments to more immersive experiences. According to Ray Soto, who is the design director of emerging technologies at Gannett, “Next year will be the defining moment for virtual reality in news as organizations around the globe build dedicated teams to support the emerging platform.”

Blog hosting site will now be able to host 360 degree photos and videos using webVR, software that lets browser display VR content.


A screenshot from USA TODAY’s VRtually There.

For Gizmodo, Alex Cranz wonders if our bodies are ready for VR. Cranz writes, “your place in the physical world is determined by your eyes and your vestibular system…Damage to the system creates vertigo. It’s hyper sensitive and does not like to be tricked—yet that’s exactly what VR does.” She argues that the technology has to advance so VR is more believable and immersive because currently, our bodies  “try to protect us, manifesting a feeling of wrongness that makes us feel sick.”

In VR, avatars can have a strong effect “on our psychological experience of VR and on our brains,” Emily Reynolds writes for Vice. For example, Reynolds highlights one study in which participants “reached better emotional states” as a VR Sigmund Freud avatar.

For fun: Tour the National Parks in VR with Ken Burns for VRtually There, USA TODAY’s weekly video series.

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