FUTURE VIRTUAL

Image by Benjamin Blättler

Post_001: False Mirror

Lab Author: Ali Eslami

A long-term research project based in Virtual Reality. False Mirror is an open-ended, Interactive VR world that speculates a possible future where humans (or post-humans) live a completely virtual life. This world grows and reshapes itself over time, exploring radical forms of space, time, and bodies. What’s immensely exciting about crafting new-worlds, is while it opens doors for new possibilities, experiences and explores unknown territories, it also manifests a world that negates certain established perceptions and structures we take for granted in civilized life.

Referring to my favorite sci-fi author J.G Ballard:
“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. 

The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”

Example: Opening description of False Mirror virtual reality project - Ali Eslami (2017 - Ongoing)

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_002: BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACES

One of the biggest entry barriers of Virtual Reality has always been the interface, which connects the user to the virtual world. Current interfaces are only using a fraction of how humans can channel information and senses back and forth to their surroundings. We are used to creating an experience of our world mainly through eyes, while a BCI can directly transplant feelings, experiences and etc. The human brain itself becomes the domain in which virtual experiences can be built and connected to. 

Example: Brain interfaces which are being deeply researched in the labs of tech/gaming companies like Valve will be a huge paradigm shift of how humans can interact and immerse in virtual worlds. This interview is truly alarming, how fast it's being developed in action by a company like Valve who proved to be the one that takes big steps in these forms of technological breakthroughs. How Gabe Newell confidently talks about what they're dealing with in their labs is quite intriguing.

Link to the interview: Link

Image: Open BCI's Galea BCI headset design. Source: OpenBCI

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_003: LENA-VIRTUAL BEING

Lena is a fluid form of agency that can be associated with a ghost. her physicality, navigation, and perception of time/space is lateral while leaning towards chaos. She controls natural forces, dynamics and events in space(s) seeing as her inner-worlds are constituted of nature-like landscapes. Lena subconsciously leaves fragments of her body in an organic manner. She has a strong connection with alien plants that she grows at her home.

Imagine living as Lena, leaving all your thoughts and emotions behind you as you walk in space through time. Can you paint the space with those fragments of yours ?!

Example: Lena (avatar from the False Mirror VR project) Link to Video: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2tz6244jimzyzm8/Eclipse%20Promotiom%20-%20LENA%20Shards%202.mp4?dl=0

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_004: UNREAL ENGINE

A game engine is conceptually the core software necessary for a simulation program to properly run. Developers use game engines to construct games, virtual experiences, and simulations. They are the foundation on which virtual and extended realities are built. The use-case of game engines is not limited only to games but expands to fields like architecture, film production and VFX, scientific research, product design, VR/AR, and much more.

 

 The new generation of game engines, such as Unreal Engine 5 to become available in the coming year is a huge leap towards creating digital realities. What UE5 teased is a new technology that can drive almost infinite details inside games, with highly realistic lighting and rendering solutions that's been a huge mystery in computer graphics to be solved. Imagining a vast, open virtual world with infinite levels of details is not too far from our reach anymore.

Link: https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/blog/a-first-look-at-unreal-engine-5

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_005: OMNIVERSE - BMW X NVIDIA (FUTURE OF FACTORIES)

Explore the next era of manufacturing. BMW Group's factory of the future - designed, simulated, operated, and maintained entirely in NVIDIA Omniverse. Global teams can collaborate across geographies, software tools, and datasets to design and plan the factory in real-time. Digital human simulations test new workflows for employee ergonomics and efficiency. And robots are trained, operated, and orchestrated using this technology. The virtual factory, simulated end-to-end within Omniverse is physically accurate and obeys the laws of physics - a perfect digital twin of the factory in reality.

This is a glimpse of how the virtual is merging with the real world in a very pragmatic way. digital twins will bring a whole new paradigm in the way humans will work in the future. One could run a whole factory run by robots on Mars, sitting in their home.

Link: https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2021/04/13/nvidia-bmw-factory-future/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_006: FUTURE COMPUTER INTERFACE

Facebook Reality Lab is a high-end technology lab researching Virtual and Augmented Reality. They have revealed the prototype of a new interface method using the wrist that can track all the fingers and hand movements of the user. Additionally, by using haptic technology, every touch of virtual objects feels more tactile and tangible thanks to the dynamic vibration system inside the wrist.

Image/Link: https://tech.fb.com/inside-facebook-reality-labs-wrist-based-interaction-for-the-next-computing-platform/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_007: INFINITE OBJECTS

Example: Bastiaan Hooimeijer (Naam) is a VR Artist and developer currently working on a project called A Piece Of The Universe'.

 

In this experimental project, he creates many interesting virtual objects with mind-bending qualities. One example is this infinite drawer, a simple drawer with a handle that can swipe forever and withhold infinite objects within it.

 

What is striking about Virtual worlds of the future is how they implement and engage with the concept of infinity. While still being bound to computational constraints and limits, one can easily portray the illusion of infinity.

Image/video: https://twitter.com/_naam/status/1387872036601671685

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_008: AI-ENHANCED REALITIES

Example: Intel Labs, a research hub for the tech company of the same name, has created a new process for enhancing images — and it showed it off using Grand Theft Auto 5. The process converts the standard footage from the game into nearly photorealistic images using a very complicated procedure that involves an AI.

One of the implications of AI in the future of virtual fields would be to fill in the gaps of simulations. This means that one can even revisit old creations, such as a game made in the 90's, and transform them into a photoreal simulation through this real-time AI processing of the images frame by frame as they are being played through.

 

Image: GTAV Photo - Enhancing Photorealism Enhancement Video 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1IcaBn3ej0

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_009: NOTES ON BLINDNESS

Example: In 1983, after decades of steady deterioration, John Hull became totally blind. To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began documenting his experiences on audio cassette. These original diary recordings form the basis of this interactive non-fiction narrative using new forms of storytelling to explore a cognitive and emotional experience of blindness. 

 

This experience is one of the most memorable VR projects I've tried--using an impactful potential of virtual reality to bring to life the memories of a blind person. This implies how memories can be re-lived and form an immersive world of their own through simulation. The fact that everyone with a VR headset can re-live John Hull's memories through this simulation provokes several interesting questions about the future applications for human memory.

Image/Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ViF0GBt6fQ

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_010: HALF-LIFE: ALYX 

Example: Valve’s return to the Half-Life universe that started it all was built from the ground up for virtual reality. VR was built to enable the gameplay that sits at the heart of Half-Life.

 

Alyx, by far, was a revolutionary piece for Virtual Reality and the future of immersive games. One of the most polished Virtual Reality experiences with vast attention to detail and user engagement and a novel storyline.

When it comes to creating deep virtual world-building, what Alyx delivers is an ideal example to learn from. Everything is dynamic, and one can engage with all sorts of objects in the world. Alyx not only looks great but also plays great; these two aspects go hand in hand in the process of building virtual worlds.

Image Source: https://half-life.com/en/alyx

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POST_011: WINDS AND LEAVES 

Example: "Winds & Leaves is a flora-builder game coming to PS VR on July 27th, 2021.
 

Stranded in a barren landscape, you are the only being capable of mastering the ancient art of growing vegetation. Journey across the Steppe to gather ancient dormant varieties. Learn to read the signs of the various climates, awaken old landmarks, and grow your own forests in this VR flora builder."

This VR game offers an amazing mechanism in this reality, where the user becomes bound to the forest  growing around themselves. An interesting example of how Virtual Worlds can allow the player to embody an environment, a biome, and get attached to a radically different form of existing. How would it be if one could become a growing city ?! To what extent can we merge into each other through our extensive virtual bodies ?!

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4C2AZU3oco

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POST_012: DREAMS -SANDBOX VIRTUAL WORLDS 

Example: Dreams is an extraordinary, ever-expanding game universe from the award-winning Media Molecule, creators of LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway, where you can discover community-made games from around the world…and learn to make your own.

Whether you want to create games, music, paintings, animation, sculpture, movies or anything in-between, Dreams is an extraordinary digital playground where anything is possible.

Dreams is a great example of the future of mainstream virtual world building. A toolkit that is accessible and easy to use with a modular design that allows any one create their own dream worlds/games and share. 

Image/Link: https://youtu.be/5V4c2_HmQwc

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POST_013: ADVERTISEMENTS IN VR

Example: Yesterday, Facebook took a leap many people have been predicting for years: it started putting ads inside virtual reality. The company launched a limited test of advertisements inside three Oculus Quest apps, saying it would expand the system based on user feedback. The move is a turning point for Oculus, bringing one of Facebook’s most controversial features into a medium that inspires both idealism and alarm.

Virtual worlds are a new novel ground for capitalist techno-corporates to own. This news although not surprising coming from a company like Facebook, is alarming on how the future of VR can be occupied by ads. 
 

A VR experience that we might consider now an escape from the real world commercial ideologies is quite possible to be transformed into a times square nuisance. one might have to pay a monthly fee to disable ads in the virtual world experiences?!

https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/17/22537349/facebook-vr-oculus-quest-ads-privacy-questions-analysis

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POST_014: REMOTE WORK FROM VR

It looks like a well-integrated autonomous mechanical worker, but that is something of an illusion. This robot doesn't have a mind of its own. Several miles away, a human worker is controlling its every movement remotely and watching via a virtual reality (VR) headset that provides a robot's eye view.

The Covid19 pandemic challenged the format in which we work towards a more remote approach. While this example could seem quite sci-fi 2 years ago, it's intriguing that it's now being used as a form of remote work.

 

The human worker embodies a robot to do the tasks they'd do in a normal shop physically from home. One question one could ask in the future about robots is, are they being controlled in real time by a human ? or AI ?! or something in between ?!

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54232563

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POST_015: FULL BODY HAPTICS

Teslasuit is a human-to-digital interface designed to simulate experience and accelerate mastery in the physical world. The integrated complex of haptics, motion capture, and biometry provides improved human performance.

Initially intended as an entertainment and gaming platform, Teslasuit has transformed into a powerful tool in xR training. 

Still early in development but haptics technology will play an important role in the future of XR and interfaces. Aside from boosting immersion and giving new senses to virtual experiences, it can be a powerful tool for training. An AI assistant can teach you which muscles you should involve for learning certain physical skills.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFcbVrQWJSU

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POST_016: VISITING PAST WITH AI

A new AI algorithm (based on machine learning) recreates highly realistic portraits from old photographs. Many historical people are captured only in old, faded, black and white photos, that have been distorted by the limitations of early cameras and the passage of time.

This method allows re-visiting the distorted past and sharpens them with the help of AI.

Looking further into the future applications of AI and machine learning, this method could have a lot of interesting implications, one which came to my mind was a reality TV show where all the historical figures of the past become alive again.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wcw_O_19XQ

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