This week in VR/AR: Dreaming, touching and education

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This past week, there have been a series of tech developments in virtual and augmented reality.

For one, Nikon took a step into the VR space with its new KeyMission series of cameras. In addition to the GoPro-like KeyMission 170 and KeyMission 80 chest camera, the KeyMission 360 is a strong new competitor for action. In addition to shooting 360 video in 4K, it is also waterproof up to 30 meters and shock proof (when dropped from head-height).


The Tactai Touch

In addition, companies like Tactai are exploring one area lacking in current VR technology: touch. The thimble-like prototype Tactai Touch will be able to work with existing headsets to bring virtual touch to VR experiences. “As you press deeper into a solid object, the pressure on your finger increases accordingly even if it is nothing really there. Essentially, if the VR technology provides just enough information to suggest the presence of an object, your brain fills in the gaps of what isn’t there,” said Katherine Kuchenbecker, the co-founder of Tactai.

Another way AR and VR experiences can be taken to the next level? Microvibrations. A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is looking at how animated images, such as the characters in Pokémon Go, can interact even more with the real world environment around them. “Essentially, we’re looking at different frequencies of vibration, which represent a different way that an object can move. By identifying those shapes and frequencies, we can predict how an object will react in new situations,” said Abe Davis, the lead researcher on the project.

Can virtual reality affect lucid dreaming? Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at MacEwan University, is looking into how virtual reality experiences can not only allow people to have greater control of their dreams, but also induce lucid dreams. While Gackenbach has previously researched this phenomenon in connection with video games, she has found even stronger reactions with VR.


The PlayStation®VR

With Sony’s PlayStation VR headset due for release on Oct. 13, Andrew House, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc’s chief executive, said the company is going to expand its VR projects into non-gaming areas including TV and film. Does this mean Sony will be the king of VR?

The opportunities for VR in the classroom and education are clear, specifically in combining learning with games and other immersive experiences. At the same time, it’s also important to be aware of the ramifications for children and users of all ages, which include desensitization, addiction and virtual misrepresentation.

For fun: artists are creating incredible works with the Google Tilt Brush, a VR drawing experience.

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