The Hype Cycle: Christmas 2016 is Judgment Day for Virtual Reality?

Within the past few years society has slowly become exposed to innovative technologies such as 3D Printers, 360 Cameras, and VR/AR equipment such as the Oculus Rift. Although the capabilities of these technologies can be seen across the span of the digital domain, these unreleased devices still seem very new and foreign to common society. With that being said, Gartner’s Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies factually proves that these technologies are going to influence society much sooner than we think.

3D Printers, are today’s flagship innovation that has unrestricted potential to influence the future of physical object production. Today, 3D printers have the ability to design and manufacture an unfathomable amount of physical objects in the comfort of a users home that eliminates the traditional manufacturing supply chain. Not enough users truly understand the power of 3D printers, the ability to create house hold materials in a matter of minutes. Having access to a 3D printer is ideal for users in creative and engineering fields who want to envision their ideas and thoughts as physical prototypes, the potential for empowerment across multiple homes, industries, and fields is endless.

Tech Crunch sheds light on an even more eye opening concept:

“Similar reasoning holds true for 3D printed edibles. We’re already living a future consisting of smartwatches that can track our vitals. Sending that data to a food-based 3D printer would allow the machine to prepare the optimal meal or nutritional supplements for each individual throughout the day. Who wouldn’t want to replace the microwave in their kitchen with a new appliance that was capable of producing meals near-instantly, personally compiled from fresh ingredients?”

It’s evident that the potential for home and corporate 3D printing is tremendous, and we have not even scratched the surface of what is in store for society. The question remains, how and when will we see widespread adoption of 3D printers in the home of American consumers?

Unlike 3D printing, VR and AR tech inches closer and closer to redefining video content across the digital environment.

In 2008 Gartner reported that Augmented and Virtual reality was 10 years away from from mainstream adoption. Academic individuals were hasty to dismiss this as true, but within the next year major companies allocated multimillion dollar investments into the research and development of AR technology in smartphones. Over time companies such as Blippar and Aurasma changed public opinion by entering the market through AR browsing technology. Jump a few years in time, Gartner’s statement held true, translation companies such as Quest Visual, and Google translate have incorporated AR functionality into their optical tools. Additionally, emerging AR companies are focusing on print and packaging for marketing purposes and are ultimately finding success in the online domain.

Today, more and more consumer brands are dipping their fingers in the ocean that is an augmented online browsing experience. This is just the start of the potential craze for AR to exist in online markets, browsers are currently expanding their products to fit the emerging digital environment – allowing these companies to input their original strategy, and new technology into existing markets to ultimately end with the same result.

 

Although Gartner predicted a rapid adoption to the consumer market, VR is leading the race towards widespread consumption. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend a annual technology and broadcasting conference held by the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas. At this event I personally experienced the vast span of existing technology, software and equipment that to support Virtual Reality in a mainstream setting. If there was one reoccurring theme that was consistent within the presentations of the industry’s product specialists, it was that VR is going to catch on like wild fire, and it’s going to ignite the gasoline that has been embedded within the digital domain for the past ten years.

VR, simply put, is the future of online video, companies have developed the technology to facilitate this new experience, and the content is being created, everywhere. Most non-tech savvy individuals view VR as silly because of the cheap cardboard aesthetic of the initial devices such as Google Cardboard and Google Glass. These individuals have simply not been exposed to the potential of the beautifully created technology that is impending on society. In reality, 360 video and VR are perpetually progressing with the curation of creative, amazing content from all over the world. YouTube has been supporting 360 video content for quite some time, and it seems to only be growing in both popularity and awareness.

What’s more exciting, is that VR is booming at the professional level, young influencers such as Ben Curtis are proceeding with large scale VR deals and talent to facilitate a bright and influential future of mainstream VR content. This means we should see VR integrated into the world of cinema entertainment on an even deeper level than the content created by VR companies themselves—VR is eagerly waiting the opportunity to enter into a diverse set of industries and make its impact on mainstream society.

Ben Smith, a former Google and YouTube Exec, is an active investor in VR and Digital Media. He has laid out a set of factors as to the imminent adoption of conventional society:

  1. The Content is happening- content is being developed on an international scale, just waiting for VR to reach eyes, ears, and minds of the average user.
  2. The Incentives are all there – Tech companies leading the innovation of VR software and hardware are making strides towards furthering consumer platform adoption. Ben predicts that by Christmas of this year, VR tech from Sony, Oculus, Samsung, and HTW will be widely available and ready to be wrapped up in holiday cheer.
  3. VR Startups are generally 6 months into 18th month funding cycles- Startups tend to operate in 18-month funding cycles, knowing that a large mass of VR startups was funded in mid 2015, we can assume that VR startups have used less than half of the money raised this past year. Logically, this leaves a large sum of capital for these companies to make drastic improvements and implementation decisions within the next 6 months to gain traction for seeking more capital investment.

Garners hype cycle suggests that VR hype and attention will slow down by mid summer of this year, but will quickly skyrocket in the fall as PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and Vive launch their products into the consumer market. By the end of 2016, VR startups will see the end of their 18-month development cycle, which is a perfect for the ecosystem to create and define itself to consumers on a large scale.

As a result of the facts that have been presented by Gartner, and the status of these VR startups Christmas of 2016, will truly be the deciding event that predicts the future of Virtual Reality technology and the potential empowerment of all facets within society.

If you want to stay on top of all things VR as December 25th 2016 gets closer, keep these thoughts in your peripheral vision:

  1. Watch for the emergence and evolution of YouTube and other VR video platforms
  2. Which company will be the initial players in the market, and how quickly will these VR devices diffuse within society? Which company will be the defining brand for this innovation, think of how the iPhone defined the smartphone market.
  3. How will VR handle their application and application content? How flourishing is their portfolio? How easy is it to access?

All I can say is that I’m excited for what is to come, I think we’ll see extensive progress in both content and technology development to make this more and more attractive for the average consumer. For those of you who are worried about the price, access and functionality of VR tech it is safe to say your bases are covered. These companies have taken extensive time to make sure these products are consumer ready and available on a large scale at the point of launch. As for price, it will be reasonable but will have a price tag that would be expected of an emerging technology.

Before you know it, VR and AR content will be popping up in the Facebook and Instagram feeds of the masses ready to change the world.

John Acunto @johnnyAVisuals

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

 

Sources:

http://www.thevideoink.com/features/opinion/quickly-will-online-video-transition-vr/#.VyPI1KMrLdf

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gartnergroup/2015/10/30/digital-humanism-trends-to-watch-in-gartner-2015-emerging-technologies-hype-cycle/#4a44098838b9

 

http://techcrunch.com/2016/01/26/whats-next-for-3d-printing-hype-cycle/

http://www.nanalyze.com/2016/04/affective-computing-and-ai-emotion-recognition/

 

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Blurred Virtual Lines

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Technology is going to change human connection forever with the creation of Virtual Reality and Second Life online worlds.  “Researchers believe new immersive technology could lead to isolation, but maybe when social needs are met online, people won’t need in-person interaction as much” (Kim).  These online worlds are a place for people to escape their everyday lives to live the life they’ve always wanted.  “With VR, it is possible that instead of simply escaping reality by focusing on a TV show, for example, people may choose to replace an unhappy reality with a better, virtual one” (Kim).  Second Life gaming has been around since the 1990’s with the creation of the Sims videogame.  Both children and adults alike played this videogame.  Some saw it as just a videogame, but others saw it as their way to escape reality and live their lives through the characters.  Second Life is now a virtual world instead of just a video game like is has been in years past.

The newest videogame craze is World of Warcraft.  This game is similar to Sims, but has proven to be much more addictive and actually quite dangerous and unhealthy.  Two extreme addictions to World of Warcraft have caused death because players lose themselves in the universe.  “In 2004, Zhang Xiaoyi, a 13-year-old from China, reportedly committed suicide after playing WoW for 36 consecutive hours, in order to ‘join the heroes of the game he worshipped” (Kim).  Another reported death took place in 2009 when “a three-year-old girl from New Mexico tragically passed away from malnutrition and dehydration; on the day of her death, her mother was said to have spent 15 hours playing the game” (Kim).

Virtual Realities and Second Life world are so dangerously unhealthy and addicting, that a WOWaholics Anonymous has been created in order to bring the 60+ hour-a-week users back to reality.  “The Internet and virtual realities easily satisfy such social needs and drives—sometimes [they are] so satisfying that addicted users will withdraw physically from society” (Kim).  As Virtual Reality and Second Life continue to grow, the worlds will probably become so realistic that it will be nearly impossible to tell the different between Virtual and real life.   Are people really willing to trade in real life physical relationships for online transactions with people they will never actually meet?

 Stephanie Smith  @Smith32Steph

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

 

 

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Don’t Like This Post? Keep It to Yourself!

Another presidential election cycle is upon us, and the mudslinging, name calling, and outright rudeness is reaching new heights. Today, candidates are using the digital frontier to extend the reach of their campaigns, connect with supporters – and broadcast their anger and venom to new levels.kid

While Republican nomination-seeker Donald Trump is often at the center of name-calling exchanges with his opponents, society has been on a clear path toward greater language impropriety since long before he declared his candidacy. The use of swear words and crude speech in the public sphere has been on the rise for centuries, as Melissa Mohr documents in a 2013 Salon article. Bit by bit, once-shocking words have become more socially acceptable.

What’s novel about the 21st century is that emerging media gives our basest instincts a borderless outlet. Crudeness spreads quickly, festers, and invites more people – from celebrities to ordinary citizens – to join the conversation. Three factors make this environment so fertile:

  1. Online forums enable free, unedited expression. Emerging media are hailed for their capacity to empower the individual. Comment on that article you’ve just read or share the latest news story with your Facebook friends – let your voice be heard! Pauline Wallin, in a blog for the Society for Media Psychology & Technology, cites the ease of replying to online material instantly as one accelerant of digital rudeness. Because it’s so simple to post what we think, a person can readily give in to emotional impulse and say online what they might never say in a face-to-face conversation.
  2. Discourtesy loves company. Users who fire their internal editor aren’t likely to encounter external censors, either. On the contrary, online communities of like-minded individuals develop easily, with people encouraging one another and fueling the heat of debate, language be damned. Social networking sites are, by definition, communities of individuals who share connections with one another. Sometimes those connections are as unsophisticated as a tendency toward vulgarity.
  3. Anonymity is a two-way street. Scroll through the comments section of a web page and you’re likely to see users who cloak their identities in digital anonymity. Using a pseudonym is the easiest way to shield oneself from being accountable for online rudeness. But the impersonal nature of online communications can also lie at the heart of what’s prompting that rudeness. Art Markman, psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told one writer that the distance imposed by the computer screen makes it easier to get angry at what one reads. “People tend to antagonize distant abstractions more easily than living, breathing interlocutors,” he explains. In addition, he says, it’s simply “easier to be nasty in writing than in speech.”

Where does all this insolence end? New technologies do not change human nature; they merely give our basest instincts a different outlet. Unless we find a way to rewire some of those instincts, the derision is likely to endure far beyond the November election.

Paula Moore @pemberley_manor

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

 

Cirilli, Kevin. “Trump Repeats Vulgar Audience Taunt Used to Describe Cruz,” Bloomberg Politics. February 8, 2016. http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-02-09/trump-repeats-vulgar-audience-taunt-used-to-describe-cruz

Ellison, N. B. & boyd, d. (2013). “Sociality through Social Network Sites.” In Dutton, W. H. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 151-172.

Mohr, Melissa. “The Modern History of Swearing:  Where All the Dirtiest Words Come From,” Salon. May 11, 2013. http://www.salon.com/2013/05/11/the_modern_history_of_swearing_where_all_the_dirtiest_words_come_from/

Wallin, Pauline. “People Post Things Online That Most Would Never Say to Someone Face to Face.” Society for Media Psychology & Technology. October 2012. http://www.apadivisions.org/division-46/publications/newsletters/the-amplifier/2012/10/online-rudeness.aspx

Wolchover, Natalie. “Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?”, LiveScience. July 25, 2012, http://www.livescience.com/21837-internet-comments-angry.html

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Gone WaX!

Spring Break 2016 began like most others with students excited about being off from school and traveling to other cities to sight see and or just relax.  Washington, DC is always a great place to visit, with all the history, monuments, museums, parks, Cherry Blossoms and people from all over the world.  Despite the craziness of the world, people are still venturing out and traveling. green room.png

One of the coolest Museums that you don’t want to by-pass or pass-by is the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum located at 1001 F st. in Washington, DC.  The attraction opened in 2007 and features real look-a-like wax sculptures of famous figures from politics, culture, sports, music, and television.  The musuem features all of our presidents and some of their famous wives.

As I purused the museum, I expected to see everything that was advertised, I knew or at least heard of some of the look-a-like sculptures, but as I was exited the museum their was one exhibit that caught my eye.  Two young men pushing and tugging at each other.  Who are they? I wasn’t alone, as many of the on lookers asked the same questions that I had – Who is or what is “SMOSH?”                                                                    http://www.businessinsider.com/youtube-smosh-video-millions-2014-12

As I read the signed affixed beside the sculpture, I came to understand the significance of this team.  The online comedy duo ‘Smosh’ – Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, long-time school friends, took the internet by storm in 2005 – becoming one of the first Youtube sensations.  green room sign.png

According to Tech Insider, the two claimed over 7 billion views across six YouTube channels on more than 3,000 videos. Their original Smosh channel is currently the fourth most popular YouTube channel. An original site, Smosh.com, launched in 2002, averages 30 million monthly unique page views. Hecox and Padilla, now both 27, even have their own film, “Smosh: The Movie,” which recently premiered at VidCon in Anaheim, California and is available on video on demandhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wKs143wB8U

What started out as child’s play is now the #5 in the 25 highest paid YouTube stars, worth over $6M, with 4.5B views – http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/celebrity/the-25-highest-earning-youtube-stars/.

SMOOSH has not only Gone Viral, they’ve Gone WAX!

“I’m going to wish for something, to become famous on YouTube for absolutely having no talent, except good hair.” – Ian Hecox

 

Cherry A. Maxwell @CMSgtMaxwell

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

 

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How Black Twitter Exemplifies the Strength of an Imagined Community

As we all know, social media has become a seemingly-essential part of society and our everyday lives. Described as a “micro-blogging” platform, Twitter revolutionized online communications by blurring the lines between interpersonal and mass communication. As social media scholar Danah Boyd explained, sites such as Twitter serve as networked publics; “the space constructed through networked technologies and the imagined community emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice.” Imagined communities are not exclusive to Twitter; the Internet has always enabled people to identify under a shared group identity without coming into physical contact or knowing the rest of the group.

In recent years, “Black Twitter” has been an increasingly popular phrase. Nearly gone are the days when people would ask, “is that different from Twitter? Is it a different app?” Black Twitter is just one of the many imagined communities active on the social media platform. It does not represent all black people but it does extend beyond the United States. Mark Luckie, Twitter’s former Manager of Journalism and News, describes it as a “loose network of people that are discussing African-American-related issues, both newsy and fun.” Black Twitter

From #PopeBars to #ThanksgivingClapback to #AskRachel, some of the most humorous trending topics can be traced back to Black Twitter. Besides humorous takes on society and pop culture, the imagined community has proven that hashtag activism is more than just a digital version of “slacktivism.” The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag gave birth to a full-blown political movement with influence in the 2016 presidential race.  Without Twitter, the mobilization and coordination of protests around the nation would have been difficult.

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Source: Black Lives Matter

In January 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences came under heavy fire for the lack of diversity among the nominees for the Academy Awards, as critically acclaimed films like Creed and Beasts of No Nation were missing. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag sparked a national conversation about the kind of roles available to actors of color. Within a few weeks, the Academy’s Board of Governors unanimously approved “a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse.”

Within imagined communities on social media, there is a form of affirmation, as individuals realize that they can relate to the experiences of others. This affirmation within certain communities results in amplifying the marginalized voices around, resulting in social change.

Tobi Mobolurin @oomobolurin

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

 

 

Works Cited:

  1. Boyd, Danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Print.
  2. About – Today in #BlackTwitter.” Today in BlackTwitter. Mark Luckie,. Web.
  3. “ACADEMY TAKES HISTORIC ACTION TO INCREASE DIVERSITY.”org. Academy of Motion Picture Films and Sciences, 22 Jan. 2016..
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It’s a Monday night in 1963…

It’s a Monday night in 1963.  You sit down to watch TV and put on ABC.   You are presented with a black screen with a white glowing dot in the middle.

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A deep voice intones:

“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to — The Outer Limits”

I remember as a kid watching the sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits (re-runs, that is…I’m not quite that old) and I distinctly remember being frightened by that voice…by those words…the idea that I was no longer in control of my television and perhaps no longer in control of my life.

Yesterday, we crossed into the outer limits when Google clearly demonstrated just how in control they are – and by extension, just how much control emerging media companies have of our lives.   In 2014, Google acquired smart-home company Revolv, maker of home-control devices powered by the Revolv Hub.   And yesterday, they announced that they’re killing it.   Not just killing the company, mind you – Google is reaching into the living room of everyone that purchased the Revolv hub and literally killing the device.   It doesn’t matter that it’s your device.  It doesn’t matter that you paid money for it.   Google isn’t offering to let it keep running and simply not support it – they’re bricking the device, rendering it useless.  The warranty is expired on these devices and so Google has no obligation to the purchaser.  Oh and by the way, you agreed to this.  When you registered your device.  Surely you read all the fine print before you clicked “accept”, right?

Why is Google doing this?  Because the Revolv no longer matches Google’s smart-home plans and they are abandoning the device – and the people who purchased it – in favor of technology from Nest, another company Google purchased.

As Cory Doctorow said on the website BoingBoing “This isn’t the earthquake, it’s the tremor. From your car to your light-bulbs to your pacemaker, the gadgets you own are increasingly based on networked software. Remove the software and they become inert e-waste.”   And provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act lets many companies retain the rights to the software that powers your devices – which gives them the right to reach into your home and do anything they want with the devices you’ve paid for.

It’s a reminder that we are all linked, we are all inextricably intertwined with the technology and emerging media all around us.   Facebook and Twitter have no obligation to you to continue to maintain your pages and tweets, if they decide to shut down this part of their service in favor of another.   All those memories you have on Facebook, all of those memories, all of those connections – they can be gone tomorrow if Facebook decides to change its business model.  The sum total of what they owe you is zero – especially since they’re services you’re not paying for.

The frightening thing, as in the case of Revolv and Google, is that it can happen with devices and services you actually do pay for.

So sit quietly and watch, folks.  You’re not in control any more.  Welcome to the outer limits.

Bill Margol

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

 

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The Dark Side of Viral Videos

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In recent trend of social media, viral videos have become an international sensation. From my own perspective, people rave over these videos because they connect with their inner-emotions and make them feel better about themselves. Take Sloan for example (video below), an individual who was born deaf and finally received hearing at the age of 29 through the Cochlear implant (CI). While this is a heartwarming video that can brighten the day of many, it’s important to acknowledge those who don’t qualify for the CI. As a recipient who have recently gotten my own Cochlear implant turned on, I did a decent amount of research and stumbled upon an article, written by Lilit Marcus, concerning Deaf people (with the capital D). Marcus encourages people to inhibit the amount of viral videos since they have an unfavorable effect on some people.

People who are Deaf are diagnosed with a hearing disability where the disability heavily influences their political and cultural standpoint in life. In Marcus’ article, she explains the negative side of viral videos: “…viral videos aren’t about the people who are in them, they’re about the people who watch them.” While many Deaf people are stumbling upon these CI turn-on videos, they’re feeling negative emotions rather than positive. This is due to the stereotype that CI “cures” the hearing disability. Which it actually doesn’t, it just enhances the hearing significantly. So not only do Deaf people feel stereotyped in seeing these videos, but they also feel left out since most of them do not qualify to have the CI. Although Marcus is incorrect on a small detail where only hearing-born adult and deaf infants, up to the age 5, can acquire CIs. The spectrum of who qualifies for the procedure is quite exhaustive.

When it comes to assessing the norms and patterns of the media, it is important for thought leaders to analyze not only the positive effects but also the negatives. Up to the point of finding Marcus’ article, I personally thought that getting the CI turned on was a beacon of hope for everyone who is deaf and Deaf. The viral phenomenon offers excellent ways for people to witness miracles, but there are others who are not able to relate to them.

https://youtu.be/LsOo3jzkhYA

Connor Ames @jcames14

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

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