Virtual Reality

Mother reunites with her deceased daughter through Virtual Reality

Will it be possible in the near future?

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Image by GadgetMatch

Virtual Reality (or VR) has been around for years. Although it hasn’t offered a lot of practical uses for consumers, the technology has recently made it possible for a mother and her deceased child to meet in a virtual world at the very least.

The nine-minute documentary is titled ‘너를 만났다’ (Neoreul Mannatda) or I Met You by the South Korean TV network MBC. With eight months of production, they’re able to re-create the child’s voice, face, and body through VR and AI. The first episode of the VR Human Documentary series premiered last 7th of February on MBC’s YouTube channel.

It was in 2016 when Jang Jisung lost Nayeon, her seven-year-old daughter. She departed the world due to a rare disease that’s incurable. With Jisung exploring the virtual world, her husband and three children are simultaneously watching what’s happening through a screen.

It started with the appearance of the white butterfly together with a song that they usually play for Nayeon. When she heard Nayeon’s voice saying ‘엄마!’ (eomma!), Jisung bursted into tears and saw her child’s appearance in a surreal environment. She continuously tried to grasp her virtual presence after not seeing her for a long time. They continued to talk and say how bad they missed each other — which made even the production staff emotional.

Of course, it did not end there. After Jisung and Nayeon did a high-five gesture, they slowly elevated towards another world. She saw a grass-filled environment with a wooden bed, a tree, and a picnic table. She was even greeted by Twilight Sparkle, Nayeon’s favorite My Little Pony character.

They also celebrated Nayeon’s birthday with a cake plus 꿀떡 (kkultteok) or honey rice cake and a bowl of 미역국 (miyeokguk) or the seawood soup that’s essential for Korean birthdays. As she counts the number of candles, Nayeon gave another candle and let her mother put it on her cake as a sign that she’s getting a year older. The power of VR made her grab the candle and stick it like it’s a real thing.

Nayeon was able to play for several minutes around the virtual tree until she had to go to bed. Their conversation continued. She told her not to cry, not to fight with her father and siblings, and to take extra care by not getting sick. It ended with the white butterfly’s appearance and Nayeon saying ‘잘가’ (jalga) or goodbye to her mother. Jisung has then transversed to the first virtual world.

Jisung agreed to appear in the show to comfort those people who lost a child, sibling, or parent.

Does the story sound familiar? There’s a Black Mirror episode that resembles how someone can be “reincarnated” through cloning and virtual reality. The TV series is pure science fiction but it gives us a preview of how a tech-driven future might look like.

 

There’s no guarantee that someone will get over one’s death quickly. The grieving process might even take years before someone’s sorrow fades away. As said by the Princeton Neuroscientist Michael Graziano, there’s nothing wrong or unethical about seeing the virtual equivalent of a dead person as a comforting memory.

Even without proper English subtitles, you’d still feel emotional by watching the full episode.

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Apple’s mixed reality headset could be lighter than an iPhone

Could ship as soon as H1 2022

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We’ve already heard a lot about Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset, and the industry has high expectations from its offering. We’re now hearing that Apple’s product could solve a critical VR problem, offering a much lighter, slimmer form-factor.

Longtime Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (9to5Mac) said in an investor note that Apple is testing several prototypes of its mixed reality headset right now, and they weigh just 2o0 to 300 grams. That’s an awfully light headset because the current industry standard, lead by Oculus, is much higher.

The news is drawing a comparison to Apple’s debut with the original iPhone, which was considered way ahead of its time due to the compact form-factor. Back then, phones used to be bulky and provided limited functionality compared to a full-fledged app-centric iOS. Could a lighter VR headset change the rules of the game and finally make VR mainstream?

One of the ways Apple might manage to keep the weight low is to adopt a hybrid Fresnel lens design where each side would be stacked with three Fresnel lenses.

“We predict that Apple’s MR/AR product roadmap includes three phases: helmet type by 2022, glasses type by 2025, and contact lens type by 2030–2040,” Kuo said. “We foresee that the helmet product will provide AR and VR experiences, while glasses and contact lens types of products are more likely to focus on AR applications.”

Kuo says that Apple might price its headset around US$ 1,000 in the US, which is in line with the price of the high-end iPhone. The headset is supposed to include Sony’s micro OLED displays and several optical modules that will provide a see-through VR experience.

Early this year, The Information reported that Apple could ship the headset by the first half of 2022. It also shared a drawing of how the device will look. It follows a distinctive design language that we’ve previously seen with the Apple Watch and AirPods Max.

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Virtual Reality

Apple’s mixed-reality headset is coming next year

Will sell for US$ 3,000

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Image source: The Information

Today, the world’s biggest tech makers already have their toes wet in the virtual reality market. Facebook has the Oculus. Google has the Daydream. The PlayStation has the PSVR. Everybody who’s anybody already sells their own VR headset. Everybody except Apple, that is. For the longest time, Apple has developed its VR headset without an endgame. However, according to a new leak, Apple’s mixed-reality headset is coming next year. And for a hefty, hefty price.

According to The Information, Apple’s mixed-reality headset, still unnamed, will come with more than a dozen cameras to help with tracking. Further, it comes with two 8K resolution screens to output images. As the names says on the tin, the headset is mixed-reality, rather than strictly virtual- or augmented-reality.

According to the report, the headset is already a “late-stage prototype.” It will also feature swappable headbands. One such headband will reportedly have spatial audio technology, bolstering the high video quality.

Apple is also exploring other ways to control the headset including thimble-like controllers you wear on your fingers. Usually, other headsets have bulkier controllers.

Unfortunately, the headset’s biggest detail is its alleged price. The headset will reportedly sell for around US$ 3,000 and will launch sometime next year at the earliest. Other headsets have sold for similar price tags, like the Microsoft HoloLens; however, Apple’s specs and price place the headset in a more luxurious category, rather than something niche or educational.

SEE ALSO: Apple is creating a charging cable that never frays

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Oculus Quest 2 with Snapdragon XR2, 90Hz screen now available

It’s more powerful as well as affordable

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At its Connect AR/VR event, Facebook launched an updated version of its Oculus Quest headset called the Quest 2. The headset has been improved in every way including battery life, ergonomics, and controllers.

Furthermore, the headset is cheaper, ligher, and slightly smaller. On the inside, it gets a massive hardware bump in terms of performance and display. All in all, Facebook is trying its best to make VR headsets affordable and encourage domestic usage.

Powering the headset is the Snapdragon XR2 platform, 6GB of RAM, and a new display that offers a resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye and supports 90Hz refresh rate. Oculus has confirmed it’ll open up higher refresh rate for developers soon.

The headset incorporates crucial design changes like a slimmer and lighter body, soft-touch strap, and adjustable interpupillary mechanism. The controller is still backed by AA batteries, but the overall consumption is less.

Facebook is also working to bring triple-A titles for VR fans from developers like Respawn Entertainment for exclusive releases. Oculus has also clarified that its focus is on standalone VR headsets moving forward, which means it’ll no longer pursue PC-only hardware.

The Oculus Quest 2 costs US$ 299 for 64GB storage and US$ 399 for 256GB. The company is accepting pre-orders and shipments start from October 13.

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