UK hospital uses VR to ease kids’ nerves before an MRI


Magnetic resonance imaging, most common known as an MRI for short, can be a frightening experience, especially for kids. The process involves lying down on a narrow bed, sliding into the middle of a donut-shaped machine, and being bombarded by loud banging noises as the machine goes to work. To help ease children’s nerves before their first MRI, a hospital in the United Kingdom has developed a virtual reality app for kids to watch and prepare themselves for their procedure. The Kings College Hospital in London this week launched an Android app to be used with virtual reality headsets such as the Google Cardboard. In it, kids can look around the room in 360-degree view and listen as the video explains what to expect when they check into the hospital and get taken to the imaging room.

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Planet Earth II’s 360-degree videos are a great escape

Not a lot of people know this but the BBC is one of the leading researchers in areas related to broadcasting and other technology. They invented Nicam stereo, teletext and much more besides. The microphones they developed in the 1930s are still the basis of many of those we use today. One area they’ve been particularly active in is VR, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and how it might be useful.

Here’s one example of research that tests the waters of what’s possible, via The Verge:

360-degree video is still a format without much of a purpose. Consumers and filmmakers alike are trying to figure out how to film in it but also what makes a good 360-degree video in the first place. BBC’s take on it seems pretty close to the ideal — relatively short in length, good quality, and engaging — and they’ll be releasing more as Planet Earth II airs. It’s still not the kind of immersive content promised by virtual reality, but at this point in time, it’s plenty worth escaping into.

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Virtual reality for the masses is here. But do the masses want VR?


Both the PSVR and the new lower-minimum Oculus do offer that magic – the moment when the view on-screen and your actions in the real world merge so perfectly that you feel transported into the virtual reality presented to you. That said, they still have their flaws. The dreaded VR nausea is there too often, for too many people, and there’s still somewhat of a content drought, reflecting the chicken-and-egg situation the technology faces. These will be improved in time, but it’s time the platform doesn’t have, lest it be relegated to the same “yesterday’s tomorrow” position of similar techs like 3D TVs and motion-controlled video games. The line between short-lived novelty and transformational new technology is thinner than many give it credit, and VR needs to leap over it soon.

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Pixar co-founder warns virtual-reality moviemakers: ‘It’s not storytelling’

“Virtual reality’s been around for 40 years. People have been talking about storytelling in that world for all these years, and there have been experiments around of people trying to do that, and always excited about it,” says Catmull. “Now with Oculus they’re saying there’s a new storytelling medium. All that the new virtual-reality stuff did was they removed the time-lag, because it was the time-lag that made you feel that you weren’t in the environment.” “It’s good, but it’s not storytelling.”

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Inside Industrial Light & Magic’s secret Star Wars VR lab

I’m on Industrial Light & Magic’s motion capture stage, standing inside what they call “the cave.” It’s not much to look at: two big screens angled at 90 degrees, awash in a smeary blur of images. But put on a pair of modified 3D glasses, and bam — it’s the Holodeck, and I’m on Tatooine standing face to face with one of the most famous robots in movie history. I walk around C-3PO, crouching one moment then jumping the next. The mo-cap performer across the room raises his hand, and the CG Threepio waves. It’s exhilarating and immersive, and it’s all happening in real time.

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