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  • Lonely or Bored on V-Day? VR Can Help!

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    Virtual (and immersive) reality has already helped the dating and sex lives of so many people to become so much more interesting, that Valentine's Day applications seem par for the course. If you don't have a date, are in a long-distance relationship, or simply want to try something new this approaching day of hearts, here are a few virtual practices we think you'd like to give a go (and maybe make a tradition of).

    Cyborg Dating

    Photo via Augmented Reality Trends Photo via Augmented Reality Trends

    What you'll need:  a partner, a Google Cardboard headset, a smartphone, the Cyborg Dating app, and a healthy dose of fun and trust

    Contrary to its name, no, you won't be dating a cyborg but a real person, like a special friend or someone you're willing to go traipsing around town with. This augmented reality experience is designed to have couples bond while on a date in the real world - except one of them is experiencing it virtually (in a forest) while the other "guides" both of them in public spaces. It's a thrilling trust activity that requires hand-holding and close contact to avoid real-life obstacles like crowds, traffic, etc.  The couple can gauge how their date is going via their smartphone, and can also switch to night-mode if they want a more romantic ambience.

    Coffee x Augmented Reality

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    What you'll need: a smartphone, the Starbucks Cup Magic app, a special Starbucks season cup, and coffee (partner optional)

    Don't discard that heart-adorned Starbucks cup that comes with your mocha frap! It serves an entertaining purpose: line the heart up with your phone's field of vision, and you will see hearts and petals flying out of it. You can also send a video of this hearty phenomenon as an e-card through email or social media sites.

    V-Day VR Card From a Secret Admirer

    Image courtesy of VRGifts Image courtesy of VRGifts

    What you'll need: a Google Cardboard headset, the VRGifts Valentine Card app, someone you admire to send the card to

    Greeting cards are here to stay no matter what form they come in. Valentine VRGifts wants you to act on your secret admirer fantasies by sending that special someone a virtual reality greeting card - but with a twist. You and the person receiving it have to play a couple of mini-games using the smartphone and Cardboard viewer so that they can find out who is sending them a Valentine (and has a secret crush on them all this time!). Romantic? Yes. Creepy? Maybe. Fun? Oh, heck yeah.

  • The "Surroundie" - Going Beyond the Selfie

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    Sure, selfies are here to stay. After all, everyone loves a bit of camwhoring now and then (and in some cases, frequently). But as gadgets and technology continue to churn out one amazing innovation after another, the humble selfie is bound to get a major upgrade.

    Enter the "surroundie" - a phenomenon born from the advent of 360-degree angle cameras. The term itself was coined by Ben Wood, a CCS insight analyst who recognized the revolutionary capacity of 360 degree cameras to contribute to even better content creation.

    Now, cameras can go beyond the conceit of selfies and putting one's self above all else in social media content. The "surroundie" allows even more exploration and better curating of what people can see and learn online. Events, news, discoveries, and even everyday living can be better viewed, thanks to both Facebook and YouTube's support of 360 degree content.

    I Am Cardboard is proud to offer Orbit 360 in all its panoramic glory. Aside from capturing group selfies (we do call it the "ultimate selfie enabler"), we believe this nifty little tool can go on adventures and help capture the sights like no other straight-shooting camera could on its own. And, as we mentioned in a previous article called "How Will Your Career Benefit From 360-Degree Panorama", photography, tourism, architecture, lifestyle blogging, and a host of other careers will find the "surroundie" a much-needed tool for marketing, sales, and advertising.

    And really, what a waste of great technology if we continue to use it on our faces alone, right?

  • Oh, the Possibilities! Five Awesome Daydream View Apps

    Now that Daydream View is no longer a dream, it's time to put it through its paces as far as apps are concerned. Below is a mix of reliable apps and some nifty new ones, resulting in a list that's high on adventure and information.

    1.Google Street View

    Of course, of course, of course - Street View is a dependable Google creation, after all. With Daydream View, you can up the ante on the virtual exploration of just about any place you want. From searching for a particular place like a restaurant or park, to visiting destinations you can only read or dream about, Google Street View's 360-degree functionality can be pretty mind-blowing with Daydream.

    2. Google Arts & Culture VR

    Virtual reality and art seem to be a match made in heaven. If you don't have the time, resource, or inclination to gallery-hop, let the combined genius of Google Arts & Culture VR and the Daydream View guide you through masterpieces of fine art. Audio guides are also available to allow you to really get into an artful immersion.

    3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

    Where to find them? Why, on Google Daydream View, of course! The app is not a game by a long shot, but there are some sweet control gestures you can use with your Daydream View for this tie-in app with the upcoming movie.

    4. Polyrunner VR

    Run as fast as you can without getting winded...sort of. Polyrunner VR is one of those endless running games that you will get hooked on. Daydream View's controller will make it feel more intuitive that you...might...just...catch yourself...catching...your breath!

    5. The Rose and I

    A Sundance FIlm Festival hit, Rose is an interactive animated experience that allows viewers to feel loneliness, love, loss, and friendship. And what is virtual reality without the feels?

     

     

  • 5 Scary Places to Visit Using Street View VR

    Halloween is nigh, and many are in the mood to scare others - and themselves. If you're one of them but can't afford to travel faraway for a seasonal scare, then it's best to turn to Street View VR. With the Google Street View app, your smartphone, and a Google Cardboard headset, you can get a virtual view (and scare!) without having to leave the comfort and safety of your couch, bed, or home.

    Now, thrown in some truly frightening locations that exist in real life, and you can have an unforgettable Halloween experience. Not sure where to start? Here are five hair-raising recommendations.

    The Pigeon-Head People Street

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    Of course, it makes perfect sense that this creepy place can only come from the land of tentacle porn and general weirdness - Japan. Tamagawa-josui sidewalk has become a favorite Google Street View location because several all-season pranksters made it a habit to wait for the Google Street View bike while making sure their faces won't get blurred in the process. They succeeded, of course. They wore pigeon masks, and the result - as you try to "walk" among them - is nothing short of unnerving.

    Dracula's Castle

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    Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania, fits Bram Stoker's description of Dracula's abode to a T. In actuality, this castle served as a medieval fortress for the many military invasions that defined its history. Perfectly preserved and with most of its haunting details intact, it doesn't seem to matter that it is not the true residence of Vlad the Impaler - Bram Stoker's almost uncanny description of the castle in his novel makes this virtual visit even more chilling.

    The 13th Gate Haunted House

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    This list won't be complete without a haunted house thrown in for good measure. The 13th Gate is an unabashedly "man-made" haunted house in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But what it lacks in actual ghostly and paranormal activities, it more than makes up for with its baker's dozen of trauma-inducing themed areas (they have a House of Wax, Slaughterhouse, Voodoo, and other scary rooms). With realistic props, costumes, and actors, it only makes sense to visit this damned place virtually (for the faint of heart, or for the budget-conscious, or for whatever reason you don't want to set actual foot in there).

    Island of Dead Dolls

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    In Mexico, the Isla de las Muñecas has a chilling showcase of "dead" dolls planted all over the small island. Hung on trees, cables, fences, and just about anywhere the eye can see, these dolls are in various stages of decay and seem to be watching you. They are believed to be possessed by the spirit of a drowned girl whom the island's caretaker failed to save. In her memory, he hung these dolls, and the effects of nature and general superstition has made this location one of the scariest offbeat places for tourists.

    The House That Won't Stop Being Built

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    Legend has it that the widow of gun magnate William Winchester, Sarah, was the victim of vindictive souls which her husband's gun legacy killed. She herself lost both her child and husband, but the tormenting didn't stop. To appease the souls, a medium advised Sarah Winchester to build a house for these spirits. The catch? She must not stop building, or else she will die. The result is the Winchester Mystery House in Santa Clara Valley, California, which has strangely-placed doors, windows, and a total of 160 rooms.

     

     

  • Exciting Developments in VR!

    Now that I Am Cardboard's own Kickstarter has wrapped up (thanks to all our backers, you are truly an awesome bunch of geeks!), we're turning our attention towards exciting new developments in virtual reality. Though not in our own product roster, we believe that these developments reflect our own vision-mission, which is to make VR accessible to a wide range of people!

    First up, Google is getting ready to launch Daydream in November. As its name implies, it's a headset that aims to take you on incredible adventures in virtual reality at any time of the day, anywhere you may be.

    Image courtesy of https://vr.google.com/daydream/ Image courtesy of https://vr.google.com/daydream/

    Google was first to level the playing field as far (as VR accessibility is concerned)  with the launch of Google Cardboard a couple of years ago. With Daydream, an even more intuitive headset is ready for many immersive experiences - all in a lightweight, attractive, and breathable package. As its product description goes: "Swing a bat, steer an airship, or even cast a spell with a magic wand", because the Daydream controller allows a wide range of movements to complement your imagination.

    Then PlayStation introduced PlayStation VR, which emphasized intuition to enhance the immersive gaming experience.

    Image courtesy of https://www.playstation.com/en-us/explore/playstation-vr/gallery/ Image courtesy of https://www.playstation.com/en-us/explore/playstation-vr/gallery/

    Gamers are in for a virtual treat with this headset. It puts the gamer right at the center of exciting new frontiers like STAR WARS™ Battlefront™,  PlayStation®VR Worlds, Golem, and RIGS Mechanized Combat League. A sleek new design promises hours of distraction-free fun with only your imagination as the limit!

    Of course, there's VR-in-a-snap in the form of our very own Flip 360, a pocket-sized smartphone case with a built-in VR headset. You don’t have to bring a separate viewer, because now your phone case is your viewer! This product is a hit with people on the go who want versatility, portability, and ease of use in a slender, durable package.

    There's no reason not to immerse yourself in virtual reality today - not when awesome new developments are making themselves available for you.

  • Pocket 360: Behind the design process

    We're blown-away by the support you've been giving our Kickstarter project. We thought it would be cool to show you the design process behind one of the more popular products in the campaign, the Pocket 360. Lots of blood, sweat, and mold-release went into its creation. We hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look.

    Free Pocket 360

    If you've backed our previous campaigns (XGVR or dscvr), we'll give you a free Pocket 360 when you purchase any product in the latest campaign!

    Support the project on Kickstarter

     

    The dscvr headset: where it all started

    3a5d829b-652b-4735-ac2d-aeb893d84b46 Last year we designed dscvr, a rugged and portable headset. After the Kickstarter campaign, we asked "what's next?" The answer: make a headset that's even more portable. Enter the Pocket 360.

     

    Creating the Pocket 360

    It all starts with drawings and initial 3D renders. Once the 3D models are done, prototypes are created using the CNC machine. It all starts with drawings and initial 3D renders. Once the 3D models are done, prototypes are created using the CNC machine.

     

    Machining the prototype out of a solid plastic block. Looks like a nice block of cheese. Machining the prototype out of a solid plastic block. Looks like a nice block of cheese.

     

    All the bits are assembled and fine-tuned by hand. Messy and fun! All the bits are assembled and fine-tuned by hand. Messy and fun!

     

    The prototype isn't pretty, but it gives us a good idea of what works, and how to improve the design further. The prototype isn't pretty, but it gives us a good idea of what works, and how to improve the design further.

     

    render 1 We usually go back to CAD to make necessary tweaks based on the prototype. Special attention was given to the phone clamp...

     

    ...and the pivoting front panels. ...and the pivoting front panels.

     

    Pocket Repeat the process a few more times, and you get the final (awesome!) product. We can't wait for you to get your hands on the Pocket 360!

     

    Meet the 360 family

    The Pocket 360 is part of a family of products designed to help you create, share, and experience virtual reality.

    Check them out on Kickstarter!

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  • 360 Photography: No Turning Back

    Photography has come a long way. Only a century ago, Daguerre, through copper sheets and iodine vapors, introduced the method that would eventually give birth to modern photography. Fast forward to 2016 and capturing images is no longer limited to royalty and the aristocracy - or for taking images of dead relatives. Perhaps, much to the chagrin of professional photographers, anyone with a mobile phone or a digital camera can point, shoot, post on social media, and go on with their routine.

    Now, here comes another innovation. Facebook recently launched a new way of presenting images. Through its 360 photo app, users can now post photos and let other users explore the images in full 360 degrees.

    Like almost anything on social media, the concept may appear to be temporary and with no real benefit, except maybe for boasting about that vacation in Tibet. However, panoramic photography is not a modern day concept. The moment Daguerre came up with his clever method, scientists and inventors have been thinking of ways to produce panoramic images. Simply because words and drawings have limitations, those folks quickly realized that the accuracy offered by panoramic photography greatly benefits science and the arts.

    Where perspective is important, panoramic photography plays a vital role. Both architecture and engineering students and professionals, for example, can take a panoramic shot of a site (or structure) and evaluate details or how the said structure relates to its surrounding areas. In archaeology, capturing an archaeological site in 360°, offers a precise recording of where artefacts were found and places it in a larger context. Then there’s forensic science – a panoramic overview of a crime scene creates a 3D environment and can corroborate clues. Businesses can also use 360° photos as a marketing tool and offer a virtual tour of their shops.

    So is 360° photography a fad? Sure, it can be used to raise one’s social media status but given its benefits to different fields – there’s no turning back now.

  • How Will Your Career Benefit From 360-Degree Panorama?

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    As we enter  more immersive territories of technology, infinite possibilities are opening up to even more industries (beyond gaming and entertainment, that is). If you think your chosen career doesn't have room for these exciting new changes, think again. The 360-degree panoramic phenomenon is here to show you all its glorious angles.

    Architecture and Real Estate

    Designing a space using 360 will make clients feel as if they're actually in it. Convincing a client of how soundly-designed a space is will be a lot easier if they can "see" and "feel" it for themselves. If you're a real estate agent, showing a desirable piece of property to a potential client can be greatly aided by a seamlessly-stitched panorama of the place.

    Travel and lifestyle blogging

    No more sending bland postcards back home! Whether you're a backpacker always on the lookout for the road less traveled, or a well-heeled lifestyle guru looking for luxurious haunts, capturing your adventures will be a lot easier (and interesting!) in 360.

    Tourism

    Ever wanted to step foot in the HR Giger bar in Gruyères but don't have the resources to do so? Thanks to 360, you can now explore every nook and cranny of this breathtaking tourist spot. From trendy new themed restaurants to centuries-old historical locations, tourism will tell stories beyond those we usually read about second-hand. Some may argue that it's not quite the real thing, but short of actual tactile experience, 360 is truly immersive and can give hemming and hawing tourists that little nudge to book their next holiday because 360 has already given them a taste of it.

    Photography

    Now your pictures can tell more stories - more than a thousand words, for sure. With 360-degree panorama, every picture can reveal the BTS (behind-the-scenes) so your stories go beyond the two-dimensional route. The narratives stitched seamlessly by 360 degrees make them a scrollable, zoomable, and immersive experience. The great news is that it isn't hard to do. Simply shoot, use a 360-degree panoramic software, stitch the photos together, and you're done!

  • New Lenses for the Maesters

    Daeny is on her way to Westeros, Winter is here, the Mad Queen sits on the Iron Throne, and fanboys and fangirls are thrilled to have their R+L=J theory confirmed. But it must be said that while the last two episodes of the Game of Thrones delivered fine TV, season six is not best of the lot.

    Zealous fanboys and fangirls may disagree but think about it – from bad decisions to characters magically hopping from one place to the next – season six had its share of irregularities. What’s brilliant about this show though is that even in its inexplicable moments, it never fails to intrigue and fascinate.

    Take that epic score in the opening sequence for example, Ramin Djawadi is a musical genius for conveying a sense of calm and dread. The piano and the cello is not typical GOT music but it suited the series of scenes perfectly. That alone makes the season finale a standout.

    Another undeniable aspect of the show is its rich world-building. As a visual medium, GOT excels in this. The landscapes, architecture, and even clothing are crucial aspects of story-telling and in most cases, you must keep your eyes wide open to catch details.

    What was particularly striking in the finale though was the introduction of Old Town and the Citadel. That scene was only for a few seconds but even then and even with a computer generated landscape, the production team managed to evoke the grandeur of real-world history in this fantasy setting.

    Then we get a shot of the Library and its interior. This would have been a dull scene if not for that straightforward and somewhat crabby librarian (or receptionist). He stops what he’s reading and looks at Samwell Tarly quite unimpressed.

    Welcome to the Citadel. No women and children allowed. Welcome to the Citadel. No women and children allowed.

     

    Pay special attention to the lenses and you’ll realize why that librarian is a tad crabby. Those lenses are useful if you need focusing but it also distorts the surrounding areas. In the long run, reading miniscule texts through such lenses will wreck your eyesight and give you headaches.

    Biconvex lenses however, prevent such distortions and are recommended for stress-free viewing. Too bad the maesters have not invented them yet. Imagine if that guy had such lenses. Probably, he won’t be as testy as depicted. Then again, that does not make good TV.

  • Architecture Meets VR

    Image courtesy of Buzzle.com Image courtesy of Buzzle.com

     

    Virtual reality is fast proving itself to be a versatile tool for many industries. Tech-savvy firms, from advertising to media outlets, are aligning themselves with all the potential that VR can unleash in their respective fields. If there is any industry that can fully benefit from all that virtual reality has to offer, it would have to be architecture. Here are several good reasons why.

    Simulations can simplify

    Architectural renderings and blueprints can not explain themselves, especially to everyday folks. With VR, simulations can easily solve that. You won't have to provide a lengthy explanation of where certain structural details go, because the client can simply "walk around" the space and see for themselves which goes where.

    Exciting new innovation can give your branding a boost

    VR is already being used by many firms, but architecture still has to fully dive into the experience. It's safe to say that it's an exciting new innovation given all its potential for mapping out real-time spaces. Early adopters of this technology can have bragging rights about being at the forefront of a cutting-edge trend, while reaping the benefits of a brand that wisely knows which innovations to invest in.

    A visceral experience to offer clients

    The days of blueprints and rendered images to convince a client of how architecturally sound a structure is will soon be over. 3D renderings have worked fine for decades, but VR has the capacity to allow clients to really drink in the details of a room, home, building, or outdoor space. Virtual reality can offer a virtual walk-through. When a design appeals to a person's emotions, it is more likely to be chosen over a rendering that merely shows a lay-out.

     

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