Ghostbusters steps into VR with “hyper-reality” experience from THE VOID

Ghostbusters is coming to virtual reality, in the form of a hyper-reality experience opening at Madame Tussauds New York later this week.

Developed in partnership with THE VOID, the company behind the virtual reality laser tag-like experience that opened in Utah last year, the experience blends real-world objects with virtual reality to allow users to interact with a virtual space.

Dubbed Ghostbusters Dimension, the 15-Minute VR experience allows audiences to take on the role of a ghostbuster seeking out supernatural enemies in a New York apartment block.

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“With an untethered VR experience that allows people to roam freely and interact with a physical world that matches the digital one they are seeing, consumers will have whole new levels of delight as they lose themselves in another realm,” said Clive Downie, CMO Unity Technologies, which provided the 3D engine that powers the experience.

“It’s giving presence to interactive storytelling putting people into the Ghostbusters world with high definition, high frame rate high excitement action, powered in part by Unity.”

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Images courtesy of THE VOID

While clearly a promotional tool for the new Ghostbusters film, the experience also offers many more people the opportunity to experience THE VOID’s unique hyper-reality offering.

Visitors to the company’s Utah-based experience wear custom head-mounted displays and backpack computers, which provide them with a virtual reality overlay to the space they are in.

The hardware users wear is styled to look like futuristic armour and is known as RAPTURE gear.

“The Ghostbusters world is the perfect fit for THE VOID because you literally strap our RAPTURE gear on and it turns into your proton pack and proton gun,” said James Jensen, Chief Visionary Officer at THE VOID.

The experience will open at Madame Tussauds New York on the 1st of July, as part of a wider Ghostbusters exhibition.

Each hyper-reality session will last 15 minutes with up to three people able to take part at a time, meaning tickets are likely to sell out fast.

Tickets, which also get you into the rest of Madame Tussauds, cost $49.75 a person, although you do have to sign a liability waiver if you want to take part.

Nevertheless, we expect Ghostbusters Dimension to be a big hit when it opens later this week.

In the face of a collapsing market, Acer goes once more unto the smartwatch breach

Despite the fact that smartwatches are generally seeing their sales plummet, Acer has decided to release a new product into the collapsing market. Taking “an elegant approach to fitness”, the Leap Ware smartwatch seems to be fairly standard fare, using an array of fitness-tracking sensors in combination with an app to keep tabs on all of the various statistics the sensors provide.

“As the pace of modern lifestyles become ever more hectic, people demand technology that can keep them on track and motivated to pursue their goals,” said MH Wang, general manager of Smart Device Products in Acer’s IT Products Business.

“The new Acer Leap Ware is designed to act as a virtual coach to help people go, track, and share, sending them reminders and alerts when they need them the most.”

Acer obviously has to promote its product but the above statement seems somewhat bizarrely unaware of the fact that not only is the company offering pretty much the exact same thing every other smartwatch does, but is are doing so in a market that is dying a fairly nasty death. With big names like Pebble going under, and Fitbit’s stock having been on a steady decline, the persistence in putting out new products is a bold move.

In October 2016, the BBC wrote about a new report by market analysts IDC that showed amartwatch shipments declined by 51.6% year-on-year. The Apple Watch held its place as the market leader, but shipped only a quarter of the units it had sold in the same period (July-September) of 2015. And of the five leading brands, only Garmin showed growth with that growth still being underpinned by low figures.

“It has become evident that, at present, smartwatches are not for everyone,” said Jitesh Ubrani from IDC. “Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount, hence many vendors are focusing on fitness due to its simplicity.”

Images courtesy of Acer

It was pointed out by experts that the period examined was before new versions were released, but there is still a clear lack in significant consumer appetite. The market has largely survived off the fitness aspects, with other products largely falling by the wayside as the novelty wears off. And Acer itself hasn’t exactly been the premium forerunner.

The Leap Ware watch certainly seems a perfectly fine entry into the marketplace. It’s got “diverse fitness tracking features thanks to an array of sensors with advanced algorithms” and supposedly has a battery life of three to five days so you don’t miss out on logging those all-important stats. My watch only tells the time and date. It also has a battery life of ten years.

There is a reasonable chance that initial sales for the Leap Ware may be strong, being all shiny and new as it is. There’s also a very good chance they will quickly plummet as Acer discovers what consumers are desperately trying to tell them: people don’t want smartwatches anymore.

For more information and discussion of the collapse of wearable technology, check out the latest issue of Factor magazine.

Premature lambs kept alive in artificial wombs

Extremely premature lambs have been kept alive in a artificial womb. The fluid-filled plastic bag reproduces the environment of the womb and replaces the function of the placenta. The scientists responsible believe the device could be used for premature babies within the next three years.

Source: New Scientist

British engineer is using recycled plastic to build stronger roads

British engineer Toby McCartney has devised an innovative process that replaces much of the crude oil-based asphalt in pavement with pellets of plastic, made from recyclable bottles. The result is a street that’s 60% stronger than traditional roads, ten times longer-lasting as well as the obvious environmental benefits.

Source: Curbed

Elon Musk’s giant tunnel boring machine arrives at SpaceX

In February, Musk was looking at purchasing a used Herrenknecht boring machine: about 26 feet in diameter, about 400 feet long, and weighing about 1,200 tons. It’s not clear if this is the same machine, but one just arrived at SpaceX’s headquarters and can now be found in the parking lot.

Source: Electrek

Surgeon claims brain transplants are just three years away

A pioneering Italian surgeon has claimed people who have had their brains cryogenically frozen could be 'woken up' within three years. The claim is being made by professor Sergio Canavero who also claims he can carry out the first human head transplant within 10 months before he begins trials on brain transplants.

Source: The Telegraph

Facebook 'observed propaganda efforts' by governments

Facebook has revealed in a new report that it observed attempts to spread propaganda on its site, apparently orchestrated by governments or organised parties. The firm has seen "false news, disinformation, or networks of fake accounts aimed at manipulating public opinion", it said.

Source: BBC

Ex-head of Google China predicts AI will take half of all jobs in a decade

The ex-head of Google China, Kai-Fu Lee, has said that AI will be bigger than all previous tech innovations put together. "These are things that are superhuman, and we think this will be in every industry, will probably replace 50% of human jobs, create a huge amount of wealth for mankind and wipe out poverty," said Lee.

Source: CNBC