AR and VR Upgrade While Tech Companies Address Racism

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

AR and VR Upgrade While Tech Companies Address Racism

Emerging Tech Roundup — June 05, 2020 from Quantious

This week in tech: An indigenous culture is celebrated using virtual reality, NASA launches a VR center, Pokémon Go sees a spending spike during COVID-19, a company patents cross-platform AR technology, major music streaming companies support the Blackout Tuesday online campaign, a dating app receives complaints about ethnicity filters, Facebook employees stage a protest.

This Indigenous Creator Built a Virtual Reality Program to Celebrate First Nations Cultures

(Create Digital, June 04)

Brett Leavy, a digital developer, spent the last 25 years using digital technologies to capture the lives, history, and culture of Indigenous people. Now, he’s looking to launch a software development kit called Virtual Songlines, which will allow users to digitally experience the storytelling of Indigenous heritage. Leavy’s team collaborates with different communities to explore their heritage and uses an intelligence program system called CHIPS, which programs artificial intelligence in every animated object. Leavy’s hope is to gamify the culture of different Indigenous communities throughout cities so that people can learn about and preserve the culture.

A New Galactic Center Adventure in Virtual Reality

(NASA, June 02)

With the help of telescopes, supercomputer simulations, and virtual reality, there’s a new visualization called “Galactic Center VR” that allows people to experience 500 years of cosmic evolution in the middle of the Milky Way. The virtual reality center is based on the latest data gathered by astrophysicists from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Visualizations are entered into a VR environment so people can explore simulations from NASA’s supercomputer. The platform is now available for free across Steam and Viveport VR Stores.

Coronavirus Boosts Pokémon Go Spending by 70% as Gamers Play Inside

(Forbes, June 02)

According to analytics company, Statista, the weekly spending for AR mobile game, Pokémon Go, increased 70% during the middle of the coronavirus outbreak. Spending went from $13.6 million worldwide in one week up to $23 million in the week of March 16th, with the United States holding the largest share of $7.8 million. For the COVID-19 lockdown, developer Niantic added updates to the game which has also contributed to the spike in spending. The company changed how players can earn Pokécoins, and they added additional features that made the game easier for users to play at home.

Seek Patents Creation of Cross-Platform AR Assets From ‘Any’ 3D Models

(Venture Beat, June 02)

Currently, there is no dominant AR platform, and it is a challenge to create assets that work across multiple AR operating systems, platforms, or devices. To help with this, Seek recently announced that they have patented important technology for that specific purpose. Since 3D models are the foundation for AR technology, Seek will be using the technology to convert any 3D model into a “platform-agnostic augmented reality asset.” The company believes the technology is key to the mixed reality era, and they feel that it will encourage brands to offer AR solutions to their customers without using apps.

Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Amazon Unite in Support of Blackout Tuesday

(The Verge, June 02)

Major music streaming services have joined efforts against police violence and racism by participating in the Blackout Tuesday campaign, which occurred June 2nd, by sharing unique playlists, moments of silence, and social media blackouts. Spotify is adding an 8 minute and 46-second moment of silence to specific playlists and podcasts, imitating the amount of time that the Minneapolis Police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. Apple Music is creating a station that celebrates music produced by black artists, Amazon Music took a break from social media for the day, and Youtube Music is donating $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity.

Grindr Removes ‘Ethnicity Filter’ After Complaints

(BBC, June 01)

Grindr, a dating and hookup app, decided to remove the ethnicity filter in its next app update due to the current protests around racism. The company says that it does not tolerate racism or hate speech on its dating platform. For years, users have been trying to remove the ethnicity filter by contacting the company, but they either received no response or had their accounts blocked. Today, the company has finally made the effort to make the change, though this still has some people outraged. Some users were critical, claiming that the company only made the filter change because now white people are expressing their concerns via social media.

Facebook Employees Stage Rare Protest Against Zuckerberg’s Response to Trump

(CNET, June 01)

Facebook employees are staging a virtual walk out day in protest to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to leave up an offensive social media post from President Donald Trump. Employees have decided to take the day off from work and change their Facebook Workplace profile picture to the Twitter icon. Facebook employees claim that Trump’s post incites violence and should have been taken down. Leadership at Twitter had similar opinions and took the route of labeling Trump’s tweets to warn users of the offensive message.