Final VR Days – and I found the session block on AI & Virtual Beings fascinating.
If you’ve heard my recent round of talks you’ll know I wasn’t a massive fan of how Google Duplex seemed to purposely add human speech inflections like uh-huh to trick the person on the other end of the line that they were talking to a person. Today it was interesting to see all the panellists agree they think disclose being very important in these situations.
I was particularly interested in Cameron Wilson’s segment on his virtual modelling agency – in particular the story of Shudu – the world’s first virtual supermodel. Starting by creating the character, casting her for a shoot and then finally revealing that she isn’t real and the public feedback on it. There are many virtual humans whom have attained fame, following and influencer status. There was discussion over whether the “reality” should always be revealed, should the person or people behind these accounts be made known etc. In an age of social media where noting is as it seems – the photos are staged, the outfits carefully curated, and the filters turned up to make it look like a picture perfect reality – is that much different to a virtual influencer?
Virtual Assistants and people becoming emotionally invested in characters, stories etc. was also food for thought. It made me think of the movie Her where the main character falls in love with his virtual assistant. While to some that may seem unrealistic – I am brought back to my days of working in a game store when Lara Croft – Tomb Raider was selling like hotcakes and the many customers professed to being in love with her.
It also made me think of Robot and Frank – a companion robot that kept an elderly cat burglar with dementia company – ensuring he was eating correctly, getting the stimulation he needed etc. but also being impervious to his moods etc. With a growing aging population and ever-increasing loneliness I can’t help but think of the good this technology can do. If these assistant robots can help motivate someone to get up, get moving, and feel better about themselves and help fill the void that could outweigh the bad that they can’t emotionally invest back into that person.
It’s the 2nd day of the VR Days conference and we’ve changed venue to this funky warehouse location. I spent the morning listening to sessions on VR training but it’s the set of afternoon sessions on “Use Your Brain 4.0” that got me thinking.
I found the session about BrainVu which ”uses a non-invasive and remote smartphone/AR/VR camera to extract physiological bio-markers that indicate changes in brain activities and deduce human mental responses including: processing Cognitive Load, Stress Level and Emotional Engagement. The calculated human states are then correlated to events and used to connect to a multitude of platforms to provide human machine emotional interaction.”
Before we got into that the idea of subliminal messaging (or messages below the threshold of normal perception) was discussed. In many countries this is banned. I went and double checked an YES Australia is on that list:
preventing the broadcasting of programs that:
(i) simulate news or events in a way that misleads or alarms the audience; or
(ii) depict the actual process of putting a person into a hypnotic state; or
(iii) are designed to induce a hypnotic state in the audience; or
(iv) use or involve the process known as subliminal perception or any other technique that attempts to convey information to the audience by broadcasting messages below or near the threshold of normal awareness;”
There were some interesting points in these sessions around the use of colour and light to enhance memory retention, but also the use of cameras to extract biomarkers and see what the user is thinking etc. As someone with the absolute worst poker face, the ability for my eyes to additionally give away my thoughts set off some alarm bells. I started to think of the scene in Blade Runner looking into the eyes with questions to decide if the person was real or a replicant.
The discussions on eye tracking and what you can tell about a person hit home a bit more when I wandered into the Church of VR where there are large groups of people trying various experiences. I know lots of my data gets tracked every day. A lot of it I knowingly “give” by putting it on the internet, using my credit card etc. but should my true thoughts and feelings be mined – things I can’t turn off or consciously control. Even though I bought a $100 pair of shoes to wear to work, should I give up the fact I was secretly dying to buy the $300 pair (or not so secretly if this eye tracking thing works). There’s something about my inner-most thoughts that I feel should stay just that…inner-most.
It’s Day 1 – Vision and Impact Conference of VR Days Europe and I really loved the session by
Dominic Eskofier addressing the problems with enterprise VR (or really all the devices). The part that resonated was getting people to want to put on the device (especially in a public place). They mess with your hair, they can feel a bit claustrophobic to people, and aren’t very fun looking.
I really loved some of the ideas he shared to make them more fun and personalised – like above where it can be a fun “skin” to attract kids, or the amazing one below that is a pure piece of art.
What I really like (apart from how amazing it looks) about the 2nd one is the handle. This allows the user to be able to hold the device to their face to try an experience without having to be strapped in. It allows them to easily exit the experience if they feel uncomfortable in any way very quickly and it doesn’t mess up anyone’s hair. I’ve seen so many people not keen on trying experiences in Hololens etc because they don’t want helmet hair!
I also think the skin/cover idea is also going to appeal to so many people. I personally like the plain looks so they appeal to me, but when you’re in a room with many devices – how to do you find “yours” in the see or other people. How do you express your individuality. I think this will become more important as these devices become more personal to us – like our phones – and it becomes “your” device rather than a shared family or work item.