October 20, 2017

Weekly Wins: The Power of Positivity

WRITTEN BY: Ivana Atlija

Did you know we’re controlling VR with our minds now? Plus, we look at Facebook’s new 3D posts, an app that doesn’t want you to use your phone, a personal AI email assistant, and adobe’s new tool for immersive audio editing.

A new VR experience called Positivity Moves The World is powered by positive thinking, Facebook introduces a new 3D feature to encourage creation and collaboration, Arianna Huffington announces the Thrive app, AI improves Boomerang’s email assistant app, and Adobe prototypes SonicScape, a tool for editing 360 degree videos.

1. The Power of Positivity

In virtual reality, anything is possible, which is what makes it so fun. There are tons of experiences that range from weird to bizarre and everything else in between. And while we are introduced to new titles and unique experiences every week, developers continue to experiment, and the wacky ideas just keep coming.

While learning how to cook chicken and flying like a bird in VR are all fun options, it’s the brain-controlled interface (BCI) experiences that are really pushing the boundaries of what can be done in virtual reality. Developers from StoryUP XR have brought hands-free, BCI technology to the GearVR through a headband with brain-wave tracking technology. This method allows users to alter and influence their experience with just their thoughts.

The latest title created using this method is called Positivity Moves The World. The mind-controlled VR experience places users on the side of a lush, beautiful waterfall and tasks them with ascending the natural structure. The difference with this brain-operated project is rather than just repeating a simple action in your mind, it is powered by positive thinking.

The CEO of StoryUP XR shared that this experience “is a reminder our thoughts control not only the virtual world, but the real world as well.” How’s that for sharing good vibes?

Grab, spin & interact with Facebook's new 3D objects

2. Facebook Goes 3D

Along with major updates to Facebook Spaces like 360 degree live-streaming, the social media giant recently announced their new addition of 3D Posts.

This new feature adds to Facebook’s in-VR capabilities and will allow creators working in Oculus Medium (sculpting and painting in VR) to export their work directly to their news feeds where their friends, whether operating Facebook within VR, or on a desktop or mobile, can interact with their creations. The aim behind this initiative is to continue to grow Facebook Spaces into a platform for “creation, collaboration and all-around fun.”

3. Tell Me What I Want To Hear

Ah, emails. Your daily dose of to-do lists, endless reminders, and angry complaints. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to sift through the hundreds of emails you receive and pick out what really matters in an instant? Turns out, now you can.

The email tool Boomerang has introduced an AI assistant which uses machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to read your emails for you and pull out what’s relevant or what it thinks you’ll care about. With a simple click of the “Brief Me” button, the artificial intelligence will give you a neatly displayed summary of all your relevant highlights.

Boomerang is calling it the “first work-focused AI voice assistant.” It can also answer verbal requests, reschedule meetings or events by listening to you, and more. Think of it as your own personal assistant, all in an app.

"Disconnect from your phone & reconnect with yourself”

4. Status: Thriving

Arianna Huffington has partnered with Samsung to create an app called Thrive that helps you disconnect from the internet. While it seems counterintuitive to create an app that encourages you to not use your phone, the aim behind this project is to help people do what the name suggests: thrive.

Arianna Huffington runs Thrive Global, an organization that focuses on mindfulness, preaching “More than living. Thriving.” Using the Thrive app will be similar to putting your phone on Do Not Disturb mode, except when people try to contact you, they will be sent a message letting them know that you’re “thriving.” (Humblebrag, much?)

The app is intended to “help you disconnect from your phone and reconnect with yourself” and will be available this December, but if you’re really itching to try it out, Samsung users can preview the beta here.

Colourful bubbles help visualize sounds

5. A Better Way to Edit Immersive Content

As VR continues to gain popularity, designers and developers are trying to make the production process better. Adobe has been working especially hard to make it easier to produce content for 360 degree videos.

SonicScape is Adobe’s new prototype tool that visualizes the location of audio within a 360 degree video using colourful bubbles. The tool makes it easier to visualize exactly where sound will be heard within the VR world. Basically, it helps you see what you’re hearing. The tool will also help designers better visualize, understand and edit the 360 degree video that they’re creating. Adobe’s goal is for SonicScape to lead to the creation of more immersive experiences.