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Science Fiction

Short VR Film ‘Dirrogate’ Offers Intriguing Preview of Future Tech Wonders

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Science fiction writer and Virtual Reality (VR) developer Clyde DeSouza has produced a short VR Graphic Novel, Dirrogate, based on his near-future science fiction novel, Memories with Maya. Dirrogate is an early example of VR Cinema intended for VR headsets like Oculus Rift or Gear VR, but for those who don’t have yet a VR headset DeSouza has posted a spherical video version to Vrideo and YouTube.

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On both Vrideo or Youtube, choose the highest resolution that works for you and go Fullscreen. Then use the mouse to move around the view.

What happens when you mix virtual reality, haptic interfaces, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence? In Memories with Maya DeSouza introduces the “Wizer,” a fictional near-future Augmented Reality (AR) see-through visor driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Wizer is coupled with 3D scans of real environments generated by wall-mounted laser cameras (think next-gen Kinect) to insert remote participants seamlessly in real environments, Holodeck-style.

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These “dirrogates” — digital surrogates of your friends — are real-time 3D stereoscopic avatars driven by real movements and body/face language. They can visit your living room from the other side of the planet. Read the rest of my review on io9 (spoilers), or even better read the book, and be prepared to have your concept of reality blurred by the awesome prospects of tomorrow’s VR and AR.

3D Cinema for Emotional Engineering

Think in 3DIn the meantime, VR cinema offers a next-generation entertainment experience by placing the viewer inside the story told by the filmmakers, with 3D immersion at 360 degrees, and soon interactive VR scenes. DeSouza has written a book, Think in 3D, to explain the art of storytelling in 3D to directors and cinematographers venturing into 3D film-making.

DeSouza argues that 3D cinema is all about emotional engineering. “3D movies are about immersing the viewer in a more accurate representation of the world,” he explains in the book. “The ‘depth channel’ is unlocked in a 3D movie.”

“Cinematic VR is a medium befitting of a whole new language,” DeSouza told Hacked. “A language we are all learning. There are no experts yet, and the rules are simple: Don’t cause physical harm to audiences.”

For the first time, storytellers truly have a medium to suspend the feeling of disbelief in audiences and while exciting is also challenging, because after all, if the story or storyteller is boring, the audience have the freedom to look around in the scene.

Cinematic VR is just the beginning. Future VR and AR technologies like the Wizer will eliminate geographical barriers to social interaction, augment our concept of reality with a seamless blend of virtual and real, and even, as described in the novel, bring back convincing copies of dead persons. In Memories with Maya, DeSouza hints at the intriguing possibility that future technologies could make dirrogates not only convincing, but also subjectively self-aware.

“The Wizer a portmanteau of ‘visor + AI’ is the futuristic visor that the protagonists in Dirrogate, the VR Graphic Novel, invent,” DeSouza told Hacked. “It is Google Glasses on steroids. The Wizer is a slick form factor eye-wear, like futuristic sunglasses with Narrow AI libraries that augment the wearers’ intelligence. Future versions of the Wizer will be the beginnings of a ‘Hive mind’ – the collective intelligence of mankind on demand – Wikipedia on steroids.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmAzVq4Qngc

Images from Clyde DeSouza.

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92% of Earth-Like Habitable Planets Are Not Born Yet

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According to a theoretical study published yesterday in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, only about 8% of habitable planets existed at the birth of our solar system, leaving 92% to form over the coming millennia.

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Far-fetched as it may seem, the scientists responsible for the report stand behind their reasoning. Speaking to the Global Post, Peter Behroozi, an author of the study, said, “Our main motivation was understanding the Earth’s place in the context of the rest of the universe. Compared to all the planets that will ever form in the universe, the Earth is actually quite early.”

The study’s scientists developed a “family photo” album of all the known planets and studied data from NASA to determine their findings. One thing they were able to point out was that stars were created at a much more rapid rate 10 billion years ago than they are today. At the same time, there is so much leftover gas that planets and stars will continue to be born in our solar system for millennia to come. However, our galaxy, the Milky Way, has used up most of its gas. New stars here are unlikely.

Also read: NASA’s Potential for Alien Life, Kepler-452b: Earth 2.0?

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Kepler-452b

Earth compared to habitable planet Kepler-452b, in an approximate scale.

For an area of study which often involves bleak philosophical musings on the probability of alien life, the notion of habitable planets yet to be born is a streak of hope for future generations. It becomes imaginable that space exploration could become advanced enough that a budding planet might be observed in real-time, and new life forms might be seen as they evolve.

Scientists call any planet which are rocks and orbit in the habitable zone of their star or stars. According to known research, life requires h20. But, again, there is currently an abundance of hydrogen in our galaxy, making it within the realm of imagination that planets like earth will continue to be birthed. Recent findings have determined that the size of planet Earth is par for the galaxy, with as many as 1 billion such planets existing. According to the theoretical study, more are on the way, with the added feature of habitability.

The paper concluded that the universe will continue to expand at such a rate that it will become very difficult to trace back the lineage the way is currently possible.

The observational evidence for the big bang and cosmic evolution, encoded in light and other electromagnetic radiation, will be all but erased away 1 trillion years from now due to the runaway expansion of space. Any far-future civilizations that might arise will be largely clueless as to how or if the universe began and evolved.

Images of Kepler-186f(featured) and Kepler-452b from Shutterstock.

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Op-Ed

Yes, Mr. Robinson, We Can Go To The Stars

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Aurora, the new science fiction novel of Kim Stanley Robinson, is a totally awesome masterpiece that will keep you glued to the book until you finish reading. Yet, Robinson’s grim views on the possibility of interstellar colonization seem overly pessimistic.

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Science Fiction

Cthulhu Hides in the Mountains of Madness on Pluto

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NASA’s probe New Horizons has reached Pluto, called home, and started sending pictures. The first detailed images sent back to Earth show a range of icy mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the dwarf planet.

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