Can VR Mess With Your Sense of Time?

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am choosing to participate in the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program. Why? Two reasons:

  1. After my recent guided tour of VU, I feel very strongly that this is going to be a successful and popular virtual world/MMO hybrid platform, and I want to be a part of it when VU launches their beta this summer. This is the very first blockchain-based virtual world that I actually feel excited about!
  2. As a Canadian citizen, I reside in one of the three countries where I am currently legally forbidden from purchasing VU tokens (the other two are the United States and China). This means that the only way I can legitimately earn VU tokens to use in this social VR space before the beta launch is via the VU ICO Partner Program.

I want you to know this up front: this blogpost is a promotion for VU, in exchange for VU tokens.  You can follow on this webpage to see how many VU tokens I have earned by completing tasks in this Partner Program if you wish (right now, I am at number two on the VU Token Leaderboard). There’s nothing stopping you from participating in this Partner Program yourself, and earning some VU tokens!

IMPORTANT: VU Tokens are not a real currency. They are ERC-20 based blockchain tokens intended to permit players of Virtual Universe exclusive access to digital assets within a VR game known as Virtual Universe (VU). They are a form of in-game virtual currency.  Virtual value attributed to the VU Token will be as a result of in-game efforts by players, and no future value is represented or guaranteed.


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A recently published article by the team behind Virtual Universe, titled Let’s Do the Time Warp… In VR! raises an interesting question: can virtual reality actually mess with your sense of time?

There are countless reports from VR users that have experienced some level of time dilation after engaging in a virtual world. As users experience a state of flow and presence in that world — enabled by a realistic experience combined with engaging activities — their perception of real time can waver.

This fits the old adage that “time flies when you’re having fun.”

Research from a team led by Dr. Bruder of the University of Hamburg sheds some light on the biological causes of the time-warp phenomenon and how it can be manipulated. Their research noted that the body’s circadian rhythm, or body clock, is largely informed by cues known as zeitgebers. These zeitgebers give the human body an unconscious estimate of the actual real-world time, the most prominent being the sun and its movement through the day.

In a virtual world, particularly in VR, the user inhabits an avatar and has complete freedom and parity of movement. This allows us to play with these zeitgebers programmatically as a scene is rendered. Adjusting the speed of the sun’s cycle, or keeping the user busy with cognitive tasks were shown to have the greatest effects.

It’s an intriguing idea. Have you encountered time dilation—or another form of time distortion—in a VR headset? Sound off in the comments!

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Bigscreen: A Brief Introduction

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Bigscreen is, as the name suggests, primarily an app for watching movies in VR. But it is also a social VR app, because you can share the experience with your friends:

Bigscreen is your VR movie theater.

WATCH movies with friends in a virtual theater.
PLAY your favorite PC video games on a huge screen.
HANGOUT in social VR chat rooms.

We also host events like weekly 3D movie nights and VR LAN parties!

— Features —

Your DESKTOP IN VR: see your PC’s desktop screen on huge virtual monitors that can be customized to any size or shape. Multi-monitor support for up to 3 virtual monitors.

DESKTOP STREAMING: screensharing in VR chat rooms enables you to watch movies with friends, play games together, and more.

Supports 3D MOVIES in Side-by-Side 3D or Over-Under 3D.

CROSS PLATFORM VR headset support

Public and Private social VR CHAT ROOMS with up to 12 people per room

Choose from a variety of environments like campfires and movie theaters.

Bigscreen is a free app available via both Steam and the Oculus store, for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets. They are also currently doing alpha testing on Samsung Gear VR headsets:

And, according to the chatter on their official Discord server, they are also doing alpha testing for the Oculus Go VR headset.

So I downloaded and installed the client software to try it out. You can create public or private, invite-only rooms. The avatars reminded me of those in Rec Room, with only a head, torso, and hands. I found that I had a little bit of trouble getting all the avatar customization features to work properly. You cannot freely move your avatar around, but you can teleport from one unoccupied seat to another.

The first place I visited was a movie theatre where two other avatars were watching a bootleg copy of the Steven Spielberg movie Ready Player One, complete with Korean subtitles (which, ironically, seemed rather appropriate: why not watch a movie about VR in VR?).

Now, I’m sure that the makers of Bigscreen are not terribly thrilled that people are breaking copyright and misusing the platform in this way, but I can also see a lot of legitimate uses for the software. For example, you could invite your far-flung relatives into a private room in Bigscreen to watch that video you shot of your five-year-old’s birthday party, for example.

Bigscreen also allows you to see your computer desktop in VR:

Instead of that tiny 13″ laptop, play any game on massive, customizable screens. Wrap the virtual screen around you for a more immersive experience.

You can follow Bigscreen and its future development via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, or Discord.

Sansar Pick of the Day: Hopswater Swallet

Hopswater Swallet was the talented content creator Nya Alchemi’s entry in the recently completed Sansar Labyrinth contest, and although it did not win a prize, it is still an outstanding achievement. You arrive at the mouth of a cave lit by glowing crystals:

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Attached to the cave entrance is a parchment which reads:

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Your goal is to make it all the way through to the end of the maze, avoiding traps along the way like rolling barrels. This particular maze was great fun to navigate!

Nya put a lot of hard work into designing this experience, and it really shows. Here’s a picture of the brewery, tucked away deep within the cave:

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Pay a visit to Hopswater Swallet and see if you can make it all the way to the very end!

Jason Gholston Speaks About Sansar at the Augmented World Expo

Jason Gholston, the Product Director for Sansar at Linden Lab, gave a presentation at the recent Augmented World Expo held in Santa Clara, California from May 30th to June 1st, 2018.

One of the very surprising facts that came out of Jason’s talk was that Sansar users have already created over 16,000 experiences to date! That’s much higher than I expected. If you check the Sansar Atlas, there are only about 1,000 published experiences. This means that only 1 out of every 16 Sansar experiences are published and accessible via the Atlas! A lot of people must have created test experiences which they did not wish to share with the public.

He said that Linden Lab was really excited about esports applications of Sansar, and then he stumbled and said “High Fidelity” when he meant to say “high quality” (Freudian slip?).

When asked if he was surprised by anything that the Sansar community has created so far, he mentioned the very popular Atlas Hopping series hosted by Draxtor Despres and Strawberry Singh (now up to Episode 46!). I agree that a really strong community has developed among the Atlas Hoppers!

Jason talked about how there is no “magic bullet” for dealing with trolls and griefers in virtual worlds. He said that Linden Lab is still building out the moderation toolset in Sansar, but that this work is a high priority.

When asked if he has any favourite memories or stories about Sansar, he mentioned people who met through the platform and even got married (congratulations to Ria and Loz!).

When asked what people could do to help promote social VR, he suggested people inviting their friends into Sansar and other social VR platforms:

Use it like you would use a hangout or a video chat or a phone call. Next time you want to play a game, go exploring place to place, invite friends.

The Telegram Discussion Groups for the Various Blockchain-Based VR Projects Have Been Endlessly Entertaining…

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There seems to be some sort of rule that blockchain-based virtual world projects must have a discussion group on Telegram Messenger. I am a member of the Telegram discussion servers for various blockchain-based VR platforms:

And the endless stream of discussion, argument, and sometimes outright vitriol has been quite entertaining at times. For example, one impatient wag posted this animated GIF to the VIBEHub channel:

 

There appear to be a lot of disgruntled VIBEHub investors and spectators, who are upset with the lack of communication from the company on product development.

And then you get the endless propositions from people who are peddling cryptocurrency and ICO promotion schemes:

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I’m glad that I don’t have to field all these requests …it’s overwhelming!

Then you get the flat-out spammers:

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If you’re interested in following the ongoing circus, you can find links to the Telegram servers from each of the companies’ official websites (there’s usually a link to all their social media near the top or bottom of the page, just look for the paper airplane symbol):

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Of course, you don’t have to subscribe to all these groups; you can just subscribe to my blog instead! I promise to keep you all up-to-date on the latest shenanigans in this area. I’ve just updated my blog to make it easier to subscribe.

If you’re not already a blog subscriber, just look for the FOLLOW RYANSCHULTZ.COM VIA EMAIL section on the left-hand side panel of my blog (right under the Search box), enter your email address, and press the black FOLLOW button. Then you will receive an email message every time I make a new blogpost to this blog. Easy as pie!

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and the Wizard of Oz

I know, I know, this is completely off-topic for this blog, but I could not resist sharing this absolutely GENIUS picture which I saw being shared on Google+:

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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

And, since we’re already off on a tangent here, let’s appreciate this wonderful protester’s sign from Donald Trump’s recent U.K. visit:

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Chris Madsen Gives Me a Guided Tour of the Engage Social VR Platform

Yesterday, Chris Madsen, who works in business development at Immersive VR Education (the creators of the Engage social VR platform), gave me and Andrew a personal guided tour of Engage. Among other experiences, we visited the surface of Mars, and took a look at an interactive model of the Mars Curiosity rover:

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We also visited a talk show set:

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And we wrapped it up at a virtual recreation of the Neolithic henge monument at Avebury in England:

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The Curiosity experience included a look at how the rover landed on the Mars surface; it was amazing to watch the entire procedure unfold!

Chris has some pretty great stories to tell about the early days of social VR development from five years ago, so I hope to interview him this fall for my Metaverse Newscast show. Thanks to my producer Andrew to taking these pictures using the Snapshot feature in Engage!