I have quite the haul of goodies today to show you!
Today’s gift from Essenz are these delightful laced-up green Iceland boots, perfect for braving whatever virtual winter weather Second Life may throw at you, in style! These fur-trimmed high-heel boots come in sizes to fit Maitreya, Belleza, and Slink mesh feet (not Meshbody Legacy, though). The Iceland boots come with a HUD to change the metals, the colour of the sole, and the colour and texture of the fur! The Essenz group costs L$350 to join, or if you just want to get these Iceland boots, non group members can purchase them for only L$50.
Today’s Advent calendar gift from Firelight Hair is the Belle hairstyle, which comes with a mini-HUD of three blonde colours as shown below (the Firelight group is free to join):
And here’s today’s gift from Virtue (the Virtue group is free to join):
I am quite taken—literally tickled pink!—with this pink, daringly low-cut blouse, which is the present from the Advent calendar at Entice (the Entice group is free to join):
From 7 Deadly S[k]ins comes the Asmita skin, which comes in a fatpack of lighter skin tones (the example in the picture below is called pineapple). Remember that the 7 Deadly S[k]ins group costs L$1,000 to join during the month of December, and you can purchase the previous days’ Advent calendar gifts from the store for only L$25 each.
The present from Wow Skins is the Libby Bakes on Mesh skin in the sandy skin tone (the Wow group costs L$199 to join):
The December 14th gift from the 12 Days of Christmas calendar at Baby Monkey is this beautifully textured leather skirt, which includes a 3-colour HUD as shown:
Finally, among today’s gifts from the eBENTO shopping event calendar is the following emerald green Brigitte ballgown from Glitter, which comes with a HUD to change the colour of the tiny top and bottom pearls (which are separate attachments you can add or remove as you wish) to one of four options: black, silver, gold, or a sparkly transparent texture!
It’s been a little over a year since I first wrote about Arthur, one of the social VR products that I like to lump togather under the acronym YARTVRA, which stands for Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality Application (and which I am still trying, and still failing rather spectacularly, to popularize). *sigh* Work with me, people!
The press briefing was one of a few ever to occur in VR*, a spokesperson for this new app claimed. It’s called Arthur, and part of the pitch is that it’s going to catapult VR for work into the mainstream, that meetings and collaboration sessions and deskside briefings will become… headset briefings.
The app launched on December 8, but it’s been in development for four years. The company behind it, also named Arthur, is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with employees scattered around the globe. It has secured seed funding from VC firm Draper Associates, and it lists the United Nations, Societé General, and a large automaker as its beta testers.
Taking a meeting in Arthur requires a literal suspension of reality. You exist only from the waist up (hey, just like Zoom!), and your shirtsleeves taper off to reveal blue computer arms, which move according to how you move the Oculus Quest controllers in your hands. Your digital eyes are obscured by Matrix-style glasses, and a headset microphone covers your virtual mouth. This is because the technology can’t yet mimic facial expressions in VR, and “it’s better than looking at dead eyes,” says Arthur founder Christoph Fleischmann. My avatar looked nothing like me except that it had dark brown hair.
Lauren was kind enough to share a picture of what her avatar in Arthur looks like:
Holy Toledo! I’m sorry, but if you expect me and my coworkers to shell out for VR headsets in order to feel more immersive at our virtual business meetings, you’re going to have to do better than this. These are among the butt-ugliest avatars I have seen in any social VR platform or virtual world—and trust me, I have seen them all in the three years I have been writing this blog. (As a matter of fact, there are a few I wish I could unsee. Is there such a thing as YARTVRA PTSD?)
Frankly, Arthur’s avatars leave a lot to be desired. To avoid having to rig eye movements, the avatars all wear black sunglasses like Corey Hart (“I wear my sunglasses at night…”). To avoid having to rig the mouth, they all wear wraparound black microphones that cover the avatars’ mouths so closely, they look as if they are being gagged! And the avatars’ arms fade out to controllers instead of hands. The avatars look extremely off-putting, and it’s a definite strike against Arthur.
Now, to be fair, there have been a few developments since then. Arthur now supports the Oculus Quest 2 wireless headset according to the article (although a keyword search for “Arthur” pulls nothing up in the Oculus Store). The WIRED article says that Arthur launched on December 8th, 2020, but the Arthur website only talks about joining a waiting list for the product.
There’s the usual YARTVRA jabber on the Arthur website about enhanced productivity:
Arthur is a virtual office space that enables you and your team to meet, collaborate and manage your work. It empowers you to maximize your level of remote productivity and free yourself from geographic and physical constraints…
Arthur is intuitive to use and its functionalities aim at maximizing productivity for you and your team. Thanks to automated onboarding guides, it takes only very little time to be productive with Arthur – by which time you can enjoy a vast array of features, including:
• Presentations • Whiteboards • File Management • 3D Objects
I particularly rolled my eyes at what appears to be an animated GIF in the bottom right hand corner of this image (although I cannot copy and paste it here to show you on the blog; you’ll have to go over to the Arthur website to view it). Resizing and rotating what look like 2003-era Second Life prims in social VR!!?! Oh yeah, businesses are really going to use that feature to get that vital point across to a potential sales client, aren’t they?
Sorry, it’s 4:00 a.m., I have insomnia, and I am feeling particularly cranky (Ryan, sweetheart, step away from the keyboard…).
But this looks absolutely dreadful, especially compared with much more fully-featured platforms, with far better-looking avatars. Avatars with eyes. Avatars with actual hands. Avatars whose mouths move. Platforms which actually already have working solutions, instead of their founder saying inane things like “the technology can’t yet mimic facial expressions in VR, and it’s better than looking at dead eyes“.
Give me some so-called “dead eyes” instead of these Men in Black sunglasses! Frankly, I’d rather have myself seen in Zoom, Cisco Webex, or Microsoft Teams with a severe case of “COVID-19 hair” and a ketchup stain on my shirt, than represent myself with these creepy-looking, budget-basement, cookie-cutter avatars.