Alcove VR: A Brief Introduction to a Virtual Reality App Focused on Connecting Families and Combating Social Isolation

Alcove VR is a different kind of social VR platform. According to their website:

Alcove is a virtual reality app connecting family members across generations by bringing them together inside a virtual world filled with immersive experiences.

When you can’t physically be in the same room, or even on the same continent, meet your loved ones in Alcove’s virtual living room to create new memories as you journey around the globe, watch videos that surround you and play cognitive games together.

The company explains why they are focusing on this particular niche:

Social isolation is an increasing health concern. Studies have found that isolation and loneliness are worse for health than obesity or smoking, especially if you’re over 50. The health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Alcove was built with this in mind. We are driven to knock down the barriers created by social isolation or physical limitations, and open new doors to those affected … and we’re doing it with fun and engaging VR. Alcove bridges the physical distance between family members and empowers people to experience new places and things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do because of cost, time or mobility constraints.

You can download a beta version of Alcove VR from the Oculus Store for the Oculus Go VR headset (there don’t appear to be versions for the Oculus Quest or the Oculus Rift yet). Alcove VR is available through Oculus’ Early Access program, and the cost is free. (It is not available on Steam.)

Alcove VR has partnered with the AARP, the American seniors’ interest group, and includes experiences created and curated by AARP Innovation Labs. They are actively looking for partnerships with other startups and content creators.

And they are running a VR Design Challenge Contest:

Games for Change is proud to announce plans with AARP Innovation Labs (also known as The Hatchery) to create a VR Design Challenge. This would be the first VR Challenge for Games for Change who has previously run Games Design Challenges on issues like climate change and immigration. The Hatchery is an innovation accelerator that works with start-ups and investors to discover big ideas and bring them to scale to change how people live as they age.

Through the VR for Change Alcove Challenge, AARP Innovation Labs and Games for Change will aim to inspire more people to think about how VR games can enhance the quality of life as we age, and enable people across all ages to experience simple, beautiful, and impactful VR. The challenge will invite developers to submit a digital game that can have health or wellness benefits for older users. Select winners and finalists may have the opportunity to have their game published on the Alcove platform.

If you are interested, more details on the VR Design Challenge are available here, along with a form to enter the contest.

You can follow Alcove VR on social media via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And, of course, I have added it to my ever-growing list of social VR/virtual worlds.

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Glue: A Brief Introduction

Glue is a social VR platform created by a company out of Helsinki, Finland. It’s another example of a category I like to call YARTVRA: Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App. Glue describes itself as:

Glue is a modern collaboration platform that takes advantage of recent advances in immersive 3D graphics, virtual reality, and cloud computing. It is intended for business professionals who need global remote access to a shared team space for efficient collaboration.

Among the features offered by Glue are 3D avatars, spatial audio, post-it notes, whiteboards and freehand drawing, and the ability to export work created in-world through their web user interface, in various supported file formats. Supported VR headsets include:

  • HTC Vive and Vive Pro
  • Oculus Rift and Rift S
  • Oculus Quest
  • Valve Index
  • Windows Mixed Reality headsets

Glue has three different pricing levels: team (up to ten users at a flat rate of 500 Euros per month, charged annually), organization (for 10-100 users), and enterprise (for over a hundred users):

There’s a platform overview document which you can download from their website, which gives more detailed information. You can also follow Glue on social media via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I will also be adding Glue to my comprehensive list of social VR/virtual worlds.

Immersivt’s Ultimate Guide to Digital Meetings in VR

While creating my updated comparison chart of social VR platforms, I discovered a very useful guide to virtual reality apps compiled by a Swedish VR consulting company called immersivt.se, called The ultimate guide to digital meetings in VR (the website is in Swedish, but Google Translate does a very good job of automatically translating the text into English):

This guide covers quite a few different platforms, including many which I have written about before on my blog. But there were also many products listed, which I had not heard of before:

  • Glue
  • Arthur
  • Dimension10
  • InsiteVR
  • Hyper
  • Acadicus
  • AlcoveVR
  • VR Conference

So you all know what that means, right? It’s time for me to go do some more exploring! Of course, I will report back on what I find. Their website was also kind enough to provide a link to my updated comparison chart—thanks!

Remembrance Day: Pictures From A Return Visit to Remembrance Island in Fortnite

Photo by Laurentiu Iordache on Unsplash

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Fields, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD

As it turns out, when I first visited Remembrance Island in Fortnite (the custom island built for the Royal Canadian Legion to commemorate Remembrance Day, November 11th), there was a software bug which had the lighting permanently set to nighttime, which of course made it difficult to take pictures!

This bug has since been fixed, so here are some photographs I took of Remembrance Island on a return visit. There are eight environments to visit in total, following the trail of red poppies:

  • trenches from the First World War,
  • the Pool of Peace,
  • the Vimy Ridge Memorial,
  • the Battle of Ypres,
  • D-Day on the Beaches of Normandy,
  • a ruined town to show the liberation of Europe,
  • Hill 355 from the Korean conflict,
  • and a sandy landscape depicting Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.

A small section of the island to the west of the towering Vimy Ridge Memorial presents information about the Canadian soldiers’ experiences in the Korean War, where 516 Canadians died serving their country:

And there is an area which recreates the recent Canadian mission in Afghanistan, where 158 soldiers lost their lives:

At the end of exploring the island and learning about Canada’s war history, you arrive at a virtual recreation of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, with row upon row upon row of soldiers’ graves.

This is a sobering and moving experience, which I do recommend you pay a visit to, in order to be reminded of the sacrifices made by so many soldiers, beginning in World War I and up to the present day. Lest we forget.