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As Varjo and MeetinVR team up, can VR provide the human touch videoconferencing lacks?

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James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Virtual and extended reality headset manufacturer Varjo has announced a partnership with MeetinVR, providers of virtual enterprise collaboration software, to help deliver more realistic experiences.

MeetinVR will release a dedicated version of their application which supports all Varjo’s headsets, from the VR-2, to VR-2 Pro and the XR-1 Developer Edition, as part of the partnership. New buyers of any Varjo headset will receive MeetinVR free for six months for up to five users.

The announcement was made during Varjo’s keynote at the influential AWE event, which naturally has moved online amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Varjo has previously looked to bolster enterprise usability of virtual reality through its product offerings. In October, as this publication reported, the launch of the VR-2 and VR-2 Pro aimed to ‘set a new standard in visual clarity, making it feasible for enterprise usability of VR technology.’

The company added that partnering with MeetinVR would aim to improve the user experience as many companies are adjusting to working remotely.

“Remote working is now becoming our new normal and the need to be able to virtually collaborate with colleagues, customers and partners around the world is business critical,” said Urho Konttori, co-founder and chief product officer at Varjo. “As enterprises adapt to a new work environment, we’re excited to partner with leading industry players, such as MeetinVR, to help build the future of virtual and mixed reality collaboration.”

While the coronavirus pandemic has led to evident struggle across industry and technology sectors, the VR industry has looked to take advantage of its position to bring greater innovation. IDC noted in March that, although short-term decline in hardware shipments was natural, the longer-term outlook will see greater enterprise VR interest.

One area in which Varjo and MeetinVR among others will look to capitalise is around the explosion in videoconferencing for remote meetings. While Zoom et al have done the job so far for communications, is there a greater need for face-to-face contact while the pandemic continues – and can VR supply it?

Consultancy firm Expressworks has been experimenting with conducting meetings in VR – including using MeetinVR – for this very purpose. Jonathan Berry, European practice director, said that the videoconference experience had not always been satisfactory. “We rely on more than words to communicate and many of the cues we are used to picking up on are lost through videoconferencing, as useful as it has been during this time,” he said.

The tests found that, overall, VR was not quite ready for prime time, with the primary concern for employees being motion sickness due to movement lag. Of the specific vendors trialled, AltspaceVR ‘offer[ed] an amazing experience but [not] the professional feel necessary for the corporate world’, while Rumii was ‘great for training and education but [not] versatile enough for large meetings’. MeetinVR was described as ‘the most promising’ solution, pending general availability.

Despite this, Berry was optimistic about future trials. “In our experiment there was a point in between the initial location excitement and the onset of movement lag induced nausea, at which the enormous potential for this technology was clear,” he said. “You are immersed in a virtual world which allows for almost complete concentration and focus.

“The technology isn’t there yet, but it feels close,” Berry added. “Maybe our ‘new normal’ will provide the catalyst needed to encourage the investment required to make this possibility mainstream.”

You can learn more about the Varjo and MeetinVR partnership here.

Photo by Lux Interaction on Unsplash

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech ExpoBlockchain ExpoAI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

Source: https://virtualreality-news.net/news/2020/may/28/as-varjo-and-meetinvr-team-up-can-vr-provide-the-human-touch-videoconferencing-lacks/

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Supercar maker Mazzanti Automobili launches security token offering

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Italian luxury car manufacturer Mazzanti Automobili has launched its security token offering on regulated digital marketplace STOKR.

As part of the offering, Mazzanti aims to raise 999,999 euros ($1.2 million) on STOKR to develop a special edition of its hypercar model Evantra Millecavalli R.

According to a Feb. 25 announcement, Mazzanti’s STO will allow investors to purchase MZZ tokens, priced at 1 euro each. The token is issued by Mazzanti via Blockstream AMP, a platform for the tokenization of securities built on the Liquid sidechain of Bitcoin (BTC), which has been directly integrated with STOKR.

As part of the STO, MZZ investors will be able to receive a 50% revenue share in the sale of the Evantra special edition. The offering is available for select European countries, with a minimum investment of 50 euros, the announcement notes.

Mazzanti’s founder Luca Mazzanti said that the company has been considering running an STO for a while. The company initially announced its upcoming STO plans earlier in February.

In conjunction with the STO, Mazzanti also announced that the company will allow its customers to purchase all editions of the Evantra model with Bitcoin starting from Feb. 25. The move echoes Tesla’s recent move toward accepting Bitcoin payment for its electric vehicles. 

Based in Luxembourg, STOKR has been listing various STOs in compliance with capital market laws of the European Union. Last year, Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority approved ParkinGO’s offering as the first cross-border STO on STOKR.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/supercar-maker-mazzanti-automobili-launches-security-token-offering

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Finance Redefined: Ethereum exodus continues as Binance ‘helps,’ Feb 17–24.

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The parabolic rise of the Binance Smart Chain has been all over the news this week, aided by a few seemingly unfriendly moves by the exchange itself.

It started on Friday, when Binance suddenly froze withdrawals of Ethereum-based assets for about one hour. Many interpreted it as a move against the blockchain and its ecosystem, given that the cited reason was “congestion issues” — something one hardly imagines is a problem for an exchange, unless they shoulder withdrawal costs for the user.

The day after, FTX started shaming Binance for excessive promotion of BSC on the exchange. Specifically, FTX was apparently “spending millions” in failed deposits that came over the Smart Chain but were meant for Ethereum. FTX’s accusation toward Binance, one of its investors, is that the exchange put BSC as the default option for withdrawing many ERC-20 assets, which caused a lot of failed deposits to FTX.

I can’t say I’ve ever noticed Binance Smart Chain being “the default option” for withdrawals. BSC is the first listed when you attempt to withdraw something like USDC, though it does not actually select the blockchain for you. Still, I can see how some newbies could get swindled by this. People overestimate the degree to which terms like “ERC-20” are known in the casual crypto community. Testing the withdrawal now, Binance forces you to go through a quiz where you confirm you know what you’re doing by selecting BSC. I have no idea when this was introduced, but it’s not impossible that it’s a response to FTX’s statements.

Overall though, there’s nothing inherently wrong with one company using its products to promote another of its products. From the official responses it seems that the Ethereum congestion incident won’t happen again because they “upgraded the systems.”

Cheap tricks would never be able to undermine Ethereum without there being an underlying fundamental weakness. And I think we’ve all had enough with Ethereum gas fees. I tried a non-Ethereum DeFi product recently, and it felt so good to pay just a few cents for a complete interaction.

Binance Smart Chain is already processing more transactions than Ethereum and has over 5 million unique wallets. Ethereum, with its much longer history, is currently sitting at 140 million wallets in total.

Ironically, Ethereum fans should secretly want the bull market to end right now. The longer it goes on, the more gas fees will remain high, and the more people will want to migrate away and seed other environments.

Second largest liquidation day in DeFi history

Speaking of the end of the bull market, a massive slide in crypto markets triggered some $24 million in liquidations on Tuesday, the second highest loss in DeFi history. It would’ve been the highest if not for that infamous day in November when Compound thought Dai was worth $1.3.

The firesale was triggered by nothing in particular, though I suspect that rising bond yields are having their effect on the riskiest of assets on Wall Street, of which Bitcoin is the quintessential representative. And then Bitcoin dragged the rest of crypto with it.

I don’t normally talk about price because I’m not a financial advisor or even a successful trader. But I am feeling a lot of fundamental and sentimental indicators of a coming correction, ranging from a wavering stock market to, well, the strength of Tuesday’s dump.

To top it all off, my non-crypto feeds are being invaded by crypto stuff, which is never a good sign. I certainly hope that I’m misinterpreting what is actually unprecedented adoption and acceptance, but let’s face it — it’s all about price for now, while fundamentals are still lagging.

With layer two platforms and new blockchains coming online, we may get something useful out of crypto and DeFi soon. But everything could happen before we get there. Be especially careful right now and, most importantly, don’t get liquidated.

In other news

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/finance-redefined-ethereum-exodus-continues-as-binance-helps-feb-17-24

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Blockchain soccer gaming startup Sorare raises $50M

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Sorare, a major blockchain-based soccer gaming platform, has raised $50 million from high-profile investors backing major companies like Twitter, Instagram and Discord

The fresh Series A round brings Sorare’s total funding to $60 million, the company told Cointelegraph Thursday.

The funding round was led by Benchmark, an investment giant famous for funding companies like Twitter, Uber and Snap. Accel Partners was another lead investor, known for backing companies like Facebook and Spotify. The round also included some additional investment from investors like Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, and Barcelona striker Antoine Griezmann.

With the new funding, Sorare is planning to continue growing its ecosystem, including launching a mobile application and onboarding the top global 20 football leagues. “We’re designing an experience where fans can celebrate, share, and live football moments at a deeper connection. We’re making fantasy football a reality,” Sorare said.

Founded in 2018, Sorare provides a digital collectibles platform based on the Ethereum blockchain. With non-fungible tokens, the platform offers a collective fantasy football experience allowing players to manage their players and earn prizes.

Gerard Piqué, strategic advisor at Sorare, explained that the platform aims to meet the significant shift to online and digital fan experiences:

“As world football has shifted from local supporters to global fanbases, football fans are looking for new ways to be connected to the game, the players and other fans.”

Blockchain and cryptocurrency startups have been actively tapping the soccer industry in order to bring new ways of fan engagement using emerging technologies. Socios and Chiliz represent some of the best-known industry efforts, jointly providing blockchain fan tokens for popular global soccer clubs like FC Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. Earlier this week, Polish Legia Warsaw became the latest soccer club to join Chiliz and Socios.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/blockchain-soccer-gaming-startup-sorare-raises-50m

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