Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Case Keenum will always be known as the guy who passed the football to Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs to pull off the stunning Minnesota Miracle last-second victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFL playoffs on January 14. Case Keenum also symbolizes the future of virtual reality (VR) as a training tool to improve performance.
During the 2017-18 NFL season, Keenum stepped up his game dramatically en route to leading the Vikings to a 13-3 record. As reported in ESPN, he used a VR tool developed by training company STRIVR to improve. The Vikings are among six NFL teams that use VR to help players sharpen their mental abilities as they react to the many moving parts that affect the outcome of a single play. Keenum has practiced thousands of plays with VR throughout the course of the season – just as professionals in other industries, including doctors, van drivers, and retailers, use VR to train themselves.
Helping Quarterbacks Escape Blitzes
Although VR has been around for years, the technology has yet to catch on among consumers. The cost of the equipment required, lack of available content, and clunky user interface remain impediments. But the enterprise sector is a different story. VR, which immerses the user in a different world through the use of special headsets, is an ideal tool to train people for complex, high-risk situations that leave little margin for error.
At the 2018 Consumer Electronics show, robots, voice assistants, connected cars, and even connected cities created buzz. Augmented reality and virtual reality – not so much, with the exception of augmented reality applications in the automotive industry.
But proponents of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) should take heart: the real action with AR and VR isn’t happening with consumer products, anyway. The compelling stories about AR and VR are happening on the enterprise side.
Throughout 2017, companies such as Audi, Ford, IKEA, Sephora, and Walmart shared examples of how they’re using AR and VR to run their businesses more effectively. For example:
Augmented reality simplifies the purchase decision for IKEA customers: IKEA released Place, an app that makes it possible for shoppers to see how IKEA furniture might look in their living spaces.
With augmented reality, users overlay simpler forms of content on to their physical spaces, usually by using their mobile phones. Niantic’s Pokémon GO and forthcoming Harry Potter games are examples. With Place, users overlay 3D models of furniture into their physical spaces to test for fit, which takes reduces the risk of buying a sofa or bookshelf before carting it home. Continue reading →
Everyone is freaking out about the latest Facebook algorithm change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on January 11. And yes, the change is big. Facebook will:
Downgrade in users’ news feeds the content that businesses publish.
Boost posts from users’ friends and family.
This development has negative implications for any business that acts as a publisher, ranging from news outlets to content marketers. But the change is not the end of the world for brands. Corporate publishers will simply need to work harder and get more creative about posting content, such as relying on their employees and influencers to share the brand’s content on their personal news feeds.
“Meaningful Interactions between People”
In a post on his page, Zuckerberg wrote, “[R]ecently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
As a result, Facebook is changing users’ news feeds to amplify content from users’ friends and family. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” he wrote. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Zuckerberg cited research indicating that Facebook users should spend more time interacting with each other and less time viewing news on their feeds. “The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our Continue reading →
On January 7, Lana Del Rey said on Twitter that Radiohead has sued her for copyright infringement because of the similarities between her song “Get Free” (released in 2017) and Radiohead’s “Creep” (released in 1993).
She tweeted, “Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by Creep, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing – I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court.”
At issue are similarities between the chord progressions in both songs (although the lyrical content is not a matter of dispute):
The songs sound too similar. As Bill Hochberg, an attorney at Greenberg Glusker, said, “I would say this case does cross the line. This Lana Del Rey song is way too close to what is a rather unusual set of chord changes and a very distinctive melody line.”
Lana Del Rey’s willingness to offer up to 40 percent of the publishing revenues out of court suggests she recognizes that the songs are too similar. “I don’t think you would offer 40% of your publishing if you believed the claim was frivolous,” said James Sammataro, an attorney at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.
But anything can happen when music copyright cases are decided by a jury of everyday people, especially when the dispute occurs over something as subjective as the way a song sounds as opposed to the lyrics used. Case in point: Led Zeppelin. Throughout Led Continue reading →
January 8 looms large in the history of rock. On this day in 1935, Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. Twelve years later, David Bowie entered the world in London. Elvis would not live to see his 43rd birthday. David Bowie almost made it to 70. These two giants of rock and roll share more than birthdays and influential musical careers. They also appreciated the power of visual storytelling long before the age of Instagram.
Before he became the king of rock and roll, Elvis wanted to be in the movies. And when he became a rock star, he got his wish. Sadly, most of his films became a blot on his career thanks to the money-grubbing instincts of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, and Elvis’s overly deferential attitude. But his appreciation of the power of movies made a positive impact on his career in a crucial way: as a teenager, seeing movie stars on the giant screen shaped his choice of clothing – flashy before he was even a singer – and informed his attention to crucial details such as the way he combed his hair and applied eye shadow to create a sultrier appearance. His riveting stage performances had as much to do with the way he dressed and gyrated his legs as the way he sang. Elvis was every bit an intimidating sex symbol as latter-day stars such as Prince were, which can be difficult for readers in 2018 to appreciate. But in the 1950s, Elvis changed everything.
By the time David Bowie’s career exploded in the 1970s, rock and roll stars such as Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page were wearing make-up and fancy stage suits that even had their own Continue reading →
There is good news and bad news for the immersive reality industry, which consists of businesses that provide augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR) products. First the good news:
These investments occurred across 28 categories ranging from education to music, suggesting how wide-ranging immersive reality is.
Now the bad news:
More than half the investment came from just four major players: Improbable, Magic Leap, Niantic, and Unity. As Lucas Mateny of Tech Crunch noted, the actual deal flow for smaller immersive reality start-ups is getting smaller.
The largest category of investment was gaming, partly because of the $200 million received by Niantic, creator of AR sensation Pokémon GO the forthcoming Harry Potter AR game. The popularity of gaming apps underscores how immersive reality continues to be perceived as an entertainment phenomenon on the consumer side. But gaming accounted for only one tenth of the total investment into immersive reality for 2017, with hardware devices (such as smart glasses) and applications across many other fields accounting for the lion’s share.
Don’t let anyone tell you album covers are dead. Album artwork continues to express the visions of artists and the musical content of the albums themselves as powerfully as covers did in the era of album-oriented rock. Memorable album covers of 2017 reflect a year in which artists made compelling political and personal statements.
Three years ago, Apple looked like a music dinosaur. The company was reeling from the embarrassment of foisting upon iTunes customers digital copies of U2’s Songs of Innocence – an incident that laid bare Apple’s reliance on downloading at a time when the music industry was marching inexorably toward streaming. But Apple has regained its groove, and the purchase of irresistibly fun and popular music discovery app Shazam is but one indication.
After licking its wounds in the aftermath of the U2 debacle, Apple focused its considerable resources on launching a streaming service, Apple Music, in 2015 — and then proceeded to show how quickly one of the world’s most powerful brands can right the ship.
Apple Music now boasts 30 million paid subscribers. Although its biggest rival Spotify has double that amount, Apple has eclipsed nearly everyone else in the streaming industry within 24 months, making it and Amazon the only alternatives to Spotify to lead the streaming music business. Just as remarkably, Apple had developed its own brand of cool by building a well-regarded catalog and affiliating itself with the right artists through endeavors such as Beats 1 radio.
A Deep, Well-Curated Catalog
Apple Music’s mix of algorithms and human curation appears to be working. The company put the right talent in place to curate its catalog, starting with Scott Plagenhoef, Apple’s global head of programming and editorial. Formerly editor of the oh-so-hip Pitchfork, he joined Beats Music in 2012, and then joined Apple in 2014 when the Apple bought Beats. And although Apple Music’s playlists haven’t gained as much acclaim as Spotify’s vaunted artificial intelligence-based curation, Apple is earning respect. Recently Apple Music scored a major coup when hip-hop tastemaker Andrew Barber agreed to curate Apple Music’s New Chicago playlist, which provides exposure for up-and-coming Chicago talent as Barber’s Fake Shore Drive blog has done for years.
No longer is Apple the brand that forced uncool U2 down our throats. Apple Music is now where you go to stream radio shows hosted by the likes of Charli XCX, Drake, Frank Ocean, Continue reading →
In the United States, only 9.6 million people use virtual reality (VR) at least once a month, and by 2019, VR will penetrate 5.2 percent of the population, according to eMarketer. And yet, the VR industry has already become a complex ecosystem. As the VR Fund’s VR Industry Landscape illustrates, the ecosystem encompasses a multitude of companies spanning applications/content, tools/platforms, and infrastructure:
When I recently did a Google search for VR, my top 20 search results revealed diverse uses of VR spanning architecture, entertainment, healthcare, pornography, retail, sports, and travel/hospitality. Why has VR spawned such a complex ecosystem touching many industries when so few consumers actually use it? A few reasons stand out:
The moment was freighted with poetic symmetry: I was on my sofa reading Joe Hagan’s newly published Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine when I noticed our postal carrier dropping off the latest issue of Rolling Stone. The cover of Hagan’s book features Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner standing in front of a gallery of rock legends such as Mick Jagger. The latest issue of Rolling Stone features Elon Musk on the cover.
Welcome to the new generation of rock stars. The giants of Wenner’s generation wanted to change the world with music. Today’s rock stars want to use technology to re-imagine how we live.
The contrast between the old and new felt stark as I read the first third of Sticky Fingers, when Wenner launches a magazine in 1967 as rock gods walk the earth. The first issue of Rolling Stone featured John Lennon. Think about that for a moment. You launch a new magazine with zero promise of ever succeeding and no credibility. And coming right out of the gate you land one of rock’s most influential artists ever. John freaking Lennon.