Today's Paper Latest stories Drivetime Mahatma Obits Weather Newsletters Puzzles/games
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

"Virtual reality" has been overhyped as a way to experience a movie or game. But it has the potential to get you into the mall.

At the Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles last month, six people at a time were allowed into a special room containing a virtual "Alien Zoo." Those who made the trip viewing otherworldly animals said the 12-minute journey was something like being inside Jurassic Park. Participants wore goggles and backpacks, fended off aliens and in general had a whopping good extraterrestrial time.

The company that set it up, Dreamscape Immersive, is backed by 21st Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon and AMC. Steven Spielberg, director of the movie Jurassic Park, is a big investor.

They're not alone in this one small virtual step for mankind. Rival outfit The Void features two virtual reality adventures: Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, and Ghostbusters at shopping malls in Florida, New York, Utah, California, Toronto, London and Dubai. At their website, TheVoid.com, you can watch video clips of people walking around in their gear. We heard some startled screams. Don't know if that was because of the exhibits.

Heaven knows, something has to be tried to get the shop-till-you-drop crowd back into the malls, and this may be it. But you can sell more than shoes and shirts this way. Some schools are also starting to use virtual reality.

VictoryVR, from VictoryVR.biz, is creating science lessons for kids using virtual reality headsets. The Chemistry Wonderlab app can be downloaded for $10 from the Windows store, but that's just the ticket cost, so to speak. One of three headsets is also required: Mixed Reality for $399, the Oculus Rift, also $399, or the HTC Vive ($499). In Chemistry Wonderlab, kids visit an antique truck museum where the chemistry of rust is explored; then it's on to Trickybeard's Cave for chemical elements. Another app called Mendel & the Mystery of Genetic Traits is a virtual reality comic book by candlelight. The company said it helps kids retain 60 percent more than they would from an ordinary textbook.

We took a look at these apps in the Microsoft Store on Windows 10, and ran smack into the requirement page. Besides a headset, you need a powerful computer. Ours has 16 gigabytes of RAM and a fast Intel i7 processor. But even that is not good enough. Microsoft said we'd need a better graphics driver and perhaps a better graphics card.

The Lenovo 750, at $1,500, would do the trick. So would the HP Spectre x360 15, Dell Alienware 13 and the Microsoft Surface Book 2. The Surface Book 2 is the most expensive of those on the recommended list, at $2,500. For headsets, if you want to go all the way, the HTC Vive Pro just came out and is said to fix the problems of other systems: You don't get tired halfway through an intense experience.

How about on-the-job training in virtual reality? Matrix Academy is training hairdressers through virtual reality. At the other end of the cosmic scale, an outfit called 8i worked with Buzz Aldrin, who recorded messages for scientists training for Mars missions. The training was in Hawaii, which might be slightly different than Mars.

INTERNUTS

Names.org tells you the origin of names, gives you a timeline of their popularity and adds lots of fun facts. The peak popularity for the name Joy was the late 1950s. Robert or Bob is of British origin and means bright fame. It reached its peak bright fame in 1947 and is the third most popular name of all time after James and John. Joy is most popular in Oklahoma, where her mother was from.

"11 Tell-Tale Signs your Accounts and Devices Have been Hacked" is a Gizmodo.com article. Unexplained credit card charges seems like an obvious one, but a sudden, serious slowdown of your phone or computer might also mean you've been hacked, and someone else is on the line.

Do a search for the world's 30 most impressive hotels to find an article in Popular Mechanics on ice hotels, palaces, forts, treehouses, caves, you name it.

Google pancreatic cancer risk calculator to calculate your chances, or choose any other problem, such as breast cancer or heart disease.

APP HAPPY

Netflix Party lets you watch a movie with remote friends. It keeps you at the same place in the movie and lets you chat by text message off to one side.

Chompers keeps kids entertained with stories, riddles and dental directions while they are brushing their teeth for two full minutes. If you have an Alexa Echo or Echo Dot, your kids can say, "Alexa, start Chompers." To get the app, or hear the episodes, go to gimletmedia.com/chompers.

SECURE DOWNLOADS

Apple's iPhone has long maintained a reputation for tighter security. Download an app from the App Store and you can be sure it's OK. Now Google is challenging that.

According to a report by Engadget.com, Google says downloading Android apps is now just as safe as the iPhone. In 2016, the probability of downloading a harmful app over a year's time was less than half of one percent. In 2017, the probability was reduced to one-fifth of 1 percent. There are currently 2 billion Android devices in active use. There are about 7 billion people, counting babies and toddlers.

Business on 04/14/2018

Print Headline: Trip to the mall a ticket to anywhere through virtual reality

Sponsor Content

Comments

You must be signed in to post comments
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT