March 8, 2016
SIX FLAGS GOES VIRTUAL REALITY
// PASTE MAGAZINE
What is a virtual reality rollercoaster? Does it mean the ride exists? This year at Six Flags, virtual reality rides will elevate the typical coaster experience.
Partnering with Samsung, Six Flags is taking its thrills beyond the loops and screams, transforming it into fully immersive, virtual reality environment. Just board one of the newly integrated VR coasters, put on the Samsung’s headset and let the journey begin. During the ride, instead of views of the Six Flags panorama or the long-haired girl in the cart in front of you, the VR adventure perfectly pairs with the ride’s slopes and spins and takes thrill seekers on a completely different journey.
“Now, people can be immersed into a totally new universe while riding a roller coaster, powered by Samsung Gear VR virtual reality devices. This transforms the modern roller coaster into a totally new, one of a kind sensorial experience – powered by technology,” said Marc Mathieu, chief marketing officer at Samsung Electronics America.
For now, the VR rides will only be added to select rides. The “New Revolution Virtual Reality Coaster,” which takes riders on a futuristic battle to save planet Earth from an alien invasion, will debut at:
● “Shock Wave” at Six Flags Over Texas
● “Dare Devil Dive” at Six Flags Over Georgia
● “The New Revolution” at Six Flags Magic Mountain (near Los Angeles)
● “Ninja” at Six Flags St. Louis
● “Steamin’ Demon” at The Great Escape in Lake George, New York
● “Goliath” at La Ronde in Montreal
And the “Superman virtual reality,” in which riders will fend off Lex Luthor in the comic-book world of Metropolis, will premier at the Superman-branded coasters:
● “Superman Krypton Coaster” at Six Flags Fiesta Texas
● “Superman The Ride” at Six Flags New England
● “Superman Ride of Steel” at Six Flags America in Maryland.
Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.
VIRTUAL REALITY MARCHES CLOSER TO MASS MARKET APPEAL
If Mark Zuckerberg is right, virtual reality will be everywhere in 10 years. Just like the smartphone.
Don’t let the artificial images fool you-virtual reality has real staying power. Two years after Facebook publicized its eyebrow-raising $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality startup Oculus VR, mounting interest from companies and slowly accelerating product rollouts show the technology intends to go mainstream. And Q1 2016 may prove to be a seminal period in the timeline of virtual reality’s ascension.
Back in mid-February, several reports said Alphabet (GOOG) may be working on a new virtual reality headset, moving beyond its smartphone-dependent Cardboard VR headset. Virtual reality also played a supporting role at last month’s Mobile World Congress; the technology’s growth is one of the driving forces behind the race to bring 5G mobile connectivity to the world.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the future of virtual reality in an interview at the end of February , saying-among many things-the technology may reach mass market in 10 years and is poised to become the dominant form of technology-aided conversation in the future. Then, in addition to being Leap Day, February 29 marked the presale kickoff for HTC’s Vive , the latest entry into the virtual reality headset market (the Vive doesn’t ship until April).
On March 1, Microsoft (MSFT), which is dabbling in augmented reality with its HoloLens headset , revealed that its ever-popular Minecraft game will be available on the Oculus Rift headset (the Oculus Rift ships at the end of the month). Two days later, Samsung, which launched its free Gear VR headset giveaway (with Galaxy S7 phone pre-orders) in February, announced a partnership with Six Flags Entertainment (SIX) that will add the virtual reality experience to roller coasters at nine Six Flags amusement parks.
That same day, Deutsche Bank analysts released a note on virtual reality , stating the technology’s current ecosystem-extent of adoption among consumers-mirrors the early smartphone ecosystem of 2007. The analysts expect virtual reality to take longer to reach 100 million users (smartphones accomplished that feat in four to five years), but they believe demand will be strong enough to eventually reach that milestone. There will be hurdles, though; the report cites product development outpacing content development over the next two years as a potential turnoff, as consumers aren’t likely to be impressed by the limited options.
Below is a list of five stocks currently involved with virtual reality.
1. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. ( AMD , Earnings , Analysts , Financials ): Operates as a semiconductor company in the United States, Japan, China, and Europe. Market cap at $1.95B, most recent closing price at $2.46.
The company’s Radeon graphics cards work with virtual reality headsets.
2. Facebook Inc. ( FB , Earnings , Analysts , Financials ): Operates as a social networking company worldwide. Market cap at $310.08B, most recent closing price at $109.58.
3. Alphabet Inc. ( GOOG , Earnings , Analysts , Financials ): Operates as a holding company that provides global advertising services through division and pursues investments and projects through other divisions. Market cap at $487.96B, most recent closing price at $712.42.
4. QUALCOMM Incorporated ( QCOM , Earnings , Analysts , Financials ): Engages in the development, design, manufacture, and marketing of digital wireless telecommunications products and services. Market cap at $78.32B, most recent closing price at $52.38.
The company’s Snapdragon 820 processor is suited for mobile virtual reality.
5. Sony Corporation ( SNE , Earnings , Analysts , Financials ): Designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electronic equipment, instruments, and devices for consumer, professional, and industrial markets worldwide. Market cap at $29.12B, most recent closing price at $22.11.
The company’s PlayStation VR platform is expected to launch this year.
(Monthly return data sourced from Zacks Investment Research. All other data sourced from FINVIZ.)
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March 4, 2016
ABC TESTS VIRTUAL REALITY BY WEAVING LEXUS INTO ‘QUANTICO’
When ABC launches a new episode of “Quantico” this Sunday, it will also test its expertise in a relatively new task for media companies: making real money out of virtual reality.
ABC and other TV networks routinely allow certain advertisers to weave their smartphones and cola cans into scripted comedies and dramas as part of a longstanding practice known as “product placement.” This Sunday, instead of just putting a Lexus into the next episode of its popular freshman series about FBI recruits, the Disney-owned broadcast outlet created a special virtual-reality segment of the program in which the automaker plays a major role.
It’s a maneuver that could bolster use of an emerging media environment. “There’s tremendous opportunity for storytelling in this space, and I think it offers unique opportunities,” said Jeffrey Weinstock, vice president and creative director at ABC Integrated Marketing, in an interview. Viewers “are going to actually be part of the world of the show.”
During the midseason return of “Quantico” this Sunday evening, a promotional banner will appear at the bottom of the TV screen suggesting viewers take a look at QuanticoVR.com. Upon arrival, viewers can go into the world of the program and assume the role of a new recruit on a mission with “Quantico” characters Shelby Wyatt (played by Johanna Braddy) and Caleb Haas (played by Graham Rogers) as they track down a target – all with the assistance of a Lexus LX 570 flagship SUV. Curious seekers who check out the scene, which should clock in at under three minutes and 30 seconds, will be rewarded not only with a 360-degree view of the action, but a few “Easter egg” reveals about the show and its storylines. The website will offer instructions for accessing the experience on desktop or via a Littlstar VR app for headsets, mobile and Apple TV. The segment was produced by “Quantico” showrunners and writers.
The network unveils the new-tech idea at a heady time. TV networks are gearing up to hawk new programs and intriguing advertising packages as part of the industry’s annual upfront marketplace, where U.S. media companies try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season. Many TV outlets will pitch their ability to create “custom” content that ties advertisers more directly to specific series and specials. Demonstrating a finesse with an emerging are like virtual reality could help ABC draw notice away from competitors.
March 1, 2016
VIRTUAL REALITY COMING TO CAR SHOWROOMS
// USA TODAY
Imagine walking into a dealership where there isn’t a car. Instead, shoppers use a device like a tablet computer and are then escorted around their virtual car. It would be three dimensional and you’d be even be able to open car doors and take a look inside.
That’s what Accenture Digital, a business consulting firm, is working on with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
A prototype was just shown at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, based on Google’s Project Tango developer kit. With it, potential buyers would be able to use a mobile device to explore every aspect of digital car as a 360-degree experience.
Car shoppers can “walk freely around a full-scale vehicle in almost any environment because Project Tango enables an untethered, handheld experience that does not rely on external tracking technology such as markers, beacons or GPS,” Accenture says.
The first commercial Project Tango device is expected to be available this summer.
“Augmented reality is set to transform the way car-buyers choose and configure vehicles through the provision of immersive technology because it provides an enjoyable, delightful experience for customers,” said Luca Mentuccia, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s Automotive practice. “We believe dealers and car buyers will be quick to embrace this enhanced way of buying a car.”