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5 Reasons Why Virtual Reality Is The Next Big Thing

5 Reasons Why Virtual Reality Is The Next Big Thing

There’s a lot of buzz going on about virtual reality (VR). There are articles popping up in the news and a lot of general excitement. With smartphone-compatible versions of VR, like Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, already on the market, as well as the recent pre-release of the Oculus Rift and the imminent arrival of the HTC Vive, one thing is certain: virtual reality is coming.

Although many have forecasted VR’s categorical success, others are not so certain about it. Some naysayers have even predicted that VR will be a complete flop, saying it’s doomed to the same fate as 3D TV.

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The biggest problem with 3D TV was that there simply wasn’t enough content to persuade mainstream consumers to go out and buy expensive new TV sets (not to mention that the technology was imperfect at best…). It always remained a niche venture. But this is just not the case with VR. As I write these sentences, even before Oculus Rift, the first dedicated, full-fledged VR headset, becomes generally available to consumers, there are already tons of really cool applications in all sorts of domains, not just gaming. Here are five of the the best.

1. You can teleport yourself just about anywhere in the world and feel as if you’re really there using the new Google Street View VR app

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been to Paris, and the truth is that walking down Boulevard Saint Michel in real life still beats any approximation to that experience that you can have with an HD screen. However, short of actually purchasing an $800 round-trip ticket to Europe, the Google Street View VR app (currently available for android devices using Google Cardboard or Gear VR) is about as realistic and genuine an experience as you can have in another city. Even with regular old Street View, I enjoy “exploring” foreign cities from behind my laptop’s screen – I think most of us appreciate how close we are brought to faraway places with those panoramic images, and being able to rotate around was part of that.

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Well, the 360º VR functionality is a step up from traditional Street View. Here, you get to freely zip through city streets, getting a real feel for their spaces and places. But unlike the Street View we’re accustomed to, the VR function lets you really focus on small details you might otherwise miss, since you are completely immersed in the experience. And that’s the magic it offers: unlike staring at your computer screen, where you never lose sight of the fact that you are, in fact, sitting in your living room, Street View VR is so immersive that you become aware only of your virtual surroundings.

2. You can watch movies on a 140-foot screen on the moon

Oculus Cinema is an app that lets you watch movies and other video content as though you were in a movie theater, an IMAX theater, or on the moon. The light from the movie screen bounces off moon rocks around you, and if you turn to your right, you’ll see the Apollo moon lander (which, of course, explains how it is that you came to be binge watching your new favorite series on the moon).

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This is really cool because it accurately recreates the cozy feeling of being in a theater while specifically focussing on watching a movie. Much like in a theater, it’s dark around you and you can’t glance down at your phone to check the game scores – which is what is cool about the cinema in the first place: escaping our mundane existences and diving into the movie’s story. Also, Oculus has just announced that friends are coming to the oculus cinema; they are adding a social function to the app which will let your friends sit in the same theater (or part of the moon) as you while you watch the movie, thereby overcoming some of the loneliness of VR.

3. You can attend live shows, like the filming of SNL

One of the things I most enjoy when I go to any live performance is turning around, right in the middle of the show, and watching other spectators watch the show. It’s just part of the magic of being there. For its 40th anniversary special episode, Saturday Night Live recently placed a 360º camera inside Studio 8H so that people with an android phone and Google Cardboard could watch Will Ferrell play Alex Trebek in “Celebrity Jeopardy” in VR. They could also turn around and scrutinize the cameramen or members of the audience, which included Michael Douglas, John Goodman, James Franco, Larry David, Tim Meadows, Dakota Johnson, and Sarah Palin. This sort of VR application really does add a dimension to SNL (and other live shows) that was previously reserved for people who were lucky enough to actually attend live sessions.

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4. You can interact with people in an entirely new social network: AltspaceVR

Released just a few days ago, AltspaceVR lets you share and really interact with other people within virtual reality spaces. Whether you’re playing chess or sitting in a warm cabin in a virtual winter wonderland, this new platform lets you have shared experiences with people that may be thousands of miles away. Ultimately, the basis of friendship is the possibility of talking, having common experiences, playing together, and hanging out. AltspaceVR taps into that, and thus truly unleashes an enormous potential for VR socializing. This is still in its early stages, but it’s paving the way for a social network revolution.

5. You can be in the game instead of just looking at the game (and get some exercise!)

I like watching the Tour de France. Also, I should exercise more – shouldn’t we all? Put these two together and you get things like VirZoom and Activainment’s ebove B

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Eric Lancheres

Entrepreneur

5 Reasons Why Virtual Reality Is The Next Big Thing

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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