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Charity: water, Saint Motel, “Grit” and much more …

What We're Reading

Welcome to another edition of What We’re Reading, Marxent’s weekly series featuring staff members highlighting the best articles, videos, music and more they saw over the prior 7 days. This week, those finds included stories from The Verge, Vice, Ad Week, YouTube and many more. Up first, it’s …

The Best Thing We Read This Week …

Marxent Graphic Designer Gabbi Hardin has been following the nonprofit charity: water for the last several years, ever since they’re creative director spoke at her college. “They’re completely nonprofit,” Gabbi explains. “100% of the donations they receive go toward digging and maintaining wells in underprivileged countries, and they track every single well so you can see where your money is going.”

For their 10th Anniversary, charity: water has taken over Brookfield Place in NYC and installed a VR experience. “Every time someone watches their VR video, $30 is donated towards funding clean drinking water,” Gabbi says. “I think this is an amazing way to use VR to raise awareness, it’s using VR to make an emotional connection to someone who is getting clean water for the first time and in doing so compelling people to make donations, because they’re not just helping unknown people get clean water they’re helping people like Selam have a better life.”

The Best Thing We Listened To This Week …

Saint Motel’s new single, “Move,” deserves a listen! “The band is seriously underrated for how good their music is. The classic feel common to all their songs makes a spectacular return,” explains Marxent Senior Unity Designer Brian Turner. “If you catch me dancing at my desk, it’s because this song is playing.” Oh, and did we mention that the above clip is a 360 video? Don’t forget to watch it in a Google Cardboard!

The Best Book We Read This Week …

Grit by Angela DuckworthMarxent Analytics guru Seth Cooper just finished “Grit,” by Angela Ducksworth. “Really interesting and inspiring read on grit as the most reliable predictor of success. The book particularly caught my interest because it not only showed how grit consistently predicts success ahead of things such as intelligence or wealth, but that grit is also a learned skill,” Seth says. “The applications of learning grit as a predictor and a basis for skills to learn/teach range from personal growth, to parenting, to building a team or structuring an elementary school curriculum.”

QA Analyst Ang Boehmer just finished reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. “This book is a memoir about a 26-year-old woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail (the west coast version of the Appalachian Trail) in 1995. She chose to take the 3 month hike to reflect on the death of her mother, her own marriage that had recently ended, and her life in general. She was an untrained hiker so the journey was brutal, however, she met her goal of finishing her hike and coming to terms with where she was at in her life,” Ang explains. The book was also made into a killer movie starring Reese Witherspoon.

Project Engineer Matt Anderson is currently working his way through “Lock In,” by John Scalzi. “Scalzi writes good sci-fi, handles the issue of the perception of disability really well, and lso handles the idea of virtual reality as a space for those who are otherwise unable to physically interact with reality,” he says. “Plus, Chapter Six is a setup for an awesome one-liner.”

The Best Thing We Wrote This Week …

Ken Moser Diminished Reality

There’s an old saying that reality is what you make of it. That’s more true than ever for 3D artists and designers, who now work in four different “realities” — Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, Diminished Reality. VR and AR get most of the press, while MR and DR remain largely misunderstood. This week, we focused on Diminished Reality, and who better to explain the concept than Marxent Software Engineer Ken Moser, PhD? Ken is a Doctoral candidate in Computer Science at Mississippi State University concentrating in Augmented Reality. (You can read his dissertation, “Towards system agnostic calibration of optical see-through head-mounted displays for augmented reality” by clicking here.) So yeah, Ken’s an expert in the field. We peppered him with questions via email to get to the bottom of what DR is and how people are using it.

There’s also a new entry in our How We Got Here series, this one profiling Carlo Spagnola, Marxent’s mostly silent, ridiculously talented Concept Artist who produces the bulk of our conceptual materials. If you’ve never heard Carlo speak, this is your chance. (And remember, you can check out the rest of the How We Got Here series here.)

And hey, last but not least, Marxent will be named as one of the “2016 Best Places to Work in Ohio” by Ohio Business Magazine in their upcoming fall issue. We couldn’t agree more!

But Wait, There’s More …

Ever wanted to tour the International Space Station? Marxent Project Engineer Kelly Parsons has, and she tracked down the above video as the next best thing to actually blasting off into space.

Good news, People Who Hate Traffic Lights. (That’s just about everyone, right?) Audi’s new technology is the beginning of the end for the old stoplight.

Sales Director Marcus Athari has his eye on some new tech: “I thought this was cool — HP, Alienware and others creating “backpack” like hardware to provide consumers a better VR experience (i.e. you can move around like GearVR, but with significantly more processing power).” The holidays are right around the corner, after all …

Is Virtual Reality the future of fragrance advertising? Charlotte Tilbury seems to think so, and the company has produced its first VR ad, starring supermodel Kate Moss.

Bravo to the developer who managed to get Super Mario Bros. running on a Microsoft Hololens.

Celebrity AR “holograms” are coming … but will anyone care?

And Finally …

Project Manager Patrice Hall shared a pair of articles on cool studies from Google that look into ways to improve the VR user experience — mostly by eliminating trolling or violations of personal space. How are dogs playing poker involved? You’ll just have to watch the above video to find out.

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