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Treating the paralyzed in VR, “The Gift of Failure,” Google Jump 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 Engadget, Gizmodo, Arch 20 and many more. Up first, it’s …

The Best Thing We Read This Week …

There is plenty of hype and hope surround Virtual Reality, some of it frivolous in nature — but you also see stories that makes crystal clear the ways this technology is going to improve human lives in the coming years. Case in point: HR Administrator Sarah Pennington shared this very hopeful article from Gizmodo on how Virtual Reality is helping the paralyzed learn to walk again. “Some of these patients have been paralyzed for over a decade and after 13 months of therapy are able to make small,voluntary movements in their legs,” she explains. “The article says that further research will be done on recently injured patients to see if quicker treatment gives better/faster results. It’s exciting and hopeful news for many people that may have thought they would never be able to walk again.”

The Best Book We Read This Week …

What We're Reading: The Gift of FailureChief Marketing Officer Sonia Schechter is paging through The Gift of Failure: How The Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, by Jessica Lahey, which is about being an awesome parent by well, not being an awesome parent. “I like it because in a lot of ways, it takes the pressure off and means less work for me. No need to be super-heroic if I want my kids to have a good chance at life. Let them fail and play and figure it out on their own. Good luck, kiddos!” Sonia says, tongue at least partially in cheek. “Coming to the rescue may feel good, but it damages kids — and I certainly don’t want to do that. The book is also a good reminder of how sometimes a bunch of mistakes can actually add up to something more interesting than being right. It’s better to be wrong than to be safe, as long as you don’t give up when you’re wrong. There’s also some insight into how rewards work — and don’t work. And on that note, I think I earned a piece of chocolate cake, and a shot of espresso, and probably a new pair of shoes, too.”

Project Manager Jo Anne Brenzo has made time this week to dig into a classic of English Literature. “I just started The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde,” she says. “I’m interested in the infatuation with youth and beauty depicted in the book. I’m only 100 pages in, but I like it because it’s clearly going to be about our ideas of what is right and wrong. One of the characters insists that the only things worth doing in life are considered sins. The book was pretty controversial for its time, too. I really enjoy material that make me question what I believe in.”

The Best Thing We Wrote This Week …

Mixed commerce makes shopping fun again

Have you noticed that shopping has become more and more transactional over the years? It used to be that hitting the stores was an experience, with window displays and floor shows designed to attract and thrill customers. Today’s stores are more utilitarian, laid out strategically to optimize customer purchases, while the number of employees and check-out lanes are cut to increase profit margins. The in-store experience has become stale, as evidenced by the fact that it’s no longer wowing consumers. So how do traditional retailers evolve and compete? As Marxent Senior Project Manager Tim Sandlund explains, it’s by giving consumers a unique experience they can’t get online, of course.

We didn’t write this one, but Marxent CEO Beck Besecker was featured in a write up of Progressive Business Media’s NEXT Conference, which was held in Savannah, Ga. last week. Beck appeared as the keynote speaker, and guided attendees through advancements in virtual reality and augmented reality and shared success stories from companies that are already using these technologies to maximize their sales and marketing.

But Wait, There’s More …

The first day of fall has come and gone, and you know what that means? No, not falling temperatures! Fall TV, silly! There are dozens of new shows out there right now, leaving viewers scrambling to figure out what to watch. Because you can’t watch everything. No, really, you can’t. SO PUT THE REMOTE DOWN AND BACK AWAY FROM THE TV! Ok, now that you’re calm, here’s a list of 7 can’t-miss comedies that have hit TV and streaming services this fall.

Ever wish something was available in VR instead of just flat on a TV, computer, or phone screen? Senior Unity Developer Brian Turner has, which is why this story caught his eye. “Wendellen Li and her husband Aza Raskin have been working on that in their spare time. Now they have an app which converts 2D content into stereo scope 3D, and goggles to attach to your phone to experience that same content in ‘VR.’ Now you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars for a TV and glasses to do the same thing.”

Marxent’s head of User Experience Strategy, Nick Kizirnis, shared an article on — what else? — user experience! “This is a simple but very informative AR primer for UX’ers. It provides some great examples of how augmented reality can improve the user experience through reducing cognitive load and delivering the right information in the right context. Even if you know this stuff already, the article is worth reading so that you can borrow the airplane mechanic for when you need to explain it to someone else.” Side note: This will be Nick’s last appearance in What We’re Reading, as he is leaving Marxent to pursue other opportunities. We wish you the absolute best Nick!

Tech Watch: Product Manager Vince Kilian has spotted what’s sure to be a hot property for VR developers — Google Jump. As Vince explains, “Google’s Jump rig and GoPro options could be used to capture our inspirational scenes and generate seamless 360s easily. Comes with automagic seamless image stitching.”

Valve has partnered with Triad Semiconductor to release their tracking sensors for the Vive to the public. Allow Marxent Project Engineer Matt Anderson to explain. “What that means is that anyone can make any sort of trackable object for the Vive. Got a robot-building sim? You can make the individual parts types (arms, legs, etc.) physical trackable objects and then assemble them in VR. Pick up the arm, select the type, and then physically snap it into the torso trackable … but you see it in VR as something much cooler looking. Got an application like Tilt brush? You could have a palette and brush as trackable objects instead of the vive controllers.” And the best part? Valve has made SteamVR Tracking available to companies without licensing fees.

Disney’s EPCOT Center is a popular theme park that puts a smile on the face of millions of guests per year, but it’s not exactly what Walt Disney had in mind when he conceived it. Now a long lost proposal has been unearthed, showing plans for EPCOT’s cashless city of the future.

Could struggling retail giant Toys R’ Us actually be adopting a future-focused outlook that could turn the company around? Marxent Sales Director Jeff Morrow shared an article that seems to indicate just that. “The author boils down the company’s woes to one fundamental problem: The experience needs to be more fun,” Jeff explains. “The big-box advantages of selection and price that made the format so successful have been obliterated by the web. There needs to be more reasons for people to go to a store.”

Jeff also shared this story on how French entrepreneur Jérôme Michaud-Larivière has come up with a cost effective, ingenious idea that can harness the wind around us into consumable clean energy — Biometric energy trees! Read on to figure out exactly what that means. (Trust us, it’s cool.)

Anyone who remembers the TV show Webster will love this story — Keep it secret, keep it safe: 6 homes with awesome hidden rooms and passages.

And Finally …

Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an amazing song, but you know what would be even more amazing? If someone — under the guidance of, say, the band’s guitarist Brian May — created a full VR experience for it. Is this the real life, is this just fantasy? Caught in a HTC Vive, no escape from Virtual Reality …

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