Once the promised Shangri-La for the future of gaming, VR’s opening salvo into the market wound up being less of a revolution than it was hyped up to be. However, the new medium has persevered nonetheless, and there are some signs that the future of VR might at least approach something resembling what we were once promised.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most notable developments in the VR space, and what they could be leading to.
Less Complex Setups
One of the biggest problems that VR faced at its launch was the sheer amount of tech setup needed in order to make it work properly. The HTC Vive, one of the most promising early systems, required a bulky headset, a set of heavy wires directly connected to a user’s computer, two handhelds, wand-like controllers, a pair of tall sensor towers, and a completely open space that the two sensor towers could “box off.” It practically required its own room in order to be functional, and very few people have the time, money, or perseverance to dedicate so much to a game console – even one in VR.
In the near future though, many companies are looking to cut this amount of required setup and equipment down significantly. Most commonly, this effort is taking the form of headset-only VR – headsets (or helmets, in some cases) that have all of the required tech for VR games packaged in, eliminating the need for thick cables or boundary poles. Of course, some games will still require controllers, and you’ll still need a somewhat open space if you don’t want to injure yourself while playing, but for the most part, things look to be much simpler. For now, the technology is still largely in development, but it’s definitely on the way, and early examples are promising.
One of the strongest titles for the VR platform has been one that’s rather simple at first glance, but deceptively complex when looked into further. VRChat released a little while after the initial VR launch boom, has a simple concept: let players interact and talk with each other in a virtual world, using avatars of their choosing.
The complexity comes in in the form of player-created content, which makes up the majority of what’s playable in VRChat. The vast majority of the game’s worlds are created by the players themselves, and player avatars, too, are original creations. The infinite possibilities of creation in the VRChat space has led to its easily having one of the most dedicated fanbases of any VR title. Even celebrities have joined in on the fun, with some of the cast of the ever-popular Mythbusters show having gone as far as to host a live contest in VR!
With that in mind though, it seems like a no-brainer that others would try to emulate the VRChat formula. So far attempts like AltSpaceVR hasn’t been quite as impressive, but there are still endless possibilities to consider. The casino space is one that could make a great deal of sense here. Right now, digital casinos from developers in New Zealand and the UK make up much for the market and are best known for providing intriguing welcome bonuses and hosting a wide variety of games. But they are also almost subtly innovative platforms, consistently embracing new tech and making games more immersive. There’s a clear path to the next iteration of these online casinos being an open, social virtual casino in VR. Meanwhile, there’s also the pop culture side of things to consider. There are countless worlds and settings people would love to simply hang out and socialize in: VR Hogwarts, VR Pandora… Any of these could make for incredible social spaces.
Support From The Big Three
In addition to more convenient equipment and more opportunities for social worlds, VR may benefit most from support from the “Big Three” of gaming: Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. These three companies can often determine together which concepts live and which concepts die. It’s a point in VR’s favor, then, that each of them has thrown its hat into the ring in order to push VR forward – even if these early forays have been somewhat timid.
Sony has had its own headset, PSVR, for a while now, and still has plenty of studios dedicating their time and development efforts toward new titles for it. Microsoft, always looking to the future, has implemented support for numerous VR headsets into its current and upcoming consoles. Even Nintendo, usually slow to new developments in the market, has its own oddball take on VR in the form of its cardboard Labo VR Kit. Altogether there’s at least some promise that these ever-influential companies will wind up having a big say in VR’s future.
Whether or not any of these developments can ultimately propel VR to the level so many of us expected or wanted to see it at is an open question though. There’s clearly a wonderful version of VR’s future, though a lot of things still have to go right for it to come to fruition.
Strainprint™ Technologies Welcomes Organic Medical Cannabis Producer to Growing List of Subscribers
Strainprint Technologies Ltd, the leader in cannabis data and analytics is pleased to expand their nation-wide coverage with the addition of Stewart Farms.
Stewart Farms is a late-stage applicant headquartered in Alberta that is building a 100,000 sq. ft. vertical aquaponics farm in Saint Stephens, New Brunswick. They will be utilizing automation, vertical farming, and land-based aquaculture to produce medical grade organic cannabis for both recreational and medical markets in Canada. All of their products will be free of herbicides, pesticides and synthetic nutrients. At full capacity, they will reach more than 10,000 kgs per year of organically farmed cannabis and more than 200,000 kgs of organic tilapia.
Stewart Farms’ long term vision is to deliver tools and products to support future customers and patients during their health and wellness journeys. “Through our partnership with Strainprint we gain direct access to their incomparable data and analytics tools. This will aid us in educating a wider audience on the medical benefits and best practices of cannabis-based medicine,” said Tanner Stewart, Co-founder & CEO of Stewart Farms. “We know our customers are looking to consume more than dried cannabis. We know Canadians of all legal ages are trying to sort through their personal engagement with cannabis as a medicine. What we want to know, on an ongoing basis, is what is and is not working for people. Strainprint’s patient-led data services will give us the insight needed to create custom products and further understand the benefits of our existing products. Finally, our goal is to partner with companies and teams that truly have people’s best interest at heart. Caring about a patient’s success is what makes up the core of the Strainprint team. We couldn’t be happier to move forward with them at our side.”
Stewart Farms will access the Strainprint Analytics web platform, the most sophisticated cannabis analytics platform available to improve product development. Strainprint Analytics is built on top of the largest and most granular scientific data set of its kind in the world, with more than 1.3 million anonymized, patient reported medical cannabis outcomes and more than 65 million data points on strain efficacy.
“We’re thrilled to provide our real-time, crowd sourced data to an environmentally conscious company that uses innovative, cutting edge farming technology to produce top-tier medical cannabis,” said Strainprint CEO, Andrew Muroff. “Our organizations are equally committed to improving lives using cannabis therapy, and our shared core motivation is to provide guidance and support to help cannabis patients achieve their health goals.”
SOURCE Strainprint Technologies Ltd.
Field Trip Ventures Inc. Retains KCSA Strategic Communications as Public Relations Counsel
Greenery Map, the world’s first and only cannabis search engine to allow users to search for cannabis products based on their desired mood, medicinal use, and method of consumption, is now offering users – both businesses and consumers – the opportunity to register and connect to the app in an entirely mobile way. Previously, businesses were required to access GreeneryMap.com from a desktop in order to manage accounts and connect to the inventory API system, but that road block has been removed, allowing for an entirely mobile experience through the Greenery Map app.
App users turn to Greenery Map to help them decide on the strain of Cannabis and product that is right for them depending on their desired mood or medicinal effect. Following the matching, consumers are given a detailed history and description of the strain so that they can make educated purchases, cutting down on time that budtenders need to spend with patrons and speeding up the purchase process. Consumers can then see all of the ways to purchase said product, including the nearby dispensaries that have it in stock, online options, and even delivery options through the app. Greenery Map fully integrates with a dispensary’s inventory API system to update in real-time and give consumers real-time information on dispensary stock for the item they are looking for. The Greenery Map system also provides cannabis businesses in both the B2B and B2C sectors a private database to share and sell information and products. For Cannabis businesses, Greenery Map also offers the opportunity to open bank and merchant accounts through their partnership with PayHouse Consulting Group.
SOURCE Greenery Map
WeBank, IBM and Other Organizations Jointly Held the 1st International Workshop on Federated Machine Learning in conjunction with IJCAI 2019
Once a concept, AI is now ushering in a key stage of application. What’s the solution to the data silos among businesses? Given the enhanced regulation on data at home and abroad, what’s the solution to data privacy and security concerns? What’s the status quo of Federated Machine Learning and how to establish an ecosystem for FML in the future?
WeBank, IBM and other organizations jointly held the 1st International Workshop on Federated Machine Learning for User Privacy and Data Confidentiality (FML’19) in conjunction with the 28th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-19) on Aug. 12, 2019, to further discussion on these issues.
President of IJCAI, Chair of FML Steering Committee, Chief AI Officer of WeBank Professor Qiang Yang delivered opening remarks at the workshop. Dr. Shahrokh Daijavad from IBM and Dr. Jakub Konečný from Google presented keynote addresses. In the panel discussion, top scholars from WeBank, Bar-Ilan University, IBM, Squirrel AI, Google, Huawei, Clustar, Sinovation Ventures and many other renowned enterprises and universities shared and discussed their findings and experience in FML as an emerging AI technology.
This workshop received 40 papers, of which 12 were presented during the workshop, 19 presented via poster. Awards include Best Theory Paper Award, Best Application Paper Award, Best Student Paper Award, Best Presentation Award. Selected high quality papers will be invited for publication in a special issue in the IEEE Intelligent Systems journal. All these attracted numerous scholars to engage in discussions and join efforts for building the FML ecosystem.
Experts from IBM and Google Share Groundbreaking Findings with a Focus on the Theory and Application of FML
Privacy and security are becoming a key concern in our digital age. On 25th May last year, the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the EU, the toughest Act on data privacy protection, stressed that user data collection must be open and transparent. A series of laws and regulations from China and overseas also pose new challenges to the traditional way of handling data and model for cooperation. Seeking ways for AI to adapt to this new reality became top priority, a demand that led to this workshop on FML.
A wealth of solutions and breakthroughs were shared by Dr. Shahrokh Daijavad from IBM and Dr. Jakub Konečný from Google in their speech on FML.
Besides how FML can help tackle challenges in the business world, Dr. Shahrokh Daijavad also shared the concept of Fusion AI, which means to train models on widely distributed data sets, but fuse them to produce one equivalent to what centralized training would yield. “Unlike traditional machine learning, in Fusion AI, model parameters are shared and data is not transferred, which makes Fusion AI model better than models that moving data centrally.” Given the widely distributed data, the development of Fusion AI and FML became ever important and imminent.
“FML enables machine learning engineers and data scientists to work productively with decentralized data with privacy by default,” said Dr. Jakub Konečný from Google. He also shared with us how FML works and its use cases at Google. In the case of Gboard, as on-device data is privacy sensitive or large or is more relevant than server-side proxy data, and labels can be inferred naturally via user interaction, the application of Federated RNN compared to prior n-gram model can increase the accuracy of next-word prediction by 24%, and the click rate of prediction strip by 10%.
Major Figure Panelists Discuss the Way Ahead for FML
The moderator of the panel discussion, AI Principal Scientist of WeBank Dr. Lixin Fan joined panelists including Professor Benny Pinkas from Bar-Ilan University, Dr. Shahrokh Daijavad of IBM Academy of Technology, Chief Architect of Squirrel AI Dr. Richard Tong, Research Scientist of Google Dr. Jakub Konečný, Dr. Baofeng Zhang from CTO Office of CBG Software in Huawei, Executive VP of Clustar Dr. Junxue Zhang, VP of AI Institute in Sinovation Ventures Dr. Ji Feng and other experts in a host of in-depth exchanges with attendees, to shed light on the way ahead for FML.
Experts shared thoughts in the panel discussion on questions including but not limited to: How to meet the security and compliance requirements? Is there a way to extend the value of data while observing user privacy and data security? Given the classic trade-off between data regulation and development of AI, how to achieve the long-term goal of establishing a stable and win-win business ecosystem?
List of Award-Winners
Best Theory Paper Award, Best Application Paper Award, Best Student Paper Award and Best Presentation Award selected by all attendees were announced at the closing of the workshop.
Best Theory Paper Award:
Preserving User Privacy for Machine Learning: Local Differential Privacy or Federated Machine Learning? By Huadi Zheng, Haibo Hu & Ziyang Han;
Best Application Paper Award:
FedHealth: A Federated Transfer Learning Framework for Wearable Healthcare. By Yiqiang Chen, Jindong Wang, Chaohui Yu, Wen Gao & Xin Qin;
Best Student Paper Award:
Quantifying the Performance of Federated Transfer Learning. By Qinghe Jing, Weiyan Wang, Junxue Zhang, Han Tian & Kai Chen;
Best Presentation Award:
Federated Generative Privacy. By Aleksei Triastcyn and Boi Faltings.
President of IJCAI, Chief AI Officer of WeBank Professor Qiang Yang, Chief Architect of Squirrel AI Dr. Richard Tong, andVP of AI Institute in Sinovation Ventures Dr. Ji Feng presented the awards.
“The mission of this International Federated Machine Learning Workshop is to facilitate further understanding in the academia, business community as well as legal and regulatory institutions by promoting the establishment of FML ecosystem in the hope that more businesses will join and build a platform for students aspired to work in FML to find research teams that suit them,” said Professor Qiang Yang.
Held Aug. 10-16, 2019 in Macao, China, IJCAI-19 is one of the leading International Academic Conference on AI, attracting over 3000 AI research personnel and experts. The 1st International Workshop on Federated Machine Learning (FML’19) was a highlight for experts joining this event. Visionaries in the academia and industrial sector expressed the willingness to be part of the effort for academic research, application of FML in the future, and the development and boom of AI ecosystem.
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