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Virtual Reality

January 10, 2010 | By Ben Ehrenreich
Despite the binary nature of his own neural wiring, each synapse an on/off switch, passing electrochemical messages from axon to dendrite, Jaron Lanier will be the first to tell you that the mind is not a digital device. We are analog creatures, staticky and mysterious, resistant to the normalizing containment of code. Lanier's mind has few apparent boundaries. It grapples with zombies and "gray goo," "inner trolls" and the "lords of the computing clouds," with "cephalopod envy" and "songles" -- "A songle is a dongle for a song," Lanier explains, in case you didn't know -- with "the mystery of Bengalese finch musicality" and the bucket containing all red things.
August 31, 2009 | Alex Pham
For most of his career in the NBA, there have been two Kobe Bryants, each evolving in mirror universes. One is a 6-foot-6 Los Angeles Lakers guard who grew up playing Double Dribble, a video game released in the 1980s, with his cousins during summer visits to his grandmother's house. The other is also a basketball player, albeit a digital one created 10 years ago by Visual Concepts, a video game developer in Novato, Calif. If the real Kobe built up his shoulders, so would the virtual Kobe.
August 6, 2009 | Chris Lee
Moving quickly to capitalize on fans' appetite for anything related to Michael Jackson, administrators for the singer's estate have mapped out elaborate plans for merchandising deals, a tribute concert, a television special and even a traveling exhibition of Jackson memorabilia. In a court filing last week, Jeryll S. Cohen, a lawyer for the administrators, said she expected the deals to generate an amount in the "high eight figures" -- tens of millions of dollars -- for the singer's estate.
March 23, 2009 | Alex Pham
It's no coincidence that most of the blockbuster video games of the last two decades have been gorefests and war simulations. Their creators were single guys in their teens and 20s whose all-night coding sessions were fueled by Doritos and Mountain Dew. John Smedley was one of them. In the mid-1990s, he helped make the trailblazing online game EverQuest, a slash-'em-up fantasy world that only a Dungeons & Dragons-obsessed geek could love. But Smedley has grown up, and so has the industry.
November 21, 2008 | Alex Pham, Pham is a Times staff writer.
Not all Google Inc. endeavors turn into gold. Lively, a virtual world the Internet giant launched less than five months ago, will be shut down at the end of the year so Google can focus on its bread-and-butter search business. The Mountain View, Calif., company said late Wednesday that it supported experimentation but "we've always accepted that when you take these kinds of risks, not every bet is going to pay off."
September 12, 2008 | Alex Pham, Times Staff Writer
Virtual worlds, once a niche market within the video game industry, are heading to the big leagues. Six Degrees Games Inc., a Marina del Rey company, is planning this fall to launch a sports-based virtual world for kids called Members will be able to create avatars, chat with buddies as well as collect virtual trophies for competing in games based on baseball, basketball and extreme sports. In less than two years, the tiny company has scored hard-to-get licensing deals from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Assn.
April 2, 2008 | James Hohmann, Times Staff Writer
A man with an oversized top hat sat in the front row of a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday, munching on popcorn. Next to him was a woman wearing wings that let her fly out of her seat. And she was sitting by a large bumblebee. It wasn't an April Fool's Day stunt but the first time a congressional hearing was simulcast into the popular online virtual world called Second Life.
November 24, 2007 | Paloma Esquivel, Times Staff Writer
In a computer lab at UCLA, the worlds of cyberspace and Medieval Europe merge. A large group of computer engineers, scholars, students and other experts at UCLA have built a virtual cathedral -- a computer re-creation of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral as the building probably appeared when it was dedicated in northwest Spain in 1211. Projected onto a screen curving nearly a half-circle, the image looks as if it belongs in the virtual world of a video game.
August 24, 2007 | Denise Gellene, Times Staff Writer
Exploring the connection between our mental and physical perceptions of ourselves, scientists on Thursday said they used virtual-reality goggles to induce out-of-body sensations in healthy volunteers. In simple experiments carried out by teams in Switzerland and England, test subjects looking at video images of themselves projected through the goggles reacted as if their own bodies had been touched when their virtual selves were stroked or poked.
June 16, 2007 | Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
Imagine strolling through the Forum like Emperor Constantine, or climbing the marble steps of the Senate amid the splendor that was ancient Rome, the caput mundi, the capital of the world. Such flights of fancy have long been the dream of many a scholar, tourist and ordinary modern Roman. A new $2-million, 3-D computer project by a team of international experts may make the dream a reality -- a virtual reality.
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