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A new VR ride lives on top of a 60 story building in Tokyo, which lets you have the experience of being shot out of a cannon, off the roof and across the city. They have another VR ride on the same top floor I am much more likely to go for, where you swing on a swing while floating above the city. The place is referred to as Sky Circus, and it looks like an entertaining thing to do with the spectacular view. Thanks to VR Scout for the heads up on this one.

IBM Japan has created the VRMMO project Sword Art Online: The Beginning, and when they asked for 200 Tokyo-based Alpha Testers the other week, over 100,000 people tried to sign up. Why all the excitement? For one thing, this may be the first time a fully realized 3D Immersive Virtual Reality MMOG was ever created based on a series of Lite Novels and Anime stories. For another, the books and Anime are all about living in a fully realized 3D Immersive Virtual Reality MMOG, which gives it just that touch of recursive irony that can really draw the fans. Finally (although I could keep pointing out additional reasons), this is IBM; who better to build the future of computer enhanced VR environments in the year when VR goes mainstream?

They are deploying their Cognitive System architecture, previously used to create tools like Watson, to be the basis of their AI control for NPC and Environment functions, which has to rival the power of the systems described in the books and Anime. They are also invoking SoftLayer, their own software-switched network control system that builds cloud environments with the click of an icon and actively keeps them robust and lightning-fast. Here is a video to give you the idea of what they are doing. If you are an SAO fan, be aware that the Alpha testing is over, and the Beta testing is about to roll out! Be sure to check out the Sword Art Online: The Beginning YouTube Channel for more video updates.

The Syfy show Halcyon will have 5 episodes made for VR about the VR saturated world of 2058, along with the 10 episodes made for standard TV. So far the only VR version announced will be for Oculus Rift, I am hoping they port it to Google Cardboard before the release date so everyone can watch it. No word yet on when the show will air (at least that I found), nor was I able to locate an on-line trailer.

Aardman Animations of Wallace and Gromit fame have put together their first VR presentation, Special Delivery. It was made for Google Spotlight Stories, who made this into one of their presentations and translated it into an app for Android and IOS Google Cardboard phones. Much like their Shaun the Sheep TV and Film programs this Pink Panther-like video doesn’t bother with words, but creates its humor from the visuals. This is WAY cooler in the 360 degree VR environment of a Cardboard headset, and even just an Android or Apple phone without the headset allows you to interactively change what you see by turning which way the phone faces. But even the flat version you can see on a desktop or laptop running Firefox or Chrome is fun and gives you an idea about what is going on. The second video gives you a peek behind the curtain with a making-of.

For decades Virtual Reality has been expensive and flaky, but no more; this is the year it goes mainstream and affordable. Part of that is because of projects like Google Cardboard, allowing you to assemble your own VR headset for as little as $150 (cell phone, head set, and trigger button). Until recently there has been a lack of content for VR, but that has changed as well, with everyone from the Discovery Channel to the Dali Museum putting together presentations for it. In the case of the museum, they converted one of Dali’s paintings into a Virtual Reality exhibit entitled Dreams of Dali. Once at the museum they have Oculus Rift headsets for you to wear while exploring the VR environment they created of it.