Technology Companies Explore the Possibilities of AI and VR

Quantious Team
4 min readSep 25, 2020

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Emerging Tech Roundup — September 25

The Quantious team’s top picks for timely trending news in the tech world.

This week in tech: An unofficial Oculus Quest app store raises funds, breast cancer survivor wins AI award, a university team recreates history in VR, a computer predicts human thoughts, Oculus Quest 2 receives new features, Amazon employees involved in bribery case, colleges offer a new experience and form of learning.

Unofficial Quest App Store ‘SideQuest’ Raises $650,000 From Oculus Founder & Others

(Road to VR, September 23)

SideQuest, the unofficial app store for Oculus Quest, was created by co-founder, Shane Harris, to sell Quest apps that don’t meet the official Facebook Oculus Store’s requirements. This unofficial app store provides an opportunity for developers to market and distribute their demos without needing Facebook’s approval. The platform has free and paid material, and all proceeds are given to the developers. Several individuals have invested in the initial $650K seed fund, including Oculus Founder, Palmer Luckey. Apparently, Facebook is going to use the funding to expand its team, build a new testing service, and provide other features for VR developers to use.

Regina Barzilay Wins $1M Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Squirrel AI Award

(MIT News, September 23)

Regina Barzilay is an electrical engineering and computer science professor at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Barzilay, also a breast cancer survivor, recently won the $1 million Squirrel AI Award for creating a machine learning model that develops drugs and diagnoses breast cancer. The award is given by two organizations and aims to honor people for their hard work and dedication to society. The first is a nonprofit, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, which acknowledges achievements in AI that help humanity. The other is an online education company, Squirrel AI, which provided the monetary prize.

Mayflower 400: How We Brought the Pilgrims’ Ship to Life Using VR Technology

(The Conversation, September 22)

In order to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower ship’s sailing, a team at the University of Birmingham created a VR reconstruction of the ship. Known as the Virtual Mayflower project, users will be transported back in time to Plymouth in the year 1620. For 6 years, partners, actors, historians, artists, and even schoolchildren have collaborated to make the experience very detailed, complete with “authentic virtual models and scenes.”

This Computer Predicts Your Thoughts, Creating Images Based on Your Brain Signals

(Sci Tech Daily, September 21)

Researchers at the University of Helsinki are using computers to monitor and observe brain activity. The computers can depict what a person is thinking and present the results as images. Therefore, the computer is able to create entirely new information, including things like fictional images never seen by others. Researchers believe that this new technique can help us gain a better understanding of perception and the human mind.

Oculus Quest 2 Getting Infinite Office With Logitech Keyboard and Adjustable Passthrough

(Venture Beat, September 20)

Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 will have an Infinite Office, which will include a Logitech keyboard that’s expected to make typing in VR easier. Venture Beat describes the Infinite Office trailer as an evolved version of the current Quest interface. Introduced as an experimental feature earlier this year, it is now the default. We can expect to see Infinite Office roll out this winter.

Six People Indicted in Amazon Marketplace Bribery Scheme to Help Third-Party Sellers

(The Verge, September 19)

A grand jury has indicted six people for bribing Amazon employees. Since 2017, employees were paid over $100,000 to manipulate third-party listings on the website, including defective and dangerous products. The former employees were also disclosing internal Amazon information, which allowed attacks on other third-party sellers‘ accounts that flooded product listings with fake negative reviews. The six individuals are facing up to at least 20 years in prison and are being charged with “wire fraud, bribery, and gaining unauthorized access to protected computer systems.”

The Advantages of a Digital Twin Virtual Reality Campus

(Medium, September 18)

A digital twin campus is a virtual, complex replica of a college campus, and due to COVID-19, these are becoming increasingly popular. Data is collected through connected sensors around a physical asset. The sensors then operate together to map out a virtual model of the asset, in this case, a college campus. Unlike early virtual reality experiences, digital twin campuses are in group settings, have live instructors, and offer real-time classes with interactions as in-person classes.

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