• By: Eric McCaffrey, SA News Editor

March Madness

Are you watching the NCAA Men's/Womens' Basketball tournament?

With both Oregon teams making the Sweet 16, local interest is very high.

Here is a quick look at the future of live events presented in two parts.

First a look at Virtual Reality from one of my favorites, John Mauldin.

Have a read about how his day went last weekend at South by Southwest (SXSW Event in Austin Texas)

"One VR experience I had was very different, though. You could even call it mind-blowing… almost literally.

The sign said “VR Chat”—that was new to me, so I asked how it worked.

The man explained they were from an adult entertainment company.

Yes, one of those.

They had developed a VR technology for live, interactive adult (ahem) “experiences.”

Realizing their technology could also have G-rated uses, they were at SXSW seeking corporate partners. He asked if I would like a demo.

“Sure,” I said… and that’s when it got weird.

They had me sit in a nice, plush armchair and helped me put on a VR visor and a headset with microphone.

Okay, I thought, so a VR chat is probably like a Skype video call, just bigger.

Only that it was nothing at all like Skype.

When the visor came on, I was suddenly sitting in a small, ordinary living room. A real-life living room, not CGI as in the demos I’d seen before. A young woman (also very much not CGI) dressed in shorts and a sweatshirt stood in front of me.

She looked straight at me and said “Hi there!”

“Hi,” I replied. It really felt like I was in the room with her.

We chatted for a minute. Then I realized that when I turned my head, I had a full 360-degree view of the room. I could look up at the ceiling and down at the carpet. I was there—at least visually.

When I looked forward again, I noticed that the woman had moved closer to me.

Like, awkwardly close.

In fact, she was on her knees in front of my chair.

It was bizarre: I knew she wasn’t physically there. She couldn’t touch me, but I would have sworn I could feel her hands on my legs. It was that real.

I didn’t know how far this would go—nor did I want to find out—so I pulled off the visor and thanked them. Then I rushed to the nearest fountain for some cold water.

Unlike the previous VR demos I’d seen, the reality I visited from that chair didn’t feel “virtual” at all. My brain processed it as a real, physical presence. It made my body react as if I were there and even filled in gaps, like the hands my other senses said were touching me.

The company was right: This technology has many potential applications. It would work anywhere you can place the VR camera:

  • A college professor could deliver a lecture to thousands of students at once, all “sitting” in one small classroom.

  • Concert promoters could sell an unlimited number of front-row virtual seats.

  • A surgeon could bring a far-away specialist into the operating room for consultation.

Those are just my quick ideas. You can probably think of others.

Looks like somebody thought of another great idea for Virtual Reality.

Intel Corporation (INTC)

Through a multi-year arrangement, certain NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament games will stream live via the Intel-powered (NASDAQ:INTC) NCAA March Madness Live VR app, available on the Oculus Store in two tiers of premium ticketing (silver – $1.99 per game; gold – $2.99 per game, $7.99 for all six offered).

Intel True VR, the newly-disclosed branding outcome of Intel's acquisition of VOKE (November 2016), is positioned as the company's VR sports and entertainment unit, inclusive of the above-mentioned app as well as any future on-demand experiences, highlights and other live-events to be offered in virtual reality.

The future of broadcast entertainment is upon us and trends suggest many of us will watch the tournament next year on some form of Virtual Reality hardware.

Imagine your favorite musician, movie, sporting event or Broadway Show enjoyed in the comfort of your own home on your schedule.

Coming soon!

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