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Women in VR talk business and diversity in a burgeoning tech industry

Sports and education are two of the key areas in which both individuals and companies can become successful in virtual reality today, ahead of the impending launch of the major headsets later this year, according to a panel of VR experts.

“An easy concept for the mainstream to grasp is the power to teleport or to time travel,” explained Helen Situ, Virtual Reality Evangelist at NextVR, at a panel titled "Women Lead VR: Executives Discuss Content Creation and Diversity" at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this morning. “People want premium seat tickets to major sporting events. They want to be able to join in wherever they were in the world, so long as they’re online. Read More

The Netherlands is a serious hotbed for virtual reality content
The Netherlands is already known as an innovation hub. Indeed, this past April the European Commission awarded the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) to Amsterdam.

The country has built an outstanding infrastructure for facilitating innovation. The government has made it easy and affordable for companies to incorporate, and recently instituted the startup visa scheme as a way to attract foreign entrepreneurs. It is always in the top 10 rankings for countries with the fastest Internet speeds. And the educational system, particularly the polytechnic institutions, churns out a steady supply of creative problem-solvers.

And now the country is emerging as an epicenter for virtual reality (VR) innovation. While Dutch startups have sprung up only very recently in this space, they’ve done so in large numbers — and they’re highly concentrated in the content creation end of the supply chain. Read More



While Virtual Reality has taken the tech world by storm, it has its skeptics. One of them is Barry Sandrew, founder of Legend 3D and one who has been around the entertainment industry for a long time. Sandrew invented the colorization process used in updating many black and white films and was a pioneer in 3D conversion of films as recently as 2007.

VR will be used in surgery and have applications, principally in gaming and, perhaps, in education, but, says Sandrew: “I am giving a different
perspective after working in the trenches of Hollywood…Investment interest peaked but is now diminishing…People want to be witness to a movie and not a participant,” said Sandrew, citing surveys that indicate a lack of interest by the general public. Just like colorization, he added, it is “not everyone’s cup of tea.”

Sandrew’s views were part of the first presentation of its kind in San Diego that looked at the future of virtual reality. The conference at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice attracted VR enthusiasts as well as many who came to hear about its prospects in storytelling, health, education and other applications.

Unlike Sandrew, Brian Levine, founder of the local VR Startup group, sees VR taking off in the near future among the general public because components, such as goggles used for viewing, are coming down in price. Also, he demonstrated how the general public, including his parents and son, have acclimated themselves to the technology.

The conference spent a considerable amount of time reviewing how VR is used in narrative storytelling, including journalism. Matt DeJohn of VRTUL Inc. demonstrated how he and the Asian Heritage Society produced a historical documentation in VR of the Vietnamese-American experience, in marking 41 years since the fall of Saigon. The audience also viewed a Ted Talk presentation by journalist Nonny dela Pena, who showed how she captured two events, including a bombing in Syria, by replicating it digitally. Dean Nelson, professor of journalism at Point Loma Nazarene University, questioned whether this was true journalism.

“The word ‘virtual’ (means) it’s not literally true. Journalism is what literally happens, not a recreation or retelling,” Nelson said, also questioning whether a digital representation of an event used to raise money for a cause, as the Syria documentation did, should be branded as “advocacy journalism.” By “trying to move you to care or give money, it just isn’t telling you the truth…but multiple truths,” Nelson added.

Other uses of VR in health and education were discussed, including the treatment of emotional disorders such as post-traumatic stress. Arno Hartholt, one of the founders of the USC Institute of Creative Technologies, demonstrated the creation of digital characters that actually interact with humans, saying he sees that as “a leading force in creating experiences how we teach, train and help.” The institute has worked closely with the U.S. Army on several training projects.

How to make money with VR was also explored by a panel that included SDSU professor Bernie Dodge and branding expert Bennett Peji. Everyone agreed that despite some of the limitations of VR, it is an “immersive experience that can excite kids,”  in Dodge’s words.

Panel explores the future of artificial intelligence
Story and photos by Len Novarro

What will a world of robots be like?
More importantly, what will we be like?
Those questions, and many others, stirred a thought-provoking discussion during a packed audience of The Indus Entrepreneurs last week at Janssen Research and Development in La Jolla as a panel of entrepreneurs explored topics related to the future development and growth of artificial intelligence systems and their impact on consumers and labor.
Who can think of robots, or artificial intelligence, without recalling the computer “Hal” in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”? And, indeed, moderator Sandeep Pandya opened the session with a scene from the film in which actor Keir Dullea tries to reason with the computer-turned-monster.
In a sense, that scene crystallized the main theme behind the TiE event – exactly what will be our role in this brave new world – if it should ever come about? (Read more)


Confucius Institute and Asian Heritage Society join China Lymphoma Project

The Asian Heritage Society and the Confucius Institute of SDSU are working with internationally known journalist Jamie Reno to raise awareness of the alarming rise of lymphoma in China.
“Hope Begins: The China Lymphoma Project” is the idea of former longtime, award-winning Newsweek correspondent Jamie Reno, himself a three-time survivor of stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer of the immune system. Reno was first diagnosed in 1996.
“As a young, healthy, non-smoking athlete, I knew very little about lymphoma. But I learned quickly when my oncologist told me I’d be lucky to live three years,” recalled Reno. “I was determined to prove him wrong. And I have. Today, 19 years later, I’m thankfully still alive and well. The sun is still shining for me and my family. But it’s been a long journey.”
Reno’s account of his journey, as well as that of others, was recounted in “Hope Begins in the Dark: Lymphoma Survivors Tell Their Exclusive Life Stories,” which has become the most widely read book ever written about lymphoma. For the project, Reno is writing an all-new version of the book and having it translated in Chinese. It will include new stories by lymphoma survivors living in China.
The Confucius Institute, founded and directed by Dr. Lilly Cheng, is serving as a platform to engage the Chinese and Chinese American public, while the Asian Heritage Society will help in fundraising and marketing. The Institute is also translating material and announcements for audiences in China and Dr. Cheng is helping establish protocol with potential supporters in that country.  (Read more)


UCSD among nation's most ethnically
diverse colleges
The University of California, San Diego has been named the 11th most ethnically diverse college in the nation, according to a new report.
Best College Reviews, a ranking service for American colleges and universities, recently released a list of the top 50 ethnically diverse schools. Statistics and definitions of race/ethnicity for the list were gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics, Diverse Issues in Higher Education and school websites.
According to the report, UC San Diego looks at diversity as an opportunity for education.
“UC San Diego is committed to cultivating a diverse and inclusive university community,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. (Read more)


Silicon Valley sees San Diego as competition
When Silicon Valley looks at competing innovation economies across the United States, San Diego is on the list.
“You are our competition. How are we doing against each other?” said Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, at a gathering Friday of San Diego and business and political leaders.
Guardino listed Silicon Valley’s emerging competitors as Austin, Los Angeles/Orange County, New York City, San Diego and Seattle, and focused on San Diego at the South County Economic Development Council‘s 25th annual South County Economic Summit.
Compared to Silicon Valley, he said, San Diego has easier commuting, homes only half as costly per square feet but less effective elementary education, though “in education we face real tragedies” in both regions. (Read more)


Asians and Hispanics are driving the economy Growth in the U.S. market is increasingly driven by Hispanic and Asian consumers, to the tune of nearly $2 trillion per year. That’s one takeaway from the 2015 Multicultural Economy report from the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.
The nation’s projected total buying power in 2015 is $13.5 trillion, a 213 percent growth since 1990. That number is bolstered by an increasingly diverse populace, according to the annual report, which provides a comprehensive statistical overview of the buying power of African-Americans, Asians, Native Americans and Hispanics for the U.S. and each of its states.
For example, the U.S. Hispanic market in 2015 will be $1.3 trillion, which is larger than the GDP of Mexico. In 2020, that amount will reach $1.7 trillion. The Asian market, comprised of 18.3 million Americans, will be $825 billion in 2015 and grow to $1.1 trillion in 2020. “The Asian and Hispanic markets will really drive the U.S. consumer market,” said Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center. “Those two groups will account for a disproportionate amount of growth. The African-American market will still expand at a rate that’s compelling, but the Asian and Hispanic markets are where you see the really fast-paced growth."  The report predicts that African-American buying power will be $1.2 trillion in 2015 and reach $1.4 trillion in 2020, up from $320 billion in 1990.


Assemblyman Chiu, coalition tackle nail salons
 SAN FRANCISCO -- Assemblymember David Chiu today joined local, state and national leaders and worker advocates to launch the Healthy Nail Salon Task Force, an effort to address the environmental health, safety and working conditions of nail salon workers and their patrons. In light of the national conversation around nail salon workers’ exposure to toxic chemicals and reports of labor violations, the task force looks to expand on the progress state and local governments have made in this area, and will work to find creative solutions to the multi-faceted issues surrounding salons.
“There are hidden costs to polished nails,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-SanFrancisco). “Workers are exposed to toxic chemicals with little or no labelling on the products they use every single day, and labor violations happen all too often. Our Healthy Nail Salon Task Force will consider these sensitive and complex issues and work hard to craft real, effective solutions.” Some solutions the task force will consider include:
    /A state-wide healthy nail recognition program that doubles as an educational campaign and an incentive for businesses to use safer products and better ventilatio
   / Requiring ingredient disclosure of professional cosmetic products
    /Enhancing the California Safe Cosmetics Act by expanding scope and enforcement capabilities.  (Read more)

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