Featured Music Friday: This Old Dog

Featured Music Friday: This Old Dog

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Indie rock “goofball” Mac DeMarco has announced the release of his forthcoming album, “This Old Dog,” out May 5, 2017. With the announcement of the album’s release date, the 26 year-old singer-songwriter previewed its title track, a groovy, mellow jam about getting older and settling down. Simultaneously, DeMarco released the track “My Old Man” from the upcoming album, which is a surprisingly upbeat ode about age, turning into your parents, and following in their footsteps – for better, or, begrudgingly, for worse. Featured Music Friday is brought to you by Blackfire Research.

 

On this Day in Music History: March 9, 1997

On this Day in Music History: March 9, 1997

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Brought to you by Blackfire Research….On this day in 1997, influential rapper, Notorious B.I.G. (also known as Biggie, or, Biggie Smalls) was fatally shot while leaving a party at The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Biggie was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and rose to prominence as a central figure of the East Coast hip-hop scene in 1994 after the release of his debut album, Ready to Die. However, as his success skyrocketed, he became heavily involved in the growing East Coast – West Coast Hip Hop Feud. On September 7, 1996, West Coast hip hop rival, Tupac Shakur, was involved in a driveby shooting, where he sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died six days later. Although unconfirmed, rumors of Biggie’s involvement in the shooting of his rival were unavoidable. Six months later, while in Los Angeles to promote his upcoming album, Life After Death, and to shoot the music video for the album’s lead single, Hypnotize, Biggie Smalls was shot four times in his SUV while stopped at the corner of Wilshire Blvd and South Fairfax Ave. He was 24 years old. Biggie and Tupac’s murders remain unsolved to this day.

Virtually Real: What Went Wrong with VR in 2016? Part II

Virtually Real: What Went Wrong with VR in 2016? Part II

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Fixing VR in 2017

Last week I shared my thoughts on the significant progress Virtual Reality (VR) has made towards mass adoption. This week, I’ll discuss the commercial and technical problems that I see facing VR technology.

Right now, at the very early stages of VR, we are experiencing a “chicken and egg” conundrum that is ultimately slowing down the industry’s growth and market reach: game developers don’t want to commit millions in launching a “first gen” title (that is bound to be superseded within a few months of launch) until the hardware installed base is bigger; and the hardware volumes won’t ramp up until there is a killer, interactive, multi-user game title made exclusively for Virtual Reality that will  attract mainstream users like a “World of Warcraft” or “Halo”.

To compound the situation,  manufacturers are figuratively shooting themselves in the foot by deliberately making incompatible hardware, forcing game studios to develop for each platform and deterring consumers from purchasing VR systems altogether. The nascent VR industry won’t survive a Betamax/VHS -style platform fight because this time around, the technology is too expensive and too intrusive in the home. Setting up a full-room VR system is a pretty big commitment at this stage, and consumers don’t want to spend upwards of thousands of dollars on a system for Christmas only to have the technology immediately superseded.

Technical hurdles abound for room-scale VR systems in these early stages, but none more so than mobility. The best VR experience still requires a physical connection between the Head Mounted Display (HMD) and its host PC or game console. The fact that they are tethered to an external processor not only hinders the user’s ability to move freely and engage in a true immersive VR experience, but it also creates a fairly annoying weight that’s left dangling from the back of the user’s head and neck.

Concepts for wireless HMDs that can compete with the powerful, tethered room-scale systems currently on the market are slowly beginning to take shape, but solving the latency problem is still a major issue for engineers looking to cut the cord.

The virtual environment must sync with the users head and body movements, or else risk motion sickness and a disjointed experience. In fact a latency of 20 milliseconds is the point most people start to experience nausea.

Achieving this perfect sync requires wireless technology that not only achieves extremely low latency, but also a connection that is lossless, synchronous, and can support high quality sound and video without jamming up the rest of the user’s network. The solution itself must also have an extended range, especially if, in the near future, users and manufacturers want to experiment with multiroom setups.

Virtual Reality, once fully developed and widely adopted, will not only change the way we interact with art, with the world, and with each other, it’ll change standard methods of education (students will be able to take extensive field trips or practice dangerous surgeries, from the safety of a classroom), travel, social networking, shopping, and beyond.

Having worked with VR technology investors and developers over the years, I am particularly excited about the potential of Blackfire’s WiFi protocol to help overcome some of these issues, and create an even more immersive VR without wires.

Featured Music Friday: Rune Husk EP

Featured Music Friday: Rune Husk EP

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On January 13, experimental band from Athens, Georgia, of Montreal, dropped a surprise EP – Rune Husk. With this new EP, the group is returning to its heavy focus on progressive rock, which has co-dominated the sounds of their last two studio albums (along with a more EDM tone). Of the EP’s four tracks, standouts include “Internecine Larks” and “Stag to the Stable,” the latter having a true David Bowie feel. Listen to the full EP here. Featured Music Friday is brought to you by Blackfire Research.

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On this Day in Music History: March 2, 1962

On this Day in Music History: March 2, 1962

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Brought to you by Blackfire Research….On this day in 1962, John Francis Bongiovi, Jr., or, Jon Bon Jovi, was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey to two former Marines. Discovering his musical talents as an adolescent, Bon Jovi cut class in favor of practicing with his bandmates, and by 16, he was booking gigs in nightclubs. In 1983, he formed the rock band, Bon Jovi (originally called “Johnny Electric”) and became an international sensation after the release of their third studio album in 1986, “Slippery When Wet.” The album was an instant commercial success, with singles “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The paramount success of the album transformed Bon Jovi from a no-name artist into a legendary Rock n Roller.