When You Play Mass Effect, You’re Playing With Dark Matter

Whether you’ve played it or not, you might have heard of the Mass Effect series. The series features a space odyssey through which users can play as characters who can control mass effect fields, giving them some extraordinary powers.

Taking a deeper look at these powers, it’s interesting to note that they may be derived from dark matter, something that makes up 23% of the universe. It’s theorized that dark matter is invisible because it doesn’t interact with the electromagnetic spectrum. And although the LHC has yet to conclusively detect dark matter, we know that dark matter exists because the spins of galaxies are affected by something much stronger than visible matter.

In the Mass Effect series, some lifeforms have biotic abilities, meaning they can manifest mass effect fields and manipulate their environment. Characters can warp, pull, slam, lift, and charge, among other abilities. As shown in the Nerdist video, each ability involves a precise manipulation of dark matter while falling within the limitations of physics.

What Is Dark Matter?
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While there is no real evidence that we may one day be able to shape our environment with the help of dark matter, it is interesting to note that one of the largest science fiction video game franchises may not be too far off in their premise.

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New VR Ads Know If You’re Watching or Ignoring Commercials

VR Ad Service

HTC’s new virtual reality (VR) platform now allows brands to identify whether or not a user has already seen an ad via its VR headsets.

Our Virtual Future: The Virtual Reality Headsets of Today and Tomorrow
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This new strictly opt-in VR Ad Service — where ads will only show in content that developers have specified to include them in — means advertisers will only have to pay for an ad after a user has seen it. The platform is capable of carrying ad formats like scene banners, 2D and 3D in-app placements, and app recommendation banners.

According to their website:

Ads that appear in immersive VR environments can not only provide more effective impressions, they can also track whether the users have viewed them or have turned away their gaze.

This technology aims to give advertisers the means to effectively reach and pique the interest of their audience while simultaneously enhancing brand image, and attracting more users to directly download their apps in the VR environment.

The technology was launched at the 2017 VIVE Ecosystem Conference.

Advertising in the Age of VR

In-game advertisement, even in the traditional sense, offers a lot of incentive for developers to support the development of their games. But ads are also something that viewers naturally try to avoid. With VR gaining a strong foothold in mainstream media, companies are now trying to monetize the platform by introducing VR ads — a concept, while fascinating, is also slightly disconcerting for some.

On one hand, ads viewed within HTC’s immersive VR environment are based on precise re-targeting, which means advertisers can ensure that they are actually showing ads relevant to its viewers. But, since the payout is linked to people actually viewing the ads, the tech must verify this  — which it does, by tracking the viewer’s gaze. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine a future where people are already wearing VR or augmented reality (AR) equipment on a daily basis (perhaps in the form of contact lenses), meaning they quite literally could not look away from a commercials — or any other content for that matter. That hypothesis aside, HTC points out that their aim for VR advertising isn’t meant to be an interruption of the VR or AR experience — it’s actually designed to complement it.

Only time will tell if it will succeed from a consumer perspective. Until then, we can only hope that VR and AR companies find the right balance between creating a viable advertising revenue stream and ensuring a great AR and VR user experience. Ideally, one that doesn’t force us to consume media, commercials or otherwise.

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