Factor Magazine Issue 25: AR vs VR – Out Now

When it comes to using 3D visuals to alter our perception of reality, our future’s looking bright. Augmented reality is seeping into our everyday lives in ways that feel so normal we barely notice, while virtual reality is making a brash entry, and promises to have a transformative impact on everything from global perception to our education.

So in this issue, which marks two years of publishing Factor, we take a look at the incredible potential of VR and AR.

Right now we’re experiencing the emergence of a whole new way of communicating, and one day we’ll be able to put on a VR headset and feel like we’re sitting opposite a friend thousands of miles away. For now, however, the closest experience is VR “sociable network” vTime. In an exclusive interview, we speak with the company’s CEO Martin Kenwright about the platform’s future.

VR will have a positive impact on so many industries, but the technology is also being used for more indulgent purposes. We look at the VR vices that are boosting the platform’s success, as well as check out some of the games that are setting the standards for the industry.

While VR is collecting fans left, right and centre, AR is often derided as gimmicky. However, without us really noticing, it has become a standard part of many of the apps we use on a daily basis.

We speak to Draw & Code’s Phil Charnock about a shared future for both platforms, ponder the development of mixed reality devices and check out a brilliant concept for an AR-fuelled world.


When it comes to headsets, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are dominating the premium end of the market, while the Galaxy VR remains largely unopposed at the mobile end. But not for long. Android has announced its own high-end smartphone experience, and with a comfortable headset, a universal motion controller and a good range of launch apps, we look at how Google Daydream is set to dominate in mass-user VR.

Plus we check out the VR museum recreating artefacts destroyed by ISIS, find out how VR is being used to put people in desperate or unique situations and take a look at Hyundai’s Iron Man-inspired suit.

As well as this there’s all the latest news, reviews, and we take a trip back to Earth with SpaceX, in Issue 25 of Factor magazine – out now on iPad and online.

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC