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Bloomberg Testing Productivity App For Oculus Rift

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the pay-your-bills-with-virtual-reality dept.

Displays 38

Nerval's Lobster writes: So far, the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset has found its most widespread use in gaming. But as the device rises in prominence, more companies are testing its capabilities as a work tool. Bloomberg is one of those companies, having designed software that allows Oculus-equipped traders and financial pros to view dozens of virtual "screens," each one packed with data. The platform is clearly aimed at those Masters of the Universe who stack their real-world desks with four, six or eight screens—the better to take the pulse of the markets. Think of it as a traditional Bloomberg terminal on steroids. "This is a mockup of how virtual reality can be applied in the workplace," Nick Peck, a Bloomberg employee responsible for creating the software, told Quartz. "I really wanted to explore how virtual reality could solve one of the most basic problems we hear about: limited screen real estate." A virtual-reality Bloomberg terminal isn't the only practical application proposed by Oculus Rift users: earlier this year, the Norwegian Armed Services began testing whether the hardware could be used to drive tanks, on the supposition that off-the-shelf cameras and a headset built for virtual gaming could prove cheaper than custom-built military equipment.

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Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47216309)

Screw wall street, I want to see the testing being done by the sex industry. I'm betting the Japanese already have highly interactive 3D-generated softcell shading hentai porn.

Field of view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47216353)

I suspect it's much better in the v2 dev kit (and it's much better resolution), but a big problem I found with the v1 devkit is that text is almost unreadable unless you are looking directly at it.

Happy Father's Day 2014 (-1, Offtopic)

gosandygo (3440057) | about 8 months ago | (#47216365)

I have this virtual image in my mind right now... (2)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 8 months ago | (#47216405)

Of hedge fund managers battling it out with golden swords. The winner gets a Bag of Holding stuffed with Swiss francs.

Re:I have this virtual image in my mind right now. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#47216463)

Hedge fund managers battling isn't nearly as terrifying as the reality of them colluding

Re:I have this virtual image in my mind right now. (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 8 months ago | (#47216925)

Why would hedge fund managers collude? The whole point is to get in front of everyone else.

Re:I have this virtual image in my mind right now. (0)

sribe (304414) | about 8 months ago | (#47217229)

Why would hedge fund managers collude? The whole point is to get in front of everyone else.

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner for today's "common sense comment" award!

But really, there's a whole lot of people who truly believe that the hedge funds are trying to screw individual investors like themselves, and are colluding to do so. Nonsense. They don't cooperate to fleece a particular set of victims, they all try to fleece whomever they possibly can, including each other.

Re:I have this virtual image in my mind right now. (0)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 8 months ago | (#47218587)

It's High Frequency Traders, not Hedge Funds, that do the front running. If you going to slander people make sure you slander the right people.

Re:I have this virtual image in my mind right now. (2)

sribe (304414) | about 8 months ago | (#47221353)

It's High Frequency Traders, not Hedge Funds, that do the front running. If you going to slander people make sure you slander the right people.

Well, OK then. Maybe HFTers front-run, maybe they don't. It's a near certainty that they don't all do that. It's also an absolute certainty that front-running requires cooperation from a brokerage/clearing house. It's also a certainty that at least one brokerage has been caught red-handed doing that (sorry, I do not recall details). So, the real front-running problem is dishonest brokerages not processing orders strictly in the sequence they're submitted--regardless of whether that's in collusion with a hedge fund or for their own account.

The real (alleged) problem with HFT is price manipulation via rapidly placed and cancelled orders.

Re:I have this virtual image in my mind right now. (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 8 months ago | (#47221781)

Why would "rapidly placed and cancelled orders" by itself effect the market? It is because they are front running.

What you said was true but this is no longer true since the SEC has required brokers to operate on a best price instead of a best execution for trading. I will point you to Michael Lewis's "Flash Boys" – there are summaries floating out on the web. Because there are now multiple markets, a HFT can tease out information on a big order by offering a low price on a small lot (or, as you imply "rapidly placed and cancelled orders"). They then race ahead to other exchanges, front running the larger order.

Now, HFT is one of those words which encompass many different things. There are legitimate high speed traders that operate as market makers. Are these HFT? Langue is fluid. The front running HFTs are not adding value – they are just shaving pennies off of trades.

Re:I have this virtual image in my mind right now. (2)

Scowler (667000) | about 8 months ago | (#47217217)

I imagined a little different. I imagined watching the Bloomberg Oculus Rift Business News Cable Channel. Complete with 40 live scrolling tickers, 10 simultaneous real-time stock market charts, 5 talking heads on the side incomprehensibly shouting over each other, 1 giant random talking head in the center saying something inane about company XYZ, and me getting a headache, a headache which was not induced by any system or motion lag.

Reminds me of a scene from "Man after Man" (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 8 months ago | (#47216427)

This one, specifically:

http://www.sivatherium.narod.r... [narod.ru]

Far from hard sci-fi but an entertaining read for sure.

Sounds Interesting (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 8 months ago | (#47216575)

I've wondered if there was a VR Head Set out there that would immulate multiple screens. So that when I turn my head, that I would see the other screens. That I would buy NOW.

Re:Sounds Interesting (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#47216937)

This is actually the use case I'm more interested in.

Oculus pushing up the resolution of VR means we are creeping closer and closer to this being reality, and that's honestly more interesting to me then any amount of immersive gaming. Right now I'm typing this on a system with 3 monitors - when I'm coding something, I usually end up completely filling all those monitors - I have a preview/IRC on one, 3 text editors in the middle, debugging and project navigation on the other plus however many miscellaneous console windows.

I could keep adding monitors, but it would never be enough (as my brother discovered when he got up to 5 while developing a web app). What I'd like to do is just put on a headset, and make a 360 degree, 6 DOF bubble which would be 1 giant virtual monitor. Dispense with my desk and just have a chair with a keyboard and mouse support in my study.

Re:Sounds Interesting (2)

Anrego (830717) | about 8 months ago | (#47217223)

The problem is resolution.

If you think about it, even with the greatly improved version of the dev kit, you are still only dealing with 960 x 1080. I imagine this would make it terrible for reading text or fine information spread out over a large visual area. You'd end up having to move your head just while reading one screen, let alone be able to see multiple screens effectively at the same time. At that point, you may as well just use virtual desktops and switch between them.

In real life, this problem happened to me with 6 actual monitors. Yes I could add more, but then it becomes more effort to move my head to see the additional monitors than it would be to just flip to another virtual desktop.

And yes, monitor space is one of those things that you never have enough of. Most of the time I actively use 3, but once in awhile I get into something where I'm comparing stuff together or monitoring something in real time, and I find myself running out of space.

Re:Sounds Interesting (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 8 months ago | (#47217715)

I'm a trifle surprised that nobody has used the gaze-tracking technology that is quite widely available and not-too-wildly expensive, commonly used for UI and website optimization work, to determine how the user's focus moves through the design, to help address the too many monitors for one field of view problem...

If you know where somebody's gaze is resting, and you know how their head is oriented, you can determine how close to the edge of their comfortable field of view they are. If the giant-wall-of-monitors were semicircular, with the user at the center, and the user's chair had motorized rotation(and possibly tilt) the system could automatically re-orient the user whenever their gaze drifts into the region where further travel would require either strain or head movement.

It'd take some tweaking, and practice, to keep the effect from being wildly disconcerting and a bit nauseous; but I suspect that acclimatization would be entirely doable...

Re:Sounds Interesting (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#47218355)

Backlight strobing and low persistence is related to this. You can't scroll the view around a monitor in a lively fashion without making it impossible to read at the moment.

Re:Sounds Interesting (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 8 months ago | (#47220083)

Worse. Field of view.

While the idea of a 360 virtual VR monitor setup is great, the FOW is so narrow, it's like watching your single monitor setup through a small pipe. (or one of this toy masks with tiny holes for the eyes) It's currently the opposite of the overview a multi monitor setup gives you. You're supposed to recognize the small red warmning light on a peripheral monitor from the corner of your eye and THEN turn your focus from the central monitor a a reaction to it. That's currently not possible with the rift VR.

Overkill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47216713)

My Linux box has a nice, crisp, 2-page monitor on which I generally have 6 or 9 virtual desktops. I can cycle through them with a tap of the key, or go right to the one I need. A little mini "overview" panel in my toolbar shows me all windows at once, and I can even click there to go to a particular one.

But sure. Use a VR headset. That's good too.

Re:Overkill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47216883)

Personally as a programmer, I find 3 is very helpful. I have 6, and it's nice, but 3 is I think where it stops making a dramatic difference.

Virtual desktops are nice and all, but for some stuff, being able to compare side by side or quickly glance back and forth is very convenient, especially when looking at graphs and charts where visual comparison is the main goal. This is probably why real time financial work is one of a handful of sectors where the more information you can see at the same time, the better. They don't want to be flipping around through dozens of screens hoping to catch whatever dip or spike or comparative trend they are looking out for, they just want it all right there.

Worst application imaginable (0)

fredrated (639554) | about 8 months ago | (#47216727)

Allowing skimmers to take more while they contribute nothing.

Re:Worst application imaginable (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 8 months ago | (#47218023)

The problem with arguments like this is that if it's truly as easy as you make it sound, WHY isn't everyone doing it?

Re:Worst application imaginable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47220151)

He didn't say what they do is easy. He said they contribute nothing to society and only leech from those who do.

I truly fear VR software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47216935)

What capacity is there to patent the semi-obvious capabilities of VR? Is there currently a patent for "multiple display simulation using virtual reality with head tracking?" Could someone patent the use of a virtual showroom where people view products in 3D before purchase?

tanks (1)

dkman (863999) | about 8 months ago | (#47216939)

I know I read about the tank thing before, and I was thinking "how hard would it be to knock out the cameras". Now reading this I can picture the next tank warfare thing being the equivalent of paintballs to blind the cameras.

Though the same sort of issue is true in self driving cars. If I don't have inner controls to take over manually what happens if some sensor goes out?

Re:tanks (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 8 months ago | (#47217639)

Probably crash into something and die, just as if some delicate blood vessel in the driver's brain gave out (and/or he was texting).

As for the tank thing, it only looks like a major vulnerability if you consider the alternative: If you want to see out, you'll need a hole or a window. Even fancy exotic glazing materials are inferior to armor that doesn't have to be transparent, and holes are obviously not terribly protective. Cameras, especially with assorted lenses and clever image processing tricks, can offer the level of situational awareness that you'd practically have to swiss-cheese the armor to get from an unaided operator.

Can they be shot out or coated? Sure. Is the same true of windows? Yup. Is it even worth coating exposed crew when you could just put a bullet through their fleshy bodies?

The point is hardly that machines are infallible (oh they so very, very, aren't...); but that humans leave much to be desired for certain tasks.

Re:tanks (1)

dkman (863999) | about 8 months ago | (#47224535)

All very true, good points. I was just thinking that not all of the devices need to be cameras in the traditional sense, but sensors.

If a backup camera on a car gets rain on it seeing becomes difficult, but rain on a "blind spot detector" doesn't cause a problem (to my knowledge).

So if you have a sensor that can "see" through a mud caking then you've got yourself a winner. Place that in conjunction with a camera so i can see in a traditional sense and fall back on the sensor when needed, or have the sensor overlay additional info over the camera view - then you're really talking.

Thanks to evil american corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47217215)

what starts as a toy for gamers, has evolved into a tool to help manipulate financial markets for the financial elite, and drive tools of death and oppression

Eh? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 8 months ago | (#47217489)

Is it really a 'productivity' application if it's just used for shoveling financial instruments around in exotic ways?

Needs work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47217543)

Having used a dev version of the oculus rift on which text is barely readable. This is going to be a long way off from replacing high res desktop monitors. The res off the rift will need to be quadrupled at least to provide a decent replacement.

Really stupid application for immersion... (2)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 8 months ago | (#47217711)

So, you've got a truly great immersive display, and you're using it to display virtual screens?

That's... that's right up there with using a 4K display to more faithfully render the green characters of an old 3270 terminal. Or using your surround-sound system to accurately reproduce the noises of a manual typewriter. Or telling your autonomous car where to go by using a steering wheel and accelerator to drive a little virtual car along a 3-D map.

For Rockefeller's sake, you've got a display system that can render any 2D or 3D object! Can't you find someone with a little more imagination than the people who say "OMG, I can have a virtual screen for every spreadsheet ever!"?

Re:Really stupid application for immersion... (1)

Tom (822) | about 8 months ago | (#47220167)

It's a PR stunt, nothing more. That, or design-by-manager, which is about twice as bad as design-by-committee, because with a committee, you have a small chance that there's someone on it who knows a thing or two.

Re:Really stupid application for immersion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47221077)

You need all that immersion to convert an ordinary keyboard into a Bloomberg keyboard. You also need it to help imagine a world where you're not a self-absorbed arsehole who happens to know some hopelessly unintuitive key combinations to make a few trades.

Huge FAIL for these 2 important reasons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47217791)

You would think that Bloomberg's shrinking terminal count (which they've stopped reporting by the way) would make them realize 2 things:
1) The days of the terminal are numbered. And what that means is that turning data into pixels and sending them to (human) eyeballs may have value but computers processing the raw data are taking over. Bloomberg's use of the Oculus Rift is an attempt to preserve the "feed the human" model rather than "feed the computer" model.
2) Giving users "more information" (visually) doesn't necessarily improve the situation either from an ability to comprehend or from a cost perspective. "Less is more" is an appropriate aphorism here on multiple levels.

By the way, if you've ever seen a Bloomberg screen it looks like a 1980's DOS application. This bit of PR is trying to give them a cachÃf© ahead of their IPO. You know half of their shit is developed in Pascal...

Already Been Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47218107)

This is really stupid. For one, there is already an open source application that does this:
Secondly, this (the Bloomberg one) is only a mockup:

Mockup is the right word. The virtual screens aren’t connected to an actual terminal; they are screenshots and videos.

Why is this news?

Matrix Zion Control Interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47218375)

something like this?


Had a similar idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47219363)

I've had a similar idea for using with the Occulus Rift where I want to be able to pull individual applications out into their own "floating windows" in space while keeping them on the main desktop as well. Probably easily doable on Linux systems with the way window managers are in that environment, but I'm skeptical about how well it could be done on Windows at the moment since the API doesn't seem to expose the methods for something like that.

I feel Occulus Rift-style VR systems provide a great way to explore potentially new ways of working with the organization of applications in a productive environment. Only issue being at the moment is that the headsets get hot to wear.

Steroids? (2)

exomondo (1725132) | about 8 months ago | (#47219647)

"Think of it as a traditional Bloomberg terminal on steroids."

So it looks pretty cool, is pretty much useless and has shrunken testicles?
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