big,’” Ms. Nash says. “We had to focus more on proportion and measuring the way that
the virtual world looked.”
After incorporating the family’s feedback, the project team finalized its digital rep-
lica of the farm. The project allows users to virtually walk around the farm through
360-degree video segments, archival photos and text. “It has a museum-like quality
where you can go around and explore,” Ms. Nash says.
The project’s success also could be measured through its online presence: It resulted
in 430,000 page views. “That’s a very high number for us in engagement,” says Ms.
Nash, whose publication has a combined print and online readership of 420,000.
“I think we’ll be seeing more of these projects in newsrooms,” Ms. Nash says. “It’s
very exciting to see different ways to tell stories and what that might look like in the
future.” —Rebecca Little
Housing has been both China’s boon and its bane. While the housing sector helped
the world’s second largest economy recover quickly from the global financial crisis, in
the past year it has helped drag down economic growth to its slowest pace since 2009.
“The linchpin of China’s economy is the housing market,” Alaistair Chan, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, told The Wall Street Journal.
The government’s recession-era stimulus measures helped the housing sector grow
mightily—and unsustainably. Due to an oversupply of overpriced houses, housing sales,
prices and construction have all dropped sharply. Cities such as Handan, where property prices shot up 24 percent in the past four years, have become home to abandoned
real-estate projects. That’s having a major impact on the rest of the economy— 20 percent of which is tied to real estate.
The government is responding: The infrastructure and energy sectors are seeing a
surge in projects—and in the need for greater project management maturity.
A brief history of virtual-reality projects:
1957: Morton Heilig
invents the Sensora-ma, a machine that
played 3-D images
and stereo sounds as
well as emitted smells.
1961: Philco Corp.
develops the Head-sight, the first head-mounted display—a
technology later used
in military training.
With U.S. defense spending in
decline, at least as a percentage of
GDP, the world’s largest defense
company is pursuing projects with
civilian applications in an effort to
shore up its future. More than 60
percent of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s
US$45 billion in 2013 sales came
through Pentagon contracts.
Several of Lockheed’s current
research projects, like the patented
Perforene membrane, could generate commercial interest around the
world. It’s a one-atom thick sheet of
graphene that can be used to desalinate seawater. The product could
interest Persian Gulf nations, who
might also order some of the organization’s weapons systems. More
surprisingly, Lockheed Martin has
partnered with Kampachi Farms LLC
and the Illinois Soybean Association
to develop fish farm pens that will
drift on open-ocean currents and be
tracked by satellites.
Lockheed Martin is also developing a compact nuclear fusion reactor
that might initially power naval
ships but could be expanded for
commercial use by cities. “Should
the [technology] develop, that can
result in a very large commercial
market,” Ray Johnson, Lockheed
Martin’s chief technology officer,
told The Wall Street Journal.
This isn’t the first time Lockheed
Martin has tried to diversify its
project portfolio to hedge against
military cuts. In the 1990s, the organization stepped into the telecommunications market by buying three
satellite operators. It sold them at
a steep loss in 2001. The company
says its focus on global issues like
energy, food and water this time
around will act as a safeguard.
THE REALITY OF VIRTUAL
1991: Virtuality Group
adds virtual reality to
video arcade games.
1997: Georgia Tech
researchers use virtual
reality to design war-zone
scenarios for use as
therapy for veterans.
2014: Facebook acquires
Oculus VR, the company
that makes the Rift, for