Inside XR - August 6th, 2019

Inside XR (Aug 6th, 2019)

Future of the Oculus Go / Painting VR Masterpieces / Samsung AR Contact Lenses

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1. A new report from Strategy Analytics shows that midrange to high-end headsets from Sony, Facebook’s Oculus, and HTC earned 77 percent of all revenue generated globally by VR headsets last year. With perhaps the notable exception of the Nintendo Labo, the market seems to have veered away from low-end headsets. The more affordable price point for hardware such as the PSVR and the Oculus Quest have made the value proposition of HMDs such as the Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and Daydream products less attractive to consumers. “Our research shows that consumers who have tried VR really enjoy the experience, and are seeking out higher-quality experiences with better headsets,” says Strategy Analytics’ executive director David MacQueen, adding that going forward, the firm expects VR to play a key role in demonstrating the power of 5G networks. – VENTUREBEAT

2. Xiaomi reportedly laid off its Mi VR team, prompting speculation about the future of the Oculus Go. VR blogger and plugged industry insider Antony Vitillo provides some informed analysis based on rumors from a "reliable" source which tells him that the Chinese firm - which partners with Oculus to manufacture the Go HMD and sell it in China under the "Mi VR" brand - has abandoned the project due to “disappointing sales and usage”. There is increasing speculation, he says, that Oculus Go emulation will be added to the Quest instead of an Oculus Go 2 being released. This means users could still enjoy the best content for the Go as they upgraded to the higher-end headset something that more people are likely to do as the price point for the Quest inevitably drops over the coming months.– SKARREDGHOST.COM

3. – Spotlight: Women in VR - Anna Zhilyaeva

By Alice Bonasio

There is a lot of talk around the "killer app" for immersive tech and how we must find the right content to compel consumers to get into VR. From my own experience of trying Tilt Brush as someone with zero artistic prowess, I can tell you it's one of the most fun things I've ever done. Yet in the skilled hands of a talented artist such as Anna Zhilyaeva, it becomes something truly inspiring. 

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words, and Anna 's VR canvasses really must be seen - or better yet, experienced - to be believed. I was already familiar with some of her work, such as this awesome project where she collaborated with other VR artists such as Estella Tse to create a Star Wars painting with Tilt Brush, but when I saw this video compilation on Facebook of the work she's done over the past three years or so, I literally found my jaw dropping to the floor. I challenge most people not to feel absolutely mesmerized watching her conjure up fantastical characters and landscapes out of thin air with Virtual Reality.

Anna is based in Marseille, France, but has traveled all over the world delivering live artistic performances that beautifully bridge the real world of physical movements with the digital landscape. She has also managed something that eludes many artists, finding a commercial outlet for her work in spite of the fact that she doesn't produce physical art pieces she can sell. She's worked with clients HTC Vive, Google, Tilt brush, IBM and Microsoft among others.  There are many amazing videos of her in action on her YouTube channel and background on her individual pieces on her Anna Dream Brush website. 

Every Tuesday we'll shine a spotlight on the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech and their work. If you have a story you think we should feature, just hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio

4.  Peter Rubin argues that in order to get the most realistic overview and projections for the immersive market, we should be talking to less startups and investors and go straight to devs. According to a recently published XRDC’s AR/VR Innovation Report, which surveyed over 900 developers, those working at the coalface of XR are feeling optimistic. Alex Wawro, an editor at XRDC (which organizes the annual industry conference in San Francisco previously known as VRDC) notes that there has been a sharp rise in immersive projects being commissioned by nonprofits, government agencies and companies creating internally focused experiences for purposes such as training. He expects that over the coming year, a broad variety of content will continue to drive growth in the industry: "This field is really ripe for software to come shake things up," he says. – WIRED

5. Virtual Reality could potentially simulate the psychedelic effects of a drug-induced trip. Jack Denton reflects back on his Ayahuasca experience at the Tribeca Film Festival and questions whether VR can effectively replace drug-induced highs by creating "altered states of consciousness." There is a long history of connection between psychedelic drugs and VR, he points out, and essentially Virtual Reality replicates those effects by allowing for a non-passive, three-dimensional experience of immersion in a world that's not quite the same as our usual unaltered reality. – PSMAG

6. Producing realistic sound models in VR is usually a complex process, yet Stanford researchers have developed an algorithm that can calculate 3D sound models in seconds rather than hours. The scientists were inspired by composer Heinrich Klein's ability to blend many piano notes into a single sound. The algorithm works by splitting vibration modes into individual chords, then performing a time-based soundwave simulation for those chords. A GPU-boosted system then quickly computes the acoustic transfer calculations using a single cube map. It could take some time before this is developed into a usable software, yet it does point to the possibility of making better Spatial Audio design more accessible to developers.– ENDGADGET

7. Samsung has been granted a patent for smart contact lenses. The company filed the documents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office back in March 2015, but the process was only finalized last month. It details a device that would be capable of taking photos and recording videos, and also feature motion sensors and eye-tracking so that actions could be triggered by movements such as blinking and looking up, as is the case with the HoloLens 2. – DAILY MAIL

8. Research financed by Osso VR may provide validation for the use of Virtual Reality in surgical training. UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine performed a study with 20 participants which found that using the company' immersive methods improved their overall surgical performance by 230 percent. Each participant then performed a tibial intramedullary nailing on a sawbones simulation,  and students who’d had the VR training completed the procedure 2 percent faster and completed more steps correctly according to the procedure-specific checklist that participants were scored against.– TECHCRUNCH

9. Florida-based startup Human Capable is trying to crowdfund normal-looking smartglasses. Norm Glasses claims to offer the same kind of AR experience as Google Glass but without the dorky look, reports Adario Strange, who tried out the 36-gram prototype. “Norm Glasses are so sleek and, well, normal looking, that you really need to examine the device up close to detect the presence of technology,” he says, adding that the devices would offer high-definition video and still image capture, and display two-dimensional imagery such as text and full-color photos, as well as embedded speakers and a noise-canceling microphone.  – NEXT REALITY

10. Snap will reportedly raise $1 billion in short-term debt to allow the company to invest in more features and content. Snapchat has had great success with its AR social features such as lens overlays, and its CEO Evan Spiegel said in a memo to employees that the company would continue to focus on Augmented Reality platforms to enhance the Snapchat experience for its community. – EURONEWS

This newsletter was written and curated by Alice Bonasio, a journalist and consultant obsessed with the immersive technology space, including AR/VR/MR/XR and any other acronyms that fit into the realities spectrum. Over the past 15 years, Alice has advised a wide range of start-ups and corporations on digital transformation and communication strategy and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tech Trends. She also regularly contributes to publications such as Quartz, Fast Company, Wired, Playboy, The Next Web, Ars Technica, VRScout and many others. Follow her on Twitter @alicebonasio


Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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