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Inside AR

Inside AR (Aug 8th, 2019)

1. Samsung's latest device, the Galaxy Note 10, includes a feature that lets users draw Augmented Reality doodles on top of photos and videos. Using its much-touted embedded stylus - the S Pen - it is possible to add 3-dimensional AR content to media without ever touching your phone. The experience won't come cheap, however, as the Note 10 Plus starts at $1,099 and the 5G model at $1,299 when they go on sale on Aug. 23. This could be just the beginning of a bigger focus on AR for the company, however, as the new device also includes a small 3D depth camera which - as industry insiders such as Tom Memrich were quick to note on Twitter - will be very useful for enabling AR functionalities such as apps that allow you to use your phone to scan and place objects between the real and digital worlds. – CNET

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2. Lucas Matney provides further analysis of the factors that led Vreal to shut down. In spite of raising a total of $15 million from investors such as Axioma Ventures, Upfront Ventures, and Intel Capital, the company kept its VR capture and streaming offering very niche by limiting its reach to VR hardware. Two months ago it did make a move to correct this by adding a web browsing option to the platform, but the pivot came too late to save it. – TECHCRUNCH 

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3. Throwback Thursday: The Matrix

It has been 20 years (let that sink in for a moment) since "The Matrix" was first released. The film holds a special place in VR lore, having provided a challenging, frightening, yet utterly tantalizing vision of what living in a virtual world could eventually look like. 

And as - just like in the film's plot - humanity seem to be merrily hurtling down the path of burning out all its natural resources at the same time as it creates ever more sophisticated forms of artificial intelligence, it's fair to say that the Wachowskis' movie- and the seminal cyberpunk novel that inspired it, "Neuromancer" - remain relevant to this day. 

Which is why I'll probably be booking my ticket to watch the 20th-anniversary re-release announced by movie theater chain AMC, which runs from August 30th to September 9th. As I wrote a while back for The Next Web, the current state of the world makes entering the Matrix seem like it's not such a bad option after all. 

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4. The latest Amazon Sumerian update allows developers to create realistic 3D content and build AR experiences more easily. The platform now supports physically-based rendering (PBR), a method of shading 3D content that takes into account physical properties to create more realistic textures and lighting. It has also added a new feature called Product Configurator Templates to the Sumerian Editor which helps users without coding expertise to easily change configurations so that customers are able to try different versions of the same product in AR. – NEXT REALITY

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5. The Looking Glass Pro gives users the chance to visualize 3D objects without wearing a headset. The company's co-founder and CEO Shawn Frayne says that the holographic workstation (which costs $6,000) isn't meant to provide a "window into another world" like the Magic Leap proposition, but rather has use cases as a design/collaborative tool similar to Adobe's Project Glasswing light field display. As volumetric video capture and light field technology progress, however, Frayne envisages such devices becoming a vehicle for reliving personal memories. "While our focus right now is very much on developers and enterprise, there is a bigger vision where the hologram becomes the primary interface that people use for 3D content over the next 20 or 30 years.” – VRSCOUT

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6. Cameron Sherrill provides a roundup of popular Virtual Reality games currently available on the PSVR. The list includes the usual suspects such as No Man's Sky, Beat Saber and Tetris Effect, as well as some more unusual experiences such as "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes", which is described as "one of the few truly multiplayer experiences for VR" where you have to collaboratively diffuse a complex bomb. – ESQUIRE

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7. Star soccer player Mohamed Salah stars in the latest Snap Augmented Reality experience created by Adidas. To promote its new X soccer boots, the company created a free lens which allows users to scan a code with the Snap app and see the Egyptian striker literally jump out of the screen towards them in typically flamboyant style.  – THE 18

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8. The Arque prototype developed by researchers at Keio University in Japan stole the show at SIGGRAPH 2019. The modular appendage is made up of interconnected plastic vertebrae that can be customized depending on the wearer's height and weight to optimize balance and enable the user to carry heavy objects with ease. Beyond such practical applications, however, there are tantalizing possibilities for integrating such a device into immersive experiences to provide some very out-of-this-world simulations - from embodying a sea-horse to going on a rampage around the Nostromo as Ridley Scott's "Alien." – TECHSPOT

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9. Smaller businesses are starting to use Augmented Reality apps to differentiate themselves. Interior furnishings company Terrys Fabrics spent the last year developing an AR app that allows its customers to visualize how its blinds look on their windows before making a purchase. "Retail is changing at the speed of light at the moment, so we see this as the future. You have to create a unique selling point in order to succeed and be around in 10-20 years-time,” says managing director and owner, Paul McGuinness. – ESSENTIAL RETAIL

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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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