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Inside AR

Inside AR (Aug 12th, 2019)

A programming note about Inside VR & AR:

As we work toward fine-tuning our content and making it as relevant as possible to readers, we're making some changes to our existing newsletters, including Inside VR & AR. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdayswe will be sending out Inside VR, which will be more focused on stories that cover virtual reality. 

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will be sending out Inside AR, which will include coverage of topics in mixed reality, augmented reality and the like. 

If you are already subscribed to Inside VR & AR, you will receive each newsletter on its assigned days. The hope is to make this newsletter as relevant as possible to all readers, as we continue to cover the world of VR and AR and related technologies. Please share your thoughts by hitting “reply” to this email. 

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1. Google has launched a beta version of its AR walking directions Maps feature. Following the release of an early alpha mode earlier this year, it will now be available on all iOS (ARKit-compatible) and Android devices that have system-level support for augmented reality. The feature works by tapping on a nearby location in Maps, selecting "walking" directions and then tapping “Live View” near the bottom of the screen. That should then show you AR arrows and street markers which make it much easier to orient yourself. Although the new feature will be pushed out to everyone, it might be a couple of weeks before some users see it in action, depending on when they actually receive the updates. – TECHCRUNCH

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2.  Works by artists such as John Giorno and Nick Cave are being brought to life with Apple's [AR]T walks which launched in selected cities this weekend. The company has worked with the New Museum to integrate Augmented Reality art into the landscape of each city. The New York experience, which is available now, begins at the Apple Store at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street and heads to Central Park. Viewers are provided with headphones and an iPhone which allows them to see the various interactive elements designed by each artist, yet true to Apple's preferred "walled garden" approach, the experience will only work on iPhones and cannot be accessed outside the tour. – THE NEW YORK TIMES

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3.  A bungee contraption lets users move around freely and safely inside virtual environments. Weightless VR is based on a system used by stunt doubles in movie production and allows you to run, swim, leap, dodge and dance without restrictions. It works with all major VR headsets and spatial tracking systems, and is compatible with ceilings 7ft – 15ft in height. Currently on Kickstarter, it has raised nearly $5,000 out of its $30,000 goal (with 47 days to go on the campaign) at the time of writing. Should it be successful, the plan is to start shipping the units (priced at $299) in December. –  VRSCOUT

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4. Midwives in Wales, UK, are using VR to ease childbirth pain. The trial of the new technique is taking place at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, and will be rolled out nationwide if successful. Midwife Suzanne Hardacre says the VR kits - developed by Rescape and costing about £4,000 ($4800) per headset each year - had been given to women coming in for labor. Immersive technologies have been shown to be a valid non-pharmacologic method to treat pain and anxiety according to a recently published by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Patient Hannah Lelii tested the kit ahead of the birth of her first baby, and told the BBC that submerging herself in a herd of buffaloes in VR helped her get into a state of relaxation, adding that she was a “massive fan”. – BBC NEWS

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5.  Tilt Five wants to reinvent Dungeons and Dragons with AR glasses. The company is planning on launching the AR devices in 2020. Co-founder and CEO Jeri Ellsworth says the glasses are capable of displaying variable content based on player roles (so that, for instance, a dungeon master sees the full board while members of the questing party only have access to content relevant to them at the time). Ellsworth developed the technology behind Tilt Five during her time at Valve and continued development via her previous company, castAR which eventually folded under financial pressures. – NEXT REALITY

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6. Roofing professionals are being trained via VR environments. Storm Ventures Group, a company in Scottsdale, Arizona, has developed an application they claim is fast becoming essential for recruitment and retention in the industry. "These are things that are fairly complicated to teach, but not in here, because this is a real-life experience now they're right next to me in the actual goggles and it's more point and click in a 360, fully immersed environment," says CEO Anthony Delmedico, adding that the scenarios are set up like a video game, providing instantaneous feedback which aids the learning process.–  FOX 10

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7.  London-based start-up LIVR is launching a free VR theater in Battersea, UK. The company hopes to make theater experiences more accessible by offering a host of 360-degree filmed stage performances. It currently hosts over 150 off-West End shows, comedy and performances on subscription at £5.99 ($7) a month but will be available for free on Wednesdays at the Rose Community center, where nearly 100 local children and young people have already trialed the eight donated Pico Interactive headsets. – EVENING STANDARD

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8. VR onboard entertainment experiences for car passengers blend vehicle movement with interactive content. A start-up called Holoride collaborated with automaker Audi to create immersive experiences that tapped into the car's own G-forces. “If you’re sitting in the back seat, movement on the vehicle transfers one-to-one in a virtual environment, so you’re sitting in virtual spaceship and the car accelerates, or spaceship accelerates,” explains Holoride CEO Nils Wollny. He also adds that they found that this synchrony of real-world and in-game movement made it much less likely that the passenger would develop motion sickness. Since beginning operations in February, the company has also secured partnerships with the likes of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, and expects to take the system into production by 2021. – FORBES

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9. A company called Talespin has developed a range of avatars to let managers hone their people skills.  Using VR for soft skills training is gaining popularity and VR solutions that enable managers to, for example, practice firing an employee without causing a scene, are being adopted by HR departments across the country. “We are seeing repeated interest in building training products around interviewing skills, navigating difficult conversations, consultative selling, performance reviews, and identifying diversity and inclusion best practices, to name a few,” says Kyle Jackson, CEO of Talespin. – MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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10.  Valve Index headsets will start shipping within four to eight business days in the UK. The full kit started shipping immediately in the US a few weeks back, but so far had been on reserve in the United Kingdom. Most of the individual components in the UK can now be ordered straight away, and the full kit (which costs £919) is expected to follow shortly. – UPLOADVR

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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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