Inside XR - October 2nd, 2019

Inside XR (Oct 2nd, 2019)

Verizon acquires Jaunt XR / Raindance Crowns Immersive Winners / Minecraft Earth 's Global Rollout

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1. Jaunt XR has been acquired by Verizon for an undisclosed amount. The companies announced this week that Verizon has acquired the software, technology, and "certain other assets" of the San Mateo. Calif.-based Jaunt XR, which used to be a major player in the cinematic VR space but pivoted more recently towards AR. Jaunt had previously attracted over $100 million in funding from the likes of Disney, Sky, Redpoint Ventures, and Highland Capital Partners. Since the transition announced last October, Jaunt had been focusing on developing volumetric video capturing of humans for distribution on mobile devices and social media channels, working on projects with Snap, AT&T and Facebook which were, according to chief operating officer David Moretti, "a nice story for a 5G use case," presumably one of the reasons why they became an attractive acquisition target for Verizon. – FORTUNE

2. Winners of the Immersive Awards were announced Tuesday at the 27th Raindance Film Festival in London. Ten award categories recognized creative excellence and technical achievement across a broad spectrum of immersive projects, part of an extensive program curated by Mária Rakušanová. The coveted Artistic Achievement award went to a sweet animated short film Gloomy Eyes narrated by Colin Farrell and produced by Atlas V and 3dar, while Afterlife, the haunting 360 narrative tale of a family dealing with the loss of their child won Best Cinematic Experience and Best Debut Experience. The Curious Tale of The Stolen Pets was crowned Best Immersive Game, while The Spirit of Raindance award went to Cosmos Within Us, a piece that leverages the audience's sense of touch and smell to tell the story of an elderly man's search for his childhood memories. – UPLOADVR  

3. Microsoft will start the global rollout for Minecraft Earth in October. Following a beta release in a limited number of cities including London and Seattle earlier this year, Microsoft confirmed that early access would begin rolling out to various countries this month (although it would not yet provide details on which countries would get it first). “Our augmented reality mobile game is clearly the best thing involving a phone since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876,” Minecraft makers Mojang stated in their MINECON 2019 recap post where the announcement about the rollout was made. Minecraft Earth will allow users to physically move through the real world discovering new game items, enemies and experiences known as “Adventures.” They can navigate these either via a tabletop "God-view" mode or life-size where they are actually inside the game, either alone or collaborating with other players. – VRSCOUT

4. The SeeSignal app lets Magic Leap users see, identify, and manipulate Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular signals in their surrounding environments. Born out of a Magic Leap One hackathon sponsored by AT&T, the app was developed by Los Angeles-based startup BadVR, using the multi-user painting app from Across Realities Spatiate which assisted the team in the collaborative development process. Tommy Palladino explains that SeeSignal represents network data as color-coded floating bars, with green, yellow, and red bars standing in by default for the spectrum of strong to weak signal strength (there is also a feature allowing colorblind users to adjust it). Using the Magic Leap One's hand tracking feature, users can reach out and grab these bars to reveal real-time data. In addition, the device's handheld controller also serves as a signal detector, guiding users towards stronger signal areas.nd determine the best placement for microcells. Other use cases include using our additional signal layer visualizations to visualize and monitor Wi-Fi network traffic, and for installing networks within new buildings," says Suzanne Borders, CEO and co-founder of BadVR, adding that visualizing this data will help telecoms, telecom adjacent, and smart city organizations to better plan the rollout of 5G networks. – NEXT REALITY  

5. The growing popularity and accessibility of "Face AR" applications is helping the widespread adoption of immersive technologies. Selfie-style AR filters are becoming pervasive with a new generation used to blending the real and digital worlds according to Dmitry Ogievich, CEO at Face AR specialist Banuba. While there are immediate opportunities for brands and retailers such as allowing customers to virtually try on items of clothing or accessories, in the future neural face transformation filters, as seen with FaceApp, will create ever more detailed filters that will generate a unique image every time. The biggest barrier at the moment, he adds, is the limited field of view offered by devices such as phones. This is why the development of smart glasses which are both practical and fashionable will prove the real tipping point. at which adoption of AR becomes completely organic.– TECH TRENDS  

6. Author and MIT Media Lab Researcher David Rose questions whether we're prepared for the paradigm shift that spatial computing delivered by augmented reality will bring to every aspect of our lives.  In this opinion piece, Rose says that the current computer vision gold rush to own and personalize the photons that hit our eyes (an estimated $30 billion market by 2025) will lead to a super-human ability to experience reality as we want it, or perhaps as the companies pushing and sponsoring the technology want us to see it. The downside of double vision, he warns, is that we can only guess at the potential effects that 24/7 surveillance and monitoring will have on our psyches. "The more completely we can imagine our collective augmented future, the more inclined we’ll be to integrate the technology sensibly, regulate away its excesses, and use it as a force for good," he concludes, outlining six profound risk areas that we must confront in a brave new world saturated with magic glasses. – QUARTZ

7. U.K. start-up SenSat has just raised a $10 million Series A funding round, led by internet giant Tencent. The company uses AI to create digital representations, or “digital twins” of real-world locations. SenSat co-founder and CEO James Dean says its goal is to build an intelligent ecosystem that translates the real world into a version understandable to AI. "This technology will help us to build a more sustainable future, using the wealth of new insight to help humans make better decisions," he says. SenSat’s Mapp platform has more than 30 international infrastructure companies currently using it, allowing them to interact with their workplaces digitally by allowing digital automation to help them make better decisions with real-world data. – TECHCRUNCH

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: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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