Inside XR - October 7th, 2019

Inside XR (Oct 7th, 2019)

Apple Acquires Ikinema / The Problem of Focal Rivalry / Operatic AR

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1. Apple has acquired UK start-up iKinema. The company, which only had 13 employees as of last year, managed to secure a series of successful partnerships with Microsoft, Linden Lab, and Disney for its 3D motion capture and animation technology which morphs video footage of people into animated characters. Apple did not disclose the purchase price or the reasons for buying the company, telling CNBC rather bluntly that "we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans." Reporter Kif Leswing, though, speculates that the technology "could be used to improve Apple’s Animoji feature that enables users to transform their face into characters including an alien, robot, or even a pile of poo." It certainly seems to be part of a pattern which saw the tech giant acquire several such small companies with 3D graphics focus, including Metaio, Flyby MediaEmotient, and Faceshift itself.– CNBC

2. Andrew Bosworth, VP of AR at Facebook, explained why the social network is adopting a different strategy for its AR glasses development. He told Janko Roettgers that contrary to the company's usual "ship fast and iterate" ethos - which it adopted with the far-from-perfect Oculus Rift - Facebook wouldn't rush to market with its Augmented Reality device. “Our process is always: Get things out as soon as you can, and try to learn from that,” he confirmed, but said that in the case of AR those learnings at the moment just wouldn't reflect true consumer use cases: "If what I want to test is how people are using Augmented Reality as they go about their lives, then the test of HoloLens isn’t a great one for me.” “It doesn’t look like the thing that I want to wear on my face as I go about my day,” he continued. “That means I never actually exposed that device to the scenarios that I would expose it to in real life.” – VARIETY

3. ThirdEye developed an app that uses AR to help soldiers take better aim with their weapons. Following the recent release of ThirdEye's Gen X2 MR glasses (which has already been ordered by the likes of Boeing, Raytheon, and General Dynamics) the company revealed it developed an Android app to helps soldiers aim their weapons during battle situations. The PAWS (Processor Aided Weapon Sight) heads-up display is mounted on the Picatinny rail of a gun and pairs with either the ThirdEye's X1 or X2 smart glasses to overlay additional information on the scope such as wind speed, altitude, weather conditions, and distance to the target. ThirdEye Gen has secured deals with various government and Department of Defense agencies to use the X2 for training, remote support, and custom use cases where it hopes its lower price tag of $1,950 will help it compete with offerings such as the HoloLens 2, which costs $3,500. – NEXT REALITY

4. Valerie Vacante reviews an upcoming crowdfunding project to create Augmented Reality Kung Fu dance battles. "Kung Fu Boogie" is an AR dance battling game aimed at children which will launch on Kickstarter tomorrow. It was developed by Playper following research and focus group testing with parents, kids, and toy experts. Kids incorporate elements of real-world play into the game by crafting 3D eco-friendly characters made out of paper. These paper ninjas then come to life in AR using a phone or tablet. Each Kung Fu Boogie features a series of 1970’s-themed characters, such as "Pinball," a character inspired by retro arcade games. Players can gain achievements and level up as they progress throughout the game, unlocking new dance moves, costumes, and other features. A five-pack of characters will be available for $25 and a 10-pack for $40.   – VRSCOUT

5. Among the many technical challenges being addressed in the immersive technology space, the phenomenon of "focal rivalry" has been relatively overlooked, writes John Kennedy. In this opinion piece, the CEO of Adlens, argues Mixed Reality will never deliver its full potential until the industry addresses the fac that virtual content only exists in a single focal plane. This means that when we see real and virtual objects together, the wrong things are often in focus. "There are 23 visual cues that make up our natural perception of 3D space in the real world," he writes, adding that to deliver fully immersive, realistic experiences it is necessary to engage all of them. And while eighteen of these can be dealt with by upgrading software and hardware, a dynamic optical system holds the key to the remaining five: Chromatic Aberration, Accommodation, Spherical Aberration, Stiles Crawford Effect, and Vergence Accommodation.– AR POST

6. TableTop gaming is more popular than ever, partly thanks to AR. As the success of TiltFive (which at the time of writing had raised well over twice their original $450,000 Kickstarter target with 21 days left to go) proves, TableTop gaming is booming. As an enthusiastic gamer himself, Brian Thomas at Enlightened Digital lays out the reasons why he believes immersive technologies will be pivotal to the industry, allowing for even more social interaction among player groups, helping to address scheduling limitations, and giving designers a lot more room to develop better experiences. – TECH TRENDS

7. The Welsh National Opera is releasing an Augmented Reality experience to draw new fans to the genre. The institution collaborated with immersive technology company Arcade to produce "The Vixen’s Tale," based on Leoš Janáček’s opera "The Cunning Little Vixen." The experience is designed to prompt people of all ages to learn more about the genre via playful interactions, immersive illustrations and a soundscape set across five physical arches. It was unveiled as part of Explore Opera Day and will run on several further dates in October. The experience was also advertised in a campaign using AR with posters placed around the Cardiff area which came to life when users looked at them through a Snapchat lens.– UPLOADVR

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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