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Inside XR (Oct 16th, 2019)

1. AR pioneer Tom Emrich has joined 8th Wall as VP of Product. The cloud-based WebAR creation platform raised over ten million dollars last year from investors such as Norwest Venture Partners, VR Fund, Betaworks, SV Angel, Shasta Ventures, Greylock, and Sparkland Capital and allows developers to build marker and markerless augmented reality experiences that work in-browser across all commonly used smartphones without having to download specific apps. To date, more than 10,000 developers are using its platform to create over 5,000 WebAR apps for brands such as Adidas, LEGO, Porsche, Microsoft, Sony Pictures and TIME. Emrich was a partner at Super Ventures, an AR-focused VC fund that invested in early-stage companies including Quantum Capture, Gravity Sketch, 6D.ai, and Cognitive 3D. Together with Ori Inbar, he also co-produced AWE (Augmented World Expo), the industry’s most influential AR/VR event series since 2014. "It’s exciting to see AR technology in use, I’ve learned so much these past five years,” Emrich told Charlie Fink for Forbes, “I’ve been yearning to get my hands dirty to put it to use. Now is ‘Go Time’ for consumer mobile AR so the timing couldn’t be better,” he said. – FORBES  

2. Apple has won 59 patents covering 3D Augmented Reality measuring apps. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published the series of patents granted to Apple Inc. this week, some which relate to a variety of electronic devices for virtual/augmented reality, including but not limited to devices for measuring physical spaces and/or objects AR/VR environments. Of particular interest is patent 10,444,005. It was originally filed in Q3 2018, and notes that while AR environments are useful for making measurements of physical spaces and objects within them by enabling a user to superimpose measurements on these, conventional methods for achieving this are cumbersome, inefficient, and limited. Apple's invention, therefore, covers computer systems with improved methods and interfaces which optionally complement or replace such conventional measuring methods and reduce the number, extent, and/or nature of the inputs from a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface, conserve power, and increase the time between battery charges. – PATENTLY APPLE

3. Disney has released a Maleficent YouTube AR makeup experience. To promote the release of "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," this Friday, Disney partnered with Promise Phan, a makeup artist with over six million subscribers on YouTube, to create a tutorial where users can re-create the deliciously dark look sported by Angelina Jolie's character. Augmented Reality lets viewers virtually preview three stages of the costume and makeup virtually, including the headdress, of course. But while the filter functionality is certainly fun, Tommy Palladino asks the question of whether this is indicative of a broader move by Google to push AR integration harder, especially in areas such as face filters which have so far been dominated by Facebook and Snapchat. – NEXT REALITY   

4. Gergana Mileva writes about how AR is fueling social change by empowering activists. As the recent example of Chanel Miller's garden memorial at Stanford proves, we are only just starting to explore the creative ways in which the technology can transform the activism landscape. Mileva argues that while the use of Augmented Reality in activism is not exactly new - during the 2011 Occupy movement free AR apps were already used to keep people informed about protests as well as placing virtual images of protesters and protest-themed graphics over areas where they couldn’t protest physically - we are seeing a significant ramp-up in its uses, with entire organizations dedicated to exploring immersive technology activism. One prominent player in this space is non-profit Movers and Shakers, which uses AR to educate people about underrepresented narratives by superimposing digital elements onto physical locations such as confederate statue sites and even organizes holographic demonstrations. – ARPOST  

5. A British Museum project merged past and present technologies to restore an ancient Mayan monument to life. Unlike many of his fellow Victorian British explorers, Alfred Maudslay preferred to document rather than collect historical artifacts, and he used what was cutting-edge technology at the time in order to do so. His extensive collection of Mayan artifact plaster casts has allowed for the faithful reconstruction of the Hieroglyphic Stairway at Palenque, which Jago Cooper, curator of the Americas at the British Museum, describes as “a journey of understanding built on the latest technology of our time." The British Museum and Google Arts & Culture, a not-for-profit arm of the search company, laser-scanned the plaster casts which had lain in storage for more than a century and commissioned a limestone reproduction which was flown to Mexico. VR and AR tours of the sites were published in English and Spanish, while Maya scholars can examine online the entire cast collection scanned in 3D, altering the position of the light source and point of view to help them decode the highly complex text. – FINANCIAL TIMES  

6. Madame Tussauds' ALIVE IN AR experience in Washington D.C. uses Augmented Reality to bring historical moments to life. The attraction is including the new augmented tours, which are powered by ArtGlass devices, as part of the regular admission ticket price. As visitors walk around in the self-guided experience, they can see and hear historical context around the iconic wax figures. While many museums have been using AR apps to enhance the visitor experience, ARtGlass founder and CEO Greg Werkheiser says this initiative goes beyond that by embracing the more immersive and hands-free smart glass technology. –  TECH TRENDS

7. Berry growers Wish Farms is testing how AR technology can enhance its product labels. “I wanted us to be the first in our industry to utilize this technology,” says owner Gary Wishnatzki, who hopes Augmented Reality will help his company engage with customers in new ways. The app, which will be showcased at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention Oct. 18-19, works by getting viewers to hover on the Wish Farms label, triggering a video overlay. The application will be available to the public from January 2020, and the company has plans to expand its use of AR into other features such as grower profiles, recipes, tips and a consumer feedback dashboards. For each download, Wish Farms will also donate a meal to a community program. – SUPERMARKET PERIMETER  

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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