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Inside XR (Nov 6th, 2019)

1. Adobe officially launched the Aero iOS AR authoring app at its MAX Conference. The app lets designers create Augmented Reality experiences without coding. Frederic Lardinois reports for TechCrunch that in the demo he saw Aero was "extremely easy to use," allowing you to bring in Photoshop files with layers as a background and then space those layers out as needed to create 3D-like scenes. Interacting with the object is done through touch interactions, thus bypassing menus almost entirely. Using the tablet’s camera, designers tap to place their artwork into an AR space. Adobe Aero includes the tools to then add interactive behaviors, such as spinning, bouncing, rotating, or following a path connected to a specific trigger. Once finished, Aero allows exports using a link, a file to embed inside a third-party app, or a video. It is available now as a free app on iOS which you can use to create some basic experiences, but the full slew of AR design tools will only be available on the desktop app, which is currently in private beta.  –  TECHCRUNCH  

2. ThirdEye claims its X2 mixed reality glasses are the smallest in the world. The company was promoting the X2 Glasses last weekend at the VR/AR Global Summit in Vancouver, and is now taking pre-orders for the devices which are priced at US$1,950. The X2s run on Android 8.1, and are powered by a Snapdragon xR1 Qualcomm processor. Weighing 9.8 oz (278 g), they include a range of features such as thermal and ambient light sensors; a spotlight; two gray-scale cameras; a 13-megapixel RGB camera; a 3-axis gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass; noise-canceling microphones; and a proprietary SLAM (simultaneous location and mapping) system. The device's stereoscopic 720p/60fps see-through display has a 42-degree field of view which the manufacturers claim to be the equivalent to viewing a 90-inch high-definition screen from a distance of 10 feet (3 m). They can also wirelessly communicate with computers and other devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, running for two hours of battery life per charge. According to the company, hundreds of apps are already available via the ThirdEye App Store, with others currently in development by its partners. – NEW ATLAS

3. Sturfee has brought its AR cloud technology out of stealth mode. In a Q&A with Moetsi's Co-founder for Tech Trends, the company's CEO, Anil Cheriyadat, and Head of Business Operations & Partnerships, Sheng Huang, set out their vision for "digitizing the world." Sturfee's computer vision technology combines satellite imagery with mobile positioning to create an AR mesh that can pinpoint locations to incredible precision. By offering a Visual Positioning System (VPS) cloud service, Sturfee’s AR City platform is a major step towards understanding 3D locations from traditional GPS 2D mappings, and attempts to solve the problem of creating a digital twin of the world at scale. "It creates a whole new layer of interaction with everything. You can create a digital overlay of information wherever you go, and what you can do with that is practically limitless," says Cheriyadat. – TECH TRENDS    

4. Panera is testing how to superimpose Augmented Reality nutrition facts onto their food. The restaurant chain has collaborated with AR agency QReal to create the feature, which is hosted on a mobile ad platform called Composite. This makes it possible to access the Augmented Reality features without downloading a specific app, although the functionality is currently only available for one menu item, namely the Mediterranean Egg White Breakfast Wrap. Previously, the company had used AR for its "You Mix 2" promotion that took "You Pick 2" menu options and combined them into one dish so users could see how their choices would look when mixed together. – DELISH  

5.  Coca-Cola has rolled out a suite of Augmented Reality activations to go with its newly unveiled 2019 holiday packaging, and yes, there are polar bears. Since its debut in 1993, the company's iconic polar bear mascots have proved a sure hit, but this is their first foray into Augmented Reality. The brand's internal creative agency, Coca-Cola Digital Platforms, collaborated with San Francisco-based Tactic Studio to create a range of  AR experiences for iOS or Android, including one where you can scan the holiday-themed cans and bottles to transform the packaging into a digital recreation of the polar bears' wintery domain. "We wanted to give fans a fun new way to engage with the brand and bring the magic of the polar bears to life," said Allie Blalock, digital engagement manager for Coca-Cola North America. – NEXT REALITY  

6. Polar bears also made a cameo on a more somber Augmented Reality app released last week, whose launch aims to raise awareness about the plight of the increasingly endangered species. To mark Polar Bear Week, which took place Nov. 3-9, AVARA Media (a technology company that focuses on creating Augmented Reality experiences for education and advocacy) and Polar Bears International (PBI) created an interactive experience which lets users immerse themselves in the polar bear’s world while learning about ways to help them. After downloading the AVARA mobile app on iOS or Android, users point their device at a trigger to see the polar bears in their Arctic habitat.– AR POST

7. The Clean Seas AR experience is designed to raise awareness about ocean pollution and encourage users to take action. Through the app, people are able to “clean” the sea and make a social pledge that they can easily share online. It was created for Singapore ArtScience Museum’s Climate S.O.S – Season of Sustainability by MeshMinds in conjunction with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Singaporean artist, André Wee. The experience is yet another example of an environmental initiative hoping to capitalize on the high levels of user engagement afforded by immersive media such as AR. "We find that the dwell time on such Augmented Reality experiences is significantly longer compared to viewing static content. The level of interactivity helps people engage more with the problem of ocean pollution. We are seeing that this translates into conscious buying decisions and people sharing that they intend to change their plastic consumption habits,” says Kay Vasey, Chief Connecting Officer of MeshMinds.  


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

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