Inside XR - November 8th, 2019

Inside XR (Nov 8th, 2019)

HoloLens 2 Shipping / Apple's Gaze Prediction Tech / AR Stocks to Buy

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1. Microsoft has started shipping the HoloLens 2 to enterprise customers. The Mixed Reality headset, which was first unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, is priced at $3,500 (or $4,500 with a Dynamics 365 Remote Assist subscription) but doesn't yet have many apps available. Scott Stein writes for CNET that some of the device's key software tools are still to come, but Microsoft promises that porting content from the original HoloLens should be fairly straightforward for developers. The company's AR future vision relies on cloud processing coupled with world-mapping technology that can pin virtual objects to coordinates that can be viewed simultaneously by many people, yet these technologies are still in beta. With the global rollout of Minecraft Earth now well underway, it will be interesting to see how such location-based AR experiences will feed into this broader strategy and roadmap, and whether it will be possible to play the game (currently only available on mobile AR) in holographic mixed reality any time soon.  – CNET

2. HBO is continuing to use Augmented Reality to promote its hit "Watchmen" series.  After pushing out an AR outdoor advertising campaign, the channel has now released a Snapchat lens which turns users into two of show's characters. Swiping left sees you becoming masked detective Angela Abar, while a right-swipe turns you into the Looking Glass character. The AR camera effect also uses background segmentation to add the ominous sound of a ticking clock and a driving beat. Tommy Palladino speculates that perhaps a Magic Leap experience might be on the cards next, given HBO's previous history of developing a "Game of Thrones" experience for the Mixed Reality platform. – NEXT REALITY

3.  Follow Friday: Sarah Hill

Sarah Hill is a 20-year veteran of the interactive journalism industry and Emmy award-winning virtual reality storyteller, and her company StoryUP produces a broad range of virtual reality content. Hill recently completed an immersive experience for terminally ill and aging veterans not able to physically travel to see their memorials in Washington D.C. with Honor Everywhere, an immersive experience for veterans not able to physically travel to see memorials. Her feed is populated by a range of high-quality awesome videos that constantly remind me of what a great age it is to be involved with immersive tech and storytelling. Follow her on Twitter @SarahMidMO 

4. The Weather Channel's Mixed Reality content is proving very popular, and potentially life-saving. Last month, a Weather Channel video using mixed reality technology simulated the dramatic effect storm surge would have on an ordinary American neighborhood and attracted millions of views. A similar project by researchers at Hofstra University simulating the effects of a Category 3 hurricane was used to determine whether watching such simulations made people more likely to heed storm warnings. "It’s not necessarily about more information, but about meaningful information,” explains project lead Jase Bernhardt, an assistant professor in the Department of Geology, Environment, and Sustainability at Hofstra. He added that people who viewed the simulation reported that they were more likely to evacuate ahead of a real-life storm and warn others.– WASHINGTON POST   

5. A new patent shows that Apple is working on "gaze prediction" technology that could prove crucial for AR hardware development. Apple's latest patent details a gaze tracking and prediction system for a head-mounted display device using high-end foveated displays that could be used to play video games and more. The user's point of regard on the display in addition to the gaze-direction can be used as an input to foveated display schemes to help align the user's current point of regard to the high-resolution images, thus saving on processing power. – PATENTLY APPLE

6. Niantic chief executive John Hanke has set out the company's vision for building "planet-scale" Augmented Reality. The makers of "Pokémon Go," "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" and "Ingress" are looking to improve the real-world maps. Since the launch of "Ingress" some eight years ago, about 27 million locations have been submitted for consideration as waypoints, with 9.4 million having become part of the "live game board." A "Wayfarer" program now allows high-level players of Niantic games to submit spots they think should be given special consideration as new points on the game board. The aim, said Hanke, is to get people "off the couch and playing together" in parks, streets, cafes and just about anywhere "atoms and bytes meet," Hanke said as he announced the winners of Niantic's first "Beyond Reality Contest" that offered a total of $1 million in prize money for developers looking to build experiences for its AR platform.  -- FIRSTPOST

7. Rich Duprey shares his top AR investment recommendations. With Augmented Reality technology expected to achieve a market value of $83 billion by 2021, investors are increasingly looking to add companies in that space to their portfolios. Duprey picks three companies - Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), and Lumentum Holdings (NASDAQ:LITE) which show the greatest potential for growth and scaling as that expansion takes place. – THE MOTLEY FOOL

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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