Inside XR - November 15th, 2019

Inside XR (Nov 15th, 2019)

Snap's Spectacles Released / Magic Leap Partners with Spotify / 10 Billion AR App Installs in Next 5 Years

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1. Snap released Spectacles 3 – the latest version of its Augmented Reality glasses. The devices, which are camera- and video-capable glasses retail, for $380 (more expensive than the company's first two versions which struggled with disappointing sales figures and customer reviews) and will ship within a week, according to its website. "We are building low volumes of Spectacles 3 and using this iteration to test and learn more about wearable computing," Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said during the company's recent third-quarter earnings call. He added that, looking to the next 7 to 10 years, Snap wants to realize its "vision of computing overlaid on the world through wearable Augmented Reality."  – LA BUSINESS JOURNAL

2.  Spotify and Magic Leap have collaborated on a Mixed Reality location-aware music app. The announcement comes just days after reports emerged that Magic Leap is conducting a new funding round and follows a release earlier this year which gave users the ability to play music in the background while using other apps. The newly released Spotify streaming app is the first one to take advantage of that capability, and it is also the first major streaming service to announce an app for the headset. With it, users of the Magic Leap One will access a three-dimensional Spotify interface overlaid onto the real world, giving them the ability to automatically change playlists as they move between rooms.  – THE VERGE

3. Follow Friday: Anna Lee

Anna Lee is an adult entertainment producer and director who first started working in the industry when she founded a phone-sex company to fund her college education. She later sold that company – Courtesan Entertainment – and became interested in the more immersive side of porn. One of her first projects back in 2015 saw her scanning a famous adult actress Tera Patrick and placing her in a VR environment where users could interact with her digital doppelgänger in whatever way they wanted. When the first Oculus developer kit was released, she went to the AVN Awards (the Oscar-equivalent of the adult industry) where the feedback she got for the project was so overwhelmingly positive that she decided to pursue VR porn production at its nascent stage. She has since become one of the most interesting pioneers in that sphere, and a fantastic voice for positive action to boot.

"We’re still in the minority, but the number of female directors is growing. Times are changing: women are assuming more powerful positions in the adult industry, and there’s a lot more female-friendly porn being offered," she said in an interview for Geek Wire, adding that "the golden ticket to VR is to create an intimate experience in which you are fully involved with the viewer in some capacity. We want to create an immersive, empathetic experience for the viewer that engages them in a way that regular film does not." 

Follow her @AnnaLeeVRX for some spicy (if not always entirely SFW) immersive stuff that is both inspiring and titillating. Lee believes that VR porn has the potential to reshape the human mind, and I for one believe that with people like her making content, that could very well be the case.

4. Apple launched an Augmented Reality tool to help customers get a feel for its new 16-inch MacBook Pro. The AR visualizer is available through iPhones and iPads on this site and lets users place the new notebook on their desk or workspace. Swipe down and look for “See MacBook Pro in AR.” Once the AR notebook is loaded, you can pinch to zoom (up to 1,000 percent), use two fingers to spin it around, and more. There’s also the option to view it in object or AR mode, something that Apple has used this type of tool before when it first announced the Mac Pro back in June. – 9TO5MAC

5.  An Augmented Reality customer service app offers remote assistance capabilities for small businesses. XMReality Business is now available for small and medium-sized enterprises in the US, allowing employees to remotely guide clients in diagnosing system malfunctions and fix them. Unlike similar solutions for larger enterprises, it requires no proprietary hardware such as the HoloLens, nor specific app installation.  The client receives a web link which they can access from their smartphone and initiate the remote assistance session. Once the customer initiates a call, the augmented reality customer service tool activates the phone camera so that tech support employees can see the malfunctioning product and the client indicates the exact issue while the employee can overlay visual and graphic guidance instructions directly onto the real-life image. –ARPPOST

6. The official speaker line-up has been announced for the VRX Conference & Expo 2019. The conference will take place Dec. 12-13 in San Francisco. Confirmed speakers include Jae Lake (Lead VR specialist, Expedia); Raj Pallapothu (mHealth global business lead, Bayer Pharma U.S.); and Shelley Peterson (Principal investor of augmented and mixed reality, Lockheed Martin). The agenda will explore how XR can bring value to brands and customers alike, engaging consumers through immersive and innovative experiences and discuss current challenges and solutions to the uptake of XR.– TECH TRENDS

7. Mixed Reality app installs are set to reach 10 billion in five year's time. According to a new Juniper Research forecast, the number of consumer mixed-reality app installs will rise from 3 billion to 10 billion by 2024, with social media and games as the key app categories that will drive mixed-reality app adoption. The research also predicts that advertising spend over consumer mixed reality apps will reach $11 billion in the same period, up from $2 billion in 2019. Yet Juniper cautions that app developers must focus on retaining existing users. “Successful mixed-reality app developers, Niantic and Snap, have continued to leverage their significant user bases by ensuring that app content is consistently refreshed, therefore benefiting from continued user spend,” says research author Sam Barker. – MEDIA POST

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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