Inside XR - November 20th, 2019

Inside XR (Nov 20th, 2019)

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1. Dean Takahashi tests out an application that lets you capture, mash up and share augmented reality spaces on your smartphone. Available on iOS and Android, the app effectively turns your camera into a scanner for the world around you. As you move your camera around a space, Ubiquity6's computer vision technology reconstructs it in digital form, turning it into a digital space that you're then free to modify in real-time with emojis, decals, and paintbrushes. “People from all around the world are using this for things we didn’t expect,” Ubiquity6 CEO Anjney Midha tells Takahashi. “What we’ve done is basically overlay a shared persistent world on top of the real world, using just a phone, but you’re seeing it work on any platform,” Midha explained, adding that since launching in beta, the community map has grown as users have shared thousands of real-world spaces in over 50 countries, from graffiti-filled streets in Barcelona and coffee shops in Tokyo to secret gardens in London and underground bunkers in Sausalito. – VENTUREBEAT  

2. The 2019 edition of the VR Awards recognized innovation across 12 immersive technology categories. The ceremony for the award's third edition took place last week in London, hosted by AIXR – The Academy of International Extended Reality. A panel of over 70 judges including academic professors and researchers as well as representatives from Google, HTC, HP, Deloitte, NVIDIA, Apache, and others honored John Carmack with a VR Lifetime Achievement award, while the gong for best VR Hardware of the Year went to the Oculus Quest. Other winners included "Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series"  for best VR Experience of the Year and "A Fisherman’s Tale"  for best game. There was also recognition of the growing use of immersive tech in Marketing, with an award going to the Oasis Pocket Adventure: The Infruinite Slide. The Innovative VR Company of the Year award went to Nonny de la Peña’s Emblematic Group while Fundamental Surgery took the VR in Healthcare category. – AR POST  

3. VR/AR tech will add $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030 according to PwC. The global accountancy firm's "Seeing is believing" report forecasts that in the UK alone, immersive technologies could boost GDP by 2.4 percent, with the largest contribution coming from the AR sector at an estimated £44.4 billion ($57 billion). Jeremy Dalton, Head of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality at PwC UK says VR and AR are finally coming of age and have the potential to contribute significantly to the global economy by improving the way organizations operate and making their processes faster and more effective. The firm's forecasting projects that over the next decade its application in the healthcare sector will provide a boost of over $400 billion to global GDP, while training and development will add over $340 billion. In order to achieve this, however, the technology will require full support from key stakeholders, including government assistance through financial incentives and funding for research and development, while businesses will need to build a better understanding of the technology by using VR and AR to help solve problems their organizations face, he concludes. – VR FOCUS

4. Project AR-ia brings Mozart's Magic Flute Opera to viewers' homes in Augmented Reality. The prototype app was developed in partnership between Opera Queensland and Google's Creative Lab, using ARCore to overlay photoreal renderings of performers against the backdrop of users’ living spaces. “We want to break down the stereotype of opera as inaccessible," explains Artistic Director Patrick Nolan, who believes using the technology for storytelling will help the organization reach and engage new audiences. "This experimental AR app demonstrates the potential for the art form to be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, at any time, and provides a glimpse into what stories and entertainment could look like in five to 10 years’ time, and beyond,” adds Google’s Project Lead Jonathan Richards. – LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE

5. Nintendo, Google and Niantic have teamed up to bring Pokémon AR Easter Egg to gamers. To promote the release of "Pokémon Sword" and "Pokémon Shield" for the Switch last Friday, Nintendo created an experience that was announced on Pokémon's website for Japan. You don't need the Japanese version of the game, however, to unlock the promotional video that plays in the app's camera view, as a Google Lens scan of the cover image or a copy of the US edition packaging will suffice to trigger it. As Tommy Palladino points out, this follows in the franchise's tradition, as Pokémon GO was famously inspired by an April Fools' Day prank in Google Maps back when Niantic was a Google subsidiary. – NEXT REALITY  

6. Fable Studio has announced the winners of its Virtual Being Grant. Each of the six winners will receive between $1,000 to $25,000 to develop concepts combining virtual assistants, immersive, AI, and virtual influences. Hundreds of projects were submitted from a global pool ranging from university students and established artists, to health advocates, exploring concepts including loneliness, wellness, disease treatments, and even virtual immortality. The winners, which include a project that brings Mahatma Gandhi back as a Virtual Being, are now being showcased at the Virtual Being Summit at the United Talent Agency Theater in Beverly Hills.– VRSCOUT

7. Alex Kipman on how it's "inevitable" that devices like the HoloLens will replace every screen. Reading a Clive Thompson interview with the HoloLens creator in his office at Microsoft's HQ, I get a distinct sense of deja vu, as he outlines much the same vision as when I met him in that very same room back in 2017. While a cynic might say that Kipman is a brilliant marketer who excels at staying on message, I can attest to the fact that when you meet him in person it is difficult to doubt the sincerity of his belief in that vision, and in the compelling picture he paints for how the technology will transform our lives. And I can also relate to Thompson in being impressed by how fun and empowering the experience of borrowing knowledge from a holographic guide to perform a task for which you're in no way qualified can feel. – SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

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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