Inside XR - November 25th, 2019

Inside XR (Nov 25th, 2019)

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1. Magic Leap has collaborated with Weta Workshop again for its latest Augmented Reality game, "Boosters." Adario Strange writes that the game could be an ideal "gateway" title to introduce users to mixed reality gaming. It follows the same steampunk-style as "Dr. Grordbort's Invaders," providing what he describes as a "relatively simple but nevertheless enjoyable experience" during his short playtest. The most thrilling aspect of the game, according to Strange, is its use of haptic feedback in the Magic Leap One's handheld controller, which - when combined by the fact the user has to physically walk around a large space - makes the experience much more interactive.– NEXT REALITY

2. "Minecraft Earth" has now been downloaded around 2.5 million times. A report by mobile analyst Sensor Tower revealed that Microsoft's augmented reality mobile game generated 1.4 million downloads across the App Store and Google Play in the week following its U.S. launch on November 12. Developer Mojang has been steadily rolling out the game in early access across the globe for the last month, yet although these numbers aren't weak, "Minecraft Earth" it is still lagging behind titles such as "Pokemon Go," which netted 32.7 million downloads during its first week in the US and "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" which brought in 3.1 million. – WINDOWS CENTRAL

3. Hello Kitty is getting her first AR game. As the iconic character turns 45, she makes her AR debut in "Kawaii World", developed by Sanrio and the Bublar Group. "Hello Kitty AR" will give players the chance to use their mobile phones to project the Hello Kitty universe around them, customizing environments before populating them with their favorite characters, as well as going on adventures with other players in search of treasure. The game uses Bublar’s AR software alongside Google Maps to transform your surroundings yet many of the details remain secret. A full release is scheduled for next summer, but users can sign up for early access for the game's soft launch, where they'll get the chance to take part in exclusive events, competitions and other activities, and help make the game release-ready. – POCKET GAMER    

4. Jesus Diaz reviews all the major players in the AR smartglasses landscape. The comprehensive list of devices spans two major categories, with the first covering "full 3D AR devices" such as Magic Leap, HoloLens, and the long-anticipated Apple Glasses while the second list includes devices which overlay 2D text and graphics over a scene, but without integrating them fully with what the user sees. Glasses like Google Glass or Epson Moverio fall under that latter category. "They are the equivalent of the heads-up displays you have in combat jets," Diaz explains, adding that he believes 2022 will be "the year of Augmented Reality." – TOM’S GUIDE  

5. Niantic is developing an AR version of the classic "Settlers of Catan" board game. While the makers of "Pokemon Go" have remained tight-lipped about their involvement with the project, they confirmed to the Verge that “Catan: World Explorers" is being developed on the Niantic Real World Platform and we’ll have more information to share on the title in 2020,” the company wrote. In the popular analog game which has been around for over 24 years, players compete to establish colonies on a fictional island called Catan. The AR version promises to expand upon the concept and effectively transform the world into a game board for the deeply strategic gameplay. – THE VERGE  

6. Lenovo will provide enterprise certification for Varjo VR headsets. The two companies have partnered to help identify enterprise PCs as "Varjo ready" (or not). Much like the ‘Oculus Ready’ program, Lenovo will start labeling some workstation computers as ‘Certified for Varjo,’ meaning the hardware will also have ports ready and set aside for the high-resolution Varjo HMDs. – VRGEAR

7. The New Yorker's new AR feature uses its cartoons to express the secret thoughts of everyday objects. “Animate Objects” is available on the latest version of the New Yorker iOS app. Go to the “Cartoons” tab and tap “Play” to enter the AR experience. Once the app recognizes an object, tap it to reveal its innermost thoughts—as conceived of and drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Liana Finck. All objects are also accompanied by sound, many voiced by comedians including Erik Bergstrom, Karen Chee, Zach Zimmerman, Rachel Pegram, and Gary Richardson. – THE NEW YORKER

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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