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Inside AR

Inside AR (Dec 2nd, 2019)

1. Facebook Portal integrated AR features with its TV smart display. The company claims the device was designed with privacy in mind, with a red light next to the lens indicating when the camera and microphone are on, and an integrated camera cover to physically block the lens, as well as clear and simple settings allowing you to disable the camera and microphone with a single tap or sliding switch. Portal TV features a camera with a 12.5 MP sensor with 120 degrees field of view and includes a full-range speaker for audio output and far-field array of eight omnidirectional microphones for voice input, enabling AR video calling via Messenger and WhatsApp, which means you can use it to communicate with people who don't own a Portal of their own. Other features include "Storytime" which enables parents to interact more closely with children as they read stories remotely to them, and "Mic Drop," which launches later this year and dares users to perform to songs wearing AR costumes. The Portal TV device is priced at $149 and is available for purchase from the Portal website, Amazon, as well as Best Buy in the US and Canada. --NEXT REALITY

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2. Darragh Dandurand gives an overview of the 2019 edition of VRDays, which took place in Amsterdam in November and brought together Europe's XR community to explore the industry's future. Set at numerous locations throughout the Dutch capital, including its picturesque canal boats, the three-day conference brought together international creators, curators, and companies in the XR space keen to stake their claim to the growing EU market. This year’s programming hosted 100 exhibitors and almost 200 speakers scattered across panels, demos, and networking opportunities. Tickets for the 2020 edition are already available for those looking to book a spot for next year. – VRSCOUT

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3. HBO has partnered with Snapchat to create Augmented Reality lenses to promote the latest adaptation of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials." The latest lens to be released brings some of the daemons from the story to life. For those unfamiliar with the lore, daemons are creatures (essentially a partial materialization of a person's soul) linked to a specific person which shape-shift while their human is a child and "settle" into a particular form when they grow up. Following the landmarker lens that was released last week at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, U.S. Snap users as of last Wednesday can access a face lens and world lens. This is just another in a string of AR collaborations between the two companies, which also worked together in an experience which saw the Ice Dragon from Game of Thrones flying over New York’s Flatiron Building. – ADWEEK

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4. A new sound positioning system patent could hint at the killer app for Apple's AR glasses. The recently filed patent describes a system in which audio signals would be processed using 3D positioning meta-information attached to the audio signal, so people wearing a pair of earbuds would actually hear the sound coming from that point in space and, if they turned their heads to a different person, they would hear them louder and clearer, as you'd expect sound to behave in the real world. Jesus Diaz writes that if Apple gets this right, it could dramatically increase immersion and seems like the logical last piece of the company's AR puzzle. – TOM’S GUIDE

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5. In an effort to attract younger consumers who see wine as "pompous" and "boring," wineries are turning to AR labeling. Wine has declined in popularity among consumers in their 20s and 30s, who have increasingly shifted toward craft beers, gin, and cider. To counteract that trend, a group of 524 brands from all over the world is adopting AR through an app called Winerytale. A series of features appear when users scan the wine labels with their smartphones, such as information on the brand’s backstory, sustainability credentials and serving suggestions, as well as winery tour videos, wine tasting notes, food pairing suggestions and a list of nearby stockists. There is also a "fanwall" feature where consumers can see Instagram images of other people enjoying their tipple.  – EURONEWS

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6.  An exhibition in Seattle is taking visitors on a mixed-reality tour of a French medieval monastery. “Mont-Saint-Michel: Digital Perspectives on the Model” opened last week at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) and uses the HoloLens 2 to tell the story of the historic island site off the coast of Normandy, France. Microsoft worked on the Mont-Saint-Michel experience as part of its AI for Cultural Heritage program, which uses AI to empower people and organizations dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage. “It’s exciting to see how we can blend old and new technology to unlock the hidden treasures of history, especially for younger generations,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said, adding that the exhibit provided a unique model for preserving cultural heritage around the world. – GEEKWIRE

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7. Impact Reality Summit will fund XR projects to promote environmental solutions and social justice. Organized by Vulcan Productions and Kaleidoscope, the January XR event will fund a range of immersive projects focused on environmental and social issues. There will be four prizes including a Grand Prix of $20,000 for the XR project with the highest potential to achieve global impact as well as specific prize categories for tackling Climate Change and improving ocean health. Applicants should upload and save their project in the Kaleidoscope platform before December 9, 2019. – ARPOST

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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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