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Inside XR (Dec 4th, 2019)

1. News outlet Florida Today is using immersive technologies to provide enhanced coverage of today's SpaceX Launch. The 321 Launch app developed by the media company can be downloaded for free on both iOS and Android devices. In addition to following along on the news feed and watching videos of the lift-off, users will be able to look at a 3D model of the Falcon 9 in sync with the actual rocket on the pad as it launched from Cape Canaveral. Florida Today is also experimenting with the CampfireVR app to offer Virtual Reality interaction via the Oculus Go or Google Cardboard. – FLORIDA TODAY

2. China is rolling out new regulations to counter the spread of deepfakes. Starting in January 2020, videos created using VR and AI technology will need to be identified as such, according to new rules announced on behalf of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The move will ban the use of technology - popularized in AR face-filters - to create and distribute fake news stories. In September, the face-swapping app Zao became the No. 1 free app on the App Store in China, which sparked CAC’s concerns that it could be used to create hyper-realistic renditions of established figureheads that could be used to spread potentially harmful misinformation. The news comes after California introduced a system banning the distribution of deepfakes of established political figures within 60 days of an election. – VRSCOUT   

3. Insomniac Games has released a new Mixed Reality game for Magic Leap One. "Strangelets" is a follow-up to Insomniac’s previous AR title "Seedling," which was released last year before the studio was acquired by Sony. It follows on from Seedling’s story as players continue to deal with the fallout from ‘The Schmelling Incident'. The game integrates into the player's real-world environment, taking account of the time and weather to vary the gameplay and increase replayability.  Harry Baker writes that this could well be Insomniac's last release as an independent studio if Sony decides to focus development exclusively for its PSVR platform, but that has not been confirmed. – VENTUREBEAT

4.  Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, used Augmented Reality to make its 2019 yearbook more inclusive. Since it isn't possible to have photos of the 2,000+ students printed in the school's yearbook, a company called Walsworth used AR to let users watch a series of videos that featured a much broader sample of the student population. Teacher Janet Kolb and her students sorted through over 60,000 photos to find the ones they felt best highlighted their classmates. The videos can then be viewed through the AR app alongside the print yearbook. "Maybe they were part of a club or at an activity, maybe their photograph didn’t land in there, but I hope they find themselves somewhere in the augmented reality,” she said.– KELOLAND

6. Next Reality has published a list ranking this year's 25 biggest AR investments. This is the third edition of the annual list. It features newer startups like Medivis, which received smaller seed funding, as well as acquisitions such as CTRL-Labs and established players like Nreal. Honorable mentions went to the $100 million Epic Megagrants fund and $750,000 museum investment by the Knight Foundation. Magic Leap retained its top spot in the rankings, yet the company's current funding round of $280 million (so far) is much lower than previous years. Overall, the top 10 investments in 2019 represent $1.19 billion in funding, down from $2.26 billion in 2018 and $1.82 billion for the same grouping. Whether this represents a downturn in the AR market or a stage of maturity and more steady, sustainable growth for the industry remains to be determined in 2020. – NEXT REALITY  

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

Edited by Inside Dev editor, Sheena Vasani.

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