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Inside XR (Dec 18th, 2019)

1. GIGXR has become the owner of all immersive assets from the Pearson Immersive Learning GroupJonathan Shieber writes for TechCrunch that serial entrepreneur David King Lassman, who also founded streaming media company Vyclone and White Hart Ventures, had been in discussions for nearly a year to acquire the subsidiary's intellectual property of VR and AR training programs for hospitals, nursing schools, and universities including HoloPatient and HoloHuman. Lassman said the company had raised $1 million in seed financing and would be seeking to raise additional capital in the first half of 2020, and Dan Ayoub, general manager for Mixed Reality Education at Microsoft, confirmed the two companies would continue their ongoing partnership under the new umbrella. – TECHCRUNCH

2. A 3D Augmented Reality model was used to illustrate the damage and planned repairs to Notre Dame. Following the devastating fire in April which destroyed the iconic Paris building, France 2 used the sprawling main news studio for its “Journal de 20h” bulletin to display a detailed 3D AR model of the medieval cathedral to give viewers an idea what the building looks like and the magnitude of the restoration project underway. The experience was built using Avid’s Maestro Virtual Set and Unreal Engine with the AR model positioned on the riser in front of the studio’s large floor-to-ceiling video wall, which was used to showcase an image of the cathedral’s famous rose window. – NEWSCAST STUDIO

3.  Adario Strange has some fun with Magic Leap giant rockets in Central Park courtesy of the Weta Workshop. After reviewing "Boosters" a few weeks ago, Strange excitedly discovered a giant rocket option while scrolling through the game's menu. Tapping on that brought up a life-sized rocket (big enough to fit a human body) that extended to his office's ceiling. In spite of the Magic Leap One's less-than-ideal outdoors visibility setup, he then took advantage of a gloomy cloudy day to launch the rockets in New York's Central Park. – NEXT REALITY

4.  "Jumanji: The Next Level" has a voice-activated WebAR experience for fans. Sony Pictures partnered with mixed reality agency Trigger to create the experience powered by AWS and 8th Wall which is triggered when users speak the magic formula “show me Jumanji.” The interactive experience then takes users to various movie locations where they can enjoy interactive content and play games. This is part of a suite of transmedia experiences Sony has built around the movie. In addition to interacting with an AR YouTube video, It is also possible to use voice commands to buy tickets, and an additional partnership with Snapchat gives you the option to capture selfies alongside the film's stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black or Kevin Hart. – AR POST

5. The classic Santa Claus mall visits are changing with the digital age. From "elfies" to Instagram, Leticia Miranda reports for NBC News that families – while still enjoying the traditional physical presence of Santa and often opting for a printed photo – are also keen to add digital elements to the holiday experience. Kurt Ivey, head of marketing of one of America's largest mall operators Macerich says his company is offering "Santa HQ 5.0" at 15 of its malls, from Oregon to New York. These include immersive twists on the holiday village features such as a "Magic Mirror" where visitors use Virtual Reality to try out elf outfits and a station where kids can see Santa’s observatory through AR. – NBC NEWS

6. Kids can learn coding by playing with AR Hot Wheels. Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a new feature of its Hot Wheels id product which uses Apple’s Swift programming language and Augmented Reality to blend the real-world mini cars with digital elements in an educational experience that keeps kids engaged. Targeted at children ages 8 and up, the "Swift Playground" is an iPad app that teaches coding concepts and the potential of AR without any prior knowledge of programming required. You pair your iPad, race your car, and use augmented reality to view it in real life either in 1:64 scale or life-size. As each challenge is completed, kids can also use Augmented Reality to find hidden passwords and activate the gateway to the next scene. – VENTUREBEAT

7. Terence Trouillot ponders on Microsoft's broader strategy to use immersive tech and AI to help preserve the world's cultural heritage. Just as the HoloLens 2 was released last month, Microsoft, partnered with the MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) in Seattle, to launch an elaborate Mixed Reality exhibition called “Mont-Saint-Michel: Digital Perspectives on the Model,” which Trouillot rates as "fun and informative," but is indicative of the company's broader strategy – which also included participating in a Knight Foundation initiative which awarded a total of $750,000 in grants to art institutions – to produce engaging educational content that also helps preserve cultural and historical heritage through the use of emerging tech. – ARTNET  

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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