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Inside AR

Inside AR (Jul 15th, 2019)

1. James Murdoch has reportedly made a $20 million investment in VR company The Void. Sources told Bloomberg that the yet-to-be-finalized deal would be the biggest investment so far for Murdoch's new fund called Lupa Systems. If true, Murdoch joins a list of high-profile investors in Utah-based The Void LLC, which include Qualcomm Ventures and Walt Disney Co. While Murdoch was at Fox, the entertainment company had invested in rival company Dreamscape, yet he is said to prefer The Void's VR technology.– BLOOMBERG

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2. Samsung is apparently exploring the idea of developing foldable augmented reality smartglasses. Based on the documentation submitted for one of its latest patent applications, the tech giant could be working on a device that looks much like a normal pair of glasses and automatically switches on whenever it's unfolded, with a temple-mounted projector built in that would beam images on the small display placed over the wearer's field of view. To make sure the device doesn't accidentally switch off if the user turns their head wrong, it looks like the company is thinking of using magnetic sensors to make sure it remains in the unfolded position until the wearer deliberately folds it.– ENGADGET

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3. By the Numbers: How AR increases productivity

Rori DuBoff, Head of Content Innovations & Strategy Accenture Interactive, presents the company's findings and predictions around the use of Augmented Reality technology both in the consumer and enterprise space, stressing that in certain industries, the impact of adoption can be significant: "Here we have a technology that is enhancing rather than replacing so that workers can do their tasks safer, quicker, and more efficiently," she says, adding that we’re currently seeing the industry at about $16 billion but by 2023 that’s going to go up to $160 billion, with the bulk of that investment in corporate environments, and the fastest-growing area being immersive training. – MARKETWATCH 

  • the adoption of AR boosts productivity by 21 percent on average
  • this figure rises even further to an average of 35 percent in sectors such as healthcare and social services
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4. The third season of Stranger Things has got an Augmented Reality Trailer. Fans of the cult Netflix sci-fi horror show (many of whom will already have finished watching the new 8-episode run) can use AR to picture themselves in the town of Hawkins where the plot is set, and its alternative universe the "Upside Down." To experience it, users can access the Stranger Things 3 official trailer on Youtube mobile app, which will bring up a ‘try now’ option that launches the Augmentred Reality experience, using the phone's camera to snap a picture of the user and place it into the world, complete with fireworks, synth pop art vibes to go with the atmosphere of the show. The experience is only available on iPhone and iPad, running iOS 8 and above.– MASHABLE

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5. Harry Baker tries the virtual maze experiences at Two Bit Circus in Los Angeles. During his trip to E3, the journalist demoed the VR Arcade's offering which blends a physical maze with various gaming IPs and haptic feedback such as wind and vibration. By far the most impactful part of his experience, however, seems to be a variation of what is known in VR circles as the "Plank Test." a classic mechanism where users are asked to cross a virtual pit on a precarious plank that is eventually removed from under their feet, something that the Stanford Human Interaction Lab has been offering its visitors since at least 2012.  – UPLOADVR

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6. Augmented reality could be the new business interface between humans and data. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, there is a fundamental disconnect between the wealth of digital data available to us and the physical world in which we apply it. "While reality is three-dimensional, the rich data we now have to inform our decisions and actions remains trapped on two-dimensional pages and screens,” write the study's authors Michael Porter, a Harvard University professor, and James Heppelmann, chief executive of PTC Inc. Augmented reality, they argue, is a promising technology in tackling the bottleneck in how humans assimilate the vast amounts of data now available and act upon them. – WALL STREET JOURNAL

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7. The BBC added more AR features to this year's coverage of Wimbledon. The AR graphics on display at the All England Tennis Club this year included virtual life-size cut-outs of players on glass plinths in front of the presenters in addition to the real window views - a virtual frame camera that serves as a “magic window” looking out over a 3D render of a tennis court with results and match data laid on to the court surface. – NEWSCAST STUDIO

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8. Apple has reportedly disbanded its AR team, prompting speculation that it has put its AR headset plans on hold.  The company was rumored to have been working on AR smartglasses, aiming for a 2020 release, but a DigiTimes Taiwan report (translated from Chinese) first reported by MacRumors suggests that in May employees working on the project were reassigned to other divisions. The reason, the report maintains, is Apple’s inability to make the device lightweight enough, include 5G networking, and offer a mature library of content. Charlie Fink at Forbes comments that the transition from a see-through AR solution to a pass-through solution might look, from the outside, a lot like a pivot from head-mounted displays, but it is unlikely to spell out the end of the company's AR project. – ROAD TO VR

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9. Audi is continuing to bet on virtual reality as a tool to help sell its cars at dealerships around the world. South Africa is the latest country to join the company's rollout of over 400 Audi Customer Private Lounges (CPL) where representatives use a VR headset and 190-centimeter screen to create a personalized virtual car and experience for each customer. Equipment options, color combinations, packages, and specifications are translated in a true-to-life virtual experience of sitting in the car. – BUSINESS DAY

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10. Users can now sign up for the Minecraft Earth closed Beta. Although signing up does not guarantee access to Microsoft's location-based AR mobile game just now, everyone who registers will receive a free skin. Players will get instructions on how to claim their virtual swag within 24 hours of signing up, and those who get in will soon be able to start releasing pigs and starting random "fires" in their local parks if this demo video is anything to go by. The game is free to download and works on iOS and Android devices but requires a Microsoft or Xbox Live account to play. – NEXT REALITY 

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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

 

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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