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Inside VR & AR (Sep 13th, 2017)

Dublin VR firm WarDucks has raised $1.5 million (€1.3 million) in seed funding. The funding round was led by Suir Valley Ventures with additional money coming from Enterprise Ireland and private investors. WarDucks is the game developer that created the Sneaky Bears franchise, which is already available in VR on Oculus Rift and PSVR and will soon launch on HTC Vive. — SILICON REPUBLIC

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STX Entertainment is making several VR series for Google. STX Entertainment created STXsurreal after acquiring the VR content company Surreal a year ago. The new live-action, scripted VR programs will be available as a "pay per experience" channel on Google. STXsurreal co-presidents Andy Vick and Rick Rey said their new channel will be to VR what Showtime or HBO are traditional TV. — DEADLINE

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Otus Tracker is using Valve's SteamVR motion tracking technology, which is called Lighthouse. The Otus Tracker is a new device built by the Canadian company RCbenchmark to track the position and orientation of drones. The Otus works similarly to the way the VR tracking works in a room, with two base stations set up to find the object's relative position. The drone's position can be tracked to sub-millimeter accuracy and developers can write their own code to control them with plug-ins for C++., C, C#, Python, Labview, Matlab and ROSS. — UPLOADVR

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A 100-year-old man was introduced to VR at an Intel's campus in Oregon. The man, Lyle Becker, was a former pilot in the Air Force and also flew commercial planes. He was filmed while swimming with sea urchins and jellyfish in theBlu: Encounter, experiencing Wyoming and Florence, Italy from above with Google Earth VR, and also tested his piloting skills with Aerofly’s FS 2 flight simulator. He was impressed with the technology and you can watch his reaction in the video made by Intel. — VRSCOUT

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Maybe the most important thing revealed at yesterday's Apple event was not the exciting new iPhones or Apple Watch or even the facial recognition power of the bionic chip. What seems more important is the way that the company is betting on AR and investing in bringing the technology to consumers on a mass scale. 

Tech analysts expected the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus phones to have the calibrated sensors and special cameras suited for augmented reality announced yesterday, and the leaks and rumors about the low-bezel display and the A11 bionic processor to map rooms and faces likewise proved to be true. But the company also announced that it will be bringing AR to "hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads," not just the latest and greatest new devices for sale. As of Sept. 19, any device that is capable of upgrading to the new iOS 11 will have access to the new technology. Of course, the new phones showcased, including iPhone X, are optimized for AR, but if the company wants consumers to embrace the technology, then including it across so many devices will help. The iPhones 5s through X, iPad minis, iPad airs, iPad pros, and even the iPod Touch and sixth generation are all going to be able to download iOS 11. Tim Cook has made no secret about how important he thinks AR tech is to the future:

"The smart phone is becoming even more important to people because it's going across so much of your life... And with things like AR, I think it becomes even more essential than it currently is. I know it's hard to believe, but I think that's the case." — Tim Cook

Apple's embrace of AR was obvious when the company introduced the ARKit developer tools at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Essentially, Apple was ensuring that there would be a slew of content ready for when it released the hardware and a wide audience was able to try augmented reality. 

That strategy seems to have paid off. The news is constantly announcing the latest game or app created in ARKit, and at the Apple event, the company teased just some of the new content: Pixel Toys’ Warhammer 40K: FreebladeMajor League Baseball’s At BatFifth Star Lab’s Sky Guide, as well as the real-time multiplayer game The Machines, which will only be available on iOS. But we know that thanks to the release of the tools early this summer, there is a host of new apps that will be available. 

Apple's pivot toward AR technology also spurred its embrace by other companies, specifically Google. Google had an AR framework for developers called Project Tango since 2014, but it was only available on a few select devices. This month, Google had a "reactionary shift in its strategy" and released a new augmented reality toolkit for developers, ARCore, which is designed to bring AR to Android devices. So whether you are an iOS or Android user, it seems that AR will be the new paradigm. 

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Over at Inside Apple we have been spotlighting cool ARKiT creations every week. Our most recent entry was a look at how you can test the color of your hair instantaneously with a simple swipe. This week's creation was brought to you by ModiFace. 

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