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Inside VR & AR

Inside VR & AR (Jan 2nd, 2019)

1. Researchers at the University of Washington Reality Lab have demonstrated an impressive new method for converting 2D images to animated 3D models. The method was described in “Photo Wake-Up: Character Animation from a Single Photo,” published last month through arXiv. According to Next Reality, the team has only demonstrated the technique using the Hololens AR headset, but with Google as one of Reality Lab’s underwriters, I’d bet we see this on Google’s AR platform eventually. Either way, U of W’s technique shows exciting progress toward someday stepping (virtually) into pre-VR 2D images. — NEXT REALITY

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2. Despite IMAX having dropped location-based VR recently, other groups are making progress, including VAR Live Malaysia. The company launched what VR Scout called the largest VR-based theme park in the entire country, featuring HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, vibrating floors, haptic peripherals, artificial wind and more. VAR Live operates other locations in Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, China and Pakistan, with further expansion planned for Malaysia. — VRSCOUT

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3. Official channels for purchasing Microsoft’s Hololens AR headset have been out of stock for a few weeks nowcould a Hololens 2 announcement be incoming? As Road to VR points out, the device first launched as a dev kit in 2016, so folks have been expecting word on new hardware for awhile. On the other hand, perhaps “1) A major production disruption has stalled HoloLens supply, 2) Microsoft has had to divert all production to fulfill its new contract to supply AR headsets to the US Army.” Either way, it’s coming, just a matter of when. — ROAD TO VR

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4. FeelReal Inc. is looking to Kickstarter (again) to crowd-fund its VR device that adds smells, haptics and air movement to other VR headsets. The device uses 255 different scents (the device holds nine, which can be replaced) designed by perfumer, olfactologist and perfume critic Bogdan Zubchenko (read: someone who actually knows a thing or two about smells). FeelReal raised $24K (a little less than half of its goal) via Kickstarter in 2015, but as VR Focus points out, new images of the device make it look much more consumer-ready than last time around. — VRFOCUS

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5. Invisible robo-models are showing off clothing on virtual runways in Iran, though removing models (women in this case) from the equation seems a little... problematic. — VRSCOUT

6. Oculus has promoted VP of VR content Jason Rubin to lead AR and VR content and partnerships at Facebook. — ROAD TO VR

7. VR Scout has a profile of VR-based mental health company Limbix, which readers may recall recently partnered with Seattle startup Pixvana to develop VR treatment options for adolescent depression and anxiety. — VRSCOUT

8. FlyInside's made-for-VR flight simulator has launched on Early Access on Steam (as a flight-sim enthusiast, I'll be keeping an eye on this one and will report back). — VENTUREBEAT

9. Thanks to some really smart and really, really talented folks, one can now explore the Milky Way's youngest known supernova remnant, Cassiopeia A (!). — VRSCOUT

10. FusionLens is heading to Kickstarter to crowd-fund its 360-degree lens attachment for iPhones. — VRFOCUS

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Written and curated by Eric Skalac, who is a hands-on IoT and VR/AR tinkerer, former NPR affiliate news director and eternal learner. He's based in central Illinois where the waves of grain are amber.

Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at Inside.com, game-master at Screen Junkies), Krystle Vermes (Breaking news editor at Inside, B2B marketing news reporter, host of the "All Day Paranormal" podcast), and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).

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Established studios are finding their sea legs in VR, promising leaps forward in VR mechanic and narrative techniques over the next year. And even if not, well, these should be fun, thought-provoking experiences, based on these studios' track records.
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