1. Oculus announced that Beat Saber is going to be available on the Oculus Quest HMD at launch. In a blog post released to coincide with the first day of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, the company said the release would include all songs currently available on Rift, Vive, and PSVR, as well as “maybe more to come.” The game has sold over a million copies and grossed around $30 million since first being released less than one year ago. The Oculus Quest headset still has no set release date but is expected to hit shelves sometime this spring. – ROAD TO VR
2. Immersive technology can help patients improve their balance. A study by Lund University found that VR can be an effective tool in rehabilitation, training patients to rely on senses other than vision to keep their balance. In the trial, 20 patients watched a VR simulation of a roller-coaster ride while standing on a platform which registered their postural stability. The researchers investigated how the participants' balance system coped and adjusted to the disruption. Researcher Eva Ekvall Hansson believes the lessons learned will help to introduce new training methods for elderly people, helping to prevent falls. – EUREKA ALERT
3. The Khronos Group announced a set of new royalty-free standards for XR at GDC 2019. The OpenXR 0.90 provisional release specifies a cross-platform API that aims to create common ground for immersive technology developers. The objective is to reduce fragmentation in the industry and allow content makers and software developers to run multiple AR/VR systems with minimal porting effort. The Khronos OpenXR working group was formed in early 2017, supported by most major companies in the space apart from Apple, including Oculus, Intel Nvidia, Microsoft, HTC, Samsung, Qualcomm, Google, and Unity. – VENTUREBEAT
4. Osso VR's latest release combines advanced robotics and immersive technology to train surgeons. The NAVIO surgical system is a virtual training platform that is preparing orthopedic surgeons to use a handheld robotic device to perform implant surgeries. The gun-shaped apparatus is already used by surgeons to remove bone surface semi-autonomously during knee replacements. – ZDNET
Spotlight: Women in VR
By Alice Bonasio
Helena McGill and Anna Wozniewicz are visual storytellers with a background in sound design for narrative film. After noticing a lack of women entrepreneurs in audio and music production, they started Noctvrnal in 2017, an audio post-production studio based in Los Angeles.
Since then, they have expanded into the XR and immersive tech space, where they’re intent on making space for queer women in technology and doing so by actively participating in networking groups like Lesbians Who Tech, Women in VR, and Women in Music.
Spatial audio is a crucial aspect of developing truly immersive experiences, and many of the pioneers doing interesting work in that space are female. This week at SXSW in Austin Jessica Brillhart spoke of this as “Uncharted Territories for VR”
Every Tuesday we'll shine a spotlight on the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech. If you have a story you think we should feature, just hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio
5. Sports entertainment is having to step up its game where it comes to immersive media content. David Pierce argues that the future of sports will be ever more intense, immersive and interactive and that technologies like virtual and augmented reality will essentially change what we mean by "watching" a game. – WALL STREET JOURNAL
6. Jak Wilmot has released a documentary on YouTube about his experience in spending an entire week in VR – INTERESTING ENGINEERING
7. The Korean Pavilion at GDC will focus mainly on immersive tech. As well as VR and AR, some of the ten companies attending the showcase by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) will feature technologies such as haptic feedback. – VR FOCUS
8. Vicarious Surgical, another VR startup combining immersive technology and robotics to provide advanced healthcare training, closed a $10 million funding round led by Bill Gates’ Gates Frontier. – WALL STREET PIT
9. There is growing evidence of the benefits of immersive technology in education. Researchers at the University of Maryland conducted a study on whether people learn better through immersive virtual environments. The 40 volunteers registered 8.8 percent improvement in overall recall accuracy using the VR headsets compared to other methods. – FORBES
10. Visitors can experience the Natura Obscura multi-sensory experience (described as "stepping into your favorite painting) at the Museum of Outdoor Arts in Colorado until April 28th. – NATURA OBSCURA
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); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).