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Inside AR (Mar 21st, 2019)

1. Sony could be planning a second-generation PSVR headset with significantly greater capabilities than its predecessor. A newly discovered Sony wireless VR patent suggests detailed solutions for removing the wire that connects the VR headset to a PlayStation console. The PSVR’s sales increased dramatically after its price was lowered to $200, yet it is likely that a wireless HMD would be more costly. Sony has sold well over 3 million PSVRs so far, making it the best-selling VR hardware in the market. – VENTUREBEAT

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2. At GDC 2019, Pimax released two new software features aimed at making its headsets easier to run. Fixed Foveated Rendering (FFR) makes processing more efficient by keeping resolution on your periphery vision lower than the center of field of view. Its Smart Smoothing feature also works by deploying reprojection, a technique that forces the running game to render at half framerate and synthetically generates every other frame. – UPLOADVR 

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3. Facebook’s head of VR product, Nate Mitchell, spoke about the company's newly announced Rift S headset, which is the successor to the original Oculus Rift. The Rift S still needs to be connected to a Windows 10 PC to function and includes much higher resolution display and advanced tracking features. As well as backward compatibility with Oculus Rift content, there are several new releases planned for the new headset. The Rift S will launch in the Spring alongside the more portable Oculus Quest, a stand-alone headset announced last year that is also priced at $399. – CNBC

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4. Key industry players outline their best and worst case scenarios for the rise of spatial computing. This lengthy article gathers first-hand comment from executives working at companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Magic Leap, Qualcomm, Valve and Unity Labs on what issues must be addressed before technologies across the XR spectrum reach a tipping point for consumer mass adoption. From the role of smartphones to AI-enabled interaction and advanced life-like avatars that circumvent the uncanny valley problem, the consensus seems to be that this new paradigm of personal computing is not about one technology, but a conversion of many.  – FAST COMPANY 

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5. Four months after coming out of stealth mode, Mojo Vision announces a $58 million Series B funding round. Led by Google's AI-centric venture fund, Gradient Ventures, this brings total investment in the company to $108 million so far. It is unclear what type of screenless technology the company is actually developing, prompting speculation that "invisible computing" most likely involves advanced forms of Augmented or Mixed reality.  – NEXT REALITY

6. Epic Games announced the final recipients of its Unreal Dev Grants program, totaling $500,000 in financial assistance for creators from various industries including AR/VR/MR. – VARIETY

7. Rovio embraced Augmented Reality in its latest Angry Birds release.  Angry Birds AR: Isle of the Pigs is being developed using Apple's ARKit and will be available in the spring on iOS, using the iPhone or iPad's camera to allow players to virtually project the game onto real-world surfaces like tables and floors, following the trend of popular AR titles such as Pokemon Go. The Angry Birds franchise has so far accumulated over 4 billion game downloads worldwide. – USA TODAY

8. HTC announced a facial and Lip-Tracking Dev Kit For Vive Pro at GDC. Vive America’s Vice President of Product and Operations, Vinay Narayan, said that this would be "designed primarily for research and experimentation" and would take the form of a separate detachable module capable of tracking the movements of a users mouth while collecting information on the specific movements in real-time. HTC has no intention of releasing a commercial version of the module, focusing instead on enterprise purposes, such as training, market research, and simulations. – VRSCOUT

9. In this podcast, three creators who feature their work at SXSW discuss immersive storytelling. Maria Bellen Poncio and Ezequiel Lenardón from Argentina present a narrative piece about a disabled teenage girl discovering her sexuality in Metro Veinte: Cita Ciega (Four Feet: Blind Date) while Wiebe van den Ende uses VR to explore both “outer” and inner dialogue between a two young lovers. Zillah Watson, from the BBC VR Hub, talks about Nothing to be Written commissioned as a companion piece for the BBC Proms.  – VRTL

10. Computer Science Professor Roghayeh (Leila) Barmaki developed a Virtual Reality tool for improving upper body mobility. The Move2Improve team recently won the Best Virtual Reality Prize at the MIT Reality Virtually Hackathon for their physical therapy immersive application. –  UDAILY

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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); 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).

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