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Inside AR

Inside AR (Apr 3rd, 2019)

1. Vadim Nekhai writes that the convergence of Augmented Reality and cognitive technologies will make smartphones obsolete. To understand why the age of smartphones has peaked, he argues, we should realize that it is inaccurate to even call those devices phones, since their primary use case has entirely shifted towards content production and sharing rather than making phone calls. Yet current smartphones would require such radical upgrades in order to enable AR to run in real-time at 30 frames per second that this could hinder this AR future vision where physical devices would disappear altogether. – TECH RADAR

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2. Osterhout announced the launch of its R-8 and R-9 smartglasses at CES in January, which will retail later this year for around $1,000. Both models feature Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), GPS, dual microphones, 6 DoF tracking, integrated directional speakers, and a USB Type-C port. This in-depth review is written from a mixed reality developer perspective, and draws some comparison with devices such as the HoloLens, while making it clear that these glasses are aimed at a different market and have quite divergent features, limitations, and specs. – NEXT REALITY

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3. Adult entertainment company CamSoda has released an augmented reality app. Camoji allows users to create and customize an avatar – based on themselves or someone else according to their preference – and then deploy that avatar to perform as a live cam model, potentially earning money from those performances which include sensual and sexual acts. CamSoda which is known for releasing gimmicky technology products – says this will provide a way for people to try their hand as an adult entertainer anonymously. While some commentators have found the concept disturbing, expert researcher in Cyber/Techno/Robot sexuality Trudy Barber points out that many women engage in webcam work because they feel secure, are pleasured and in control, and disguising oneself through an avatar could for some, increase that sense of pleasure and security. – TECH TRENDS

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4. The Original Oculus Rift first launched on March 25th, 2016, and it has been pivotal in ushering in the current era of interest in Immersive technologies. As we near the upcoming Oculus Rift S update, which will be released in a very different and much more developed ecosystem, Nathan Ingraham takes a historical look back at the milestones of the past three years. – ENDGADGET

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#JargonWatch

Accurately recreating motion in virtual environments is key to creating truly immersive experiences. It is also an incredibly complex undertaking which involves capturing and measuring a user’s movements in the real world, and translating them to their avatars in real time.

Degrees of freedom (DoF) refer to the number of ways in which such movements are detected in a 3D space. When we’re dealing with 3-dimensional environments such as the ones we find in VR, you get six degrees, which are:

  • Roll – Head pivots from side to side (peek around a corner)
  • Pitch – Head tilts on a vertical axis (looking up and down)
  • Yaw – Head swivels on a horizontal axis (looking left and right)
  • Strafe – Moving left or right (sidestepping)
  • Elevation – Moving up and down (bending, crouching, standing)
  • Surge – Moving backward and forwards (walking)

Mobile headsets such as the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear offer 3 Degrees of Freedom (3DoF) as they rely on your phone’s built-in sensors – gyroscopes, magnetometers, accelerometers – to measure how the device is moving.

Most of the VR hardware slotted for release in 2019 boasts Six Degrees of Freedom (6DoF) which – like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets - tracks user movement using both the headset and its controllers. in addition to the movements described before, adds 3 more which have the effect of allowing users to move and roam freely in a virtual environment as opposed to being rooted to one spot.

All of that demands a lot of processing power though, so hardware manufacturers are also exploring Hybrid options where the headset features 6DoF but the controllers only do 3DoF.

Every First Wednesday of each month we’re going to dig deeper into the vocabulary of immersive tech, unpacking some of the jargon and buzzwords that get bandied about in this space. As always suggestions and feedback are welcome, just hit reply to this email!

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5. Black Box opens its first gamified VR gym in San Francisco. The company uses their own proprietary Dynamic Resistance Machine to motivate, track, and distract users claiming Virtual Reality encourages more effective workouts compared to the gym.  Turning a workout into an addictive game that people will be “itching to come back to.” – VRSCOUT

6. Virtual Reality Campus Tours could improve access to a university education among disadvantaged communities. The University of North Carolina's Emerging Technologies Lab is using VR to give students access to information and first-person experience of what college life is like.  – EDSURGE

7. Ericsson and AT&T announced the launch of 5G and edge streaming solutions for virtual reality in partnership with key immersive tech players such as HTC, Nvidia, PlayGiga and Arvizio.– VENTUREBEAT

8. A VR training system has been set up to provide better training for medical professionals in emergency healthcare. The pilot - which could be rolled out across the United Kingdom if it proves successful - runs on Oculus Rift headsets and was developed by the NHS England diabetes team together VR simulation firm Oxford Medical Simulation using NHS data and input from patient volunteers. – NEW ATLAS

9. Review: Mixed reality is not quite ready for the masses. After trying Magic Leap at the company's headquarters in Florida, Hayden Dingman says that the technology is incredibly exciting, but very much a first-generation effort that is still at least five years from mass consumer adoption. – PC WORLD

10.  Game developers Gearbox have announced they're making a Penn and Teller VR game. The experience featuring the two magicians will be released in the summer on HTC Vive, PSVR and Oculus headsets. –  UPLOAD VR

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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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