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Inside XR

Inside XR (Apr 8th, 2019)

1. Ahead of Belfast Council elections on May 12,  Mencap has been working with developers and the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland to create a VR experience where voters with mental health issues can work through the voting process. The goal is to help them with some of the common anxieties they may experience when dealing with unfamiliar situations. It walks users through everything, from explaining what canvassers are to showing them how to mark their ballot paper. Mencap hopes the project will encourage more disabled people to get on the electoral roll, as research conducted by the charity indicates that only 26 percent of people in Northern Ireland with a learning disability had ever voted. – BBC

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2. VR could help to extend the commercial lifecycle of the PlayStation 4 and consolidate Sony's VR market positioning.  Chaim Gartenberg believes that most game studios are waiting to release their big-budget titles on the upcoming PS5, therefore making way for titles such as Iron Man VR to take center stage and extend the hardware's appeal as it approaches retirement.  Sony’s State of Play announcement focused heavily on VR announcements, and Gartenberg argues that it’s conceivable to imagine a scenario where the PS4 sticks around as a budget, entry-level VR system. – THE VERGE

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3. Feelreal is launching a campaign to crowdfund a mask that will add smells to VR experiences. The concept was first unveiled in 2015 at GDC, where it faced much skepticism, but the company has since continued to work on its design and will launch a Kickstarter campaign April 9.  Early backers will get a discounted price of $200 for the mask - which also incorporates haptic devices such as an ultrasonic ionizing system for water mist, micro-heaters for heat sensation, micro-coolers for wind, and haptic motors for vibration -  and a 10-scent basic package. There will also be $50 aroma packs styled to sync with specific games such as Beat Saber and Skyrim VR as well as the film Ready Player One, and the company eventually plans to offer around 250 scents which can be mixed and matched at will, all designed by Kiev-based perfumer and olfactologist Bogdan Zubchenko. – ROAD TO VR

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4. Oculus is expanding its Avatars Platform. The company has introduced 'Expressive Avatars,’ featuring improvements in eye and mouth movement, which react to user's intonation as well as motion. Oculus studied the dynamics of the human eye and mouth in order to identify and replicate details such as the way the human eye blinks, or how a sudden change in voice pitch often signifies a change in expression. Along with the Expressive Avatars update, Oculus is also introducing an Avatar Editor feature, adding hundreds of new hairstyles and accessories as customization options.– VRSCOUT

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5. Edgybees announced the launch of its new Argus API platform, which enables video analysis incorporating AI and AR. CEO Adam Kaplan says AR integration creates situational awareness in complex operational environments by aggregating and overlaying live video footage with layers of precise, geospatial data captured by cameras, GPS, live input, and other sources.  – ROBOTICS BUSINESS REVIEW

6. Stayhealthy has launched an AR app to get kids to learn more about their health. The company hopes that its gamified approach to educating children on issues such as exercise and nutrition will help tackle the growing childhood obesity crisis.  – AI IN HEALTHCARE

7. Holocaust survivor Max Glauben has been immortalized as a hologram so he can share his WW2 experience with future generations. The $2.5 million project was funded by the  Dallas museum and created by Steven Spielberg's USC Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. It involved a week of filming, during which Glauben was captured answering over 1,000 questions by 18 cameras placed at 9 different angles.– RELIGION NEWS

8. The U.S. Army demonstrated its latest Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) which is a modified version of the Microsoft HoloLens 2. Following Microsoft's controversial $480 million contract last November, the company has stood by its decision to supply the technology to the armed forces in spite of protests by employees. The current version of the IVAS is too large to fit inside helmets, but that issue is expected to be addressed soon, with thousands of soldiers expected to be using the IVAS on the battlefield by 2023 and full rollout slotted for 2028. –  DIGITAL TRENDS

9. South Korea's SK Telecom plan is to use VR technology to enable consumers to shop via digital platforms. A research report suggests that by 2022 VR will generate $1.8 billion in retail and marketing spend, with revenue from VR retail initiatives expected to increase by 3,000 percent over the next four years. – PYMNTS

10. Snapchat announced a partnership with Photomath to add the ability to solve math problems, and Giphy for detecting objects, which then spawn related GIFs onscreen. The company's CEO Evan Spiegel claims that in the United States, Snapchat now reaches nearly 75 percent of all 13 to 34-year-olds and that 75 percent of Snap’s 186 million daily users play with AR Lenses each day, combining into 15 billion total plays to date.  – TECHCRUNCH

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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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