1. Magic Leap has raised $280 million in funding from Japan’s biggest mobile service provider, NTT DoCoMo. The company has so far raised more than $2.3 billion, and this investment signals that Magic Leap is opening a D-round of funding to continue its costly R&D process. The move is also consistent with recent partnership announcements between the company and other major telecoms providers such as SK Telekom in South Korea and AT&T in the U.S. – NEW YORK TIMES
2. A VR game for British crime drama series Peaky Blinders will use artificial intelligence to create an "A.I.-enhanced immersive drama." The project will be developed in collaboration with Goldsmiths' College, a technical school at the University of London with funding from the U.K. government under the Audience of the Future Programme. Set for release in Spring 2020, the game will use A.I. to guide how characters respond to a player's gestures, movement, voice, sound and body language, creating an interactive narrative based on the award-winning BBC show, which airs in over 180 countries worldwide. – FORBES
3. A new portable Oculus Rift rig is capable of being fully deployed in VR in less than a minute. Canadian engineering company Iris Dynamics specializes in building custom force feedback hardware for VR training and amusement park rides, so this isn't intended to be a consumer product. Rather, the kit housed in a Pelican hard case provides a ready-made professional setup solution for such deployments. While the upcoming Rift S features onboard sensors, it will still require a PC, and standalone headsets such as the Oculus Quest won't yet be powerful enough to tackle many types of professional projects. The company will be displaying the kit at the Sea Air Space exposition in Washington D.C. starting May 6. – UPLOADVR
Follow Friday: Jesse Damiani
There are many great journalists working the VR space, and Jesse Damiani is certainly one of them, regularly contributing insightful features for outlets like Forbes and VRScout.
But what makes Jesse worth following is the fact he's also an Immersive Tech Renaissance man, recently curating an art exhibition dedicated to XR, and hosting Tech Tock, a weekly talk show on AltspaceVR. The thing I enjoy the most about the @JesseDamiani Twitter feed, however, is how plugged into the community he is, which means that you usually come across some amazing proof of concept videos that really showcase the amazing potential of the technology. And that also comes through in all of his work - a sense of wonder for all the possibilities that this new immersive world brings.
Every week we give a shout out to someone worth following. Send your #FollowFriday nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit reply to this email.
4. Google’s Creative Lab launched a new experiment called Drawalong AR. It essentially shows off the potential of augmented reality technology to enhance video tutorials. The app - which isn't yet available to the public - was developed by Jane Friedhoff in partnership with YouTube creator AmandaRachLee, who’s known on her popular drawing and art tutorials. Using high-fidelity tracking, it places transparent AR visuals directly over your work so that you can view them from any angle while moving your smartphone around a physical space, creating a sort of dynamic worksheet that allows you to trace over the image you are trying to reproduce, with an overlay of the image over the top. – DIGITAL TRENDS
5. Apple is expected to announce new AR updates at this year’s WWDC in San Jose in June. These reportedly include ARKit's ability to detect human poses and OS support for controllers with touchpads as well as 'stereo AR headsets'.– ROAD TO VR
6. Sweat Proof Gaming is retailing a $14 head strap upgrade for Labo VR Kit that easily installs and removes from the cardboard headset. This might prove popular among gamers keen to try longer experiences on the kit, such as the VR updates for Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which have both been released today.– GIZMODO
7. OpenXR standard developer Khronos is working with technology companies and retailers such as Ikea, Lowe’s and Target to create universal 3D versions of products, suitable for AR and VR apps and 3D online shopping platforms. Khronos expects that the commerce-specific work will influence prior standards, including glTF, OpenXR, Vulkan, and WebGL, which have already been designed to be platform-agnostic. – VENTUREBEAT
8. Facebook will livestream its F8 keynote in VR through Oculus Venues, a VR app for Oculus Go and Gear VR. The company is expected to unveil two new Virtual Reality headsets at the event: the standalone Oculus Quest, and the powerful Oculus Rift S, both at $399. – CNET
9. Gabriel Moss gives an overview of ten VR headsets and peripherals which people can use to keep fit. These include knuckle controllers, or for cycling enthusiasts, a $2000 NordicTrack VR Bike. – VR FITNESS INSIDER
10. Magic Leap will give away 500 of its Creator Edition headsets for developers under Epic Games' MegaGrants program. The company announced at the Unreal Engine Build: Detroit ’19 event on Thursday that any developer could apply for a free device by completing an online form. There are no deadlines, as devices will be assigned on project merit on a first-served ongoing basis.– VARIETY
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).