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Inside XR (May 28th, 2019)

1. Porsche has launched an AR tool that lets you see how its cars would look in your driveway. The Porsche Augmented Reality Visualizer App (PARVA) is now available on all Android and iOS AR-enabled devices. It currently allows users to customize three different car models - Porsche 911 Carrera S, the Cayenne Coupe, and the Mission E concept study - with planned integration with the car manufacturer's product line by the end of the year.  After fully configuring a car with features such as paint color and technical specifications, users can upload the code from the Web Configurator into the app and view it on several dimensions for a closer, photorealistic look within their own real-world surroundings. – DIGITAL TRENDS

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2. Facebook needs to break away from the original product template built by Oculus. As the closing of the Oculus acquisition approaches its fifth birthday, Lucas Matney argues that Facebook's product strategy is more redundant than a company setting the stage for a new platform can afford to be. He suggests that they should take a leaf from Nintendo's book, where, facing its prolonged degradation,  it reshaped its mobile and home consoles into a single product, and that the Oculus Quest presents Facebook with the opportunity to do the same. – TECHCRUNCH

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3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Julia Leeb

By Alice Bonasio

Julia Leeb is a renowned artist, photojournalist, and VR filmmaker who travels in some of the world's most dangerous places such as Syria, North Korea, Egypt, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo to use photography as a medium to highlight the plight of innocent people caught up in civil war, rebellion, terror, and dictatorship. She aspires to create awareness of the effects that conflicts have on humanity—and of the courage, hope, and fear she has witnessed

In 2017 she showcased some of her work in an exhibition at the Süddeutscher Verlag publishing house in her hometown of Munich, where she combined photography and VR to bring the visceral experiences closer to home for audiences who can often feel quite removed from situations which are so far from their safe and stable realities. 

According to Leeb, consuming journalistic content through VR and 360-degree videos enables viewers to have a sense of being there—of living a moment happening across the world. She has therefore invested in the new medium, working to surmount the technical challenges of carrying and setting up a VR rig in challenging conditions, and immersing her audience to places where they would never have access to otherwise, such as refugee camps in South Sudan or Belarus. By transporting viewers across the planet to different cultures and areas of conflict, Leeb hopes to improve the understanding between peoples and nations—and to break down barriers and prejudices for a better, more peaceful future

“For me, it’s important that we see and understand the world we live in,” she says. “We’re in the 21st century, and we can fly to the moon, but we oftentimes don’t have the faintest idea about what’s happening in our own world. I hope that virtual reality, a technology in its infancy, can revolutionize journalism and make the world a better place,” she said. “The world is getting smaller and smaller. It concerns us all. A conflict in Africa today can be a European conflict tomorrow.”

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

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4. Mixed reality is transforming the live events industry, with artists both dead and alive performing as holograms. The Whitney Houston estate is the latest to announce that the singer will be embarking on a holographic tour. Although there are sensitivities around such initiatives which saw an Amy Winehouse tour delayed earlier this year, the trend has proven highly successful, with opera diva Maria Callas soon to be back with a second tour after her holographic debut last year. The company behind these events, Base Hologram, is currently putting together similar tours for Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly in Britain in October, while its rival Eyeillusion recently completed a series of Frank Zappa concerts. – THE GUARDIAN

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5. Ahead of next week’s Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, Niantic’s Ross Finman tells Dean Takahashi about the company's plans to take Augmented reality beyond Pokémon GO novelty factor, making the real world a true part of the game's content. – VENTUREBEAT

6. ZTE will be running 5G trials in Malaysia. The Chinese phonemaker says this will allow users to access virtual reality features with speeds up to 20 times faster than peak 4G, which can support one million devices per square kilometer. –BUSINESS INSIDER

7. A Manchester, NH startup is confident in the sustainability of the immersive technology market. ARsome, the company founded by Benjamin Williams in 2017 got its first contract was to make an augmented-reality scavenger hunt for a Boston wax museum, and has since secured a host of clients in the education and retail fields, to the point where it has been able to self-fund a seven-person staff that includes game designers and software engineers. – HARTFORD BUSINESS

8. People referred to as 'digisexuals' are turning to advanced technologies such as Virtual Reality to take the place of human partners. According to Neil McArthur - Director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, digisexuals will constitute a 'significant minority' by 2050. – METRO

9. Leif Johnson writes in this opinion piece that Apple still has the potential to be the leader in the augmented reality space. Yet while outlining five practical examples of how the company could go about achieving this, he also points out that it has so far missed the opportunity to showcase how AR could be something we turn to in the hectic moments of everyday life. – MACWORLD

10.  Researchers at the Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre are progressing studies to determine how VR can be used for preclinical Alzheimer’s detection. While current tests measure a patient's ability to remember things, these experiments focus on an area of the brain called the entorhinal cortex - responsible for navigation ability - which is a much earlier indicator of the disease. – HACKDAY

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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) and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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