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Inside VR & AR

Inside VR & AR (Jun 27th, 2019)

1. Oculus Quest is seeing "console-like" engagement from users. Facebook's Vice President of Special Gaming Strategies Jason Rubin told audiences at this year's E3 conference that they are seeing hours of usage and game buying habits on the VR Headset that they would expect to see on a console. The company claims that content sales topped $5 million in the first two weeks since the Quest launch. Together with positive reviews and strong hardware sales (retailers such as Amazon and Newegg report a shipping backlog of up to three weeks), this continues to paint a positive outlook for the device and industry outlook in the later quarters of 2019. – VRSCOUT

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2. A Russian fashion model and entrepreneur is launching a global franchise of VR sex clubs. Anna Petukhova founded VRayu with a view to attracting both men and women with a curated sexy VR experience. The idea has proven successful in Russia, attracting movie stars, politicians, and oligarchs, with up to 40 percent of visitors being women who feel it is a safe place for them to explore their sexual fantasies. Petukhova is now expanding the VRayu franchise around the world as well as creating a dating service sponsored by the club to help take the virtual to the physical. – OBSERVER

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3. – Throwback Thursday: Sega VR

Back in the early 90s, Sega attempted to get into VR in a very similar way in which Sony has done with the PSVR – building peripheral Virtual Reality hardware for its most popular console.

But things did not go well for the gaming giant. The Sega Genesis VR headset was a gigantic flop that never even got a proper release. So what went so terribly wrong?

In 1991 Sega began development on a home VR headset, the Virtua VR, which was later rebranded as Sega VR. The company introduced the headset  - with its rather sleek (in a retro sort of way) wrap-around-glasses design - at the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show with an announced target price of $200. It got broadly covered in the press and became one of the most eagerly anticipated holiday product releases of the year.

Yet when it came to testing the device in action, there were severe problems with it causing widespread motion sickness, something that the VR industry has been working hard to address even to this day. In the end, it seems to have been a classic case of PR panic that caused the company to simply cut its losses and pull the plug on the release of the Sega VR. Some of the technology developed was eventually repurposed onto the company’s arcade machines, but it certainly steered clear of the consumer VR market since. 

Given that this all happened 26 years ago (don’t know about you, but as someone who can still clearly remember losing myself in those Mega Drive games, that makes me feel old) it does put into perspective just how far things have advanced over the past few years. There’s no doubt that for anybody who bothers to look into the history of VR, that it’s a slow burner with plenty of pitfalls that will trip even the mightiest companies. 

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4. The Smithsonian has launched a new AR app to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.  "Apollo's Moon Shot" is now available on Apple and Android devices, it allows users not only to walk on the moon, but also simulate the mission takeoff and chart Apollo path through the moon’s airspace. The app’s developers used 3-D scans of Neil Armstrong’s space suit and of the Lunar Command Module to authentically replicate the feeling and scale of the landing.  "The point of the app is to bring these forgotten shades of the Apollo landing to people who aren't easily able to visit the Air and Space Museum," says the Museum's Curator Teasel Muir-Harmony.  – SMITHSONIAN 

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5. Unconfirmed rumors have been circulating that the next generation Xbox console will support the Oculus Rift S. While Microsoft refrained from mentioning VR at all during its "Project Scarlett" E3 keynote, podcasters at  Coffee & VR claim to have been told by a "trusted source" that there could be a tie-in between Facebook's HMD and the new Xbox. – VRFOCUS

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6. An interior design student used VR to showcase his interior design project. Each spring, seniors in Maryville’s Interior Design Program present their capstone projects at the Interior Design Senior Show, and this year Michael Poetz became the first to use Virtual Reality to allow users to tour the building he remodeled, switching from daytime to nighttime to experience the suites at different times of day. "VR technology allows you to be in the space and feel how you would react to it as if you were actually there,” Poetz said. – MARYVILLE U

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7. VR market volume is expected to reach $98.4 million in sales by 2023 according to a report from Futuresource Consulting. Sol Rogers, CEO of immersive content studio REWIND, says "the low latency, super-fast speeds and stable connections that 5G brings will herald in a new era of VR." The report forecasts an installed base of 168 million units with a worldwide population penetration of 2 percent.–  FORBES

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8. Researchers from Champalimaud Foundation in Portugal believe they can use immersive technology to change our eating habits. The scientists conducted an early experiment on flies using the specially developed OptoPAD system, which combines optogenetics - a method for activating neurons using light - and touchscreen technology to monitor feeding behavior, with encouraging results. – MASHABLE

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9. Niantic's latest AR game “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is off to a slow start. The title, which is now available in 140 countries worldwide has failed to achieve comparable revenue to the studio's previous AR hit "Pokémon Go!" While some analysts describe this as “a gut punch for AR,” others speculate that the game's monetary performance could improve over time as it's a deeper game, so players could take longer to start spending money on it. – WALL STREET JOURNAL

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10. Saudi beauty e-commerce site Golden Scent has introduced an AR try-on feature. This is the region's first home-grown AR experience, and it is already affecting sales according to the fashion retailer. The company also claims the feature will help improve sustainability by reducing cardboard waste from packaging of unwanted and returned items and cut down carbon emissions from unnecessary journeys taken by drivers who deliver products that are subsequently returned.– HARPERS BAZAAR ARABIA 

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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), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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