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Inside AR (Jul 2nd, 2019)

1. The Valve Index provides an impressive VR experience, but it is far from user-friendly. According to Ben Kuchera's exhaustive review, getting the $999 headset perfectly set up and calibrated can take several hours, but it is arguably worth the trouble. "Nothing is easy, but when everything comes together it delivers one of the best VR experiences I’ve ever seen," he says, adding that the high frame rate of 144 Hz is "a thing to behold," making everything feel more solid and real.  – POLYGON

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2. Airbus has already created apps for the coming HoloLens 2 upgrade. The Aerospace Corporation - who have been working on Mixed Reality applications with Microsoft ever since the launch of the first HoloLens four years ago - has so far identified more than 300 potential use cases for MR across its business, which include increasing worker productivity, speeding up design processes, and enabling remote staff training that doesn’t tie up expensive equipment. “I am already seeing significant adoption of XR for the aerospace industry because of the cost of the components and the difficulty and cost of training,” comments Anshel Sag, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. – COMPUTERWORLD

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3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Jessica Brillhart

By Alice Bonasio

Jessica Brillhart is an XR entrepreneur, writer, director and theorist.  Her impressive pedigree includes being  Principal Filmmaker for VR at Google, where she was an early pioneer in producing 360 video experiences such as Resonance (an interesting experiment in using immersive content to create a sense of depth and direction in a virtual environment) as well as helping build Google Jump.

Brillhart founded immersive content company Vrai Pictures in 2018 to further explore some of the "uncharted territories" in VR storytelling, in particular, Spatial Audio which she believes is crucial for building a true sense of immersion. This led to the creation of the Traverse platform in 2019. Traverse uses a mobile device and AR audio wearables and was awarded a Special Jury Recognition for The Future of Experience at this year's SXSW.

Most recently, Brillhart has taken up a new position as Director of the University of Southern California's Institute Creative Technologies MxR Lab, where doubtless she will continue to push the technical and creative boundaries of XR.

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. Google is testing augmented reality filters in its Android Messenger similar to those offered by Snapchat. The test was discovered by XDA Developers and includes five different options, including adding balloons or glitter to images. Effects are located in a dedicated tab and can be applied only to pictures that are taken with the camera from within the Android Messages app. The same effects aren’t available in the phone’s regular camera app. – SLASHGEAR

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5. Popular graphic novel "Thunder" has been turned into a VR game blending various elements of indigenous culture. The Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) partnered with Calgary augmented and virtual reality company Mammoth in spring of 2018 to create Thunder VR, an immersive Blackfoot language and culture learning tool inspired by the novel. This is part of an effort to teach people about the native heritage of the Blackfoot and save indigenous languages by making it more fun and interactive for young learners to engage with. – EDMONTON CITY NEWS

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6. Virtual reality is being used to train surgeons to operate robotic surgery equipment. Many medical institutions spend as much as $2 million on devices such as the da Vinci robot, yet training new surgeons to use it effectively has proven to be a challenge.  Dr. Khurshid Guru, director of robotic surgery at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York, says VR simulation technology not only helps the training process but also collects and provides objective data about student's surgical performance.– NPR

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7. 2019 has brought a number of new VR devices to market, and many users are considering purchasing their first headset.  Samuel Gibbs and Keza MacDonald - the Guardian's consumer tech and games editors respectively - team up to offer first-time users a roundup of the best 5 VR headsets currently on the market. From the Oculus Quest - which they describe as a "transformational experience" to Nintendo’s "fun, creative and cheap" family-friendly Labo kits, there's something for everyone. – THE GUARDIAN

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8. A VR Arcade is getting people in Alabama to work out by playing videogames. Larry Durant, who opened the Humdingers Virtual Reality Lounge in Baldwin County just over a year ago, attests that users both young and old leave his establishment sweating."They get a ton of exercise, thank God we sanitize everything between players," he says. – WKRG

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9. Social VR is providing safe spaces for gender-questioning and transgender people. Platforms such as VRChat let users import 3D models and interact with other players in a large variety of ways. For this report, Josh Brown spoke to individuals via transgender Reddit groups, who revealed that often virtual environments provide an opportunity to gain the insight and perspective they need to affirm or refute their questions and doubts to ultimately make an informed decision about a social transition that could have life-long implications. “It’s so therapeutic to look in the mirror and see a girl, even if it’s virtual,” one user, who goes by the name of Zambina, told him. – DIGITAL TRENDS

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10. You can now feed a goat to a dinosaur in Augmented Reality. Tommy Palladino tests out the newest update (version 1.8) of Jurassic World Alive, which features new AR features that allow you to interact with dinosaurs you have collected by giving them "toys" (such as cars) to play with and tasty snacks which might or might not be alive at the time.– NEXT REALITY

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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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