Inside XR - May 8th, 2019

Inside XR (May 8th, 2019)

Google AR Search / Fan-made Oculus Quest Skins / Immersive Journalism

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1. Google Lens is incorporating more AR into search and discovery applications. At Google I/O this week, the company showed some new features that will allow users to turn AR to some very practical uses. At a restaurant, for example, you'd be able to point your smartphone camera at a menu, and Google would cross-reference reviews data from Google maps to highlight the names of the most popular items. As well as integration with Google Translate, the company is working with NASA, New Balance, Target and Samsung to incorporate 3D assets into Search. The idea, according to VP and general manager for camera and AR products Aparna Chennapragada, is to move away from using Lens as just an identification tool and towards a dynamic AR browser which will contextually show relevant information for the user relating to their surroundings in real time. – TECHCRUNCH 

2. Apple CEO Tim Cook believes AR has great potential for retail, manufacturing and other industries. At the SAP Sapphire event, where Cook talked about how AR has the ability to 'deliver exactly the right information, to the right person at the right time' and discussed some of the enterprise use cases with SAP CEO Bill McDermott. The companies' collaboration started in 2016, and is now being expanded to advance for machine learning and augmented reality with Core ML and ARkit support. – ZDNET 

3.  From the Forums

Is Oculus missing a trick by not offering users the ability to customize the look of their Virtual Reality gear? As the date for shipping (May 21) the new Oculus Quest HMD approaches, a fan has already been busy creating some very interesting skins for the device.  u/Cothilian posted on Reddit a series of unofficial mockup designs for some of the most anticipated titles that will be released for the platform, such as Beat Saber, Robo Recall, and Super Hot. – VRSCOUT

4. Immersive journalism is becoming more popular as the technical barrier for entry decreases and production becomes cheaper and more time-efficient.  Steve Johnson, founder of an AR production company SeeBoundless, believes that technologies like AR can help the viewer really connect with the context of stories by, for example, showing the scale of objects in relation to the real world.  Like any new tech, however, he says AR should be treated with some skepticism and used wisely, as it is not suitable for all topics. "Treat this as an added value to your offering, not as another tech gimmick to give away for free," he advises journalists interested in exploring this trend. – JOURNALISM.CO.UK

5. Reporter Cherlynn Low was impressed by the social VR capabilities of Cave, a proof-of-concept experience which premiered at Tribeca and was produced by Parallux , an offshoot start-up from the Future Reality Lab in New York. The company's COO, Gabe Zetter, says that the demos showcased the impact on viewers, who were seen interacting with each other - whispering, holding hands - much as they would in a normal movie theater. –ENDGADGET

6. VR Fitness apps are becoming more popular, and not just among early tech adopters. – THE TELEGRAPH

7. In an event sponsored by the Shannon Chamber of Commerce in Ireland, Futurist Sophie Hackford told attendees that intelligent virtual avatars were fast becoming a reality, and they needed to find ways to incorporate emerging technologies such as VR in their business strategy. – IRISH TECH NEWS

8. While many reviewers are enthusiastic about the HoloLens 2, Jeremy Horwitz argues in this opinion piece that Microsoft's flagship mixed reality device has been "the AR industry's Biggest Thud." and that the company must seriously step up its efforts to awe users and prove the case for holographic computing.  – VENTUREBEAT

9. Google followed through on rolling out AR for Google Maps. Karissa Bell first demoed the integration at MWC in Barcelona earlier this year and tested it out again on the Pixel 3a at Google I/O. She reported being impressed at how well it worked, as it used the phone's camera to identify your surroundings rather than GPS.– MASHABLE

10. We're excited to introduce the latest Inside newsletter: Inside Cycling. Sign up here for news on competitions, gear, equipment and all the latest from the world of cycling. 

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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