Inside XR - May 20th, 2019

Inside XR (May 20th, 2019)

Study casts doubt on Mixed Reality usefulness / Minecraft AR game / VR Gym opens in San Francisco

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1. A new study casts doubt on the efficiency of mixed reality to help users perform high-precision tasks. Researchers at the University of Pisa conducted a small-scale experiment where users perform a "connect the dots" test twice - with and without HoloLens headsets - and performed better when just using the naked eye. Study coordinator Dr Marina Carbone believes this might be due to the way human eyes focus, and also points to the fact that users were unaware of the difference in performance during follow-up interviews. The study concluded that HoloLens and similar devices should not be used for high-precision manual tasks, but the Pisa team is planning more research to deepen its understanding of when and how AR in its current state might be useful.– BBC NEWS

2. Microsoft announced its Minecraft Mobile AR game. Coinciding with the platform's anniversary last week and following a teaser announcement at this year's Microsoft Build, users have got the first glimpse of Minecraft Earth. The game will combine the popular mechanism of Pokémon Go - where users wander the real world collecting virtual characters and objects - with the social aspects of collaborative building, allowing users to construct persistent worlds that blend real-world and game elements. There's no official release date for the game yet, but a public beta is expected to launch in the coming months. – NEW ATLAS

3. By the Numbers: 550 companies are making money from Immersive Tech. 

The VR Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, has just released its latest industry overview report, which details major players in the immersive space across a range of categories. The 2019 VR Landscape report shows $500 million has been invested in the VR and AR ecosystems since the beginning of 2019, with over 550 companies in the space reporting revenue. Major growth areas include gaming, location-based entertainment (LBE), Next Generation Reality Capture, enterprise, and healthcare.  –  VR FOCUS

4. Tactical Haptics is opening preorders for its Reactive Grip controller development kit on May 29. Dean Takahashi recently tried out the controllers at the VR Arcade event in San Francisco. They use tangential shear and friction forces to create physical feedback so users get a realistic experience of complex movements such as stretching the string on a bow or the kick of shooting a gun. Pricing is expected to range from $650 to $1,500 with first orders due to ship during the fourth quarter of 2019.– VENTUREBEAT

5. Sony has signed an agreement with haptic feedback technology company Immersion Corp. Bringing “advanced haptics” to the company's portfolio could affect the development of the next generation PSVR controllers, enhancing it with more realistic sensations of pushing, pulling, grasping, and pulsing.– UPLOADVR

6. Bose is launching its Augmented Reality smart glasses in the UK.  Following a U.S. release earlier this year, the frames will become available for £199 in the United Kingdom from May 31st. The device uses audio layering to play music directly into the wearer's ears, while multi-directional motion sensors also allow them to take calls or use hands-free navigation through a nod or shake of the head. – DIGITAL SPY

7. The world's first Virtual Reality gym has officially opened in San Francisco. Players visiting Black Box VR can do a workout that includes a combination of self-automated resistance training on a cable machine as well as free form training while being immersed in VR. – BUSINESS INSIDER

8. Greg Maloney explores the opportunities that Augmented Reality technology brings to the commercial real estate sector. – FORBES

9. Toy designer and engineer James Bruton demonstrated a working model of a mechanical boxing robot powered by a  gladiator Virtual Reality game. Powered by the Arduino Mega 2560 microcontroller board and HTC Vive, the experience links the physical robot to the game so that when the user gets punched in the game, the action is replicated in real life .– VRSCOUT

10. The new official Statue of Liberty app uses AR lets you experience the landmark in unique ways. With Tim Cook himself pushing the app, the high-profile release offers users the chance to deep-dive into the monument's history, as well as the opportunity to experience the view from the statue's torch, which has been closed to the public for over a century. – 9 TO 5 MAC

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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