Inside XR - June 4th, 2019

Inside XR (Jun 4th, 2019)

Minecraft AR Demo at WWDC / Realtors Virtually Staging Houses / Apple ARKit Update

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1. Microsoft chose to unveil the first gameplay footage of Minecraft Earth at Apple's conference. When the company first announced that it would be releasing a mobile augmented reality version of the popular gaming platform back in May, it did so with a teaser video. At WWDC, however, attendees were able to see live footage of the game, as a blocky castle was moved around on a tabletop using iPhones and iPads before scaling up and revealing a mine complete with foes beneath it. The demo displayed impressive tracking as well as occlusion -- the ability to show AR environments and objects behind real-world objects and people. – ENGADGET

2. In this opinion piece, Josh Wilbur explores the idea of "time hacking" which taps into the brain’s innate capacity to distort the passage of time. Virtual environments could re-create the other-world quality of psychedelic experience, in which the rules of everyday life are frequently bent, and as brain-computer interfaces and virtual reality co-evolve, so will our experience of time and space. Scientists are already exploring the neural basis of time perception, and according to time-perception researcher Marc Wittmann, “Virtual reality could allow us to create fantastic worlds — in a safe way, which you wouldn't get with drugs — in which memory content, which shapes your subjective sense of duration, could totally expand. You could explore your own personal Narnia while the world is more or less on pause." – WIRED

3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Ghislaine Boddington

By Alice Bonasio

For over twenty years Ghislaine Boddington has researched and explored "body technologies" — the symbiosis between technology and our physical selves — coining the term “Internet of bodies” to describe the way devices will enable us to connect to others directly through our physical responses, something that has profound implications for the development of immersive tech and content. 

She is the co-founder and creative director of body>data>space, a collective of artists and designers engaged in creating connections between performance, architecture, new media, and virtual worlds. Their work explores this blending of virtual physical space and stems from a deep belief in the positive opportunities offered by connectivity to enable shared creation processes for co-solving global issues. The company also advocates for equal involvement of women in the creative industries and technology world, promoting and supporting the work of young women, female artists, producers, and researchers.

Boddington believes that our quest to augment our existence and indulge in new experiences will lead us to turn our bodies into “digital interaction canvas.” Advances in virtual reality will help us create a sense of “hyper-presence” which will allow us to project ourselves into virtual worlds in unprecedented ways, she says. "Over the next 10 to 15 years we will see a convergence of technologies with things like virtual and even mixed reality holograms to enable ways for us to meet each other and be intimate in new ways," she says. "That might be hard to imagine in the context of the cartoon-like avatars we see in most VR platforms these days, but advances in technologies such as morphing, sampling, and 3D-scanning will soon allow us to create much more personalized avatars capable of conveying emotion reflecting body language signals."

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

4. Consumer VR is moving along at the same rate that society adopted color television, according to Stephanie Llamas, an analyst at market researcher SuperData Research. Speaking to Venturebeat at Augmented World Expo (AWE) last week, she explained that although growth rate has been slower than expected, it is still fast enough to enable the basic technology and the companies creating it to survive and continue to the next generation. She predicts that VR will grow from $4.9 billion in 2019 to a revenue level of $13.7 billion by 2022. – VENTUREBEAT

5. The General Medical Council (GMC) created a VR app to encourage more general practitioners to come to work in the UK. The regulator hopes that the immersive interactive app — which allows users to follow patients through various key interactions ranging from making an appointment to an episode of end of life care — will give candidates an opportunity to experience the day-to-day workings of a real GP practice. – GP ONLINE

6. Sony’s Blood and Truth debuted at the top of this week's videogame charts, marking a significant milestone for the PSVR platform and the broader immersive tech industry; it's the first time a VR game has achieved this. – GAMESPACE

7. Mixed reality enables new ways of accessing data. In this demo, Travis Schilling and Bret Faller from Interknowlogy show off the SmartHotel360 platform which leverages Azure Digital Twins and Spatial Anchors IoT capabilities to increase productivity. –CHANNEL 9

8. Realtors are decorating houses with virtual art and furnishings to help sell them to prospective buyers. Empty homes tend to move more slowly and sell for less, so apps such as rOomy and PadStyler are capitalizing on this by allowing estate agents to easily and cheaply virtually stage homes, taking pictures of existing rooms and replacing items such as furniture, plants, artwork, and curtains. – WTOP

9. Oculus Rift and Rift S VR headset owners can now sign-up for two free months of HTC’s Viveport Infinity subscription service. The offer grants access to over 650 VR games, apps, and videos such as "Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs," and the "Game of Thrones"-inspired experience "Beyond the Wall." – VRSCOUT

10. A new ARKit update makes it easier for iPhones to capture movement by recognizing when users step in front of the camera. As well as enhanced recognition of people occlusion, the announcement made at Apple's WWDC developer conference, mentioned how a new AR technology called RealityKit will enable photorealistic rendering and animation of digital assets. –  CNET

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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