Inside XR - October 4th, 2019

Inside XR (Oct 4th, 2019)

Immersive Headsets for Indian Schools/ Harry Potter AR Hat / How the HoloLens Brought Back Microsoft's Flight Simulator

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1. The Festival of the Impossible explored the intersection of art with human-machine interaction. Marco Annunziata visited the event which was recently organized by Adobe in San Francisco, where six art installations prompted visitors to question if and how technologies such as AR can enhance human creativity. In a panel discussion which included some of the featured artists as well as XR journalist and influencer Jesse Damiani, Adobe's Chief Technology Officer Abhay Parasnis argued that AR and tools such as the company's Project Aero can give us “experiences that finally escape the glass” by bringing together the digital and analog, thus actually reversing the trend that sees us spending more time glued to our smartphone screens.– FORBES

2. Dimension NXG is offering affordable immersive headsets to students in an attempt to bring immersive education to children in remote Indian villages. Currently in closed Beta, the AjnaLite is a hybrid AR/VR headset which the Indian start-up is offering to schoolchildren aged 10 and above starting at US $632. Half of the headset's cost is being subsidized under a scheme introduced in the country in 2013 which requires large Indian corporations to give 2 percent  of their profits to education and other social causes. According to Dimension NXG co-founder Pankaj Raut, the company already had more than 3,000 pre-sale orders ahead of the device's December launch. The HMD is entirely wireless and has an AMOLED display resolution of 1920x 1080. The AjnaLite comes in two versions, one with 3 and one with 6 degrees of freedom and has content already translated into English, Hindi, and Marathi. It eventually aims to cater to the thousands of languages and dialects spoken across India, with plans to add at least another 50 languages within the next month. – NEXT REALITY  

3. Follow Friday: Crista Lopes

Cristina Videira Lopes' Twitter bio @cristalopes  is as simple as it is awesome, reading simply "Jedi Master." Fitting for the only person in the world who is both an ACM ( Association for Computing Machinery) Distinguished Scientist and Ohloh Kudos Rank 9, an accolade that reflects her high standing and contribution to the open source community. A Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, Lopes was one of the founders of the Xerox PARC team that developed Aspect-Oriented Programming and is the core developer and one of the main architects for the OpenSimulator platform – an open-source multi-platform, multi-user 3D application server that can be used to create virtual environments which can be accessed through a variety of clients, on multiple protocols, basically forming the basis of a distributed Metaverse. She is also a founder of Encitra, a company specializing in online virtual reality for early-stage sustainable urban redevelopment projects, so immersive tech buffs will find plenty in her feed to interest, entertain, and educate them.   

4. The new Wizarding World app lets you try on Hogwart's Sorting Hat in AR. VRScout Editor and acknowledged “Potterhead” Kyle Melnick tested the feature himself, and was surprised to discover that he belonged to the Gryffindor school, but bowed to the mythical hat's wisdom; “Personally, I always imagined myself a Ravenclaw, but who am I to question the awesome power of the Sorting Hat?” The Augmented Reality Hat ceremony is part of the newly released free Wizarding World app which is available now available on iOS and Android. It gives fans the ability to create a personalized Wizarding Passport, so after the hat asks you a series of questions and decides whether your personality best suits Gryffindor, Ravenclow, Hufflepuff, or Slytherin, the screen changes to the banner of the selected house and you can add a photo complete with school colours to the passport. – VRSCOUT  

5. Microsoft's Flight Simulator is getting a revival inspired by Mixed Reality and the HoloLens. It was 2006 when the last version of Microsoft's Flight Simulator was released, but the company recently decided to reboot it as part of a strategy to revive its claim to the popular PC gaming space, writes Polygon Senior Reporter Charlie Hall, who traveled to Seattle to demo the revamped version. Jorg Neumann, head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, tells Hall that one of the catalysts in getting the project going was the development of the HoloLens technology. In particular, he mentions the HoloTour experiences which allows users to visit places such as Machu Picchu in Mixed Reality. Neumann was certain the same approach could be applied to Microsoft Flight Simulator, and it helped to reformulate what had been a hardcore simulation experience into something the general public could get excited about. “It makes Flight Sim purposeful for people who are not into just the tech,” Neumann says, adding that  “All of a sudden you want to go to places, and the places look real. And that’s now possible, and it’s awesome.” – POLYGON

6. Instagram is rolling out new AR shopping integration on its platform. Select cosmetics and eyewear brands such as Mac and Ray-Ban are starting to add AR shopping functionality to their presence on the platform. Instagram shoppers will be able to use a Spark AR-powered filter to preview how products will look on their face. Instagram hopes users will be inspired to share their AR experiences in Stories, which will also link back to the original product which would allow brands to leverage the virality of selfie filters. "You can share it through Stories with friends, brands can create Stories — that's definitely one of the primary ways in which we think that people will shop," confirms Srilatha Raghavan, product manager for AR commerce at Facebook. – MASHABLE    

7. A new - and free - Mixed Reality app teaches students the inner workings of Magnetic Fields. Japanese company Feel Physics released an open-source Microsoft Hololens application that lets you visualize how the magnetic field works in either two or three dimensions by manipulating virtual bar magnets with your fingers and watching how compass needles respond to this invisible phenomenon. The program has so far been tested with students in 10 schools distributed across five countries including the United States. Developer Tatsuro Ueda says the company has now published HoloLens code to GitHub in the hope that it will get picked up by teachers as well as other education developers to port it to platforms such as Magic Leap One, Oculus Quest, or iPad. – THE JOURNAL  

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


Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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