Inside XR - November 13th, 2019

Inside XR (Nov 13th, 2019)

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1. Magic Leap has launched a new funding round.  Rob Wile reports that the Florida-based company is set to add to the $2 billion it has raised from investors – which include Google, AT&T, and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund – over the past nine years. In a statement released Monday, Magic Leap revealed it had already closed a significant portion of what will become a “Series E” round when complete, although it declined to disclose the target amount for the fundraising. Magic Leap, which began selling its Mixed Reality headset earlier this year,  also added that it was currently working on its second-generation device, and emphasized the fact it now has distributors of Magic Leap One in both the U.S. and Asia.  – MIAMI HERALD

2. Many have expressed confusion over the availability of HoloLens 2. A Nov. 7 Microsoft News article caused what Slashgear’s Chris Burns calls a “timeline of misunderstanding and sorta-mixed messages.” These stem from the lack of clarity around terms such as  “release” and “availability. “The device is officially 'released' because it is no longer restricted to internal Microsoft testing, yet it isn’t currently available for purchase by the general public," Burns explains, adding that while Microsoft messaging implies they’ve shipped HoloLens 2 to some customers, to Microsoft, a “customer” that has been “selected to give feedback” is not the same as an individual who’s ordered (or pre-ordered) a product. – SLASHGEAR

3. Technology giants are competing to be the first company building AR glasses that people will actually want to wear. This article gives a pretty comprehensive overview of the current state of play as we know it in the Augmented Reality wearables space. Todd Haselton writes that Amazon, Google, Magic Leap, Facebook, Snapchat, and Microsoft all have foundations in place to move into the spatial computing space. Nevertheless, the race is on for making them small and affordable enough for consumers to purchase, something which he speculates may still be years away. – CNBC

4. Minecraft Earth is now live in early access for U.S. users. Microsoft’s Minecraft Earth account tweeted the news on Tuesday that it had pushed out the AR mobile game on iOS and Android for US users. When testing it out, however, PC World reporter Mark Hachman found that the ability to load and select various avatars was "oddly slow" although the rest of the experience seemed to be perfectly responsive. – PCWORLD  

5. Apple celebrated Veterans Day by highlighting an augmented reality app called Healium AR to help users cope with anxiety. The company shared a Newsroom post this week about how the application designed by VR entrepreneur and former television journalist Sarah Hill was conceived, and the difference it had made to the lives of veterans. Hill, who also works with an organization that uses immersive tech to transport veterans physically unable to travel to Washington, D.C.'s war memorials, discussed how the app helped her cope with her own anxiety attacks. This eventually led her to develop Healium in partnership with psychologist Dr. Jeff Tarrant, who explored how immersive technology and neurofeedback could be combined in a tool for effectively countering anxiety triggers. – 9TO5 MAC

6. David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" character was brought to life with real-time motion capture technology. Powered by Hewlett-Packard and Intel hardware, the avatar was controlled by a nearby actor wearing an Xsens motion capture suit and Dynamixyz head cam. At last's weekend Hollywood Infinity Festival, guests were able to try the experience out and mingle with an Augmented Reality personification of Ziggy Stardust. Using a combination of motion capture technology and Unreal Engine to render the digital model, guests at both the party and the weekend event were able to view and interact with the 3D avatar on a 8K Samsung monitor. – VRSCOUT  

7. Magic Leap has assigned a large part of its patent portfolio as collateral to JP Morgan Chase. It was recently revealed the company filed documents with the US patent office on Aug. 22 assigning 1,903 patents from Magic Leap (as well as from Magic Leap holdings Mentor Acquisitions LLC and Molecular Imprints Inc.) to the New York-based bank, which is a member of the company's funding family. This has prompted questions whether the move (which is reminiscent of what happened to Meta Company in 2018 before it went under) indicates that, financially, things may be more dire than anyone had imagined for the company. – NEXT REALITY

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

Edited by Inside Dev and Inside Deals Editor Sheena Vasani.

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