Inside XR - November 22nd, 2019

Inside XR (Nov 22nd, 2019)

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1. Snap and Verizon have partnered on 5G and AR co-marketing initiatives. The two companies hope that the collaboration will encourage more people to use augmented reality features, particularly as 5G becomes more ubiquitous. Verizon will have sponsorship placements within Snap Originals video series and preload Snapchat onto some of its phones. AR features such as its “Landmarker Lenses” (which shows real-life locations with an augmented reality layer superimposed) and "Portal Lenses"  (which. as the name suggests, lets users walk into another digital experience where they can walk around and interact with the digital environment) have proven popular, including with big brands such as Gucci, which launched a lens last week as part of its "Gift Giving" campaign. Snapchat is banking on AR for ad growth, but that is heavily dependent on a broader 5G rollout which is not yet in place, as very few devices support it and Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service is only active in 18 cities. – CNBC

2.  Nreal Enterprise Edition and Developer Kit are now available for pre-order.  Units are set to begin shipping next month for the $1,200 Developer Kit and $2,000 Enterprise Edition, with a consumer version set to follow priced at $500 in early 2020 which will tether to a user's phone via USB-C. The headset features a 52-degree diagonal field of view and 6DOF inside-out tracking, weighing only 88g as processing is done on a dedicated Android mini-computer running a Snapdragon 845 chipset. Nreal also offers a set of 15 pairs of prescription lenses for $500 which the company says provides a “wide range of diopters for nearsighted users.”  – ROAD TO VR

3. Follow Friday: Mark Farid 

Farid is a multimedia conceptual artist who, according to his bio, "investigates the perceived autonomy of the individual" and "examines the ethics of performing in social situations in an effort to further understand how the State, and new technologies, prescribe" the individual's identity.

For those interested in the deeper questions arising from our expanding use and understanding of immersive technology, Farid's @MorkForid Twitter account is worth a follow as he prepares to embark on an interesting project called "Seeing I" next year.

He proposes that for 14 days he will spend 24 hours a day confined to a gallery space wearing a VR headset and experiencing life through the eyes and ears of one person, hearing only what they hear and seeing only what they see for those two weeks.  The idea was partially inspired by Psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ (1971) and aims to explore how the 14-day immersion into someone else's point of view will affect Farid’s movement, mannerisms, personality, even his rationale. As the project description reads:

"With no existing relationship to the Other, how will the constant stream of artificial sights and sounds start to displace Farid’s own internal monologue? For the duration of the project, Farid will experience no human interaction relative to his own life, allowing his indirect relationship with the Other to become his leading narrative. Adapting the question of nature vs. nurture to the digital age, Seeing I will consider how large a portion of the individual is an inherent self, and how large a portion is a consequence of environment and culture." 

4. Google Researchers have developed a new technique for capturing volumetric video that makes images "Relightable." The method consists of a spherical cage holding 330 programmable LED lights and approximately 100 cameras which also operate as depth sensors, capturing 12.4MP depth maps of its subject. The system also captures reflectance maps, time-synced to the depth maps, that enable the lighting of the subject to be manipulated in an AR or VR scene in post-production. The team also created a geometric and machine learning reconstruction pipeline to synthesize video from the captured data. "Our method combines this ability to realistically relight humans for arbitrary environments, with the benefits of free-viewpoint volumetric capture and new levels of geometric accuracy for dynamic performances," the team claims in the research abstract published recently via Association for Computing Machinery, which will be presented at SIGGRAPH Asia 2019. One of the first use cases for this is a collaboration between Google's Creative Lab and Opera Queensland, where three performers were captured with the Relightables to create a virtual opera experience which will also be showcased at SIGGRAPH. – NEXT REALITY

5. A mixed-reality work by artist Marina Abramović will be auctioned at Christie’s next year. “The Life” (2019) is a 19-minute clip featuring the artist, dressed in red, walking around a room and slowly disintegrating into blue dots, before reassembling in the space, viewed through a Magic Leap One headset. It will be sold by the British auction house during its Frieze Week sales in London in October 2020 (coinciding with a retrospective of Marina Abramović’s work at the Royal Academy) with an estimated price of around £600,000 ($755,000). Christie’s specialist Stefano Amoretti recognized the unusual nature of the sale, saying it was important to push boundaries in the contemporary market. – ARTS AND COLLECTIONS

6. Headsets like the HoloLens are finding a niche among surgeons. Michele Cohen Marill writes about how the  HoloLens headset has established a niche for itself among surgeons and biomedical engineers. “When you put on the HoloLens, it’s like having X-ray vision,” says Karl West, an inventor, and biomedical engineer. West developed the MediView app for the Microsoft Mixed Reality device which lets you “see the anatomy inside the patient.” by overlaying images from pre-operative CT scans or MRIs onto the physical body.  MediView is currently testing its HoloLens app in liver, kidney, and other abdominal tumor ablation procedures, while a New York startup Medivis received FDA approval for its holographic surgical planning imaging product, SurgicalAR. – WIRED

7. The new augmented reality experience by Adidas aims to draw attention to ocean plastic pollution. The sportswear company collaborated with Platform A  (a Paris-based accelerator program launched by adidas to increase its digital initiatives) eyecandylab and MONOCHROME to create the “For the Oceans” experience which was launched at its flagship store in Paris earlier this week. It uses TV screens inside the store as triggers when users view them through a dedicated mobile app. Upon entering an ocean world filled with plastic debris users can then tap on objects to collect them and watch the process used by adidas to recycle ocean plastic into synthetic materials for their products.– AR POST

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

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