Inside XR - December 6th, 2019

Inside XR (Dec 6th, 2019)

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1. At its Snapdragon Tech Summit this week, Qualcomm unveiled a new 5G chipset designed to be futureproofed for Mobile XR. According to the company, the Snapdragon XR2 5G delivers 2x the CPU and GPU performance, 4x more video bandwidth, 6x higher resolution and 11x AI improvement compared to its predecessor. The platform display panel offers up to 3K by 3K resolution per eye at 90 frames per second (fps)  as well as "abundant features and leaps in technology" according to Hugo Swart, Qualcomm’s VP & GM of XR. These include support for seven concurrent cameras and a dedicated computer vision processor, enabling 8K 360 degree videos at 60 fps for photorealistic visuals in streaming and local playback. "This is the first XR platform to enable low latency camera pass-through to unlock true MR, which allow users to see, interact and create a hybrid of the virtual and real-world while wearing a VR device,” Swart explains, adding that custom silicon and optimized algorithms were also developed to help reduce latency through the whole chip to allow for scalable, boundless XR over 5G where the processing is split between headset and the edge of the cloud. – TECH TRENDS  

2.  The HoloLens 2 gets a Tesla-style "smash test." Taking a cue from Elon Musk's recent viral demo, HoloLens partner Trimble published its own tongue-in-cheek video where the XR10 - a hardhead-adapted version of Microsoft's newest HMD- appears to be subjected to the same rough treatment as the Tesla Cybertruck. The video shows Trimble's Portfolio Manager for Mixed Reality Jordan Lawver attacking the XR10 with HoloLens 2 with a mallet, before throwing a large metal ball at a flinching volunteer. However, Adario Strange is quick to reassure HoloLens fans that no devices were actually harmed in the making of this video. – NEXT REALITY   

3. Follow Friday:  Ricardo Laganaro

Brazilian filmmaker Ricardo Laganaro is partner and Chief Storytelling Officer at ARVORE Immersive Experiences. His background includes live-action, stop-motion animation, computer graphics, and writing, Laganaro entered the immersive world at the deep end: directing a full-dome experience for Museum of Tomorrow as part of the Olympics project in Rio. His immersive projects have since ranged from advertising and marketing pieces to 360-degree musicals, culminating with winning Best VR Immersive Experience for Interactive Content award at this year's Venice Film Festival. Yet he doesn't shy away from leveraging the power of immersive storytelling to generate empathy and spur social change either. He was selected by Oculus to be part of the program “VR For Good”, where he directed the VR documentary “Step to the Line”, which was shot entirely on location in a Californian maximum-security prison, and used immersive tech to show viewers a different perspective on inmates' lives. The piece, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, was named by Time Magazine as one of the five best content pieces in mobile VR. Follow him on Twitter @laganaro

4. Niantic and Qualcomm have announced that the two companies will collaborate to develop AR glasses. Greg Kumparak writes that the studio behind "Pokémon GO" and "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" has made no secret about the fact it is frustrated by the current limitations of immersive technology, so it makes sense to see Niantic focusing its efforts on building 5G-ready AR glasses. Following Qualcomm's announcement of the XR2 chipset (see above) Niantic CTO Phil Keslin took the stage at the Snapdragon Tech Summit to announce a “multi-year collaboration” to flesh out the reference hardware for augmented reality glasses, helping them figure out exactly what it needs to do. Once the tech is ready, Keslin added, it will be rolled into the Real World Platform and made available to anyone in the Niantic Creator Program, which is due to launch next year.– TECH CRUNCH

5.  To meaningfully advance to the mainstream, AR still needs to overcome some significant optical limitations. "The inability to bring content convincingly within arm’s reach and realistically place content at any focal point is holding AR back," argues Adlens CEO John Kennedy in this opinion piece. Kennedy says that two fundamental issues that currently plague all AR experiences need to be addressed before the tech can reach its full potential: vergence-accommodation conflict (VAC) and focal rivalry. These translate into eye fatigue, inability to read text up close, and the struggle to complete precision tasks as our eyes cannot naturally focus on virtual content as they would in the real world. A recent report from industry analysts Greenlight Insights has shown addressing these two issues would unlock an additional $10 billion in spending on enterprise AR applications by 2026. – DESIGN NEWS  

6. With Christmas fast approaching, Jon Jaehnig shares some gift ideas for immersive tech geeks. This gift guide includes not only the most obvious items such as Oculus Quest packages, or accessories like the VR Cover, but also the Arloopa AR Cube, where each side of the die can be set as a target for a different AR experience, or the People of the New Collar Workforce AR book which Jaehnig recommends as a great present for young people looking to get into tech careers.  – ARPOST  

7.  Portland-based AR start-up Streem has been acquired by Frontdoor. Although exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, a news release clarified that it included a combination of cash and equity. Frontdoor (which last month reported third-quarter revenue of $407 million)  is the parent company for four major home service plans serving more than 2 million customers. Streem co-founder and CEO Ryan Fink says all its 30 employees are expected to remain in place as the company -  which allows home repair experts such as plumbers to connect directly with consumers to troubleshoot problems remotely - continues to grow the business in Portland.  – PORTLAND BUSINESS 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

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