Inside XR - December 11th, 2019 |

Inside XR (Dec 11th, 2019)

Oppo AR Glasses / ARCore Depth API Release / Taqtile raises $3M

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1. Magic Leap is rebranding its headset to appeal to business customers. The company is replacing its Magic Leap One Creator Edition HMD with Magic Leap 1. Yet as Adi Robertson points out, it's not only the names that are similar. The headsets are the same price ($2,295 sold on Magic Leap’s own site and through AT&T) and have pretty much the same features, although there is an “Enterprise Suite” available at $2,995 which offers buyers access to dedicated support, device management software, and a “rapid replace” program if a headset malfunctions. The company's chief product officer Omar Khan claims there have been minor updates to Magic Leap 1, but are careful to avoid calling this a next-generation device, as it doesn't plan to release the Magic Leap 2 until 2021. In the meantime, it is using this "new" device to launch an operating system update and a software suite aimed at professional customers, including a virtual collaboration application called Jump, which is rolling out in beta in the next few months. Khan says that the company is not turning its back on the consumer market, but acknowledges that it is too small at the moment, hence the pivot towards enterprise, where it will directly compete against devices such as Microsoft's HoloLens for the lucrative Mixed Reality market in training and productivity applications. – THE VERGE

2. Smartphone maker Oppo will release a pair of AR glasses in the first quarter of 2020. Similar in design to the HoloLens (although apparently slimmer and lighter than the Microsoft HMD), Oppo’s AR Glass headset was revealed alongside plans for an Oppo-produced mobile processor and smartwatch and is part of the company's efforts to expand beyond the smartphone market. The device will feature voice controls and a wide field of view provided by two fisheye cameras on the front of the headset, plus a third camera and a time-of-flight sensor to measure distance. The company has not yet set a price for the glasses, nor said where it will be sold next year, although its main market is in China, where it is the country's third most popular smartphone brand. – DIGITAL TRENDS

3. Google has released its ARCore Depth API. The tool gives access to ARCore’s depth-from-motion algorithms to create more realistic AR experiences by recording a depth map of their environment using a single RGB camera such as the ones you get with most smartphones. Following on the heels of its ARCore’s Environmental HDR update, which added dynamic real-world lighting to AR objects and environments, this new tool captures multiple images from a variety of angles and then references those images as you move throughout your physical environment in order to track the distance between your device and any real-world objects. This ability to track depth offers new possibilities in terms of occlusion, which will be available in the Scene Viewer developer tool responsible for Google Search’s AR capabilities. – VRSCOUT

4. Seattle-based AR start-up Taqtile has raised $3M in its latest funding round. This is the first equity round for the 35-person company, led by Broadmark Capital and its affiliated entities, along with additional investors. Taqtile develops augmented reality tech for industrial applications on headsets and mobile devices and has clients including the New Zealand Defense Force and Seattle-area King County IT, which uses its Manifest platform and Microsoft HoloLens to train operators at a wastewater treatment plant. The company also announced that it would be joining Magic Leap's Enterprise Partner Program, having previously won a “Creator’s Grant” from Magic Leap to port its solutions to the platform. – GEEKWIRE

5. Individuals who bought Google Glass back in 2013 will no longer have access to Google's core apps on the device after 2020. Early adopters who spent $1,500 on Google's Augmented Reality headset seven years ago will effectively be left out in the cold, the clearest indication yet that Glass is effectively dead for consumers as far as Google is concerned, writes Adario Strange. After announcing the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 back in May, the company is proceeding with phasing out support for the Glass Explorer Edition by releasing its final software update for the device. "This update is available now and should be installed so you can continue using your device without issues, the release notes read, adding that after February 25, 2020, this update also removes the need and ability to use your Google account on Glass, as well as Glass' connection to backend services. The device will still be usable via a firmware update (which will make the MyGlass app unavailable) but this will only be available until Feb. 25, 2022. – NEXT REALITY

6. Scandinavian retailer Carlings worked with Instagram to add Augmented Reality features to its ‘Last Statement’ clothing line. The white tee-shirts, which are available to ship globally priced at EUR 40 (US$44), feature a simple logo that can be brought to life with Instagram AR filters. The AR filters are developed in partnership with Facebook through its exclusive AR Spark kit. All profits are intended to go to charity WaterAid. Made of sustainably produced BCI-certified cotton, the AR filters and messaging that the tee-also revolves around saving the planet from global warming.– TECHWIRE ASIA

7. The Levine Museum of the New South is bringing local history to life for visitors with AR walking tour. The "Brooklyn: Once a City Within a City" exhibit features an augmented reality walking tour of Charlotte's former Brooklyn neighborhood where guests will be able to use either a museum tablet or their own smartphone to unlock historical videos, maps, and interactive data. "People are always attached to their phones and there’s new technology in the museum field that is helping enrich the exhibit experience, such as augmented reality,” says director of exhibits & programs Eric Scott. The museum is open seven days a week in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. – SPECTRUM LOCAL NEWS

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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