Inside XR - March 24th, 2020

Inside XR (Mar 24th, 2020)

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Dear subscribers.

As we continue to transition towards a freemium subscription model to make the Inside Newsletter sustainable in the long-term, you will notice that some of the items on Inside XR are premium-only. 

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Alice Bonasio


1. Microsoft is hoping to expand teams to other Mixed Reality headsets beyond the HoloLens. 

Microsoft said sometime this spring, its Teams software will begin working with devices made by RealWear, a company whose headsets are also used in the industrial world to help car technicians get help from experts on the other side of the world, or oil companies to save flight time flying various administrative teams around the globe. To read this story, click below to upgrade to premium.

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2. There were high expectations for "Half-Life: Alyx"—and it has not disappointed. Valve's long-awaited and much-hyped game, which launched yesterday, is the "first true AAA VR experience on a scale that hasn’t been attempted before," writes Jordan Oloman. "I’ve played all 15 hours of Half-Life: Alyx’s campaign, and, without a shadow of a doubt, this is a Half-Life game that fills the roomy shoes that Valve left behind in 2007," he adds. Oloman also spoke to Tristan Reidford and Christine Phelan from Valve, who revealed that the character design team was wary of the “uncanny valley” when striking a balance in their art direction between the old games and this new project. It is an exciting development and it will certainly be interesting to see how the rest of the games industry will react to the title's success as it sets a new standard for immersive play. – TECHRADAR

3. Spotlight: Women in XR - Lorraine Bardeen

By Alice Bonasio

Lorraine Bardeen is a prominent advocate for immersive technology who's played a pivotal role in advancing and promoting Mixed Reality at Microsoft and beyond. She's now responsible for a large team of over 300 people at Microsoft in her current role as general manager of Engineering, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform Industry Solutions & Customer Success. Although (as the very long job title suggests) she's now working on a broader remit than "just" Mixed Reality, in practice her work still focuses on finding amazing and engaging ways of bringing digital content into the real world. Her speaker blog on the Future of Storytelling website sums up the broader remit of that work:

"From infancy, people understand the relationships objects have in three-dimensional space. With the rise of computing and the Internet, we’ve taken all of those experiences and confined them to screens and two-dimensional space. Mixed reality is bringing digital content back into the real world, into spaces you are intimately familiar with. With this comes the potential for enhanced emotional connection between the viewer and the story, and endless possibilities for how stories are told,"

Every Tuesday, we'll shine a spotlight on the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech and their work. If you have a story you think we should feature, just hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio.

4. Magic Leap is attempting to lure new buyers currently stuck working from home due to COVID-19 shutdowns. 

The spatial computing start-up has been fairly quiet over the past few months as news has filtered that it is courting potential buyers that might be willing to pay the reported $10 billion price. 

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5. Vancouver-based start-up Precision OS has launched a multiplayer tool for Virtual Surgical training. This means that surgeons and nurses can work together in the same operating room even if they are physically thousands of miles apart. The functionality allows up to five avatars at a time, with the collaborative feature bringing multiple users into a single virtual Operating Room (OR). “Multiplayer now permits simultaneous access to the same virtual OR by many users. Each user receives an avatar along with their colleagues while performing surgery,” explained Dr. Danny Goel, a practicing orthopedic surgeon and Chief Executive Officer of Precision OS. Even before the coronavirus, traditional training was simply not up to the challenge of educating today’s surgeons, especially not in the numbers needed to cope with demand. This situation, needless to say, has now become greatly exacerbated by the circumstances brought on with the COVID-19 outbreak. – VRSCOUT

6. The organizers of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) insist that it will go ahead in San Francisco in early August 2020. 

After being forced to postpone the event earlier this month due to the coronavirus outbreak, plans were announced in a news briefing last Friday to hold the conference later in the summer.

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7. A behind-the-scenes leaked video gives some insight into how the HoloLens was constructed. 

Microsoft has always been quite secretive about the technology behind its flagship Mixed Reality device. Yet a newly leaked 8-minute video by the company lays out both the concept behind the HoloLens and how it is actually put together.

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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 Beth Duckett, staff writer at Inside.

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