HCI systems manufacturer uSens, Inc. announced the availability of uSensAr, a smartphone augmented reality engine, this week at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. uSensAR is designed to run optimally on lower-end Android hardware, including systems with lower-resolution cameras and comparatively underpowered CPUs. “ARcore currently only serves about 30 million Android phones, which is just five percent of the entire Android smartphone ecosystem,” said Dr. Yue Fei, uSens CTO and co-founder. The company indicated their platform could expand the reach of AR technologies to an estimated two billion smartphones. “With the release of uSensAR, we are allowing developers, smartphone manufacturers, and content creators to build those
For the uninitiated, Bigscreen is a virtual desktop application for VR headsets. It originally launched for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift as a desktop environment for those headsets, and as of the turn of the New Year, Bigscreen is now available on Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Bigscreen coming to Windows MR headsets is good news for the platform. While Windows Mixed Reality does have SteamVR support, the platform still has a way to go to become a true competitor to the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift. Bigscreen porting their application to Mixed Reality is a good sign, though, and with any luck, many other
Trailblazing VR is a startup company focused on pushing forward women in the VR/AR development. Their first game is War of the AI, developed using Apple’s ARKit tools (like the LEGO game we covered a while back) and available for free on iOS. While War of the AI has a somewhat ‘dull’ name, what it does – is quite impressive. War of the AI is a first-person shooter that’s playable in augmented reality, which has been done before (with the help of peripherals, e.g. Father.io), but not quite like this. War of the AI doesn’t require any extra peripherals, and utilizing ARKit’s features, enables a full
Google has announced that they are moving on from Tango, their augmented reality platform, in favour of their newer ARCore platform. The announcement came via Twitter last Friday. “We’re turning down support for Tango on March 1, 2018,” the Tango team said in a Tweet. “Thank you to our incredible community of developers who made such progress with Tango over the last three years. We look forward to continuing the journey with you on ARCore,” they concluded. Tango’s fate appears to be largely a result of software becoming more capable. While Tango required cameras and IR sensors to locate and orient itself to objects in
Those in the market for a very expensive, last-minute Christmas gift may be in luck — on December 14, Apple made its new iMac Pro available for purchase. Lauded as the most powerful Mac in the company’s history, the workstation-class iMac Pro features Xeon multi-core processors, a 27” 5K Retina display, and heaps of additional features. That this new machine is being released at the same time as a significant upgrade to Final Cut Pro X is not coincidental. This is decidedly not a computer intended for consumer audiences — it is, rather, a powerful workstation intended to provide the raw computing power needed for
Snap, the company behind prominent messaging app Snapchat, has released Lens Studio, a software for producing augmented reality effects for still photos and videos. What used to be an in-house application is now in the hands of all who want to dabble in creating their own AR experiences for use in Snapchat. Lens Studio is Snap’s second app, and it’s available on Mac OS X and Windows. The release of this design platform is actually the most recent in a series of similar stories: Facebook opened its AR platform earlier this week, as well as Amazon earlier this month. With Lens Studio opening up to advertisers
Taiwan-based computer hardware manufacturer Acer this week introduced their Windows mixed reality headset to consumers in India. The announcement came at the conclusion of the Acer-sponsored Predator League gaming event in Bengaluru. The headset, which boasts a 2880 x 1440p resolution and up to 90 Hz refresh rate, was released in North America in early October. The headset also features a 13-foot cable. Pricing in India is not yet available, although will likely be near US pricing, which is approximately 19,200 Rs. given exchange rates at the time of this article. This is, notably, the first Windows MR headset to be made available in India.
LEGO AR-Studio is pretty great. There’s a bunch of reasons for this, but in light of fiascos like Battlefront II, AR-Studio successfully provides a kid-friendly experience for free, without any predatory microtransactions. That alone should earn it applause, especially when compared to the countless Android/iOS titles that exist almost solely to separate you from your hard-earned money, one dollar at a time. LEGO AR-Studio, in addition to having a good businesLs model, also seems like a genuinely fun game. It offers six popular virtual LEGO sets for people to play within Augmented Reality, and goes the extra mile by offering a variety of scripts and animations
Axonom, a provider of software that combines Configure Price Quote (CPQ) technology with VR, yesterday announced the release of their Powertrak VR Design Viewer for smartphones. The newly-released Powertrak VR Design Viewer builds upon Axonom’s foundation in non-mobile VR solutions for product configuration, configured product visualization, and room planning. “VR hardware tethered to a machine, like the HTC Vive, is very effective on the trade show floor but mobile VR can be used both on-site and shared to decision makers off-site,” said Mike Belongie, COO at Axonom. “It’s the most economical and compelling way to distribute immersive 3D product designs and floor space planning layouts
Mozilla unveiled a new development program and team that will build upon their existing work to bring VR and AR technologies to the web. The program will focus on the integration of devices, headsets, frameworks and toolsets to increase flexibility in VR/AR web development. The organization indicated that although they have been working in this space for over a year, this new team was formalized only in recent weeks. In their announcement, the organization pointed out that although there have been substantial developments this year in bringing VR/AR technologies to the web, there are still gaps in terms of cross-platform compatibility. Mozilla indicates their new
Hollywood, California-based book publisher Quantum Storey announced this week that it has launched the world’s first virtual reality book series for children. Aimed at younger kids, their “Operation YOU” series combines traditional printed books with virtual reality. The books include access to a companion Android and iOS app, as well as Google Cardboard goggles. The first title in the series, which is now available exclusively at Walmart, is entitled “Morning Nightmare.” It confronts the challenges children experience boarding school busses. According to the company, the VR app places children in the book’s environment in the first person, virtually transforming them into the book’s main character.
American Vogue has partnered with Apple to create an augmented reality-powered iPhone feature, available exclusively on the newly launched iPhone X on December 1. “The Vogue Effect” iMessage extension uses the front-facing camera’s Face ID to create a multi-dimensional filter like those on Snapchat and Instagram. iPhone X users need to download Vogue’s app in order to access the filters, but it can be applied directly via iMessage once installed. Arlie Sisson, vice president of emerging products at Condé Nast said: “This is experimentation, leveraging technology and pushing our creativity in new ways.It’s unexpected, but it makes sense because [leading] is what we do best.” Vogue
SteamVR is essentially an extension of Steam, allowing a virtual hub for playing and purchasing VR applications. Since its release with the HTC Vive (and eventual compatibility with the Oculus Rift), SteamVR has been a favorite among VR enthusiasts everywhere. With the debut of Windows Mixed Reality headsets on PC, many were left wondering if Mixed Reality headsets could support the same software, and it looks like the answer to that question is a resounding yes. SteamVR is coming to Windows Mixed Reality headsets in an official preview state on November 15th, 2017. Full, official compatibility is somewhere further down the line, likely depending on the
Tokyo, Japan may have just become the first city to officially grant residence to an artificial intelligence (AI). The intelligence’s name is Shibuya Mirai and exists only as a chatbot on the popular Line messaging app. Mirai, which translates to ‘future’ from Japanese, joins Hanson Robotic’s “Sophia” as pioneering AI gaining statuses previously reserved for living, biological entities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia granted Sophia citizenship last month. The robot, Sophia, took to the stage at a conference in Riyadh this week to express her delight at being given citizenship, which she described as ‘historical. Not everyone is happy with the Sophia’s citizenship, with some describing her as
Microsoft is trying to nudge laptop and deskbound computers to interact with the three-dimensional world. The company on Tuesday started rolling out its latest bundle of updates to the Windows 10 operating system with features clustered around a bet that people will use their PCs to experience 3-D virtual worlds. Dubbed the Fall Creators Update, the package will make its way in waves to the more than 500 million Windows 10 users starting this week. Business users have the ability to delay updates. This technology “will forever unleash the creativity of people and organizations around the planet,” Alex Kipman, a Microsoft technical fellow working on Windows
American internet retailer Overstock.com Inc. updated its iOS app on Tuesday to enable shoppers to view thousands of products in augmented reality. The new functionality makes use of ARKit, a new Apple Inc. tool that aims to simplify the process for developers to add augmented reality capabilities to their apps. “Augmented reality is changing the way people shop for furniture and home goods forever,” said Overstock.com President Saum Noursalehi. “Shoppers no longer have to guess how a piece of furniture will fit in their room, or if a pattern will match their existing design style. Instead, they can use their phones to see the exact
Independent developer The Chinese Room is releasing its first-ever virtual reality game. “So Let Us Melt” is a Sci-Fi parable about a machine lost in a paradise of its own making. This video game development studio is best known for working on experimental first-person games, such as the Half-Life 2 mod Dear Esther, and co-developing its full-fledged remake. Dear Esther was the studio’s hit, coming out as a mod back in 2008, a year after The Chinese Room was formed. From there the group released Korsakovia, another mod, and the survival horror game Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. The studio’s growing visibility and size culminated in Everybody’s Gone To Rapture, a 2015 exploration game created in collaboration with Sony’s Santa
Amazon, hoping to replicate the success of its Echo device, is poised to extend its eyes and ears into every part of your life with the launch of new voice-controlled and camera-equipped Alexa devices designed for bedrooms, living rooms and even your car. Amazon prides itself on its almost pathological focus on what its customers want, rather than what its competitors are doing. But its new Alexa products are clearly a response, at least in part, to new smart speaker offerings from Google and Apple. Amazon is betting that it can defend its franchise by using an old trick – aggressive pricing – and by finding ways
At the very first event in Steve Jobs Theater at its new headquarters, Apple Inc. announced a series of devices, including the new smartwatch “Watch Series 3”, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (realistically, these are iPhone 7S and 7S Plus) refreshments, and the king of the event – a $1000 iPhone X (pronounced ten), with X marking 10th anniversary since iPhone 2G came to market. All three phones are powered by a powerful A11 Bionic SoC processor, bringing a set of next-generation features to all three phones, with Augmented Reality and FaceID perhaps being the most impressive ones. Augmented Reality, in that way, superimposes digital
Last winter Microsoft announced that the company started working together with its PC hardware partners to develop headsets that support a mixed mode, between virtual and augmented reality. These headsets run a new version of Microsoft’s software called Windows Mixed Reality, a version of Windows that natively supports both augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences. At the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, or IFA, the biggest annual consumer electronics trade fair in Europe which started last week, this software giant took the center stage. They said that they will include their “Windows Mixed Reality” in the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (available from Oct 17).