2017 has been a busy one for VR/AR teams at Google, with company’s continued push into the space with Google Cardboard, AR for Pixel phones and, most recently, ARCore framework. The latter was announced mid-2017, and after all of this time in development, ARCore is finally ready to start shipping to developers and manufacturers. The framework will allow developers to more easily develop augmented reality applications for supported Android phones. While Google seems to want to make ARCore near-universal, there’s a fair chance that it will only launch for a select few devices for the time being, with the Pixel and Galaxy series being a
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
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
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
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.
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
Xiaomi is slowly opening itself and their products to the west. The Chinese smartphone giant is expanding its availability on global markets thanks to its e-tailers. One of their leading partners is turning out to be GearBest, who recently sent us the Xiaomi Mijia MI SPHERE 360 Camera. I took the camera to the city of Varazdin in Croatia and checked the real world performance. Given the price of mere $255, can Xiaomi’s 360 degree camera offer the ultimate price / performance ratio? First off, I have to admit that setting the camera was a real pain in the behind, trying to figure out how to install phone
In today’s world, where everything can be ordered online, more and more people are starting to get skeptical about what will arrive once the package arrives at their doorstep. We order things from eBay, Amazon, Gearbest and a bunch of other sites and take a risk that the object of purchase will not be what you hoped for. This concern is spreading especially through online ordering of bulkier items, such as furniture. iStaging is a VR/AR app that positions furniture in the real world environment, enabling perspective correct positioning. This Android and iOS app can help you to show you how furniture looks in real life
After our review of OnePlus 3 and 3T, and a little disappointment in the VR department, we decided to look for a phone with that can mix a good price with a better screen. After discussing with several vendors and their retail / e-tail outfits, we came across a few good ones. If the price point is set around $500, we came to conclusion that in that price bracket, there are just two really good phones with high quality displays. First one is ZTE Axon 7, and the third one, the topic of this first look is Xiaomi Mi6. Although this phone has not been released yet
Ever since Microsoft came out with the Windows 10, Redmond has been positioning this Operating System (OS) as the final direct release, with all the future versions being built off this foundation. Microsoft is trying to capture back market share which PCs have lost to mobile computing. Microsoft allowed for program compatibility and ecosystem support blunders with Windows 7 Mobile, Windows 8 Mobile, Windows 8 x86, and Windows 8 ARM (RT). The company let its Windows ecosystem to become fragmented, removed backwards compatibility, and many of its consumer developers moved away from Microsoft to focus on iOS and Android OS created by Apple and Google
Shortly after the announcement of OnePlus 3T phone, OnePlus has confirmed that it will no longer be selling the smartphone in US and Europe. With this move OnePlus is pushing their customers to buy the newly announced OnePlus 3T. Sadly for the manufacturer, the long lead times for both the US and Europe means they could miss out on the Holiday Season 2016 sales. The OnePlus 3T comes with a somewhat larger battery (3,400mAh), extra storage option (128GB), an updated CPU (Qualcomm Snapdragon 821), and higher-resolution (16 MP) selfie-camera. The 64GB storage variant of the device costs $439, while the 128GB one carries a $479
Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram recently talked about Virtual Reality and working with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook in Bloomberg’s Studio 1.0. Instagram story started on Stanford University where Systrom was studying, and Facebook gave him an job offer. Kevin didn’t want to drop out of school, so he passed on the opportunity. During the college years, he got his first taste of the startup world after being chosen as one of twelve students to participate in the prestigious Mayfield Fellows Program. The fellowship led to his internship at Odeo, the company that eventually gave rise to Twitter. After graduating Stanford, he joined Google as an ‘Associate
Game Troopers need no introduction – this publisher of simple or mobile games just announced its entrance into the field of mobile VR games. The publisher teamed again with Craneballs, their development team to deliver their first VR title. Craneballs is known for Overkill 3, an action game that can be played as third person shooter on PC, and Android or… as a First Person Shooter in Virtual Reality environment. Overkill 3 was originally made as a TPS, but Game Troopers decided to fund the re-make into a VR title. The game features some cool features like crouch and stand combat, and quite awesome mechanics for taking cover.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will probably go down the line as the most troublesome product in history of Samsung, and that says something. The Note started the “phablet” craze which resulted in every manufacturer – including Apple – coming out with a large “barely hold in the hand” smartphone. When it comes to the sixth generation (Samsung skipped Note 6), it will stay forever in infamy. After a rocky start with several random fires, and recall + replacement of faulty Note 7 models, Samsung experienced yet another problem – overheating. After the company replaced phones, those new units started to have the same problem as the old ones.
As widely expected Google announced the Pixel and Pixel XL, its first purely self-branded smartphones. They represent an attempt to put all of the power of its services in one sleek package, carrying nothing but Pixel branding on them. While perhaps not remarkable by themselves, the phones are part of Google’s big push into consumer hardware today which also includes Google Home, Google Wi-Fi, Daydream View, and more. Pixel phones (should we call them Pixels? Ed.) come with five main points for these phones: Google Assistant, Photography, Google Photos, Communications, and Virtual Reality. They have assistant built in, hardware optimizations for a great camera experience (DXOMark record broken!), they back up your photos
Google Daydream VR platform is set to launch in fall 2016, but only a select group of developers will be able to publish Daydream apps. Google Play store is limiting access until some point in 2017. While any Android developer can submit Cardboard applications to the Google Play store, Google decided to limit Daydream apps releases. Only developers are accepted into the Daydream Access Program (DAP) will be allowed to publish apps starting with October 4th, the day of Daydream launch. Everyone else will be allowed to publish apps “early next year.” Developers can apply now to join the DAP. The application form consists of some basic information gathering,
Nvidia SHIELD Android TV console is perhaps the best Android TV device on the market. Ever since its launch a year ago, this Tegra X1-based device gained over 10 upgrades with improvement in specifications and features. With the Google I/O 2016 conference taking place at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA, Nvidia wanted to make sure their announcements reflect on the strength of Android ecosystem and its capabilities. The Software Upgrade 3.2 brings the support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) TV devices, which are coming to the market later this year. It also now supports YouTube 4K at 60 fps / Hz, which was not the case in the
It seems that these days, Uber is rocking it out! The well-known transportation service recently introduced UberEats, an app that allows you to order a takeaway the same way as ordering yourself a ride. Now, they’ve introduced ‘Family Profiles’. So, what exactly does this mean? First, with this option you allow your friends and/or family, to share one payment method for Uber overall. One feature passengers have frequently requested is an easy way to pay for family and friends. That’s why Uber announced Family Profiles, a new feature launched in Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix that lets up to 10 riders safely and easily share one