OTOY Rolls Out Blockchain-Based Rendering Platform RNDR

OTOY, a Los Angeles-based visual effects software firm, launched RNDR to allow more people to create 3D computer generated images. The company, which created software used for productions such as “Westworld” and “The Avengers,” relied on cloud, blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies to create a way that people can create 3D imagery rendered by shared hardware hosted in the cloud, and then sold and/or traded via blockchain. Doing so, says chief executive Jules Urbach, reduces the cost, time and labor of creating such assets. Continue reading OTOY Rolls Out Blockchain-Based Rendering Platform RNDR

AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

AT&T inked an exclusive partnership with Magic Leap to distribute its augmented reality glasses. Later this year, potential buyers will be able to try them out at stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Magic Leap, which promises a “more practical” AR experience, is reportedly debuting a Creator Edition version later this year. With the deal, AT&T, which is making an equity investment in the company, will offer wireless service and content, most likely from existing partners such as the NBA. Continue reading AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

Survey Analyzes Benefits of Mixed Reality in the Workplace

The business uses of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) have so far been impressive. Now, a survey conducted by Microsoft with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, found that 68 percent of 394 executives said MR is important to achieving their companies’ goals in the next 18 months. Those surveyed worked in companies employing over 250 people, in a wide range of industries including engineering, construction, manufacturing, retail, defense and education. Continue reading Survey Analyzes Benefits of Mixed Reality in the Workplace

Niantic Acquires Matrix Mill to Advance AR Gaming Features

Niantic, the company that released “Pokémon Go,” just acquired Matrix Mill, a U.K.-based computer vision/machine learning startup, with the goal of expanding its augmented reality capabilities. Niantic chief executive John Hanke also stated that the company this year will release a “major update” to its “Ingress” game as well as a new AR game, “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” and reveal additional games in the next few weeks. At an event, developers and journalists were able to try out the platform powering these games. Continue reading Niantic Acquires Matrix Mill to Advance AR Gaming Features

Innovators Discuss Immersive Entertainment at LAVA Event

Several AR/VR entrepreneurs — ARwall chief executive Rene Amador, VNTANA chief marketing officer Natascha French, Fulldome.pro chief operating officer Stephen Powers, Flipside chief executive Lesley Klassen, and Talespin chief executive Kyle Jackson — gathered at a LAVA (Los Angeles Venture Association) panel discussion led by Interactive TV Alliance chief executive Allison Dollar. They described their companies’ use cases, defined “immersive entertainment,” and outlined the challenges in growing their businesses. Continue reading Innovators Discuss Immersive Entertainment at LAVA Event

Theme Parks Look to Game IPs for New VR, AR Experiences

Theme parks have a history of adding mobile games and apps such as “Club Penguin Island” and “Disney Magic Kingdom” to allow visitors to continue their experiences outside the park and encourage return visits. Now, augmented reality and virtual reality are opening the door to other game experiences that may make a transition from peoples’ homes into shared immersive environments in the theme park. Currently, VR gaming, with spending set to exceed $7 billion in 2018, is the most popular use case for the new technology. Continue reading Theme Parks Look to Game IPs for New VR, AR Experiences

The Best New Products Displayed at Augmented World Expo

Several demos stood out at the 9th annual Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, California last week. The most compelling involved a holographic display from Brooklyn-based Looking Glass Factory. Co-founder and CEO Shawn Frayne and his team have been working for a few years on a technique that “blends the best of volumetric rendering and light field projection.” Also compelling was a markerless multi-person tracking system that runs off a single video feed, developed by a Canadian computer vision/deep learning company named wrnch. And marking its first exhibit in the United States since launching its latest satellite office in San Francisco this April, Japanese company Miraisens demonstrated how a suite of effects could be used to enhance extended reality experiences. Continue reading The Best New Products Displayed at Augmented World Expo

Apple Bashes Facebook, Debuts Rival Social Media Features

Apple, which has criticized Facebook for its data privacy policy, introduced social media features for its new mobile device operating system. The features include group video chat for up to 32 people, tools to share photos with friends and the ability to play augmented reality games with friends. Apple also debuted privacy tools for the Safari browser that limits the data that Facebook and its ilk can gather. Apple made its target clear, with images of Facebook and Instagram in its marketing material. Continue reading Apple Bashes Facebook, Debuts Rival Social Media Features

WWDC 2018: Apple Announces Improvements and Upgrades

Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California yesterday and, as expected, the major announcements focused on upgrades and improvements rather than new hardware reveals. With the company’s iOS 12, available this fall, Apple is “doubling down on performance,” according to SVP Craig Federighi. Following user complaints that a previous update slowed older iPhones, the new iOS will make devices faster, with improved integration across devices. The company emphasized macOS Mojave, its digital assistant Siri, and a push into augmented reality, as well as a new version of its suite of machine learning apps for iOS devices and tvOS 12’s support for Dolby Atmos. Continue reading WWDC 2018: Apple Announces Improvements and Upgrades

Snap Launches an Accelerator Program With Focus on Mobile

Snap Inc. is launching an accelerator named “Yellow” with hopes of finding the next big media business. This fall, the accelerator will invest $150,000 in 10 startups or creators looking to develop media projects for mobile devices. Snap plans to take a small equity stake in those selected to receive the funding. The startups will also get mentorship from Snap execs, access to professional networking events, the opportunity to distribute content on Snapchat, and office space in Venice, California where Snap is based. CEO Evan Spiegel is expected to be involved in mentorship and the selection process. Continue reading Snap Launches an Accelerator Program With Focus on Mobile

Google I/O Reveals Long List of Product Upgrades and News

At the Google I/O developers conference, Google announced compelling updates including: Google Duplex brings new AI tech to Google Assistant; six new voices are coming to Google Assistant (including a version from John Legend); mobile operating system Android P gets an interface refresh, gesture controls, and expanded dashboard features; the new Android TV dongle supports 4K streaming and touts 8GB of storage; AI-powered Smart Compose comes to Gmail; Google Maps adds a new social layer and AR directions functionality by teaming AI with Street View; Google News curates online content via AI; and Google Lens is closer to delivering its text copy and style match features. Continue reading Google I/O Reveals Long List of Product Upgrades and News

Facebook Restructures With Executive Shuffle, New Divisions

Facebook is undergoing the biggest reorganization in the company’s history. Messenger, WhatsApp, and Facebook’s core app will get new leaders, while the company’s product and engineering organizations will be reorganized into three main divisions: the “Family of Apps” group, run by chief product officer Chris Cox, will include social apps Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp; the “New Platforms and Infrastructure” group, managed by CTO Mike Schroepfer, will cover AI, AR, VR, and blockchain tech; and the “Central Product Services” group, headed by VP of growth Javier Olivan, will handle shared features across products and apps, including advertising, analytics, and security. Continue reading Facebook Restructures With Executive Shuffle, New Divisions

Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

During this week’s Google I/O conference, the importance of Google Lens to chief executive Sundar Pichai’s AI-first strategy became apparent. Google Lens combines computer vision and natural language processing with Google Search, for a solution aimed at consumers. Lens, described as “Google’s engine for seeing, understanding, and augmenting the real world,” resides in the camera viewfinder of Assistant and, soon, its top-end Android smartphones. Lens recognizes people, animals, objects, environments and text. Continue reading Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

At its Build developer conference this week, Microsoft is showing products that highlight its changed direction under the aegis of chief executive Satya Nadella. Among them is a DJI drone loaded with Microsoft software to identify oil pipeline faults without an Internet connection. Although Microsoft is helping customers enhance their existing gear, the company promised “big things ahead” to those entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem. Uninvolved in recent data scandals, some deem Microsoft to be the tech industry’s moral conscience. Continue reading Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

Microsoft Reaches Out to Developers at its Build Conference

Microsoft revealed interesting news during this week’s Build developer conference in Seattle, Washington. Among the key announcements: a pair of mixed reality enterprise apps for the HoloLens; a partnership with DJI to bring Microsoft’s AI and machine learning tech to commercial drones; a preview launch of deep learning acceleration platform Project Brainwave; prototype hardware designed for the meeting room of the future; and Project Kinect for Azure, which provides developers with the opportunity to experiment with a package of sensors and Microsoft’s next-generation depth camera. Continue reading Microsoft Reaches Out to Developers at its Build Conference

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