Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Magic Leap and Apple are the two technology companies currently at the forefront of augmented reality, but, behind the scenes, Microsoft has also been working on AR for years. It’s easy to discount Microsoft, since its HoloLens AR headset is squarely aimed at the enterprise sector. But the company also has its sights set on the consumer market. In addition, Microsoft has started to leak details about its upcoming Project xCloud cloud-based game streaming system. Project xCloud will enter beta testing this year. Continue reading Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Analyst Predicts Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Mid-2020

According to a recent note to investors written by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is known for frequently having inside information on Apple’s product plans, Apple could begin mass production of its augmented reality headset by the end of 2019 and unveil it as early as mid-2020 — although he admitted the timeline is optimistic. In May 2018, however, Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster predicted we wouldn’t see the Apple AR headset until late 2021. Kuo stated his belief that Apple’s first AR device will only be a display, with the iPhone performing all the rendering, data connection and GPS. Continue reading Analyst Predicts Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Mid-2020

Microsoft HoloLens 2 Offers AI Processor, Cloud Connection

At MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress), Microsoft introduced HoloLens 2, a new version of its four-year-old HoloLens headset, which is aimed at the enterprise use cases such as job training. Because the company is not targeting entertainment uses, HoloLens has maintained a low profile, focused on its corporate customers such as Bentley and Japan Airlines. Chief executive Satya Nadella stated his belief that “the next big tech breakthrough” will come from retail, healthcare or car manufacturing. Continue reading Microsoft HoloLens 2 Offers AI Processor, Cloud Connection

HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset With Foveated Rendering

At CES in Las Vegas, HTC unveiled an upgrade to its Vive Pro VR headset, the Vive Pro Eye, featuring integrated eye tracking for in-app controls, analysis of user attention and foveated rendering. The last item relates to the ability of cameras in the headset to precisely track the position of the eyes’ pupils to enable the GPU to focus processing on that location. With foveated rendering, the GPU is said to save 30 percent over its power, which can be used to conserve power or increase detail within the rendered area. Continue reading HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset With Foveated Rendering

VR and AR Expected to Further Redefine Experiences at CES

Virtual reality, augmented reality and immersive experiences crossed over the apex of the hype curve and are now tracking the slope of enlightenment as they develop into niche market applications or pivot into location-based entertainment. Resolution, frame rate, horizontal and vertical field of view in the HMDs (head mounted displays), and head and body tracking technology, have all improved over the last year with further advances expected next month at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. This applies equally to next generation HMDs, projection, and heads-up approaches to immersive experiences. Continue reading VR and AR Expected to Further Redefine Experiences at CES

Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

The typical VR experience is solitary, but an increasing number of companies are exploring the possibility of virtual realty in the context of a social platform. That trend was made clear by Microsoft’s acquisition of AltspaceVR. High Fidelity is an environment that lets users create their own avatars and social worlds, with a marketplace where they can buy avatars and other 3D elements. And vTime, a stationary platform, lets four people at a time engage in fully rendered environments. Continue reading Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

Chinese Startup Intros 8K VR Headset With 200-Degree FOV

For those yearning for a VR headset with higher resolution and a wider field of view, Chinese startup Pimax may have the solution. The company’s latest headset is marketed as 8K with laser tracking that works with HTC Vive’s base station and offers a 200-degree field of view, which is nearly double what other headsets offer. The resolution, in fact, is only 7,680 x 2,160 (not true 8K, which would be 7,680 x 4,320), but the company explains that a much higher horizontal resolution is most important — and it is an industry first. Continue reading Chinese Startup Intros 8K VR Headset With 200-Degree FOV

Finnish Startup Varjo to Debut VR Headset With Better Vision

Finnish startup Varjo aims to improve the resolution of images seen through VR and AR headsets. Ordinarily, the viewer with a VR headset sees the most detail looking straight ahead, in a rectangle comprising about 5 percent of his field of view. Varjo’s founders want to change that, especially for designers, architects and other professionals who work with 3D models. Resolution with VR and AR headsets from Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Microsoft HoloLens has improved, but nowhere near the level we see in real life. Continue reading Finnish Startup Varjo to Debut VR Headset With Better Vision

Dolby Uses Biosensors to Research Media’s Impact on Viewers

Dolby Laboratories, known for its proprietary high-dynamic range technology, is conducting research on how media impacts human beings. The biophysical lab, run by chief scientist Poppy Crum, was established in 2015, growing out of research begun in 2012 to better understand human reactions to audio and video. In addition to aiming thermal cameras at them, the subjects wear a 64-channel EEG cap measuring electrical activity in the brain, heart rate and galvanic skin response trackers and a pulse oximeter. Continue reading Dolby Uses Biosensors to Research Media’s Impact on Viewers

Google Develops Standalone Headset for Augmented Reality

Google is getting closer to creating a headset ideal for augmented reality, according to knowledgeable sources. The company established a team to develop a VR headset that doesn’t require a computer or smartphone, and now is reportedly integrating eye tracking and sensors/algorithms that will map out the real-world space in front of a user. In related news, Google bought eye-tracking company Eyefluence. The headset under development is separate from the company’s recently debuted Daydream VR platform. Continue reading Google Develops Standalone Headset for Augmented Reality

Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Disavowing popular wisdom that it doesn’t pay to be too specific, Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash delineated what virtual reality tech will look like in 2021 at the Oculus Connect 3 conference last week. With the caveat that he would be proved “wrong about some of the specifics,” Abrash described a high-end VR future that includes 4K x 4K resolution per eye and 140-degree field of view displays, foveated rendering, personalized audio encoding, and “augmented virtual reality.” Abrash was the final speaker in a keynote session that stretched past two hours. Continue reading Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Japan Emerges as Hub for Virtual Reality Culture, Innovations

Japan is on track to become a virtual reality powerhouse, largely due to the imminent release of Sony PlayStation VR. Mixed-reality theme parks, VRcades, augmented reality, and VR retail applications are all gaining traction. Gumi, GREE and Colopl, which has made about 30 VR investments, are a few of the major domestic VR investors. One VR startup, FOVE, a pioneer in eye tracking, has already raised $11 million; its chief executive Yuka has been featured in Forbes and SoftBank’s Taizo Son, chairman/founder of mobile gaming company GungHo, is one of its investors.

Continue reading Japan Emerges as Hub for Virtual Reality Culture, Innovations

Qualcomm and Goertek Develop High-Resolution VR Headset

Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon VR820, a reference platform for a standalone virtual reality headset, developed with Chinese electronics company Goertek and built on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 mobile processor and SDK. VR820, expected to be available by the end of 2016, offers higher resolution than the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, although a lower refresh rate. The Snapdragon 820 was also used for the Pico Neo, a $500 Android-based VR device with handheld controller co-developed by the same two companies. Continue reading Qualcomm and Goertek Develop High-Resolution VR Headset

Oculus and Valve Have Yet to Open Tracking to Third Parties

A year after going on record that they would open up their tracking systems to third party developers, neither Oculus nor Valve have done so. So called ‘6DOF’ (degrees of freedom) tracking allows for head and body tracking, as well as mapping of physical objects like handheld objects and furniture, into the virtual world. Oculus’ Constellation tracking system uses a collection of IR-LEDs tracked by an external camera. Meanwhile, Valve/HTC’s Lighthouse tracking system uses photodiodes that track lasers from base stations. Continue reading Oculus and Valve Have Yet to Open Tracking to Third Parties

Networks Turn to Neuroscience, Biometrics to Study TV Viewing

Up until now, the methodology to find out what TV viewers like — based largely on written surveys and machines with dials to indicate their degree of enjoyment — has been fairly primitive and, most likely, not very reliable. Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Viacom are now both trying to dig deeper using biometrics, including eye movements, facial reactions, skin sensors, heart monitors, and EEGs to monitor brain waves. Viewing measurement company Nielsen even bought a neuroscience firm, Innerscope Resesarch, to add these skillsets to its lab. Continue reading Networks Turn to Neuroscience, Biometrics to Study TV Viewing

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