Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Google revealed that its AI-powered Google Assistant is now connected to more than 5,000 smart devices in the home, up from 1,500 such devices in January. Among the devices now controlled by Google Assistant are air conditioners, cameras, security systems, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Google faces stiff competition in the smart home arena, most notably from Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung’s SmartThings and Bixby. Now the rivals must convince consumers to buy the devices. Continue reading Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

HPA 2018: Updates on ACES 1.0, The Evolution to ACESnext

ACES (the Academy Color Encoding System), which makes certain that the color decisions made early on in production are preserved through to the finished master, has evolved since it first launched in December 2014. At the HPA Tech Retreat, NBCUniversal vice president of creative technologies Annie Chang reported that, in 2015, 15 titles were done in ACES, compared to today’s 49+ titles. “We’ve seen the growth not just in feature and episodic, but in the gaming community and corporate clients like IKEA,” she added. Continue reading HPA 2018: Updates on ACES 1.0, The Evolution to ACESnext

Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Amazon’s new AR addition to its iOS app, called “AR View,” allows customers the ability to visualize products in their own home. Thousands of products are viewable across a range of categories for both the office and home. By utilizing Apple’s ARKit, the experience unfolds in real-time, allowing the customer to rotate both the object and change its perspective. By introducing the new feature, Amazon joins other retailers such as Target and IKEA that have all recently introduced augmented shopping experiences to their mobile platforms. Continue reading Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Sony to Introduce 3D ‘Time-of-Flight’ Sensors for AR Devices

At Sony’s Atsugi Technology Center outside Tokyo, engineers are developing a new kind of 3D sensor aimed for use first in smartphones and augmented reality devices. The sensors will be able to detect people and objects by relying on calculations on how long it takes for light to reflect off their surfaces. Sony, which will go into mass production next year, is betting that the new sensors could eventually be used in drones, self-driving vehicles, gaming consoles, and other machines that interact with their environments. Continue reading Sony to Introduce 3D ‘Time-of-Flight’ Sensors for AR Devices

Apple ARKit and New iPhones Set the Stage for AR Adoption

Apple ARKit for iOS 11, which enables developers to create augmented reality apps, has caught the attention of developers. With the new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, those same developers now have the best hardware and software for creating new AR apps. IKEA quickly jumped on board, and Apple also showed a multiplayer game using iPhones. Apple ARKit does have drawbacks: it doesn’t detect vertical surfaces, such as walls, and although it works on iPhones as old at the 6s, it really shines on the latest iPhone hardware. Continue reading Apple ARKit and New iPhones Set the Stage for AR Adoption

Facebook Develops Metered Paywall, Debuts Analytics Tool

Facebook is developing a metered paywall to drive viewers to subscribe to source publications of stories posted on Instant Articles. The move is in response to the social media platform’s tense relationship with publishers, who are losing viewership of stories on their own websites, as well as revenue. While sources say that discussions about the paywall are in the early stages, and testing won’t begin until October, Facebook is currently introducing a new analytics tool for publishers. Meanwhile, Amazon is now paying publishers and digital influencers to post to its new commerce-centric social network Spark. Continue reading Facebook Develops Metered Paywall, Debuts Analytics Tool

IKEA to Launch an AR App Based on Apple’s ARKit Platform

This fall, IKEA will roll out an augmented reality application for iPhones and iPads, using Apple’s ARKit platform. The company currently has teams of interior designers, professors and others in the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.S. working on the app, which is timed to go live with Apple’s launch of iOS 11 software. IKEA is not alone in realizing its customers could benefit from an app that allows them to envision how a couch will look in their living room; online furniture company Wayfair has also released an AR app. Continue reading IKEA to Launch an AR App Based on Apple’s ARKit Platform

Apple Debuts ARKit AR Tool for App Developers at WWDC

This week at WWDC, Apple unveiled its ARKit augmented reality platform that enables app developers to use detailed camera and sensor data to map digital objects in 3D space, more immersive than previous 2D camera overlays. With ARKit, Apple can begin to compete with Google, which currently dominates phone-based AR. The move may also signal that Apple will build AR glasses. Many industry sources believe that Apple plans to integrate augmented reality features into its 10th anniversary iPhone and wants to develop a global AR platform. Continue reading Apple Debuts ARKit AR Tool for App Developers at WWDC

ETC’s AR Salon: Industry Experts Discuss Augmented Reality

On November 11, at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, ETC’s AR Salon gathered a group of industry experts to discuss their experiences in augmented reality. ETC executive director/chief executive Ken Williams opened the event to welcome attendees, many of whom are already engaged in producing AR projects. Phil Lelyveld, ETC’s VR/AR program lead, spelled out the salon’s organization, which consisted of 10-minute presentations on the business of AR and the art and technology of AR, followed by discussion workgroups. Continue reading ETC’s AR Salon: Industry Experts Discuss Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality Naysayers Dub VR ‘Prison’ and ‘Health Hazard’

Virtual reality may be the hottest technology trend now, with new headsets, cameras and content in high gear. But not everyone is enthused. Two naysayers have had big audiences for their caveats recently. The New York Times technology writer Farhad Manjoo has dubbed virtual reality “a prison of fantastical sights and sounds.” On Quora, a community-sourced Q&A site, military flight simulator expert Steve Baker wrote VR headsets are a major health hazard that can disorient the human brain and damage the eyes. Continue reading Virtual Reality Naysayers Dub VR ‘Prison’ and ‘Health Hazard’

Advertisers Explore Virtual Reality, Luxury Brands Embrace It

Sales of virtual reality headsets and software are predicted to reach $1 billion this year, and advertisers are paying attention. At this week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, an annual confab for advertisers and agencies, the focus will be on VR. Google executives will talk about the virtual reality platform based on the Android mobile operating system that the company plans to introduce this year, and ad agencies will describe how they’re using VR to promote brands and products. Continue reading Advertisers Explore Virtual Reality, Luxury Brands Embrace It

Augmented Reality App Offers Custom Views of IKEA Catalog

IKEA is launching an augmented reality app that works in conjunction with its AR-capable catalog. Consumers can visualize virtual furniture layouts by essentially superimposing furniture on top of the live view of a smartphone or tablet camera. Consumers select a piece of furniture from the catalog, and point their mobile device toward the physical catalog as a reference point for angle, light, position and size. A virtual version of the furniture will then appear on the device. Continue reading Augmented Reality App Offers Custom Views of IKEA Catalog

Google Taps a New Market with Indoor Mapping at Malls and Airports

  • Google is adding indoors maps for select malls, airports and transit stations with the release of Google Maps 6.0 for Android.
  • “Detailed floor plans automatically appear when you’re viewing the map and zoomed in on a building where indoor map data is available,” explains The Official Google Blog. “The familiar ‘blue dot’ icon indicates your location within several meters, and when you move up or down a level in a building with multiple floors, the interface will automatically update to display which floor you’re on.”
  • Initial partnerships include locations in the U.S. and Japan: Mall of America, IKEA, Home Depot, select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco International Airport, and others.
  • “Apart from the obvious advantage to users who would now find it easy to navigate through buildings, we also expect the indoor map feature to provide a significant advertising opportunity,” reports Forbes. “Retailer locations in malls and airports would now show up on the map, and they should be interested in highlighting any new deals and promotions on the map users as soon as users enter the building.”
  • Last month, Google announced that more than 200 million Android devices have been activated worldwide, more than double what was reported by the company in May.