Hollywood VFX Experts Gravitate to AR/VR Jobs in Big Tech

Apple, Facebook and Google are among the Big Tech companies that are hiring technologists behind Hollywood movies like “Avatar” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” All three companies are developing headsets or glasses for AR/VR or so-called extended reality, and the most cutting-edge Hollywood visual effects create needed photoreal computer-generated characters and landscapes. VFX veteran Paul Debevec, now a professor at the University of Southern California, was recruited by Google four-and-a-half years ago. Continue reading Hollywood VFX Experts Gravitate to AR/VR Jobs in Big Tech

Walmart Opens Test Stores to Advance E-Commerce Goals

Walmart is transforming four of its stores into test labs to find the best ways to transition them into online fulfillment centers for e-commerce. Two of the stores are near its Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters, and the locations of the second two will be announced at a later date. Employees at these so-called laboratories will rely on digital tools and try out different strategies to integrate the company’s e-commerce and brick-and-mortar sides. The company’s online sales almost doubled during Q2, which ended July 31. Continue reading Walmart Opens Test Stores to Advance E-Commerce Goals

Sony Debuts Its Spatial Reality Display with Glasses-Free 3D

Sony introduced its Spatial Reality Display aimed at professional users in the content creation industry and potential future applications for consumers. The display looks like an ordinary computer monitor but is fixed on a 45-degree recline with a triangular frame and combines a 15.6-inch screen with micro optical lens coating and an eye-tracking camera. The display offers 4K resolution, with the pixels split into two 2K arrays for left and right eyes. It also offers 3D images without glasses. Continue reading Sony Debuts Its Spatial Reality Display with Glasses-Free 3D

Apple Touts iPhone 12 Pro as an All-in-One Filmmaking Tool

At the company’s second virtual tech product reveal, Apple chief executive Tim Cook debuted four iPhone 12 models that are capable of connecting with 5G networks. Prices for the new phones begin at $699 for the least expensive 5.4-inch iPhone 12 Mini up to the $999 iPhone 12 Pro and $1,099 12 Pro Max. Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki made a short movie with the iPhone 12 Pro, which Apple touts is “the first and only device that enables you to capture, edit, watch, and share Dolby Vision video.” Continue reading Apple Touts iPhone 12 Pro as an All-in-One Filmmaking Tool

Facebook Debuts Oculus Quest 2, Readies New Smartglasses

Facebook released Oculus Quest 2, a customizable VR headset priced at $299 — $100 less than its predecessor. Improved hardware includes a fast-switching LCDs with 1832×1920 resolution per eye and 50 percent more pixels than the first version. Although it doesn’t have the same black levels as the original Quest’s OLED screens, it offers support for an (eventual) 90Hz refresh rate; Quest 2 launches with a 72Hz refresh rate. In partnership with Ray-Ban, Facebook also plans to debut a pair of smartglasses in 2021. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Oculus Quest 2, Readies New Smartglasses

Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

The battle between Apple and Epic Games over the former’s commission fees for games sold in its App Store has heated up. Apple and Google both tossed Epic Games’ “Fortnite” from their app stores after Epic debuted an in-app payment system that prevented both companies from reaping 30 percent of customers’ spending. Epic Games filed a lawsuit, and Apple just filed a countersuit, accusing the software developer of “duplicity and greed” and asking a judge for punitive damages. Epic Games has seen its iOS- and Mac-based usership plunge. Continue reading Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

Niantic Gathers Telecom Dream Team to Advance AR Content

Niantic, the company that successfully created augmented reality experiences of Pokémon, Harry Potter and other intellectual properties, revealed its plans to offer its own consumer AR platform, with hardware, software and support for third-party developers. The Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance is a coalition of cell phone partners, including Deutsche Telekom, EE, Globe, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank Telus and Verizon that will distribute “exclusive 5G-ready AR content,” publicly demonstrating 5G consumer AR experiences. Continue reading Niantic Gathers Telecom Dream Team to Advance AR Content

Niantic and Punchdrunk Partner to Develop New AR Projects

Punchdrunk, the British theater company that produced “Sleep No More,” and Niantic, developer of popular mobile games “Pokémon Go” and “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” are teaming up to collaborate on several projects. In “Sleep No More” — an immersive but not interactive show — audience members walked through rooms at their own pace, with actors performing hour-long loops. Punchdrunk already produced a virtual reality project for Samsung Gear VR and a mobile game with Silverpoint. The two companies haven’t released details on their first project. Continue reading Niantic and Punchdrunk Partner to Develop New AR Projects

Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 Will Enable Mid-Tier 5G Phones

Qualcomm unveiled its next step towards widespread availability of 5G-enabled smartphones. The Snapdragon 690 is a more economical mobile platform with 5G connectivity, and support for cameras with up to 192-megapixel photos and 30-frame-per-second 4K HDR videos, the latter two based on AI chip enhancements for high bitrates. Snapdragon 690 incorporates the X51 modem, which offers global 5G band and global multi-SIM support, although it’s only capable of connecting to sub-6GHz 5G networks, excluding millimeter wave. Continue reading Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 Will Enable Mid-Tier 5G Phones

Snapchat Aims to Compete With AR-Centric Digital Platform

Snap is planning to compete directly with Apple, Facebook and Google by creating a complete digital platform, with an app store, expanded games service and ability for third-party developers to build augmented reality experiences with its machine-learning models. Further, Snap is permitting other apps to integrate its camera software and include businesses and users’ friends into its maps. Snapchat has grown to 229 million daily users, versus Twitter’s 166 million, but is still smaller than Instagram and Facebook. Continue reading Snapchat Aims to Compete With AR-Centric Digital Platform

Niantic Creates Virtual Format for Two-Day Pokémon GO Fest

Rather than bringing people together in a park, Niantic‘s Pokémon GO Fest 2020 will enable gamers from around the world to join virtually from July 25 to July 26. Niantic chief executive John Hanke referenced COVID-19 when he explained his company wants to support players during the lockdown. “We want to bring the fun, and we want to make a safe adventure for people, as we have in the past year after year,” he said. He added that Niantic supports Black Lives Matter and wants to be a force for good for users and their communities. Continue reading Niantic Creates Virtual Format for Two-Day Pokémon GO Fest

Snap Expands AR Toolset, Announces Deals for New Content

Snap inked multi-year deals for custom short-form content with Disney, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, the National Basketball Association and the National Football League. It released plans for original content including unscripted series, docuseries, and scripted dramas and comedies. In partnership with The Washington Post, Bloomberg and ESPN, Snap will produce “Happening Now,” a breaking news feature. It also revealed that 170+ million people use its augmented-reality tools daily, moving the technology into the mainstream. Continue reading Snap Expands AR Toolset, Announces Deals for New Content

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Albert Lao of Verizon Business

ETC continues its Executive Spotlight series, in which we interview leaders from our member companies about how they are adapting operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a fascinating discussion with Albert Lao of the Verizon Business Group. As the Americas leader of Verizon’s Global Presales Organization, Lao leads tech strategy, solution architecture, CPE design, pre-sales engineering and more with Verizon’s enterprise customers. We sat down with Lao who described his company’s plans for continued growth during the pandemic and after; addressing collaboration tools, security and troubleshooting remotely; and new ways to support customers as well as first responders and healthcare workers. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Albert Lao of Verizon Business

Niantic to Build 3D World Map via Data Collected From Users

Niantic, the developer of “Pokémon Go,” raised $470 million to evolve the mobile game into a full-featured augmented reality platform. The company, valued at $4 billion, will rely on “Pokémon Go” players to build its 3D data collection by sharing videos of real-world PokéStop and Gym locations. By crowdsourcing such assets, Niantic plans to build 3D maps with “a better understanding of the depth and the complexities of the real world.” The 3D data collection will debut in June to “Pokémon Go” players ranked above Level 40. Continue reading Niantic to Build 3D World Map via Data Collected From Users

Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Spatial lets its enterprise customers use VR or mixed reality headsets to meet in virtual spaces. The company now plans to launch support for desktop web browsers, Android and iOS — open to all and free. That support means virtual meetings can include participants who do not have a headset. According to Spatial co-founder and chief executive Anand Agarawala, “in light of COVID, we’ve actually had an intense amount of demand — about a 1,000 percent increase.” He added that, unlike Zoom, “something like VR gives you that level of presence and personification.” Continue reading Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

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