Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Niantic has acquired 6D.ai, an augmented reality company that is building a 3D map of the world via smartphone cameras. According to Niantic chief executive John Hanke, the resulting dynamic 3D world map will enable developers to create planet-scale AR experiences. On the company blog, he stated that, “this means we’re even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware.” Founded in 2017, 6D.ai was spun out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. Continue reading Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

ETC@USC Announces Winners of Immersive Media Challenge

ETC’s Immersive Media Challenge judges selected four submissions that best meet the criteria of “a great idea, well told.” Jack Vomacka’s Audio-Visual Animation describes a blend of physical objects and projection technologies that would create more believable LBE experiences. Sam Clempson’s Mind Palace is an AR-based memory-improvement tool. Courtney Zhang’s Affa Streaming AI Experience uses mood detection to make content recommendations. And Lance Newby’s MIC (ML for In-game Content) turns non-playable characters into minor characters who participate in and can influence the action of a video game. Pitch videos and answers to challenge questions for all submissions are posted on ETC’s homepage. Continue reading ETC@USC Announces Winners of Immersive Media Challenge

Streaming Format GPEG Aims to Improve Gaming, Interactivity

Instant Interactive, a game-focused division of Primal Space Systems, is creating GPEG (Geometry Pump Engine Group), a “cousin of the MPEG format” and a different way of visualizing data. The parent company invested $8 million in the venture, aimed at game engines for more efficient streaming and interactivity for video entertainment. Primal Space Systems was co-founded by Barry Jenkins, a graphics expert; chief technology officer John Scott, formerly at Epic Games; and medical vision expert/chair Solomon Luo. Continue reading Streaming Format GPEG Aims to Improve Gaming, Interactivity

Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

Magic Leap is exploring the possibility of a sale, according to sources. The Florida-based startup raised $2.6 billion to create augmented reality products, and now has hired an adviser to consider “strategic options” for moving forward. In addition to the potential of a sale, Magic Leap could sell a stake in the company or form a strategic partnership. The company is valued at $6 billion to $8 billion. Among the company’s largest investors are Alphabet’s Google and China’s Alibaba Group Holding. Continue reading Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

New App Leverages AR to Let Users Dance with Music Stars

The stage appearance of a Tupac Shakur hologram at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival marked the beginning of the music industry’s fascination with the new tech. Now, augmented reality startup 1RIC convinced five artists to dance and pose, surrounded by 106 cameras. The resulting 3D images of these performers reside on Jadu, 1RIC’s app, which consumers can use to create their own videos of themselves dancing with the stars. Chief executive Asad Malik said Jadu is an effort to make 3D holograms more accessible. Continue reading New App Leverages AR to Let Users Dance with Music Stars

Facebook’s 3D Photos Now Available for All Latest Handsets

Facebook’s 3D Photos feature — which uses depth data to create images that can be examined from different angles via virtual reality headsets — is now available on any of the latest handsets with a single camera, including Apple iPhone 7 or higher or any midrange (and above) Android phone. According to Facebook, the latest in machine learning techniques has made this feature possible. The company first unveiled 3D Photos in late 2018, when it required either a dual-camera phone or a depth map file on the desktop. Continue reading Facebook’s 3D Photos Now Available for All Latest Handsets

Qualcomm and ZeroLight Introduce 5G Mixed Reality System

Qualcomm and ZeroLight are launching an end-to-end solution that uses the former’s 5G-ready Snapdragon XR2 mixed reality chipset to offer Boundless XR for high-bandwidth wireless connection for mixed reality headsets. Aimed at the enterprise market, Boundless XR will enable developers to create lightweight, low-power headsets with the rendering power of a 300-watt computer. The solution relies on WiGig (60GHz Wi-Fi) or 5G, if there are nearby 5G base stations, something that enterprises could access via private 5G networks. Continue reading Qualcomm and ZeroLight Introduce 5G Mixed Reality System

MxR Lab: Travel Back in Time 25,000 Years For AR User Study

Have you ever been curious about what Los Angeles looked like during the Ice Age, or how animals got stuck in the tar at the #TarPits? Be the first to try Tar AR at Pit 91, a special augmented reality experience running March 2-15. Participation is free for those who RSVP. Participants will receive free #TarPits Museum admission, 10 percent off at the Museum Store during the day of participation, and limited edition Ice Age Animal stickers. Plus, you’ll be helping #TarPits and the University of Southern California in important scientific research about AR. Continue reading MxR Lab: Travel Back in Time 25,000 Years For AR User Study

HTC Debuts Modular Virtual Reality & Mixed Reality Headsets

After introducing the PC-driven Vive Cosmos virtual reality headset last year, HTC just debuted four new VR headsets: the Cosmos, Cosmos Play, Cosmos Elite and Cosmos XR. The headsets are similar to the original Vive Cosmos in terms of technology and modular design, the latter aimed at encouraging widespread distribution. According to HTC, Cosmos Play is the entry level headset, a basic model that will be the least expensive, and the Vive Cosmos will be HTC’s latest flagship product, a successor for the original Vive. Continue reading HTC Debuts Modular Virtual Reality & Mixed Reality Headsets

HPA Tech Retreat: Universal Unveils New Production Workflow

Like any movie franchise installment, Universal Pictures’ “Fast & Furious 8” (also known as “The Fate of the Furious”) relied on footage and data from the sequels that were produced before it. This movie was the proof of concept for Production 3.0, a new platform enabling quick access to assets like 3D VFX models for use in sequels, as well as theme park and AR/VR experiences.“Our production asset archive isn’t organized enough and doesn’t hold all production assets,” said Universal VP of creative technologies Annie Chang, who headed the team that developed it. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Universal Unveils New Production Workflow

Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

In Snapchat’s animated series Bitmoji TV, which launches February 1, the user’s avatar stars — and the last person he Snapchatted co-stars — in various TV scenarios, including sitcoms, soap operas and reality competitions. This first season will debut 10 three-to-four-minute episodes, unveiled on Saturday mornings. As Bitmoji founder/chief executive Ba Blackstock puts it, “we’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons.” The series takes off from Bitmoji Stories, which stars the user’s avatar in funny situations. Continue reading Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

Pokémon Go Battle League: Niantic Ramps Up Global Play

Niantic, developer of “Pokémon Go,” is capping a profitable 2019 for the augmented reality game by improving its competitive battle system. The first step is the introduction of Pokémon Go Battle League, which adds a new structure to the Trainer Battle System enabling players to compete against one another from around the globe. Pokémon Go Battle League is slowly debuting around the world. In additional gaming news, Sensor Tower notes that Nintendo’s mobile games have earned $1 billion in revenue, starting with “Super Mario Run” in 2016. Continue reading Pokémon Go Battle League: Niantic Ramps Up Global Play

Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing. Continue reading Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

FBI and Law Enforcement Use New Facial Recognition Tool

A small startup named Clearview AI, led by Hoan Ton-That, created a facial recognition app that may exceed the scope of anything built by the U.S. government or Big Tech companies. Now in the hands of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and hundreds of other law enforcement agencies, the app allows the user to take a photo of a person, upload it and search a database of more than three billion images to find public photos of that person with links to where they appeared. Images have been scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and “millions of other websites.” Continue reading FBI and Law Enforcement Use New Facial Recognition Tool

Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

After five years of work, California-based Mojo Vision demonstrated Mojo Lens, a smart contact lens that is still in research and development. For now, the demonstrations are via a virtual reality headset rather than an actual contact lens. But Mojo Vision’s goal is to create a means of “invisible computing,” which will provide an interface that enables consumers to reduce their use of screens. Co-founder/chief technology officer Mike Wiemer explains that Mojo Lens will be “very discreet.” Continue reading Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

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