Facebook Steps into Workplace VR with Horizon Workrooms

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IDC reported that Facebook sold more Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets than before. Now Facebook offers Quest 2 owners Horizon Workrooms, a free VR service that offers virtual meeting rooms. Users can participate with a customized cartoon avatar and the room offers virtual white boards for drawing and writing, a step towards what chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dubs the “mixed-reality future” for its 3.5 billion users. Zuckerberg introduced Workrooms in VR with employees and reporters in attendance. Continue reading Facebook Steps into Workplace VR with Horizon Workrooms

Snap Introduces Augmented Reality Spectacles for Creators

During last week’s Snap Partner Summit 2021, Snap showcased Spectacles, a new augmented reality version of its glasses that is not yet commercially available. Instead, the goal is to inspire creators to design new augmented reality experiences, with the aim of capitalizing on e-commerce. The company also updated the Scan feature, which, in concert with partners, allows use of the camera to identify everything from plants to dog breeds and car models. Chief executive Evan Spiegel said the moves are “a meaningful step forward in our platform strategy.” Continue reading Snap Introduces Augmented Reality Spectacles for Creators

Facebook, Apple, Niantic Develop AR Glasses for Consumers

New augmented reality glasses intended for consumers are on the horizon. Facebook plans to release a version in partnership with EssilorLuxottica’s Ray-Ban brand and is developing AR glasses that work with sensor-enabled wristbands. Meanwhile, Niantic and Qualcomm have teamed to manufacture AR glasses, and Apple is working on an AR headset for consumers, to be followed by AR glasses. Snap is also developing AR glasses aimed at consumers. Google, which debuted Google Glass in 2013, is also said to be planning another attempt at the consumer market. Continue reading Facebook, Apple, Niantic Develop AR Glasses for Consumers

Former Magic Leap CEO Now Building Synthetic Characters

Rony Abovitz, who stepped down as chief exec of augmented reality company Magic Leap in 2020, is now heading Sun and Thunder, a startup focused on synthetic characters and interactive storytelling made possible by spatial computing. That latter goal leans into the work Abovitz did at Magic Leap to create mixed reality experiences. Abovitz said Sun and Thunder is building its own technology platform, the TREX101, and output isn’t tied to any specific media or platform. Meanwhile, Magic Leap is now headed by former Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson. Continue reading Former Magic Leap CEO Now Building Synthetic Characters

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

Magic Leap Launches New Enterprise-Focused AR Headset

Magic Leap formally released Magic Leap 1, its much-anticipated augmented reality headset. The name was changed from the beta version, Magic Leap One Creator Edition, that has been selling at $2,295. Magic Leap 1, priced at $2,995, is targeting enterprise customers since the price is too high for most consumers. Accordingly, the headset was released with enterprise-oriented apps, including 3D visualization, communication, collaboration, location-based services, learning/assistance and “copresence.” Continue reading Magic Leap Launches New Enterprise-Focused AR Headset

Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Magic Leap, Microsoft and Snap are among the Big Tech companies working on creating smart glasses that we can wear everywhere — and that may even replace our smartphones. Currently, glasses are too big (and expensive), but in time are expected to achieve a sleeker form factor and come down in price. Smart glasses promise to dramatically shift how we engage with the world, and some advocates believe we will eventually be able to replace every screen we use with a single pair of glasses. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Apple’s iOS 13 Reveals Path Forward for Augmented Reality

Apple signaled its steps toward augmented reality with a feature found in both iOS 13 and Xcode 11. Developers Steve Troughton-Smith and Guilherme Rambo discovered StarBoard, a stereo AR feature that appears to be similar to iOS’s CarPlay feature, which relies on an iPhone to generate graphics for a vehicle’s external touchscreen. But whereas CarPlay outputs a single image for a 2D display, StarBoard can apparently output two images for a 3D stereo headset, paired with a touch-based AR navigation controller. Continue reading Apple’s iOS 13 Reveals Path Forward for Augmented Reality

Epic Takes on Steam, Plans to Gift 500 Magic Leap Glasses

Epic Games has just made Steam an offer that’s hard to refuse: that it would “retreat from exclusives” if Steam “committed to a permanent 88 percent revenue share for all developers and publishers.” Since Epic opened its own store with that revenue share model in late 2018, a long list of high profile game developers left Steam to debut new titles with Epic. The company also partnered with Magic Leap to award 500 Magic Leap One glasses — normally priced at $2,295 — to developers working in augmented reality. Continue reading Epic Takes on Steam, Plans to Gift 500 Magic Leap Glasses

Magic Leap Turning to Blockchain Ecosystem for User Data

Magic Leap has posted job listings for a senior blockchain architect tasked with “overarching responsibility for planning and execution of a portfolio of blockchain, smart contracts and Ricardian contract technologies,” as well as helping to “develop an overall blockchain ecosystem engagement strategy.” The company also advertised positions for several blockchain engineers. The job listings stated that Magic Leap plans to use blockchain for its “Lifestream business function,” referring to its planned archive of user data. Continue reading Magic Leap Turning to Blockchain Ecosystem for User Data

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

Madefire and Magic Leap Collaborate on Comic Books in AR

Madefire, which makes digital versions of comic books, has collaborated with Magic Leap to debut its first Motion Book experiences in augmented reality on Magic Leap One Creator Edition, the developer version headset that costs $2,300. The comics are available in the Magic Leap World! Explore stories. In the past, Madefire has also collaborated with DC Comics and Marvel to create digital comics. Its platform, which is available on iOS, Android as well as Oculus Rift, offers 40,000 comics including Blizzard’s Overwatch comics. Continue reading Madefire and Magic Leap Collaborate on Comic Books in AR

VR Filmmakers Explore New Platforms at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, there was evidence that that some of the pioneering virtual reality companies are expanding — or shifting — their purview from VR movies into other genres. Sundance’s New Frontier program, which launched five years ago, highlighted VR filmmaking. At this year’s festival, long-time VR producers such as Felix & Paul are still engaging in virtual reality projects, but others are exploring augmented reality, connected devices and artificial intelligence in their interactive stories. Continue reading VR Filmmakers Explore New Platforms at Sundance Festival

Magic Leap, Wacom Debut Prototype of Shared Design Tools

Wacom and Magic Leap, whose partnership was announced last October at the first L.E.A.P. developers’ conference, have debuted a prototype of their collaborative design tools. Two years in the making, the tools consist of a Magic Leap One headset connected to a Wacom Intuos Pro pen tablet. Designers use a separate Pro Pen 3D stylus to control content on a Spacebridge platform that streams 3D data into a spatial computing environment. The system, which was on display at CES 2019, allows multiple people to interact with 3D models. Continue reading Magic Leap, Wacom Debut Prototype of Shared Design Tools

Chinese Startup Nreal Debuts Sleek, High-Quality AR Glasses

Chinese startup Nreal unveiled augmented reality glasses at CES 2019 featuring high-quality visuals and a sleek form factor that are slimmer than the Vuzix Blade AR glasses. The Nreal glasses weigh 85 grams (less than one-fifth of a pound) and offer 1080p projection through both lenses, with a 52-degree field of view. That makes the Nreal glasses closer to a Magic Leap headset or Microsoft HoloLens glasses — with an even better field of view. Nreal, similar to Magic Leap, also requires a processor pack connected to the glasses. Continue reading Chinese Startup Nreal Debuts Sleek, High-Quality AR Glasses