ETC Launches First of Two Metaverse Experience Challenges

University of Southern California students were invited to participate in the first of two scheduled Metaverse Experience Challenges, hosted by ETC@USC. Making use of current and emerging tools, students were tasked with developing original ideas for compelling metaverse experiences. Six teams of randomly-grouped students started work at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 1 and presented their ideas to judges from Epic Games, Universal Pictures and Disney Research at 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 2. Each member of the winning teams — Meetaverse and Virtual Vinyl — received a Nintendo Switch “Fortnite” Edition, courtesy of Epic Games. Continue reading ETC Launches First of Two Metaverse Experience Challenges

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

Microsoft Mesh Aims to Bring VR/AR Devices, Users Together

Microsoft Mesh is a new mixed-reality platform powered by Azure that enables people in different locations to meet and collaborate as digital representations of themselves in holographic experiences across a variety of devices. To demonstrate the shared experience, Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman appeared at the company’s Ignite digital conference this week via holoportation, and was joined by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté, filmmaker James Cameron and Niantic CEO John Hanke to discuss related initiatives. Microsoft announced two apps built on the platform — a preview version for HoloLens 2 and a new Mesh-enabled version of AltspaceVR. Continue reading Microsoft Mesh Aims to Bring VR/AR Devices, Users Together

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

CTA Researchers Discuss Key Tech Trends to Expect at CES

In a live question-and-answer period during CES 2021, Consumer Technology Association vice president of research Steve Koenig and director of research Lesley Rohrbaugh answered questions about technology trends not described in their earlier presentation on predictions for 2021. In answer to a question about what to expect this year from smart glasses, Koenig emphasized that, “this is definitely the year of augmented reality.” But, he added, rather than describing experiences as VR, AR or MR, he said those terms will be replaced by describing “degrees of immersion.” Continue reading CTA Researchers Discuss Key Tech Trends to Expect at CES

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

Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Apple has purchased NextVR, a virtual reality video service that offered 360-degree access to live events, including sporting events from NBA, WWE and NHL. With a VR headset, users could enjoy the feeling of “presence” in NextVR’s panoramic stereoscopic 3D scenes. The company also offered 2D smartphone access and planned to support augmented reality devices. The service never became popular, however, and a failed 2019 funding round followed by the coronavirus-related cancellation of sporting events left it struggling to survive. Continue reading Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

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

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

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

CES Features the Latest Advances in VR and AR Headsets

During CES we saw a number of VR and AR headsets that illustrate the emerging trends and most recent developments in this space. LetinAR showcased its PinMR optical solution with glasses that leverage 11 pinhole micromirrors per eye in order to deliver a clear and bright image. Panasonic demonstrated a prototype of its new VR headset with micro OLED 2,048 x 2,048 resolution, HDR and spatial audio. Human Capable presented its lightweight and affordable glasses expected to ship Q2 this year, while Pimax showed an updated tethered HMD with native 4K per eye display. And Nreal showed significant improvement to the brightness of its AR display. Continue reading CES Features the Latest Advances in VR and AR Headsets

CES: 5G and the Internet of Things Take First Steps – Part 1

For several years, the Internet of Things (IoT) and next-generation 5G networks have been evolving on parallel tracks. From autonomous vehicles to smart factories and wearables, 5G promises to super-charge speed, low latency and reliability. As carriers begin to introduce 5G networks, it’s time to check-in about the state of the relationship between these two emerging technologies. We anticipate both to make a major splash at CES in Las Vegas this January. Today, we’ll look at creating applications for existing and new networks. Tomorrow, we’ll address the convergence of 5G and IoT in the enterprise space. Continue reading CES: 5G and the Internet of Things Take First Steps – Part 1

CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

When CES 2020 opens on January 7th in Las Vegas, I expect experiences — of which ‘entertainment’ is one option — will be center stage. We will be watching for repositioning of products and services as experiences, as well as for new ideas for experiences themselves. To state the obvious, for mixed reality and immersive experiences to work well, the user experience (UX) should be intuitive and match user expectations. Companies are working to achieve this by dealing in their own individual ways with the convergence of multisensory, multiplatform, immersive media technology and language (VR, AR, MR, XR); AI; 5G; IoT; robotics and autonomous things; and blockchain. Gartner describes this as a shift from technology-literate people to people-literate technology. Continue reading CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

Qualcomm Targets 5G, Mixed Reality With Snapdragon XR2

Qualcomm debuted Snapdragon XR2, which the company is dubbing “the world’s first 5G XR platform.” This second generation mixed reality chipset follows the debut of Snapdragon XR1 in May 2018, which provided “the minimum criteria for immersion” in mixed reality and was intended to lower the price of components for XR headsets (it was used in AR glasses such as Google Glass Enterprise). Qualcomm is presenting Snapdragon XR2, however, as more powerful than the Snapdragon 835 that powered the Oculus Quest VR headset. Continue reading Qualcomm Targets 5G, Mixed Reality With Snapdragon XR2

ETC@USC Gears Up For January’s CES 2020 in Las Vegas

When CES 2020 opens on January 7 in Las Vegas, it is almost certain that entertainment will be taking center stage. Where emerging technologies have disrupted media and entertainment on a rollercoaster of change for the past few decades, today’s M&E companies are harnessing technologies, driving innovation, and emerging as disruptors themselves. The days of entertainment as a CES sideshow and a way to light up screens to sell TVs are over. Our team of reporters will be at CES again this year covering the latest news from keynote addresses, product demos and related events. Continue reading ETC@USC Gears Up For January’s CES 2020 in Las Vegas