Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Facebook introduced an AI text-to-speech system (TTS) that produces a second of audio in 500 milliseconds. According to Facebook, the system, which is used with a new approach to data collection, powered the creation of a British accent-inflected voice in six months, versus over a year required for other voices. The TTS is now used for Facebook’s Portal smart display brand. The system can be hosted in real time via ordinary processors and is also available as a service for other apps, including Facebook’s VR. Continue reading Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

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

USC Games Expo Goes Online, Plans to Feature 50+ Games

With the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Southern California Games Expo had to quickly shift from a 2,000-peron physical event for students and faculty to an entirely online event. For almost a decade, according to Princeton Review, USC Games has been North America’s No. 1 ranked game design program. USC Games director Danny Bilson said that, with additional financial support from sponsor Jam City, the group scrambled to create an online-only expo to feature 50+ student game demos. Continue reading USC Games Expo Goes Online, Plans to Feature 50+ Games

Apple Files Patent for Light Field Camera System With 6DOF

Apple just submitted an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a light field panoramic camera system for next-generation iPhones, iPads and head-mounted displays (HMD). With the camera, the user will be able to capture images (as well as position and orientation information) by holding up the device. Processing the images for relative positions and depth information, the light field panorama will allow a viewer to explore 3D views of the image with 6 degrees of freedom (DOF). Continue reading Apple Files Patent for Light Field Camera System With 6DOF

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

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

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

HPA Tech Retreat: The Latest Workflows for Virtual Production

The HPA Tech Retreat kicked off with an ambitious daylong demo that highlighted innovations in content creation, management and distribution technology and workflows. Supersession chair Joachim Zell, VP technology for EFILM walked the audience through numerous elements of an HDR production: filming, editing and finishing two scenes that provided the final chapters for a short film. The process, much of which involved workflows in the cloud, featured multiple cameras, on-set management and collaboration platforms, editorial, dailies and digital intermediate color grading systems, as well as online mastering and distribution platforms. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: The Latest Workflows for Virtual Production

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

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

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: Developer Finally Launches the Pimax 8K X Headset

Chinese developer Pimax first announced an 8K VR headset in 2017, but missed its initial 2018 release date. At CES 2020, the company made good with the launch of the Pimax 8K X, tapped by Digital Trends as its AR/VR top trends winner. The Pimax 8K X headset offers 8K resolution and a 200-degree field of view, beyond the specifications of Oculus Quest and the Valve Index. Reviewers have noted that the 8K resolution makes a “noticeable different in image sharpness,” including “crystal clear” fine text and other details. Continue reading CES: Developer Finally Launches the Pimax 8K X Headset

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