- Children’s Hospital Los Angeles And Oculus To Expand Their VR Training Program 11 new medical institutions and healthcare networks will benefit from the innovative virtual reality program.
- How Apple’s Acquisition Of Akonia Holographics Will Redefine AR
It’s no surprise at this point that Apple is actively working on augmented reality glasses. A secretive project has been underway for years under the management of former Dolby executive Mike Rockwell, and Apple has broadly hinted that its AR ambitions extend beyond the iPhone’s and iPad’s ARKit software.
While Apple’s acquisition of Akonia Holographics apparently took place months ago, the news just became public, and it’s an extremely important data point in understanding AR’s trajectory. After peeking at Akonia’s patent portfolio, it’s clear that the company is best known for developing holographic storage solutions — technology interestingly licensed to Nintendo and others — but its more recent work is in creating wearable “HoloMirror” optics.
If you’re not familiar with how AR works, think of these optics as super-thin displays nestled inside otherwise transparent lenses — an overlay that lets you see the real world augmented with “holographic,” computer-generated visuals. Akonia’s technology specifically promises “dramatically higher performance” than prior solutions across five key metrics:
full color (RGB)
high field-of-view (FOV), and
If you’ve been following our reporting on AR solutions such as the Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap One, you’ll instantly understand why improvements on these factors are critically important. Current AR headsets are super-expensive, suffer from short battery life despite large sizes, and produce ghostly images inside small windows within your overall field of vision. AR won’t have a prayer of taking off until there’s a reasonably priced, power-efficient solution that produces colorful, natural-looking, and immersive imagery. That’s exactly what Akonia is claiming HoloMirror delivers.
With two-thirds of 2018 now in the rearview mirror, it’s clear that AR needs an Apple-caliber shot in the arm. Looking past the extremely limited enterprise adoption of the $3,000 to $5,000 HoloLens, there’s very little evidence of consumer interest in the self-contained AR headset, and even Microsoft speaks of it as merely a step along the path to a consumer product. More recently, Magic Leap failed to wow people with its long-awaited unveil of a slightly better but much larger $2,295 alternative. Other AR devices have proved useful only for specific industrial applications — no one’s going to wear them out in public, and they’re most likely not leaving the owner’s office or home.
Apple’s end goal with AR is to produce a wearable that looks basically indistinguishable from a standard pair of glasses, and can be used anywhere. The company’s designers are not interested in Google-like efforts to make people look like cyborgs, or Oakley-style glasses with electronic enclosures dangling from the temples. Don’t expect Tony Stark’s wire-rimmed glasses in Avengers: Infinity War — thick rims will be a necessity — but Akonia’s slim technology suggests that the lenses will be slender, yet powerful.
It’s a safe bet that Apple will offload most of the actual computing into a separate device — an iPhone or Apple Watch, connected wirelessly — instead of trying to cram everything inside like the HoloLens. But in addition to the Akonia-developed displays, the glasses will need to house camera, tracking, high-bandwidth wireless, and battery components; micro speakers for audio cues; and a controller chip.
My guess is that the challenges involved in making these parts
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- The VR Job Hub: New Month, New Job Opportunities See in the new month by finding your dream job working within the immersive technology industry.
- Something For The Weekend: See In September With Oculus Sales Enjoy the first weekend of September with a number of discounts on Oculus Rift titles.
- Highwire Games’ PlayStation VR Title Golem Still On Track For A 2018 Launch The studio have spoken out about the current state of the title.
- Immersive Music Visualization Space Dream VR Releases Demo Explore alien worlds while enjoying your favourite music all in virtual reality.
- The Lancaster VR Lounge Set To Open In Lancaster City This November The new 2,500 square-foot space will offer more than 200 videogames and experiences to visitors.
- BigBasket Teams Up With GMETRI To Launch VR Shopping Experience The company is bridging the gap between their online and physical store fronts.
- New Launch Trailer Showcases Firewall Zero Hour In Action The tactical military shooter brings the action to PlayStation VR.
- VR Headsets Need To Become Easier And Quicker To Use
If you look deeply into recent VR announcements, past the high-level spec changes and aesthetic considerations, you’ll notice an important developing trend: Headset makers are actively trying to make VR easier for new users to experience — quickly.
Over the past year, many VR companies have pivoted either fully or partially to embrace the technology’s potential in public spaces. Notable software developers have shifted to making location-specific games where headsets get passed from person to person. Oculus has started to donate Rift and Go headsets to promote mass VR use in public museums and schools, while developing a screen-sharing feature so experienced Go users can guide new headset wearers. And HTC has been working similar on content-streaming features for its standalone Vive Focus.
Another big example came this morning with Acer’s announcement of OJO 500, a Windows Mixed Reality headset that superficially shares most features with an earlier model. But now OJO 500 is “designed to be pulled apart,” notably including a detachable headstrap. While this makes cleaning and storage easier, the broader reason for the change is to support “family or business scenarios where a single device may be shared among multiple users.”
Acer and other VR headset makers have realized that new VR users are getting bored waiting for their first experiences. In public spaces, people have been spending too much time waiting in lines before they can actually use devices, turning initial enthusiasm into disenchantment. In some cases, just getting the headset on and adjusted is the key holdup. OJO 500’s detachable headstrap means that the next person in line could be handed a second headstrap, and finish most of the fitting process before the current user ends her session.
One of the arguably unfortunate consequences of this “easier setup” process is that some hardware makers are going to move away from fully engrossing components to ones that are easier to get on and off. Acer’s already doing this with OJO 500. At first, this will mean over-ear and in-ear headphones give way to loose on-ear and near-ear speakers. But it’s also going to mean more flip-up screens and less tight seals with your face and eyes.
Solving the hardware issues is only a piece of the puzzle. For some of the PC-dependent headsets, the software setup process remains annoyingly long. Even with headsets and controllers that were already set up, I’ve seen public VR demo stations at Microsoft Stores where first-time users witness driver errors and hiccups in selecting Windows apps. There are no such problems on Sony’s PlayStation VR platform, but I have yet to see a PSVR demo station in any local store — the benefits of Sony’s straightforward setup experience only become apparent once you’ve purchased the hardware.
All of the major VR headset makers appear to understand that their devices have to become simpler to use or they risk alienating prospective customers. Whether one views their latest moves as obvious evolutionary steps or necessary responses to an existential threat depends on your perspective on VR as a whole. VR naysayers are certain that the technology is dying, while manufacturers and
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- New Trailer Released For The Google Spotlight Stories Age of Sail The virtual reality film is making it's debut at the Venice International Film Festival.
- This Week In VR Sports: Injury Examination In VR, eSports Competitions And AR Content Shannons Nationals are hosting an eSports competitions, SyncThink looks to help with injuries and new features come to HawkeyeSports.
- KAT VR Reveal Exclusive Distribution Offer For Their Upcoming KAT Walk Mini The company is reaching out to potential partners to offer exclusive distributorships terms.
- HTC Showcase How The Vive Wireless Adapter Took Over Gamescom 2018 In New Video The wireless adapter promising untethered virtual reality experiences even won an award at the show.
- Imogen Heap Performs A Holographic VR Concert Tonight On TheWaveVR
Catch a mind-bending live show of the grammy award-winning singer-songwriter via a cutting-edge holographic VR performance. English singer-songwriter, record producer, audio engineer, and electronic music pioneer, Imogen Jennifer Heap, is known best for her unique, spacey sound. A combination of electronica and alt rock with trace elements of dance, her incredible music often tends to
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