XR Highlights of the Week: Vive Cosmos Available, Quest PC, Apple and Verizon Acquisitions, Tilt Five Kickstarter
A recap of the XR (virtual reality and augmented reality) developments over the past week.
This slowed down a bit this week as the biggest news of the week was Verizon’s acquisition of Jaunt and Apple’s purchase of the UK-based visual effects startup iKinema. iKinema is known for its affordable real-time 3D rendering technology and inverse kinetic technology. This week also saw Vive ship its $700 Cosmos headset which has inside-out tracking technology but is still tethered to a PC although there is an optional and affordable wireless kit. There have been mixed reviews about the headset.
Here is a full recap of the key developments that happened this week.
Verizon Acquired JauntXR’s AR and VR Technology
This week saw Verizon purchase JauntXR’s augmented reality and virtual reality software and technology along with “certain other assets”. JauntXR initially specialized in technology used to capture and display volumetric video of humans but the company eventually pivoted towards augmented reality. The terms of the acquisition have not been divulged yet and it is also unclear whether the UK-based startup will continue operating as an independent unit following the acquisition.
Tilt Five Doubles Funding Goal
Tilt Five launched its Kickstarter campaign on September 24th with the goal of raising $450,000. The startup is developing an augmented reality system that is targeted exclusively at tabletop games. This week, the company’s fundraising campaign on Kickstarter hit more than $1 million and the startup is planning on delivering pre-ordered units next summer. The fundraising campaign continues until October 28th.
The VOID Adds New Avengers Experience
Location-based entertainment startup The VOID is adding a new Avengers experience to its LBE VR lineup. The new Avengers: Damage Control opens on October 18th and places players in recognizable movie locations where they will come face-to-face with some of the Avengers. The experience launches as a limited run in 11 locations.
New Orleans to Have City Scale AR Art
New Orleans is set to get an AR treatment this month with city-scale AR Art set to be spread throughout the city. Known as Battlegrounds, it will include a collection of 30 AR activations across the city that will be unlocked using the 4th Wall AR app. Users can explore the art pieces from October 26th.
Google Maps AR Beta Finally Available
Google Maps AR has been all the rage since its launch in August but it is only now that it is beginning to show on the maps app. It is currently showing in beta and it is as cool as you could possibly imagine.
Vive Cosmos is Finally here
Vive Cosmos began shipping on October 3 to mixed reviews. The headset features inside-out tracking but it is still tethered to PC.
VR Experience Gives You a Free Virtual Versailles Tour
There is a new virtual reality experience that takes you inside Versailles. If you are a SteamVR user, you can download the experience on any of your PC-based virtual reality headsets. The team that created the experience used photogrammetry to capture the Versailles palace in 3D complete with true-to-life details.
Enklu Launches AR Maker Space
A new AR maker space known as E-den has been launched in San Francisco. The new space will provide each member with a Microsoft HoloLens. The mixed reality headsets will be running Enklu’s platform thereby allowing for a large spectrum of mixed reality experiences to be developed by the community. Both players and creators at E-den will gain access to the Enklu platform along with support and training on how to develop mixed reality experiences. The E-den is situated in the 4th floor of the Dome in the Westfield San Francisco Centre at the 845 Market Street.
Apple Acquires iKinema
This was one of the major highlights this week. It was announced that Apple acquired the UK-based 3D animation company iKinema in a move seen as the latest effort to bolster its augmented reality ambitions. iKinema’s motion capture technology transforms video footage of people into animated characters. Apple did not disclose how much the acquisition was worth.
FundamentalVR Adds Facetectomy Simulation Procedure
It was reported that FundamentalVR is expanding its surgical sim platform by adding new procedures. The new procedure is a facetectomy simulation for the vertebrae and decompression of spinal nerve roots. The new procedure will utilize Fundamental’s eye-tracking functionality that was implemented into the platform a few months ago.
Augmented Reality Shopping on Instagram
This week saw Instagram debuting augmented reality shopping on its platform through the Checkout feature that was integrated last year. The new AR shopping experience will be powered by Facebook’s Spark AR and initial trials will be with a few brands on Instagram including Ray-Ban, MAC Cosmetics, Warby Parker and NARS Cosmetics among others.
Microsoft Patents New Vibrating Floor Mat
Microsoft has filed a patent for a new vibrating virtual reality floor mat in a bid to make the virtual reality play space safer. The patent was published this week by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Should it go into development, it will bolster the existing Guardian systems in virtual reality headsets.
Imaginate and Partners Receive $1 Million Grant for AR Research
A joint Imaginate team won a $1 million grant from NSF to be used in research on augmenting emergency responders. Dubbed Learning Environments with Advanced Robotics for Next-Generation Emergency Responders or LEARNER, the research aims to explore the ways through which emergency responders can be augmented with technologies like autonomous robots, powered exoskeletons and augmented reality. The Imaginate team is planning on using the grant for creating a “personalized mixed reality learning platform for emergency”.
Teooh Launches Avatar-Based VR Conference Platform
Teooh’s virtual conferencing solution will bring together teams, companies, meetups and much more within a virtual reality meeting space.