Recap XR News Last Week: Oculus Connect 6, Rift S Obsolete, XR Kickstarters, iOS 13 AR Secrets, Absurd:joy
Last week was a busy one in the XR sphere. The week was of course dominated by the Oculus Connect 6 developer conference held at the San Jose Convention Center which came with its fair share of announcements and surprises. Over a fortnight ago, there was also the EWTS in Dallas with its highlights of Enterprise XR. Highlights of the week included Kickstarter fundraising successes, social VR, Apple’s upcoming augmented reality headset and new startups. Moving forward, the key industry players are still the ones with the innovation infrastructure to continuously upgrade their business processes.
The Oculus Connect 6 Proceedings
Lots of important news with a bearing on the XR universe emerged out of the OC6 last week. Facebook announced the introduction of native hand tracking for Oculus Quest that takes use to a whole new level of immersion. The hand tracking is impressive and will come in handy for certain experiences although it will be hard to grasp things without haptics.
The biggest announcement, however, was that of the Oculus Link update that allows the Oculus Quest update to be plugged to a PC which effectively makes Facebook’s Oculus Rift S obsolete. This was the highlight of the event. It creates a “Quest PC” and effectively kills the Rift S which has been a disappointment so far.
A lot of excitement was also generated by the announcement that Facebook would create a new massive social VR world known as Facebook Horizons. Facebook’s social spaces have been underutilized so far but the tech giant is going all-in on its newest social VR project with a team of 180 people working on the project. Check out the Oculus website for a more comprehensive list of the titles announced for Quest.
New Apple Update Reveals AR Headset via “StarTester”
The latest Apple update has revealed its augmented reality specifications via the ‘StarTester’. A developer managed to unlock the stereoscopic view in the iOS 13.1 Beta and tweeted his discovery. The developer also discovered references to a mode which enables different configurations for stereoscopic viewing as well as several field of view settings which may suggest that Apple is planning to release more than a single device.
NextVR and NBA Announce 2019-2020 VR Schedule
NBA fans will be able to watch games via a virtual reality broadcast. If you are an NBA League Pass subscriber, you can use the NextVR app to access each of the VR broadcasts on any of the major virtual reality headsets. Prices for virtual reality broadcasts begin at $199 for the entire season.
Absurd:joy notchs up $4.4 Million Investment
Former Owlchemy co-founders Alex Schwartz and Cy Wise have teamed once again to found a new virtual reality startup that is planning to chart new frontiers and create new VR content that has “never seen before”. Absurd:joy has already secured $4.4 million in seed funding in spite of the fact that its next product is still shrouded in mystery. The new startup will focus on inventing completely new ways of interacting, playing and experiencing immersive technology. The team has stated explicitly that it plans to move away from the well-trodden path of game development. It will be interesting to see what it comes up with.
Ubimax Acquired ESSERT Digital
Ubimax is continuing to acquire additional software solutions and also continuing to build a strong European presence where many of the giant automakers are rapidly adopting XR.
Woojer Kickstarter Campaign Exceeds $1.5 Million
Haptic technology startup Woojer has now surpassed $1.5 million in Kickstarter fundraising. The Woojer wearable haptic device enables the wearer to feel sounds including that of movies, music or even the latest virtual reality games. Users can pre-order the Woojer sound pack, chest strap and wearable as belt for $99 on the Woojer Kickstarter page.
AR Table Game Device Exceeds $450,000 Kickstarter Goal
Augmented reality Tabletop game Tilt Five: Holographic Tabletop Gaming CEO Jeri Ellsworth has 450,000 reasons to smile as her Kickstarter campaign has surpassed the $450,000 fundraising goal. At the moment, the fundraising campaign has already exceeded $680,000 in pledges. The Tilt Five glasses device have been designed for tabletop augmented reality gaming and are set to launch with a list of games that will leverage the 6DoF ward controller as well as the customer deck of cards. Users can pre-order the glasses on the Kickstarter page for as low as $299.
Sansar Pivots to a Social Multiverse
Sansar made an announcement last week of its shift in strategy from a virtual reality platform to an interconnected set of virtual worlds. Virtual experiences built on the Sansar platform can now be interlinked within an OASIS-style metaverse. In the future, it might be possible to teleport between all social platforms.
New Interactive Story Launched by Wonderscope
Wonderscope launched its new interactive story Lauren and the Three Bears. The classic fairy tale can be played in augmented reality with a tablet and is Wonderscope’s fifth story. The studio specializes in creating educational and interactive augmented reality storybooks.
XRHealth Partners with Allscripts
Virtual reality therapy provider XRHealth entered into a partnership with the electronics health records company Allscripts. The partnership will make it possible for healthcare practitioners to track both patient progress and outcomes.
VRX Released 2019 XR Industry Report
VRX released an XR industry report. Some 750 executives were interviewed for report on the challenges they faced in the adoption of XR technologies. The report gave various industry insights: some 50% of businesses are already seeing growth in enterprise XR and see consumer VR as much weaker than previously hoped; 94% of respondents thought virtual reality will take at least two years to go mainstream while 63% thought it would take at least three years.