AT&T Shows Future of VR/AR at Developer Summit

AT&T Shows Future of VR/AR at Developer Summit

AT&T has come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell.

Over a century after the invention of the telephone in 1879, the telecom giant has constantly pushed the evolution of communication and media forward. The 2014 acquisition of DIRECTV was a recent big move, and the company is currently in process of purchasing Time Warner (which would bring AT&T’s telecommunication holdings under the same umbrella as the Warner Bros. studio, Turner Broadcasting System, and HBO).

With the deep history of innovation and modern focus on entertainment, it is no shocker that AT&T is taking aim at the most immersive medium: virtual and augmented reality technology.

AT&T sponsored us to attend the Developer Summit in Las Vegas, and as it turned out – the force was strong in VR/AR initiatives.

One of the most recognizable faces in the industry, Nonny de la Pena is nicknamed the “Godmother of Virtual Reality.” An award-winning creator and CEO of Emblematic Group, de la Pena is a pioneer in immersive journalism – one of her most famous projects is Project Syria, which was made for the World Economic Forum.

As part of the AT&T Futurecast series, de la Pena spoke about immersive journalism and why virtual reality is the only medium for her to tell the stories she wants.

It seemed like there was some mention of mixed reality technology in almost all the track sessions, which spanned topics from connected home to enterprise to entertainment to ioT – and of course, trends spotting.

Steve Lukas of Qualcomm Ventures urges developers to realize that with VR/AR, “the world is your interface”

Steve Lukas of Qualcomm Ventures urges developers to realize that with VR/AR, “the world is your interface”

One of the exciting VR/AR tools introduced at the show was the Video Resource Optimizer, which helps developers stream content more efficiently to devices – which could eventually help more devices be wireless (cutting the cord cannot come quickly enough!).

The expo hall was packed with VR/AR demos, all finalists in the AT&T VR/AR Challenge – and the Summit attendees got to cast their votes for the winner.

The Challenge: In September, AT&T announced the nationwide developer contest. The mission? To create non-gaming virtual and augmented reality solutions in 5 categories: Film/Content, Education, Sports, and Healthcare.

Two months later, 5 developer teams were still in the race. With $20,000 for the Grand Prize winner, excitement ran high.

Ed Schmit, Executive Director of AT&T, said “We were impressed. We were very happy with not only the number of submissions, but the number of very good quality submissions – and how much the technology has advanced over the last year or so. Having tracked [the VR/AR industry] for a couple of years now, I’m amazed at how rapidly the tools are advancing.”

The developer finalists came from all over the nation, and created VR/AR experiences ranging from data visualization, interactive narrative, education, improving accuracy of fulfillment services, and a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks.

The Grand Prize winner was an augmented reality application standout. Using the Microsoft Hololens, WaypointRx is an AR application that allows a layperson to fill a prescription that otherwise could only have been filled by a highly trained pharmacist.

Based out of Boston, WaypointRx is comprised of students from MIT and Harvard. Team member Umer Arshad said the company’s “goal is to use augmented reality to put the knowledge of experts into the hands of everyday people.”

There is a reason why AT&T has been around for over a century: it is a culture of constant innovation and the two-day Developer Summit highlighted the company’s dedication to supporting the developer community.

Power to the creators.

Listen to our latest podcast episode of the VRScout Report where we interview five finalists from the VR/AR Challenge at the AT&T Developer Summit.

Virtual Reality: The Best of 2016

This week’s (12/19/16) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (12/19/16) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

Special thanks to featured guest: Jenn Duong, Director of VR at 1215 Creative, Co-founder of SHIIFT, and Women in VR / @jenndefer - http://1215creative.com/

1) WILL JIMMY FALLON’S NEW VIRTUAL REALITY SEGMENT HELP RAISE AWARENESS OF VR?

According to a market snapshot by Parks Associates, 60% of U.S. broadband households claim to know little or nothing about virtual reality… but perhaps a new virtual reality segment on the Tonight Show with Tilt Brush Pictionary will help increase awareness. The show has a great audience: almost 3.5M TV viewers, 12.6M YouTube subscribers, 11.5M Facebook fans. Fallon himself has been called the King of Social Media in the entertainment industry, and his influencer status has been a calling card of his career. He also makes content that is perfectly suited to a digital audience: short-form, high-energy snippets that are well-distributed across all social channels. No doubt we’ll see some classic “celebrities in a headset” moments that will show up in even your grandma’s Facebook feed. If anyone can do it, it’s Jimmy Fallon.

Related Stocks:
Facebook, Inc. ($FB)
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
HTC Corporation ($2498.TW)

 

2) FACEBOOK LAUNCHES LIVE 360 VIDEOS WITH NAT GEO

Partnering with National Geographic to show off the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah in full 360 degree glory, Facebook took its first steps into live spherical video. Live 360 video will become available to the API later this month, and Facebook will roll out the immersive live stream functionality to all Pages and users. Although only the replays will be available to watch in a VR headset for now, Facebook will no doubt solve that challenge eventually - as well as 4K spatialized audio and 4K resolution.

Related Stocks:
Facebook, Inc. ($FB)
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. ($FOX)

 

3) PARTY WITH YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS IN VR: OCULUS ROOMS & PARTIES

If you have a Samsung Gear VR, you can now connect with your Facebook friends through Oculus Home. First promised at the Oculus Connect 3 conference, you can now start a voice call (called a Party) with up to 3 friends - and then connect with those friends in a virtual playspaces (called a Room). In a Room, you and your friends can watch videos together on a giant 2D TV screen, play guessing or matching games, or launch a multiplayer game. In the official words of the Oculus blog, this is “just the beginning of social VR.”

Related Stocks:
Facebook, Inc. ($FB)

 

4)MONETIZING VR: PREMIUM CONTENT AND TV APPS

Content creators are challenged to build monetization models in the growing virtual reality industry. Two content studios (who have their own native apps), have announced novel approaches to this market-wide challenge. On their Transport app, Los Angeles-based Wevr is launching a subscription-based model - offering a premium content tier in addition to their free content. The New York-based company Littlstar (which is backed by Disney) has released a VR-viewing app made for smart TVs, launching first for Sony’s Brava Android televisions. Available through the Google Play Store, the app allows users to navigate around the 360 degree content with their remote control. Although an inelegant stand-in for a headset, no doubt Littlstar’s VR content partners (Showtime, the Discovery Channel, Nat Geo, and ABC Television Group) will find a big audience via smart TVs - which are in 50M homes in the U.S.

Related Stocks:
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. ($FOX)
The Walt Disney Company ($DIS)

 

5) INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP

Boom - $3.5M in seed funding to make e-sports replays more immersive. Using the 3D data from video games, live streamers can verbally command Boom to show a glorious multi-angle replay of their last move. Although currently only available on Twitch and YouTube Gaming, Boom is laying the foundation for the next features: a 3D virtual reality streaming platform available on headsets in real time.

Loom.ai - $1.35M in seed funding for its platform that creates 3D avatars from 2D images, which can then be plugged into a variety of animation tools and VR applications. Loom.ai’s investment comes from Danhua Capital, Y Combinator, Presence Capital, Anorak Ventures, and others. The founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Jeremy Bailenson, is an advisor to Loom.ai as well as co-founder of STRIVR...

STRIVR -  $5M in a Series A Round, to widen the focus of its VR training platform. Co-founded at Stanford by Jeremy Bailenson and Stanford kicker Derek Belch, STRIVR has concentrated on improving athletic performance - and has 25 pro and college sports teams as clients. Now the company is broadening its scope to “experiential learning,” for enterprise training for areas like operations, sales, customer service, HR, and safety. Investment was led by Signia Venture Partners with participation from BMW i Ventures and AdvancIt Capital.

Survios - $50M in two rounds in 2016. Los Angeles-based Survios’s Raw Data game was the first VR game to top the global Steam Charts and made a $1M in one month, and the company wants to be the leading publisher and content creator in virtual reality. The lead investor was Lux Capital with participation from Shasta Ventures, Danhua Capital, Shanda Holdings, Felicis Ventures, Dentsu Ventures, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which has a lot of intellectual property - will we be able to become James Bond or Rocky in future VR games from Survios)?

Related Stocks:
Amazon.com, Inc. ($AMZN)
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
MGM Resorts International ($MGM)

 

...and more...

 

CYCLISTS & TRIATHLETES SPORT AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES

 

FOX’S INNOVATION LAB TEAMS UP WITH FELIX & PAUL

 

ADD-ON DEVICE AIMS TO MAKE HTC VIVE WIRELESS

 

OCULUS CEO STEPS DOWN, WILL LEAD PC DIVISION

 

PATENT SUGGESTS NINTENDO’S NEXT DEVICE MIGHT USE VR HEADSET

 

PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT 2 YEARS OF VR

 

STUBHUB LETS YOU VIEW YOUR SEATS IN VR BEFORE BUYING

 

LIVE STREAMING 4K 360 CAMERA ORAH NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER

 

SMART SUIT CAPTURES YOUR MOVEMENTS FOR USE IN VIRTUAL WORLDS

 

PIXVANA RELEASES VR EDITING SOFTWARE ONE YEAR AFTER RAISING $6M SEED

 

WORD PRESS BLOGS NOW HOST 360 VIDEO CONTENT

 

THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE’S AUGMENTED REALITY APP

This week’s (12/12/16) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (12/12/16) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

Special thanks to featured guest Jesse Damiani of VRScout

1) OCULUS TOUCH CONTROLLERS ARE HERE AND THE CREATORS TOOLS ARE RAD

When the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift was launched in the spring, it was disappointingly bundled with a Microsoft Xbox controller - and we’ve eagerly been awaiting the native Touch Controllers. Now, the day is here, and the wait was… worth it? The Touch controllers feel like little magical half-doughnuts and are smooth and intuitive. The tracking system leaves something to be desired, with two sensors that track only 180 degrees of motion (as opposed to the laser-powered Lighthouse tracking system from the HTC Vive, which tracks in full 360 degrees). Although the performance of intense games suffers from the limited front-facing tracking abilities, creators tools like Quill and Medium are incredible. We are truly looking forward to seeing what artist are going to build with these tools - like this mind blowing Quill creation from Goro Fujita.

Related Stocks:
Facebook, Inc. ($FB)
Microsoft Corporation ($MSFT)
HTC Corporation ($2498.TW)

 

2) GOOGLE DAYDREAM SCORES NETFLIX AND HBO APPS

Google Daydream has exclusive access to YouTube’s considerable 360 video library (although admittedly curation could be better) as well as its massive 2D video archive. All this YouTube media gave the platform a sizeable chunk of content at their recent launch, and now Netflix VR and HBO VR have both joined Daydream as well. However, let me clarify: the Netflix VR app (which has been available on Samsung Gear VR since September 2015) and the new HBO VR app (exclusive to Daydream) are 360 degree virtual reality living rooms in which you can watch any traditional 2D media from each platform’s library… on a virtual television hanging on your virtual wall. Although this setup is obviously not as incredible as being inside your favorite movie, it’s still pretty cool. Streaming video in a VR headset is the best travel accessory, by the way: it almost seems like this setup was invented for airplanes and hotel rooms. In addition to Netflix, HBO, and YouTube, Daydream also has the Hulu VR and Google Play Movies & TV apps - making Google Daydream’s video content quite impressive (as a sidenote, when is Amazon going to release a VR viewing app to stream their flat content???).

Related Stocks:
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
Netflix, Inc. ($NFLX)
Time Warner Inc. ($TWX)

 

3) MAGIC LEAP’S CONTROVERSY

The secretive augmented reality company Magic Leap has been very successful at keeping a tight lid on their product development… until now? A reporter from The Information has published a contrarian view of the supposedly-revolutionary technology - which has been recognized by investors as so advanced that it has garnered $1.4B in funding (with a $4.4B valuation) from huge names like Google, Alibaba, and Andreeson Horowitz. The report alleges that not only are some of Magic Leap’s tech demo videos faked (like tiny elephants held in the palm of hands, life-size virtual whales jumping out of real gymnasiums, or an alien office takeover game), but their core technology is years away from a consumer release - and is currently less viable than other major competitors such as the Microsoft Hololens. Want to dive deeper into the details? Check out the Reddit AMA from The Information reporter… and the rebuttal from Magic Leap itself.

Related Stocks:
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
Alibaba Group Holding Limited ($BABA)

 

4) HTC VIVE LAUNCHES VIVE STUDIOS

HTC Vive is helping the big issue of the state of virtual reality today: lack of content. Taking notes from traditional video game publishers, HTC Vive is creating an internal development and publishing group called Vive Studios - similar to Oculus Studios, in fact. They will work on content internally as well as work closely with outside studios on publishing, marketing, and funding support. Vive Studios is not just focusing on gaming content, and like their Viveport VR app platform, are continuing to focus on other applications - such as education, cinematic, design, real estate, sports, retail, healthcare, and social.


Related Stocks:
HTC Corporation ($2498.TW)
Facebook, Inc. ($FB)

 

5) MONEY & FUNDING

Visbit - $3.2M: the Sunnyvale, CA-based team has been working on patented 4K streaming technology for VR. Presence Capital, ZhenFund, Colopl Next, Amino Capital and Eversunny Limited have invested to complete the closed beta of its patented Visbit View-Optimized Streaming (VVOS) technology. Your data plan will thank you.

Axon VR Haptics - $5.8M: based in Seattle, WA and San Luis Obispo, CA, Axon VR garnered the biggest investment ever in a haptics company. The round was led by NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES), a leading internet technology company in China, and Dawn Patrol Ventures, and includes former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and seeks to bring the company’s haptic textiles that simulate lifelike touch and enable users to feel real-world physical properties from the virtual world.

Zero Latency - $7M: Melbourne, Australia-based Zero Latency will use its funding to set up new sites for its untethered multiplayer games in the the US and Japan. Investment was raised from existing backer Carthona Capital and clients of Bell Potter.

 

...and more...

 

IMAX COMPLETES FIRST ROUND OF $50M FUND

 

FACEBOOK TO LAUNCH LIVE STREAMING IN 360 DEGREES

 

VISUALIZE DATA IN VR

 

BIG PLAYERS PUSH FOR OPEN STANDARDS

 

ALL-IN-ONE HEADSETS COMING IN 2017

 

NEW YORK TIMES APP & HOLLYWOOD ACTOR SERIES AND DON CHEADLE IN VR

 

SURVEY SAYS BRITISH WOMEN WANT VR SEX

 

TOUR NY’S HOLIDAY WINDOW DISPLAYS

 

AUGMENTED REALITY APP TURNS THE $1 BILL INTO WHITE HOUSE TOUR

 

SAMSUNG AND VICE PARTNER FOR 360 DOC RE: SYRIA

 

VIRTUIX CANCELS OMNI INTERNATIONAL SHIPMENTS

 

This week’s (12/05/16) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (12/05/16) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

Special thanks to featured guest Jesse Damiani of VRScout

1) GOOGLE DAYDREAM MAKES MUSIC AND TWO NEW PHONES ARE READY

Good, a media company focused on social impact, is teaming up with Google for a live music concert series and promoting Google’s first Daydream-ready phone, the Pixel. In addition to an extensive live stream campaign surrounding the 5-city tour featuring acts like Glass Animals and Gogol Bordello, a 360 video experience will be created and distributed on (yep, you guessed it) the Google Daydream content platform. As a related sidenote, two new phones boast the spec requirements to run Daydream: the Moto Z and Moto Z Force from Lenovo (in a somewhat ironic twist, Lenovo actually bought the the Motorola Mobility brand from Google in 2014).

Related Stocks:
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
Lenovo Group Limited ($LNVGY)
Motorola Solutions, Inc. ($MSI)

 

2) ON THE SCENE OF THE CRIME WITH AUGMENTED REALITY

Crime scenes are easily contaminated, which is a huge issue in the evidentiary process. The Dutch police force, the Netherlands Forensic Institute, and the Dutch Fire Brigade are using AR to eliminate the accidental alteration of important evidence. Using body cameras and headsets, a local responding officer can consult with experts who guide the officers via audio communication or a heads-up display - and the most qualified experts can advise, regardless of their real-world location. The complete system will reportedly be available in 6 months - and don’t worry, it will not be used to make arrests… at least not yet.

 

3) INFLATED SALES PROJECTIONS OF HEADSETS ARE REVISED

Interactive media research company SuperData is backpedaling on the overeager VR headset sales projections they released recently. The slashed projections’ biggest loser is Sony’s PlayStation VR, with unit sales predictions downgraded from 2.6M to 750K. As the PSVR requires a PS4 or the PS Pro (and plays better on the Pro, which runs 4K), Sony is choosing to push consumers towards buying their recently-released Pro console. With a notable absence of holiday deal incentives, Sony’s message to consumers is clear: get the Pro now, then the PSVR later. The sales predictions for Google Daydream were also reduced to 260K from 450K - probably because the Daydream-ready phone club is so tiny.

Related Stocks:
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
Sony Corporation ($SNE)

 

4) YOU’RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO READ THESE

The two most… let’s call them “unexpected” stories this week: virtual reality is preparing the world’s first human head transplant for his post-surgery reality, and now expecting parents can meet their future child via an Oculus Rift headset thanks to 3D models from ultrasound and MRI. You’re welcome.

Related Stocks:
Facebook, Inc. ($FB)

 

5) FUNDING WRAPUP:

GEOCV RAISES $700K TO CAPTURE APARTMENTS IN 3D: New York, NY, based company GeoCV has raised $700K to continue progress on bringing its mobile-based 3D scanning application to the real estate market. The app is intended for the new-generation smartphones and tablets with 3D cameras like Intel RealSense and Google Project Tango. With volumetric 3D capture and a cloud processor for creating 3D models (integrated with SketchFab and viewable in Google Cardboard or other VR systems), GeoCV’s product will be launched some time in 2017.

21ST CENTURY FOX LEADS $58M SERIES A ROUND FOR ODG’S SMARTGLASSES : Focusing on the military and enterprise spaces since 1999, Osterhaut Design Group has raised their Series A with $58M in venture capital. Led by 21st Century Fox, which had acquired a minority stake in the company back in January of this year, this round also saw participation from Vanfund Urban Investment, Shenzhen O-film Tech and others. Expect to see major dazzle from the company at the upcoming CES in Las Vegas in January - ODG has the proven technology, and we should hopefully see some interactive entertainment experiences with 21st Century Fox’s considerable list of intellectual properties.

Related Stocks:
Intel Corporation ($INTC)
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. ($FOX)

 

OCULUS TOUCH CONTROLLERS COME OUT DECEMBER 6th w/ 53 Touch titles ready!

 

SUNDANCE’S NEW FRONTIERS VR LINEUP ANNOUNCED

 

CHILDISH GAMBINO RELEASES 360 VIDEO ALONGSIDE NEW ALBUM

 

HTC EARNINGS CALL: SALES ARE ABOVE PUBLIC PERCEPTION

 

UNITY AND XIAOMI ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP

 

MACY’S THANKSGIVING PARADE WAS STREAMED LIVE IN 360 DEGREES

 

RUSSIAN COSMONAUT SHARES THE FIRST 360 VIDEO FROM SPACE

 

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR IN VR

 

STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE - A 360 EXPERIENCE

 

TESLA HIRES HOLOLENS DESIGNER

 

MINIMUM SPEC FOR WINDOWS 10

 

ZOTAC RELEASES A BACKPACK COMPUTER FOR VR

 

OCULUS TOUCH LAUNCH WILL HAVE 50 TITLES

 

IS MELODY VR THE ITUNES OF VR?

 

ADOBE’S VR DRAWING EXPERIENCE: PROJECT DALI

 

CROWDFUNDED 360 CAMERA CALLED THE INSTA 360 AIR

This week’s (11/21/16) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (11/21/16) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

Special thank to this week's featured guest, Cris Miranda, who is the host of the EnterVR podcast and Director of Marketing for Vivid Vision 

1. GOOGLE EARTH IN VR IS A RUSH

You float in outer space, gazing down upon our pale blue dot of a planet. You zoom in, closer and closer, until you are effortlessly flying down a city street. Made from high-res satellite imagery, aerial photography, and Street View data, Google Earth VR is surprisingly meditative when alone and fun when with a group. Yes, the buildings are pixelated when up close (but amazing from above), rural areas appear flattened (due to less available imagery), and search function does not yet exist (because you have to start somewhere). It’s not perfect, but who cares? Google’s first release of Earth VR is beautiful.

Related Stocks:
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)

 

2. FACEBOOK BUYS AR COMPANY THAT ANALYZES YOUR FACE

Facebook is not disclosing the amount of cash it dropped for facial image analysis company FacioMetrics. Founded at Carnegie Mellon in 2015, the company created an app (now unavailable) called Intraface - which could recognize seven different emotions (anger, fear, joy, etc.). Facebook is pushing its live video hard, and is desperate to increase augmented reality functionalities to keep up with Snapchat (which reportedly is planning for an IPO in the $25B range). We’ll see the FacioMetrics tech make its way into videos and Live broadcasts in the near future - and eventually it is likely that facial image analysis would be useful for the customizable avatars that Oculus is creating, too (as well as create super datasets of human emotional reactions).

Related Stocks:
Facebook, Inc. ($FB)

 

3. GE USES AR TO TALK TO MACHINES IN MICROSOFT PARTNERSHIP

Founded in the late 1800s, General Electric is one of Thomas Edison’s most successful and longest-running businesses. A publicly-traded company, GE ranked on Forbes 500 as the 14th most profitable business in the U.S. and is continuing to lead the enterprise space with augmented reality. Using human-computer interfaces, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, employees are communicating and interacting with machines via the Microsoft Hololens augmented reality device. GE creates “digital twins” - copies of actual machines at customer sites - and uses software to allow customers to communicate with the digital twin. These digital twins can provide remote repair support, and are also packed with data to run thousands of simultaneous simulations to predict things like breakdowns. Now when will Siri get this kind of an upgrade?

Related Stocks:
General Electric Company ($GE)
Microsoft Corporation ($MSFT)

 

4. MONEY & FUNDING

Pioneering a unique form of haptic feedback that simulates sensation and touch, Tactical Haptics has raised $2.2M in seed funding to release a development kit of their Reactive Grip VR controller. $749,000 came from a National Science Foundation grant, and the remaining funding is venture capital - led by SV Tech Ventures and the Youku Global Media Fund. The company has been driving their product forward for a few years and led an unsuccessful Kickstarter in 2013, so this is a big deal for Tactical Haptics in their quest to commercialize haptic feedback technologies. In addition to obvious gaming use cases, the company is focusing on use cases like navigation aids for the blind, physical therapy, robotic and minimally invasive surgery, piloting drones, sports training, education, and telerobotics.

 

Founded in 2006, UK-based independent virtual reality gaming development studio nDreams has raised £2.0M (just under $2.5M) in funding. Led by pre-existing backer Mercia Technologies PLC and handful of angel investors, the company will use the funding to grow their team and continue developing VR-specific titles to join their already-impressive list: The Assembly, Perfect Beach, Gunner, and SkyDIEving. If you have access to Google Daydream, check out the excellently-named Danger Goat - their first title on Google’s new mobile VR platform.

 

5. TREAT LAZY EYE WITH VIRTUAL REALITY

Also known as lazy eye, amblyopia is caused by abnormal visual development from birth up to age 7 years and causes reduced vision and an inward or outward wandering eye. Traditional treatment consists of an eye patch, contact lenses, or even surgery. If the condition is not treated by age 9, then it is irreversible - that is, until virtual reality became accessible to a programmer with the condition. After being able to see in 3D for the first time while developing in VR, James Blaha was inspired to help others and founded Vivid Vision to treat the disorder. After existing in limited partner clinics for over a year, now people with lazy eye will be able to take the treatment home with them.

 

...and more

 

GET A 3RD ARM IN VR WITH STANFORD RESEARCH TEAM

 

NOKIA AND SONY GET TOGETHER FOR 360 VIDEO

 

CONAN O’BRIEN LOVES VR

 

QUEEN & ADAM LAMBERT AT TRIBECA VR ARCADE

 

GOOGLE VR BRINGS 100M UK SCHOOL CHILDREN

 

HOW MANY HEADSETS WILL BE SOLD IN 2016???

 

MIXED REALITY ENTERTAINMENT IN YOUR LIVING ROOM

 

JAGUAR SHOWS US THE FUTURE OF CAR LAUNCHES

 

THIS MUSEUM HAS A HOLODECK

This week’s (11/14/16) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (11/14/16) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

1.) WHAT A DAY FOR A DAYDREAM...

The highly-anticipated Google Daydream headset is here. Priced at $79, it is currently only compatible with the Google Pixel phone. It’s simple and easy to slip the phone into the headset - they automatically sync, with no plugging required. The headset itself is made of cuddly fabric, and although it doesn’t block light very well, it feels like wearing yoga pants on your face. A Bluetooth-enabled controller is what sets the Daydream HMD apart from other current smartphone-powered VR headsets (the Samsung Gear VR is really the only true competitor in this quality tier, distinctly above a Cardboard-style headset). Although not as robust as the HTC Vive controllers, the wand-like controller is easy to use… and fun. Although the content side of things will no doubt quickly explode, at the moment the app selection is a bit barren - but because the YouTube app [autoplay] is so good, there’s a big opportunity for YouTube 360 creators to break out here. Daydream VR is enabled on Android 7.1 phones that meet certain requirements, and it is likely that within the next year all flagship Android phones will be meet those standards. Because Android owns almost 90% of the global market share of smartphone operating systems, the significance of Daydream VR in its totality is a big deal.

Related Stocks:
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)


2.) SNAP, INC DROPS SPECTACLES FROM THE RAINBOW-VOMITING SKY

In preparation for its predicted IPO (with valuations in the $25B range), Snapchat renamed itself Snap, Inc. and announced their first hardware product… which just landed via yellow vending machines in Los Angeles. Called Snapbots, the bright yellow machines look like minions and dispense Spectacles - and the first drop was on Venice Beach. Attracting long lines, the limited supply ran out before lunchtime and no official rollout schedule has been announced - only a cryptic timer on the webpage which counts down to the next surprise Snapbot release on the map. The timer started again with a 24-hour countdown to the second location: revealed to be in Big Sur State Park in California. Not only did Snap, Inc. get all Willy Wonka level mysterious on their product release last week, but they also released an update to the Snapchat app which is another step in their master plan of bringing augmented reality to the masses.
 



3.) APPLE’S 2011 AUGMENTED REALITY PATENT FINALLY MADE PUBLIC

First filed in 2011, the patent was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office with minimal changes. It reveals an app that could generate views of the user’s surroundings in real time with digital information superimposed, using the iPhone’s advanced sensors. Using a digital compass, accelerometer, and GPS, this augmented reality app could provide an interactive mapping tool that incorporates the real world surroundings. Using AR to visualize and assist travel is an obvious use case, with heads up displays already installed in many new vehicles - and with Tim Cook’s recent strong public beliefs about the technology, the reveal of Apple’s not-so-secret AR plans continues.

Related Stocks:
Apple Inc. ($AAPL)

 

4.) A COMPANY STARTED IN 1925 GETS AN AUGMENTED UPDATE

A Fortune 500 company, Caterpillar, Inc. has almost $90B in assets and is ranked #1 in the construction and mining equipment industry. The manufacturing behemoth announced a partnership with Scope AR, a creator of augmented reality smart instructions and live support video calling solutions that raised $2M in seed funding a few months ago. Caterpillar will be licensing a new interactive interface for remote workers to communicate and collaborate with experts in real time in order to increase efficiency. By augmenting technicians’ views with smart information and over-the-shoulder guidance in real time, Caterpillar joins Scope AR’s impressive list of enterprise clients (such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Epson) at saving both time and money.

Related Stocks:
Caterpillar Inc. ($CAT)

 

5.) MONEY & FUNDING

San Diego-based GoMeta Inc. has raised $2M in seed funding to help users create the metaverse via their smartphone. Reminiscent of Pokemon Go with regards to the geo-tagged locations and scavenger hunt-like interaction, GoMeta is a user-generated world - anyone can build geo-specific “experiences” within the app’s builder tools. It is a bit of a star-studded angel investor lineup with funding coming from big names like Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney.

Founded in 2011, Tobii’s eye-tracking products have been used by huge companies in the gaming space (Acer has launched several monitors incorporating the tech) to determine where users are looking on screens. The company went public on the Swedish stock exchange in spring of 2015 with $70M in equity funding (and is now valued at 3x its IPO price), and now Tobii aims to raise a further $50M in order to sprint further into the VR/AR space.

...and more

HTC VIVE RELEASES WIRELESS ADD-ON - from TPCAST, a company incubated in the Vive X Accelerator investment program; available from Chinese site only and currently sold out

HTC LAUNCHES DEDICATED VR MOBILE PLATFORM VIVEPORT M - extension of the Vive ecosystem that is dedicated exclusively to mobile devices

IMAX TO INVEST $50M IN VR CONTENT DEVELOPMENT - with Creative Artists Agency and Acer, the partnership will fund at least 25 VR projects including 360 videos as well as games

UK MAN USES VR TO REVISIT FRENCH TOWN HE LIBERATED IN WWII - 91 year old WWII veteran was presented w/ a medal by the mayor of Armentieres while in the Royal Chelsea Hospital in London

CONTROL YOUR REALITY WITH YOUR THOUGHTS - EyeMynd plans to launch an HMD powered by brainwave-monitoring EEG sensors in spring of 2017… with the VR consultant from Lawnmower Man as executive producer

FACE ELECTRODES LET YOU TASTE AND CHEW IN VR - using temperature changes to hijack thermally sensitive neurons on your tongue, or by electrically stimulating the chewing muscles in the jaw to simulate chewing

BOOSTING ALIBABA’S REVENUE ON SINGLES DAY W/ VR SHOPPING - after a $15B in gross sales from 2015’s Singles Day, global marketplace Alibaba promotes its VR shopping experience Buy+ on the Chinese anti-Valentine’s Day

NEXTVR BRINGS US MORE FOOTBALL FROM NEXTVR: the live streaming company is bringing us NFL highlights AND live college games

This week’s (11/7/16) Top5 VR&AR news

This week’s (11/7/16) Top5 VR&AR news

Subscribe to the VRScout Report podcast on iTunes for all the latest VR/AR news!

1) FACEBOOK KEEPS PUSHING THE VIRTUAL ENVELOPE

Starting with its $2B acquisition of Oculus in the spring of 2014, Facebook has continued to build out its virtual reality strategy in a big way. 360 videos were implemented into your Newsfeed over a year ago, and 360 photo functionality was instituted over the summer. Now Instant Articles get some virtual love and supports mobile-optimized 360 photos and videos from publishers, with USA Today Networks and BILD as the initial launch partners. You will also be able to stream your virtual experiences in the Samsung Gear VR to Facebook Live before the end of this year, so stay tuned for more information on that angle. Also… is Facebook making a phone?

Related Stocks:
Facebook, Inc. ($FB)
 

2) GET INSIDE THE GRIDIRON: THE NFL LAUNCHES NEW VR SERIES

The NFL has always been at the forefront of innovative broadcasting, and now they’re shooting a 9-episode 360 degree video series. Each of the episodes will be 5-10 minutes long, with the first episode focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles and launching on the NFL’s YouTube channel on Thanksgiving Day. This is a big partnership between the NFL and Google, and the remaining 8 episodes will be available on the Google Daydream content platform - launching later this month.

Related Stocks:
Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG)

 

3) INTEL BUYS VOKE, AND VR LIVE STREAMING GETS (EVEN MORE) INTERESTING

Although they’re keeping tight-lipped about the cost (as well as their bigger plans), Intel recently acquired a Santa Clara, CA-based company called Voke which live streams in virtual reality. Voke’s tech can stereoscopically record live action (recently used at NY Fashion week), that can be viewed on a range of devices - from phones to virtual reality headsets. Intel also recently acquired a potentially related company in the spring: Replay Technology, whose FreeD product is popular in traditional sports broadcasts and enables a deeper way to show video replays. While NextVR has been the biggest player in the VR live streaming space (with a 5-year deal with FOX Sports, and a total of $115M in funding), there is definitely room for more… and Portugal’s live event ticketing company SeatWish is launching the Next360 (yes, it does sound like “NextVR”) platform, which adds VR tickets to traditional in-person tickets to their offerings. Keep an eye on this sector: virtually attending live events is shaping up to be a big business.

Related Stocks:
Intel Corporation ($INTC)
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. ($FOX)

 

4) TEACHING INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE WITH VR

The Cree are the largest group of First Nations in Canada with 135 registered bands and over 200,000 members, and they are using the latest technology to help ensure that their traditional language lives on. The Cree School Board launched its Cree Syllabics Virtual Reality project, an educational interactive VR experience that introduces us to a little girl named Niipiish and her dog Achimush. The narrative has us prepare for her little brother’s walking-out ceremony while using Cree words and symbols for the environment and traditions. Speaking of education and VR… the U.S. Department of Education just announced a $680K prize for new VR/AR experiences.

 

5) MONEY & FUNDING

ObEN closed a $7.7M Series A funding round for proprietary, AI-powered virtual avatars that capture your likeness with your smartphone. ObEN is one of 33 companies in the HTC VICE X accelerator program - keep an eye out for their product launch in 2017. Swedish company Starbreeze acquired Nozon, a Belgian special effects studio, for almost $8M. Starbreeze is a huge game development company that is also building out location-based VR entertainment centers. The spatial sound and motion-tracking technology company Dysonics has raised their Series A round, declining to disclose the exact amount but saying it was led by Intel Capital. Focusing on empowering VR/AR entrepreneurs, the NY-based Glimpse Group has raised $700K in seed funding to help support startups’ business operations and provide a network of professional relationships.

Related Stocks:
HTC Corporation ($2498.TW)

 

MICROSOFT ANNOUNCES VR HEADSET LINE

 

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IS APPLE USING VR TO TEST SELF-DRIVING CARS?

 

MAGIC LEAP ESTABLISHES NEW OFFICE IN HELSINKI

 

ABBA… IN VR! DREAMS DO COME TRUE

 

GOOGLE ACQUIRES EYE TRACKING CO

 

JAPANESE VR AD NETWORK BUSINESS RAISES UNDISCLOSED ROUND

 

THX BOUGHT BY RAZER

 

FLORIDA HOSPITAL INTEGRATES VR AS SURGICAL TRAINING TOOL

 

KIM KARDASHIAN SUING VIVID ENTERTAINMENT FOR KNOCKOFF VR PORN

 

STATUS QUO: WHAT MOST VR/AR COMPANIES ARE ACTUALLY COMPETING AGAINST

 

PIXVANA HIRING FOR AN UPCOMING VR VIDEO PLATFORM