This Week In XR: Magic Leap Founder Leaps, AWE Is In The Books, Up Next: VRARA Global Summit Online

Rony Abovitz kill his vision, fires 1000 employees, and falls on his sword. Yesterday was the sword part. Ironically, the first time I met Abovitz, he told me about the replica of Hiro’s Samurai sword, from Neil Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash, that he had made for Stephenson by a master swordsman when he joined the company. What’s the point of raising $3.4 billion dollars if you can’t hire the people you most admire and give them extravagant gifts? What a story Magic Leap is. It is a gift that keeps giving to tech writers. And, ironically, it’s been told before, by another tech company with Magic in its name: General Magic, the first concept IPO, another superstar start up with soaring ambition that flew too close to the sun. Their sin: making a smart phone in 1994 before people had email. The story is told in a fantastic documentary that was released in 2018.

Almost everything else in our round up was related in some way to Augmented World Expo (AWE) which brought over 7,000 people to its tenth edition in Santa Clara last year, had to be held online this year. While the online conference and expo can’t be replicated online, the organizers, speakers, and sponsors did a game job providing the usual flurry of company announcements, start up pitches, VR side events, and coveted Auggie Awards, which were awarded this evening.

On Monday, June 1st, through Wednesday June 3rd, the VRAR Association Global Summit, originally scheduled for to be held in Lisbon, will be held online. And, good news, lots of the same great speakers who graced AWE will be brining the same talks to the virtual Global Summit, this time at the Internet’s favorite price. Free.

Scandit raises $80M Series C for store shelf scanning tech. The funding was led by G2VP and will be used to further development and expand operations. The company’s platform runs on any camera-equipped smart device and combines barcode scanning, text and object recognition, and augmented reality to recognize items on a store shelf.

Remote Collaboration, Virtual Conferences, and the Future of Work by your correspondent, Charlie Fink, and his class of Chapman University students, arrives on Amazon June 9th. They looked at over 120 platforms for collaboration and conversation for small groups and massive gatherings like CES. Read this excerpt, it’s the most important chapter in the book, on Forbes for free.

Zappar launches Universal AR, an augmented reality SDK for Three.js, Unity, and A-Frame as well as Javascript and C++. Zappar’s computer vision libraries support face, image, and world tracking all usable via mobile web browsers. Universal AR means developers building augmented reality applications can use one SDK to publish on multiple platforms.

Alan Smithson of Toronto-based MetaVRse launched Metaverse Engine, the company’s new 3D game engine for non-coders. “We envision this becoming as easy as building a slide deck” Said Smithson. “MetaVRse Engine is already being used by hundreds of organizations, universities and developers.” 

Pico Neo 2 enterprise level standalone VR headsets available worldwide. The new headset comes in two variants, standard and one with built in eye tracking, and has two 6DoF controllers. Powered by a Snapdragon 845 the Neo 2 can run standalone or stream PCVR over wifi. The base model retails for $700 and the eye tracking model for $900.

8th Wall introduces face effects to WebXR. Now you can experience, and create, Snap filter style face effects via a mobile web browser using 8th Wall.

Looking Glass 8K Immersive Display is now shipping worldwide. Looking Glass’s display technology requires no glasses to view true 3D images. The 32” holographic display is available now at the price of “price upon request” from the Looking Glass website.

VirBELA adds screen sharing to virtual meetings. On VirBELA’s Open Campus you can now find billboards in virtual meeting rooms where users can stream their computer screens. Users can stream their desktops for discussion, or show their faces using a webcam blending the real and virtual.

Qualcomm partners with lots of companies to produce 5G-enabled headsets. Partners include 15 global telecoms and multiple smartphone companies and AR/VR headset makers each of whom will deliver smartphone-driven headsets beginning within the next year. Qualcomm will also be creating quality standards for its pool of partners to ensure compatibility and usability for enterprise and consumer customers. 

Varjo partners with just launch social collaboration site MeetinVR for photorealistic virtual work. Varjo’s photorealistic resolution headsets are targeted toward enterprise customers for high quality visualizations. Now users can collaborate remotely in mixed reality while viewing photorealistic models. To learn more, check out Varjo’s website.

HP announces new Reverb G2 VR headset launching this fall. The new headset sports an impressive 2,160×2,160 pixels per eye, off ear headphones like Valve’s Index, and new Windows MR controllers that resemble Oculus Touch. The HP Reverb G2 is priced at $599 and can be pre-ordered from HP.

Poplar secures $2.1M investment for its AR content creation platform. 

ARTE releases new VR animated film Gloomy Eyes. Gloomy Eyes is a VR animation movie narrated by Colin Farrell, written and directed by Fernando Maldonado and Jorge Tereso and co-written by Santiago Amigorena. It tells a love story between a zombie boy and human girl in a world without sun. It is now available on Oculus Quest, Steam, Rift, and HTC Vive.

“This Week In XR” is written and edited with Michael Eichenseer.

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