This is one of those moments when you realize everything is about to change. How deep, how lasting those societal changes will be is impossible to prognosticate in the first weeks of this pandemic. For the next several weeks and months, we are all remote workers. But there is only way for us to be together, even when we are apart: VR, virtual worlds, and remote collaboration. We wrote about this yesterday: VR Takes The Stage As Conferences Cancel.
Many systems will now be tested. Yesterday, we had trouble with latency and audio on both Zoom and Google Hangouts, which shows how important they are. It is a half step into the virtual world from zoom, and a half step from a virtual world to true volumetric telepresence. Three years ago, in this very column, we said “VR is waiting for its AOL moment.” Here we are. Without Quest inventory <sigh> It is what it is, VR. This is your chance.
InWith Puts Smart Tech In Bauch and Lomb Contact Lenses. They’re powered by blinking. With that headline and picture this was our most popular story of the year. Clearly, people are really leaning in to this technology.
Is Magic Leap pursuing a $10 Billion Sale? Magic Leap has raised $4.6 billion and is valued between $6 and $8 billion. A Bloomberg news report said several suitors examined the goods, which was snarkily amplified by the tech press. A company source suggested these meeting may have had more to do with the foundational patents Magic Leap owns. The company pivoted to enterprise last year and is planning to offer an enterprise edition headset in 2021.
VRStudios announces Hoops Madness, a multiplayer free roam VR basketball experience. The new LBVR experience supports up to 8 players and runs off of the VRStudios FLEX platform designs to turn underutilized space into an untethered VR experience. Hoops Madness includes many arcade game modes and basketball themed competitive gameplay.
[An aside, Forbes hat off: One has to feel for the operators of arcades and other retail operators who are offering the public VR experiences, often their first ones. This is a disaster for non-salaried hourly and freelance gig economy workers. Those who live paycheck-to-paycheck are going to be crushed by this. These people represent a much larger percentage of the population than most people think. One report said it was 40%. They are in the crosshairs of this crisis. They can’t afford to be not to be paid, and their employers can’t afford to pay them. Hat back on.]
Varjo adds real-time chroma keying and marker tracking to their high resolution XR headset. The new features are built for companies to use greenscreens and marker based tracking to align real virtual objects seamlessly. The new features are in early access and are available to all XR-1 Developer Edition headset users. Kids have been doing this with a chroma key on Twitch for years, but it’s great to see the grownups now have their own way of doing it for reals.
Facebook begins Alpha testing for its social VR app Horizons. Facebook recently sent out limited email invites for a closed Alpha test of Horizons, including an NDA. The email suggests a month long testing period with beta testing to begin in the coming weeks. If you’re interested in taking part in the beta testing, you can sign up here on the Oculus website.
Glue announces a two week free trial for their VR collaboration software that now works for Oculus Quest. Just in time for remote work yesterday, Glue, based in Helsinki, Finland, introduced significant upgrades to its virtual world platform, Glue Team Space. Team Space is immersive 3D environments optimized for teams of up to twenty people. Glue has been doing pilots with HP, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Microsoft for the past two years. Their expanded feature set includes new virtual spaces, a new interface which enables users to write notes, create whiteboards and make annotations in 3D, improved group teleport, and, importantly, new supported language and recording tools.
Nreal announces an all-in-one AR headset for enterprise. The enterprise level solution is bulkier than the consumer focused Nreal Light AR headset and resembles a helmet more than a fashionable pair of sunglasses. The all-in-one headset doesn’t require a tethered smartphone to run and intends to go head to head with the Hololens 2 and Magic Leap One headsets at a more competitive price.
What We’re Reading
“This Week in XR” is written and edited with Michael Eichenseer.