Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality News – November 2017

The world of virtual reality and augmented reality keeps evolving at a fast pace – these are the most significant news stories in the past month.


All new technologies start as a trend and end up becoming a part of our everyday life. This is exactly how virtual reality and augmented reality evolved. At the beginning, these technologies were used for developing games and novelty applications in the fashion and cosmetics industries. But right now, we see applications of these technologies in education, healthcare, product design and manufacturing.

As virtual reality and augmented reality become adopted by various industries, key events push developments further and help these technologies evolve and become more useful and meaningful in our lives. Therefore, we decided to bring together and share with you the most significant events in the virtual and augmented reality world in a monthly digest.

Here are our picks for November:

Virtual Reality Used to Manage Pain in a Children’s Hospital

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In an experimental study, doctors at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital used virtual reality immersion on patients during various medical procedures which are usually perceived as painful both by children and their parents, such as drawing blood. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and are quite relevant for the scope of the experiment: virtual reality actually helps people perceive a lower level of pain and anxiety.

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The study was performed on a trial group of patients with ages between 10 and 21 and also included their primary caregivers. While undergoing medical procedures, members of the test group were given a headset to play a virtual reality game. The result was a decreased level of perceived pain and anxiety, both in patients and their parents.

“Given the immersive and engaging nature of the VR experience, this technology has the capacity to act as a preventative intervention transforming the blood draw experience into a less distressing and potentially pain-free medical procedure, particularly for patients with more anxiety about having their blood drawn,” stated the Director of the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, Jefferey I. Gold, PhD.

Apple Allegedly Purchases Augmented Reality Startup Vrvana, Pays $30 Million

Apple has already stated its intentions to launch their own augmented reality headset by 2020. As part of this plan, the company has recently acquired the Canadian AR startup Vrvana for the price of $30 million.

While Apple has not yet officially confirmed the purchase, TechCrunch found out that a significant number of Vrvana employees have moved to California and started working for Apple. At the same time Vrvana has stopped sharing updates on its social media channels since August.

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It is unclear what products will be taken over by Apple, from the Canadian startup, and further developed. Right now, the only products featured on the (still) live Vrvana website is an unreleased headset named Totem. According to the product description, Totem is an “extended reality” device which incorporates both AR and VR technologies.

Harry Potter Game under Development by Pokémon Go Creator

Harry Potter AR game
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Niantic, the company responsible for the Pokémon Go craze of last year, has recently disclosed a partnership with Warner Bros. Studios. The purpose: a new Harry Potter game, using the augmented reality technology.

From the very scarce information shared by the game developer, the AR Harry Potter game, Harry Potter: Wizard Unite, will be very much in the style of Pokémon Go, with hotspots in various locations across the world where players can “learn spells, explore their real-world neighborhoods and cities to discover and fight legendary beasts and team up with others to take down powerful enemies,” according to a statement made by Niantic on their official website.

The only time frame known for now is quite vague – there are promises that further details about the game will be shared in 2018. The AR Harry Potter game is not the only one being envisioned by the trademark holder. The recently founded Portkey Games studio will develop various games for console. According to the president of Warner Bros., David Haddad, the games will focus on player-generated stories, in line with the general scope of the AR and VR gaming world.

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“Hundreds of Millions” of Smartphones Will Have Augmented Reality Enabled by Next Year, According to Google

Amit Singh, Google Vice-President for Virtual Reality Business and Operations, shared his view on the near future of augmented reality at the Web Summit technology conference held in Lisbon, Portugal. According to Singh, they are currently helping developers build the experiences so that AR becomes a daily habit.

There are lots of augmented reality apps and games available for Android, ever since the launch of the ARCore development platform. However, only a limited number of devices, especially high-end phones, are currently capable of delivering the augmented reality experience. In Singh’s opinion, even mid-level and low-level phones which will be launched during next few years will have this technology included among their specifications.

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