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Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality News – December 2017

December edition of the most relevant news and events in the world of virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality.

The month of December was quite exciting for the augmented reality and virtual reality world. For starters, we got to see the first glimpse of the work carried out by the, so far, secretive startup Magic Leap. Secondly, Google made a momentous announcement in connection with its Project Tango. We also saw the first definite steps taken by Facebook to embed augmented reality in its apps, after strategic investments in the latest technologies.

Without further ado, these are the key events that defined the virtual reality and augmented reality world in December 2017:

 

Google Announces the Demise of AR Project Tango

ARCore augmented reality

Project Tango, the augmented reality development platform created by Google, will no longer be launching in March 2018. The online tech giant announced that it will pull the plug on Project Tango to focus on the development of the ARCore development platform.

True, as early AR adopters and enthusiasts noted, ARCore does not possess the same advanced capabilities of mapping as Project Tango. However, the new approach proposed by Google is less dependent on expensive and powerful hardware and thus augmented reality has a higher chance of adoption among owners of low-tier or older smartphones.

As a secondary effect of the demise of Project Tango, prices for high-end AR-ready Android phones such as Asus Zenfone AR and Lenovo Phab 2 Pro could decrease, making them more attractive to a larger number of consumers worldwide.

ARCore Developer Preview 2 is available since December 15.

 

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Magic Leap Reveals Magic Leap One and First Glimpse of Music App Developed in Collaboration with Sigur Rós Band

 

Everyone has been puzzled by the kind of work done at mixed reality startup Magic Leap, especially considering the astounding $2 billion funding it raised without launching a single product on the market. However, the waiting and wondering are over: a few days ago, Iceland-based rock band Sigur Rós posted on its Instagram and YouTube accounts a glimpse of a dedicated AR music app developed in collaboration with Magic Leap.

The video is a superb rendering of AR jellyfish-like creatures floating in a room-sized environment. There is no sound accompanying the 5-second snippet, but one of the members of the band stated that this is “the very inception of a project with near unlimited potential for creativity and fun”.

The project is named Tónandi and promises to be a fully interactive and immersive music app which will change the manner in which people experience listening to music. There is no doubt about it: the Tónandi music app will be one of the most awaited AR projects to be launched next year.

Magic Leap One mixed reality

Magic Leap also released images of their first product, mixed reality goggles, Magic Leap One.

It’s comprised of a headset (Lightwear), a remote (Control), and a mobile computer (Lightpack). As the company explains, “Magic Leap One is built for creators who want to change how we experience the world.” The headset is engineered to be lightweight and comfortable for hours of exploration, and the remote responds to every gesture,  making the movement feels smooth and intuitive.

Magic Leap mixed reality

 

 

Facebook Adds Augmented Reality to Its Messenger App

 

Facebook has made some definite moves in the AR/VR territory by purchasing Oculus Rift and discussing various beta project developments. And this December, the company announced that it would soon offer its users the augmented reality experience in the Messenger app.

Facebook AR Studio augmented relaity

The new feature is named World Effects and it will allow users to place virtual 3D objects onto photos and videos and interact with them. From superhero capes and masks to beating hearts and flowers, Facebook Messenger users will be able to unleash their creativity in a similar manner to the Snapchat effects.

AR Studio

Posted by Facebook for Developers on Monday, April 17, 2017

 

Facebook also announced that its AR Studio, previously available in beta to a limited number of brands, publishers, developers and similar creators, starting December 20 will be available to everyone. “One of our goals with AR Studio is to put the power of augmented reality in the hands of all creators,” explains Facebook.

This will lead to an explosion of original user-generated augmented reality content available exclusively on Facebook.

 

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Samsung Updates VR Apps to Work with A-Series Devices

 

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8+, the new series of smartphones to be launched in 2018, will be compatible with Samsung Gear VR headsets. The devices will be available for purchase at the start of January 2018. Samsung Galaxy A8 has a diagonal of 5.6 inches, while the A8+ model will have a diagonal of 6 inches.

samsung galaxy A8 A8+

The compatibility of the two new mid-tier devices with Samsung VR apps and gear means that people who cannot afford the S-series flagship phones will be able to experience virtual reality games and movies.

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