The virtual and augmented reality world has had its share of interesting events in August. A new startup is trying to change the way people experience augmented reality and has managed to get the financial backing for their ambitious project. In the VR world, a major content platform has expanded its reach to a competing brand of devices, pushing for a higher adoption rate among consumers.
Navigating through unknown indoor spaces such as business offices, airports and malls will become easier than ever thanks to a new augmented reality app. AR is also the force behind an innovative museum display concept, shared via a social media platform.
Last, but not least, STEM students gain access to one of the most advanced VR labs for a one-of-a-kind practical experience. Now that we’ve finished the introduction, let’s go into details with the most important virtual and augmented reality news for August.
Ubiquity6 Augmented Reality Startup Raises $27 Million Series B for User-Friendly AR Experiences
Ubiquity6 is an augmented reality startup that aims to develop innovative tools which will enable users to build a cloud hosted AR version of the world. This augmented reality world would allow them to enjoy dynamic, immersive, multiplayer AR experiences.
This goal is closer to coming to fruition thanks to a recent deal closed by the company: a $27 million Series B with Benchmark and Index Ventures. This capital influx is the second after the $37 million which Ubiquity6 managed to raise from various top level venture capital firms among which are Google’s Gradient Ventures, First Round and KPCB.
The recent deal will also mean that the GP of Benchmark, Mitch Lasky, will join the board of directors of Ubiquity6.
The strategy used by Ubiquity6 is to create 3D mesh maps of public areas, facilitating the development of meaningful and interactive augmented reality experiences. This concept is very useful for museums, public buildings and various geographic locations hosting public events.
The app developed by Ubiquity6 has not been officially launched yet, but interested parties can sign up for beta testing on the company’s website.
Viveport VR Content Platform Opens Access to Oculus Rift Owners
HTC Vive’s Viveport content platform will allow Oculus Rift owners to subscribe and access virtual reality content. This decision comes in response to the generalized reticence among consumer to adopt new technologies.
Access to content is the bone of contention – people are unwilling to spend hundreds of dollars on devices without understanding its entertainment value. The “seeing before believing” attitude is pervasive – there are few VR content platforms available and there is a general feeling that once they made the investment, consumers will soon run out of new and exciting content.
In this context, HTC Vive decided to make its subscription available to owners of competitor’s device – Facebook’s Oculus Rift. Starting from August 16, Oculus Rift owners can sign-up to Viveport’s $8.99 per month subscription, which allows access to up to 5 different titles at a time.
At the same time, content creators who published their virtual reality content on Viveport will be able to add the Oculus Rift compatible label to their titles. Actual access to this content will be available for Oculus Rift owners starting with September 4.
Intel Makes Available AR Experience of Smithsonian Burning Man Exhibit via Snapchat
Smithsonian Museum will allow Snapchat users to experience its “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” exhibit as an augmented reality experience. This concept is possible thanks to a partnership between the museum, Intel Corporation and Sansar and will be available to users via Snapchat.
The Portal Lens developed by Intel will allow users to experience “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” from any remote location where they have access to WiFi and the Snapchat AR social media platform.
Speaking of the innovative concept of enjoying art and museum exhibits, the Vice-President and General Manager of VR, Gaming and Esports at Intel Corporation, John Bonini, stated earlier this year: “Although more than 30 million people come through the doors of the Smithsonian’s museums every year, hundreds of millions will never be able to visit in person. Virtual and augmented reality creates new opportunities for those people to access Smithsonian collections, research and educational resources regardless of their ability to physically visit a museum or research center”.
To access the Lens Portal giving access to the Burning Man augmented reality experience, users need to scan this Snapcode image with their phone. Otherwise, the experience is available in the Snapchat carousel prompt for users belonging to the demographic group targeted by Intel.
The Smithsonian AR Burning Man experience will be available until September 8.
Google Opens Its VR Lab to STEM Students
The technology giant has launched a partnership with Labster, a company specializing in simulations education, with the purpose of creating a series of VR experiences for STEM students. The 30 immersive experiences which will be developed thanks to this partnership will be available for Google’s VR headset Daydream View.
STEM students specialize in a series of science and technology oriented disciplines, such as neuroscience and biochemistry. The increasing popularity of these disciplines means that universities are very crowded and there are less and less opportunities for students to benefit from hands-on practical experience.
This is where Google VR Labs steps in with a series of educational holographic experiences developed in partnership with Labster. The virtual reality experiences will immerse students in a realistic environment and allow them to perform a series of tasks, from using various scientific tools (microscopes, DNA sequencers), to exciting experiences, such as traveling to the surface of a newly discovered planet – an impossible experience in real life.
“Because there’s no time limit, students can review theories, concepts, and techniques as many times as they want. In addition, students receive personalized feedback in the app to help them understand which concepts they need to review, and which techniques need more practice,” explains Courtney Hampton, Google’s AR & VR Program Manager, in a post.
Blippar Uses Augmented Reality to Improve Customer Orientation in Indoor Spaces
Very soon, nobody will get lost in a large airport or a crowded mall. Blippar, the AR company focusing on hands-on and on-the-spot augmented reality experiences through point and scan with the phone camera, is now ready to launch the Indoor Visual Positioning System. This proprietary technology uses augmented reality, blueprints of buildings, photos and 3D models to map indoor space down to the finest details.
Once the space is fully mapped as holographic model, augmented reality elements can be placed all over it helping new visitors find their way in an unfamiliar indoor space. At the same time, this technology will enable retailers and other businesses place augmented reality ads and other engaging and interactive AR experiences on their leased property within the mapped space.
Here’s what consumers may expect from Blippar’s new augmented reality Visual Positioning System: