This week, we have VR headset announcements from Valve, Oculus and HP, Microsoft’s Build conference brings HoloLens, AI, robotics and IoT news… and we’ve got Google I/O announcements coming next week! So much going on!

The Valve Index, Oculus Quest and Rift S, and Niantic's new Harry Potter AR game

The Valve Index, Oculus Quest and Rift S, and Niantic’s new Harry Potter AR game!

Virtual Reality

Valve Index makes official debut ahead of Facebook’s F8 conference

The Valve Index VR Headset will start shipping June 28th for US$999 — it’s like the HTC Vive, needs to be connected to a PC, uses lighthouse tracking and such, but has higher specs!

Oculus Quest and Rift S ship May 21, pre-orders go live today

Oculus’ new VR headsets, the Oculus Rift S and Quest, are both now live for pre-orders today at US$399! TechCrunch say that the Rift S is barely an upgrade and Engadget say it is just another tethered VR headset.

Oculus has sold through its first week of Quest pre-orders

People have been pretty keen on the Quest — people pre-ordering from now will likely get theirs shipped after May 21st.

What is the Oculus Quest?

Mr SkarredGhost has a guide around what the Quest actually is and such!

What is the Oculus Rift S?

He also covers what the Rift S is for comparison!

The HP Reverb headset to launch on 6th May

VR headset galore in May!

Pimax officially unveils its Sword Series VR controllers

“The controllers come in two versions, the Sword and the Sword Sense. The main difference being that the Sword controller has a trackpad, while the flagship Sword Sense controller has sensors for finger tracking and a thumbstick with a smaller trackpanel on the face”.

Disney ‘basically built a multiplayer VR filmmaking game’ for directing The Lion King

With the new The Lion King movie, “everything in the shot is now computer generated”. “To allow Favreau to direct CGI shots as he would on a real set, Disney built a realtime VR renderer for the film’s environments”.

How virtual reality positional tracking works

Ever wonder how VR headset positional tracking actually works? Read this!

NYPD uses location-based VR for active shooter training

“Through the help of location-based VR technology, the NYPD is training hundreds of officers in multiple scenarios that would be impossible to recreate in real-life.”

Facebook showcases a vision of future full-body Oculus avatars

Facebook showed some interesting research work at F8 2019 tracking full body.

Creating VR content with zero coding skills

VR Scout share four platforms where you can build VR projects without any programming experience.

Oculus Quest Enterprise Edition brings standalone VR to businesses

“They’ve got an enterprise-grade bundle available for $999 plus a $180 annual fee.”

Valve Index is a high-end VR headset with 144fps refresh rate, individual finger tracking

You can now preorder the Valve Index, a high-end VR headset with some class-leading features, and a price to match ($999 for the complete bundle). Who is this for and should you buy it? Display: The Valve Index display has a resolution of 1600 x 1440 per eye (same as Vive Pro or Samsung Odyssey), …

Firefox Reality coming to SteamVR

Mozilla are working with Valve to bring the immersive web to SteamVR!

 

Augmented Reality

Microsoft’s live HoloLens 2 Apollo 11 demo didn’t take flight, but you can see it thanks to Unreal Engine’s video

At the start of the Microsoft Build conference, their demo didn’t quite work out, but you can see what it was supposed to be.

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 has become the AR industry’s dullest thud

VentureBeat’s Jeremy Horwitz feels like the HoloLens 2 is a disaster in the making and wasn’t impressed by their show at Build.

Microsoft adds spatial app functionality to Office 365’s teams app, Android & web interaction demoed

Whereas Next Reality say they boosted their profile by taking the stage at Microsoft Build to show off their new integration into Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft just teased a slick new Minecraft AR game for your phone

More will be revealed on May 17th but the video looks pretty promising. If this is indeed a slick version of Minecraft in mobile AR… I think it’ll be pretty darn popular.

North adds sports updates, language flashcards, & trivia games to Focals smartglasses

“This week, North released the latest set of new functions designed to keep users entertained on public transit, in waiting rooms, and during other moments of idleness”.

Snapchat gives John Wick fans the tools to build their own AR effects via Lens Studio

The “Art of Wick AR” contest challenges fans to build and share their own AR Lenses with Lens Studio with the chance to win prizes.

DARPA: this smart contact lens could give soldiers superpowers

The first stand-alone contact lens with a flexible micro battery has DARPA very interested.

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 Development Edition to offer 3-month trial of Unity Pro

The HoloLens 2 Dev Edition is available later this year for $3,500, you’ll need to be a part of Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Developer Program to get one.

Zappar expands its ZapWorks platform with ARKit & ARCore compatibility

“ZapWorks will enable developers to build for both platforms and deploy via a single project, rather than develop separate versions for iOS and Android”.

Niantic launches Harry Potter Wizards Unite as Beta in Australia & New Zealand

Public beta testing of the Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go has begun in my neck of the woods!

AR will mean dystopia if we don’t act today

Matt Miesnieks from 6D.ai makes some really important observations in this article. He says “AR means anyone can rip, mix and burn reality itself”. There’s so much to unpack in our AR future.

Vuzix Blade adds Google Assistant Beta to extend its voice assistant capabilities

Smartglasses maker Vuzix now support both Alexa and Google Assistant with their Vuzix Blade headset.

Facebook updates Spark AR with Windows support & new features, Instagram AR arriving this summer

Facebook’s AR camera platform, Spark AR, will be bringing its Windows editor and Instagram AR to all developers later this year. They also hinted at landmark style AR like Snapchat’s capabilities.

 

Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles and Robotics

Siri and Alexa struggle with your questions about detergent and cheese

Virtual assistants are struggling in some areas.

Microsoft’s Cortana will eventually sound more like a real assistant

Cortana is going to sound more casual and human-like soon, even with ums and ahhs.

Microsoft launches a new platform for building autonomous robots

The company today announced the limited preview of a new Azure-based platform for autonomous robots.

Watch: ‘Police Robot’ makes a traffic stop

Soon enough, you just might be pulled over by a robot!

Killer Apps

“The real danger of an AI arms race isn’t that another country would win; it’s that unsafe technologies would make everyone lose”.

Google releases AI training data set with 5 million images and 200,000 landmarks

“Google’s AI research division has released an AI model training data set containing 5 million images of more than 200,000 different landmarks”.

Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time

We’re still seeing articles about how surprising it is Amazon and such have a history of what you’ve said to their devices. I included this one making the rounds even though I hate the clickbait title because it does mention ways of removing the recordings and preventing Google from storing them at all.

Amazing AI generates entire bodies of people who don’t exist

It’s like the face generating one from a few months back, but with whole bodies!

‘You Can’t Take My Door’ is both country music and AI’s greatest achievement

This song is sung by humans Elle O’Brien and Timothy Joyce but written by a Recursive Neural Network.

 

Internet of Things and Makers

5 common mistakes to avoid when building an IoT system

I had a chat with Anand Tamboli all about building IoT systems for his new book “Build Your Own IoT Platform” — he had some good tips to share!

Tell Alexa to set a routine for sunrise instead of a specific time

Set routines to start when your alarm goes off, at sunrise/sunset, when someone shows up on a smart home camera and more.

You can now invoke Alexa on Windows PCs hands-free

The Alexa for Windows app can now be invoked through built-in and USB-connected/webcam microphones.

Microsoft rolls out IoT, mapping, databases, storage, and analytics updates across Azure services

At Build 2019, we got a bunch of announcements that’ll be relevant to the IoT community.

UK gov calls for security labelling on flaw-prone IoT gadgets

A new Code of Practice “could see shonky devices pulled from shelves”.

This Raspberry Pi can speak to you with its onboard AI language engine

“See how this Raspberry Pi 3B+ recreates a Borg Access Terminal and chat with you using a local AI engine customised from the ’80s Eliza algorithm.”

 

Events

2019 State of The AR Cloud Symposium and Showcase

Open AR Cloud are running a full day event on AR Cloud technology at San Jose. I’d go if I was in the area as this is a hugely important area in the future of technology! The coupon code OARCPromo will get you US$15 off!

 


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