The biggest stories in AR – February roundup

AR Monthly roundup

To help keep you up to speed with all the latest happenings in AR we have rounded up the biggest (and most interesting) stories from across the industry for you digest at your leisure.

Decorate Your House With Augmented Reality Now With The Houzz App – by Dave Aubrey, VR Focus 

Apple’s latest ARKit allows for wall detection software, but while that won’t be available to users for a little while yet, you can get AR in your home with the Houzz app right now.  Alon Cohen is the Houzz president and co-founder, and he wants to deliver a quality customer experience; “We’re making AR-enabled shopping even more immersive and useful on Houzz so that people can discover, select and buy the best products for their homes instantly within the Houzz app.”

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Facebook Experiments With Full-Body Tracking In Augmented Reality – by Dave Aubrey, VR Focus

Full body tracking should be coming to mobile soon thanks to the Facebook AI Camera Team. They are working on various technologies and tools. Facebook aim to create accurate full body tracking technology which uses just a mobile phone camera. Being able to track body movements in real time is a difficult task, as the Facebook team explain in their blog post. Poses and body shapes are difficult to track across a wide range of people, not to mention items of clothing can help confuse matter, unlike facial features, which have generally uniform placements and features with fewer variable.

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Tomorrow’s surgery could use augmented reality – by Peter Russel, Web MD

Surgeons could in future be wearing ‘augmented reality’ headsets that allow them to ‘see’ inside a patient’s body during an operation. Augmented reality headsets are currently only available to developers. In a series of procedures, researchers demonstrated how surgeons can use Microsoft HoloLens headsets to effectively ‘see through’ tissue to help reconnect blood vessels in patients undergoing reconstructive lower limb surgery.

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How Businesses Are Using Augmented Reality – by Susan Johnston Taylor, National Centre for Business Journalism

Businesses now use AR technology to draw in new customers or provide a unique customer experience.  Forbes reports that AMC and Next Games have released an AR mobile game for “Walking Dead” fans. IKEA is using AR technology to let shoppers “place” furniture in their home, and last year the University of Nebraska broke ground on a $119 million AR and VR training centre for medical professionals. Meanwhile, in the entertainment and travel industries, a London bar offers augmented reality cocktails and an airport in Singapore will use AR technology to help speed up baggage processing.  For sports fan, Apple and Major League Baseball plan to debut an AR baseball app this year.

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BBC launches augmented reality app for Civilisations – BBC News

The BBC is launching an augmented reality app that will enable people to explore historical artefacts from UK museums in virtual exhibitions. It is a companion to BBC Two’s Civilisations series, which will be broadcast in spring 2018. Users will be able to view and explore artefacts virtually – for example, looking at other broadcasters such as Sky, are also experimenting with the technology. mummy inside a sarcophagus.

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Snapchat’s big bet on augmented reality seems to be paying off – By Tanya Dua, Business Insider

The rollout of Lens Studio, which allows anybody to create their own AR experience with a set of desktop creative tools, has been a bright spot for the company. The tool has been well-received, with over 30,000 lenses created just six weeks into its launch, with the lenses viewed over one billion times. Snap’s total advertising revenue for the fourth quarter grew 74% year-over-year to $281 million.

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The New York Times launches augmented reality news app – by James Walker, Digital Journey

The New York Times has announced an augmented reality experience to “bring the news into your home.” The publication said it wants readers to experience a more immersive form of reporting that uses 3D images to “bridge” the digital and physical worlds. Introduced this month, the dedicated AR function will be used to increase the engaging qualities of news stories published in the company’s app. Your smartphone will become a “window” into a new world that helps to show and explain events happening in the news.  In a post announcing the technology, The New York Times said it will be exploring how storytelling is evolving. The project’s still experimental for now though so the number of AR-enhanced stories will be limited. So far, there’s a single content item available. It uses augmented reality to present 3D models of athletes participating in the upcoming Winter Olympics games.

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Google’s Motion Stills app brings augmented reality to almost any Android phone – by Michael Hicks, TechRadar

Google’s Motion Stills app brings augmented reality to almost any Android phone. Google Pixel 2 owners with the Android Oreo 8.1 update received access to Google’s AR Stickers last December. Using Google’s ARCore technology, the Pixel 2 lets users insert R2-D2, Stranger Things characters and other animated characters directly into their surroundings. Through Google’s free Motion Stills app, any Android phone with a built-in gyroscope and running Android 5.1 or higher will have access to similar AR tech—it just doesn’t use ARCore.

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Apple Posts New ‘Augmented Reality for iOS’ Webpage – iClarified

Apple has posted a new ‘Augmented Reality for iOS’ webpage that highlights the capabilities of AR and various apps that have already been made for the iPhone and iPad.

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You Are Iron Man With AR HeroVision Headset – by Rebecca Hills-Duty, VR Focus

Children and the young-at-heart will have a chance to virtually don the Iron Man armour.  As part of the merchandise tie-in push for the upcoming blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War, the Hero Vision Iron Man AR Experience is an AR headset device created to resemble Iron Man’s helmet.  Donning the headset lets users see the world with an AR overlay resembling the enhanced heads-up display from the movies, along with a video game adventure to defend the world from Thanos and his forces.

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New toy uses AR to teach about the elements – by Peter Graham, VR Focus

AR Headset Maker RealWear Secures $17 million in Series A Funding Round. The investment will be used to accelerate production of the HMT-1 headset. One of the main areas augmented reality (AR) is gaining popularity in is hands-free enterprise solutions. One company looking to lead this boom is RealWear with its HMT-1 headset. Today, RealWear announced that it has raised $17 million in its Series A funding round to help with this goal.  The funding round was led by Columbia Ventures Corporation with the investment being used to accelerate production of the HMT-1 device. The HMT-1 is RealWear’s flagship product, a fully voice-controlled ultra-rugged wearable device using AR for noisy industrial environments including oil and gas, telecommunications, utilities  and manufacturing.

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Samsung smart glasses could still happen, new logo trademark shows – by Micheal Hicks, Tech Radar

Samsung smart glasses could still happen, new logo trademark shows.  We’ve heard rumblings of Samsung’s augmented reality glasses, called either Galaxy Glass or Gear Blink, to compete with Google Glass since 2014. But with Google Glass’ fall from grace, Samsung appeared to have scrapped its plans for augmented reality (AR) glasses, too.  Samsung’s trademark filing associates the eye logo above with the following: “Smart glasses” and “Correction glasses”. From these descriptors, we can guess that Samsung could develop either virtual or augmented glasses with a medical focus, marketing them as a potential replacement for corrective lenses. But what’s intriguing is that Samsung’s Creative Lab showed off an app that fits much of this criteria at CES 2018 just last month.

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The smartphone is eventually going to die, and we’re not ready for what comes next – by Matt Weinberger, Business Insider UK

The smartphone is eventually going to die, and we’re not ready for what comes next. Silicon Valley companies think that smart glasses, like the Magic Leap, will one day replace the smartphone.  That could be good: As we worry about smartphone addiction, glasses could present a way to access all of the information we need in a way that works better with our real lives.  And yet, we’re simply not ready for the shift. So-called “augmented reality” will only make the spread of fake news and misinformation worse.  As we prepare to hand over control of our senses to a computer, we need to ask if our systems for sifting real information from fake is good enough.

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