Super Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Industry News and Technology Updates

Facebook F8 / Facebook’s Fate

Facebook F8 is an annual conference keynote that took place on April 12 and 13 at Fort Mason in San Francisco, CA. The event was directed at developers and entrepreneurs who build products and services for the social network. During the conference, Zuckerberg mentioned that virtual reality could be the best form of social networking because of its strong communal immersion. He illustrated this idea by showing off the Toybox Demo for Oculus Touch. Facebook also presented an open source camera rig that they are calling the “Surround 360 Camera”. The camera, made with 17 combined cameras, will be able to shoot 3D-360 8K video at a smooth 60 frames per second. According to Chris Cox, Facebook’s vice president of product, the company plans to share the hardware design and stitching algorithm on Github this summer. The Oculus team also demoed their VR selfie stick that aims to make VR social. With the virtual stick, users will be able to take photos of their avatars in front of famous landmarks. Once the photo is taken, the user can share it with their Facebook friends’ virtual mailbox so they could post it on the site. After talking about VR, Zuckerberg, shifted the topic to augmented reality. Surprisingly, it was the first time that Zuckerberg revealed Facebook’s interest in AR. The Facebook CEO said that we could use AR apps to replace physical objects such as an AR TV set. Facebook also showed that they wanted to combine both AR and VR into their devices, which is also what we are working on here at uSens Inc. Near the end of the conference, Zuckerberg presented a photo of a pair of black glasses. These glasses were only a glimpse into the future of Facebook tech with Zuckerberg saying that VR/AR headsets will look like a regular pair of eyeglasses in 10 years. VR and AR were also featured at the end of Facebook’s 10-year road map, along with artificial intelligence and connectivity. Now that Facebook is officially on the AR train with Google and Microsoft, it should be interesting to see how this competition will help bring AR to new heights. -Amanze Ugoh        

Snapchat’s Augmented Reality

The mobile picture & video messaging app, Snapchat, has come a long way from its simple and humble beginnings. Originally launched as “Picaboo” in 2011, the company now has a staggering $16 billion valuation and has successfully retained longevity by constantly adding new features and updates. The company’s video traffic is even catching up with Facebook, at 7 billion monthly views with Facebook leading at 8 billion monthly views. Plenty of the videos that are being viewed on the app are utilizing augmented reality because of a recent camera feature. In fact, Snapchat has been expressing interest in the AR field for quite a while now. Snapchat initially garnered interest in AR when Google Glass publically launched for a limited time and gained attention in 2014. During winter of 2014, Snapchat spent $10 million to acquire Vergence Laboratories, a company in Venice, CA that created the video recording glasses known as Epiphany Eyewear. Around this time, Snapchat also purchased, a QR-code generator, that appears in the apps “Snaptags” function which provides a quick and easy way to add friends. The company has also hired many people from augmented reality groups such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, PTC’s Vuforia, and more. This information could either mean that Snapchat will be entering the wearable technology space soon with smart glasses or that they will continue to develop the augmented reality software that is already thriving inside the app. In September of 2015, Snapchat deployed an innovative feature called “Lenses”. Lenses reinvents the selfie with an ever-changing variety of augmented reality animations. Users can experience augmented reality by pointing their cameras onto their faces. After a second or two of scanning, the user is able to choose between many different facial animations that change daily. If a user finds a lens that they like, they are able to purchase it for $0.99 to own the lens indefinitely. Snapchat has also been selling personalized Lenses for corporate sponsors, like Fox, to use. It is quickly becoming more apparent that augmented and virtual reality will completely take over the mainstream. The social media giant, Facebook has already acquired Oculus and now Snapchat is showing major interest in the AR field. Historically, AR has been hugely overlooked in comparison to VR but Snapchat seems to be looking to change that. With Snapchat’s 100+ million daily users, more people are becoming exposed with augmented reality. Snapchat is the only company that is introducing AR to the millennial audience at an extremely rapid rate. Snapchat is the undisputed leader of ephemeral messaging and at this rate, they will probably be the leader in AR as well. Here at uSens Inc, we are aiming to lessen the gap between AR and VR so we are delighted to see Snapchat help popularize AR even further. Snapchat may even move the focus of AR to social networking just as how VR is closely associated with gaming. -Amanze Ugoh