At the Augmented World Expo (AWE) opening today in Silicon Valley, uSens, Inc. announced the winners of its U.S. regional uDev Challenge. A total of $200,000 in prizes were distributed amongst challenge entrants in the U.S. and China. These are the winners in the U.S.: Grand Prize: Developer Chris Wren won $50,000 for his application MonsterShop. The application delivers the framework for a VR retail experience by allowing players to customize the appearance of monster avatars via drag-and-drop hand gestures. For example, players can drag different colored eyeballs and facial hair onto the monsters. 2nd Prize: Developer Wallace Lages won $25,000 for Krinkle, a mobile action game that enables hand-activated spells. Players use motion gestures to shoot fire from their palms and form water balls. 3rd Prize: Developer Tom Leahy won $10,000 for Embodied Labs, an interactive medical training tool that lets users experience macular degeneration first-hand. In the Chinese regional competition, winning titles included fighting games GestureMagic and Shadow Play, the self-explanatory Throwing Bomb Game, and electronic circuit assembly experience VR Electronics Laboratory. “We were impressed by the quality and creativity of the projects submitted by our semifinalists,” said Dr. Yue Fei, uSens CTO and co-founder. “Our winners integrated Fingo modules in imaginative ways and demonstrated the ability to make engaging, exciting use of our tracking technology to benefit end-users. I’m very pleased about the promise of future applications of our tracking tech.” Dr. Fei is speaking at AWE at 4:15 pm on June 2 on “4 Keys to Augmented Reality’s Future.” Winning projects were selected from a pool of semifinalists, and determined by a panel of judges including analyst Jon Peddie, Samsung Research America director Chris Peri, Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meetup founder Karl Krantz, and uSens executives. Project scores were based on several score categories, including use of the uSens Software Development Kit (SDK) for augmented and virtual reality applications. uSens’ SDK integrates the uSens Fingo module for 26DOF (degrees of freedom) hand tracking on mobile ARVR platforms as well as PC-based VR systems. All uDev Challenge submissions were made for Samsung Gear VR™, Google Cardboard™, HTC Vive™, or Oculus Rift™. Semifinalists developed their applications using the uSens SDK and an entry-level uSens Fingo module for adding 26DOF controller-free hand tracking. The uSens Fingo series of modules offers advanced 3D human-computer interaction capability for both mobile and tethered systems. By attaching a Fingo to the front of a head-mounted display (HMD) device, end users can enjoy their favorite apps without major sacrifices to system power consumption or performance – even on mobile.
By Dr. Yue Fei, CTO and Cofounder of uSens 2017 will be a pivotal year for virtual and augmented reality, given rather precarious positioning in the trough of disillusionment on the famed “hype cycle.” Industry predictions are starting to grow lofty again, with the most recent IDC study claiming that AR and VR headset shipments will approach 100 million in the next 5 years. VR/AR funding is at an all-time high. And the number of active users is forecast to reach 171 million by 2018. But does any of that mean the long dark night is over? Not just yet. We’re going to be disappointed if we expect the industry to continue growing unabated. The promise of AR/VR may be widely understood by the general public, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a mainstream technology. Right now, the industry is still plagued by user nausea, not to mention a lack of content and affordability issues. The knight in shining virtual armor, for the near term, will be smartphone-based VR platforms. With their greater ease of use, lower cost, and wider range of games and applications, Mobile VR is like the “gateway drug” that will give way to mass adoption. Eventually. There are a few big players in Mobile VR already: Google, LG, and Lenovo. But given that there are approximately 2 billion active mobile smartphones in the world capable of providing AR/VR content, we should expect more mobile makers to jump on the bandwagon and come out with their own devices and applications soon. Mobile VR presents a much lower cost-of-entry for consumers, and much less risk for manufacturers. Naysayers will point out that current smartphones just aren’t built to handle the intense computational load that VR requires, and they’re right. Most legacy mobile devices are still apt to kick into overdrive and overheat while running a sim, which puts a time limit on any VR fun. But chip makers and smartphone manufacturers are already stepping up their game: 2017 is the year we’ll see VR-friendly devices that don’t bake as easily and are designed to handle the additional processing. Even with state of the art mobile devices distributed by the millions across the world, if there’s no content to run on them, VR won’t latch on. Some developers have taken the plunge and created crowd favorites (à la Pokémon Go), but we still haven’t seen the “killer app.” At this point, I don’t know that there will be one. We might just see content growth via user engagement campaigns from healthcare, social, and enterprise applications. Consumers often wait until “the timing is finally right” to adopt a new technology. Such timing is rarely tied directly to one event, but rather a collection of events that eventually collect enough weight to tip the scale. VR content in myriad forms will be required to supply that substance. Meeting (and then exceeding) consumer expectation will depend heavily on the available ways users can immerse themselves into the content and interact with it. Which leads me to another hurdle: There are some basic human-computer interaction problems that the industry must address this year. The ability to employ familiar interfaces — seamlessly scroll, tap, or type to navigate your way through a virtual realm — would make a world of difference. Until recently, natural gesture and position tracking have been a challenge in AR/VR, but the industry is rising to the challenge: HTC has years of investment in external trackers and the Oculus Rift will eventually deploy hands-free control. There is nothing yet on the market that successfully combines mobile 3D hands-free tracking AND robust head position tracking in AR/VR, but we’re working on it. Inside the AR/VR echo chamber, it’s easy to think that the public is ready to fully embrace our technology. But it’s still early days. Virtual reality is not for everyone, and there are going to be many more unforeseen obstacles to overcome as the sector matures. For those of us founding this entirely new industry, a clear focus on known issues as we pass beyond hype and into certainty will sustain us through 2017 and beyond.
By Jan Olaf Gaudestad, uSens Director of Business Development The Augmented World Expo (AWE), featuring some of the world’s hottest augmented reality and virtual reality technology, returns to the Santa Clara Convention Center May 31 – June 2. We’re excited that the uSens team will be in booth #400 so please stop by to meet the team, experience a demo, and discuss anything and everything AR and VR related. At AWE, the winners of the annual Auggie Awards will be announced, highlighting the best-of-the-best in AR and VR. We’re thrilled that our Fingo 3D stereo vision hand tracking technology is nominated in the Best Developer Tool category. With its mixture of revolutionary software and hardware, Fingo offers low latency, 26DOF and the tracking of 22 finger joints. The combination of these features allows users to interact with digital objects in AR and VR the same way they would in the real world. Simply by attaching a Fingo module to the front of a HMD device holder, you can experience your favorite apps controller-free. Fingo supports mobile ARVR platforms including Samsung Gear VR™, Google Daydream™, and Google Cardboard™, in addition to any Android OS-powered glasses for augmented reality. Fingo also supports PC-tethered virtual reality systems such as Oculus Rift™ and HTC Vive™. Public voting on the Auggies is now open. Please vote for uSens Fingo by May 22 to help us reach the semifinals! (Quick tip: Try voting though a desktop computer as well as your mobile device.) Additionally, uSens co-founder and CTO Dr. Yue Fei will be speaking at 4:15 p.m. on June 2 to share his insights on “4 Keys to Augmented Reality’s Future.” Dr. Fei will break down the challenges to AR adoption and how to overcome them. With all the current hype around the promise and potential of AR, you won’t want to miss this featured presentation. Whether you’re an executive, designer, developer, analyst, investor, or reporter, AWE is a fantastic opportunity to discover all the latest news and trends in our industry. Experience it with us and share what’s top-of-mind for you in the world of AR.