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.
As five days in sunny San Francisco came to a close, it was clear that virtual reality was all the buzz throughout the duration of Game Developers Conference, especially with the first two days of the conference being completely dedicated to VR. VRDC brought VR tutorials, VR boot camps and industry relevant speakers into an immersive AR/VR experience at the Moscone Center. This was VRDC’s second year and featured two different tracks for attendees to participate in: VR and AR for game development and VR and AR for other forms of entertainment–from CG movies to filmed experiences and beyond. It’s clear that VRDC’s presence for the second year at arguably the largest gaming conference in the world, means that virtual, augmented and mixed reality is the future and the most important steps in developing games for users and progressing the industry forward. The following three days opened the exhibition floor to companies and organizations to display their relevance to the gaming industry and how their technologies and products can progress technological advances to the next level. Oculus brought a full array of systems and demos to GDC sending an army of employees donning distinctive indigo shirts to recruit attendees to use their system with Oculus Touch controllers. PlayStation and its deep lineup of games allowed GDC-goers to sample everything from Grand Turismo Sport in a sit-in pod with a PS4 Pro to bringing back the infamous Crash Bandicoot of the early PlayStation days, and showcasing its wide variety of PSVR games as well. However, while controllers in VR and gaming in general still play a prevalent part in those fields, hand tracking sparked the interest of industry professionals and the thousands at GDC. USENS INC was a trending topic of conversation over the three days on the exhibition floor of the South Hall at the Moscone Center. We demonstrated our hand tracking capabilities with demos to show to the attendees of GDC. With several FINGO demos set-up, thousands of people in attendance flocked to the uSens booth (which happened to be close to the primary restrooms of the hall for maximum foot traffic – very strategic 😉). Throughout GDC, USENS interacted in-person and over all social media channels with tech, AR/VR and gaming influencers, journalists and industry professionals — all raving about USENS and FINGO. Here are just a couple examples: @DennisScimeca: Seriously: If you’ve never tried hand tracking in VR and have time, stop by the @usensinc booth. Tech works exactly as advertised. #gdc17. @Alexis_Macklin: Enjoyed testing out @usensinc at #gdc17. From verified Twitter users who promoted uSens to their thousands of followers to the individuals on social media who post with just a passion about their interests, USENS and our FINGO were trending topics coming out of GDC. USENS INC was featured in an article by Gao Yun of CGTN featuring FINGO and our tracking capabilities: San Jose, California-based uSens – founded by two Chinese developers – created a technology that utilizes a camera to recognize all the individual bones inside the hand, and then relays that information to the application. “Right now, people cannot interact directly in VR, but holding a controller is unnatural,” said Fei Yue, co-founder and CTO of uSens, adding that they are now letting people do whatever they want to do in real world. As VR moves further into mainstream society, technologists agree that the experience needs to become more natural, and ironically, more like everything in the real world.
uSens, Inc., a pioneer in hand-and-head tracking technologies for Augmented and Virtual Reality, has appointed Dr. Eunseok Park to the new position of U.S. general manager. A collaborator on nearly 200 world patents, Dr. Park was most recently the U.S. regional director for Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), where he managed research and development in emerging technologies across all four U.S. sites. In his new role with uSens, Dr. Park will tap into the deep business relationships he has established with the world’s leading academic and corporate research entities. “We are so proud to have a leader with the pedigree of Eunseok Park join the uSens team,” said Anli He, CEO and co-founder of uSens. “He brings incomparable expertise in administration and management of engineering projects and in nurturing teams. uSens will benefit from his broad connections to attract the highest caliber of research and engineering talent and to build industry partnerships that will grow uSens’ footprint in the ARVR industry.” “I couldn’t be more excited at the opportunity to join uSens at this stage of the company’s growth. I look forward to experiencing the startup world from the inside and to apply my management and operational skills to take uSens to the next level of maturity,” said Dr. Park. “During my tenure with SAIT, I established deep relationships with the top research sites across the U.S. and Europe. I’m excited to mine those connections to bring more world-class research talent into uSens, and to help uSens in the commercialization of its AR and VR tracking solutions.” A Visionary Leader Dr. Eunseok Park has spent the last 11 years with the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), the main research and development center for Samsung Electronics and other businesses within the Samsung Group. Beginning his career at SAIT as a senior researcher, Dr. Park eventually became regional director for Europe, where he identified and developed new areas of research in emerging technologies including mobile health. He also oversaw strategic IP for licensing or purchasing, and supported collaborations with leading European research institutes and business partners. As regional director for the U.S., Dr. Park managed R&D and operations across four sites and more than 100 employees, coordinated joint research projects with leading U.S. academic entities, and identified startups for angel and early-round investments. Dr. Park received his MS degree and PhD in electrical engineering from Syracuse University in New York, and an MBA from Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea. In addition to his extensive patent portfolio, Dr. Park is the author of many articles published for IEEE symposiums.
uSens Inc. was featured in USA Today on Wednesday, after a successful showing at CES Unveiled in Las Vegas. In “CES 2017: The coolest tech you have to see”, USA Today wrote that: An attendee demonstrated Fingo, a device added to virtual reality goggles to incorporate hand gestures. Check out the article and visit uSens Inc. at CES 2017 this week!
After CES Unveiled in Las Vegas on Tuesday night Janko Roettgers, senior Silicon Valley correspondent for Variety, featured uSens Inc. Roettgers tweeted out that: The Fingo VR hand tracking module is one of the cooler things I got to see at CES Unveiled. Check out the article and visit uSens Inc. at CES 2017 this week!
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
We had the lucky opportunity to attend three important technology conferences over the last few weeks: REAL 2016, Game Developers Conference (GDC), and South by Southwest (SXSW). During each event, which were all very different, we showed off our current tech demos to the audiences. The 2nd annual REAL 2016 Conference took place on March 8 and 9 at Fort Mason in San Francisco, CA. The event theme was “Reality Computing.” Reality Computing is something Autodesk defines as “…the principal concept for how technologies are breaking down the barriers between the physical and digital worlds for anyone engaged in the design, delivery, or management of physical things” The majority of the REAL audience included people that were heavily involved in business and enterprise technology, specifically AEC and BIM. The conference heavily supported products/technologies that digitally capture existing conditions, manipulate and analyze that data in design software, and outputs the result back in our physical world with digital fabrication methods (i.e. 3-D printing) or visually through augmented reality or projection technologies. Examples of these kinds of projects include: laser scanning, UAVs, depth cameras, photogrammetry, and virtual reality headsets. Our CTO, Dr. Yue Fei, presented a short and meaningful presentation on how hand and position tracking make better AR and VR experiences for human computer interaction. The 27th annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) also took us back to San Francisco on March 14-18. We split our time between the Open Gaming Alliance Lounge and the main GDC Expo hall in the ARM booth. The GDC audience we catered to included Game developers, media, and analysts. This popular (27K attendees) conference is a place where mainly game developers gather to discuss and exchange ideas, tools, and content to further the gaming industries. Virtual Reality was extremely popular at this event. While the VR hype seems to still consume the media, we’re beginning to see the extreme value of uSens technology for AR and VR content makers and related tools and hardware makers. We demoed hundreds of times and attracted dozens of new early DEVNET (Developer Network) beta users that are starting to use our technology in May. The 29th annual SXSW (South by Southwest) festival went on from March 11-20 in Austin, Texas. SXSW is a yearly event that features games, film, interactive media, music festivals, and tech conferences. We attended and showed off our demos in the Gaming Expo. For the first time this year, the festival also included a VR/AR Experience side event that had a limited collection of mainly 360 video and photo VR technology. We felt at home during the SXSW Gaming Expo, because many of our VR tech peers joined us there for the massive consumer crowds, including kids, families, educators, and many different types of developers. One of the AR highlights at SXSW was NASA’s Hololens presentation. Dr. Jeff Norris and Victor Luo, both fans of uSens tech, provided one of the very first public debuts of their interactive apps for Microsoft’s HoloLens device. Jeff and Victor showed the attendees how NASA is using AR and VR technology in building, executing, and virtualizing current and future missions. With NASA’s new found VR and AR technology, they have recreated some of the most accurate 3D reconstructions of spacecrafts, space physics, and Mars. Jeff and Victor shared the inception and construction of new projects and the potentials of virtual reality space exploration for everyone on Earth. It was great to see our ARVR technology being appreciated and examined in so many different verticals including business & enterprise, game developers, and consumers & educators. Despite the differences of these groups, we’ve witnessed that many people are excited for hand and position tracking to immerse them into their experiences. -Amanze Ugoh
The most important form of visual art is eyeing it’s next major technological advancement. This advancement is incorporating Virtual Reality into major motion pictures. Disney recently invested $65 million into Jaunt, which is developing a cinematic VR headset for movies. While this company is not connected to us, we applaud them for looking into the next step of entertainment. Before we delve into virtual reality movies, we need to first acknowledge 3D movie formats. It is a bit easier to bash 3D I admit, but we cannot progress without mentioning the failed attempt of ‘enhancing’ the motion picture experience. We have all been to 3D movies. However, in a recent article from the New York Post, the author tells us why the 3D fad is dying. Most of us are not surprised that 3D films are dissipating again, because 3D formatting has had 3 major revivals (1950s, 1980s, & 2000s). It is approaching its 3rd major decline, and probably will not ever rebound again. Most major film critics despise the idea of 3D incorporated into movies. The movie industry is not just going to get an upgrade, but is going to face a cinematic revolution with VR. There have been smaller cinematic developments throughout the time movies have been around, but the technology releases steadily as it is made. Most of the cinematic developments that the consumer sees are to improve image, sound, and CGI quality. There are currently no major motion pictures that break the barriers of a static viewing screen. Cinematic VR will allow the movie viewing experience to be unique every time. Even viewing the same movie in a virtual space will render an infinite amount of new experiences for the viewer. Moviemakers can also incorporate ‘easter eggs’ or additional clues into the story that you can find yourself by swiveling your head. There are already videos on YouTube that you can watch that have VR capabilities. You can view these videos by utilizing your smart phone’s gyroscope to shift around your POV. You can also drag the specific video feed around with a mouse, if viewing on a computer. These VR videos usually come under the category of “360-degree videos.” They are pretty awesome, but they generally do not include narrative film. Most of the 360-degree videos come in a documentary format. The few 360-degree videos that actually have a narrative are very limited and not high quality. Once major motion pictures perfect VR/360-degree viewing capabilities, the experience will be absolutely stunning. Popularity with CGI Animations and motion capture films will skyrocket even further. Most popular animations are now created with CGI. With every new CGI animation, comes a 3-Dimensional world that is created. The artists behind these worlds will enjoy bringing their creations to you to view from every angle. VR in live-actions films will be harder to generate. Production companies would have to find out a way to edit out the production crew, lights, props, & everything else that goes on within inches of the camera’s specific FOV. However, Hollywood is no stranger to incredible cinematic innovations, and will figure it out as our capabilities expand. Movie VR technology is still being developed, but its capabilities are already being shown with documentary filmmaking and brief narratives. It has gained a secure footing and it will only be a matter of time before we see it evolve. For more about uSens, Inc. and Impression Pi, please visit our other social media sites: Twitter: @usensinc Facebook: uSens, Inc. – Impression Pi Google+: uSens, Inc. – Impression Pi LinkedIn: uSens, Inc. Company Profile
We recently brought Impression Pi’s ‘Moon Walk’ demo to the Silicon Valley Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (SVIEF) 2015. SVIEF 2015 had over 100 high profile speakers, including Ashton Kutcher. The virtual reality technology from Impression Pi transports the user to the surface of Earth’s moon. Impression Pi’s gesture recognition capabilities also allow the user to ‘touch’ each planet in our solar system and view its information. We were happy to show case our technology to the attendees of SVIEF 2015, but were ecstatic to be given the opportunity to have children interact with it as well. We had a great time at SVIEF 2015 and enjoyed having a diverse audience interact with our technology! For more about uSens, Inc. and Impression Pi, please visit our other web sites: Twitter: @usensinc Facebook: uSens, Inc. – Impression Pi Google+: uSens, Inc. – Impression Pi LinkedIn: uSens, Inc. Company Profile
The next generation of technology is upon us, and uSens, Inc is leading the advance with it’s Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Impression Pi headset. uSens, Inc is a small Silicon Valley startup, but the company is taking the virtual and augmented reality industry to the next level. To give a brief background; virtual reality (VR) is a term for a “computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.” Augmented reality (AR) is a term used for “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.” The terms have evolved throughout the years as the technology has advanced. So why would anyone want Impression Pi? The answer is complex for the developers, but very simple for us. Impression Pi is not only able to display a virtual reality world, but also an augmented reality world. The device also allows the user to physically interact with the displayed world, with 3D hand-gesture control and position tracking. It is the first device able to do this, out of a myriad of others. This effectively opens up a technological universe for any company or organization. Companies that develop social media, video games, and video streaming technologies can release entertainment applications for Impression Pi. Applications can also be made for healthcare, education, and business training. As mentioned earlier, the opportunities are endless. Impression Pi is compatible with most newly released smartphones, which serve as the main screen for the device. The device opens up and allows you to insert the phone into the opening. After connecting your smartphone to the USB/Lightning port, you can select the specific application you want Impression Pi to interact with. It is brilliantly simple, and incredibly user-friendly. Impression Pi achieves the VR/AR affect by mounting two cameras at the front of the device and inserting an array of infrared sensors around the headset. The cameras are able to allow you to see what is happening in front of you. The infrared sensors around the device track the physical movement of the headset and your hand movements. You can interact with the virtual universe displayed in a 3-Dimensional format with your hands and body movement. It is also wireless – you can move anywhere without being restricted. To this date, Impression Pi has gathered over $300,000 in pledges from its Kickstarter campaign. The company’s initial goal was to raise $75,000. The outstanding reality is that uSens, Inc started creating motion capture technology in 2013. They started developing the VR/AR Impression Pi near the end of 2014 and have already managed to create an innovative product in less than a year. So what companies are actually interested in developing applications for it? Well, everyone; but they need to discover it. Let’s think about the video game industry. Video game companies are looking for a big break in the visual technology realm. Graphic engines are already photo-realistic, but we are still limited to staring at a computer or phone screen in order to view them. Imagine integrating those incredible graphics into a 3-Dimensional world and the real world. Impression Pi is almost here, and its technological advancements are going to revolutionize the VR/AR industry. Lucky for all of us, this is just the beginning. “Virtual Reality” Def.1. OxfordDictionaries.com. Oxford Dictionaries, n.d. 1 Oct 2015 “Augmented Reality” Def. 2. OxfordDictionaries.com. Oxford Dictionaries, n.d. 1 Oct 2015 For more about uSens, Inc. and Impression Pi, please visit our other web sites: Twitter: @usensinc Facebook: uSens, Inc. – Impression Pi Google+: uSens, Inc. – Impression Pi LinkedIn: uSens, Inc. Company Profile