Super Reality

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

USENS and #GDC17

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.  

Dr. Eunseok Park Joins uSens as General Manager of Augmented and Virtual Reality Tracking Company

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.

Snap Inc. Spectacles: A Spectacle to be Worn

Over the last several weeks, Snap Inc. jumped head first into the fashion industry when they introduced the first pair of sunglasses to the public. Coming out of a vending machine near the Snap Inc. HQ in Venice Beach, CA, Spectacles drew customers from Southern California and beyond wanting to get fresh, new, smart pair of eyewear from the social media giant. After the initial release of the glasses in Venice Beach, a Spectacle pop-up vending machine appeared up the coast of California, in Loma Point, CA (near Big Sur), allowing interested Northern California customers to hop on the Spectacle-train. The “Snapbots” have now been showing up throughout the U.S. (including Tallahassee (FL), Catoosa (OK), Catalina Island (CA), Honolulu (HI), and several other cities as well). Snap Inc. are selling the sunglasses for $129.99 at resale but according to TechCrunch, “Snapchat staff on location are apparently telling people in line the vending machine in Big Sur won’t be restocked once it sells out. The long lines from Friday, along with high selling prices on eBay that are hitting 20x the original Spectacles selling price.” Twenty times the original selling price…the question is: are the new Snapchat sunglasses even worth the initial price as a high-end, fashionable eyewear accessory, are they just a toy or are they the future of augmented reality? As far as high-tech glasses go, immediate thoughts go to the Google Glass. While starting at a mere $1,500 for the public, Google Glass prided itself on being virtually a hands-free smartphone. Many critics dubbed Google’s foray into wearable tech a flop. The massive price-tag, the marketing strategies setting an unrealistic expectation, amongst other variables deemed the Google Glass not worth the time or the money to the public. Google Glass prided itself on features and the potential of endless possibilities and that ultimately proved to be a massive letdown. Snap Inc.’s Spectacles seems to pride itself on only have three primary uses: record 10-second videos, protection from the sun and fun. While it’s 2016 debut is made for entertainment, this could be Snap Inc.’s first step into the AR and VR realm. Snapchat recently purchased Israeli augmented reality startup Cimagine for an estimated $30 – 40 million. Cimagine has developed augmented reality technology that allows its users to seen on the screen of their mobile devices how appliances and furniture look in their respective homes. In an article spotlighting Snapchat and Spectacles, Anita Balakrishnan of CNBC wrote: Already ‘the social media platform of our time,’ Snapchat could now own the means of both producing and distributing its content, said Julia Sourikoff, who heads VR and 360 for Tool of North America, an award winning commercial production company that has a rapidly growing virtual reality division. For brands, that could mean a not-too-distant future where consumers could head out to stores to meet holograms of the trendy influencers who are already avid Snapchat users. Spectacles aren’t trying to completely revolutionize the high-tech, smart technology game right away. They are simply establishing that they are becoming a player in the wearable tech and the AR/VR space. Snapchat is clearly going to be the premise for which all of Snap Inc.’s future products will be built on.

uSens Inc. Featured in USA Today

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!

uSens Inc. Featured in Variety

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!

Top 5 Mobile VR Apps That Would Benefit from Hand-Tracking

If you are someone who has never tried virtual reality before, you are likely to be introduced to Google Cardboard or Samsung GearVR first. Almost every time I have witnessed someone experience VR for the first time in these devices, they tried to reach out to touch what they are seeing but they aren’t able to since these Cardboard & GearVR don’t come packed with hand-tracking capabilities out the box.  Because of this, what VR needs most is hand-tracking to help users retain their interest and immersion in the VR world. So I rounded up a list of the top 5 GearVR & Cardboard apps that would benefit greatly from hand-tracking technology. (A head strap mount would be needed for Google Cardboard) 1. Proton Pulse (Cardboard/GearVR) Proton Pulse is a fun game with incredibly simple head-tracking controls. It is basically a 3D version of the classic game, Breakout. The player controls the paddle simply by looking around. Hand-tracking could make this game even more impressive and natural though. With hand-tracking, the paddle can be controlled with one hand in front of the VR headset and there can be an applied force mechanic. Players would actually have full control of how fast or slow they want to hit the ball based on their strike. 2. Oculus Social Beta (GearVR) Oculus Social Beta is in desperate need of a feature like hand-tracking. As of now, its users’ avatars are nothing more than floating heads. This limits the overall experience of the app because all the player can do is talk to other players and watch videos. Since this app is online only, it would be ground-breaking to be able to move your hands around in the real world and have your friends see your avatar move accordingly in the virtual world. Hand-tracking could introduce a whole bunch of new activities in Oculus’ virtual world such as card games or playing catch. 3. Sisters VR (Cardboard/GearVR)  Sisters is a VR horror story. It could benefit from hand-tracking by making the story more interactive. The way it is now, the story always has the same ending but with hand-tracking there could be more possibilities to make the story less linear and more reliant on the users’ action. This will ultimately make the app even scarier than it already is because of the added immersion. Even if the story retains its linearity, hand-tracking could be used to interact with the characters and objects around the room to trigger more scares. 4. BAMF (Cardboard) BAMF is a platformer adventure game that only uses teleportation for movement. For a game about exploration, this game is sure to benefit from hand-tracking. There could be interactive puzzles that you could reach out and solve using your hands (i.e. activating switches and pushing buttons). 5. EndSpace VR (Cardboard/GearVR) EndSpace VR is a solid space shooter game with a vomit inducing “turn head to steer” control method that is in need of a more hands-on piloting experience. An “air-steering” control method could work out great for this game. where the user can see and interact with the yoke (steering) and other controls/buttons in the cockpit. Yes, this game can be played with a controller but this diminishes the accessibility. Even if these apps don’t contain hand-tracking (yet) I still suggest that everyone should try them out if they haven’t. All 5 experiences show great potential for the future of VR. Here at uSens, it is one of our goals to bring AR/VR hand-tracking into the rapidly growing mobile VR market. VR needs to be simple and intuitive for it to attain massive appeal in the mainstream audience. Samsung GearVR and Google Cardboard do a great job in making mobile VR simple but hand-tracking would be a great asset to make the experience more natural. -Amanze Ugoh Follow uSens on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram  

uSens Developer Challenge!

We’re super excited to announce the uSens Developer Challenge, an opportunity for AR/VR developers to use cutting-edge human-computer interaction tech to build amazing apps and compete for a total of $100,000 in cash prizes. Participants will have a chance to show off their submissions to industry leaders at conferences throughout the United States and China. Also, you could potentially be in the running for a $50,000 grand prize. Original apps made for Samsung GearVR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive, or Oculus are eligible! The vertical does not matter;  games, educational, industrial, are all fine, the app just needs to be compatible with our SDK. (Please check out our SDK documentation here) Submissions will be evaluated based on: Application of the Fingo SDK (40%) Creativity (20%) User Experience (20%) Business Potential (10%) Polish (10%) Here’s the process in a nutshell: Submit your application on the contest page by October 15th We will review applications and announce the 10 semifinalists by November 1st Our panel of judges will review your submissions and select winners We will announce the winners at GDC 2017 during 02/27-03/03 Prizes Grand Prize: $50,000 Second Place: $25,000 Third Place: $10,000 We are thrilled to see what our applicants will come up with! More details and the application page can be found on the uSens contest page. Apply now! Follow us on Twitter for updates: https://twitter.com/usensinc

uSens Fingo SDK Release Event

Fingo is now in open beta! On August 24, 2016, we hosted a launch event in The Village Event Space in San Francisco where we announced the open beta of our software development kit (SDK) and pre-order availability for Fingo. We also launched our uDev developer network to help the developer community integrate our hand and head tracking technology with their AR/VR (augmented reality & virtual reality) projects.. The event featured over 200 attendees with the demographic ranging from VR enthusiasts to VR developers and designers. Fingo is a hand-tracking sensor module that supports mobile and tethered systems such as: Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard. The module can attach to the front of head mounted displays (HMDs) to provide expanded tracking capabilities while using less power consumption and processing on mobile devices. During the conference, we revealed that there will be 3 different versions of Fingo, all with different use cases. The entry-level Fingo allows for the standard hand-tracking and head position tracking to be implemented in mobile/tethered systems. The Color Fingo is very similar in design to the regular Fingo but it allows for inside-out position tracking. Being inside-out tracking capable means that Color Fingo is able to look out to the space around it and use the changing perspectives of the outside space to determine its own position in space. In addition to being inside-out, Color Fingo also has an augmented reality (AR) overlay and seamless transitions between AR and VR. The Power Fingo is the biggest and most powerful of the Fingo family, which includes the same capabilities as the Color Fingo but with its own battery and Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. With Power Fingo, AR and VR can easily be enjoyed on the broadest range of mobile devices including those found in emerging markets. uSens CTO Dr. Yue Fei and uSens engineers performed several live demos with Fingo and a HTC Vive HMD during the event. One particular demo showed Fei interacting with toys and instruments inside a virtual bedroom. Near the end of the event, we had our guest panel speak on the current and future status of AR/VR and human-computer interaction (HCI) followed by a Q/A session afterwards. The speakers included Jon Peddie, Samsung’s Christopher Perl, SVVR founder Karl Krantz, CTO of ODG John Haddock, Gestigon’s Stefan Bartschat, and uSens’ Mark Morrison. Their immense insight seemed to have a profound impact on the audience. After the panel, representatives from uSens’ backers, Fosun Capital, Fortune Capital, and IDG Ventures (China) also spoke about our partnership to the audience. With Fingo, we here at uSens Inc. aim to create a more visceral experience with AR and VR. It is apparent that AR/VR without hand-tracking is not nearly as immersive as it could be. Hand-tracking makes it possible for users to actually reach out and interact with the virtual objects that they are viewing, turning the user into an actual participant of the virtual world rather than a mere spectator. Stay tuned on our Twitter and at developers.usens.com for more Fingo related updates -Amanze Ugoh  

Pokemon GO is About to Get a Whole Lot Better

Pokemon GO has been out for a little over a month now and the hype is still real. Aside from the many car accidents and robberies, (etc.), one of the main issues with Pokemon GO right now is battery drain since the app has to be opened at all times during gameplay. Another huge issue with the game is safety. Some players are just too glued to their phones that they become completely unaware of their surroundings, causing fatal injuries and deaths. This is because the game requires the app to be open in order to catch and be alerted when Pokemon are near you. The upcoming peripheral, “Pokemon GO Plus”, plans to change this and solve the many problems that GO players have come across. Pokemon GO Plus, arriving in September, was originally scheduled to be released on July but it was pushed back so that Niantic could focus more on polishing the experience on the app. The devices will pair with smartphones via Bluetooth.  The most interesting feature of the accessory is that players will be able to play Pokemon GO without using their phones. The device will blink and vibrate when Pokemon and PokeStops are near and players can tap the button to catch Pokemon (of the same kind they have already caught) and swipe to grab items from PokeStops. When the Plus device releases, it may reduce the risks of playing Pokemon GO. The recent tragedies related to Pokemon GO were likely to have happened because some players’ eyes are too attached on their phones. The vibration and interactive features of the Pokemon GO peripheral should free players from looking at their phones to play the game. This means that players can play and still be fully aware of their surroundings because a quick glance, tap, and/or swipe on their wrist is all they need. In fact, getting players to look away from their phones seems to be the ultimate goal for Niantic. Niantic CEO, John Hanke, wants contact lenses for Pokemon GO to make playing the game even more realistic and immersive. Unfortunately, technology is not at a point to make that happen yet but Pokemon GO Plus is looking to be a nice alternative for the time being. Pokemon GO Plus is sure to make playing Pokemon GO a more natural experience for exploration. Hopefully, it will be able to reduce the number of accidents and misfortunes as well. It’s watch-like appearance and functionality may even disrupt the wearable/fitness device market which includes Apple Watch and Fitbit since many players have reported that the game has helped them lose weight. Possibly, if the device sells well, there may be upgraded versions with displays and even more gameplay possibilities. -Amanze Ugoh