Samsung Have Patented An Augmented Reality Contact Lens

Previous attempts at portable AR devices have met with lukewarm responses, with many of them, including Google Glass, falling short of what was expected of them upon conception. Now Samsung may be working on the best ubiquitous AR technology yet that may finally be able to be a hit with consumers.

According to a patent discovered by the blog Sammobile, the Korean firm appears to be working on a brand new technology, “smart” contact lenses, which would able to display overlaid images right on the eye and take pictures with a simple gesture like a blink. Of course, the technology to compute all of these factors isn’t yet compact enough that they could be comfortably fitted to a contact lens, requiring a smartphone connected wirelessly to do the heavy lifting.

The patent has been a long time behind the scenes, with the original filming having taken place in September 2014, with it only recently being published. The majority of the patent is in Korean, however, the filing does include a number of diagrams that show off some early concepts of how the lens may work.

Of course, a patent gives no assurance that the product will ever be realized and is often used to ensure that other companies do not take the idea. It isn’t even shown in the paper whether the patent was accepted. Whether we will see this product from Samsung any time soon is a total unknown, but it is exciting to think that they believe this technology is possible and what could become a product capable of shaping our future.

HoloLens Developer Warns of Overheating Issue

2016 may be the year of virtual reality, but Microsoft is carving its own path with its augmented reality headset, the HoloLens, which launched its Development Edition yesterday. While the HoloLens has been criticised for its small viewing area, low resolution, and limited app sizes, a developer working with the headset has warned that the most immediate concern could be how much heat the HoloLens generates.

David Dedeine, CCO for Asobo Studio, which developed the games Young Conker and Fragments for the HoloLens, has expressed his worry that Microsoft’s AR device could become too hot to wear for long periods. Unlike VR headsets, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, the unteathered HoloLens packs its processing power into the headset itself, meaning that the processor is effectively on your head, rather than in a connected PC.

“The most important thing is to really be economical […] you would never need to do this with console or PC—it’s all about consumption of energy, battery savings,” Dedeine told PC World. “Even more important, it’s heat—to not make the whole thing get too hot, as it would be uncomfortable to the user.”

Should the HoloLens breach its defined high temperature threshold, it will immediately shutdown any app that it is running, in order to protect both the headset itself and your poor head.

It should be recognised that the current iteration of the HoloLens is the Development Edition, and as such is sure to undergo many refinements before its consumer release. Augmented reality is still new territory, and it remains to be seen whether Microsoft can do the concept justice.

“I say that there is a continent of gaming, and VR is just a new peninsula on that continent,” Dedeine says. “AR is an entirely new continent.”

NASA To Offer Virtual Mars Walks Using Hololens

We may be a number of years off the first humans walking on Mars, but NASA plans to give us a sneak peek at what it may be like to walk on the Red Planet. Their new exhibit, named “Destination: Mars” has them teaming up with Microsoft to let visitors take a virtual walk across the surface of Mars thanks to the power of the Hololens augmented reality headset.

Destination: Mars will be powered by the OnSight mission operations tool, a cooperative development between Microsoft and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is capable of taking data recorded by the Curiosity rover, which has been roaming the Red Planet since 2012 and transfers the images to the Hololens which can make any room appear like it is actually the surface of Mars.

OnSight is already in use by NASA scientists, who use it to virtually experience Mars for themselves so they can better select future destinations for the Curiosity rover to visit. This new exhibit will be the first time that the experience will be available to the general public, allowing them to see the alien world in just the way a NASA mission scientist would.

The exhibition will be open at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida this summer where visitors will be able to virtually travel to a number of locations on Mars, accompanied by holographic guides like Aldrin and rover driver Erisa Hines who will point out the sites of key discoveries.

Cake AR Lets You Try Make Up Before You Buy

We’ve all seen that wonderful thing you are interested in online. From the holiday sales offering you everything from the perfect night out dress to that new makeup, the worst part of any online purchase is when you open it and find that it doesn’t quite look like you thought it would; Cake AR is looking to change just that.

They’ve already released the tool on their lipstick and eye shadow pages and don’t worry no downloads involved. The tool forgoes uploading an image like conventional try before you buy systems and uses your webcam to map the new you in real time (with a bit of lag for good measure). If you move slowly the product’s changes will even follow you around, meaning that you can see the new lipstick and eyeshadows from different angles without having to send it back because it was a “bad purchase”.

With tools like this coming out more and more regularly, it may be sooner rather than later that you can buy clothes and accessories online without worrying about the money you could have wasted. With the ability to design your own cars, build your own house tools and now viewing your makeup before you buy don’t you just love online shopping.

Meta 2 Development Kit Revealed

The Meta is known for being the forefront of augmented reality. Much like virtual reality, Augmented reality is based on the user seeing virtual objects but instead of it being on an isolated screen, augmented reality lets you bring virtual objects to life. That dream of an Iron Man experience is one step closer thanks to the Meta 2 Development Kit.

The new development kit contains all you need to start programming your augmented reality programs. Included with the Meta 2 headset you will get the source development kit (SDK) and the Meta operating environment while the Meta headset itself contains some impressive specs.

The resolution the “screens” displayed at is 2560×1440, being captured through a 720p camera that will give you a whole new level of detail in your interactions and visual manifestations of your dreams.

Four speakers and a 6-axis measurement unit mean that your whole experience will respond with the sensors to track your hands, giving you everything you need to see, hear and interact with your minority report like Minority Report like wall of screens.

At $949 the Meta 2 Kit is not for those who are looking for a quick thrill, but for those who are interested in the experience and developing for augmented reality, the product ships in the third quarter of this year.

Microsoft HoloLens Out This Month

Microsoft has announced that, one year after it was first unveiled, the HoloLens augmented reality headset is available for pre-order, and it’s not cheap. In a blog post, Alex Kipman, the Microsoft executive that has effectively adopted HoloLens as his baby, revealed that the Development Edition of the wireless AR headset can now be reserved, for the hefty sum of $3,000, before it ships on 30th March.

“I’m thrilled to announce that starting today, developer applicants will start receiving invitations to purchase the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition – which will begin shipping on March 30th,” Kipman writes. “Today represents a monumental step forward. This is the first step in our journey to consumers. A step focused on our commercial partnerships and on supporting developers, who will help pave the way to consumer availability with amazing and new holographic experiences.”

“The future of technology will not be confined to just two dimensions – our future interaction with technology will more closely mirror our real world,” he adds. “Technology coexisting in our real, three-dimensional world, beyond screens and pixels. We believe that the future is holographic, and as a result, we will continue to empower the developers who will help bring that future to life.”

While the HoloLens release is a Development Edition, rather than a consumer release, $3,000 seems overpriced, especially compared with the sub-$1,000 price points of both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Google Cardboard Can Now Be Brought In the Google Store

Google cardboard is a simple, low-tech, virtual reality system. The concept is simple, why buy technology you already have? By using your smartphone, you don’t have to go out and buy expensive hardware a second time around, meaning that the only thing left to do was keep the phone near to your eyes. Google cardboard does just that and now you can even get it through the Google store.

In a unique twist, Google has so far only sold the Cardboard through third parties, meaning that in order to grab the device (does it even count as a device if it’s just cardboard?) you had to find someone else online selling it. This has now changed with Google launching an entire VR section on their website, including the Cardboard for a low price. Costing only $15 for a single unit, or if you wanted to double up it would only cost you $25. At this moment in time, the Cardboard has sold out meaning that you may have to wait a little before enjoying the benefits of low-cost virtual reality.

With virtual reality and even augmented reality solutions being released this year, experiencing the world of VR before you pay out hundreds of pounds may be a good idea. So far the Cardboard has made a large impact, with Doctors even using it to save lives. What do you think? Is it worth buying to mount a phone to your head or is it the start of your journey with VR technology?

Meta 2 AR Headset Impresses Crowd at Ted

Augmented reality is one step beyond virtual reality, with popular VR hardware like the Oculus Rift or even Google Cardboard looking to put you into the action, there is something missing from that Iron-Man experience. This is where Meta wants to surpass everyone else by not only letting you see images in 3D but also by letting you manipulate them.

We’ve seen augmented reality in a million movies and TV shows, the ability to create a 3D image and then using your physical body manipulate the digital image, from dancing with your favourite stars on a holodeck to crafting a vase on your table ready for printing.

We’ve commented on the Meta Spaceglasses before but they’ve come a long way since then. At a demo in Vancouver, Canada, Meron Gribetz, the founder and CEO of Meta, demoed just a few of the features that could soon see it become a must buy. On stage he was able to pick apart an object and manipulate it, work with a colleague somewhere else in the world by telepresence and then creating virtual computer monitors.

Being able to create something with your own hands is always rewarding, and can be easier than attempting to draw the object using a pen of some kind for your computer to interpret. The ability to create virtual screens will be a live saver for anyone who works on the go and needs access to private screens to get the most out of their work.

I personally can’t wait to see what Meta have accomplished with the Meta 2, but I guess we will only find out when the countdown reaches zero.

Microsoft Evangelist Reveals New Hololens Details

With many developers racing to release virtual reality headsets for gaming and other applications, Microsoft has taken a rather different route. Their Hololens headset touts itself as “mixed reality” experience, expanding on typical augmented reality systems by overlaying virtual holograms. Until now, Microsoft has kept quite silent on many of the basic details of the device that may matter to developers and consumers. Microsoft Technical Evangelist, Bruce Harris, broke this silence at a presentation in Tel Aviv, showing new details of the augmented reality device.

For starters, the Hololens will be able to connect with any Bluetooth of WiFi-capable devices, with no wired options available. Adding to this, it will also be able to run every universal Windows 10 app out of the box. It was also confirmed that multiple Hololens devices can be connected to one another to provide a shared user experience, even over the internet.

The killer question, as with all wireless devices is the battery life, and while it can vary based on usage it can be expected that the Hololens can be used for up to 5.5 hours on a full charge. However, pushing the device to its limits could reduce that time by over half. Hopefully, this won’t harm the Hololens’ usage in business applications, but it is unlikely that the average user would be wearing it for so long uninterrupted anyway. Another limitation to the device that was shown was that its field of view would be akin to a “15-inch screen 2 feet away”, with the reasons for this limitation being put down to cost and battery life. Microsoft aims to improve this in future versions of the Hololens as their manufacturing capabilities improve.

With the Hololens not due to ship to developers until later this year, it is still unclear how these features and limitations will affect the device in practice. These specifications are unlikely to be reflected in the eventual consumer versions of the Hololens, but home users should expect at least what has been revealed so far.

Figment VR: The Pocket Sized VR Experience

From time to time we take a break from the heavy work in the office to take a look at the future of technology. Not by checking out the specifications of the Apple iPhone 7 or Samsung Gear 3, but what backstreet innovators around the world think needs to be created. Kickstarter is a perfect place to have a look and the newest project looks simply amazing.

Today I happened to stumble across something that will make VR accessible (and stylish) for everyone. Figment is a mobile phone case with VR goggles attached.

VR started out on Kickstarter a few years ago with the Oculus Rift, this isn’t exactly a mobile option though and designed to work with high-powered computers. Google then released Cardboard which tapped into the power of mobile devices, but the box was bulky to carry around and likely to break.

Kickstarter backer pledges seem pretty reasonable with an Early Bird $49 offer but now has increased to $55 with over 300 left so be quick to grab this offer. For that price, you get a stylish phone case with VR and AR capabilities and not only that, it has a kickstand for your phone too.

The campaign has already hit the original production goal of $75,000, but you can still donate here. This is currently only available to iPhone 6 users, but there are plans on the way to release versions for popular Android and Windows Phone users.

Volvo Team Up With Microsoft to Make Hololens Showrooms

The days of Volvo showrooms being packed with cars for potential buyers to wander around and look at could soon be over. This new partnership between the Swedish car manufacturer and Microsoft aims to equip Volvo showrooms with Microsoft’s new Hololens headsets, shifting the contents of the showrooms from physical vehicles to augmented reality holograms.

With the aim of rolling out the Hololens across their showrooms as soon as next year, already having shown a prototype of the system featuring the Volvo S90 sedan at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. The system was able to not just show a holographic representation of the car, but also allow the users to see cross sections of the car and it’s parts. The demo also featured the ability to customize the car, changing the colour and the bumper styles, which they were then able to examine from all angles by walking around the hologram.

The ability to simply look at a fully customizable vehicle would just be the beginning. There is the possibility to show off features of the car in real life situations in the AR environment, and even the ambitious idea that someone sat it a real vehicle could take it for an AR test-drive, right in the showroom. According to Geekwire, the AR showroom is just the beginning for the Volvo-Microsoft partnership, which could bring them into the competition of developing autonomous cars. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the Hololens, with Microsoft going to great lengths to secure more projects for the headset.

It seems like giving car showrooms an infusion of modern technology may just be what they need, with their current limitation on the models and options on show, compared to the myriad of customization options that can be previewed on manufacturers websites.

Hyundai Introduce New Augmented Reality User Manuals

Car user manuals are usually uninspiring things. A thick collection of pages, half of which may not apply to your specific version of the car, usually relegated to taking up room in the glovebox after the first week. And that’s why Hyundai are offering a new take on the user manual, and it’s entirely digital. It’ll even fit in your pocket, by virtue of it running on your smartphone, with both Android and iOS versions available.

The main aim of this manual is to make it more accessible to the user, with an AR interface making it far easier to find information on a particular part of the car than scouring a manual for a matching picture. At launch, the AR manual will only support the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, though it is intended to be expanded to cover more models soon. The app won’t be a slouch compared to the hefty old paper manual either, featuring interaction with 45 parts of the car, from buttons and dials in the cabin to the sections of the engine bay. And across these parts will be spread 82 how-to videos, six 3D overlay images of parts in the engine bay and over 50 informational guides.

This isn’t Hyundai’s first foray into using mobile apps to enhance the user experience of their vehicles, having been one of the first companies to support Android Auto on the center console infotainment system as well as developing a smartwatch app that allowed supported cars to have a number of their features be used remotely, right from the watch.

This innovation could just be a nail in the coffin of the paper user manual, after all, simply pointing your smart device is more compelling than rifling through your gearbox and flipping pages in this era of technology. Would these innovations make you consider Hyundai for a future car purchase, or are you just hoping that these ideas come to your favored manufacturer? At any rate, it makes you wonder what they’ll come up with next.

Researchers Build Physical Virtual Interface From Tiny ‘BitDrones’

Drones are everywhere in recent times, from consumer toys to military weapons and even postal delivery. It shouldn’t come as too shocking then that a new use of drones is being developed, this time as a fully 3D physical interface straight out of a sci-fi flick.

Developed by researchers from Queen’s University, a proof-of-concept of their new drone-based virtual interface, called BitDrones has been unveiled. The system makes use of three main types of drone in its operation. PixelDrones carry a simple LED screen to display information. ShapeDrones are small cube-shaped display drones that can move relative to other drones to represent objects to form a full 3D display. finally, DisplayDrones deliver a touchscreen interface to the user. These units, together with a 3D motion capture system are able to interpret a user’s input and display to him what is desired.

So far the system is in its infancy, only able to support a dozen drones, each of which are not inconspicuous and stay airborne using a set of small propellers. The researchers involved wish to see the system up-scaled to be able to handle thousands of individual drones concurrently, each distinctly smaller, even less than an inch in size.

Interaction is done by physically grasping and manipulating the drones

The simple applications the BitDrones can handle so far are just that, basic, but show the promise of the system. The systems currently showcased make the system appear very intuitive, with the file browsing done simply by touching the relevant drone. And imagining an architectural model featuring hundreds of drones instead of three could allow easy 3D visualization of complex objects. You’d just have to be careful not to knock them by accident! Overall the system acts almost like a flying 3D touchscreen, already containing features such as pinch zoom and rotate, performed with two hands on drones instead of two fingers on a screen. Adding the touchscreen DisplayDrones to the mix just expands the possibilities even further.

I’m very excited to see how this technology can evolve, even as the physical interface risks being marginalized by the fully virtual. Afterall, it’s hard to see most people flying large numbers of drones around, instead of just donning a headset or other virtual interface.

Image thanks to Queen’s University.

Google Glass Might Face Heavy Competition in the Enterprise Market

We haven’t heard much about Google’s Glass Project in a while, but not because it is dying, but more that it is now focusing on the enterprise side of things. Everyone went nuts when Google cancelled the Explorer program earlier this year, thinking that it was the end of Google Glass as well. Fortunately, it wasn’t, but we mere ‘mortals’ won’t be seeing it on the market anytime soon.

Re/Code got word that Google the second edition of Google Glass has been distributed to the Glass at Work enterprise partners. The team is now thinking about how to further improve the wearable and get it at a reasonable price on the market. Rumours are that the next edition of Glass will be well below $1.500, which is not surprising.

Since Google Glass first debuted, the wearable market has been constantly filling with a lot of competition. Google’s main competitors on the market now are ODG, Epson and Vuzix. Even so, Google Glass is still far from perfect. I mean you have Microsoft’s HoloLens for example, which not only displays everything you want right in front of you, but also lets you interact with augmented reality in unimaginable ways.

Looking at the Glass, it has a lot to catch up on. However, this is why Google chose to stick with the enterprise market and is constantly improving it for enterprise AR applications. Google stated that it is “going to take time to get it right”, but will they be able to pull it off in the end? What do you think?

Thank you Re/Code for providing us with this information

Try out RAF SkyTech Augmented Reality Screens at Insomnia 55

Insomnia Gaming Festival announced that the RAF will be present at Insomnia 55 and demonstrate some of their really cool technology. At Insomnia 55 you’ll be able to try out the RAF’s augmented reality screens and play a campaign challenge with five missions to complete.

For those who don’t know who RAF is, they are the Royal Air Force and is United Kingdom’s aerial warfare force. They were founded towards the end of World War One on the first of April 1918 and is thereby the oldest independent air force in the world.

This is without a doubt a clever recruiting trip for the RAF, but at the same time it gives normal gamers the ability to try out some of the really advanced training gear that the RAF has at their disposal. Gamers have trained themselves to react in split seconds while they distinguish between friend and foe. They got endurance for long sessions without breaks and have a visual recognition for detail that most other people don’t have. As such it’s just natural for the RAF to take a peek  at Insomnia for new talent. A win-win situation in my opinion.

Will you be heading to Insomnia 55 and if so, will you be trying out the RAF SkyTech?

Check Out Microsoft HoloLens’ Limited Field of View Yourself

When Microsoft first introduced the production version of HoloLens, the biggest complaint from those who had previously used the prototype was the limited field of view. Microsoft has been loath to address the issue, but the HoloLens is now too far along to leave this issue out. The latest video featuring the HoloLens finally lets the rest of us see just how limited the field of view is and it is simply night and day compared to the marketing material.

Take for instance the following image. It shows a large and expansive view of the human heart. This is pretty much in line with what we’ve seen with past HoloLens material. However, this is once again a third person view.

 

Once you move into first person view though, you can clearly see the limits of the field of vision. Compared to the third person view, the user sees only a fraction of the virtual space. As those who’ve tried the HoloLens say, the virtual view really is more like a small window or box, rather than something that fills one’s vision.

Given the limited field of vision, it raises the question of how well HoloLens will work for things like Minecraft and other games. Education and other activities like telepresence can deal with the limits, but gaming requires something more. A limited field of vision means gamers won’t be able to take in the whole environment and might get blindsided by enemies. Some gamers already tweak the field of vision in games to get the drop on their opponents. HoloLens, therefore, may only have a niche role in gaming until the field of vision is improved.

Nevertheless, Microsoft’s HoloLens still is really impressive for what it has accomplished and it will be interesting to see more applications for this technology. Be sure to check out the video below and 0:48, 0:58, 1:23, 1:38, and 1:42 for the parts where for the limited field of view is shown.

Images Courtesy of Polygon

Minecraft May Be the ‘Killer App’ for Microsoft’s HoloLens

While the hype is still going into virtual reality, we shift focus for a bit and try to look at what augmented reality has to bring too. Microsoft just demoed how its HoloLens gear deals with augmented reality and used Minecraft as a game example on stage at E3.

Though Minecraft first appeared in a HoloLens press release earlier this year, it did not look so appealing at first. However, Microsoft really outdid themselves when they did the E3 demo. It began on a virtual TV screen, which seemed pretty normal for a presentation. But it was not until someone dragged it onto the table that got everyone so excited.

If you know Minecraft, you sort of get the 3D Lego feeling when you work around its vast world. Now picture it on a table and interacting with it from above. Pretty amazing, huh? You may not have any idea how amazing it is until you watch the video below.

Though augmented reality may seem a bit locked into certain types of games, such as crafting, building and RTS in general, Microsoft did announce it already has a partnership with Oculus for future development. Also, Microsoft is working on bringing compatibility with the SteamVR as well, so we are bound to see a lot of potential in future games.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information

Microsoft Considering HoloLens for Xbox

While the Microsoft HoloLens has thus far been marketed as a device that will add new dimension to your Windows 10 experience, it seems Microsoft is still exploring the possibility of integrating the augmented reality headset with its current-gen video game console, the Xbox One.

In an interview with Edge magazine, Head of Xbox Studio Phil Spencer revealed that Microsoft are strongly considering HoloLens/Xbox One integration, but for now the company is concentrating on making the AR device a standalone piece of tech first. “The tethered scenarios around VR I think are interesting, but we were going for something different,” said Spencer. “Not being tethered to either a PC, Xbox or a phone as part of the solution was one of our design challenges for HoloLens, and we did that.”

He continued, “Well, we haven’t announced it as an Xbox accessory, but it sits within one team, and we have the conversations. Right now, we want to focus on a standalone, untethered device and make sure that we can prove out that scenario.”

Should the HoloLens make it to Xbox, Spencer believes that will open up new territory for developers, adding, “Now we can say, ‘Well, OK, if I do have an Xbox or a PC, what are those scenarios?’ We haven’t publicly talked about what those are, but you can imagine, as we continue to drive and get success with HoloLens, those scenarios will become obvious and developers will take advantage of them.”

Thank you GamesRadar for providing us with this information.

Mini Making Augmented Reality Driving Goggles

BMW-owned Mini is working on a pair of augmented reality driving goggles that provide drivers with details about anything in the driver’s field of vision, from road speed limits to navigation arrows, and even in-eye access to the car’s parking cameras.

The Mini Augmented Vision will be unveiled by the car company at the Auto Shanghai 2015 show, which runs from 22nd to 29th April, in China, where it is expected that we’ll discover more about price and availability.

Source: Engadget

Sony SmartEyeglass Developer’s Kit Released

Sony announced its entry into augmented reality eyeglasses with its SmartEyeglass last autumn. Now that it is ready to sell in 10 countries it has released the developer’s edition.

The developer edition of the SmartEyeglass hardware has a 3MP camera, gyroscope, accelerometer, electronic compass, and a brightness sensor.   The augmented reality glasses allow you to see text and images while viewing the world around you.

SmartEyeglass works in conjunction with a connected Android smartphone. It can work with apps on the smartphone just as Android Wear devices do. The eyeglasses themselves are a rather bulky looking set, with large frames attached to an external controller by a wire; the external controller contains a battery, speaker, touch sensor, microphone, and NFC.

I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing these, so let’s hope the final version is a little more stylish.

Source: Fudzilla

Redecorate Your Home Using Augmented Reality

Israeli startup Cimagine Media, has developed a markerless augmented reality (AR) which, in partnership with Shop Direct, owners of online retailers Littlewoods.com and Very.co.uk, will be implemented to show potential customers how thousands of products – from sofas, to lamps, to televisions – would look in their home.

http://youtu.be/j0_IoPNAHLo

Cimagine’s AR system, using the camera on a smartphone or tablet, scans a room and them places a 3D model of an item of interest within the room on-screen. The 3D model has static positioning, so you can walk around it with your phone or tablet to see how it looks from other angles.

Littlewoods is using the system now, available to residents of the UK and Ireland, but for the moment, the AR system only works in conjunction with Apple devices: once the iOS app is installed on an iPhone or iPad, curious users can visit the Littlewoods.co.uk site, click on the “view at home” button below and item, and it is then displayed in the app as 3D, AR model.

Those outside the UK and Ireland who are curious about Cimagine’s AR technology can check out Cimagine’s standalone app, available for download here.

Source: The Next Web

Google and Mattel Relaunch View-Master as Virtual Reality Headset

The View-Master, the stereoscope viewer that was a fixture in most late-20th Century toxboxes, has been updated by Mattel and Google to become a virtual reality headset.

Looking more like the Oculus Rift than the classic model, the new View-Master replaces the old cardboard reels with a smartphone, which slides into the plastic housing and presents 360o views and vistas.

The new plastic reels, containing visual content, instead of being inserted into the View-Master are held in front of it, and an augmented reality interface allows the user to choose which images to view. Content can also be downloaded directly to a smartphone.

Since the project is based around Google Cardboard, the new View-Master headset can double up as a general purpose VR headset.

The new View-Master will be launched in the Autumn, priced at around $30.

Source: Engadget

Pixie Point Bluetooth Fob Helps You Keep Track of Lost Stuff

New startup Pixie has developed a Bluetooth fob, called the Pixie Point, to help you reclaim lost items.

The 3.2-inch Pixie Point is shaped like a guitar pick. It is always on and utilises Bluetooth LE to track its location. Each waterproof Point fob has an internal battery life is 18 months. The device can be tracked within 50 feet indoors and 150 feet outdoors with a smartphone app, with accuracy of less than a foot.

Ofer Friedman, co-founder of Pixie, says, “It’s not a proximity device. We’re actually measuring the distance.”

http://youtu.be/3hXfZNL9Zq4

“That it’s device to device communication — as opposed to device to phone only — is huge.” Amir Bassan-Eskenazi, CEO and co-founder of Pixie, said. “Everything is aware of everything. That’s what people told me could not be done.”

The smartphone app lets you track your lost items through augmented reality – a display of your surroundings, using your phone’s camera, points you towards the Pixie Point.

The Pixie Point is available for pre-order from Pixie’s online store, priced $39.95 (£26.47).

Source: The Verge

Totem Is the New Virtual Reality Headset on the Block

Move over Oculus Rift, there is a new contender on the market. Well it isn’t actually on the market yet, but the Kickstarter for it has been launched, and is off to a very good start. The Totem is a Virtual Reality headset with features that haven’t been seen like this before. It connects to any HDMI source, may it be computer, console, Blu-ray, tablet, etc., that can play Side-by-Side (SbS) 3D video or games.

The totem has cameras and accelerometers directly in the device itself to detect motion, rather than relying on a stationary camera somewhere. This method allows for much more freedom of movement, and this is further aided by the pass-through support. You can switch between real-world and gaming with the touch of a button, no need to take off the headset just cause you need to type something.

“In VR, performance is important so every millisecond counts. Totem’s low latency means no lag between movements and the display. With our real-time secret sauce hardware acceleration, we compensate distortion, right inside the head-mounted display, to give you a faster, more natural virtual reality experience.”

One of the main concepts behind the Totem is “let the Totem do the work, not the computer”. The device has enough horsepower under the hood to perform a lot of the tasks ahead of sending them to the system, and it is aided further by a clever software. This doesn’t just take the load off the device it is connected to, in most cases the device would never recognize your movement and actions as anything else then what it would get from its native controller.

The makers behind the Totem also wanted to spice up the sound and have added realistic audio with binaural surround sound. When you’re locked that closely into a virtual environment, sound has a big impact and that is why they’re paying special attention to this part. By converting surround sound to stereo while still keeping the spatial awareness, also called binaural HRTF, it’s easy to pinpoint where any sound is coming from. They have also partnered with Sonomax to offer a pledge that includes specially designed “eers” custom-fit stereo lightweight-earbuds. They offer excellent frequency response and no distortion on deep bass sounds. The “do-it-yourself” eers will mould to fit your specific ear-canal after a short time of wearing, creating an acoustic seal for an overall better sound.

The next thing they wanted to improve over current models of VR headsets was the lenses. The Totem is built with lenses that have individual focus for each eye, allowing you to wear it without the use of normal glasses, if you use glasses that is. The lenses work well for both short and long-sighted people, so you don’t need to worry about your glasses being squashed against your face and VR headset. It should however still have enough room in the foam opening to allow you to wear your glasses, if you prefer to do so.

The lenses are oversized for clearer, crisp beautiful 1080p resolution everywhere. This is especially important for heads-up displays (HUD) in games. Furthermore, the use of a RGB stripe panel instead of a pentile panel will give the users less screen door effect. Finally, augmented reality is a real possibility with the pass through video capabilities and built in position tracking. Turn the real-world into your gaming grounds.

At the time of writing, the project has already got $99,129 CAD in pledges, out of their goal of $350,000. With 28 days to go, I’m sure they won’t have any problem achieving that goal. The early bird specials are gone, but there’s still a few discounted Totem sets left for $495 CAD plus shipping and handling. Once that is sold out it will cost $545 CAD to get the basic set.

Thank you Kickstarter for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Kickstarter

J.K. Rowling & BBC To Bring New Wonderbook To PlayStation 3 This Christmas

Book of Spells is one of the best things you can do with the PlayStation Move and the Wonderbook. For those of you who do not know what a Wonderbook is, it is a plushy book with augmented reality (AR) symbols on it. You sit on the floor with the book in front of you and the PSEye camera detects where the book is and renders things on it in the game that you can then interact with by picking up the book, turning it, flipping it, using the move controller and more.

Book of Spells was a big hit thanks to the Harry Potter licence, being able to use the move as a wand, learning famous Harry Potter spells and getting involved in a story that surrounded Hogwards. Now J.K. Rowling is on board again to bring Book of Potions to the format this Christmas.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Vb-hG9rXi9o[/youtube]

On top of that we also have the BBC who have invested to bring their legendary Walking With Dinosaurs series to the Wonderbook peripheral, something that will allow you to excavate, explore, build and interact with the dinosaurs and see them come to life in your room thanks to the AR technology.

Both are shaping up quite nicely and if the quality of previous Wonderbook titles such as Book of Spells and Diggs Nightcrawler are anything to go by, these new ones should be a lot of fun.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/yCQyRgNzNVQ[/youtube]

Thank you Forbes for providing us with this information.

Fractal Design Launch Android & iOS App That Uses Augmented Reality

Fractal Design are well known for having that extra touch of style and cool, a trend they seem keen to continue with the release of their own Android and iOS apps that brings augmented reality to your desktop. Something that will fit very nicely with their newly redesigned homepage.

Fractal Design On-the-Go is now a reality thanks to the new app, full of information, animations and product tours that use augmented reality to give you the closest look at their products possible, short of actually having the product in front of you.

The new app is already available to download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Market. Although it doesn’t cover all devices at this time with those operating systems, Fractal are working on improving compatibility.

How does AR work? Check out this short video which demonstrates the AR functionality.

Have you tried out the augmented reality features of the app yet to take a look around a Fractal product? Let us know what you think of the idea in the comments section below.

Download the app for Android here.

Download the app for iOS here.

Thank you Fractal Design for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Fractal Design.

Wonderbook “Diggs Nightcrawler” PlayStation 3 Review


This week I have been getting stuck into something a little different, my first Augmented reality game and I think it’s safe to say it has been a lot of fun and certainly unique in terms of gameplay, but the most important questions is “should you spend your hard earned cash on it?”.

While the retail price of this game is one thing, I have noticed that a quick google shopping search will find be a copy of Diggs Nightcrawler for around £15, although to play this game you do also require the Wonderbook “book”, which typically comes with the original wonder book game which is typically around £30, the PlayStation Eye camera and a PlayStation Move wand which can also be found at around £30 as part of the PlayStation Move starter kit. While that sounds like a lot, lets keep in mind that the move kit is for many games, not just this one, the Wonderbook pack is a game of its own, featuring a Harry Potter story line and that the game were reviewing today is essentially just a story disc, an expansion for Wonderbook.

Wonderbook is sold as the book with a thousand stories, the book remains the same but thanks to augmented reality tricks it can become any new adventure. In the Harry Potter game it is the book of spells, where as today it becomes the stomping grounds of Detective Diggs Nightcrawler.

The first things you need to do with this game is the setup, it’s nothing too difficult and it requires you to sit through a two-minute calibration, fortunately the whole thing is well explained and you’re talked through the whole thing slowly and clearly. It helps you find the best position for the PlayStation Eye, ensuring that it can see both yourself and the book. The idea is that you sit on the floor, with the book laid out on the floor in front of you. It’s also important to have the PlayStation Move to hand as this can be used to interact with certain objects in the story. The game requires the move controller to function and it cannot be played with the Dual Shock controller.

When the camera locks onto the book and yourself it projects a mirror image of you and the book on your TV screen, only now the book becomes center stage of the story as 3D models appear on the pages, allowing you to turn the book and move the models around.

The story of Diggs is the investigation of who pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall. You’re Diggs Nightcrawler, who is aptly a book-worm (literally a worm) and a detective, smooth talking, dark and mysterious and overall his  story is actually quite witty and well written, enough to keep us entertained at least and I’m in my late 20’s.

I had as much fun as my Son (age 7) with the story, likely because he could relate to the classic nursery story characters and the clear dialogue, while I could enjoy the constant bad puns and retorts that litter the story. The graphics are fantastic and there are some very clever camera tricks used to put you into the story, or allow you to use your hands directly on the book to move objects around, take pictures and shine lights using the PlayStation Move.

Rather than think of this as a game, where you control the character, you take control of the stage and the story unfolds by its self. You “help” the story along by turning the book around to rotate the level, allowing you to see around buildings, behind walls, or under things. You can tip the book to help avoid obstacles in chase sequences and turn the page between chapters. Overall it’s very clever and a great way to bring the digital world to the land of story books.

It’s really hard to put into words how much fun the Wonderbook is, the interaction is less than I expected but the entertainment value is much higher than I expect and that’s hardly a bad thing. I found it just as much fun to play as my son did and we’re already eagerly waiting the next installments in the Wonderbook series.

Check out the video below, I know it looks childish but it really is fun to play, plus there are many other stories in the world of Wonderbook to enjoy.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/dVnkwYGQ6OI[/youtube]

Augmented reality is a great tool for gaming and while I love the occasional game on the Kinect there is certainly something to be said for having something tactile that you can hold and control, even if in this case it is just a book, while I wouldn’t say you should rush out and buy Diggs Nightcrawler, I would recommend you try something in the Wonderbook series and it’s easily the best user for the PlayStation Move system I’ve seen so far.