VIRAL PANTHERS CLIP A ‘MILESTONE IN AUGMENTED REALITY’

The Carolina Panthers’ viral moment was months in the making. COURTESY CAROLINA PANTHERS

BY JACOB FELDMAN

People had gotten used to virtual fans—floating heads along the sideline of the NBA Finals or avatars in the outfield bleachers at MLB games. But on Sunday, with NFL stadiums full again, augmented reality took center stage once more, this time in the form of a CGI panther standing on the 50-yard line.

By Tuesday, Carolina’s mixed reality clip of a massive feline leaping around Bank of America Stadium, and seemingly shredding a Jets banner in the process, had drawn more than 10 million views online. The video received more impressions than any other NFL team post during Week 1, according to Zoomph. Meanwhile, Panthers executives were already fielding requests from potential sponsors, as they plan to bring the project back for future home games.

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Companies are coworking in the metaverse to stave off Zoom burnout and spark new types of collaboration

by Alexander Lee

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have adopted virtual communication tools to make up for in-person collaboration, but those channels have come with limitations: the nonverbal cues that make in-person meetings useful are difficult to discern on Zoom, and there’s no virtual replacement for water cooler conversations. 

As the pandemic drags on, some firms are addressing these shortcomings by coworking in the metaverse.

It doesn’t help that Zoom burnout is real. Struggling to pick up on nonverbal communication, constantly having to look at oneself and conversing in immobile digital environments are all contributing factors to a national rise in “Zoom fatigue” over the past year, according to a February study by Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. “We can’t just open up new lines of communication organically in Zoom,” said Daniel Liebeskind, CEO of metaverse platform Topia. “It’s just not possible.”

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Facebook can project your eyes onto a VR headset, and it’s exactly as uncanny as it sounds

It’s got a TV eye on you


By Adi Robertson

Facebook Reality Labs wants to help people see your eyes while you’re in virtual reality — even if the results sit somewhere between mildly unsettling and nightmarish. Earlier this week, FRL released a paper on “reverse passthrough VR,” a recipe for making VR headsets less physically isolating. Researchers devised a method for translating your face onto the front of a headset, although they emphasize it’s still firmly experimental.

“Passthrough VR” refers to a feature that displays a live video feed from a headset’s cameras, letting users see the real world while they’re still wearing the device. Facebook’s Oculus Quest platform, for instance, shows users a passthrough feed when they step outside their VR space’s boundaries. It’s useful for quickly dropping out of VR, and it can also enable a form of augmented reality by adding virtual objects to the camera feed. But as FRL notes, the people around a headset user can’t make eye contact, even if the wearer can see them perfectly. That’s awkward if bystanders are used to seeing their friend or co-worker’s uncovered face.

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First spinal surgery with augmented reality headset takes place

Dr. Kornelis Poelstra, director of The Robotic Spine Institute of Las Vegas, recently led the first-ever spinal surgery procedure using an xvision augmented reality headset paired with a surgical robot. 

Dr. Poelstra and his practice, in partnership with The Nevada Spine Clinic, completed the posterior lumbar fusion procedure on a patient using a combination of Medtronic’s Mazor X robotic platform integrated with Augmedics’ newly FDA-approved xvision.

Normally a fairly invasive and lengthy surgery lasting anywhere between six to seven hours, this particular patient’s procedure using the xvision headset in tandem with the Mazor X robot brought the surgery time down to just under two hours.  

This is because the xvision headset allows for the surgeon and his team to more precisely identify and pinpoint where to place the implants, in this case a proprietary superalloy MoRe (Molybdenum-Rhenium) lower-profile 4.5mm rod, paired with the MiRusEuropa Pedicle Screw System.  

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High-tech contact lenses are straight out of science fiction — and may replace smart phones

A concept image showing a contact lens with digital and biometric implants. 

 By Bishakh Rout, McGill University

Contact lenses are the result of an accidental discovery made during the Second World War. Ophthalmologist Harold Ridley noticed that despite acrylic plastic shrapnel shards becoming embedded in the eyes of fighter pilots, it did not appear to cause any harm. This finding eventually led to the creation of hard intraocular lenses for the treatment of cataracts. 

Over the years, new scientific discoveries have led to softer and more comfortable contact lenses. And now, research bringing together chemistry, biology and microelectronics is resulting in contact lenses that are straight out of science fiction.

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Apple Glasses could turn any surface into a touch screen thanks to augmented reality


By Jacinto Araque

Despite the launch of the Google Glass project a few years ago, smart glasses are still a world to be explored, and with the advent of virtual reality and augmented reality, this type of product may take on a totally different dimension than imagined a few years ago.

Apple has already had several winks referring to possible smart glasses, the Apple Glasses, of which there are not many certainties, but that point to become a reality at some point in the near future, and that are still an unknown in some ways.

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The Metaverse Is Coming And It’s A Very Big Deal

By Cathy Hackl

Imagine walking down the street. Suddenly, you think of a product you need. Immediately next to you, a vending machine appears, filled with the product and variations you were thinking of. You stop, pick an item from the vending machine, it’s shipped to your house, and then continue on your way. 

Next, imagine a husband and wife. The husband offers to go to the store but the wife can’t remember the name and type of product she needs. Her brain-computer interface device recognizes it for her and transmits a link to her husband’s device, along with what stores and aisles it’s located in. 

Welcome to the metaverse, alternate digital realities where people work, play, and socialize. You can call it the metaverse, the mirror world, the AR Cloud, the Magicverse, the Spatial internet, or Live Maps, but one thing is for certain, it’s coming and it’s a big deal. 

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Facebook Developing Neural Wristband to Support Augmented Reality Glasses

The Facebook AR-supporting wearable device will be capable of detecting nerve signals to interpret complex hand gestures.

By Reuters

  • This marks as a step-up for Facebook in a hotly contested race 
  • Facebook had said smart glasses would need to rely on devices like phones
  • A wristband would be able to serve as a platform for computing

Wearers of the band would be able to interact with the virtual world with their finger movements.

Facebook said on Thursday it is developing a wristband that would be able to control its augmented reality (AR) glasses that are expected to be launched this year.

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Why Accenture lists ‘digital twins’ as top-five technology trend in 2021

By George Lawton

A digital twin technology is one that creates a virtual replication of a real-world entity, like a plane, manufacturing plant, or supply chain.

Manufacturing companies have increasingly used digital twin technologies to accelerate digital transformation initiatives for product development, and the tech has grown in popularity over the past five years as legacy manufacturers look for ways to keep up with innovative startups like Tesla.

The idea has been around since 2002, when it was coined by Michael Grieves, then a professor at the University of Detroit, to describe a new way of thinking about coordinating product lifecycle management. The concept stumbled along for many years, owing to limits around integrating processes and data across engineering, manufacturing, and quality teams. But it has begun picking up steam, thanks to improvements in data integration, AI, and the internet of things, which extend the benefits of digital transformation efforts into the physical world.

In 2019, Gartner suggested that 75% of organizations would be implementing digital twins within the next year. This year, Accenture has positioned digital twins as one of the top five strategic technology trends to watch in 2021. The reason is that businesses are finally figuring out how to scale these projects across a fleet of projects, rather than a single one-off, Accenture Technology Labs managing director Michael Biltz said.

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Almost a fifth of Facebook employees are now working on VR and AR: report

Nearly 10,000 employees in the Reality Labs division

By Sam Byford

Facebook has nearly 10,000 employees in its division working on augmented reality and virtual reality devices, according to a report in The Information based on internal organizational data. The number means the Reality Labs division accounts for almost a fifth of the people working at Facebook worldwide.

This suggests that Facebook has been significantly accelerating its VR and AR efforts. As UploadVR noted in 2017, the Oculus VR division accounted for over a thousand employees at a time when Facebook’s headcount was 18,770 overall, indicating a percentage somewhere north of five percent. 

Since then, Facebook has shifted its VR focus away from Oculus Rift-style tethered headsets by releasing the Oculus Quest and Quest 2, which are standalone wireless devices that don’t require a PC. The $299 Quest 2 was preordered five times as much as its predecessor, with developers seeing a boost in sales of their existing titles.

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Inside Facebook Reality Labs: The Next Era of Human-Computer Interaction

TL;DR: In today’s post — the first in a series exploring the future of human-computer interaction (HCI) — we’ll begin to unpack the 10-year vision of a contextually-aware, AI-powered interface for augmented reality (AR) glasses that can use the information you choose to share, to infer what you want to do, when you want to do it.

Imagine a world where a lightweight, stylish pair of glasses could replace your need for a computer or smartphone. You’d have the ability to feel physically present with friends and family — no matter where in the world they happened to be — and contextually-aware AI to help you navigate the world around you, as well as rich 3D virtual information within arm’s reach. Best of all, they’d let you look up and stay present in the world around you rather than pulling your attention away to the periphery in the palm of your hand. This is a device that wouldn’t force you to choose between the real world and the digital world.

It may sound like science fiction, but it’s a future that Facebook is building inside our labs. And today, we’ll share our vision for how people will interact with that future.

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The Future of Vision: Augmented reality contact lenses will make you bionic

Augmented reality contact lenses have been “around the corner” for years. They’re finally set to arrive.

By Jeremy Kaplan

A decade ago, Google’s ambitions seemed unchecked: The company would design self-piloting cars through Waymo, sponsor moonbases, and even conquer death. One of the company’s plans: Smart contact lenses to measure the glucose level of your tears — and perhaps help reduce the damage caused by diabetes. “It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies, which are helping to refine our prototype,” wrote Google’s Brian Otis and Babak Parvizback in 2014.

Seven years later, the company’s ego remains just as inflated, but Verily’s smart contact lenses are nowhere to be seen; the side project of Google parent Alphabet was officially abandoned in 2018. Yet smart lenses are finally becoming a reality, thanks to the efforts of countless scientists and engineers. And the future of this intriguing technology is nothing like what you might expect.

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