Planet-scale AR platform aims to build 3D map of the world

Pokemon Go creator Niantic has announced that it is building a state-of-the-art planet-scale augmented reality (AR) platform for current and future generations of AR hardware.

By Rich Pell

The software development company says that it is planning to launch the Lightship Visual Positioning System (VPS) at its developer summit later this month. The company’s Lightship Platform, which includes the Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit, is the foundation for the company’s products and the VPS is seen as the next step on its Lightship roadmap.

The system, says the company, is designed to form an underlying 3D map of the world so that all devices can share the same frame of reference even on massive scales.

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SOUTH KOREA’S RECON LABS RAISES $4.4M TO HELP SHOPPERS VISUALIZE PRODUCTS BY CREATING 3D MODELS IN AR 

By Kate Park

Augmented reality (AR) can help customers shopping online preview products before making a purchase, and is a growing area of investment for e-commerce businesses. According to a recent survey of 16,000 Snapchat users in 16 markets, 92% of Gen Zers want to use AR and VR for online shopping.

Now, a South Korean augmented reality (AR) startup called RECON Labs, which enables e-commerce customers to create 3D models within a few hours by taking a short video of products via its platform PlicAR, has raised $4.4 million. The company will use its Series A funding to increase its headcount and enhance its platform PlicAR, which helps automatically turn a 2D image into a 3D view of its products without requiring any special skills in 3D modeling.

RECON Labs CEO Seong-hoon Ban told TechCrunch that the firm works with a number of e-commerce marketplaces and retailers, including furniture companies that want to help their clients visualize products in 3D models in actual life-size in augmented reality.

The company currently offers its service to more than 22 small and medium companies in South Korea, and is in discussion with potential customers in the fashion, toy and food sectors, Ban said. Retailers can save time and costs by using PlicAR without building their own 3D modeling platform, he added.

RECON Labs claims it has more than 10,000 products that are 2D converted into 3D content. The platform will let users download, upload, view, sell and buy 3D assets through its web-based service in the future, like Sketchfab, which was acquired by Epic Games in 2021, Ban said.

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Nasa ‘holoported’ a doctor onto the International Space Station

Nasa flight surgeon, Dr. Josef Schmid gives a space greeting as he is holoported on to the International Space Station. (Credits: ESA/Thomas Pesquet)


By Jeff Parsons

Nasa is taking a step in a distinctly Star Trek direction with a new communication method it tested on the International Space Station (ISS).

It’s called ‘holoporting’ and, as you’d expect, is a mix between a hologram and teleportation.

And it resulted in Nasa flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid appearing on the space station as a hologram and able to talk to the astronauts in real time.

‘This is completely new manner of human communication across vast distances,’ Schmid said.

‘Furthermore, it is a brand-new way of human exploration, where our human entity is able to travel off the planet. 

‘Our physical body is not there, but our human entity absolutely is there. It doesn’t matter that the space station is traveling 17,500 mph and in constant motion in orbit 250 miles above Earth, the astronaut can come back three minutes or three weeks later and with the system running, we will be there in that spot, live on the space station.’

In a nutshell, the process uses bespoke capture technology to record 3D models of people which are then reconstructed, compressed and transmitted in real time.

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Mojo Vision’s New Contact Lens Brings Seamless Augmented Reality a Step Closer

By Edd Gent 

Blending the digital and real worlds could have a host of applications, from entertainment to training, but current augmented and virtual reality headsets are bulky and limited. Now a startup is promising a more seamless experience thanks to smart contact lenses.

Despite the recent buzz around the metaverse, the idea that we will soon be using VR headsets to spend large amounts of our lives in virtual worlds still seems somewhat fantastical given the current state of the technology. However, augmented reality (AR), in which digital elements are overlaid on a user’s view of the real world, could have more practical and near-term possibilities.

AR headsets like Microsoft’s Hololens 2 and Google’s Glass are already being used by companies like Toyota and Boeing to help repair cars or build planes faster. More recently, startup Magic Leap pivoted away from building a consumer-focused headset to targeting medical and defense applications.

But although they are already proving useful, AR headsets struggle with some common problems. They’re bulky and expensive, they offer a limited field of view, and perhaps most importantly, no one wants to be seen wearing them in public.

Silicon Valley startup Mojo Vision thinks it can solve these problems with a smart contact lens that sits inconspicuously on the eye and beams images directly into wearers’ retinas. The company’s latest prototype finally has all the ingredients to make its vision a reality.

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Google May Have Found The Tech To Take AR Smart Glasses Mainstream

Google May Have Found The Tech To Take AR Smart Glasses Mainstream


BY SANJIV SATHIAH
Google has acquired Raxium, a Californian-based start-up that is developing microLED display technology for use in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset displays. The purchase was uncovered by The Information and has not been publicly announced, though estimates place the total cost of the deal at around $1 billion. As far as acquisitions go for Google, that’s not especially large; however, it could play a significant role in the company’s plans around AR and VR devices that it is said to have in the pipeline. 


A number of companies – including Meta, Apple, and Xiaomi – are known to be investing in the technology, all developing AR wearables that some consider to be the ‘next big thing’. Samsung is also investing heavily in microLED technology, and launched the world’s first microLED TV in late 2020. Although there hasn’t been much in the way of leaks regarding a possible Samsung microLED-based headset, it seems likely that it, too, is working on something in this space as well.

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Adobe Unveils New Augmented Reality Shopping Tool

Adobe’s new tool will be launched at Adobe Summit this week

By Patrick Kulp

The prototype is designed to make it easier for consumers to picture products in their living space.

Adobe is debuting a new tech designed to make it easier for retailers to embed augmented reality (AR) shopping options into their websites.

The enterprise software giant announced a tool that allows consumers to point their phone at a product image on an ecommerce site—and then see the item rendered three-dimensionally in their living space. Adobe says the true-to-life size precision—and the ability to pull multiple products into the same view—set its AR service apart from others on the market.

The tool is still undergoing internal testing and is not yet available to outside retailers. Unveiled during the annual Adobe Summit this week, it comes after AR shopping saw a surge in popularity during the pandemic as virtual try-on—and other at-home product testing served as a substitute for store visits. 

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Oppo Air Glass assisted reality device will project 2D information into your field of view

Oppo’s Air Glass will attach conveniently to frames

By Mark Gulino 

If you’ve been waiting for smart glasses that really make a difference, you may not have to wait much longer. Tech company Oppo is developing new assisted reality glasses. Read on to learn more!

Remember Google Glass? We sure do. It was a bold idea with plenty of potential, but it was well ahead of its time. Since then, other digitally enhanced glasses have come to fill the void. 

While some bring new things to the table, others fall flat. It isn’t necessarily the concept that’s the problem, it’s the execution. 

Well, the next company throwing its hat in the AR glasses race is Oppo. What is it up to, exactly? A new pair of assisted reality glasses: Oppo Air Glass. Let’s take a gander at this cool new gadget.

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New haptic device communicates emotion with nearly 80% accuracy of human touch

by Amy Blumenthal

With the spread of the omicron variant, not everyone can or is eager to travel for the winter break. But what if virtual touch could bring you assurance that you were not alone?

At the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, computer scientist and roboticist Heather Culbertson has been exploring various methods to simulate touch. As part of a new study, Culbertson a senior author on this study, along with researchers at Stanford, her alma mater, wanted to see if two companions (platonic or romantic), could communicate and express care and emotion remotely. People perceive a partner’s true intentions through in-person touch an estimated 57 percent of the time. When interacting with a device that simulated human touch, respondents were able to discern the touch’s intention 45 percent of the time. Thus, devices in this study appear to perform with approximately 79 percent accuracy of perceived human touch.

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Google is building a new augmented reality device and operating system

Job listings expose plans for a mobile AR platform intended to reach “billions.”

By SAMUEL AXON 

Google was one of the early leaders in the first wave of modern augmented reality (AR) research and devices, but the company has appeared to cool to AR in recent years even as Apple and Facebook have invested heavily in it. But it looks like that trend will soon be reversed.

On LinkedIn, operating system engineering director Mark Lucovsky announced that he has joined Google. He previously headed up mixed reality operating system work for Meta, and before that he was one of the key architects of Windows NT at Microsoft. “My role is to lead the Operating System team for Augmented Reality at Google,” he wrote.

He also posted a link to some job listings at Google that give the impression Google is getting just as serious about AR as Apple or Meta.

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Oppo Air Glass assisted reality device is like nothing we’ve seen before

By Chris Smith

Augmented reality (AR) is the next big thing in tech, with Apple making no secret of its focus on AR features for its products. One of the most exciting AR rumors out there says that Apple is developing sleek pair of Apple Glasses that will project AR content to the user retina. But technology has not gotten to the point where it can offer these features, and Oppo’s newly announced Air Glass device proves it. The Air Glass is light and sleek, but the device doesn’t provide augmented reality features. Instead, we’re looking at features that Oppo calls assisted reality or AR.

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This smart white cane works like a self-driving car

By Stanford University

A new, affordable smart cane guides people with visual impairments safely and efficiently through their environments, say researchers.

Most know the white cane as a simple but crucial tool that assists people with visual impairments in making their way through the world.

Using tools from autonomous vehicles, the research team built the augmented cane, which helps people detect and identify obstacles, move easily around those objects, and follow routes both indoors and out.

The augmented cane is not the first smart cane.

Research sensor canes can be heavy and expensive—weighing up to 50 pounds with a cost of around $6,000. Currently available sensor canes are technologically limited, only detecting objects right in front of the user.

The new cane sports cutting-edge sensors, weighs only three pounds, can be built at home from off-the-shelf parts, and free, open-source software, and costs $400.

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Atari Founder Is Launching Augmented Reality NFTs on Ethereum

Nolan Bushnell’s NFT arcade cabinets can be viewed in 3D in your own home, plus there are some real-world perks attached.

By Andrew Hayward

ATARI’S PONG IS GETTING THE NFT TREATMENT.

In brief

  • Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, will release NFTs based on classic arcade machines via MakersPlace.
  • All of the NFTs let owners view the arcade machine in 3D via augmented reality technology.

As the founder of legendary video game company Atari, Nolan Bushnell helped bring arcade gaming to the masses. And now with the advent of NFTs, he plans to bring some of those formative early machines into homes as digital, augmented reality collectibles.

Today, Bushnell and NFT marketplace MakersPlace announced The Arcade OG Series, a set of Ethereum-based collectibles. An NFT is a token that can be used to prove ownership of a verifiably scarce digital item—in this case, a video clip displaying a 3D rendering of an Atari “Pong” or Syzygy (Bushnell’s Atari precursor) “Computer Space” arcade game cabinet.blob:

Each Arcade OG Series collectible is more than just a simple video clip, however: it also comes with an augmented reality experience that lets you view the 3D rendering of the arcade cabinet within any real-world space. Owners will be able to drop the digital cabinet into place and then walk around it, viewing it up-close from all angles.

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