Recapping the top stories covered on the VRScout Report, a weekly podcast discussing the best in VR, hosted by Malia Probst. Lenovo’s new AR concept headset & Disney partnership, all the VR/AR goodies at Comic-Con, Steven Spielberg’s trailer for Ready Player One is finally here, new industry landscape shows 60% increase in enterprise augmented reality, the investment & funding wrapup, and more…
1. LENOVO KEEPS GETTING MORE IMMERSIVE
After announcing a Disney and Lucasfilm partnership for an AR headset (and teasing us with Star Wars-themed content), Lenovo showed off another AR headset—or at least a concept model of one. Unlike the Lucasfilm AR headset, which uses a smartphone to power it (like the Google Daydream or the Samsung Gear VR does), the company says this concept is a standalone, self-powered headset. It’s called daystAR, and has no release date or price attached (although it was shown in 4 metallic color options). But it seems like Lenovo’s interests aren’t just tied to hardware; they also hinted at an “AR platform” on their blog post. And Lenovo’s partnerships don’t end at the huge gorilla of IP called Disney. The Chinese company is also making a standalone VR headset for Google’s upcoming WorldSense platform and a standalone device for Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mixed Reality platform. Yes… this is the same company that has made sure that its software could not be deleted and installed malicious adware on their computers in the past.
2. ALL THE VR & AR AT COMIC-CON, OH MY!
If you’re also impatiently waiting for the October release of Blade Runner 2049, you’d squeal over their VR activation at Comic-Con which placed you in the notorious White Dragon Noodle Bar (and if you didn’t make it to the conference, fear not: a Blade Runner 2049: Replicant Pursuit VR experience is now available on the Gear VR). FX’s show about the nature of reality and the lines between supernatural abilities and schizophrenia activation, Legion,produced an activation was primarily a real experience interacting with live actors, with a HoloLens adding audio for voices in your head and the augmented ability to move things with your mind. As a promo for the upcoming remake of the nightmarish clown classic, IT, a creepy real-life school bus was parked outside the convention center. Inside, the show combined haptics (swivel chairs and synced Subpac vests) with a Gear VR to virtually transport you on a journey down storm drains to come face-to-face with the infamous evil clown Pennywise. Conan O’Brien loves bringing his show set to Comic-Con, and this year did CONAN360° LIVE pre-shows: hour-long, live 360 streams showing behind-the-scenes content leading up to his regular show—hosted by comedy duo Chris Redd and Moses Storm (AKA Redd Storm).
3. READY PLAYER ONE: THE TEASER IS HERE
The Steven Spielberg-directed movie version of a cult classic VR novel is coming out as a movie in March of 2018—and Ready Player One’s first trailer debutedat Comic-Con. Set in a Dystopian future with Columbus, OH as the fastest-growing city in the world, people live in crowded slums called “stacks”—run-down shantytowns of inhabited junk formed in towering heaps. The story’s protagonist is Wade Watts, who is a daily user of the OASIS—an omnipresent VR metaverse that provides escape from the overcrowded future set in the year 2045. We now have our first look at Spielberg’s take on one of the most pop culture-saturated novels ever—and it looks…rad.
4. NEW VR/AR INDUSTRY LANDSCAPE SHOWS 60% INCREASE IN ENTERPRISE AR
The Venture Reality Fund’s industry infographics have become legendary, and the VR/AR-focused $50M fund just released its AR landscape for Q2—which shows that enterprise-minded companies have increased by 60% since Q1 of this year. Hardware infrastructure and software developer tools from big players like Apple (ARKit) and Facebook (Camera Effects platform) directly contributed to a huge surge in interest in augmented reality.
5. INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP
San Francisco-based Leap Motion has raised a $50M Series C for their hand- and finger-tracking technology. The round was led by JP Morgan Asset management, and this fresh influx of cash brings Leap Motion’s total funding to almost $95M. The company’s focus is on mobile VR, expanding into Asia, and commercial and enterprise use cases like healthcare, education, and industrial training simulations.
Based in the UK, augmented reality optics company WaveOptics announced a $16M Series B. Investors include Touchstone Innovations, Octopus Investments, Gobi Ventures, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital GMBH. The company relies on waveguide tech (which carries light as opposed to reflecting it) for the displays on small form AR headsets. WaveOptics is developing AR glasses, and released a demo video showing a cycling use case—which might be a competitive AR field, as other companies are focusing there as well.
Based in Los Angeles, CA, Mira Labs just came out of stealth mode to announce their iOS-powered augmented reality headset developed while the founders were completing their senior year of college at USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy. Mira Labs has announced $1.5M seed round, led by Sequoia Capital with participation from Troy Capital Partners, S-Cubed Capital and notable angel investors like Will.i.am and Marc Benioff (the CEO of Salesforce). The company will soon be releasing an SDK and the planned consumer launch is at the end of this year.
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