• Mash Your Opponents in Spuds Unearthed Next Month It'll launch into Early Access for PC VR headsets first.
  • The Best PlayStation VR Games of 2018 The are VRFocus' favourite videogames from the last 12 months.
  • The Rise And Fall Of Augmented Reality ‘Unicorn’ Blippar
    The Rise And Fall Of Augmented Reality ‘Unicorn’ Blippar

    The story of once-hyped augmented reality (AR) startup Blippar has come to an end. The London-based company announced yesterday that it had started insolvency procedures, a process that means all employees will be let go and, likely, services terminated.

    Back in September, Blippar raised $37 million as it sought more runway to reach profitability by focusing on the B2B sphere. But it transpires that Blippar also went in search of “an additional small amount of funding” that was blocked by one of its shareholders. “Regrettably, one shareholder voted against the additional funding, effectively blocking the investment even if they were not asked to participate in any further financing of the business, and despite our extensive efforts to reach a successful resolution,” the company announcement read.

    So how did Blippar, an early trailblazer for the advancement of AR in the consumer realm, end up here? Here’s a quick look at some of the turns the company has taken since its inception.

    In the beginning

    It was more than seven years ago, at a technology conference in London, that I first encountered Blippar. The company hadn’t even launched its first product yet — it was simply demoing funky smartphone-based technology that “augmented” real-world objects with pictures, data, videos, and more when viewed through a digital screen. The startup was one of several presenting that day, but Blippar’s technology stood out. It was pretty gnarly stuff in the context of the time, given that the worlds of Android and iOS were just a few years old — platforms such as Blippar really opened a whole new world of opportunity for smartphones.

    Back then, Blippar was focused pretty much entirely on advertisers, the idea being that a user holds their phone up to a brand’s packaging to unlock games and other goodies. At its launch on Android and iOS in August 2011, Blippar had teamed up with Cadbury, which invited chocolate fans to play an augmented reality game triggered by its packaging. The game itself was not particularly exciting — you tapped a horde of quacking ducks as they emerged from the wrapper — but it was evidence of the kinds of things that Blippar was capable of in terms of commercial applications.

    Above: Blippar & Cadbury

    In the intervening years, Blippar iterated on this basic concept with various brands and campaigns. And in 2014 it launched a new platform for Google Glass, enabling developers to create augmented reality games that use a person’s eyes to control gameplay.

    But it became clear there wasn’t enough of a market for pointing phones (or gimmicky glasses) at branded packaging to unlock content. Blippar needed to evolve its business in line with the broader technology trends, and — more importantly — find ways to make real money.

    In 2015, Blippar launched an R&D lab to explore “innovative use cases” not just for AR, but virtual reality (VR) too. The first of those products was Cardio VR for Google Cardboard, which leveraged VR to teach children about the human body.

    Above: Cardio VR

    “Cardio VR marks an important moment in Blippar’s history,” noted Blippar cofounder and CEO Ambarish Mitra at the time. “Cardio

    The post The Rise And Fall Of Augmented Reality ‘Unicorn’ Blippar appeared first on UploadVR.

  • Skyfront VR Devs Examine the Future of VR eSports Community Manager Sandra Scarlets looks at what's holding VR eSports back.
  • Pottery In VR Is Like That Scene In Ghost But With Just A Ghost
    Pottery In VR Is Like That Scene In Ghost But With Just A Ghost

    My art teacher said I’d never make it. Dad told me artistic expression isn’t a man’s profession. Mom? She put my drawings on the inside of the fridge. But you know what? To hell with them all; I’ll make it on my own. I don’t need a stunningly expensive work studio, complicated equipment or a shred of talent to make my own art. I have a VR headset and a copy of Dojagi: The Korean Pottery.

    Yes, you read that right: Korean pottery in VR. What could go wrong?

    Well, turns out quite a lot. Doing pottery is hard, especially if you don’t A. know what you’re doing and B. can’t actually feel the clay as you mold it, let alone articulate your fingers. Those are two kind of essential elements in the whole pottery-making experience. It’s kind of like Ghost except there’s no Demi Moore to actually make something. You’re just Patrick Swayze, sitting in a room by yourself with no one to show your immaculate biceps to.

    To make up for the lack of haptic feedback and finger-tracking, you have to come at pots in certain ways, like lowering your hands down onto the top of the clay to form a bowl, or keeping one hand on the side and another on the rim to expand the diameter. At least I think that’s what those actions were doing; again without feeling the clay in your hands it’s kinda hard to know

    It’s just an inescapable fact that pottery is a bit out of the reach of what VR can do right now. I respect this attempt, even admire it a little bit but, without a genuine feel for the clay, it’s incredibly hard to know how to sculpt with your hands. That’s why we have things like Tilt Brush and Medium; they’re creative apps designed with VR in mind, not just trying to ape a physical art form.

    To be fair to Dojagi this all works about as well as it possibly could with current VR tech. All the expected tools are there (apparently there are tools in pottery) and you can even paint your finely-crafted masterpiece once you’re done throwing it. And developer Venister has gone above and beyond with what it needed to do; there’s an entire campaign (yes a campaign, in a pottery game) complete with unlockables and a story.

    Anyway, I’ve learned two things from this experience. Firstly, my parents were right. Secondly, VR can do a lot of things but maybe virtual pottery isn’t the most practical use for the tech right now. Don’t throw out that turntable just yet, Patrick.

    Dojagi: The Korean Pottery is available now on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows VR headsets for £29.99

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  • The Best Oculus Rift Games of 2018 These are VRFocus' favourite titles from the last 12 months.
  • Google Lens Now Recognizes Over 1 Billion Products
    Google Lens Now Recognizes Over 1 Billion Products

    Google Lens, Google’s AI-powered analysis tool, can now recognize over 1 billion products from Google’s retail and price comparison portal, Google Shopping. That’s four times the number of objects Lens covered in October 2017, when it made its debut.

    Aparna Chennapragada, vice president of Google Lens and augmented reality at Google, revealed the tidbit in a retrospective blog post about Google Lens’ milestones.

    “I’ve spent the last decade leading teams that build products which use AI to help people in their daily lives, through Search, Assistant and now Google Lens,” she wrote. “Every waking moment, we rely on our vision to make sense of our surroundings, remember all sorts of information, and explore the world around us … I see the camera opening up a whole new set of opportunities for information discovery and assistance.”

    Products, in this context, refers to product labels. Google Lens leverages an optical character recognition engine — combined with AI systems that recognize different characters, languages, and fonts, plus language and spell-correction models borrowed from Google Search — to match barcodes, QR codes, ISBN numbers, and other alphanumeric identifiers to product listings in Shopping’s enormous catalog.

    “Now, style is even harder to put into words,” Chennapragada explains. “That’s why we think the camera — a visual input — can be powerful here … Lens can show you … useful information like product reviews.”

    That’s not all Google Lens’ computer vision algorithms can recognize, of course.

    The growing list includes furniture, clothing, books, movies, music albums, video games, landmarks, points of interest, notable buildings, Wi-Fi network names and passwords, flowers, pets, video games, beverages, celebrities, and more. Lens reads and prompts you to take action with words in menus and signage, and, when pointed at outfits or home decor, recommends items that are stylistically similar. Moreover, perhaps most useful of all, it can automatically extract phone numbers, dates, and addresses from business cards and add them to your contacts list.

    Google Lens has evolved dramatically over the past year. According to Chennapragada, Lens, which is trained on labeled images fed through Google’s open source TensorFlow machine learning framework, is beginning to recognize objects more reliably thanks to datasets with pictures “that look like they were taken with smartphone cameras.”

    It’s improving in more palpable ways, too.

    Back in May at its I/O keynote, Google took the wraps off of a real-time analysis mode for Lens that superimposes recognition dots over actionable elements in the live camera feed — a feature that launched first on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Lens recently came to Google image searches on the web. And more recently, Google brought Lens to iOS through the Google app, and launched a redesigned experience across Android and iOS.

    As for what the future holds in store for Lens, Chennapragada is betting big on AI-driven enhancements.

    “Looking ahead, I believe that we are entering a new phase of computing: an era of the camera, if you will,” she wrote. “It’s all coming together at once — a breathtaking pace of progress in AI and machine learning; cheaper and more powerful hardware thanks to the scale of mobile phones; and billions

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  • Niantic Launches AR Developer Contest With a $1 million Prize Pool Submissions are open until February 2019.
  • Huge’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide Comes With AR Easter Eggs

    Huge, the Brooklyn based ad agency is using AR to breath new life into traditional print media. Ever find yourself struggling to pick that perfect gift for your friend, a co-worker, or your favorite family member – such as your cat? Sometimes we need some help. That’s when your favorite website or publications annual gift

    The post Huge’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide Comes With AR Easter Eggs appeared first on VRScout.

  • The VR Job Hub: Apelab, University of Westminster and Resolution Games More VR & AR jobs from around the world.
  • Something for the Weekend: It’s an Oculus ‘Winter Wonderland’ Some cool deals for Oculus Rift and Oculus Go.
  • Big Ben Brought Back To Life Through AR Snapchat Lens

    A new Snapchat Lens helps keep the memory of London’s iconic Big Ben alive during its three year renovation. London’s most iconic clock tower, Big Ben fell silent back in 2017 due to necessary and crucial conservation work that promises to safeguard the clock on a long-term basis. When in operation, Big Ben strikes a

    The post Big Ben Brought Back To Life Through AR Snapchat Lens appeared first on VRScout.

  • PSVR MOBA Dark Eclipse Gets Three New Heroes And Winter Skins
    dark eclipse vr moba psvr sunsoft

    Dark Eclipse, PSVR's free-to-play VR MOBA, just got three brand new heroes and a handful of winter-themed skins for the holidays.

    The post PSVR MOBA Dark Eclipse Gets Three New Heroes And Winter Skins appeared first on UploadVR.

  • Play Slightly Heroes Anywhere With its new Mobile Companion App You can now challenge VR and non-VR players.
  • Dave & Busters Rolls Out New Dragonfrost VR Attraction
    Dave & Busters Rolls Out New Dragonfrost VR Attraction

    Dave & Busters is outfitting its more than 100 locations with a new winter-themed dragon-riding VR attraction from VRstudios.

    Earlier this year Dave & Busters rolled out a Jurassic World VR attraction at all its locations that offered a relatively low cost action-packed journey to the infamous park while wearing an HTC Vive VR headset.

    The content for that attraction came from Los Angeles-based Virtual Reality Company while Bellevue, Washington-based VRstudios provided the “VRcade Attraction Management Platform” for managing and operating the simulators.

    You can now ride a dragon at Dave & Busters.

    With Dragonfrost, VRstudios “pulled together an extended team of top-tier partners” to develop the experience as well for Dave & Busters.

    Players sitting next to one another in the real world “will be seen virtually riding their own dragon hundreds of feet away.” Different flight paths for each dragon means that you could replay the game several times and have a different experience each time.

    Watch out for Ice Hawks in Dragonfrost.

    The winter fairy tale offers a journey “through the magical icy and wondrous land of Dragonfrost while battling orc encampments with goblins, orcs, trolls, plenty of explosives – and even Ice Hawks! The objective is to defeat the Ice Prince and his Army of Ice in order to restore peace and prosperity to the land of Dragonfrost,” according to VRstudios.

    While Dave & Busters hasn’t released numbers to back it up, the Jurassic World attraction saw such a strong launch that Dave & Busters representatives say they will be working to increase capacity for the VR attraction in 2019. We consider the work to be a bright spot in the location-based VR market in the United States where efforts like IMAX VR struggled to find an audience.

    Tagged with: Dave & Buster's, Dragonfrost, VRstudios

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