At our core, we’re a group of tech lovers who are invested in the way XR can change the world. While we’re plugged into how XR is shaking up the world of Learning and Development, we’re well aware of the shockwaves it’s making in consumer tech, entertainment, and beyond. Let’s take some time to roundup the recent happenings and geek out over the latest in XR!

Apple files patent for XR tech (and possible headset)

Apple XR Tech Patent
Apple has filed a patent for XR technology, potentially working toward AR headset rumored to be released in 2020. The patent, which was originally filed in March 2019 but published in July, is simply titled, “Display System Having Sensors.”

Many speculate the patent is the first public step toward an XR wearable rumored to be released in 2020. This news wouldn’t come completely out of left field, seeing as Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone on record as VR-curious. Last year, he said, “AR has the ability to amplify human performance instead of isolating humans. So I am a huge, huge believer in AR. We put a lot of energy on AR. We’re moving very fast.”

The patent describes plans to synthesize a number of separate sensors tracking movements from the jaw, eye, eyebrow, hands,  head pose, and beyond, to seamlessly combine the physical and virtual experience. Such a device could feature gesture commands, the next step in Animoji (their current face-tracking tech), gaze-powered navigation, and more.

In addition to user-facing sensors, the device will feature outward-facing cameras that record and project the wearer’s physical environment in realtime, essentially turning the physical world into a modifiable digital asset. This is different than some other AR glasses, which simply project digital data over a see-through pane glass, like a digital filter. Apple’s design, which falls under the category of MR (or Mixed Reality), would allow for more interaction between the physical environment and virtual inputs. Exciting stuff!

Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge the patent and seems to be far from announcing the rumored headset. If Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is on to something, and Apple’s recent job postings for “AR/VR Demo Evangelist” and “Product Manager, AR/VR” though, the company may start to produce the headset by Q4 of 2019 and publicly release it in 2020.

Felix & Paul Studios VR experience “Traveling While Black” nominated for Primetime Emmy

Traveling While Black VR Video
“Travelling While Black,” a VR experience created by Felix & Paul Studios, joins the ranks of VR projects nominated for a prestigious Primetime Emmy award. The 19-minute 360° documentary is based on the 2010 play called The Green Book, and spotlights the experience of traveling through the segregated US in the 1950s as a black person, extending themes to current day police violence.

The original play was based on the real-life handbook of the same name, which was published in 1936 to help African American travelers avoid racist and potentially violent areas and establishments across the US. Although it told a different story, the handbook was central to the recent Oscar-winning movie, again called Green Book.

The 360° documentary takes advantage of VR’s environmental storytelling by dropping the user in an immersive pre-integration Washington D.C. Between a rickety bus, D.C. streets, and the historic Ben’s Chili Bowl diner, the experience is an empathy-rich portrait of a brutal era in U.S. history.

Roger Ross Williams, the film’s director, claimed that making the film in VR was necessary for its impact. “When you experience this documentary in VR it’s all around you, and you can’t escape it. Once the headset goes on, there are no external distractions. In the same way, we can’t escape our blackness or the reality of being black in America, I didn’t want people to be able to escape the experience they have when watching Traveling While Black and this immersive feeling could only be achieved through VR.”

Traveling While Black is nominated for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. The broadcast will air Sunday, September 22 on FOX Live.

NASA partners with the Navy to appropriate AR tech for space travel
Navy AR tech
NASA is currently collaborating with the US Navy to adapt technology used in the Navy’s underwater AR device for their extra-vehicular spacesuits. The Navy’s Diver Augmented Vision Device (DAVD) provides wearers with mission-critical information in realtime. The device is affixed to seabed divers’ face shields, showing a top-down view of the ocean seabed, sonar information, high-resolution photographs and video, and messages from Navy operators.

“Even in good visibility conditions, the DAVD system allows for hands-free information and less mental strain of trying to remember topside instructions,” said Allie Williams, DAVD team lead engineer. Apparently, NASA thinks the same could be said for their astronauts.

Recently, the team that developed DAVD rendez-vous’d with scientists from the Johnson Space Center at Key Largo, an underwater terrain often used for NASA training because of its similarity to extraterrestrial terrains. They outfitted astronauts in the latest generation of DAVD and ran typical training exercises to get a feel for how the technology could be used during extra-vehicular procedures in space.

“The same benefits [the Navy sees] can be gained by astronauts as well — including better situational awareness, safety, and allowing them to be more effective in their missions.”

The partnership between NASA and the Navy signifies a growing trend in XR devices being used to provide safety and efficiency to military operations and similar organizations. Similarly, enterprises are following the same path due to XR’s undeniable potential for revolutionizing training, day-to-day operations, and more.

Need more convincing? Check out the recent Forbes article sharing the top 11 impacts of AR and VR, including heightened experiences, dissolving implicit bias, and delivering a sense of community.


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