Market Reality: Apple Funds AR, Campfire Headset Plans Revealed, Marvel Adds AR to NBA, & Star Wars Day Snapchat Lenses

Apple Funds AR, Campfire Headset Plans Revealed, Marvel Adds AR to NBA, & Star Wars Day Snapchat Lenses

Apple has a sterling reputation when it comes to managing its supply chain; it's where CEO Tim Cook proved his mettle to succeed Steve Jobs. Now, the company has made a strategic investment with a supplier that will be crucial to its future plans for AR wearables.

While Apple gets its ducks in a row for its debut AR wearable, startup Campfire has benefited from the design expertise of a long-time Apple collaborator. We recently spoke with Campfire CEO Jay Wright about its relationship with famed design studio Frog and its plans for its enterprise-grade AR headset.

On the content side of the AR industry, the NBA, along with partners AT&T and Marvel, gave fans a double-dip of AR fun this week, while developers for HoloLens 2 and Snapchat treated us with some science fiction AR goodies.

Apple Invests $410 Million into LiDAR & VCSEL Supplier II-VI

As Apple prepares to potentially introduce its (mostly) secretive AR headset for possible introduction later this year and launch next year, the company has made a strategic investment to ensure its supply chain can support it.

On Wednesday, Apple announced an award of $410 million from its Advanced Manufacturing fund to II-VI, an optics manufacturer that supplies the company with iPhone and iPad components that enable advanced AR experiences.

Continue reading for more details on II-VI's current role in Apple's supply chain and how it is expected to extend to future AR hardware...

Image via Apple

REALITY BITES: Based on research reveals in recent years, it's clear that Facebook is intent on reading your mind for AR/VR interfaces. Now, the company is also working out how to predict what you want just by tracking your eyes. Research from Facebook Reality Labs details a method using a machine learning model that can predict a user's intent to interact with virtual content in an AR/VR interface. If that weren't interesting enough, the research was done using an HTC Vive headset, not an Oculus device, so cue up the interoffice drama. Speaking of Facebook, registration for its virtual F8 Refresh developers conference is now open.

Campfire CEO Interview: 'We're Focused on Collaboration'

Last week, Campfire took advantage of these remote-centric times to introduce a new AR product to the market that could change how many of us work.

The team is led by CEO Jay Wright, the person who took over at the newly formed Meta View when it rose from the ashes of the now-defunct Meta Company.

We spoke with Wright recently on Twitter Spaces. Read further to learn more about his plans for Campfire...

REALITY BITES: The Tooz Dev Kit is officially available to all for about $600. Check out our previous coverage for details on how to order.

AT&T & Marvel Bring AR Experiences to NBA Fans

With an assist from Nexus Studios, AT&T debuted StatsZone, an augmented reality experience that presents game statistics in an immersive format, in the Chicago Bulls app on Monday.

Later that evening, Marvel injected some AR superpowers into the matchup between the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans.

Read on to learn how Marvel's Arena of Heroes used broadcast AR to appeal to younger audiences...

Image by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

REALITY BITES: Volumetric video startup Arcturus has closed a $5 million seed funding round to hire additional development resources, grow sales, and expand its live streaming product line. BITKRAFT Ventures led the round, with executives from Atlantic Records and Riot Games, among others, also participating.

Indie Developer Shows HoloLens 2 Can Do Consumer AR Content, Too

The future of the HoloLens 2, according to Microsoft, is all about enterprise use cases.

But that doesn't mean some of the more creative-minded HoloLens developers won't bend the top-tier augmented reality device to their own designs. The latest example of this trend comes from Japan.

Keep reading to see how a Japan-based developer brought a Gundam robot to life for the HoloLens 2...

Image by Asahi Sakamoto/YouTube

REALITY BITES: Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a new method for implementing waveguide displays that enable smartglasses to look more like conventional eye glasses. The method involves a combination of free-form optics and a curved metasurface dubbed a metaform. The result is more flexibility in design and a lighter, more compact optical system.

Lens Studio Creators Unleash Star Wars AR Fun via Snapchat

While Disney has used AR via Snapchat, Facebook, and Google, among other outlets, to promote Star Wars properties, and now Lens Studio for Snapchat has enabled creators to build their own Star Wars AR experiences.

In previous editions of AR Snapshots, we've featured virtual lightsabers, Mandalorian helmets, and dancing Baby Yoda AR Lenses, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Continue reading to try out more Star Wars AR Lenses that are strong with the Force...

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

REALITY BITES: Having given creators the tools to create their own AR Lenses via Lens Studio, Snap is also preparing a platform to help them monetize their creativity. The Creator Marketplace will connect creators with businesses seeking AR experts to build Lenses for their AR advertising efforts. The platform will launch later this month for businesses to connect with a select group of Lens Studio creators, with a wider expansion to all creators scheduled for early 2022.

Every Friday, Next Reality reviews the latest headlines from the financial side of augmented and mixed reality. This weekly Market Reality column covers funding announcements, mergers and acquisitions, market analysis, and the like. Check out previous editions of Market Reality for more news you may have missed.

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Cover image via Apple

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