Over the past few weeks, Google, Snap, and Facebook have all taken their turns to show off their new augmented reality technologies. This week, it was Apple's turn, with new AR features for iOS 15 along with new capabilities for developers.
Meanwhile, Facebook's plans to launch a smartwatch in order to circumvent the dominance of Apple and Google over the mobile ecosystem leaked this week, and those plans include a future symbiotic relationship with its forthcoming smartglasses. Also, Snap shared a new AR experience developed via Lens Studio for its next-generation Spectacles smartglasses.
In the enterprise AR headset realm, Magic Leap finds itself in some new internal turmoil of sorts with another executive shakeup just as a former executive reveals secrets of the startup's fall from grace. Meanwhile, Microsoft is basking in the glow of its successful hardware partnership with the US Army.
Mobile augmented reality for iOS via ARKit, but Apple is borrowing a few pages from Google's playbook and bringing AR directly to iOS 15.
During the keynote presentation at the WWDC 2021, Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering for Apple, unveiled Live Text, a new camera mode coming to iOS 15 that delivers much of the same functionality that Google Lens offers for Android smartphones and Google Photos. Google conveniently responded on Thursday with a new Places filter for Google Lens.
In addition, in iOS 15 Apple is debuting its own version of the AR walking navigation mode we've seen in Google Maps Live View. The AR navigation mode uses the new Location Anchors feature coming to ARKit 5.
REALITY BITES: The consensus from rumors and analyst reports is that Apple's AR headset will arrive next year. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that Apple will launch the headset in the second quarter of 2022. For context, Apple unveiled its new AirTags, along with updated versions of iMac, Apple TV, and iPad Pro, in April, or squarely in the second quarter of 2021.
As brands and content makers create more augmented reality experiences, the demand for tools to create 3D content grows in kind. And Apple may have just leveled the playing field for 3D content creation.
On Monday, at WWDC 2021, Apple introduced Object Capture, a photogrammetry tool built on the Swift programming language and coming to the Monterey edition of macOS via RealityKit 2, the next version of Apple's AR engine.
REALITY BITES: A founding member of Google's AR/VR team, user experience design lead Jon Wiley, announced his departure from the company via Twitter. He built the AR/VR user experience team and led design efforts for ARCore, Poly, Playground AR, Google Cardboard, Daydream VR, Tilt Brush, Google Earth VR, Blocks, and VR180 video, among other products. He left the team in 2018 to contribute to other areas of the company, so his exit is unlikely to have a direct impact on Google's AR efforts.
If you were to summarize the path Snap has taken towards augmented reality smartglasses with a meme template, how it started would be the first-generation Spectacles camera glasses and how it's going would be the next-generation Spectacles with AR capabilities.
However, it appears Facebook will start its consumer-grade smartglasses journey at the wrist with technology from CTRL-Labs, a brain control interface (BCI) startup funded by Google and Amazon that Facebook acquired in 2019.
Now, we've learned more about how Facebook will introduce CTRL-Labs. Keep reading to find out how a future Facebook smartwatch will eventually lead to Facebook smartglasses...
REALITY BITES: Although the company is already offering a Spark AR learning cirriculum, Facebook is providing another training opportunity for AR creators. Now through June 20, creators with at least one Spark AR effect published on Facebook or Instagram and a "foundational familiarity" with the platform can register for Spark AR Labs, where they'll learn how to make AR effects for front and rear-facing cameras as well as games and shopping experiences.
Just when everything seemed settled over at Magic Leap, it turns out that the internal tumult is still in play.
Now, just as newly minted CEO Peggy Johnson has managed to fully position herself publicly as the new leader of the struggling augmented reality startup, more executive departures have begun.
Continue reading to find out who is on the way out at Magic Leap...
REALITY BITES: Entering its 20th year, the Tribeca Festival kicked off this week and will continue through June 20. This year's festival includes an immersive lineup, with several AR experiences among the exhibitions.
When we got our first look at US Army soldiers testing Microsoft's modified HoloLens 2 last year, it still looked very much like the commercial edition, with some additional sensors attached.
Today, the prototype Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), produced under an initial $480 million contract, looks much more like battle-ready technology, with a much larger visor and sensors bundled in a rugged-looking, beige enclosure.
Now that the US Army has extended a five-year, $21 billion contract (with a possible five-year extension) to Microsoft to produce approximately 120,000 military-grade HoloLens 2, Microsoft has revealed some additional details from behind the scenes...
REALITY BITES: Google is killing off its Measure AR app. If you have the app installed, you'll get to keep it, but it won't receive further updates, which could eventually pose a problem. Android users will have to settle for third-party apps or Google's Measure Up web experiment (for as long as it lasts).
The debut of the augmented reality version of Snap's Spectacles came with several examples of how the wearable can allow creators to transform the world around them.
Now, weeks after the initial launch of the AR smartglasses, we're getting yet another example of how the device can facilitate new kinds of immersive experiences.
Continue reading to learn how Los Angeles-based technical designer Katherine Harris used the device to develop a new kind of teaching tool, then read further to see how Disney Plus is using Snapchat to promote its latest Marvel series, Loki...
REALITY BITES: 8th Wall's web-based AR platform has racked up some impressive AR advertising campaigns for notable brands, but the company is also demonstrating its value for bringing awareness to humanitarian efforts. In Australia, non-profit Steps Outreach Service is using 8th Wall Web to tell the story of homeless youth through an AR exhibit in Federation Square in Melbourne.
Magic Leap has had a rough couple of years, highlighted by high-profile executive departures, lawsuits, troublesome patent shuffles, and massive layoffs.
Despite this, things seem to have calmed down at the augmented reality startup under Peggy Johnson, but there are still questions as to how things went awry under the old regime.
Most former Magic Leap staff have remained tight-lipped, but now one major former executive is finally shedding some light on the situation. Read further to see what he has to say...
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.