Market Reality: AR Competition Heats Up as Microsoft, Google, & Samsung Make Money Moves

AR Competition Heats Up as Microsoft, Google, & Samsung Make Money Moves

Some of the big guns developing augmented reality technology fired shots at their competitors with announcements and leaked plans this week.

Enterprise augmented reality software and hardware makers were served notice by Microsoft when the company strengthened its own offerings for enterprise businesses with a new depth sensor and a pair of productivity apps announced at its annual Build developer conference.

Meanwhile, at its own I/O developer conference, Google surpassed Apple in terms of support for mobile AR app development with new AR toolkit capabilities.

Apple faced a challenge on the consumer AR headset front as well, as reports revealed that Samsung, with an assist from Microsoft, may have its own AR and VR combo headset ready to show off this summer.

Microsoft Unveils New HoloLens Apps & Kinect Sensor for Enterprises

On Monday, at its annual Build developer conference, Microsoft revealed two new apps for the HoloLens apps, Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout, which will be available to HoloLens customers as a free preview for a limited time starting on May 22.

Microsoft also introduced the fourth generation of the company's Kinect sensor. The latest iteration, Project Kinect for Azure, gives enterprise companies the power of spatial understanding for connected devices in their factories and facilities. The new sensor will also power the next iteration of HoloLens.

Read on to learn more about the Remote Assist and Layout apps and Project Kinect for Azure, and how enterprises may use them in their operations...

REALITY BITES: Cyan Banister (a partner at the Founders Fund) and Alex Hertel are the co-founders of mobile AR startup Xperiel. Together, in a post on TechCrunch, the team outlined some of the ethical and business issues that the augmented reality industry needs to address before it's too late.

Google Leapfrogs Apple with Shared AR Support & ARCore Update

On Tuesday, at Google's I/O developer conference, the company announced a huge update to its ARCore augmented reality toolkit that matches the latest features of ARKit, and surpasses Apple's AR platform via support for shared experiences.

Cloud Anchors is the name Google's new shared AR capability, which will work on Android and iOS. The new feature will make it possible for app developers to introduce multiplayer gaming and other collaborative experiences, such as home decoration and artwork to apps.

Image via Google

Google also took the opportunity to play catch-up to ARKit 1.5 by introducing vertical plane detection and Augmented Images, which overlays AR content over recognized images. The new capabilities are available to developers today.

What does this mean for the mobile AR app market? Read on for the implications, then keep reading for more detail on how Cloud Anchors will work...

REALITY BITES: Earlier this week, Blippar announced that it will shut down its Mountain View office, consolidating technology operations at its London headquarters and Bangladesh location to focus on development of its augmented reality platform. However, reports say that the company is hemorrhaging cash.

Samsung & Microsoft Converge to Develop Headset for AR & VR

Mere weeks after rumors surfaced that Apple may be working on a headset capable of VR and augmented reality, it appears that Samsung is taking the same approach, but with an assist from Microsoft.

Samsung is developing a wireless headset that will deliver both AR and VR experiences, according to a report from the Korea Times. The company will build the device with its own components, namely OLED displays, sensors, and processors, while Microsoft's software will drive the experience.

So is Samsung copying Apple again? Not necessarily. Read on for more insight into how Samsung's plans have developed...

REALITY BITES: This week, Facebook changed the name of its Oculus Research division to Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), signaling a possible overall shift from Oculus to Facebook branding in the years to come. Google is also playing the name game, changing the name of its research hub from Google Research to Google AI in order to reflect its increased emphasis on machine learning across all its research efforts, including those exploring AR.

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 Microsoft/YouTube

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