On Sunday, Microsoft did what everyone expected the company to do by unveiling the long awaited HoloLens 2.
Its main competitor in the AR headset space, Magic Leap, responded with a flurry of announcements, including a new partnership with South Korea's SK Telecom and a new app from CNN.
Meanwhile, a Chinese startup with aspirations of competing with Microsoft and Magic Leap, Nreal, took a big step towards mainstream appeal with an assist from Qualcomm.
Over the past week, there's been a lot of speculation about the powers of Microsoft's HoloLens 2, but few have had a chance to get their hands on one to see if the company's claims live up to what HoloLens inventor Alex Kipman showed off on stage.
Nevertheless, amid this week's massive crowds and tech brand noise of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, we managed to secure some alone time with the device in a private room to put it through its paces.
Continue reading for our thoughts on the next-generation HoloLens and why it's the best augmented reality experience to date...
REALITY BITES: Days before the reveal of HoloLens 2, Microsoft found itself in the midst of a controversy in the form of an employee protest over military contracts to provide the HoloLens to the US Army. This week, CEO Satya Nadella defended the company, noting that it provides technology to any country that maintains a democratic process.
As Magic Leap continues to spread its influence in the US with the help of wireless carrier AT&T, the augmented reality startup is also working its way into East Asia.
This week, Magic Leap announced a partnership with SK Telecom that will make the South Korean telecom giant the exclusive wireless partner for the AR company in the country.
Read further to find out why SK Telecom is hot for Magic Leap's hardware and how the partnership benefits Magic Leap's content strategy...
REALITY BITES: For smartglasses maker North, the bad news keeps coming. The latest black cloud comes via news that Ottawa is revoking its $24 million investment (paywall) into North after the company laid off a sizable portion of its staff. The show must go on, though, as North will take its traveling showroom to Spark Social in the San Francisco Bay area this weekend.
This week, China-based Nreal made the potential mass adoption of its Nreal Light AR smartglasses product a lot more likely by giving users the option of using a smartphone as the system's computer rather than the initial hip computer included in the first iteration of the product.
That announcement was paired with the news that the company had also secured additional investment funding to the tune of $15 million. This time around, the news is that Nreal will now pair the Nreal Light glasses portion of its system with smartphones powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chip.
Keep reading to find out what we think of the AR experience through Nreal Light and why Nreal has a real shot at mainstream success with its tethered smartglasses...
REALITY BITES: The 5G drumbeat continues with Niantic CEO John Hanke, who called the technology critical for evolving augmented reality experiences (such as the company's AR cloud system, the Niantic Real World Platform) during his presentation at MWC. He also showed off some new demo footage of the Real World Platform in action.
News junkies who own the Magic Leap One received some good news on Thursday, as CNN has published an app for the headset to display the network's news coverage in augmented reality.
Available immediately, the CNN app carries live news, on-demand programming, and digital exclusives from CNN, CNNi, and HLN via the Screens feature of Magic Leap's Lumin OS.
Continue reading to find out how AT&T's investment into Magic Leap foreshadowed CNN's app and why it signals that a consumer-grade Magic Leap might be closer than expected...
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.