Google and Snap held their annual conferences this week, and both companies managed to upstage their new AR software features with fantastic new AR hardware.
After Snap unloaded a deluge of new AR capabilities and tools for creators and brands on Thursday, it dropped the mic with the reveal of its next-generation Spectacles, then followed up on Friday by acquiring the company whose technology helps make those Spectacles smartglasses.
Similarly, Google unveiled several new AR features for Search and Maps, along with other tech advancements, during its I/O keynote, which concluded with the reveal of a futuristic holographic video conferencing system called Project Starline.
For other tech companies working on AR, the outlook was less rosy. Facebook saw a key executive from its AR/VR arm, Facebook Reality Labs, depart the organization, while Nreal's legal troubles resume, with Epic Games proceeding with its trademark infringement lawsuit against the smartglasses startup after settlement talks faltered.
Meanwhile, ahead of learning that one of its chief competitors is now part of Snap, DigiLens unveiled a new smartglasses reference design aimed at helping other hardware markers jumpstart their own smartglasses lines.
In an Apple-style "one more thing" moment during the Snap Partner Summit keynote on Thursday, CEO Evan Spiegel revealed the next generation of Spectacles, which have finally evolved into standalone smartglasses capable of displaying AR content.
On Friday, just as the company was still basking in the generally positive reception to its latest version of Spectacles, news dropped that Snap has acquired waveguide maker WaveOptics (who supplies AR displays for those very same Spectacles smartglasses).
REALITY BITES: In the fashion world, pop-up shops are a tried-and-true tactic rendered toothless during the pandemic. Vogue Business explores how high-end brands like Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and others used AR to simulate these experiences.
The surging activity in augmented reality in both the business and consumer sectors is being matched with a wealth of updates and partnerships from Snap, Inc.
On Thursday, during the company's Snap Partner Summit 2021, a wide range of tie-ups and new features were unveiled, with some of the biggest brands on the planet joining the AR fray.
Read further to learn about Snap's Connected Lenses and other AR features for brands, then continue reading to learn about updates to Lens Studio and other AR new tools for the creator community...
REALITY BITES: Like Google and Snap, Qualcomm held its own 5G Summit virtual conference this week. Among the sessions was a 5G Master Class on "boundless XR." Deb Marich, senior director of product marketing for Qualcomm, facilitated a discussion with Marie Hogan, head of broadband and IOT in networks at Ericsson, and Sajith Balraj, director of product management for Qualcomm, on how the companies can leverage 5G networking to integrate XR for collaboration and other enterprise use cases.
During the Tuesday launch of Google I/O, the company's CEO, Sundar Pichai, pulled off a Steve Jobsian "one more thing" move near the end of his keynote address that was simply stunning.
It's called Project Starline, and it's a (for now) internal project working to make remote video meetings a lot more immersive.
REALITY BITES: AR platform maker Vuforia and its parent company PTC are holding a half-day virtual event for enterprises on May 27. Dubbed PTC Vuforia Live, the event will include sessions on strategy and technology along with customer case studies.
Facebook Reality Labs just experienced its first major executive exit since the pandemic began. Hugo Barra has announced that he's stepping down from his position as vice president of VR at Facebook.
Barra's move comes as a bit of a surprise as Facebook and its Oculus brand have been on a bit of a winning streak with the success of the Oculus Quest 2 (which features pass-through augmented reality features) and increased consumer interest in VR during pandemic lockdowns in 2020.
Keep reading to learn more about Barra's exit and how Facebook will proceed with its AR aspirations without him...
REALITY BITES: This week, Himax Technologies unveiled a phase modulation liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) technology for use in augmented reality heads up displays (HUDs) and fiber optic communications. In its AR HUD implementation, the LCoS solution is capable of two focal planes, a short-range projection at 50 cm onto the windshield in the driver's line of sight and a long-range projection at 10 meters. This makes it possible for drivers to see AR maps and route directions as well as real-world images in the distance.
One fight for augmented reality branding that we thought had been settled has suddenly turned into a full-fledged legal battle—again.
The combatants? Unreal Engine maker Epic Games versus the Chinese startup known as Nreal (aka Shenzhen Tairuo, formerly known as Hangzhou Tairuo, and parent company named Beijing Unicorn Technology). The stakes? Who gets to use the name "real" in reference to augmented reality products.
Read on for a recap on the legal saga and the latest developments in the tête-à-tête...
REALITY BITES: In a tweet, game developer Star Drifters confirmed that its Danger Scavenger game will be coming to Tilt Five, who recently reached a milestone in receiving its first 50 units of its gaming smartglasses from its manufacturer.
In the great smartglasses race, component makers, such as those that supply the crucial waveguide displays that make visualization of virtual content possible, have a vested interest in pushing the industry forward in order to ship units.
On Tuesday, waveguide maker DigiLens unveiled Design v1, a reference design based on its Visualize Framework for smartglasses development, with the aim of helping original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), software makers, creators, and IoT providers to jumpstart the development of their own augmented reality wearables.
Continue reading for more details on Design v1 and how it can help other tech companies, including two organizations with strategic investments in DigiLens, facilitate their own smartglasses strategies...
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.