Market Reality: Google Takes on Leap Motion, Snap Spectacles Invade NYC, & Vuzix Starts Selling Mainstream Smartglasses

Google Takes on Leap Motion, Snap Spectacles Invade NYC, & Vuzix Starts Selling Mainstream Smartglasses

All of the the tech industry giants, including Apple, Facebook, and Google, are working on new smartglasses and/or AR headsets, but this week, Google took a major step forward with gesture recognition technology that could make its way into AR wearables, posing a threat to Leap Motion and its hand-tracking controllers.

And while AR-enabled Snap Spectacles failed to materialize by the end of 2018 as reported, the camera glasses may yet deliver a mainstream AR experience in 2019. With that in mind, we took them for a spin in New York City to gauge the public's reaction in the wake of the past "glasshole" sins of Google Glass. Vuzix, however, is ahead of the pack in getting smartglasses with consumer appeal to market, as its Blade model is now available for developers, enterprises, and consumers to order.

In the meantime, most consumer-facing AR remains in the mobile arena, and a new app paying tribute to the career of David Bowie stands as one of the finer examples of a mobile AR experience.

Google Throws Hands at Leap Motion with FCC Approval of Gesture Recognition Tech

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has cleared a path for Google to move forward with hand-tracking technology that could pose a major threat to Leap Motion.

In an order issued on Monday, the FCC granted Google permission to run its Project Soli, a sensor that can detect hand gestures via radar, at power levels exceeding current regulations, as well as a waiver for users to operate Soli devices aboard commercial aircraft.

Continue reading to learn more about the FCC's decision, how the technology would integrate into AR hardware, and why this is bad news for Leap Motion...

REALITY BITES: In a rare mea culpa, Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed in a letter to investors that the company would miss its revenue guidance for the quarter concluding in December due to impacts of the US-China trade war and lower-than-expected iPhone sales in China and other emerging markets. Will Apple fast-track its rumored smartglasses for a new revenue stream? While Cook boasts about its "pipeline of future products and services" and intention to stay the course, this doesn't mean the reported timeline of 2020 has moved up, as Cook noted in an interview with CNBC that the company does not ship new products until they are ready.

We Tested Spectacles' Street Cred in NYC Ahead of Snap's Rumored AR Smartglasses

The year 2018 was a rough one for Snap, the company behind the Snapchat app and the Spectacles wearable camera device. From executive departures to reports of slowed user growth, the company that once spurned Facebook's multibillion-dollar advances is now facing a moment of truth as it stares down its uncertain future.

At least part of that future, according to founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel, is tied to augmented reality. That's why when rumors surfaced that Snap might release an AR version of its Spectacles by the end of 2018, there was some hope that the company might end the year on a forward-looking note, rather than continuing to wade through uncertainty.

Well, that release never happened. Which gives us the perfect opportunity to examine exactly what the current version Spectacles offers and what it may portend for a future in which Snap is one of the few AR smartglasses on the market targeting mainstream users...

REALITY BITES: SoftBank Ventures Korea, the venture capital arm of Japan's SoftBank Group, is now known as SoftBank Ventures Asia. The rebrand reflects an expansion of territory as well as a renewed focus on AI. However, the group's investment portfolio also includes Snapchat alternative Snow, which could mean interesting AR developments from Asia in 2019.

Vuxiz Blade Available for Order at $999 as CES Approaches

A year after making a splash at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with Amazon Alexa integration, smartglasses maker Vuzix is bringing an app from Accuweather to its Blade smartglasses for the 2019 edition of the conference.

Currently, the Vuzix Blade is available for anyone to order for $999 through Vuzix, with shipping quoted at four-to-six weeks from order date. Competitively, that price point places Vuzix Blade against the North Focals, which offer similar hands-free information, apps, and Alexa integration, but eschews the camera (and the privacy concerns that accompany them) in favor of a slimmer and more fashion friendly form factor.

Read further for more details on the Accuweather app and how Vuzix Blade vs. North Focals is shaping up to be the first face-off of consumer-grade smartglasses...

Image by Vuxiz/YouTube

REALITY BITES: Due to the availability of native and third-party toolkits for mobile AR apps and web experiences, augmented reality is poised to reinvent e-commerce. Dalia Lasaite, CEO at 3D design marketplace CGTrader, explains how retailers can make the leap.

David Bowie AR App Hits High Note for Mobile AR Experiences

Although next week will mark the late David Bowie's 72nd birthday, his fans and admirers are the ones receiving a gift in the form of an augmented reality app that explores the artist's career

Available for $7.99 on the App Store and Google Play on January 8, "David Bowie Is" packs a virtual recreation of the eponymous touring exhibit, which has drawn two million visitors in 12 cities to date.

Next Reality scored a backstage pass to the AR museum by way of a beta version of the app, so continue reading for more details on the AR experience and our hands-on impressions...

Image by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

REALITY BITES: We've established a new section on Next Reality that pulls together all the news on the business of augmented reality. So if you're craving news on investments, executive arrivals and departures, market analysis, and the like, check out our AR Business section!

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.

Cover image via Snap/YouTube

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