Market Reality: Lenovo's Star Wars AR Headset vs. iPhone X Launch Day, Niantic Acquires Evertoon & More

Lenovo's Star Wars AR Headset vs. iPhone X Launch Day, Niantic Acquires Evertoon & More

When the Super Bowl airs, every other TV network puts on reruns because no one wants to face that juggernaut for ratings. The launch of a new iPhone is the Super Bowl of the tech world, with the launch of the iPhone X being the biggest one yet.

So it's either unfortunate timing or just really poor planning that the first truly mainstream, user-friendly AR headset, the Lenovo Mirage, which accompanies the Star Wars: Jedi Challenges game, arrived in Best Buy stores on the same day as the iPhone X.

Image by Lenovo/YouTube

Worse yet, the iPhone X is not even (officially) compatible with the headset.

Granted, Lenovo and Disney have likely had these plans in place long before the companies knew the exact date of the iPhone X launch. And Apple's smartphone launch is later than usual for any iPhone. Still, maybe the Lenovo retail push could have been pushed back a week.

In other news, the demand for augmented reality technology has pushed two companies to expand their workforces through acquisition. One company is looking to add social components to its mobile AR apps, while another plans to add a neural network to its AR navigation service.

Niantic Buys Evertoon to Upgrade Social Aspects of Pokémon GO & Ingress

Niantic announced in a blog post today that it has acquired the team at Evertoon, a social mobile app developer.

The team, led by CEO Niniane Wang, brings experience in mobile apps as well as community building. Evertoon's flagship product is an iOS app of the same name that enables users to express themselves on social media through customized avatars and videos.

Image by Evertoon/YouTube

In conjunction with the larger announcement, Evertoon noted on its website, that it will now be focused on building a social platform for Pokémon GO and Ingress, as well as other forthcoming apps.

"Niniane and her team have been exploring innovative ways to add social mechanics to digital products," said John Hanke, CEO of Niantic (and NR50 member). "As our products and platform evolve, they will help build social systems that will benefit our entire community. We are also excited to have Niniane's engineering leadership and team management skills, as our team grows."

To prepare for the transition, the Evertoon iOS app will revert to offline mode starting Nov. 30, which will allow users to make animated videos but will remove the community component. Users are encouraged to update the app and download their assets before that date. The company's swan song for the app begins today, with the release of 60 new animations and 13 new clothing items for use in social videos.

Mapbox Acquires MapData AI Team

AR mapping and location platform maker Mapbox disclosed an acqui-hire of its own today, as the company has absorbed the deep learning team from mapping services company MapData.

The acquisition gives Mapbox an office in Minsk, Belarus, where the AI team will develop deep learning, computer vision, and self-driving vehicle technology.

"Navigation apps have not innovated in years," said Eric Gundersen, CEO of Mapbox, via a news release. "Drivers are looking at 2D maps on their phones like the old school atlas our parents had — we can do so much better. Front-facing cameras and navigation displays need to merge. Drivers should see an augmented reality, with directions showing up in front of where they need to turn. Phones will be the heads-up displays of the future without the need for expensive hardware."

Image via Mapbox

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 Lenovo

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