What is new in the ever-progressing and evolving world of AR? This week we have 3D printing and the military augmented as well as virtual touch braking into new frontiers. And that isn't even nearly all this week!
AR startup Artie was started to use AI and AR to build “emotionally intelligent avatars” as virtual companions for people, visible through your smartphone or AR headset. The company’s software enables you to create lifelike and engaging interactions with the avatar, who could even look like familiar characters from famous brands. Placed in your home or wherever you are with AR, aiming to make it feel more believable. The avatar would figure out if you are happy or sad and recognise objects around the house, being there for anyone feeling lonely or any other emotion they do not have anyone to share with. The startup has secured funds from a number of giants, as well as forged partnerships with Google and Verizon for early experimentation with the tech and getting creators, influencers and celebrities on board.
British startup Ultrahaptics has secured a 35 million investment in their latest round of investment. The investment will enable Ultrahaptics to further develop and commercialise its haptic technology for user interfaces and experiences. Their technology creates a sense of touch mid-air by using arrays of ultrasonic transducers (devices that converts energy from one for to another) to project touch feedback directly onto users’ hands, which can then be manipulated. With the technology you can, in Ultrahaptics own words, “add feel to virtual objects, develop immersive holographic interfaces and augment gesture control ... you can unlock the true potential of touch”.
A consumer release of AR sunglasses Frames by Bose is on the horizon. The glasses use sound instead of sight to relay information. Through their built-in microphone and open-ear headphones interact with Siri and Google Assistant as well as voice commands from the user. It also has built-in motion sensor to help with eg. navigation. With the price set at a mere $199, it still comes with concern of privacy because of the open-ear design. First pre-order to be shipped early 2019.
A research paper has introduced “RoMa”, a robotic modelling assistant that lets users work on a 3D model together with the robot and change the design as it goes along. Instead of designing 3D models and then printed them, the models are constructed with AR and the robot prints them in real time, helping the designer make adjustments as the printing goes along, tightening the process between design and fabrication.
Microsoft with Hololens has won a contract to outfit the U.S. Army with 100 000 AR headsets to be used both in combat missions and training. The government was seeking “innovative solutions to accelerate lethal defensive and offensive capabilities utilizing innovative components”. AR is to provide troops with more and better information aiding them in decision making in and out of the field and also be retrofitted with a government-supplied kit. With 50 000 Hololenses sold so far, this contract will be more than double the amount.
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