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    Posted by Liisa Mathlin on 28.8.2020
    Liisa Mathlin
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    Hold your horses - industry giants are on a roll!

    Alibaba debuts AR driving app, Amazon is improving its AR shopping features, Facebook makes changes into the AR/VR organization, and Apple TV+ takes on AR.

    Alibaba debuts AR driving app

    A map app Gaode (owned by AutoNavi, owned by Alibaba), brings in augmented reality navigation to make driving a little less stressful. To make the feature a reality, Gaode has cooperated with the Alibaba Damo Academy's Vision Lab. 

    The app, known as Amap, recognizes objects in the surrounding environment: passing vehicles, pedestrians, lane lines, traffic signs, and traffic lights. Amap also has driving safety assistance, offering vehicle distance monitoring and warnings for things ahead. 

    While Google and Apple are still working on their AR navigation for drivers, the Amap app is said to be available for a limited number of Android phones. Support for iPhones and other brands will be available soon.


    Amazon rolls out a new AR shopping feature for viewing multiple items at once

    Amazon is rolling out a new augmented reality shopping tool, Room Decorator, that allows users to preview furniture and other decorations in their space before purchasing. Yes, Amazon has had an AR preview application before, but this one has multiple improvements. 

    Room Decorator allows you to view multiple items in your space at once, meaning viewing a whole set of room decor instead of one object now a reality. Room Decorator also enables you to pre-decorate your room even when you're out of it by saving AR snapshots. The app suggests complementary items and allows you to rearrange them. Also, purchases straight from the AR experience is possible. 

    Room Decorator launched across 50% of the Amazon iOS mobile app install base in the U.S. this week, and over the next few weeks, the feature will roll out to the rest of the U.S. shoppers on iOS. 


    Facebook changes the name of its annual VR event and its overall AR/VR organization

    Facebook is changing the name of its augmented reality and virtual reality organization to Facebook Reality Labs. The previous Facebook Reality Labs organization, the AR/VR research division, will be known as FRL Research. 

    Also, the annual reality developer conference, Oculus Connect, will be renamed Facebook Connect and be occurring entirely virtually on September 16.

    The changes indicate Facebook's ambitions in the AR/VR field have grown larger since its Oculus acquisition in 2014. Adding the term "Labs" to the end of the division points to Facebook amplifying the idea that everything carried therein is experimental and not contributing all that much to the Facebook bottom line.


    Apple TV+ is reportedly getting augmented reality companion content

    According to Bloomberg's new report, Apple is planning to add AR content to its TV+ streaming service. The AR content could be characters or objects from a show, overlaid onto the real-world environment via an Apple device. The company had initially intended to launch the feature this year, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the plans.

    The AR experiences are designed to draw in and retain subscribers and promote Apple's AR technology. The report compares it to bonus content, like a director's commentary for a TV show or movie: "Someone watching the Apple show "For All Mankind," could see a virtual lunar rover on their device's display, seemingly perched atop their coffee table."

    Apple TV+ launched last year, and many of the subscriptions are coming to an end soon. So, Apple is searching for ways to engage the audience to stay for longer, suggests the Bloomberg report. 


    That's all for this week's AR Weekly. See you next time!

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    Topics: AR Weekly

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