This week's AR roundup features some very practical augmented and extended reality highlights. Warms a Finn's heart so much!
Snap's acquisition of Voca, Unity's OpenXR platform support, and an AR-AI concierge for commercial buildings are coming on next, so keep on reading!
Messaging giant Snap Inc. is acquiring Israeli company Voca.ai. Voca's approach to virtual voice agents promises a "speech-to-intent" algorithm. The algorithm can detect what a human caller attempts to accomplish more efficiently than the virtual voice agents we're all used (and got frustrated) to.
Combined with Snapchat's efficient messaging and delightful AR features, the Voca Agent could make spatial computing even more powerful.
Beyond the fun Snap Lenses, Snapchat does more. The app also lets the users point their smartphone's camera at nearly any product to reveal its price and an e-commerce link, monitor a song to detect its artist and title information, scan plants and animals to see their kinds, and even solve complex math problems. Add the Voca Agent, and you have your very own personal assistant to guide you through the troubles in life!
Even greater would be if the voice assistant was on your Spectacles. And that they would understand the world as well as Snapchat does. Maybe sometime soon, that's what we'll see.
Check out Voca's virtual voice assistant from the video below; it's pretty amazing!
When the Khronos Group released OpenXR, many of the mixed reality industry's biggest names backed it. Open XR is a royalty-free standard designed to make cross-platform VR and AR app development easier, supporting multiple platforms. Now, Unity has confirmed its eponymous 3D engine will start supporting some OpenXR platforms by the end of 2020.
The OpenXR support means many developers can bring previously created MR content to whatever platforms they wish and create new content that works across devices. Although a significant move towards more smooth XR development, Unity is forewarning that it can't test or guarantee optimal performance for every platform.
The company is currently working to support its partners' runtimes. It expects to offer initial previews of the OpenXR support on "some" partner platforms before the year's end. The next stage will be in early 2021, when Unity offers preliminary OpenXR 1.0 specification-compliant support for non-partner OpenXR runtimes and devices.
Unity stated on their website in October: "Our mission is to make it as easy as possible for developers to take their content to the widest set of desired platforms. OpenXR is an important part of that story and will be implemented as a part of our XR plug-in framework. This means developers can continue to use Unity's suite of XR workflows and frameworks for platforms that adopt OpenXR, as well as platforms that may choose not to adopt it."
Artificial intelligence and computer vision have advanced to the stage where fully digital alternatives to concierges can offer the same or better guidance for visitors.
Concierge is a quick mobile app providing live navigation guidance, contextually specific information, and individual assistance. Users can also check-in or register directly within the app, triggering notifications to relevant operators.
The app will enable enterprises to improve visitors' access to their locations without on-site, hourly human resources. The concierge will also offer enterprises a new stream of digital data for real-time analytics, such as traffic flows and specific user behaviors, including product interactions.
In addition to data analytics, locations with retail or other customer-facing businesses can choose to monetize their new "digital real estate" via branding, sponsorships, and promotions.
That's all for this week, see you next time!