Why Is News Corp Investing In Augmented Reality?

Trefis Team, Contributor

Recently, News Corp Australia made its first seed investment in augmented reality company Plattar — a cloud based platform that allows publishers to create, manage and distribute augmented reality content. The Plattar platform comprises a template driven app builder and content management system for managing augmented reality experiences and can deploy content to any device. Augmented reality is touted to be the next major component in consumer engagement, especially in the real estate and gaming. News Corp’s investment appears to be aimed at tapping the potential of this technology. According to a report by Manatt digital media, augmented reality is expected to generate $80 billion in revenue (excluding hardware) by 2020 and become the backbone of immersive journalism where readers can experience a story and be part of it. We believe News Corp’s digital real estate business can get a boost by use of augmented reality technology and an immersive consumer experience can drive the company’s revenues in future.

Digital Real Estate A Key Growth Driver For News Corp

According to our estimates, the Digital Real Estate segment accounts for more than 15% of News Corp’s valuation and we expect revenues of this division to increase from around 0.92 billion in 2016 to more than 1.31 billion by the end of our forecast period.


This segment drives revenues by selling online advertising services on its residential real estate and commercial property sites We believe the introduction of augmented reality on such websites can attract more consumers. The trial conducted by the company with Plattar for its digital real estate subsidiary REA group was successful in simplifying the property search process by allowing the user to find their ideal property via a visual search. To use the technology, the end user needs to download the app and scan the print listing on his smartphone. The app then gives 3D interactive images of location map and information about the property. This improves and simplifies the user experience to search for the desired property.

Augmented and virtual reality technology is expected to change the real estate market in future. Recently, the luxury home real estate company Southeby’s started to use virtual reality headsets to showcase high end homes in the U.S. Other property companies are also launching virtual reality property tours at their offices, as the ability to see a property without actually visiting it proving extremely useful for investors looking to buy properties in locations away from their city or country. We believe News Corp’s investment in this area will boost its digital real estate business and provide a competitive edge to the company in future.


What Marketers Need to Understand About Augmented Reality



Imagine being able to see how a couch would fit in your living room before actually buying it — or being able to see which sunglasses suit your face or which lipstick looks good on you without physically trying anything on.

Each of these scenarios is already possible. These are real examples from IkeaRay-Ban, and Cover Girl of how companies are currently using augmented reality (AR).

AR has been piquing marketers’ interest in recent years, as it has the potential to change a range of consumer experiences, from how people find new products to how they decide which ones to buy. AR technology enhances the physical environment you see by overlaying virtual elements, such as information or images over it, either through displays such as HoloLens and Google Glass or through the camera view on your smartphone.

In order for the potential of AR to be realized, though, companies have to resist the urge to hastily create AR apps (that risk appearing gimmicky), and instead focus on better understanding how consumers will interact with the technology. Based on research I have been conducting on consumer responses to AR over the past four years, I have found that designing and implementing valuable AR apps requires the following: a better idea of how consumers would use such technology; more collaboration among computer scientists, designers, and marketers; and a strategy for integrating the applications into the existing consumer journey.

When I started working on AR as the topic for my PhD, almost no established knowledge about it existed in the marketing field. However, computer science and human-computer interaction research have been tackling AR for years, and borrowing insights from those fields can greatly help marketers understand what this technology will mean in commercial contexts.

Companies first have to understand how AR differs from other digital technologies. While it is similar in some aspects (e.g., applications are frequently used on smartphones, the content is composed of text or images, and the apps are usually highly interactive), there is something inherently different about AR: the ability to overlay virtual content on the physical world and have the two interact in real time.

I conducted a lab experiment with 60 participants to investigate how such augmentation influences consumer responses. The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Management. Participants had to look for their preferred model of sunglasses or furniture, either using an AR app (Ikea or Ray-Ban) or an app that allowed a similar activity but without AR features. The results consistently showed that when participants perceived an element of the environment to be augmented in real-time (for example, seeing a pair of sunglasses simulated on their face or seeing a virtual chair in an office), that created an immersive experience for them, significantly more so than if the sunglasses were just stuck on their online photo or if they saw furniture in a virtual room.

I also found that the augmented experience resulted in positive attitudes toward the application and willingness to use the app again and talk about it to others. But these effects didn’t seem to extend to the products themselves or the brands, just the technology.

However, another study showed that this might change depending on how the app is integrated into the consumer journey. Working with professor Yvonne Rogers from the UCL Interaction Centre and AR designers Ana Moutinho and Russell Freeman from the AR agency Holition, we conducted one of the first studies of how consumers use AR to “try on” make-up in a store. The app we used allows people to put on virtual lipstick or eye-shadows that moves with their faces.

We found that using this AR mirror in the store helped the consumers decide what to buy. The majority of them enjoyed the playful experience that allowed them to experiment with looks that would be much harder with physical testers. More importantly, when the AR app was integrated in a familiar retail setting as a part of the shopping experience, people not only thought highly of the technology, but they also positively related to the products. They were more likely to buy them and view the app as a convenient tool for shopping, not just for playing around.

Another study that we conducted online showed that when participants frequently used a similar AR make-up app on their phones over a five-day period, they also reported positive reactions towards both the technology and the products. They perceived the app to be not only enjoyable, but also useful for shopping for make-up, which again translated in their intentions to purchase the tried-on products.

Basically, if the AR experience is just a one-off episode, which was true of the lab study, the augmentation will most likely direct people’s attention towards the technology.  But if it is well integrated in an environment or in a process, it has the capacity to positively impact purchase activities and have a more far-reaching influence.

It is important to note that because shop assistants invited consumers to use the virtual mirror and showed them how to use it, it remains unclear whether customers might have a different experience without any help.

Marketers should remember that AR is not about creating a completely new reality; it’s about enhancing what already exists. When the virtual is well fitted with the physical and interacts with it, that’s when AR magic happens. As opposed to virtual reality, which immerses you into a different world (e.g. Oculus Rift), AR intertwines virtual elements that might be missing in a specific situation within physical reality (the latest best example being HoloLens’ holoportationfeature). This is one of the reasons why people like Snapchat’s AR feature, where users can play with different visual effects to transform ordinary videos into shareable stories.

The crucial part of the AR experience is whether the technology adds real value. Simply overlaying something virtual on a phone screen doesn’t always cut it and can appear gimmicky. Having an ad pop up on your smartphone camera view from scanning a brand’s logo might be fun, but people would tire of it pretty quickly. Similarly, an app that overlays information and promotions on your phone screen when you point the camera to different stores on a street or products in a shop sounds useful, but marketers have to ask: Are consumers really going to walk down the street holding their tablets or smartphones in the air? Do they want to shop by scanning every product?

The answer at this point is probably no, even for digital natives. People will only change their behavior if they perceive the value is worth the effort of adding another information layer into an already saturated digital space. So it’s important to think about the contexts in which they may be willing to do this —f or example, exploring a cultural event, an urban environment, or a historical site with an AR app (similar to how people use headsets in art museums), or wanting to learn more about an expensive product or a brand they really care about.

The real mission for commercial AR is integrating the technology so that it enhances the customer experience — makes it easier, more fun, and more convenient. We don’t want to live in a world where tangible, physical elements are replaced with digital replicas. The idea of Google Glass failed because we don’t want to walk around constantly seeing everything augmented. (The way Microsoft has been positioning HoloLens may be a different story, because it is designed for specific occasions, such as meeting rooms or workshops.) So rather than thinking of how to overlay as many places as possible with additional virtual content, the key to understanding AR is defining the specific activities where it can create real value.

Ana Javornik is a research associate at University College London Interaction Centre and Holition. She is also a PhD candidate at Università della Svizzera Italiana.

HBO, Discovery believe holographs are the future


Jon Stewart

Vivien Killilea | Getty Images | Telluride Film Festival
Jon Stewart

More media companies are betting that virtual and augmented reality technologies aren’t a passing fad, and that these mediums could be the future of entertainment.

On Tuesday, HBO and Discovery Communications announced that they have taken an equity stake in OTOY. The investment is intended to advance OTOY’s holographic or augmented reality technology in hopes that the networks can present the content through their TV and digital channels.

Los Angeles-based OTOY develops immersive entertainment experiences, whether that’s through holograms, virtual reality or other technologies. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are now entering an era where it’s not just cord-cutting and it’s not just video on demand,” OTOY CEO Jules Urbach told CNBC. “The screen itself is going away.”

Though details are scarce, one confirmed beneficiary of the OTOY and HBO deal will be Jon Stewart. In November, Stewart and HBO had signed a four-year production deal with OTOY. At the time, OTOY said Stewart was to co-develop new technology that would help him rapidly produce short-form content multiple times a day, with additional projects in the work.

Urbach said that HBO and Discovery’s investment goes past Stewart’s project. He pointed out that both media and technology companies are looking at immersive digital content as the next evolution of media.

In October 2014, Google invested $542 million in Magic Leap, a digital visual technology company that is working on creating an eyeglass that would allow people to see holographic images in real world settings. It’s seen as a competitor to Microsoft‘s HoloLens, another augmented reality device.

During this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, almost 30 exhibitors presented VR content in a variety of ways that could encourage mainstream adoption of the medium. A report from Greenlight VR and Road to VR estimated that 136 million VR headsets would be sold in the U.S. in 2025.

Urbach said OTOY’s vision is to develop technology that would allow people to see these kind of experiences without needing additional VR headsets or even a desktop computer. For example, someone may someday be able to pull up a website like HBO Now or a sports game on their mobile phone and project a holograph of the content on their coffee table, he said.

“It is like ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Star Wars’ depending on if you want Princess Leia in front of you, or if you want to go in the holodeck and the experience be around you. … It’s really not sci-fi anymore,” Urbach said.

OTOY’s roots in the tech and entertainment industry are deep. In addition to HBO and Discovery Communications, it also counts Autodesk and Yuri Milner’s Digital Sky Technologies as major investors. Its board of advisors include former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, former IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano, Mozilla co-founder and former CEO Brendan Eich and, perhaps most important for making in-roads in the entertainment industry, William Morris Endeavor IMG co-founder and co-CEO Ari Emanuel.

The Los Angeles-based company’s camera technology, which can create high-quality computer graphics in almost real time, has been used in films like “The Social Network,” “Spider-Man 3” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and won a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award in 2010.

Augmented Reality leader Magic Leap buys Israeli NorthBit to enhance their cyber security

 Gabriel Avner

Florida-based Magic Leap, one of the companies considered to be at the forefront of augmented reality, is reported to have scooped up NorthBit, an Israeli software solutions provider.

At this point, the sale price does not appear to have been made public.

NorthBit was co-founded in 2012 by CEO Gil Dabah and CTO Ariel Shiftan. While not strictly a cyber security firm like many other companies in the Startup Nation, NorthBit garnered some press last month when they announced that they had successfully hacked Android’s OS using the Stagefright exploit, highlighting the risk of remote hacks on over 95% of devices running the software.

Not much is known about the secretive Magic Leap other than the fact that they are laying the groundwork for the next generation of augmented reality. Despite this ambiguity, they have raised a significant amount of capital. Their Series C round that was finally announced back in February brought in $793.5 million worth of funding, bringing them to a very impressive valuation of $4.5 billion.

Perhaps equally as impressive is their list of investors. In the Series C round, they pulled into their roster of backers big names like the Alibaba Group out of China, along with return investments from Google Inc. and Qualcomm Ventures. Other new investors for that round included Warner Brothers, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, and Andreessen Horowitz.

It makes a significant amount of sense that Magic Leap would look to bolster their cyber security capabilities, given the massive potential for the multiple uses of augmented reality technology.

Beyond the basic need to protect the account information of folks using the technology for games, augmented realityis already being spoken about in the future of commerce, medical technology, and communication just to name a few of its possible uses.

As Magic Leap continues to hone in on their final product, we can expect more acquisitions that will help the company to augment their capabilities. One company that is building relevant technology is DeepOptics with their liquid crystal lenses that can adjust their composition to meet the needs of the wearer. This helps deal with issues in AR and VR where the brain has difficulty making sense of what it sees in front of it through images, conflicting with its other senses.


Daryl Deino

Microsoft’s HoloLens, the first augmented reality device, started shipping to developers on March 30. While most people who have used the device believe it could represent the future of technology, they also feel that the current beta version is somewhat limited.

Mashable likes the build and design of the HoloLens.

“I noticed immediately that the final 1.3-pound (579 grams) well-balanced HoloLens Development Edition was the most comfortable HoloLens headset yet and, not for nothing, with its smooth matte-black finish, curves and sunglass-like visor, it’s a pretty cool-looking device. Microsoft told me that it’s made dozens of adjustments since the last time I tried it. It showed.”

Microsoft HoloLens
The limited field-of-view on the HoloLens has frustrated many users. [Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images]

The author, Lance Ulanoff, doesn’t feel as bothered as others by the limited field-of-view the HoloLens offers. However, WinBeta explains why it could be a major issue.

“Whatever the reasons, the field of view is narrower than you’ll probably want. The thing that struck me most about the field of view problems was not that the screen was too small, but what happens when you want to change the field of view,” says author Kip Kniskern.

Kniskern and others say that to understand the limited field-of-view, one has to think of holding a smartphone about eight inches from your face. When a holographic image is too large for that space, it will clip off and sour the immersive experience.

Reddit poster, Theadmira1, received his HoloLens and says he loves it so far.

“Finally got our hands on the HoloLens and wanted to share some footage directly from the lens. I’m abso-f*****g-lutely in love with this thing. This is the PC to VRs Atari and I’ve been waiting since the first time I put on the DK1. The FOV sucks, but I feel the tracking, wireless, and OS issues would be harder to overcome and then already have those areas dialed so it’s really only a matter of time

If for some reason Microsoft doesn’t fulfill their duties in bringing augmented reality to the mainstream, perhaps Apple can deliver a more complete augmented reality experience. According to MacRumors, Apple is likely working on both virtual and augmented reality projects.

“Apple is investigating multiple ways virtual and augmented reality could be implemented into future iOS devices or new hardware products. It isn’t yet known when a VR or AR product will launch, but Apple’s focus on the technology has ramped up over the past several months.”

The article adds that Apple has hired hundreds of employees who specialize in both augmented and virtual reality, including computer science professor Doug Bowman, who once led Virginia Tech’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction. He not only specializes in three-dimensional user interface design, but has written a book on the subject covering 3D interfaces.

Judging by the initial response to the HoloLens, it will take at least three or four more years before a complete consumer-oriented augmented reality device hits shelves. Are you excited about augmented reality? Do you think Microsoft’s HoloLens has more promise than virtual reality devices such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive? Let us know in the comments section.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]


Report: Google’s main focus in the long run is augmented reality, not VR

Chance Miller

According to a new report from The Information, behind closed doors Google is much more interested in augmented reality than it is in virtual reality. Google of course has publicly marketed its Cardboard VR product heavily, but that’s apparently not the end-goal for the company — augmented reality is.

Google has recently formed a new virtual reality unit within the company headed by Clay Bavor. Within this group, however, it’s reportedly common knowledge that the augmented, or “mixed,” reality has a much bigger market in the long run. This market would center around digital information and images being overlaid next to a real-world view. Think products like Glass or HoloLens.

Google reportedly doesn’t believe that in the public eye, people will be willing to invest in virtual reality solutions that force them to wear massive headsets, such as the Oculus headset or Gear VR. The company thinks that there’s a much bigger profit opportunity in the long run in augmented reality versus virtual reality.

Google of course has its augmented reality Project Tango initiative and earlier this year announced the first consumer-ready device in partnership with Lenovo. While unveiling the device, Lenovo and Google showed off how they could instantly map out the stage and reconfigure it with furniture such as a couch and a refrigerator. Project Tango uses real-time mapping technology paired with a complex setup of cameras and sensors to map the 3D space around users in real-time.

Personally, I happen to agree with Google on this one. I’m not a huge fan of virtual reality products, but something like Project Tango offers incredibly useful real-world applications that could push it towards mainstream popularity. I wrote on 9to5Mac earlier this year that Apple should focus primarily on augmented reality as opposed to virtual reality for this very same reason.

What do you think? Should Google focus more on augmented reality or Oculus-like virtual reality products?

Augmented Reality, Not VR, Will Be the Big Winner for Business

Sometimes exponential technologies hide in plain sight. Their innovation speed, market size, and number of practical uses seem to be progressing linearly, until suddenly they tilt upwards and turn on the boosters.

A case can be made that augmented reality (AR) in enterprises is just such an exponential technology. A growing number of companies are busy developing and releasing AR systems for enterprise settings.

Augmented and virtual reality analyst Digi-Capital’s numbers give a good indication of just how big AR is expected to be in a few short years. According to Digi-Capital AR companies will generate $120 billion in revenue by 2020, compared to the $30 billion revenue expected for their ‘cousin’ companies in virtual reality.

Part of AR’s explosive growth can be traced to a wide array of uses in business settings. The tech is a fundamental component in the hardware and software revolution, known as Factory 4.0.

augmented-reality-big-business-31First Systems Are Go

While virtual reality is about creating closed, fully immersive digital experiences, augmented reality systems overlay sensory information, such as visuals and sounds, on the real world around you.

The best-known example is Google Glass—a kind of partial AR experience where a square display appears in a user’s field of view. The device never became the success with end-users that Google was hoping for.

However, with 20-20 hindsight (if you’ll pardon the terrible pun) Google Glass was partly responsible for kickstarting a wave of innovative new AR startups. Unlike Google, these companies focused solely on AR’s potential for enterprises.

One example is the Canadian company NGrain, whose solutions have been implemented in several major companies, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Lockheed has used AR systems in relation to its F-35 and F-22 aircraft.

Using smart glasses or tablets, engineers and service personnel can overlay graphics that show data like maintenance records or assembly instructions on top of a piece of real-world equipment. The system can also compare a digital 3D model of an aircraft with an actual aircraft to identify any potential damage.

The introduction of AR let Lockheed Martin engineers work up to 30 percent faster.

Meanwhile, at Boeing, several teams are looking at using AR systems to perform running quality control of parts for several aircraft, including the 787 Dreamliner. AR systems also allow maintenance crews to carry out full airplane checks much quicker than was previously possible.

“Traditionally, these tasks are carried out consulting manuals and using paper and pen,” says Barry Po, director of product management at NGrain. “Using AR-systems lets you overlay any needed information, while you have both hands free, and our visual inspection and damage assessment software can make it much quicker to identify potential issues. The result is that the time it takes to do a full plane check can go from several days to a matter of hours.”

Other AR systems have been used to deliver on the job training.

Using images and instructional illustrations and video, augmented reality units can show a new employee how to complete a job task without needing an introduction course.

Further, data has shown workers using AR technology learn up to 95% quicker and tend to make fewer mistakes than workers trained using traditional methods.

Pipes Are Being Laid to Drive Broader Adoption

While AR in enterprises has shown impressive results, most of these come from initial pilot projects, using a limited number of devices.

AR is also facing a number of challenges, including a lack of industry standards which can make integrating AR units and software within current enterprise IT ecosystems difficult.

“Traditional software systems like ERP or WMS are not necessarily ready to integrate fully with the new technologies, like AR, that make up Factory 4.0,” Pete Wassel, CEO of Augmate, says.

AR companies have often run successful trials, instigated by a company CTO, but then hit a wall when attempting a full rollout.

Enterprise IT departments have often — and often understandably so — balked at the idea of introducing camera-equipped AR units that come with a host of potential security risks and integration headaches.

It is a situation that Augmate, along with other companies, has been working to solve.

Augmate is creating the backbone, or pipe systems, that make integration of AR into existing IT ecosystems smooth and safe. Its software systems have generated a lot of interest, not only within the AR industry, but also from individual enterprises and companies within the Internet of Things space.

AR’s Stealth Mode About to End

Enterprises are quickly becoming aware of the potential of AR, with two-thirds of companies recently interviewed by Tech Pro Research saying they were considering integrating AR solutions.

At the same time, the number of use case scenarios for AR is growing rapidly.

Training, maintenance, warehouse management, emergency response at breakdowns, co-worker location, damage assessment, work order creation, assembly product design, and marketing and sales are all being augmented.

The same goes for industry-specific tasks in a number of fields.

For example, in health care AR can assist with information during surgery, medical inspections, in relation to specific medical procedures, or simply to call up and immediately display a patient’s relevant medical history hands-free on a pair of smart glasses.

One of the biggest use cases across industries is remote maintenance and inspection. Using AR systems, experts will be able to give advice to on-site personnel in any of a number of situations. This would not only eliminate having to fly key personnel around the world but dramatically improve response times.

“It makes it possible to create what I call ‘John Madden’ guides, where experts are able to draw instructions and point things out in real time,” Pete Wassel says.

Companies and startups have been working on AR solutions for many of these specific tasks, and many are nearing full release, after spending time in either beta or stealth mode.

At the same time, the hardware capabilities— field of vision, battery time, sturdiness, and ease of use — of AR devices are improving rapidly. Also, motion sensor and eye tracking technology are improving, allowing for more hands-free use.

In short, it is a perfect scenario for rapid growth in enterprise AR.

A Future Beyond the Factory

While the coming years are likely to see the use of AR technology in enterprises explode — its enterprise heyday will likely end when it’s supplanted by another exponential technology.

“Technology moves in cycles. I would think that AR in enterprises will have a good run of maybe 15 years,” Pete Wassel says. “After that, robots and AI will start to outcompete human workers and become the new dominant exponential technologies in enterprises.”

right-click-realityBut by then, it will have likely diffused beyond enterprises and become part of our daily lives.

As a species, we build knowledge on what was discovered by previous generations. We quickly realized it was impractical to rely on memory alone to do this, so we invented the printed word.

Our accumulated knowledge grew to lexical levels and then to whole libraries. Computers and the Internet are, of course, powerful new methods of storing and recalling information.

Each iteration increases the amount of information stored and makes it more readily accessible.

Augmented reality looks like another step, seamlessly integrating the physical world with our stores of information. Imagine having the ability to call up information about or perform a range of other actions on every object around you through a layer of AR.

This is the true promise of AR beyond its near-term enterprise sweet spot.

The ability to right-click on reality.

Hololens Round Two: Augmented Reality At Build 2016

by Brett Howse on March 31, 2016 11:50 AM EST

Last year at Build I got my first chance to try Hololens. That experience was very interesting, not only because of the potential of Augmented Reality, but the entire circus surrounding the device. The Hololens sessions were at a different location, and the groups brought over had to lock up everything electronic. We could only do photos of a unit in a display case. Naturally when Microsoft announced yesterday that Hololens would start shipping to developers yesterday, this year’s experience could never be so secret.

So when we got to the demo location, and were given keys for a locker, I was a bit taken aback. But it wasn’t anything as sinister this time, only a way to make sure there were no backpacks on the floor as tripping hazards, because this year’s untethered experience was really untethered.

That comes a bit later though. This year’s demo involved building and deploying an 3D app using Unity and Visual Studio, and each person doing the demo also got a coach to help solve any issues on the way. The Hololens unit was slightly different this year, but looking at it, it was remarkably similar to last year’s demo version. The one big change this year was very welcome. Instead of having a person physically measure the inter-pupillary distance on your head (the distance between your pupils), the experience is now handled through software when you first put the headset on. There is a quick calibration that you can run and it sets your eye position based on some air tap gestures. It was very quick and easy, and the set walks you through everything required with voice and visual cues.

Then we sat down building our apps. Since this was a demo for press, all of the coding was done ahead of time and we just had to walk through adding scripts in Unity to set up the demo. Then we build them, and deploy to a remote machine using the IP address of the Hololens.

The demo app was of an energy ball which, when locked to a location in space, would open up and show some nifty effects. The experience was very basic compared to what I would expect of the retail apps, but this was a simple demo and it worked well.

The very interesting bit was later on, when we linked our Hololens units with the other people in our pods of six people. This way all six people could interact with a single energy ball. People also got to choose an avatar which would float over their heads.

That experience was pretty amazing. With very little setup, the holograms were truly linked to a single point that all people could see. As part of this demo, my coach suggested I walk around the (very large) room and then look back. This was probably the most amazing part of the demo. After walking a hundred feet or more away, and around some tables and pillars, I looked back and the hologram was still floating exactly where I left it. The ability to really lock things to a location is really the one part that needs to be perfect for this experience to work, and they really nailed it. In addition, my pod mates were all around the room with avatars floating over their heads.

So with a night to think about it, here are my thoughts after using the Hololens a year later. The field of view issue is still very small, and clearly not something they were not able to address before they shipped to developers. I would explain it as something like a mid-sized television, in the 27-inch range, sitting a few feet away from you. My experience was better this time because there were less software issues, but the small field of view can certainly take some getting used to.

The hardware itself was very easy to put on and adjust, and it was fairly well balanced in that I never felt like the unit was heavier on the front where the lenses are. The adjustment is done with a wheel on the back, much like a welding helmet if you’ve ever seen one of those. The right side has buttons for volume, and the left side has buttons for brightness. I had to crank up the audio quite a bit because of the loud room we were in, and although the audio was spatial, it was hard to get a sense of that with the commotion going on during the demos. Although I don’t wear glasses, it looked like there would be no issues wearing glasses with it, and several of the other attendees seemed to have no issues putting the device on and using it with them.

The experience of AR is much different than VR. Because you are interacting with things in real space, you can easily move around without fear of tripping or walking into a wall. VR is able to offer much more powerful graphics and immersion right now, but you are largely bound to a single location. The use cases for AR seem, to me, to be not necessarily the same as VR and both should easily be able to co-exist.

While doing my demo, I asked my coach how to close the app we were running, and he showed me a “bloom” gesture which closes it. Once I did that, I was in another mode for the Hololens where I could see how it mapped out the physical world with polygons by tapping my finger in a direction. This was amazing and the Hololens did a great job on picking up everything in my area, including the people, with no issues.

I then did another bloom and was back at the start screen. On the demo units, this was pretty sparse, but I was able to go into settings and play around. I didn’t see anything special in there other than the process of interacting with the menus was very simple and was very easy to get used to. From a UI aspect, the Hololens did very well.

At the end of our demo we did some shooting of orbs which opened up a hole in the floor. Peering down into it, it really felt like this was something you didn’t want to step into. The holograms tend to be a bit translucent, but on this one in particular it was much more solid. There’s a lot of untapped potential here and I hope to get a chance to do some of the other demos they have here to get a better feel for that. The headset itself seemed to be near the edges of its processing power on the final demo though, which had a lot of not very complex polygons moving around, and the six people interacting. There was a lot of things to keep track of, as well as quite a few holograms flying around.

Microft then said that all of the code that we used in the demo, and all of the code used on the demos last year, is all available on GitHub to allow devs quicker access to code.

I think the Hololens is still one of the most interesting pieces of tech I’ve used in a long time. There is a lot of potential here for education, training, and even tasks like painting your house and trying different color samples. There are quite a few applications where this would work very well.

The hardware though still needs a bit of work. It is a bit bulky, and the lenses would not stay anchored to the spot in front of me where I set them, so I had to readjust. The field of view is also not very large, and this could be because the processing power is not as powerful as the tethered experiences of VR.

I look forward to seeing where this goes in the future. A lot of the pieces are already well done and on the software side, the experience is very good. With a bit better hardware, which will almost certainly come with time, this is going to be a very powerful tool from Microsoft.

Augmented reality mapping out tech’s next mind-bending trip

Juniper Analyst: Apple Could Use Metaio’s IP For Augmented Reality Semiconductors

Javier Hasse , Benzinga Staff Writer

Last week, several mainstream media outlets discussed  alleged acquisition of Metaio, a German company focused on augmented reality.

Apple has not confirmed the purchase, but the story resurfaced on Thursday.

According to the Irish Times, a “document filed with a Munich court showed that Apple is now the company’s sole shareholder.”

Analyst Steffen Sorrell, of Juniper Research, told reporters that Apple could use Metaio’s intellectual property for its various electronic goods — in particular, augmented reality semiconductors.

Related Link: Google, GoPro Team Up On Virtual Realty; Apple Reportedly Makes Augmented Reality Acquisition

To date, neither company has commented on the rumor.

What’s Metaio?

Metaio has been developing augmented-reality applications for more than a decade now. The company started in 2003, and raised capital from sources outside Silicon Valley. Dublin-based Atlantic Bridge and Westcott LLC were the financers behind this project.

Currently, Metaio’s products merge real-world imagery with computer-generated elements, creating moving video presentations.

Major clients like famed retailer IKEA have used this technology to create virtual product showrooms, although it has many other uses.