Emerging Tech Roundup — January 15
The Quantious team’s top picks for timely trending news in the tech world.
This week in tech: HTC looks at a new type of XR headset, fencing comes to the virtual world, a humanoid robot can be controlled in VR, “Rec Room” reaches high levels of popularity, the White House starts a national AI initiative, David Attenborough’s documentary series get a government-funded 5G AR app, and spatial cinema brings life to “Bubiko: First Flight.”
HTC GM Predicts ‘Rise Of All-In-Two’ VR Devices In 2021
(UploadVR, January 13)
Companies like Facebook have been focused on all-in-one VR headsets, but HTC VIVE EMEA General Manager, Graham Wheeler, predicts that a new category of headset might arise in 2021. HTC, the creator of the VIVE headset, is expecting “all-in-two” headsets to catch on in the near future. All-in-two refers to a lightweight headset that plugs into smartphones. Since new smartphones are becoming more powerful, and most will have 5G, powering an XR headset should be well within their capabilities. AR experiences have become increasingly popular on mobile devices, so a headset to improve XR experiences with smartphones seems like a logical next step.
VR Fencing Trainer Combines a Real Sword with Virtual Instruction
(RoadToVR, January 14)
VR studio, Boxglass, created a virtual reality fencing game, “Fencer,” to help users learn the rules, strategies, and movements of fencing. With the app, users leverage a real fencing sword attached to an Oculus Quest controller, then they proceed through “a gamified set of exercises aim at reaction and attention.” Because it is a real fencing sword attached to the controller, users learn the sport with a sword of the correct weight and dimensions as though they were in a real duel. Aimed at fencing gyms rather than individuals, the fencing kit is €2,000 and is designed to help with sword placement, accuracy, and defensive tactics.
Reachy the Robot Can Now Be Controlled via VR
(Engadget, January 11)
French startup, Pollen Robotics, has improved upon “Reachy,” their exciting humanoid robot. Though it cannot walk around, the humanoid torso is capable of a wide variety of tasks using its very human-like arms. To expand its abilities even further, users can now control the robot through a VR headset. By wearing the headset and using the VR controllers, users can see from Reachy’s point of view and gain complete control of its movements. Using VR can also help program Reachy for more difficult tasks that require fine motor skills. The possible applications of this technology are extensive, though at a heavy price — currently around $17,000.
Over 1 Million Gamers Play “Rec Room” in VR Every Month
(Android Central, January 11)
The creative cross-platform game, “Rec Room,” has achieved over 1 million active VR users per month, making it one of the biggest free-to-play VR games available. Another interesting observation is that nearly half of “Rec Room” VR users are playing the game using an Oculus Quest 2, demonstrating just how quickly the Quest 2 has been adopted by gamers. “Rec Room” is also available on multiple non-VR platforms, so gamers without VR hardware can still share in the fun.
The White House Launches the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office
(White House, January 12)
After recognizing the crucial role that artificial intelligence will play in the future of economic development, security systems, and more, the Trump Administration has committed to improving American leadership in Artificial Intelligence. Building upon their developments, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has established the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office, which will be tasked with implementing the US national AI strategy, and collaborating on subjects of AI research and policymaking. Through these actions, the US is poised to keep growing in AI proficiency, while also remaining a world leader in the field of AI systems.
David Attenborough to Front Government-Funded 5G AR App
(BBC, January 13)
The Green Planet app will be released alongside “The Green Planet,” Sir David Attenborough’s new five-part documentary series coming to BBC in 2022. The app was given £2.3m in government funding as one of nine 5G test projects. With this smartphone app, users will be able to see Sir David Attenborough and very detailed depictions of exotic plants and animals in a lifelike AR view. The app will be available in select locations around the UK, and users will need a 5G-enabled device to use it.
Bubiko: First Flight: The Birth of Spatial Cinema, and Its potential for art, Business and More.
(Medium, November 21)
Spatial cinema, a new art form which utilizes AR to create both films and location-based experiences, was used to bring “Bubiko: First Flight’’ to life. The experience was created by a team with expertise in 3D model making, location-based AR, Open Augmented Reality Cloud (OARC)-compliant digital twin cities, and cinematography. This experience is monumental for a variety of reasons, most notably because it showcases the accuracy of location-based AR through the OARC. In addition, this is the first multi-user indoor and outdoor experience created in AR. “Bubiko: First Flight” has been submitted to the SXSW Film Festival, along with its AR companion installation.