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Augmented Reality

Magic Leap Unveils Two New Demos Showing How Spatial Computing Works

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The long and slow road toward the actual release of the Magic Leap One appears to be accelerating, with a couple of new demonstrations of how the system works revealed in this week’s creator’s portal updates along with the company’s developer documentation.

Following the much talked about demo called “Dodge,” the new demos (actually, tutorials), shot directly through the device, are called “Drive” and “Measure” and deliver two new valuable looks at exactly how the Magic Leap system works.

“Mobile apps exist already that can do small scale measurements, but they are limited by a tiny screen,” reads Magic Leap’s documentation, which is a clear reference to the abundance of augmented reality measuring apps currently available for mobile devices via ARKit and ARCore.

“If you were using a measuring tape in the real world you would likely have to move directly up to the point you are measuring and extend the tape from there to your new point,” reads the company’s documentation.

“With ‘Measure,’ you can do this interaction remotely by using your headpose gaze to target and a simple trigger press to place. No more moving around and no more physically holding the tape in place!”

For those of us not among the few to have an early version of the Magic Leap Onehardware, the company advises running the code via Magic Leap Remote as an alternative, a simulator tool that has come in handy for many developers looking to adopt the platform.

The other demo is called “Drive,” a tutorial that shows how a developer can create AR experiences that allow for the creation of virtual vehicles that can take advantage of Magic Leap’s WorldMesh feature. The dynamic effectively allows virtual objects to “sense” the real world by bumping into real objects, hiding behind real objects, and traveling over surfaces with convincing mimicry of how a real toy car or plane might respond to a real surface.

“[With ‘Drive’] we want to show you some more advanced topics around embracing and guiding user focus as well as a few cool things we’ve found around how to use Magic Leap’s 6DoF Control and its various buttons and components,” reads Magic Leap’s documentation.

The effect also includes lighting (see the car headlights GIF), which allows virtual light to behave as real light would when projected onto various surfaces.

Magic Leap’s “Drive” tutorial also lets us see how the Magic Leap One’s controller can be used to define very specific virtual object functions, such as turning a virtual car’s wheels, rather than turning the entire vehicle.

“‘Drive’ is a freeform sandbox vehicle driving experience that demonstrates how the Control can be used for both direct physical UIs (within arm’s reach) as well as remote control schemes (for objects at a distance),” reads the documentation. “It also demonstrates how you can more easily manage user attention by setting the expectation that the Control is your home base.”

Included in the tutorial to illustrate the simulated physics are a virtual car, a plane, and a helicopter, each offering a unique set of behavior interactions to show what’s possible using the system.

To access the tutorials, you’ll have to sign up for Magic Leap’s Creator portal, which is open to anyone with an email address.

These demos aren’t likely to quell the doubts from some regarding the capabilities of the Magic Leap One, but they’re nevertheless an important early look at what kind of immersive computing experiences Magic Leap will deliver at launch, which is likely just days away.

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Augmented Reality

Leap Motion’s New AR Headset All But Guarantees Your Public Humiliation

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Leap Motion, the company behind the weird gesture-tracking controller for PC and VR, is showing off some pretty interesting tech in the form of an AR headset reference design. Whether or not you’ll be able to get your hands on the concept, which incorporates the company’s gesture control hardware, is another story. After all, it’s not the first open-source mixed reality headset, and doesn’t exactly look good. You know, now that I think about it, who exactly is going to bother making this thing besides Leap Motion itself?

Leap Motion announced the North Star augmented reality platform in a series of blog posts documenting the construction of the prototype headset, its design, and desired goal of the project.

The system doesn’t exactly exist, though. Instead of creating an actual headset, Leap Motion is letting everyone under the sun have at it by releasing the hardware and software specifications under an open source license. “The discoveries from these early endeavors should be available and accessible to everyone,” the company said in its blog post showing off the progress made with its own prototype headset.

The North Star AR headset takes the gesture-sensing tech found in the Leap Motion controller and incorporates it into the headset, along with two 5.5-inch displays that project the augmented reality elements onto a transparent lens in front of your peepers. The displays have a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, so animation shouldn’t be too choppy.

In the end, Leap Motion’s rendering and prototype of its North Star headset looks like the lovechild of Microsoft’s HoloLens and a pair of Oakley goggles. It also looks like you’re asking for someone to knock your books to the ground while begging for a swirly, but that just might be my middle school trauma rearing its ugly head. Luckily, it’s still only a reference design, and the company has announced no plans to create its own line of headsets, so there’s more than enough time for any interested parties to tweak its aesthetics.

Bug-eyed look aside, the novel design allows for a much wider field of view of 105 by 105 degrees, and a 1440×2560 resolution per eye. That wide field of view, combined with Leap Motion’s expertise in gesture control tech, lets users interact with augmented reality elements (like buttons or dials) with their hands, letting you transform your body into your own personal menu bar. It’s all very Mass Effect, which is a win in my book, and a big upgrade over the super small field of view used by the Microsoft Hololens.

Fusing gesture control with VR and AR isn’t new to Leap Motion in any way. The company’s released attachments in the past that allowed users to combine pre-existing VR headsets like the Oculus Rift with the company’s hand tracking gizmo. According to Leap Motion, the North Star concept’s “fundamentally simple” design means it should cost “under one hundred dollars to produce at scale.” At that price point, one could imagine the technology taking off, held back only by the hardware requirements and its god-awful looks.

On the other hand the last open-source mixed reality platform didn’t actually take off either. That was the OSVR, introduced back in 2015, and unlike the North Star it had backing by big players like Razer. Yet no one actually embraced it. Currently, Vuzix makes the iWear, a OSVR-compatible headset, but that’s about it in terms of variety. Even OSVR’s official site hasn’t seen an update since 2016, when it announced OSVR content would be available through Steam.

If Leap Motion wants someone to actually make this thing, it better offer more than some open-source designs and an odd-looking prototype. Still, if I can create my own omni-tool without messing with any Salarian tech, sign me up.

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Augmented Reality

ASUS ZENFONE ARES WITH SNAPDRAGON 821, 8 GB RAM LAUNCHED: SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES

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As of now, there is no news of the device coming to the India market, and is limited to Taiwan for now.

The Asus Zenfone Ares features a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and QHD resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels. Under the hood, the smartphone is powered by a Snapdragon 821 chipset, which is accompanied with 8 GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The smartphone’s hardware is compatible with Google‘s ARCore technology.

In terms of camera, the Zenfone Ares sports a 23 MP sensor, which has a high-res PixelMaster 3.0 lens. The camera also features motion tracking and depth sensing to enable Augmented Reality Experience. Up front, the smartphone sports a 8 MP sensor.

The Zenfone Ares runs Android Nougat out-of-the-box. Fueling the device is a 3,300mAh battery, which comes with Quick Charge 3.0 support.

The Asus Zenfone Ares is priced at TWD 9,999, which translates to about Rs 23,000.

In July 2017, Asus launched the Zenfone AR in India, the highlight of which was its support for augmented reality, as its name suggests. It sport a TriCam system designed in collaboration with Google for augmented reality applications.

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Augmented Reality

Google Working on Standalone AR Headset With Cameras and Voice Input: Report

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Google is reportedly working on a standalone Augmented Reality (AR) headset, codenamed Google A65, according to documents obtained by German news site.

The Mountain View firm is said to be working with Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta on the AR headset, the same company that was involved in the production of the Pixel C tablet that was launched in 2015, WinFuture claimed in a report on Friday.

The headset is expected to include camera sensors and microphones to allow users operate the device using Google Assistant. It is said to be powered by a custom quad-core IoT chip from Qualcomm, the QSC603 that supports resolutions up to 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, apart from 1080p and 1030p video capture, 3D overlays, Open GL, Open CL, Vulcan rendering interfaces support; Gigabit wireless, Bluetooth 5.1, and GPS connectivity, and the Android Neural Networks API. Another chipset codenamed SXR1 is reportedly being used.

Google already manufactures an AR headset called the Google Glass, that comes with smart heads-up display and camera and was first launched in 2013. In its current iteration, it is being offered to enterprises.

The Google A65 headset is rumoured to be having many similarities with Microsoft’s HoloLens in terms of its operation style and chipset. There is no release date yet as it is still in the prototype stage, according to WinFuture. Of course, Apple is also rumoured to be working on a AR/ VR headset of its own, but it is supposedly in its early stages, as per recent reports.

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