US President-elect Joe Biden receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Tabe Mase, Nurse Practitioner and Head of Employee Health S
US President-elect Joe Biden receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Tabe Mase, Nurse Practitioner and Head of Employee Health S
US President-elect Joe Biden receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Tabe Mase, Nurse Practitioner and Head of Employee Health Services, at the Christiana Care campus in Newark, Delaware on December 21, 2020. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/ AFP

1 — The pandemic. Obviously. The rapid development of the vaccine is a biotech miracle. Science.

2 — Space! Outer Space. S pace X is lacing thousands of Starlink satellites above the earth to provide always-on Internet network to people in remote places. Space X’s reusable Dragon Capsule brought crew to the ISS. Founder Elon Musk, who also founded Tesla, Paypal, The Boring Company, and Hyperloop, just surpassed Jeff Bezos as the richest man in the world.


Yonatan Tal’s new Quill-animated VR experience, Lifetime Achievement, debuted in the Oculus’ Quill Theater on December 12th, winning positive reviews. The 15-minute short tells the story of an eccentric clothing designer voiced by Darren Jacobs ( Death Stranding), who is searching for the perfect gift for his revered seventy-year-old mother Marieve Harington ( How I Met Your Mother). Tal used a flat two-dimensional design style for his world, which gives the cutting edge tech an accessible, modernist aesthetic.

Lifetime Achievement, produced with Oculus, is now available on the free Quill Theater app in the Oculus store. At just 30 years old, Tal is suddenly one of VR’s top directors, making the story behind the VR narrative interesting and dramatic as well. …


Topgolf Pro Putt, which made its debut in the Oculus Quest app store on May 27, 2020, just passed one million dollars in sales, selling over 50,000 units. The company reports more than 30% of its buyers are frequent players, coming back with friends and participating in tournaments that take advantage of the game’s multiplayer features. Pro Putt keeps adding features, recently a virtual full swing Topgolf facility, with driving range and other skill games for groups of eight players.

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Hole three on the Beach Course. Pro Putt

The Austin-based company was founded by friends and golf nuts Ryan Engle and Rob Holzhauer. Their first product was the AR-enabled green reading app Golf Scope. They also launched Simply Putting in 2019. “We consider ourselves a golf business first and foremost,” said co-founder and CEO Ryan Engle. “We’re using AR/VR as our medium. We’re currently targeting gamers because that’s where the largest consumer VR market is. …


Spatial, the seemingly ubiquitous collaboration site which allows as many as two dozen users to collaborate in the same shared virtual environment, today added mobile devices to the list of devices that can share in a simulation with PCs, the HoloLens, Magic Leap, and VR headset, creating the first truly cross platform XR solution. The company was just named Inc.’s “Up and Coming” tech company. “Conference calls are terrible,” the headline read, “Spatial is replacing them with Holographic meetings.”

Smartphone users can move around the room as if virtually present in the meeting with other avatars. SPATIAL
Smartphone users can move around the room as if virtually present in the meeting with other avatars. SPATIAL

Smartphone users can move around the room as if virtually present in the meeting with other avatars. SPATIAL

Spatial has added key features to enhance its mobile interface. These include automatic camera switching to allow mobile users to easily see who is talking on a smaller screen. A full set of intuitive mobile-centric UI allows your avatar to move and interact with models, documents, or videos in 3D, allowing us to mix the virtual and real worlds with our mobile devices. …


The Department of Homeland security awarded Qwake Technologies a $1.4 million contract to accelerate the commercialization of the C-THRU Visual Communication platform, an augmented reality helmet targeted at firefighters which uses computer vision and augmented reality (AR) to boost situational awareness when lives are on the line.

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Firefighter guided by AR HMD from Quake Technologies. Qwake Technologies

Qwake was co-founded in 2015 by Sam Cossman (CEO), John Long (CTO), Mike Ralston (COO), and Omer Haciomeroglu (Head of Design), who have a background in scientific exploration, neuroscience, firefighting, and product design respectively.

“Over the last 30 years, firefighting technology has been incrementally improving, but now we have a real paradigm shift in how information is collected, shared and acted on — promising dramatic improvements in safety and efficiency,” noted Cossman. By creating a better tool for firefighters, resources can be used much more efficiently to put fires out thereby protecting more than just lives. Ralston told us, “by reducing the time it takes to find a victim or extinguish a fire by even a few minutes, we [firefighters] can drastically reduce the disruptive effects on communities, businesses, and livelihoods.” …


Fable’s forty-minute VR experience, Wolves in the Walls, based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean, launches on Oculus Quest today. It’s free for Rift and Quest users. The company also announced today that the star of Wolves, an AI-driven character named Lucy (voiced by Cadence Goblirsch), is going to be extending her presence to the real world via social media platforms, emails, texts, voice, and Zoom calls. Users can sign up to be her friend. A real-world friend. “It’s not like virtual Instagram star Lil Miquela, who pushes content at you. And not like a voice assistant. …


Nreal, the Chinese creator of highly anticipated augmented reality smartglasses, announced a December 1st launch of its Nreal Light in Japan with KDDI. Following a successful introduction in Korea with LG this summer, pre-orders for Nreal Light can now be made on their Japanese telco partner KDDI’s online store. The Nreal is compatible with 5G smartphones including the Sony Xperia 5 II and Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra.

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Front view of the new Nreal Light Augmented Reality smartglasses.NREAL

Nreal’s booth at CES 2020 was mobbed. Developers are clamoring for the developer kit, which is hard to come by and over $2000. The Nreal Light is what the Magic Leap could have been, had they made different decisions, which is why founder Chi Xu, a former Magic Leap engineer, was sued in US court by his former employer. …


The seventh Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit (EWTS) is next week, October 20–23rd. Conference organizer BrainXchange is calling the online edition EWTS Everywhere. In a story about the conference last year, we noted the hand-picked nature of the 1,000+ attendees, who made up a who’s who of innovation executives from large industrial enterprises in verticals like aerospace, transportation, energy, and manufacturing. “Having the right people is more important than the number of people at this tightly focused conference,” BrainXchange COO Andrew Ferguson said. Wearable augmentation, from wrist scanners, exoskeletons, and head-mounted displays were on display in Dallas last year allowing attendees innovative tools for connecting people to computers, and machines, and making this connection as seamless and invisible as possible. That and the serendipitous connection of attendees seems impossible to replicate online. …


Zapbox, the “cardboard of AR,” has morphed into a plastic headset that enables a 6DoF “pass-through” Augmented and Virtual Reality experiences using almost any smartphone, and it’s now available via Kickstarter. When the original Zapbox launched in 2016, the company glibly described their $40 paper viewer as “Magic Leap for super cheap.” Back in 2016 there was no AR Kit/Core plane detecting technology for smartphones, so they had to use paper markers to anchor their AR content to the physical world.

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Zapbox is back as a 6DoF caddy with a head mount and controllers. Zappar

We’re not generally fans of Kickstarter campaigns, having repeatedly backed products that turn out to be nothing more than the sea monkeys advertised in the back of vintage comic books. In this case, we’re going to go out on a limb for Zappar, because the new Zapbox is a pass-through device. Your view of the physical world is directly through the smartphone camera, where it can mix in digital content more seamlessly. …


Today, HaptX, Virginia Tech, and the University of Florida won a $1.5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop the first program to bring force feedback to upper and lower limbs in virtual environments, ForceBot. Founded in 2012 by Jake Rubin and Dr. Robert Crockett, HaptX started with a vision they strikingly captured in an image of the full body haptic system Rubin envisioned for virtual reality (VR). The company has taken a serious detour through reality, productizing haptic gloves for VR and robotic telepresence. …

About

Charlie Fink

AR/VR Consultant, Columnist, Author of the AR-enabled books “Metaverse, A Guide to VR & AR” (2018) & “Convergence” (2019). http://forbes.com/sites/charliefink

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