VR Digest: Details of Apple’s AR team leak

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by John Dewar (@jstarrdewar) Issue 112 – March 22, 2017

VR Digest: A Virtual Reality newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

Details of Apple’s Augmented Reality Team Leak

Bloomberg published a report on Apple’s AR effort. According to Bloomberg, the team is led by Mike Rockwell, formerly of Dolby and advisor to Meta. Other team members include Fletcher Rothkopf from the Apple Watch team, Yury Petrov, a former Oculus researcher, and Avi Bar-Zeev, who worked on Hololens.

Earlier this month, Business Insider reported that a UBS research note indicated that Apple’s AR team had over 1,000 engineers assigned to it. The Business Insider report also runs down a list of comments Tim Cook has made publicly about AR.

Rumor has it that the AR effort takes the form of glasses that display imagery produced by a tethered iPhone. There have been no recent rumors about a VR effort from Apple in the vein of Gear VR or Daydream. The Bloomberg article does mention that some of the team’s efforts will find their way into the iPhone before the wearable AR accessory comes out, but in the form of new camera features rather than a VR mode.


A utility called Guardian2Chaperone helps users get their Oculus bounds into Steam, saving them the trouble of doing the room scale setup twice.

Avegant, creators of the overhyped and underwhelming crowd-funded Glyph HMD (which, to their great credit, they successfully shipped to backers), are back with a new project: a light field display. The Verge went hands on and came away impressed with the display's capabilities.

Disney Research posted an entertaining video in which they used a VR headset and trajectory-prediction software to cause a human subject to catch a tennis ball like a robot.

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin has launched Cycling Pathways to Mars, a 10-minute VR movie that explores his plan to bring humans to Mars. The second man to walk on the Moon appears as a hologram (courtesy of 8i’s volumetric capture technology), narrating his ideas to use “the moons of Earth and Mars essentially as pitstops for people traveling to and from the Red Planet—a trip that will take about six months each way.”

Intel told UploadVR that the first consumer Project Alloy VR headset will be available this holiday season, an ambitious timeline given that no dev kit has been released yet.

CNN has launched a VR channel to “bring you closer to the news than ever before.” Viewers may watch on their computers, phone, or on headsets using the Samsung VR app, the Oculus Video app on Rift, or the CNNVR app on Google Daydream.

NASA and Oculus collaborated on Mission: ISS, a VR view of life in zero gravity aboard the International Space Station. A free download for the Rift and Touch motion controllers, the experience was created with NASA’s own space station models. Oculus reports that some of the content resulted from conversations with “multiple astronauts and the VR Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.”

Kent Bye’s recent Voices of VR podcast examines how companies will use “biometric data to get insights into health & wellness, education for cognitive enhancement, market research, and more.” Bye speaks with behavioral neuroscientist John Burkhardt from iMotions, one of the leading biometric platforms. They discuss the metrics that can be captured from eye tracking, facial tracking, galvanic skin response, EEG, EMG, and ECG.

Bye writes that he “also talked to Burkhardt about some of the ethical implications of integrating these biometric data streams within an entertainment and consumer VR context. [Burkhardt] says that the fields of advertising and brainwashing often borrow from each other’s research, and he is specifically concerned about whether or not it’ll be possible to hack our fixed action patterns, which are essentially stimulus response behaviors that could be operating below our conscious awareness.”

VR Digest™ is a Virtual Reality Newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent, a producer of premium Virtual Reality experiences. We publish weekly on Wednesdays.

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