Google reveals VR plans
Google’s developer conference came and went. The biggest VR-related announcement was Jump, a ring of GoPro cameras paired with the “Jump Assembler,” which is claimed to automate the process of stitching the footage together into seamless wraparound stereo video. It’s a bold claim; nobody has been able to develop a one-click stitcher yet that yields good results.
The company teamed with GoPro for its first 360 degree camera array allowing “all 16 cameras to act as one. It makes syncing easy and includes features like shared settings.” Google is accepting signups to try it this summer.
GoPro said it would independently release a six-camera monoscopic spherical camera rig later this year.
Google also upgraded its Cardboard platform so it will work with phones with screens sized up to 6 inches and features “a new button that works with any phone.” There’s also an official iPhone app (App Store link).
The Verge went in-depth (video) with Project Tango, Google’s tablet-based 3D-sensing system for mixed reality applications, including a heretofore undemonstrated use as an inside-out VR tracking solution. Chip maker Qualcomm said it is planning to push the Project Tango technology into a phone form factor later this year.
Google also debuted Soli (video), an extremely precise radar-based hand-tracking technology, as well as Jacquard (video), a project which weaves conductive material into fabric so that clothing itself can become an input device.
Apple acquires Metaio
Apple also made waves during the conference when Techcrunch discovered that the iPhone maker acquired Metaio, an augmented reality company.
Metaio is behind a number of already-in-use AR experiences like a Ferrari showroom app (video) that allows a person to visualize the inner workings and parts of the car while actually looking at it in the showroom, as well as a kiosk in Lego stores (video) allowing a person to hold up a Lego box and see a scene playing out on top of it.
Keep an eye on Apple’s developer conference from June 8 to 12. There are rumors that Apple will introduce a new Apple TV with onboard apps and new capabilities. As a reminder, in 2013 Apple acquired the Primesense motion-sensing technology that was key to the original Kinect from Microsoft.
A 52-page report from Piper Jaffray offers a comprehensive beginner’s guide to the VR industry, with overviews of the major players beginning on page 28. The firm estimates a ramp up over the next five years to the sale of 100 million headsets in 2020 but doubling to more than 200 million in 2022, with most units sold being wireless.