Disney Infinity might make its way to Microsoft’s HoloLens

Disney Infinity might make its way to Microsoft’s HoloLens.

It’s only natural for an entertainment corporation as massive as The Walt Disney Company, with IP holdings that span the likes of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, to be exploring the potential of virtual reality. It’s something John Vignocchi, VP of production at Disney Interactive, the division behind toys-to-life platform Disney Infinity, confirmed when we chatted a few weeks back. But when it comes to Infinity, the future focus seems to be weighted more toward augmented reality. “We’ve had multiple meetings and discussions with Oculus, multiple meetings and discussions with Sony about Morpheus, multiple meetings and discussions with Microsoft about HoloLens. We’re very interested in that space,” Vignocchi said. “There’s the socialization problem right now with VR, but augmented reality is very exciting.”

The issue of isolation in VR isn’t new. It’s a hurdle Sony PlayStation addressed onstage during its E3 presentation last month and one Worldwide Studio head Shuhei Yoshida is determined to overcome with a range of new Morpheus demos (see: RIGS). But despite the inroads being made toward socializing VR gameplay, Disney Interactive head John Blackburn remains unconvinced it’s the way forward for the local co-op baked into the family-friendly Infinity.

My own experience with these devices right now is that I feel like they almost cut directly against what we’re trying to do, which is experiences that can involve you with somebody else,” Blackburn said. “The idea of kind of creating that family memory and playing it together is really core to the experience we’re trying to build. And so when you put a lot of these headsets on, it’s almost isolating in a way. Until we can get over that piece of the technology, it’s not as interesting to me.”

Which is why Blackburn hinted that if Infinity were to pick a side in the VR vs. AR battle, it’d likely come out as a HoloLens project. And when you consider the parallels between the crafting of Infinity‘s Toy Box creation mode and Microsoft’s recently announced HoloLensMinecraft project, the prospect doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Though, that’s not to say Disney Interactive’s completely ruling out VR.

“You kind of look at Microsoft’s HoloLens stuff where you can kind of see through,” said Blackburn. “And that one’s kind of interesting from that perspective because I can see everybody else around me. But yes, we’re absolutely interested in that space because the Toy Box itself is kind of a very interesting concept of ‘I’m in the world I built.'”

Apple Acquistion Of Metaio: Legitimate Augmented Reality Tech

Once thought of as gimmicky or primarily for gaming applications, Augmented Reality (AR) technology has the ability to quite literally reshape the landscape in many markets, with new capabilities from simple telepresence to industrial and architectural design, to navigation and tracking. Google GOOGL -1.52% has been heavily behind the technology for a while now, with Google Glass and their Project Tango tablet, and Facebook/Oculus recently moved in on AR firm Surreal Vision. Now it appears Apple AAPL -1.11% is apparently turning its gun sights on the market space as well.

Earlier this week, it was announced the Apple had acquired AR technology developer Metaio, a seasoned veteran in the space that has been around for over a decade, if you can believe that. Apple didn’t have much to say about the acquisition but the move itself speaks volumes. Metaio develops AR tools that use 3D tracking capable devices for development and deployment of Augmented Reality apps.

The most natural, immediate application for Metaio technologies would be with Apple’s iPad line. Tablet platforms have the light-weight portability you need for carrying a 3D mapping-capable device but also have enough mechanical area to house the additional circuitry and camera technology required to implement the design, not to mention the additional CPU and graphics horsepower required.

Samsung is making a VR headset for its phones and tablets

Samsung is making a VR headset for its phones and tablets.

Samsung is known for its ubiquitous Galaxy smartphones and tablets, popular smart televisions and, most recently, smartwatches. The Korean consumer electronics giant is about to enter another major new category: virtual reality headsets. We’re told by sources close to Samsung that a virtual reality headset is not only in the works at the company’s mobile division, but it’s set to be announced this year. The urgency is said to be a measure of beating Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus to market. Some developers already have early versions of the headset, which — at least in the development stages — is powered by flagship Galaxy devices (think: Note 3, Galaxy S5). The consumer model, however, is said to require the power of next-gen, unannounced Galaxy phones and tablets.

First things first, what are we talking about here specifically? A peripheral. We’re talking about a virtual reality headset — along the lines of Oculus Rift, but more akin to the Android-powered GameFace Labs prototype (seen below) — created by Samsung, powered by Samsung products. This is not the rumored “Galaxy Glass” project.

We’re told it has an OLED screen, as good or better than in the second Rift dev kit; it’s not clear how the headset connects to your phone/tablet, but we’re guessing it’s a wired connection rather than wireless. Given VR’s reliance on immediacy, a wired setup is a requirement (any lag introduced breaks the immersion, and often makes people sick). It’s also not clear how, or if, Samsung’s VR headset tracks head movement depth-wise. In the case of both Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift, separate cameras face the player and track depth by reading sensors on the respective headsets.

Beyond beating the competition to market, Samsung’s said to be targeting a lower price tier with its headset. Don’t expect anything too low — we’re still talking about a VR headset — but the idea again is to undercut Oculus and Sony. Unlike Galaxy Gear smartwatches, we’re told that Samsung’s in-house OS, Tizen, doesn’t play a part in the VR headset.

This is a device meant for use with games. What type of games? Android games! Sure, but which ones? That’s certainly the question. Great games make the platform, and VR games are especially tough to crack given the newness of the medium. One thing’s for sure: most major games won’t work on VR as direct ports. Something like Minecraft VR makes sense on paper, but does it actually play well?

That question, and many more surrounding Samsung’s VR headset, remain a mystery. For now! Perhaps you know more? We’d love for you to get in touch! We’ll have more on Samsung’s virtual reality plans as we hear more; for now, the official line from Korea is, “Samsung doesn’t comment on rumor and speculation.”

GOOGLE GLASS FOR FITNESS – Race Yourself – Virtual Reality Fitness Motivation

Google a pensé à tout, avec son application Race Yourself pour Google Glass, qui a pour but de rendre votre footing beaucoup plus fun.

Avec Race Yourself, votre course se transformera en jeu avec plus d’une trentaine de modes différents. Cette application donne une toute autre dimension au sport sous bien des aspects puisque vous pourrez fuir devant des zombies, faire du vélo, courir contre des adversaires virtuels ou bien encore sprinter devant un rocher qui menace de vous écraser. Vous pourrez également affronter votre propre fantôme. Du footing mais pas seulement, car une fonctionnalité pour le ski est prévue où il sera possible de franchir des portes virtuelles. Mais attention, Race Yourself n’utilise que la réalité virtuelle et non la réalité augmentée.

En savoir plus ? http://hitek.fr/actualite/application-race-yourself-google-glass_1593

Automakers Build Showroom in an App – NYTimes.com – (Owned Media)

Automakers Build Showroom in an App – NYTimes.com.

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VENICE BEACH, Calif. — Automakers trying to reach young buyers face a conundrum: How do they sell a car to people who stay away from a showroom?

Jonathan Alcorn for The New York Times

Morris May, founder of Specular Theory, displays an augmented reality car model on an iPad.

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“They won’t come into the stores to educate themselves,” said Peter Chung, general manager of Magic Toyota and Scion in Edmonds, Wash. “They’ll do that online.”

More than half of the younger buyers surveyed by AutoTrader.com, a car-buying site, said they wanted to avoid interacting with dealership sales representatives.

In response, automakers like Cadillac and Toyota are starting to embrace technology that tries to take the showroom to the buyer. Known as augmented reality, it embeds images and videos in a picture on the user’s smartphone or tablet. The result is a far more detailed view of the image, often in three dimensions with added layers of information.

For example, when Cadillac introduced the ATS last year, it created a campaign in cities across the country that allowed observers to point an iPad at a chalk mural and watch the car drive through scenes like China’s mountainous Guoliang Tunnel and Monaco’s Grand Prix circuit. The goal was to grab the attention of potential buyers, especially younger ones, who would not normally think of Cadillac when researching new cars.

Later, Cadillac added the technology to its print advertising, pointing readers to download the brand’s smartphone application to view a three-dimensional model of the car. The app allows users to zoom in on the car and turn it 360 degrees by swiping their finger across the screen.

“It’s obviously different than going to a dealership, but at least it’s enough to engage with the vehicle in an environment where they’re comfortable,” said Arianna Kughn, Cadillac’s social media manager.

Audi has used the technology in its brochures and instruction manuals, while Toyota added it to a campaign with the computer-generated pop star Hatsune Miku to interest a younger audience in its 2012 Corolla and to increase the number of downloads of the automaker’s shopping app.

Other businesses are seeing an opportunity as well. Metaio, a German software company with an office in San Francisco, has worked on projects for Audi, Volkswagen and Toyota.

Specular Theory, based here in Venice Beach, is using Hollywood production techniques to create renderings that allow users to open the doors of a car that is not really there, peer inside and roam around, or take a test drive, merely by running their fingers over a phone or tablet screen.

Its founder, Morris May, is applying the expertise he developed over 20 years as a graphic designer on movies like “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” and “Spider-Man 2” to redefine the way people view cars in the showroom, online and through mobile devices.

“We’re changing the way people experience cars,” Mr. May said, as he used his finger to open the car door of the virtual model displayed on his iPad, revealing the interior of the car, including the dashboard, steering wheel and texture of the seats.

Augmented reality to the uninitiated may seem like a bizarre sci-fi plot device but is actually accessible to anyone with a smartphone or tablet. Mr. May turned on his iPad and pointed the camera at a piece of paper that looked like a camouflage print, which concealed the code for what is called a target image. He trained the lens on the image and a three-dimensional car appeared on the tablet screen.

The technology offers cost savings to automakers. Traditionally, they spend millions when marketing a new model, on photo shoots or building a “cookie-cutter configurator” that changes the car’s colors or features on a Web site, Mr. May says.

When a new model is introduced, that work is scrapped, and the production team, which includes photographers, Web developers and media buyers, starts anew.

As an alternative, Specular Theory uses an automaker’s computer-aided design data to create material that is consistent across Web browsers, phone and tablet screens and showroom floors, where dealers can project and modify life-size, three-dimensional car models.

When an automaker makes a minor change to, say, the tailpipe of next year’s model, Specular Theory can eliminate the time and money spent creating a new campaign by tweaking data from the marketing materials.

Mr. May’s model uses the weight of the car and the tension of the springs to calculate how it drives, controlling the car with a joystick.

Specular Theory, which started six months ago, is still in its infancy but has landed Autodesk, which makes three-dimensional design software for a variety of industries, as a client.

<nyt_text>

he automakers’ move mirrors a trend across the retail industry, as smartphones become widely available and augmented reality evolves to a sales tool from a novelty, said Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA, a retail design and brand strategy firm based in Southfield, Mich.

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“We’re seeing some major moves from retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom,” Mr. Nisch said. “In the next year or 18 months, we’ll see a lot of momentum” in augmented reality used in marketing.

At the root of the interest among automakers is the wish to reach young buyers, who spend a lot of time looking at images of cars online, said Stephen Gandee, vice president for mobile and emerging technologies at Edmunds.com, a car-buying site. Much of the research in buying a car is done online today, and not just among young buyers. But automakers and dealers want to create a deeper connection.

“The emotional side of shopping — you can’t beat pictures,” said Mr. Gandee, who is helping oversee the redesign of Edmunds.com’s Web site to try to capture more of the emotional and visual appeal of the car-buying experience. He said the site expected to have its own augmented reality prototype by next year.

Dealers are trying to change the way they communicate with a generation of car buyers who prize information and speed over the personal connection dealerships offer.

Many younger buyers no longer even test-drive a car before buying it, said Mr. Chung, the general manager of Magic Toyota and Scion. Instead, they read reviews and add features to their vehicle online before going to the dealership with the exact model and price they expect shown on their smartphone.

That is one reason Mr. Chung and other car dealers expect augmented reality to serve as a powerful selling tool in place of a sales associate.

“The consumer is no longer coming in and looking at 10 colors,” Mr. Chung said. “They’ve seen all 10 colors online and know what they want.”

Place IKEA furniture in your home with augmented reality

The 2014 IKEA catalogue gives you the ability to place virtual furniture in your own home with the help of augmented reality. Unlock the feature by scanning selected pages in the 2014 printed IKEA catalogue with the IKEA catalogue application (available for iOS and Android) or by browsing the pages in the digital 2014 IKEA catalogue on your smartphone or tablet. Then simply place the printed IKEA catalogue where you want to put the furniture in your room, choose a product from a selection of the IKEA range and see how it will look in your home!