Welcome to RenderThat’s weekly roundup of the tech stories you need to know. This week, Windows revealed ambitions to become the go-to platform for mixed reality. Instagram photos are getting a whole lot fancier thanks to a new app that turns user’s pictures into a VR gallery. Occipital has developed full-room AR sensors and scanning technology for regular mobile devices. And HTC—a company that has already invested millions in VR startups– created its own internal startup to develop high-quality VR games for the HTC Vive headset. Want to know more about what happened in this week’s tech news? Read on to find out.
Ever thought your Instagram photos were museum gallery worthy? Well, Instamuseum, a 3D-model platform by Sketchfab lets you turn up to 12 of your perfectly filtered Instagram snapshots into a VR photo gallery. All you have to do is enter your friend’s Instagram usernames to share the link to your gallery, which is hosted on Sketchfab’s site and can be explored using a VR viewer like Google Cardboard.
“[…I]t’s almost like being in a real location in which the spotlight is on whichever Instagram feed you’ve selected.”
As different companies and platforms look to stake their claim in the mixed reality world, Windows is trying to establishing itself as the best choice for users, with Hololens being representative of this effort. Window’s Holographic allows people to interact with both AR and VR, separately and together. For example, the Hololens headset lets people immerse themselves in a mixed reality experience where another user with a separate VR headset can join the experience, while another person can be “holographically present.”
“Positioning Windows 10 as the only place where one can truly expect to take advantage of the full gamut of reality-mixing is a prescient move as well; the VR platform wars are sure to be confusing and divisive, but Microsoft intends to make sure they take place on Windows.”
Augmented reality has many real-world applications that the average person would find useful, if only there was any easy way to apply AR to their everyday lives and environments. This is why Occipital is building iPad and mobile device accessories, like the Structure sensor, that can 3D scan and map environments and full-rooms, so users can do things like virtually shop for furniture and see how to lay it out in their room before buying. The sensor accessory company recently bought Replica Labs, which is made up of a team researchers who are developing a way to turn smartphones into 3D scanners without additional sensors.
“The fit here is in the overlap. […] You’ll scan a room once with Occipital’s sensor to get the granular depth data, then others — those without the $400 sensor — will be able to navigate that room in depth-mapped 3D and do augmented reality stuff as if they, too, had a sensor attached.”
Whether a company has developed a VR headset or helmet, when launching a VR product, having compelling content to go with it is ideal for a successful launch that attracts large amounts of consumers. That’s why HTC selected a group of employees, created an internal VR startup called, Fantahorn, and gave them the task of creating the next great VR game for their company’s headset, Vive. The startup has already produced one WWII military game called Front Defense that the writer called “honestly one of the best VR experiences I’ve had.”
“Fantahorn has 15 employees and is entirely bankrolled by HTC. The team is made of industry veterans with more than 10 years of games design and engineering experience […].”
There’s an upcoming release that people waiting for Daydream-compatible phones even more excited; YouTube is releasing a VR app for its large collection of VR videos. In addition to Jump VR camera user generated videos, the company will be working with other entities such as Buzzfeed and the NBA to create various genres of VR content. The idea is to provide viewers with visual storytelling in different virtual environments.
“Daydream is designed for navigation within VR and thus this version of YouTube had to be designed from the ground up. […] It will apparently be full-featured and offer users access to playlists, voice search and discovery.”