Consumer-grade virtual reality (and, to a lesser extent, augmented reality) is only a few years old, but it’s already an extremely fragmented market. Wikipedia lists almost 30 distinct VR headsets released by dozens of hardware makers since 2015. Creating a game that works seamlessly with all of these headsets (and their various runtime environments) can be a headache even for the biggest studios. OpenXR is out to change all that. With Monday’s release of the OpenXR provisional specification, Khronos’ open-source working group wants to create a world where developers can code their VR/AR experience for a single API, with the confidence that the resulting application will work on any OpenXR-compliant headset. "By accessing a common set of objects and functions corresponding to application life cycle, rendering, tracking, frame timing, and input, which are frustratingly different across existing vendor-specific APIs, software developers can run their applications across … [Read more...] about How OpenXR could glue together virtual reality’s fragmenting market
Virtual reality and augmented reality
The story of once-hyped augmented reality (AR) startup Blippar has come to an end. The London-based company announced yesterday that it had started insolvency procedures, a process that means all employees will be let go and, likely, services terminated. Back in September, Blippar raised $37 million as it sought more runway to reach profitability by focusing on the B2B sphere. But it transpires that Blippar also went in search of “an additional small amount of funding” which was blocked by one of its shareholders. “Regrettably, one shareholder voted against the additional funding, effectively blocking the investment even if they were not asked to participate in any further financing of the business, and despite our extensive efforts to reach a successful resolution.” So how did Blippar, an early trailblazer for the advancement of AR in the consumer realm, end up here? Here’s a quick look at some of the turns the company has taken since its inception. … [Read more...] about The rise and fall of augmented reality ‘unicorn’ Blippar
I was wearing a VR headset, standing in the middle of a dark, gothic take on A Christmas Carol. A grisly Jacob Marley asked me what I missed most about my childhood, and I told him I missed the hope and optimism of youth, when it seemed like anything was possible. When the Spirit of Christmas Past subsequently visited me, he pointed out a pair of ghostly, shadowy children chasing each other a few feet away. The spirit leaned in close. “Look at them,” he whispered, “so full of hope and potential.” It’s an easy trick, drawing a response out of an audience member and using that response to personalize their experience. But it worked — my own words coming back to haunt me drove home the sad longing in that scene and made it specific to my own thoughts. As the experience moved toward its conclusion, I wound up in a cemetery with the Spirit of Christmas-Yet-To-Come. My brain knew that the thin, slightly pixelated figure in a shadowy cloak was just a … [Read more...] about Chained mixes virtual reality and live actors to tell a dark Christmas tale
Tracking steps, measuring heart rate, counting calories, monitoring sleep: wearables have become part of everyday life for a surprisingly large portion of the UK. According to researcher YouGov, nearly one in five of us own a wearable, and one in 10 actively use them. So could the interest in keeping fit that wearables have inspired, and the data they collect, be something the NHS can use to its advantage?Other private healthcare providers around the world have started making use of consumer wearables. In the US, for example, insurer Aetna has subsidised the cost of Apple Watches for customers to "improve healthy outcomes", while in the UK private health insurer Vitality subsidises them for people undertaking a certain amount of exercise. Other health and wellness companies offer reward points or even cash to members who hit certain healthy milestones, such as regular step counts or gym visits.The idea behind such schemes is that prevention is better than cure: it might cost a few … [Read more...] about Smart watches, fitness trackers and the NHS: Are wearables just what the doctor ordered?
It was a very public way to die. Public, that is, to the few thousand people on The Well. On March 25, 1995, Tom Mandel sat down at his computer and wrote: It's bad luck to say goodbye before it's time to do so and there's no point in embracing death before one's time, but I thought maybe I'd sneak in a topic, not too maudlin I hope, in which I could slowly say goodbye to my friends here, curse my enemies one more time and otherwise wave a bit at the rest of you until it's just not time to do so any more. Mandel might have felt he owed a heartfelt goodbye to all the people he had wrangled with for nearly a decade. Perhaps he wanted to make amends with the many who considered him arrogant and obstinate; as one of The Well's most controversial figures, he had excited a great deal of scorn as well as admiration. But in truth, Tom Mandel was only doing what he had done nearly every day, and sometimes several times a day, for years: dialing in to a community where he had found a home … [Read more...] about The Epic Saga of The Well