02 November 2018, issue 184

It's Basically Wearable Magic

Headline of the Week: Wearable devices make doctors feel like kids in a candy store.
Deep Dive: The world is your desktop and your phone is the window into it.
Hardware & Ecosystem: Eye tracking is back thanks to AR glasses.
New Releases: It's an escape room but you have the whole city to play in.
Worth a Thousand Words: We finally didn't link to the Weather Channel!
The Light Side: Bugs, bugs, bugs, just in time for Hallowe'en.

Headline of the Week

Wearable Devices Will Disrupt the Surgical Landscape

“I felt like a kid in a candy store or a nerd in an electronic store while strolling through the exhibit hall at NASS,” he wrote in a recent editorial. Yoon spoke about his journey into augmented reality through his interest in wearable computing devices, and their surgical application in spinal navigation. He noted that current technology used in spine navigation remains screen-based. Yoon described a drawback of this technology: “If you are placing a pedicle screw, you [spine surgeons] get the perfect starting point anatomically, but you take your eyes off to look at the screen and the instrument slips.”

There's a deep divide between technology and access that continues to be a problem across industries. I remember going to a blood donor clinic and mentioning a device that had been invented a few years ago that let nurses see your veins so they could draw blood more easily. I was curious why something like that wasn't in use - but the nurse had never heard of it. Creating the technology isn't the only important step.

Deep Dive

Magic UX Totally Reinvents How We Use Phones

"Magic UX ... leverages our biological talent for handling objects in physical space. It allows you to place your apps in real space around you using augmented reality."

Keeping in mind that this is only a concept video, I'm not sure whether it would be useful outside of the "wow fun!" factor. Granted tabs and opening things in new windows has never worked as well on phones as it does on computers, but a physical dimension means that you need space to move around. Imagine being on a crowded bus and not being able to get to your email because you tossed it over your shoulder when you were in a wheely chair at work and now your face is practically pressed into the armpit of that guy with BO because you're trying to find the tab with the shoes you were browsing for at lunch.... Urk.

Hardware & Ecosystem

Eye-Tracking Glasses Provide a New Vision For AR

“Yeah! Well of course we’re working on it,” Facebook’s  head of augmented reality Ficus Kirkpatrick told me when I asked him at TechCrunch’s AR/VR event in LA if Facebook was building AR glasses. “We are building hardware products. We’re going forward on this . . . We want to see those glasses come into reality, and I think we want to play our part in helping to bring them there.”

The glasses look like thick-rimmed black sunglasses (or like 3D glasses with the lenses popped out), but they're still 5-7 years out, which is basically a million years in the tech world. Who knows what AR will look like seven years from now!

New Releases

New Interactive Augmented Reality Game Hits Vancouver 

"A Vancouver company has launched a new interactive computer game that exercises both your mind and your body. It’s called Operation Mindfall by ClueCity - an augmented reality spy game that takes you on an outdoor adventure. Armed with an iPad and a box full of cool gadgets, groups of two to six players have two hours to “save the world”."

Living in Vancouver, I don't often get the chance to rub people's noses in the fact that our city has something cool that theirs doesn't, so I have to take the opportunity now! It's like a combination of escape room and scavenger hunt, with an added augmented reality flair. I'll let you know if I can convince our People X Team to try it out!

Worth a Thousand Words

She-Ra Teaser Website is a VR Experience

Okay, I know you're all very disappointed that we aren't sharing yet another augmented reality video from the Weather Channel, but I guarantee you that this is pretty dang cool. The visuals are gorgeous and the 360 element is super fun. I haven't tried it through a viewer yet but I imagine the experience really sets you in the centre of this big empty room... Okay, that's not that impressive. But it's still fun.

The Light Side

New York Times Uses AR Bugs to Scare & Educate

"In a special Halloween edition of The New York Times, readers are led to the "Monsters That Live On You" feature, which presents a series of real life parasites and pests that are scarier up-close than anything that Stephen King could dream up, via a QR code in the print edition of The New York Times."

It includes the usual horrifying creepy crawlies, but it also includes some cuter bugs like tardigrades so that your dreams won't be entirely haunted. Have fun!