11 January 2019, issue 194

The Mystery of Hamster Dance

Headline of the Week: VR in healthcare is surpassing the hype. Anyone surprised?
Deep Dive: Nissan wants to give you fake AR friends. And also help you drive, I guess.
Hardware & Ecosystem: NReal AR glasses look unreal. They probably are.
New Releases: Microsoft is bringing one-click shopping to... life?
The Light Side: Keanu Reeves doing AR kung fu is just the greatest thing ever.

Headline of the Week

Forget the Hype: In Healthcare, VR is Making a Difference

"We don’t yet know the full treatment capabilities of VR. As with any medicine or treatment, it will continue to be refined as we discover more. But, over the next year, this technology will emerge from the cloak of clinical studies to begin reaching those in need. According to one report, the global VR healthcare market is set to grow by by 54.5 per cent annually between now and 2023."

VR is already being used to help cancer patients, ease the pain of those suffering from depression, and alleviate the agony of burn victims. While it will certainly continue to develop and grow over time, the biggest hurdle right now is just getting the technology into the hands of the average patient.

Deep Dive

AR Concept Assists Drivers in Detecting Unseen Obstacles

"The concept system would merge on-board sensor data with information aggregated from Nissan's AR cloud in order to map a virtual environment around the car. In the near term, Nissan envisions the system as an assistant to drivers, with I2V eventually enabling passengers to visualize a self-driving car's performance in real time. ...Nissan is also looking to bring elements of virtual social interaction to the experience. As envisioned, the I2V system would connect drivers to friends and family, who would appear as avatars in passenger seats. Moreover, drivers could enlist local guides, who would recommend destinations for visitors in unfamiliar territory. "

A system that can sense obstacles and alert the driver is pretty standard. It gets weird later on, when they dive into a virtual social interaction system, which would... I don't know, allow you to road trip in different places at the same time? Why would you want this? It could be projecting into a future where the car is entirely autonomous, but then why show the driver at the wheel, groping his anime girlfriend? Why not show him fully reclined... unfortunately probably still groping his anime girlfriend. 

Hardware & Ecosystem

Nreal Launches 'Light' Mixed Reality Glasses, Raises $15M

"When it comes to mixed reality (MR) glasses, Microsoft's Holo Lens and Magic Leap One lead the way, but their bulky design and aesthetics means you can't wear them everywhere. Enter Nreal, a company founded by a former Magic Leap engineer, which has just unveiled the Light mixed reality glasses that look a lot like regular sunglasses and are also considerably lighter than conventional mixed reality glasses. Nreal has also raised $15 million in funding."

Who knows if we'll actually see the results, but the prototype does look damn nice. They're slimmer than Snap's Spectacles, with a 52 degree FOV (Hololens is 35, for those keeping track). a tethering cable to a small external computing pack, and a $1000 price tag. Except them in Q2 or 3 of this year.

New Releases

One-Click Shopping For The Real World

"In a recent patent filing, Microsoft detailed a method to add shopping buttons into virtual reality so shoppers can directly place orders while wearing headsets. In short, Microsoft wants the users to use Mixed Reality headsets to enhance their shopping experience. Of course, no one will buy headsets just for shopping but it sure will help shoppers interact better with websites and place orders easily."

So few people own Hololens that applications like this still feel very silly. Also, the headset is bulky and uncomfortable. I'm sure as shorts not wearing it while I wander around Target trying on floppy hats while drinking from a box of wine.

The Light Side

Keanu Reeves Does AR Kung Fu in New Sci-Fi Film That Uses HoloLens-Style Device to Make Humans Immortal

"Without getting too deep into the weeds about the ridiculous things that happen in the film, in short, the AR device that neuroscientist Reeves uses allows him to peer into a person's brain and edit their memories. Of course, to make this happen, the person must first have a massive needle inserted through their eye into their brain to record their brain pattern."

The headset really does look amazingly like a HoloLens, though the screen is larger, which might help improve the FOV on actual AR devices! Plus, Keanu Reeves just can't do wrong any more, can he?