Tag Archives: Augmented Reality

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite AR Game now available in Australia and New Zealand

Augmented Reality company Niantic has announced the beta launch of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in Australia and New Zealand. In development since 2017, this new AR game offers gameplay similar to Niantic’s other games Pokémon GO and Ingress. According to the developer:

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite combines content and characters you know and love from both the original Harry Potter series and the Fantastic Beasts films in a unique Wizarding World experience. It’s up to you to ready your wand, prepare your potions, brush up your spells and help prevent The Calamity from exposing the secrets of the wizarding world.

As you step outside and explore the world, the Map will reveal Traces of magic, highlighting the location of magical Foundables. While these Traces can be found all around you, certain Foundables may be more likely to appear at various types of real-world locations including parks, banks, municipal buildings, college campuses, libraries, monuments, zoos, art galleries, and more. Cast a variety of spells to overcome the Confoundable magic, keep the magical Foundables safe, and send them back to the wizarding world. By returning Foundables, you’ll earn unique rewards that can be tracked in the game Registry.

More information and signups are available at the website.



Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.


Virtual Reality Pioneer Jaunt Gives Up on VR

Let’s talk about this.

In a blog post released on Monday, cinematic VR pioneer Jaunt (formerly JauntVR) announced they are laying off a significant portion of staff and re-focusing on Augmented Reality (AR). They will be “winding down a number of VR products and content services in the coming weeks.”

The post, entitled “The Future of Jaunt is AR,” provides the company’s rationale for making this change:

Today we announced that Jaunt will be focusing efforts on further developing technologies that allow for the scaled creation of AR content. This decision is driven by the exciting initial customer response to our recent advancements in volumetric XR technology and the experience and capabilities of our world-class team.

We believe these changes will allow us to concentrate on driving innovation and value in products that will continue to be at the forefront of the immersive industry and drive the highest long-term company value. Jaunt will continue to build innovative software utilizing our strong engineering team in San Mateo and our new Chicago-based engineering colleagues who joined us as part of our recent acquisition of the Personify Teleporter technology.

This is not only disappointing, but ultimately misguided. Unfortunately, in the early days of 360 video, Jaunt lost traction to competitor NextVR, who established key partnerships with sports leagues and entertainment companies to produce live content in virtual reality. Jaunt’s professional 360 camera (the Jaunt One) was too expensive and unwieldy to be practical for use in the field. Consumer 360 cameras and “prosumer” models like the Insta360 Pro quickly established themselves as equally capable for the job at hand.

Understandably, Jaunt needs to stay in business and is looking to stay relevant by pivoting to AR (which currently appears to be “hotter” than VR). But abandoning VR completely sends an unfortunate message to the immersive media community that VR is no longer relevant. Location based VR continues to develop rapidly on a global basis. These venues offer tremendous opportunities for licensing partnerships with major media companies and other content providers.

VR video continues to offer enormous potential for media and entertainment, especially as consumer headsets such as the Oculus Go become more affordable and available. NextVR has just announced their new schedule of NBA basketball games for 2018-19, including availability in Oculus Venues (the shared VR video application for Oculus headsets).

As one of the early pioneers of “Cinematic VR” (a term they coined), Jaunt made many important contributions during the new renaissance of virtual reality. It’s too bad they didn’t hang on for the long haul.


Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.


USA Network Releases Mobile AR App for “The Purge”

Released as a companion mobile game for their new horror TV series, The Purge augmented reality (AR) app is now available for Apple and Android devices.

The Purge AR app allows you to “scan your space with your phone and then add defenses to make your room Purge-worthy (think: barbed wire and bear traps).” Once your room is protected, you will face increasingly difficult stages and earn better objects to safeguard your environment.

Based on the hit movie franchise from Blumhouse Productions, The Purge revolves around a 12-hour period when all crime, including murder, is legal. Set in an altered America ruled by a totalitarian political party, the series follows several seemingly unrelated characters living in a small city. As the clock winds down, each character is forced to reckon with their past as they discover how far they will go to survive the night. New episodes air every Tuesday night on USA at 10/9c!

More information and download links are available at USA’s website.


Spacial Reality Exhibit Explores the Future of XR

The sp[a]ce art gallery in Pasadena, CA will host “Spatial Reality: Artists Explore the Future of XR,” from October 12th to 28th.

Curated by Jesse Damiani, the exhibit will feature works by artists exploring VR, AR, and MR including Wesley AllsbrookBill BarminskiCan BüyükberberNancy Baker CahillIsaac “Cabbibo” CohenJorge R. GutierrezDrue KataokaKevin MackSteve Teeps, Michael Scroggins and more.

According to Damiani:

XR—a spectrum of ‘extended’ reality that includes virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)—three-dimensionalizes the virtual world. After a half-century of computing in 2D, we are suddenly adding in the full expression of our bodies and our understanding of space.

The advent of mainstream immersive technologies is the single greatest amplification of human capability since the discovery of fire, a paradigm shift so massive we’ve only just begun to taste its impact. Marshall McLuhan famously claimed that “the medium is the message”—that the “message” inherent in any technology is the change of pace or pattern it introduces into human reality.

Further information is available at https://space.ayzenberg.com/


New York Times to offer Mixed Reality Content for Magic Leap One

In a press release on August 8, 2018, the New York Times announced that its immersive journalism content will be available for the “Magic Leap One Creator Edition” mixed reality headset:

The Times’s first offering for “Magic Leap One Creator Edition” is a mixed reality (MR) version of its immersive report inviting readers to explore the damage caused by the Fuego volcano eruption in the Guatemalan village of San Miguel Los Lotes. Through MR and accessible via Helio, Magic Leap’s web browser for 3D and spatial web experiences, The Times is able to transport a life-sized piece of the scene to readers, conveying the scale of this natural disaster in a visceral way, and allowing users to examine it as if they were there.

The New York Times continues to explore the latest technology in immersive media. In previous projects, they established themselves as early adopters of virtual reality, 360-degree video, and augmented reality. Most notably in November 2015, the Times distributed over a million cardboard VR headsets to home subscribers in conjunction with the launch of their 360-video “NYT VR” app.

Journalism offers unlimited opportunities to benefit from the features of immersive technology. As more VR, AR, and MR devices become available and affordable, the content produced by news organizations like the New York Times will continue to reach increasing numbers of consumers. However, producing content that’s compelling and accessible is only part of the equation. It’s critical to raise awareness and promote immersive media to the public at large, to ensure that talented journalists and technologists (like those at the Times) can continue to create these amazing experiences.


Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.

BREAKING NEWS: Magic Leap One AR Headset Now Available for $2,295

From Magic Leap’s announcement today (Aug. 8th, 2018):

Calling all developers, creators and explorers – Magic Leap One Creator Edition is now available. Brace yourself because a universe of creative possibilities is expanding right in front of you.

Join us on a mind-expanding journey into the outer reaches of human creativity. Magic Leap One Creator Edition is a spatial computing system that brings digital content to life here in the real world with us. Its unique design and technology lets in natural light waves together with softly layered synthetic lightfields, enabling creators to build unbelievably believable interactive experiences and create worlds within our world. And this is just the beginning.


Virtual Reality: Dead or Alive?

For the past few weeks, various articles have been published claiming that virtual reality is dead, dying, or on life support. At the same time, other reports indicate that VR is alive and well, doing much better than ever before.

Well, which is it? 

No matter how you look at it, virtual reality needs more time to achieve mainstream adoption. Although VR seems to have emerged from the “trough of disillusionment,” it remains a niche technology mainly for enthusiasts. I believe there are several reasons for this:

  1. Cost
  2. Ease of use
  3. Customer awareness

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a huge proponent of VR. In fact, I believe VR will play an important role in the future of media. Even today, much progress has been made to create quality programming in VR. Producers of news, sports, film, and TV programming continue to deliver compelling content for all VR platforms.

But why isn’t everyone on board yet? Why hasn’t VR replaced our smartphones, or at least achieved market penetration on a comparable level?

The “evidence”

Let’s dive into some of the recent articles proclaiming VR’s demise. This all started on July 19th, with an article in Digital TrendsVR is in a tailspin, and the sales numbers prove it. Referencing VR device sales data at Amazon, the article shows a decline in sales of four major VR headsets (PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Oculus Go.) According to the article, “Those sale ranks figures make it clear all the major VR headsets are in a tailspin, with no signs they’ll pull out of it.”

On the opposite side, we have an article at Futurism claiming that VR has reached a “tipping point.” The article remains hopeful that VR’s increased popularity is just around the corner. We are also starting to see more implementations of location-based VR, including VR at airports. An article in Connected Thinking claims that consumer VR revenue is headed to $9 Billion.

HTC responded to the Digital Trends article with their own defense: Think VR is dying? It’s just getting started. They claim that VR tech continues to improve, businesses are investing in it (especially location-based entertainment and training), and they are ramping up on production of more headsets.

The “reality”

The best way to look at the state of VR is to understand and accept that these things take time. Enthusiasts are excited and impatient for mainstream adoption, while detractors are quick to point fingers and disregard the steady progress that VR has already achieved, and continues to achieve.

There is also an unnecessary rivalry between complementary technologies, VR and AR (augmented reality). For the past few years, those in the AR camp have claimed that their tech has outpaced VR and is already the “winner.” Meanwhile, information has leaked about Magic Leap’s “rather small” field of view, causing major disappointment among AR fans.

Virtual reality is here to stay. Like any new technology, we need to be patient while the many talented engineers, developers, and artists continue to devote their energy and passion to creating something truly magical.


Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.


Nickelodeon announces new VR / AR animated series

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nickelodeon is developing a new animated series called Meet the Voxels, which will include experiences designed for VR and AR.

The new series was conceived by Chris Young, Senior VP of Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab (an R&D division focused on emerging platforms and new technology).

Set in the video game world, Meet the Voxels will follow a family of video game characters. At this stage, the Voxels are: Hunter, the 13-year-old star of a laser-tag video game; Maude, a 16-year-old girl fighting to pop as many bubbles as she can; their younger brother Cody, who has not found his video game calling yet; Mom, a popular street fighter in her game; and Dad, a 1990s-era classic console game character who quit the business years ago.

This is a promising development for children’s programming on XR platforms. Nickelodeon has already delivered content for VR and AR, and appears committed to continue those efforts.

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