All posts in “Mixed Reality”

Samsung’s HMD Odyssey+ Mixed Reality headset is on sale for $200 off

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Image: amazon

TL;DR: This lightweight, immersive Samsung mixed reality headset is on sale for just $299 on Amazon, and it comes with two wireless controllers.


Want to win Father’s Day without making your bank account sad? We’ve got you covered.

If you head over to Amazon right now, you can get a new Samsung HMD Odyssey+ Windows Mixed Reality headset for your dad on sale for less than $300. (The original Samsung Odyssey is also on sale FWIW, though the sale price isn’t as good.)

This is the Odyssey+’s lowest price ever on Amazon, and — just for comparison’s sake — a fraction of what you’d pay for one of those popular Oculus Rift headsets. 

Now, whether you’re *actually* hunting for a rad Father’s Day gift or just looking for a cool new toy to mess around with (because we’ve all been there), this is the kind of deal you almost can’t afford to miss; premium virtual and augmented reality equipment is rarely so affordable.

But enough money talk — let’s take a closer look at this bad boy.

Setup for the Odyssey+ involves little more than plugging the headset into a compatible PC running Windows 10. Once it’s up and running, you’ll simply pop it on your head to begin taking in the lush details of its 3K AMOLED display. Boasting a wide 110-degree angle and anti-Screen Door Effect technology, this display makes for an immersive user experience with crystal-clear visuals. 

Sound-wise, the Odyssey+ totally delivers: Its built-in headphones come equipped with AKG 360-degree Spatial Sound for dynamic yet natural audio, and you can use the built-in microphone to either chat with your teammates or the Cortana virtual assistant. Better yet, the headphones are super comfy and lightweight, so you can wear them for hours while embarking on exciting VR/AR adventures. 

The Samsung HMD Odyssey+ Windows Mixed Reality headset typically retails for $499.99, but you can snag one (plus two wireless controllers) on Amazon for just $299 — a 40% savings. 

Say hello to Microsoft’s new $3,500 HoloLens with twice the field of view

Microsoft unveiled the latest version of its HoloLens ‘mixed reality’ headset at MWC Barcelona today. The new HoloLens 2 features a significantly larger field of view, higher resolution and a device that’s more comfortable to wear. Indeed, Microsoft says the device is three times as comfortable to wear (though it’s unclear how Microsoft measured this).

Later this year, HoloLens 2 will be available in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand for $3,500.

One of the knocks against the original HoloLens was its limited field of view. When whatever you wanted to look at was small and straight ahead of you, the effect was striking. But when you moved your head a little bit or looked at a larger object, it suddenly felt like you were looking through a stamp-sized screen. HoloLens 2 features a field of view that’s twice as large as the original.

“Kinect was the first intelligent device to enter our homes,” HoloLens chief Alex Kipman said in today’s keynote, looking back the the device’s history. “It drove us to create Microsoft HoloLens. […] Over the last few years, individual developers, large enterprises, brand new startup have been dreaming up beautiful things, helpful things.”

The HoloLens was always just as much about the software as the hardware, though. For HoloLens, Microsoft developed a special version of Windows, together with a new way of interacting with the AR objects through gestures like air tap and bloom. In this new version, the interaction is far more natural and lets you tap objects. The device also tracks your gaze more accurately to allow the software to adjust to where you are looking.

“HoloLens 2 adapts to you,” Kipman stressed. “HoloLens 2 evolves the interaction model by significantly advancing how people engage with holograms.”

In its demos, the company clearly emphasized how much faster and fluid the interaction with HoloLens applications becomes when you can use slides, for example, by simply grabbing the slider and moving it, or by tapping on a button with either a finger or two or with your full hand. Microsoft event built a virtual piano that you can play with ten fingers to show off how well the HoloLens can track movement. The company calls this ‘instinctual interaction.’

Microsoft first unveiled the HoloLens concept at a surprise event on its Redmond campus back in 2015. After a limited, invite-only release that started days after the end of MWC 2016, the device went on sale to everybody in August  2016. Four years is a long time between hardware releases, but the company clearly wanted to seed the market and give developer a chance to build the first set of HoloLens applications on a stable platform.

To support developers, Microsoft is also launching a number of Azure services for HoloLens today. These include spatial anchors and remote rendering to help developers stream high-polygon content to HoloLens.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft never positioned the device as consumer hardware. I may have shown off the occasional game, but its focus was always on business applications, with a bit of educational applications thrown in, too. That trend continued today. Microsoft showed off the ability to have multiple people collaborate around a single hologram, for example. That’s not new, of course, but goes to show how Microsoft is positioning this technology.

For these enterprises, Microsoft will also offer the ability to customize the device.

“When you change the way you see the world, you change the world you see,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, repeating a line from the company’s first HoloLens announcement four years ago. He noted that he believes that connecting the physical world with the virtual world will transform the way we will work.

Microsoft bringing Dynamics 365 mixed reality solutions to smartphones

Last year Microsoft introduced several mixed reality business solutions under the Dynamics 365 enterprise product umbrella. Today, the company announced it would be moving these to smartphones in the spring, starting with previews.

The company announced Remote Assist on HoloLens last year. This tool allows a technician working onsite to show a remote expert what they are seeing. The expert can then walk the less experienced employee through the repair. This is great for those companies that have equipped their workforce with HoloLens for hands-free instruction, but not every company can afford the new equipment.

Starting in the spring, Microsoft is going to help with that by introducing Remote Assist for Android phones. Just about everyone has a phone with them, and those with Android devices will be able to take advantage of Remote Assist capabilities without investing in HoloLens. The company is also updating Remote Assist to include mobile annotations, group calling, deeper integration with Dynamics 365 for Field Service along with improved accessibility features on the HoloLens app.

IPhone users shouldn’t feel left out though because the company announced a preview of Dynamics 365 Product Visualize for iPhone. This tool enables users to work with a customer to visualize what a customized product will look like as they work with them. Think about a furniture seller working with a customer in their homes to customize the color, fabrics and design in place in the room where they will place the furniture, or a car dealer offering different options such as color and wheel styles. Once a customer agrees to a configuration, the data gets saved to Dynamics 365 and shared in Microsoft Teams for greater collaboration across a group of employees working with a customer on a project.

Both of these features are part of the Dynamics 365 spring release and are going to be available in preview starting in April. They are part of a broader release that includes a variety of new artificial intelligence features such as customer service bots and a unified view of customer data across the Dynamics 365 family of products.

Medivis has launched its augmented reality platform for surgical planning

After two years of development, Medivis, a New York-based company developing augmented reality data integration and visualization tools for surgeons, is bringing its first product to market.

The company was founded by Osamah Choudhry and Christopher Morley who met as senior residents at NYU Medical Center.

Initially a side-project, the two residents roped in some engineers to help develop their first prototypes and after a stint in NYU’s Summer Launchpad program the two decided to launch the company.

Now, with $2.3 million in financing led by Initialized Capital and partnerships with Dell and Microsoft to supply hardware, the company is launching its first product, called SurgicalAR.

In fact, it was the launch of the HoloLens that really gave Medivis its boost, according to Morley. That technology pointed a way toward what Morley said was one of the dreams for technology in the medical industry.

“The Holy Grail is to be able to holographically render this a,” he said.

For now, Medivis is able to access patient data and represent it visually in a three dimensional model for doctors to refer to as they plan surgeries. That model is mapped back to the patient to give surgeons a plan for how best to approach an operation.

“The interface between medical imaging and surgical utility from it is really where we see a lot of innovation being possible,” says Morley.

So far, Medivis has worked with the University of Pennsylvania and New York University to bring their prototypes into a surgical setting.

The company is integrating some machine learning capabilities to be able to identify the most relevant information from patients’ medical records and diagnostics as they begin to plan the surgical process.

“What we’ve been working on over this time is developing this really disrupt 3D pipeline,” says Morley. “What we have seen is that there is a distinct lack of 3D pipelines to allow people to directly interface… very quickly try to automate the entire rendering process.”

For now, Medivis is elling a touchscreen monitor, display and a headset. The device plugs into a hospital network and extracts medical imaging to display from their servers in about 30 seconds, according to Choudhry.

“That’s where we see this immediately being useful in that pre-surgical planning stage,” Choudhry says. “The use in surgical planning and being able to extend this through surgical navigation.. Streamline the process that requires a large amount of pieces and components and setups so you only need an AR headset to localize pathology and make decisions off of that.”

Already the company has performed 15 surgeries in consultation with the company’s technology.

“When we first met Osamah and Chris, we immediately understood the magnitude of the problem they were out to solve. Medical imaging as it relates to surgical procedures has largely been neglected, leaving patients open to all sorts of complications and general safety issues,” said Eric Woersching, General Partner, Initialized Capital, in a statement. “We took one look at Medivis platform and knew they were poised to transform the operating room. Not only was their hands-free approach to visualization meeting a real need for greater surgical accuracy, but the team has the passion and expertise in the medical field to bring it all to fruition. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Medivis to the Initialized family.”

Nissan’s freaky AR concept would project friends in your car, make it look sunny outside

Nissan calls it Invisible-to-Visible, or I2V, technology, but you can call it creepy. 

The company wants to project the “invisible” virtual world onto car windshields and windows. The tech isn’t ready now. Instead, through a VR headset next week at CES in Las Vegas, Nissan will show off its concept to demonstrate what’s possible in future cars, especially self-driving vehicles. 

Using information from sensors and cameras inside and outside of the car, paired with data stored in the cloud, the I2V tech shows a “mixed reality” world: some of it is really there but some of it is augmented reality (AR).

Here’s a researcher experiencing this “metaverse”:

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The future looks … kind of bleak. Family, friends, or other characters can “appear” inside the car as a 3D digital avatar to hang with you on a lonely ride.

Can’t stand the dreary weather? The car can make it appear sunny and clear outside. At least it’s not as creepy as when China tried to prevent rain at the Olympics.

You've made it to a virtual world.

You’ve made it to a virtual world.

Image: Nissan

Sunny skies!

Sunny skies!

Image: nissan

Other applications help the driver with navigation, parking, and traffic. Projected maps can show where to avoid congested areas or what it’ll look like when you arrive. Digital directions projected on the windshield show you where to turn and can find you a parking spot in a garage. 

You can even project a finish line to feel like a racer once you make it to your destination. Although, when you speed through that light in the real world, good luck explaining you were simply trying to make it over the finish line that no one else can see. 

Another freaky concept? Interior cameras monitoring the real people inside the vehicle. Ideally, it would sense when you need a coffee break or are lost and need directions, but there are definitely privacy issues. 

AR on windshields, through dashcams, in vehicles or even motorcycle helmets isn’t new — heads-up displays (HUDs) are becoming a common feature, especially to show simple navigation suggestions and current speed in front of drivers’ eyes.  

Throughout the tech show in Vegas, auto companies and parts suppliers will show off how well mixed reality can work with driving — especially if the car is driving itself.

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