Market Reality: Microsoft’s Consumer Smartglasses, Apple Invests in Corning & Niantic Launches Lightship Beta

Sure, Microsoft has mostly marketed its HoloLens headsets towards enterprises and developers, but we learned this week that, like every other tech giant, the company is working on a consumer-grade AR wearable. Speaking of consumer smartglasses, Apple made another strategic investment this week that has implications for Apple’s AR future.

While Apple is putting the pieces in place for its future AR products, Niantic is making the next steps towards the future of AR apps, advancing its AR cloud platform into private beta with a new name. For AR and TV, the future may be closer than we expected, as NBCUniversal unveiled its plans for integrating AR into its programming. Finally, the future of AR advertising for mobile may lean more towards cross-platform web AR, with a new promotion involving Angry Birds and Burger King as the latest example.

Microsoft Is Developing Consumer Smartglasses…but There’s Work to Be Done

The story of the HoloLens has been a mix of work and play. But while many developers have devoted time to creating gaming and entertainment apps for the HoloLens 1, with the HoloLens 2, Microsoft has been encouraging everyone to focus more on the enterprise side of things.

But there’s apparently still hope for those looking to harness the powers of the HoloLens for mainstream consumer uses, as HoloLens co-creator Alex Kipman has just commented on the development of a consumer version.

Read further to learn more about Microsoft’s path from the HoloLens 2 to consumer smartglasses, then continue reading to see how one developer leveraged hand-tracking and occlusion in HoloLens 2 and find out about the new features coming to HoloLens

REALITY BITES: Enterprise AR company SightCall has closed a $42 million funding round led by InfraVia Capital Partners. The company will invest the capital toward research and development of its AR & AI technologies.

Apple Awards $45 Million in Funding to Corning

On Monday, Apple announced a $45 million award from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to Corning, the company supplying glass for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch products. Corning has previously received a total of $450 million from the fund over two previous awards.

Corning will apply the funding towards scaling up its manufacturing capacity as well as for research and development for new technology innovations, particularly with regards to product durability.

While Corning’s current role involves supplying precision glass for Apple’s existing products, it may play a role in future AR products as well. Continue reading to find out what Corning has to offer for AR hardware

Image by Corning/YouTube

REALITY BITES: AR headset and smartglasses makers brokering deals with enterprise customers are becoming more commonplace. But Apple supplying an enterprise customer with iPhones for employee use? That’s different. The company is providing 19,000 iPhone 12 devices to Delta so that flight attendants can use augmented reality to help them find items within airplanes.

Niantic Rebrands Real World as Lightship, Opens Private Beta for Dev Kit

Niantic first unveiled its AR cloud platform back in 2018, using it to enhance the immersive capabilities of its gaming portfolio.

Now, the company is expanding access to the system, allowing third-party developers to take advantage of next-generation augmented reality features for their mobile apps.

Read further to find out what Niantic Lightship does for mobile AR apps and how developers can leverage its AR superpowers

Image by Niantic/YouTube

REALITY BITES: Smartglasses marker Vuzix has expanded its support for video conferencing with the addition of Verizon’s Blue Jeans app to the Vuzix App Store for its M Series smartglasses. Other video conferencing apps available for Vuzix smartglasses include Zoom, Skype for Business, and Webex.

NBCUniversal Preparing to Integrate AR Shopping into TV Programming

Consumers who haven’t already delved into the interactive wonders of augmented reality are about to be pushed into the immersive waters by market forces.

In the lead up to next week’s upfronts, an annual event during which TV networks work to woo advertisers with new shows and marketing techniques for their upcoming programming schedules, NBCUniversal took the wraps off its next big AR initiative.

Continue reading to learn more about NBCUniversal’s plans for integrating AR shopping into its broadcast programming

Image via NBCUniversal

REALITY BITES: AR platform maker 8th Wall has joined the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Augmented Reality Board of Directors, with Tom Emrich, VP of Product, serving as a board member. The IAB endeavors to advocate for AR advertising through education, best practices, and measurement standards. Other notable members of the AR board include Google, Facebook, Niantic, Snap, TikTok, Verizon, Unity, L’Oréal, and P&G.

Rovio & Zappar Build Angry Birds AR Game for Burger King Promo

Angry Birds, one of the first franchises to find success in mobile gaming, continues to shoot its shot at new life in augmented reality gaming.

After adapting its slingshot gameplay for Magic Leap with Angry Birds FPS: First Person Slingshot and mobile with Isle of Pigs, Rovio Entertainment has pushed its furious feathered friends into the tower defense genre altogether for a web-based AR mini-game.

Read further for more details on the Angry Birds AR experience, how to access it, and how it represents a growing shift towards web-based AR advertising

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

REALITY BITES: Sequoia Games has raised nearly $60,000, far surpassing its original $15,000 goal, via its Kickstarter campaign for Flex NBA, an officially-licensed board game with exclusive collectible tiles featuring illustrations of NBA stars. A companion mobile app utilizes image recognition technology to unlock AR animations of the featured players, with different tile combinations revealing additional content.

Every Friday, Next Reality reviews the latest headlines from the financial side of augmented and mixed reality. This weekly Market Reality column covers funding announcements, mergers and acquisitions, market analysis, and the like. Check out previous editions of Market Reality for more news you may have missed.

Cover image via Microsoft