It's the most wonderful time of the year... the time when it's almost over. But it's also that turn in the calendar when a couple of billion people look forward to celebrating Christmas, and the youngest portions of that subset start improving their behavior in an avaricious desire for more presents. Google's taking part in its yearly ritual too, indulging whimsical parents and obsessive-compulsive children with its Santa Claus countdown-slash-tracker app.
The Lenovo Phab2 Pro is not the first device to have Google's Tango augmented reality platform, but it's the first one to be aimed at consumers. It's also the first Lenovo-branded smartphone to launch in the US. With the Phab2 Pro, you can see virtual items overlaid in the real world, or explore virtual worlds by moving around in the real one. But let's not forget, this is a phone too. People will presumably buy this product to carry around with them on a daily basis, but it's only available as a $500 unlocked device. So, it's up to Lenovo to make a good pitch to US phone buyers who have more choices than ever before.
Microsoft wants to beat Google at its own game, so to those ends the company drives hard and fast when it comes to search. The newest feature to hit the app is 360 Search, an augmented reality-infused experience that helps take you where you want to go. Other new things include enhanced music and events features as well as a new 'Lottery' section showing the latest winning results for jackpots and such.
Last month Nintendo started a closed beta program for Pokémon GO, the augmented reality catch-em-all game that the company has been working on with Niantic. It looks like we're very close to a public release, at least according to Nintendo's presentation at the massive E3 gaming convention. As reported by Polygon, Nintendo announced that the game will be released on smartphones sometime in July.
Now that Niantic Labs has left Google behind, we've all been wondering what its next big game will be. Ingress has managed more than 12 million downloads, but dare I say the just announced Pokémon GO will have even more. This game (coming in 2016) will have a similar augmented reality premise to Ingress, but instead of capturing portals you're capturing Pokémon.
Hitting the slopes already comes with a fairly high wow factor, but RideOn wants to make things even more impressive with its crowd-funded augmented reality goggles for skiing and snowboarding. The project, which started on January 20th, has managed to reach its $75,000 fixed funding goal on Indiegogo.
RideOn's goggles project a virtual interface on top of the snow, appearing as though things are hovering fifteen feet in front of you. The product can produce hoops for you to swoop through or a map to keep you from getting lost. Just don't use the latter while you're speeding downhill.
Wearers navigate the interface by looking up and focusing on a UI element for a brief moment.
As expected, Samsung has taken the lid off the Gear VR headset at this year's IFA in Berlin. The concept behind the company's attempt at virtual reality consists of pairing a Galaxy Note 4 with a bulky head unit, using the handset to supply both the display and the power. The product comes from Samsung, but its software has been created by Oculus. An early-access beta version is set to become available for eager techies and developers later this year.
Just as the name suggests, the Innovator Edition is not intended for general consumers. Samsung wants to get this hardware into the hands of early adopters and developers so that they can get to work.
Droiders is an app-developing startup, and today it's launching MedicAR, a piece of Glassware that uses augmented reality to assist students studying to become surgeons. It guides them through certain procedures, showing them where to cut, what tools to use, what to do next, and how to close things back up afterwards. The video below shows it in action, and don't worry, it's not graphic.
Just because a company files a patent for something, it doesn't mean that idea will eventually see the light of day. In this case, the patent filing in question doesn't just concern an unannounced but rumored product, it deals with a particular aspect. As it turns out, Samsung may one day want us to walk around interacting with our not-yet-confirmed-but-totally-expected Galaxy Glasses while typing on our palms.
The glasses presumably use a camera to project an augmented reality keyboard onto your fingers. You then type onto them using your thumbs, with the camera tracking their movement. The image below also shows the option to input text using a single hand.
Layar was one of the first apps to show the potential of augmented reality, and coincidentally, one of the first Android apps that made users stand up and say "Wow!" But four years later the shine has come off of AR, at least for the purposes that the original app served, like mapping and location discovery. So Layar has reinvented itself with a whole new app, look, and website.
Layar's new ad copy says that the company hopes to "help bridge the gap between print and digital." What does that mean, exactly? It means ads. Interesting, cool ads, but still ads.