The Expedition 61 crew is fresh off the first spacewalk of 2020 and preparing for two more before the end of the month. Meanwhile, the International Space Station residents continue ongoing microgravity research and life support maintenance.
NASA spacewalkers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch successfully installed two new lithium-ion batteries on Wednesday that store and distribute power collected from solar arrays on the station’s Port-6 truss structure. They will finish the battery replacement work during another six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk scheduled for Monday at 6:50 a.m. EST. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the spacewalk activities at 5:30 a.m.
The third spacewalk is planned for Jan. 25 with astronauts Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano. They will finish the complex thermal repair work they began last year on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an astrophysics device searching for evidence of antimatter and dark matter.
All four astronauts met in the afternoon and called down to Mission Control for a briefing with spacewalk specialists. The quartet had a routine discussion with the engineers about spacewalking gear and procedures.
Our mad descent into a cyberpunk dystopia continues with the Mojo Lens.
Earlier today, augmented reality start-up Mojo Vision announced its development of the Mojo Lens, a smart contact lens that promises to revolutionize the way we interact with the world and each other.
Focusing on an eyes up experience the company refers to as “Invisible Computing,” the Mojo Lens is designed to provide users with relevant information without having to look down at a separate device like a smartphone or computer, thereby keeping the user’s attention focused on their real-world surroundings.
Similar to fictional user interfaces featured in films such as The Terminator and Iron Man, this information is communicated via a built-in AR display projected over the user’s real-world environment. According to those who’ve seen the device in action, the visuals appear as basic green text over the user’s vision; a simple, but no-doubt groundbreaking advancement that could pave the way for more complex imagery in the future.
So what exactly is powering all these Inspector Gadget-like features? Under the hood, the Mojo Lens houses the Mojo Vision 14K PPI Display, featuring an extremely impressive pixel pitch of over 14,000ppi and a pixel density of over 200Mppi²; a custom wireless radio, motion sensors for image stabilization and eye-tracking, and the world’s most power-efficient image sensor that’s been optimized specifically for computer vision; all adding up to what Mojo Vision claims is “the smallest and densest dynamic display ever made.”
Although the device is still in its research and development phase—the company is currently performing clinical studies under an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval—Mojo Vision already has plans to assist those suffering from poor vision by using the tech to offer real-time contrast and lighting enhancements. The company hopes this project will help further the eventual implementation of built-in image stabilization and zoom functionality, although little information about these features is available at the moment.
As part of today’s announcement, the company also revealed a partnership with Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in which the company will work with many of the visually impaired patients currently undergoing rehabilitation at the Palo Alto-based nonprofit in order to refine their technology and provide more effective services for Vista Center clients.
“After extensive research, development, and testing, we are excited to reveal our product plans and begin sharing details about this transformative platform,” said Drew Perkins, CEO at Mojo Vision. “Mojo has a vision for Invisible Computing where you have the information you want when you want it and are not bombarded or distracted by data when you don’t. The technology should be helpful, and it should be available in the moment and fade away when you want to focus on the world around you.”
“The Mojo Lens is the first step in delivering Invisible Computing to the world. We look forward to sharing more information and demonstrating future prototypes as we get closer to bringing our product to market.”
In terms of potential use-cases, the company claims the Mojo Lens will prove immensely useful in both commercial as well as enterprise scenarios. Harnessing the power of “Invisible Computing,” the smart lens has the potential to drastically increase efficiency by allowing both business professionals hands-free access to critical information without disrupting their workflow. When it comes to everyday use, Mojo Lenses could, one day, potentially replace smartphones altogether by offering a more convenient and efficient way of accessing information and communicating with others.
Moving forward, the company will be working directly alongside the United States Food & Drug Administration as part of its voluntary Breakthrough Device Program, during which it will receive valuable feedback by the organization to help ensure the device meets specific safety standards.
As previously stated, the Mojo Lens is currently in its research and development phase and therefore unavailable for purchase at this time. Still, it’s amazing to see this type of technology up-and-running in 2020. With many high-profile companies currently in development of their own AR headsets, it’s clear that augmented reality is poised to become one of the more influenctial technologies of the new decade.
Last month we visited teamLab Borderless in Tokyo, and as you’d expect, we were amazed by what we saw.
It’s difficult to offer a simple description of teamLab; the Tokyo-based interdisciplinary group of ‘ultra-technologists’—artists, programmers, engineers, animators, mathematicians, and architects—produce art that isn’t easily defined. Their flagship location, The MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless (henceforth just, “Borderless”), is a two-story, 33,000 sq. ft, immersive and interactive museum. Put simply: it’s part sci-fi fine art, part sensory amusement park.
As the name implies, the space isn’t meant to be experienced in a traditional or linear way—visitors are never offered a map. The point is to flow freely from space to space at your own speed. Though the primary technology deployed in Borderless is light and projection mapping, many of the concepts we witnessed during our visit while covering the 2019 NEWVIEW Awards speak directly to the future of XR.
When you first enter Borderless, you’re greeted with a series of nearly pitch-black halls that serve as a palette reset from the outside world. Opening a tall black curtain reveals a labyrinthine space covered in every direction by vibrantly projected flowers. What at first glance may appear to be doorways turn out to be mirrors, and vice versa, giving you the immediate sense that not only are you no longer in Kansas, but you are no longer on the normative plane of reality—your senses can’t quite be trusted here. Touch the wall where a beautiful projected flower floats gracefully in an abyss and it slowly poofs into petals—wilted and gone, to be reborn again from a blooming bud. Tap a butterfly and it dies, spawning a new one somewhere else in the room.
This cycle of life manifests throughout the entire museum, most visibly through the recurring exploration of seasons and seasonal change, which teamLab Borderless Museum Chief Ou Sugiyama explains is very important in Japanese culture. The motif is an enriching detail, there for you to discover and contemplate if you so choose but just as easily overlooked without the rebuke of a ruined experience. No signs on the wall tell you how to interact with or think about what you see.
“The idea of this building is to be ‘borderless,’” Sugiyama said in an interview with VRScout. “No borders between you and me, between objects and the real world—that’s the feeling we want people to leave here with.”
This idea plays out again in the infinity room, which is filled with large hanging lamps that illuminate when you get near them and change their entire color scheme to mimic the passage of time. You later enter another, far larger infinity room where floor to ceiling LED strands synchronize in a mesmerizing fractal light display all around you; at one moment a flock of birds or impressionistic wind, and the next simulated rain (which, thanks to the mirrored floor, pours down and up at the same time).
“We are living in a very material world, value is found in the material,” Sugiyama said. “But there is value in the digital world as well. We wanted to set people free from the material, and that’s the inspiration behind Borderless.”
The exhibition is divided into five sections: Borderless World, Athletics Forest, Future Park, Forest of Lamps, and the En Tea house. It’s difficult to determine how many individual exhibits are on display because, as the “Borderless” moniker implies, there is quite a bit of overlap. In teamLab’s own words: “We see no boundary between humans and nature. Everything exists in a long, fragile yet miraculous, borderless continuity of life.”
And Sugiyama believes that this notion of borderlessness could someday be part of the fiber of daily life—in Tokyo and beyond.
“In the future, we want to ‘hack’ the entire city with digital art,” Sugiyama said. “Projection mapping, but also with new devices. We’re waiting for new AR devices with high hopes because once there is mass adoption, there will be yet another way to create [borderless] art.”
This gets to the heart of why the Borderless exhibition is so vital to the immersive landscape right now. We too are awaiting new devices with high hopes. Even the most ardent optimist, however, would give a conservative estimate on the eventual “mass adoption” date—it’s going to be a while. Borderless gives us a glimpse of some of the ways we might one day interact in our daily lives.
It also reminds us that not all the best immersive media will come from the bleeding edge of technology. The visuals at Borderless are primarily accomplished with projection mapping, LEDs, and mirrors—tech that’s been around for quite a while. It’s the way these elements are synchronized and the sheer scale at which they are employed that brought 2.3 million visitors to Borderless in its first year (it first opened in summer 2018).
By creating a thriving cultural and economic immersive institution, teamLab is not only enabling itself to iterate in a real-world immersive environment, discovering principles the digital world will someday share in common; it is kickstarting visitors’ imagination for what a daily life suffuse with XR might feel like, when the technology becomes an afterthought.
Eine reale Bedrohung, die für viele Menschen immer noch sehr abstrakt ist: Der Klimawandel ist ein komplexes Thema, das man schwer in wenigen Sätzen greifbar machen kann. Auf der Grünen Woche in Berlin (17.-26. Januar 2020) können Besucher am Stand des Bundesministeriums für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) in einer interaktiven Installation selbst erleben, welche Auswirkungen die klimatischen Veränderungen haben.
Die so genannte Klimakuppel, die das Berliner Unternehmen Garamantis für das BMZ entwickelt hat, lässt bis zu 12 Personen gleichzeitig per Virtual Reality nach Madagaskar reisen, wo die Folgen des Klimawandels schon jetzt deutlich spürbar sind. Die Besucher sehen einen fünfminütigen 360-Grad-Film über den Inselstaat und die Lebensbedingungen seiner Einwohner. Passend zu den gezeigten Szenen simuliert die Klimakuppel Wärme, Wind und Gerüche und gibt den Zuschauern damit das Gefühl, tatsächlich vor Ort zu sein.
“Der Klimawandel geht jeden von uns etwas an. Deswegen war es uns besonders wichtig, das Thema so greifbar wie möglich zu machen”, sagt Oliver Elias, der Mitgründer und Geschäftsführer von Garamantis. Gemeinsam mit seinem Team hat er die Klimakuppel umgesetzt. “Virtual Reality ist dafür eine gute Grundlage”, ergänzt Mitgründer Marcus Dittebrand. “Es ist aber vor allem die Verbindung mit anderen Reizen wie Düften und Wärme, die daraus ein echtes Erlebnis macht. Wir wollen, dass die Besucher danach über das Gesehene sprechen und sich intensiver damit beschäftigen.” Die Idee und Konzeption der Klimakuppel lieferte die Berliner Agentur SUPER an der Spree im Auftrag des BMZ.
Das BMZ stellt die Klimakuppel auf der Grünen Woche vom 17.-26. Januar 2020 in Halle 1.2b des Messegeländes am Funkturm aus.
Path of the Warrior released almost exactly one month ago on the Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest from Twisted Pixel and Oculus Studios and now it’s received the promised post-launch co-op multiplayer update.
When the game first released suddenly during The Game Awards, the lack of multiplayer was glaring. Twisted Pixel modeled Path of the Warrior after the great sidescrolling beat ’em ups of the 90s like Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, Final Fight, and others but it missed one of the main selling points of those arcade-style games: multiplayer. Running through the levels just isn’t the same by yourself.
Now you can hop into the action with a friend, complete with cross-play support across both headsets (as well as cross-buy.)
In my review I noted that the core gameplay was fun and the setting was inventive and nostalgic, but it felt a bit shallow on the feature front. Gameplay didn’t evolve much after the first 10 minutes and it was only a little less than two hours long. Fine for what it is, but not a real revolution for the genre other than the shift to a first-person perspective in a headset.
With the addition of co-op it should be much better and more fun now. We haven’t had a chance to try out the co-op support yet, but we expect it to definitely improve the fun factor and make it a more appealing purchase for those with VR buddies.
Let us know what you think down in the comments below!
Facebook today confirmed to UploadVR that it has permanently cut the price of the 32GB Oculus Go headset from $199/£199 down to $149/£139.
Listings on both the official Oculus Store and Amazon just started showing these new prices, and Facebook confirmed that this isn’t part of a sale or promotional price. The 64GB model, meanwhile, is now priced at $199/£189.
Oculus Go Price Cut Confirmed
Facebook issued UploadVR the following statement: “Oculus Go is now priced at $149 USD, which is equal to a $50 price drop. We are applying comparable discounts across all countries where Go is sold. Updated pricing is rolling out to all channels.”
Oculus Go is Facebook’s low-cost standalone VR headset. It includes all you need to jump straight into VR experiences but only includes primitive three degrees of freedom (3DOF) tracking. This allows you to turn and tilt your head in VR, but not physically move it around in virtual space. Go also includes one 3DOF motion controller for pointing inside games and experiences.
While it might be tempting to jump at this Oculus Go price cut, it’s important to note that Go provides a very limited VR experience compared to the $399 standalone Oculus Quest. The price may now be more than double that of the Go, but Quest provides full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking for two hands and your head, allowing for much more immersive VR experiences.
Oculus Go’s social features are also becoming increasingly limited. Facebook no longer supports the Rooms software that previously let Go and Gear VR owners meet up to play games and share content. Plus Facebook Horizon, the company’s latest attempt at a sprawling social VR platform, doesn’t list Go under its supported platforms. For now we only know the app supports Rift and Quest.
Even with this price cut in mind, then, it’s tough to recommend Oculus Go in 2020. Will you pick one up? Let us know in the comments below!
UploadVR’s weekly podcast, The VR Download, is LIVE on YouTube today at 10:30 AM PST (18:30 UTC)!
Unlike regular video podcasts, The VR Download is broadcast from virtual reality! Our team are together in a virtual space, giving us many of the benefits of a studio even though we live on different continents.
Our Special Guest this week is Diane Hosfelt, a Senior Research Engineer at Mozilla. Hosfelt is security and privacy lead for mixed reality, identifying emerging threats and potential mitigations to create a better immersive web.
This week’s Hot Topic: with Sony skipping E3 again, what does 2020 have in store for PlayStation VR?
We’re a little late to notice this one, but some of the datamining surrounding the recently-leaked Final Fantasy VII Remake demo gives us hope for some VR features.
A supposed soundtrack for the game was apparently gleamed by dataminers that also managed to download the unannounced demo early. The tracklisting refers to various sections of the demo but, the last track mentions a ‘VR Menu’.
This could, of course, mean absolutely nothing; Final Fantasy VII Remake is just a few months away from launch (though it was just delayed), and we haven’t seen any official announcements about VR support yet.
But developer Square Enix has a promising track record with VR and, most notably, Sony’s PSVR headset. A few years back it released an entirely original Final Fantasy VR game in Monsters of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV. It span out of the JRPG with its very own fishing game, starring characters from the main title.
We seriously doubt, however, that the main version of Final Fantasy VII Remake would get full VR support. The game is played in third-person, for starters, and its already pushing the PS4 to its limits without adding in PSVR support on top. The game might come to PCs at some point, but we still wouldn’t hold our breath for full support there.
Instead, if we had to make a guess, we’d say this would be closer to the Kingdom Hearts 3 VR experience Square Enix released surrounding the game’s launch in 2019. That app revisited moments from the series’ past in VR for the first time, and eventually got an update adding more interactive elements. It could be that we could get another free PSVR app filled with iconic scenes and minigames. Sure, it wouldn’t be the full experience, but it’s something, right?
Again, though, that’s all just speculation. We’ll keep out fingers crossed for now. Would you play a Final Fantasy VII Remake VR spin-off? Let us know in the comments below!
An analysis of U.S. patents done by Fairview Research reveals that Facebook has made a significant surge in its year-over-year ranking for patents granted in 2019, something partly owed to its increased number of patents surrounding augmented reality. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.
The social media giant is still only in 36th place for companies granted U.S. patents, which in 2019 tallied a total of 989. This represents a 64 percent increase over the number of patents granted to the company in 2018 however, which consequently bumped the company up the rankings by an astounding 22 places.
Here’s a quick look at the top ten in comparison to Facebook, courtesy of Fairview Research:
International Business Machines Corp
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd
Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC
LG Electronics Inc
Ford Global Technologies LLC
Amazon Technologies Inc
Huawei Technologies Co Ltd
Bloomberg notes that Facebook’s ‘Optical Elements’ category showed a nearly six-fold jump year-over-year, tallying a total of 169 patents. A majority of that growth however is said to come from the ‘Heads-Up Displays’ sub-category, which can either serve augmented or virtual reality depending on its intended use.
Of the many granted, here’s a few of the most interesting AR/VR patents we’ve found:
Outside of optimal element-related patents, many of the patents granted to Facebook in 2019 dealt with things like eye-tracking, online content delivery, and machine learning, the latter of which carries with it broad implications across all computing mediums and AR alike thanks to its use in computer vision tasks.
And while patents alone don’t tell the whole story, it’s apparent Facebook is mounting up to release an AR headset at some point in the near future. A number of the company’s hardware and software-related job listings last year made a prescient mention of Facebook-built AR headset.
With a growing number of Facebook-employed AR/VR professionals and a mounting catalog of IP, it’s clear Facebook isn’t just flirting with the idea of entering into the AR space, but rather it has a definite intention of owning a significant slice of the market.