November VR/AR News #3: NASA, chord-free headsets and a new way to experience Google Earth

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For fun: Google Earth in VR. Listen to the product manager and engineering lead talk about the project.

Apple is finally getting on the bandwagon and inserting augmented reality technology into the iPhone camera app, a source told Business Insider. According to Business Insider, “The effort, which involves teams from several acquired startups, reflects Apple’s near-term desire to put augmented reality technology into consumers’ hands even as it develops special glasses that could eventually change the way people perceive their surroundings.” Read more about its AR glasses from Bloomberg News.

Photo credit: NASA.

Photo credit: NASA.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) is experimenting with virtual reality to help astronauts prepare for space travel. For example, JPL’s Ops Lab are using the Microsoft HoloLens for OnSight, “a virtual reconstruction of the Martian surface that researchers can work in collaboratively. Another application is Project Sidekick, “which offers the opportunity for experts to guide astronauts on the International Space Station through complicated procedures by watching the astronauts’ actions and overlaying guidance, diagrams and extra information.”

Could Google’s $79 Daydream View headset be a VR game changer or is it too little too late?

A new device called TPCAST makes the HTC Vive a tetherless headset. The accessory, which was developed as part of the Vive X accelerator program , allows Vive users to explore VR experiences without having to worry about chords. Following other production companies like Disney, Sony Pictures has partnered with Nokia to use its OZO virtual reality camera for 360, 3D videos.

For VR, “a growing crop of filmmakers, policymakers, researchers, human rights workers and even some law enforcement officials see a broader societal purpose in the emerging medium’s stunning ability to make people feel as if they have experienced an event firsthand.” While this ranges from VR projects on Nazi concentration camps and sexual assault to police training, they all aim to encourage empathy in users, especially when they are experiencing something that is vastly different from their own lives.


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