Category: innovation


IMMERSV LAUNCHES AD PLATFORM FOR VR APPS: In an attempt to get ahead of the impending wave of virtual reality content that will follow the widespread adoption of new VR headsets, former smartphone ad companies are looking for ways to promote VR ads. One such offering is Immersv, a new ad platform for VR content.

The platform, which launched last Thursday, works in a similar way to pre-roll ads, such as those on Facebook or YouTube. For example, a VR user playing a game or watching a video may be shown an ad for separate content and would then be given the option to download the app.

The benefit of VR video advertising is that it provides advertisers with the opportunity to fully immerse consumers in their world — on mobile, interactive videos are much more engaging than static ads, notes IAB. But the early stage of the VR market makes serving ads complicated. This is in part because of new formatting challenges associated with converting videos to run on VR devices, but also because developers don’t want to run the risk of upsetting users so early on with intrusive ads.

To address this concern Immersv ads are played like movie trailers, and require opt-in acceptance from consumers. Early trials of the new ad format suggest that consumers are taking to it. So far, its video ads have reported 80% completion rates. While promising, this is probably due in part to the novelty factor of the new technology and may not be representative of eventual completion rates.

But Immersv isn’t the only VR ad platform to emerge. Last year, another mobile ad network called AirPush went live with VirtualSky, its VR ad platform, with similarly high levels of interest from VR developers, according to Business Insider.  And as the smartphone ad industry gets increasingly competitive, it’s likely that other mobile ad tech groups will make the shift as well.

AR and VR on the rise…finally

INVESTMENT IN AR/VR HITS AN ALL TIME HIGH: Investment in virtual and augmented reality has already surpassed $1.1 billion after only the first two months of 2016, according to Digi-Capital. This is the first time virtual and augmented reality have topped $1 billion in a single year. The incredibly rapid growth of investment is a clear signal that companies and industry pundits see the technology as not only viable, but an inevitable part of the future of mobile technology. For context, AR and VR investment reached just $692 million in all of 2015.

There is a lot of hype around virtual and augmented reality as major tech companies look to gain a foothold in the market. Vendors such as Oculus (owned by Facebook), Sony, and HTC have helped propel the development of the category in recent years. But they have also been joined by the likes of Microsoft, Google, and smartphone makers like Samsung. This makes sense considering that the AR/VR market is expected to reach $80 billion by 2025, according to recent Goldman Sachs estimates.

And while much of the consumer hype has been around VR devices, AR appears to be pulling ahead in terms of investor interest. In particular, Magic Leap, a US startup developing AR tech, accounted for the lion’s share of investment over the past year and two months. It has received $1.39 billion in funding, which includes $800 million in February’s Round C investment alone.  The company’s early investors include many global tech giants such as Google and Alibaba.

This is likely because AR provides more future use cases than VR. Unlike VR, which fully immerses users in a virtual environment, AR projects images and information onto the existing environment. For example, an engineer could use AR to look at the specs of a building while walking around a construction site.

Although adoption rates will be slow at first, due in part to the high cost of the hardware, it’s expected that once VR and AR adoption reach critical mass, they have the potential to upend everything from healthcare, to real estate, to gaming over the next 10 years.

Web VR has me excited; you should know about it

Mozilla is offering this week the 1.0 release of its WebVR API proposal for displaying virtual reality content in the browser.

The proposal features interfaces to VR hardware like sensors and head-mounted displays, aiding developers in building VR experiences, according to the editor’s draft of WebVR. “Recent VR technology advances and community feedback have allowed us to improve the API to address developer needs,” said Mozilla’s Casey Yee, a virtual reality designer and developer, in a blog post. WebVR was co-developed by Mozilla technologies and Brandon Jones of the Google Chrome

The 1.0 specification includes VR-specific handling of device-rendering and display, the ability to traverse links between WebVR pages, and suitability for desktop and mobile experiences. Mozilla plans to include a stable implementation of the APIs in the Firefox Nightly test browser project sometime in the first half of 2016.

Virtual reality has recently come to be viewed as ready for enterprise business use for tasks like providing virtual 3D tours and simulated test drives. In elaborating on a newfound demand for VR, Yee said he expects 2016 to be a banner year for the technology, with VR products becoming available and software companies ramping up support. “The new medium has also driven demand for Web-enabled support from browser vendors,” he said.

WebVR offers support for virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift in Web applications. The specification lets developers ranslate position and movement information from a display into movement around a 3D scene, according to the Mozilla Developer Network.

In 2014, Mozilla set up a virtual reality Web site, MozVR, functioning with iOS and Android devices, Google Cardboard-compatible headsets, and the Oculus Rift headset. The site also has required a WebVR enabler add-on when using Firefox.

Amazon Echo has some new hardware

AMAZON RELEASES NEW ECHO DEVICES, INTEGRATES NEST AND HONEYWELL: Amazon made several major updates to its Echo connected speaker and smart home hub yesterday. The Echo is quickly becoming one of the most popular smart home products in the US, and recent research from Argus Insights showed that consumers favor the Echo over Apple’s and Google’s platforms for controlling smart home devices. The latest updates should make the Echo brand even more popular and help improve the Alexa voice assistant platform that powers Echo speakers. The new updates include a pair of smart home integrations and two new speaker products.

Amazon announced that it will integrate Echo speakers with Nest and Honeywell smart thermostats with a software update by the end of this month. Amazon just added commands for smart thermostats to Alexa’s voice recognition capabilities last month, and has already integrated the Ecobee 3 smart thermostat. The integration with Nest’s thermostat is particularly notable as the Echo and the Nest thermostat are two of the most popular smart home devices on the market. Enabling the Echo to control Nest thermostats should heighten its appeal for smart home customers.

The first new speaker, the $89 Dot, is a small hockey puck-sized device that connects into any speaker to give it Alexa’s voice recognition capabilities. That means any speaker connected to the Dot can do all the things the Echo speaker can: play music on voice command, deliver news and weather updates, control smart home devices, and order an Uber car.

The second new device, the $129 Tap, is a smaller, portable version of the Echo speaker. The Tap has Alexa’s full set of voice commands, but the device is not voice activated. Users have to manually trigger the voice recognition system by pressing a button on the Tap. Amazon said this change was made to help preserve battery life on the smaller speaker. The Tap also has to be tethered to a smartphone to get a Wi-Fi connection, allowing users to take the Alexa platform with them on the go.
US consumers’ use of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is still lagging behind other voice assistants, including Apple’s Siri, Google’s ‘OK Google’, and Microsoft’s Cortana, according to a recent MindMeld survey. While adoption is low, MindMeld notes that the US consumer use of Alexa has doubled from 2% to 4% in the past year.

Wireless: the next generation #iot

The advent of 5G is likely to bring another splurge of investment, just as orders for 4G equipment are peaking. The goal is to be able to offer users no less than the “perception of infinite capacity”, says Rahim Tafazolli, director of the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey. Rare will be the device that is not wirelessly connected, from self-driving cars and drones to the sensors, industrial machines and household appliances that together constitute the “internet of things” (IoT).

Great insight on Economist.

When the World Is Wired: The Magic of the Internet of Everything – Singularity HUB

Unexpected convergent consequences: This is what happens when eight different exponential technologies all explode onto the scene at once.

An expert might be reasonably good at predicting the growth of a single exponential technology (e.g., the Internet of Things), but try to predict the future when the following eight technologies are all doubling, morphing and recombining. You have a very exciting (read: unpredictable) future.

1. Computation

2. Internet of Things (Sensors & Networks)

3. Robotics/Drones

4. Artificial Intelligence

5. 3D Printing

6. Materials Science

7. Virtual/Augmented Reality

8. Synthetic Biology