Field of view: Minecraft AR for smartphones is being hinted by Microsoft

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The week in VR and AR
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Welcome to your latest instalment of Field of view, the only place to find out just what the hell has been going on in the weird and wonderful worlds of VR and AR.

This week, we're talking new AR possibilities from Microsoft and Epson, highlights from the Tribeca Film Festival and some bad news from Google regarding its Daydream VR platform.

Wareable verdict: Best VR headsets reviewed and rated

Remember, you can check out the rest of this week's big stories over in our dedicated news section. So, let's get into it.

Read this: News blips and tidbits

Microsoft teases new Minecraft AR phone experience

If you're a big Minecraft fan, you'll want to mark 17 May in your diaries, as it seems Microsoft has something big to reveal. At the company's Build 2019 developer conference earlier this week, it released a teaser video (which you can see above) that suggests it has something in store for fans of the hit game. The video doesn't give too much away, but it's a dead certainty there's some Minecraft experience planned that you'll be able to access on the move.

Microsoft bought Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, for $2.5 billion back in 2014, and used the popular building game to demo the first HoloLens. While we don't expect this smartphone experience to be on par with what it showed off with its holographic headset, it's still looks like something for Minecraft fans to look forward to.


Epson launches phone-powered AR smartglasses

Field of view: Minecraft AR for phones teased by Microsoft

Epson has been rolling out its Moverio range of augmented reality smartglasses for a few years now, and it's adding to the collection with the new Moverio BT-30C connected eyewear.

The headline feature of these new specs is that they can be powered by an Android smartphone, making it a more portable experience. The glasses feature an OLED-based projection system to beam images in your line of sight and offer a 23-degree field of view.

If you want in, they're going to cost $499 and will start shipping in June 2019. While Epson's previous iterations of Moverio glasses have very much focused on the enterprise world, it's clear that the BT-30C are a sign that it now wants to start playing in that consumer space, too.

Google's new Pixel phones get no Daydream love

Google announced its Pixel 3a at Google I/O 2019 this week, a cheaper alternative to its Pixel 3 and 3XL smartphones – and one that inherits all of that camera goodness from its pricier handsets. One thing you will have to live without, however, is slipping it into one of Google's Daydream VR headsets. Google revealed that resolution and frame rate issues deemed the new 3a phone not suitable for its own VR platform.

Google also revealed that it had no plans as yet to launch an Oculus Quest rival, as it shifts focus to apps and services instead. Quite what that means for seeing more standalone Daydream VR headsets like the the Lenovo Mirage Solo isn't yet clear, but it doesn't appear to be a big priority for the company.

The Key wins big prize at Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival is famous for its indie films, risk-taking artists and unconventional narratives – and it's also been quick to embrace VR.

This year's festival was no different with The Key, a film about refugees, walking away with its Storyscapes award. The Oculus-based experience was produced by Gloria Bradbury and Lucid Dreams Productions in partnership with the Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab and Friends of Refugees.

Along with donning the headset, participants enter a room-size installation and interact with a live actor to enhance that immersive experience. You can check out the teaser trailer above.

Watch this: Bonfire

Staying with all things Tribeca, the talented folks at Baobab Studios premiered new animated VR flick Bonfire. In its latest adventure,headset wearers take the place of the main character who has crashed onto an unknown planet.

They then need to work out how to survive, with a robot sidekick on hand to help you do it. The creative minds behind Bonfire are the same ones that helped bring the Madagascar film franchise together, so you can expect the same sort of witty storytelling – only this time with virtual reality added into the mix.

You can watch the official trailer above, and hopefully we won't have to wait long before it's rolled out for everyone to sample.



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