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Field of view: Apple continues to explore a mixed reality headset

News and recommendations for other realities

You know the drill, it's Friday and this is Field of view — the place where we round up all the latest happenings in the world of VR and AR.

And what a week it's been. Not only did we get word on the HTC Vive Pro launch details, but the Taiwanese giant also announced its Vive Focus is also getting a global rollout. At GDC 2018, we were also on hand to get a better look at the Oculus Go — the company's upcoming standalone headset.

You think that's it? Well, we also had time to round up some of the best VR film festivals you should go to, refresh our list of the best Oculus Rift games and even find out some new details about the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 reference headset.

For everything else going on, read on below.

Read this: News bits

Updated Apple patents point to mixed reality HMD

Apple CEO Tim Cook has long been on the record about the company's interest in exploring different realities, and an update to patents this week, uncovered by Patently Apple, reveals that work could be ramping up on a mixed reality headset.

This isn't necessarily an indication of what a potential HMD would look like, with Apple instead adding more information about how such a system would work - something that was first explored way back in 2008 and has recently been added to significantly.

In the latest changes, Apple alludes to a mixed reality system which includes a projector mechanism for displaying frames, including left and right images to a user's eyes. These 3D virtual views may include projections of the user's environment augmented with virtual content, such as tags or objects.

Essential reading: All the latest details on Apple's AR exploits

On the outside sit sensors used to collect information about the user's environment, including live video, depth data and lighting information. Concurrently, other sensors will work to detect the user's head movement, expressions, eye position and hand gestures.

It's all very complex stuff, as Patently Apple also explores here, and it's important to take any filing information with a large helping of salt, but the signs do point to Apple extensively kicking the tyres in both AR and VR.

Field of view: Apple continues exploring a mixed reality headset

HTC rolls out updated Vive Tracker

Despite the first generation Vive Tracker (which won our VR/AR Innovation of the Year award) only releasing to the public around November, it's already been updated with a new model.

The 2018 edition of the peripheral has gone on sale for the same price ($99), with support for SteamVR Tracking 2.0, Vive's new base stations and wider object tracking all on board.

It's not an essential buy if you're happy with your current setup, though we imagine serious VR fans will be licking their chops at the new features.

Google snaps up Lytro

After becoming the first company to debut light-field technology in cameras back in 2011, it now appears as though Lytro is set to be snapped up by Google.

TechCrunch reports that the acquisition will cost the company in the region of $40 million, with Lytro's 59 patents relating to the digital imaging and light-field tech at the heart of the deal. Essentially, Lytro's smarts offered the ability to re-focus images even after they've been taken.

It's not clear what Google has in mind for this kind of technology, though after Lytro's recent pivot towards virtual reality, there's speculation it could put the work to use within its own VR arm.

Interestingly, Lytro raised over $200 million in funding during its time, and was recently valued at around $360 million, so this would be a disappointing result for the company from a purely financial perspective.

Avegant scales back its team

Another light-field startup potentially sitting in a rough spot is Avegant, with The Verge reporting that the company has cut more than half of its workforce and replaced CEO Joerg Tewes with co-founder Ed Tang.

Avegant's force is now fewer than 20 people, and those who remain work largely in R&D or on the technology partnership side.

Read: Trying out Avegant's light-field AR headset

According to Tang, the company's mission hasn't changed, and is currently working on closing $10 million of funding round to continue its AR ambitions.

Watch this: Google and Squanch team up

If you're a fan of the comedic stylings of Rick and Morty, we have some good news for you. At GDC 2018 this week, Squanch Games, the brainchild of Rick and Morty co-founder Justin Roiland and Tanya Watson, revealed Dr. Splorchy Presents: Space Heroes - the first in a series of exclusive games for Google Daydream.

We don't know much about the game just yet, or when it will launch, though the teaser above does reveal some information regarding a potential story arc.

Meanwhile, a press release from Squanch Games, quoting Dr Splorchy, notes: "[The experiments] are so beyond the capability of your understanding that if I were to try to explain them to your primitive earth mind I would have to rip out most of your brain and replace it with a computer so powerful it hasn't even been invented yet, so no, I will not send you a blurb for your stupid press release."

Needless to say, we're looking forward to this one.

Play this: Tamagotchi Forever

Remember when Tamagotchi's were limited to the small, handheld case you carried around as a kid -- trapped forevermore, never seeing the light of day? Well, times have changed. That's after Tamagotchi Forever was announced this week, as part of Google's ARCore apps and games push.

In the new mobile AR game, the premise is still the same - you raise a Tamagotchi character as your own, keeping it fed, washed, and entertained. However, since this can now open up into the real world, players can explore Tamatown, find hidden treasure and their characters through their phone and interacting with the environment around them.

We're not convinced this will enslave the youth of the western hemisphere in quite the same fashion as it did two decades ago, but this is a nice example of the kind of game that's becoming commonplace within AR. And you can pick it up from the Google Play Store right now, if you have the urge to relive your childhood.


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