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Sensory Overload: This Week’s VR + AR News

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Augmented reality will revolutionize advertising and business capabilities, while the arrival of an AR frenzy is largely dependent on Apple‘s plans for the iPhone 8. A Citi report forecasts that VR and AR sales will be in the $2 trillion range by 2035, with AR growing 68% annually between the next three to eight years.

The Economist leverages VR for social good, with its oVR Fishing pop-up VR experience at JFK. Koei Tecmo just debuted VR Sense hardware which lets users experience touch and smell in a virtual world.

Jaunt VR now has a former Hulu Exec, millions in funding from Disney, and over 200 pieces of VR content in its library. Six Flags renews its contract with Samsung to create mixed reality roller coasters.  

A Forrester Report reaffirmed Zuckerberg’s previous statements that it will take 5-10 years before the VR market matures and headset adoption becomes mainstream. Facebook is closing 200 of its Oculus VR demos, despite still believing that VR demos are the best way to accelerate VR adoption.

Oculus is working on a pair of glove-like devices that will sync with headsets to allow touch in VR/AR, and activities like typing. Google Chrome partnered with WebVR so that VR content is viewable through its web browser, giving content creators a much larger distribution platform.

Google Chrome Gets VR Capability
By Freia Lobo @ Mashable

You can now access VR experiences via Google Chrome web browser, which is a huge step for giving VR creators a larger platform to showcase their work. Chrome now integrates a technology called WebVR, which allows VR experiences to be hosted on websites. WebVR is supported by industry giants like Firefox, Samsung, Facebook and Microsoft in addition to Google.

VR Stumbles at the Super Bowl
By Cortney Harding @ TV[R]ev

Animal Planet’s 360 version of the Puppy Bowl should have been a total slam dunk. But the experience, which could be viewed in the Discovery VR app, fell victim to shoddy stitching and bad camera placement. Fox Sports tried to offer portions of the Super Bowl in VR also offered merely had far-away, unclear spots and a confusing interface

Mark Zuckerberg Reveals Oculus’ Glove-Like VR Controller Prototypes
By Abhimanyu Ghosal @ The Next Web

Mark Zuckerberg shared about his experience trying Oculus “gloves” which pair with the Oculus headset to bring touch to VR and AR– letting users shoot Spiderman webs or virtually type in thin air. Oculus acquired Nimble VR back in 2014, a firm that specializes in hand tracking tech. HTC Vive and Valve are also working on handheld controllers.

The Future Of VR: Mobile VR Platforms Battle
By Anshel Sag @ Forbes

While everyone compares headset sales between Sony, Oculus or HTC, Google and Facebook have been waging a silent platform war. Their battle is based on the belief that smartphone VR is going to be the primary driver of VR volumes. Facebook’s objective is to drive down the cost of VR to the lowest price possible to enable social VR experiences without affecting the experience. Google’s objective is to enable as many of their partners to make Daydream headsets, so that they can ship as many VR devices as possible to reach similar critical mass that Android has today.

Study: VR Device Shipments to Reach 110M by 2021
By David Kirkpatrick @ Marketing Dive

ABI Research forecasts that VR device shipments will hit 110 million by 2021 as a number of new companies enter the space including Royole and Pico and number of Chinese manufacturers. Even though mobile-device reliant VR hardware like Samsung Gear and Google Daydream hold the majority of the current market, that category is only expected to grow 42% through 2021. Standalone devices are predicted to hit a 405% compound annual growth rate over the same time frame.

Molson Puts VR Viewers in Beer Cases for Upcoming NHL Games
By David Kirkpatrick @ Marketing Dive

Brewing company Molson Canadian and sports media brand Sportsnet are putting VR viewers inside beer cases so fans can watch six upcoming NHL games in VR, which will be shot with three 360 VR cameras. This tactic echoes when the New York Times sent Google Cardboard headsets to subscribers.

Forrester Report: VR Will Transform Marketing, But Not Until 2020
By Thomas Husson and Samantha Merlivat @ Forbes

Forrester estimates that mass-market adoption of VR headsets won’t occur for at least five more years. Of the 17% of VR enthusiasts in the US, 86% of them are interested or very interested in viewing movies and TV in VR, while 82% would like to tour virtual homes/apartments and hotels.

Chick-fil-A Puts VR Headsets on Cows
By Jessica Wohl @ Advertising Age

Chick-fil-A is playing into the VR/360 hype: this week Chick-fil-A began teasing a “Cowz VR” site and distributing thousands of free Chick-fil-A-branded cardboard viewers. On Sunday, more of the story will appear when Chick-fil-A makes the site live and runs two 30-second commercials during the Grammy Awards.

Magic Leap May Include AR Price-Checker
By Adi Robertson @ The Verge

Part of Magic Leap‘s vision includes using AR to help buyers understand and compare their options, encouraging competition. Magic Leap is in a position to be completely agnostic, as it’s not tied to a larger company like Google or Amazon.

Why the Future of Virtual Reality Depends on Advertisers
By Nathan Skid and David Hall @ Advertising Age

If anything can take VR from niche to mainstream, it’s the need for marketers to stay on the bleeding edge of technology. Companies are able to place the consumer inside the brand through VR, and it lets marketers show product rather than just tell people about it.

Facebook Closing 200 Oculus Pop-Up VR Demos
By Alex Heath @ Business Insider

While Facebook still believes a live demo is the best way to jump-start mass-market headset adoption, Facebook is closing 200 of its Oculus demos inside Best Buy stores after many reports of days with no one trying the demo. Traffic decreased dramatically after the holidays.

Only 8% of Brands Intend to Use VR for Advertising
By George Slefo @ Advertising Age

A report by Yes Lifecycle Marketing shows marketers are approaching VR with caution: only 8% of marketers are currently using VR in their advertising. 35% either have no intentions or have reservations about VR, while 57% said it does not apply to them– most marketers are still using tried-and-true methods like social (68%) and video (56%). While the immediate future isn’t too promising, brands who are at the forefront of the technology will be far more prepared when VR reaches scale.

Disney’s VR Start-Up Bet that Could Revolutionize Film
By Ronald Grover @ CNBC

Jaunt already has more than 200 pieces of contact in its library, including sports and concert programming, plus Jaunt unveiled five VR series at Sundance 2017. Disney has invested millions into Jaunt, and Jaunt signed with Disney to create VR films for all of Disney’s units, including its theme park and ESPN franchise.

Tipit Raises $2.5 million for User-Generated AR App
By Lucas Matney @ TechCrunch

Smartphone-based augmented reality is only going to grow more popular moving forward, and AR startup Tipit just raised $2.5 million in seed funding to bring user-generated AR to all. Tipit sets to a more diverse set of applications through its own body/face/object-tracking SDK.

Six Flags Unveils Mixed Reality Roller Coasters
By Jonathan Nafarrete @ VRScout

Samsung and Six Flags are renewing their partnership to bring Gear VR to rollercoasters, unveiling The New Revolution Galactic Attack ride at two parks. And for the first-time, riders wearing Gear VR headsets will be introduced to the device’s passthrough AR camera functionality, instantly making riders aware of their surroundings, by allowing them to see the “real world,” including the person seated next to them — along with virtual content.

Explore The Amazon With This Stunning 360° VR Video
By Tom Hale @ IFLScience

Conservation International and Jaunt just debuted an immersive 360 VR video about the Amazon, titled “Under the Canopy” to raise awareness about rainforest conservation.

Jaunt Hires Former Hulu Exec
By Janko Roettgers @ Variety

VR startup Jaunt has hired former Hulu executive Jean-Paul “JP” Colaco as its first chief revenue officer– now he must turn Jaunt, which has raised more than $100 million from Disney and others, into a moneymaker. Colaco says that “VR is more than headsets,” with 360-degree video being a kind of “gateway drug” for the new medium. However, he also said that he expects headset sales to pick up in the future. “All the metrics are moving in the right direction.

Can VR Change How Businesses See Things?
By Jim Poole @ IT Brief NZ

Entertainment is currently viewed as the industry most likely to see the highest VR-related gains in the near term. A 2016 survey of product developers by Yeti LLC found that 84% envisioned VR use accelerating over the next two years in entertainment more than in any other industry. This year’s Super Bowl, the first ever to have portions broadcast in VR, was part of that trend.

ABI: Augmented Reality Industry to Hit $96 billion by 2021
By Chris Tribbey @ Broadcasting & Cable

Due to growing interest in AR among businesses, and more consumer applications of the tech, ABI Research expects the market for AR hitting $96 billion by 2021. This will be fueled by a 227% growth in shipments in AR-enabled “smart” glasses, with 28 million being shipped in 2021.

XRGames Will Invest Millions in VR for Kids
By Alexandra Whyte @ Kidscreen

XRGames—a new gaming studio launched by UK-based kids entertainment and research company Dubit—has just completed a seven-figure investment round to spend specifically on developing a suite of VR apps for kids.

The Economist to Host VR Pop-up at JFK
By Alison Ledger @ Event Magazine

The Economist has created an animated underwater VR pop-up experience– called “oVR Fishing” to highlight the dangers of overfishing. Users can experience the 4.5-minute film at JFK Airport Terminal 5 from February 8-10.

Virtual Reality as an Investment Reality
By Bloomberg

Video Interview with UBS Internet Analyst Eric Sheridan and Joyus Chairman and founder Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. A Recent UBS survey expects broader adoption of VR globally. Mr. Sheridan discusses chicken and egg issue of content vs. hardware in VR, and how major players are trying to stimulate content creation.

Adobe’s Path to Entering VR Storytelling
By Michael Humphrey @ Forbes

Last April, Adobe announced it would release VR editing capabilities into its Premiere Pro software, lowering the barriers of entry for content creators. If audiences are going to be interested in Virtual and Augmented Reality stories, beyond the initial novelty, really good narratives must draw them in like any other media.

New VR cabinet will let you smell and touch a virtual world
By Rachel Kaser @ The Next Web

Koei Tecmo just debuted their new cabinet, called “VR Sense, which is an arcade-like machine that enables scent and touch in VR experiences. VR Sense works with PlayStation VR, and so far three games are announced for the VR Sense.

This Super Bowl Ad Used VR To Let A Troop Watch The Game With Loved Ones
By Sara Boboltz @ Huffington Post

Hyundai used VR so that a few lucky soldiers could watch the game with family and friends, who were seated at the Super Bowl, thanks to custom 360-degree video pods that live-streamed immersive footage to their base in Poland. The ad was then cut together in a trailer outside the stadium during the game.

Mixed reality will soon mean big business for brands
By Keith Curtin @ VentureBeat

As consumers ditch today’s clunky computers for mixed reality glasses with spatial computing powers, everything in the world can now become a media channel. These will include valuable consumer data sets, more precise targeting capabilities, higher engagement levels– plus visual search capabilities and eye sensors will allow brands to literally see how consumers interact with an advertisement. If rumors are true about Apple building an AR iPhone, Apple could instantly flip the switch on mixed reality and seed the globe with first-weekend sales that potentially exceed 40-60 million units. Having AR-capable devices delivered at such speed and scale would certainly send both brands and consumers into a frenzy over the immediate demand for readily available content.

New Forecast: VR Headsets to Grow More than 50% a Year for the Next Four Years
By Chuck Martin @ MediaPost

A new forecast projects VR headsets to grow more than 50% a year for the next four years. Combing AR and VR, the number of headsets will grow by more than eight times from last year to 2021, according to a Semico Research report. One of the big drivers of VR headset sales was marketing during the holiday shopping season– 25% of consumers said they had tried VR after the holidays, compared to 5% just a few months earlier, according to a recent study by ReportLinker. That survey of 700 U.S. adults found that 83% of consumers had a positive attitude toward VR. Citi’s Global Perspectives and Solutions Group forecasts that VR and AR sales will be in the $2 trillion range by 2035, with AR growing 68% annually between the next three to eight years.

Why Public VR Experiences Could Beat At-Home Headsets
By Aaron Frank @ VentureBeat

2017 might be the year that out-of-home VR becomes more popular with things like micro amusement parks, VR arcades, and even fitness gamer gyms. Two Bit Circus, which just raised a $15 million Series B, is funding the creation of 30,000 square foot micro-amusement parks equipped with multi-person VR, social games and other mixed reality attractions. The first of these venues is expected to open early next year in Los Angeles.

The Epic Battle for Social VR
By Charlie Fink @ Huffington Post

The next step for gaming and social media will be social VR, a market which is being pioneered by Second Life and AltSpace. Four developments that will severely impact social VR’s course will be: Apple entering AR, Google Tango, ODG and Magic Leap.

Pong’s Inventor Wants to Bring Virtual Reality to Arcades
By Rachel Metz @ MIT Technology Review

Nolan Bushnell founded Atari and invented Pong, a version of table tennis that was integral to launching the video game industry. Bushnell’s latest venture is a company called Modal VR, which is building its own wireless VR headsets and games that it plans to roll out in places like arcades, malls, and movie theaters in the coming months.

Each week, we bring you the most relevant stories covering the business of virtual and augmented reality, which we produce with our partner Vertebrae, the native ad platform for VR/AR.