Augmented reality

Google selects Android app and game nominees for the 2017 Play Awards

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Google has unveiled the nominees for the Google Play Awards 2017, scheduled for May 18 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific during the company’s I/O 2017 developer conference. There are 12 categories this year, including four new ones: Best VR/AR Experience, Best Multiplayer Game, Best Social Impact, and Best Accessibility Experience.

Google explains that nominees were selected “much like last year by cross-functional teams throughout Google who work hand-in-hand with the relevant categories and product areas.” There are category-specific criteria as well as the common requirements: high star rating, technical performance, and freshness (a launch or major update since April 2016).

This is Google’s way of recognizing developers of quality Android apps and games from across the world. Nominees come from a variety of countries, including Vietnam, France, Russia, Brazil, Uruguay, South Korea, China, and more.

Without further ado, here are the 12 categories and…

A trio of visionaries will explore the future of augmented reality

Above: Tom Cruise in Minority Report inspired lots of tech companies.

I’m very excited about the trio of technology and entertainment visionaries that are the latest speakers for our upcoming GamesBeat Summit 2017: How games, sci-fi, and tech create real-world magic. They include John Hanke, CEO of Niantic Labs and co-creator of Pokémon Go; Ralph Osterhout, CEO of Osterhout Design Group, maker of augmented reality glasses; and John Underkoffler, CEO of Oblong Industries, maker of the Mezzanine collaboration software and science advisor for the film Minority Report.

GamesBeat Summit 2017 will take place on May 1-2 at the historic Claremont resort hotel in Berkeley, Calif., just a short distance from San Francisco. You can secure your seat here. Register today and receive 20 percent off current ticket prices. Use the code Deantak.

I will moderate the session on the future of augmented reality, games, and new technologies. Our visionaries will have a conversation across the seams of science fiction, real-world technology, and games.

Above: John Underkoffler, CEO of Oblong Industries, was science advisor on Minority Report.

Underkoffler has been trying to make the vision of the 2002 film Minority Report, where actor Tom Cruise uses “data gloves” and gestures to control a transparent computer, into a reality. He founded Oblong in 2006, and launched Mezzanine for enterprise collaborators in 2012. Oblong’s technological and design trajectories build on fifteen years of foundational work at the MIT Media Lab, where Underkoffler was responsible for innovations in real-time computer graphics systems, optical and electronic holography, large-scale visualization techniques, and the I/O Bulb and Luminous Room systems.

He has also been science advisor to films including The Hulk, Aeon Flux, and Iron Man. He serves on the National Advisory Council of Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and on the Board of Directors of the E14 Fund in Cambridge, Mass., and of the Sequoyah School in Pasadena, Calif. He is the recipient of the 2015 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Underkoffler will also be giving a solo talk at our summit on May 1.

Above: John Hanke, CEO of Niantic Labs.

Hanke has been running Niantic and riding the rocket ship of Pokémon Go, which has more than 65 million monthly active users and has generated more than $1 billion in revenue in less than a year. His company is dedicated to building “real world” mobile gaming experiences that foster exploration, exercise and social interaction. Niantic has developed and released two games, Ingress and global phenomenon Pokémon Go. The company was originally founded as a start up within Google to explore the creation of new kinds of entertainment at the intersection of location, social, and emerging mobile devices. Niantic was spun out as an independent company in 2015 with backing from investors such as Google, Nintendo and The Pokemon Company.

Earlier in his career, John was a founder of Archetype Interactive, creators of one of the very first online massively multiplayer games, Meridian59, and then went on to co-found Keyhole, a company acquired by Google for the technology that lead to the creation of Google Earth. He was vice president of Google’s Geo division (overseeing projects including Maps and Street View) for seven years before founding Niantic.

Above: Ralph Osterhout, CEO of Osterhout Design Group

Osterhout is a developer, designer and…

HP moves into VR and AR with investment in Venture Reality Fund

Hewlett-Packard is putting on its headsets. One of the world’s oldest technology companies is investing in the fledgling virtual reality market by becoming an investor in The Venture Reality Fund.

The exact amount wasn’t disclosed. But HP Tech Ventures, the new corporate venture arm of HP, has joined as an investor The VR Fund, which has become one of the most active investors in VR, augmented reality, and mixed reality startups. It is HP’s first move into VR investments.

The VR Fund has invested in a number of early-stage startups developing infrastructure, tools, platforms, content and apps for the mixed reality ecosystem.

The VR Fund will provide HP with early access to leading AR/VR/MR technologies with commercial applications in HP’s target markets including office, retail, healthcare, manufacturing and education. The VR Fund’s…

Snapchat World Lenses Are the Next Step in Augmented Reality

Since it was founded in 2011, Snapchat has used cutting-edge technology to successfully set itself apart from other photo-sharing services. The app’s latest feature, Snapchat World Lenses, integrates colorful, 3D objects into real-world scenes captured on your smartphone.

As The Verge reports, Snapchat World Lenses were introduced on Monday, April 18. This is the latest experiment with augmented reality we’ve seen from the mobile app. As Snapchat says in a statement:

“We launched Lenses over a year ago as a whole new way to express ourselves on Snapchat. Since then, we’ve become puppies, puked rainbows, face-swapped with our best friends—and begun to explore how Lenses can change the world around us.

Today, we’re adding new ways to use Lenses.”

Unlike most of the app’s high-tech filters, Snapchat World Lenses aren’t designed for faces. They’re meant to be plopped down anywhere in the space being recorded on your phone’s rear-facing camera. That’s where the augmented reality element comes in: The 3D objects behave as if they’re physically in front of you. Move your…