On Monday, January 14th, I attended AR in Action at the MIT Media Lab. This is a very cool event with great speakers from MIT and Harvard as well as some of the top industry leaders in the augmented reality space. AR in Action was founded and hosted by John Werner. John has an amazing background working with organizations like the MIT Media Lab and Meta. As of November 2018, he is an MIT Fellow in Connection Science.
This year was my first time attending AR in Action. Here are some of the highlights from my perspective:
I met Magic Leap at our XR in EDU event last October and was pleased to see them speaking from a number of perspectives as part of the program at AR in Action. Magic Leap One is an AR headset that comes with a Lightpack processor which clips to your pocket. It also comes with a hand control. Magic Leap runs on the Lumin OS, which is (according to their website) “fully optimized for environment recognition, persistent digital content and the performance to power high-fidelity visual experiences.” A series of technologists from across the organization shared the latest developments of the platforms they are working on.
And no presentation by Magic Leap would be complete without THE WHALE! This AR animation is simply stunning.
AR in Action was my first opportunity to hear Rus Gant speak. Rus has an amazing background and is presently the Director of the Visualization Research and Teaching Laboratory at Harvard. He is also the Lead Technical artist for the Giza 3D project at Harvard reconstructing the pyramids, temples and tombs on the Egyptian Giza Plateau in virtual reality. Rus has worked in the fields of visualization and computer science, archeology and museology for over 40 years. It was great to hear and see his latest immersive reality work in education around the world.
Next in the program came a series of interesting talks led by John Fan, CEO of Kopin, a major sponsor of AR in Action. Kopin is a global pioneer in military, industrial and consumer wearables for training and simulation. This month Kopin announced a major uptick in adoption of its smart goggles, known as Golden-i Infinity. A major benefit of this wearable is the “hands free” access to data usually navigated on phones or tablets. This brings a lot of efficiency to the use of wearables on the job. Bose spoke too and announced Frames, their new AR audio sunglasses. I like the idea of walking down the street, listening to music and not having to navigate a device to select tunes. “Heads up and hands free” makes all the sense in the world after years of being tethered to devices of all types.
Google was at AR in Action too, speaking about how in a time where workers migrate from job to job so quickly, wearables can help organizations capture and preserve best practices and develop contextual training experiences. According to the website, Glass Enterprise Edition is focused on industry—manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics. Voice activated navigation helps workers stay on task while bringing resources up to support the project in progress, this includes bringing in colleagues for a live stream video chat. As part of the program, PTC spoke about their work bringing AR to industrial workplaces, driving productivity and efficiency. Their Vuforia Studio allows for fast AR authoring optimized for 3D.
zSpace, a provider for augmented and virtual reality in education, was at AR in Action as well. They spoke about their work bringing experiences to students across the country. The organization has mobile classrooms equipped with their technology—laptops, eyewear and styluses. According to their website, zSpace provides curriculum for K12 education, career and technical education, medical and post secondary education. The objects designed within the curriculum can be brought out of the laptop and into AR, and manipulated with 6 degrees of freedom with the stylus.
Events like AR in Action add new dimensions to our thinking about what technology is doing to transform our lives. Hands-free, voice-based navigation of wearables brings new layers of audio and visual content to our world, supporting our daily work and activities. Contextual 3D visualizations that can be manipulated help us explore topics in new experiential ways as we learn. With each release, there’s an impact.
We look forward to continuing our exploration of these transformative technologies known as XR. To see our latest work in this area, check out the website for XR in Learning, the new network we’re building for those engaged in augmented, virtual and mixed reality for K12, higher education and corporate learning and development. You can also watch the livestream from our XR in EDU event last October, co-hosted with Boston University.