01 March 2021

Augmented Reality Brain Computer Interface

ONE AR is a hands-free augmented reality device that can be controlled via a brain-computer interface (BCI). Developed by a team of neurologists, biosignal engineers, speech-language pathologists and other experts over the last four years, the ONE is an AR headset that is currently aimed at anyone with complex communication disorders like cerebral palsy or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In addition to BCI, the self-contained device can be controlled by head movements, voice commands and a physical switch.

Six non-invasive electrodes are placed on the wearer’s head, creating a live connection between the user and the device. The technology can identify brain activity related to looking and pointing, allowing the user to select items on a menu or type out messages. Machine learning algorithms will also improve the connection between the wearer and headset over time. The device will also feature 4G and WiFi connectivity, a two-way display and an integrated AI assistant.

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27 February 2021

Facebook Voice Commands for Oculus Quest 2

Facebook announced Voice Commands for the Oculus Quest last year. The original version, however, proved to be inconvenient. In order to access voice commands, you had to manually select the tool from the Oculus menu each and every time you wished to use it. This new update streamlines the process, allowing you to activate voice commands by saying the phrase ‘Hey Facebook’, followed by a specific command.

Facebook knows that users are going to have concerns, which is why ‘Hey Facebook’ is strictly an opt-in experience. You’ll still be able to use Voice Commands without having to say the wake word. To do that, you just use your controller or hand tracking to navigate to the home menu and then to the Experimental Features panel. From there you can then turn off the ‘Hey Facebook’ feature, giving you a little peace of mind.

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25 February 2021

AR Smart Viewer by Qualcomm

Qualcomm, maker of chips and technologies for mobile devices, today announced a reference design for a tethered AR headset which is tethered to a phone or PC but also contains its own chips to handle some onboard processing. The company calls the split-processing approach an AR smart viewer headset. Qualcomm’s latest reference design is a tethered AR headset which the company calls an AR smart viewer. What differentiates an AR smart viewer from a basic tethered AR viewer is the inclusion of onboard processing which helps to offload some of the work from the tethered device onto the headset itself. Basic tethered AR viewers send all of their sensor data to the tethered host device, usually a smartphone, which handles all of the sensor processing while also rendering the AR environment and application. For devices not designed for sustained workloads, that can push a smartphone to its limits in both power and cooling capabilities.

AR smart viewers include their own onboard processor which can handle some of the sensor processing and display tasks, ultimately reducing the power consumption of the tethered device by some 30%. The downside is greater expense due to the added processing hardware. Qualcomm created ready made software which will allow the AR smart viewer to run standard Android apps in floating windows, in addition to immersive AR applications. AR smart viewer headsets can alternatively be tethered Windows PCs for more flexibility, including the ability to run standard Windows applications on virtual monitors. Although Microsoft has its own ambitions with Windows Mixed Reality on both PC VR and standalone with HoloLens, the company seems open to Qualcomm’s efforts to include PCs as host devices for AR smart viewers. Qualcomm hopes that AR smart viewers will eventually break free of their tether and focus instead on a wireless connection to the host device.

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