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Big XR News from Meta, Apple, Microsoft, and OpenXR

Alongside start-ups and fresh ideas; this week, big names big names take the stage
April 19, 2024

Big vendor news this week, Admist start-ups and fresh ideas; this week, big names like Meta, Microsoft, Google, and Apple took the headlines due to each firm’s optimisation of its XR product portfolio.

From new features to new customer focuses, this week, like many in 2024, will prove vital in laying down the foundation for XR in the future.

In the workplace, classrooms or at home, immersive devices might find a place in everyday life partly thanks to incremental updates and changes.

New Quest 3 Features

Earlier this week, Meta announced the upcoming release of a new product that will assist with XR headset usage in classrooms and educational spaces. The unnamed product range will be dedicated to education sectors and will improve the understanding and onboarding of XR across educational professionals.

Like the Meta Quest for Business product model launched last year, the education solutions are designed to empower teachers, trainers, and administrators with education-specific XR applications and management features.

With the new management features, teachers can simultaneously use and manage multiple Quest devices in a classroom. Additionally, the deep device management tools mean that teachers will no longer need to update devices individually or prepare them manually and separately.

According to the firm, the new Meta Quest for education product will help teachers save time and improve student headset onboarding. The company developed the product based on feedback received from educational clients. The new product aims to make learning, applying and practising new skills easier for students using XR solutions.

Once the product is launched, Meta plans to make the education product available to its Quest for Business-supported markets and institutions serving learners aged 13+.

In other news, Google recently released an update to its Quest 3 YouTube application, which allows users to stream 8K videos to their Meta Quest 3. However, while the update suggests that it is possible to stream 8K video to Quest 3 headsets, the device’s quality is capped at 4K, meaning that the YouTube update could be experimental. This could be a way for Google to test 8K video streaming on devices from Meta and other vendors, as new headsets will be released later this year.

Meta has not yet confirmed 8K streaming on its Quest portfolio. However, the company is constantly developing new XR devices. It may expand upon this YouTube update during Connect 2024 – the company’s yearly showcase event – with the direct support of 8K hardware streaming. Nevertheless, whether 8K streaming comes to Meta Quest or other headsets is still speculative, and no confirmations are available now.

Apple Vision Pro Gains Two Healthcare Services

The Apple Vision Pro recently gained two core medical applications this month, adding to its continued hype. Veyond Metaverse and Osso VR have launched their solutions on the emerging headset, providing medical professionals with AI-ready XR learning and remote collaboration technologies.

Veyond Metaverse is debuting the XR 5D Digital Surgery and Yeyond Connect platforms on the Apple Vision Pro, democratizing engaging digital surgery solutions and pioneering remote-assisted surgery situations. Veyond Metaverse is refining surgical skills by building its platform and optimizing its service’s usability through updates and research.

Meanwhile, Osso VR has launched its Healthcare XR training service for the Apple Vision Pro. The new application leverages the spatial computing platform to create detailed and clinically accurate training workflows of standard medical procedures. Osso Health simulates medical training workflows to suit two standard orthopaedic procedure use cases, such as carpal tunnel release and total knee replacement.

Osso VR provides a solution that helps surgical professionals train before surgeries in real-life operating rooms. This solution removes traditional educational models’ obstacles, such as travel, scheduling, and collaborative hurdles. Surgeons can train repeatedly with customized modules to improve their efficacy, skills, and data retention. The solution also offers vital instructional tools, enables performance monitoring, and provides feedback to surgeons.

Microsoft Teams for Mobile Gains AR Features

The Microsoft Teams mobile application receives new XR features via AR instructional annotations this week. These can be applied by team members and managers to a caller’s feed, offering instructional insight and assistance. The Teams Dynamics 365 Remote Assist feature, initially available through the Hololens 2, is now being brought to the mobile application through this update.

Dynamics 365 Remote Assist allows frontline workers to connect with experts and gain insights on repair and maintenance tasks. They can share their views and place spatial annotations in a user’s video feed. With this new AR service, IT administrators can streamline the workflow to a single service and eliminate the need to manage other frontline XR applications to leverage remote assistance capabilities across distributed frontline workers.

Microsoft highlights how companies can benefit from the enterprise-ready and proven end-to-end encryption, data loss prevention, and compliance certifications of Teams when using the AR service—the firm plans to make the device-wide general availability of this service in 2024. The public preview for the new Teams features is being distributed to iOS users, with further public preview models for Android users coming later this summer.

Users already using Dynamics 365 Field Service, Dynamics 365 Guides, and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist license can access the new Teams remote assistance features via the mobile application automatically, at no additional cost.

OpenXR Update to Affect Most Major Headsets

Khronos has recently updated its OpenXR API to optimize its support for cross-platform AR/VR/MR application development with the release of its version 1.1 update. This update consolidates multiple extensions into the OpenXR API, streamlining application development cycles. It specifically reduces the need for vendor-specific extensions and helps to reduce the different coding frameworks behind its support end devices.

The OpenXR API plays a crucial role in many XR headsets from vendors such as Acer, ByteDance, Canon, HTC, Magic Leap, Meta, Microsoft, Sony, XREAL, Qualcomm, Valve, and Varjo. Furthermore, RT3D development services such as Autodesk VRED, Blender, Godot, NVIDIA’s Omniverse, StereoKit, Unreal Engine, and Unity support OpenXR integration.

The OpenXR Working Group collaborates with various industry leaders to determine the best ways to optimize cross-platform XR content.

Interoperability is a crucial factor in enterprise due to the increasing variation of devices in the workplace. With more devices due this year, interoperability will become even more critical. Improving XR development will also enhance the overall user experience of the applications.

This significant cross-hardware update has caught the attention of the industry. However, it’s not surprising that Apple is a notable exclusion. The impact of this on OpenXR’s or Apple’s future goals is yet to be discussed.