AR startup Ubiquity6 lands $27M Series B to build a more user-friendly augmented reality

While nearly every tech giant has publicly proclaimed augmented reality the next frontier to conquer, product movement has been relatively slow as the companies’ aim to nail very base issues in consumer-friendly ways has proven difficult. Ubiquity6 is one of a handful of startups aiming to tackle the backlog of backend features currently missing from […]

While nearly every tech giant has publicly proclaimed augmented reality the next frontier to conquer, product movement has been relatively slow as the companies’ aim to nail very base issues in consumer-friendly ways has proven difficult.

Ubiquity6 is one of a handful of startups aiming to tackle the backlog of backend features currently missing from most AR experiences available today. The fast-growing company is looking to build tools that will essentially enable users to create a cloud-based AR copy of the physical world and enable persistent, dynamic multiplayer AR experiences as a result.

Today, the startup announced that it has closed a $27 million Series B led by Benchmark and Index Ventures. The company has raised over $37 million to date with plenty of high-profile VC firms amongst its investor list including Google’s Gradient Ventures, First Round, and KPCB — where Ubiquity6’s CEO Anjney Midha previously helped run a small fund. With this raise, Benchmark GP Mitch Lasky will be joining the Ubiquity6 board.

Multiplayer AR toolsets have been a trend of the year as Google, Apple and a host of other startups have looked to focus on how two or more users can sync their maps of the world in the most seamless way possible. A big focus of the Ubiquity6’s efforts have been on building 3D mesh maps of entire public areas so that that the onboarding process just naturally grows to be instantaneous.

This strategy works great for museums and much less well for your living room, but Ubiquity6 is hoping that the experiences available in their app can have episodic utility that ties them closely with events at public geographic locations.

In more ways than one, the startup seems to be taking a page from Snapchat in their approach to AR but also hopes to leapfrog Snap’s efforts by moving harder and faster into the hard AR tech that the chat app has largely sidestepped. The company’s app, which has yet to launch, has a bit of a carousel-like app selector which can boot up separate AR experiences much like one would switch through Snapchat Lenses.

I had a chance to demo some of the startup’s technology earlier this month and while phone-based AR still generally has a host of usability challenges, Ubiquity6 was able to deliver some interesting scenes that were optimized to be used by up to 100 users concurrently. My demo of adding cubes to an ever-expanding digital art sculpture was certainly simplistic but had a notable lack of hiccups through the entire process.

The company’s partnership with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was previewed earlier this month with an activation inside the Magritte exhibit. The experience takes some familiar themes from the artist and allows phone-wilding visitors to step through AR portals and explore the “inner-workings” of the paintings. It’s an intriguing concept that seems particularly well-suited for the surrealist artist.

The company’s app hasn’t launched at a grand scale yet though people interested in testing out a beta of the startup’s tech can sign-up on the their website.

Openbook is the latest dream of a digital life beyond Facebook

As tech’s social giants wrestle with antisocial demons that appear to be both an emergent property of their platform power, and a consequence of specific leadership and values failures (evident as they publicly fail to enforce even the standards they claim to have), there are still people dreaming of a better way. Of social networking beyond outrage-fuelled […]

As tech’s social giants wrestle with antisocial demons that appear to be both an emergent property of their platform power, and a consequence of specific leadership and values failures (evident as they publicly fail to enforce even the standards they claim to have), there are still people dreaming of a better way. Of social networking beyond outrage-fuelled adtech giants like Facebook and Twitter.

There have been many such attempts to build a ‘better’ social network of course. Most have ended in the deadpool. A few are still around with varying degrees of success/usage (Snapchat, Ello and Mastodon are three that spring to mine). None has usurped Zuckerberg’s throne of course.

This is principally because Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp. It has also bought and closed down smaller potential future rivals (tbh). So by hogging network power, and the resources that flow from that, Facebook the company continues to dominate the social space. But that doesn’t stop people imagining something better — a platform that could win friends and influence the mainstream by being better ethically and in terms of functionality.

And so meet the latest dreamer with a double-sided social mission: Openbook.

The idea (currently it’s just that; a small self-funded team; a manifesto; a prototype; a nearly spent Kickstarter campaign; and, well, a lot of hopeful ambition) is to build an open source platform that rethinks social networking to make it friendly and customizable, rather than sticky and creepy.

Their vision to protect privacy as a for-profit platform involves a business model that’s based on honest fees — and an on-platform digital currency — rather than ever watchful ads and trackers.

There’s nothing exactly new in any of their core ideas. But in the face of massive and flagrant data misuse by platform giants these are ideas that seem to sound increasingly like sense. So the element of timing is perhaps the most notable thing here — with Facebook facing greater scrutiny than ever before, and even taking some hits to user growth and to its perceived valuation as a result of ongoing failures of leadership and a management philosophy that’s been attacked by at least one of its outgoing senior execs as manipulative and ethically out of touch.

The Openbook vision of a better way belongs to Joel Hernández who has been dreaming for a couple of years, brainstorming ideas on the side of other projects, and gathering similarly minded people around him to collectively come up with an alternative social network manifesto — whose primary pledge is a commitment to be honest.

“And then the data scandals started happening and every time they would, they would give me hope. Hope that existing social networks were not a given and immutable thing, that they could be changed, improved, replaced,” he tells TechCrunch.

Rather ironically Hernández says it was overhearing the lunchtime conversation of a group of people sitting near him — complaining about a laundry list of social networking ills; “creepy ads, being spammed with messages and notifications all the time, constantly seeing the same kind of content in their newsfeed” — that gave him the final push to pick up the paper manifesto and have a go at actually building (or, well, trying to fund building… ) an alternative platform. 

At the time of writing Openbook’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign has a handful of days to go and is only around a third of the way to reaching its (modest) target of $115k, with just over 1,000 backers chipping in. So the funding challenge is looking tough.

The team behind Openbook includes crypto(graphy) royalty, Phil Zimmermann — aka the father of PGP — who is on board as an advisor initially but billed as its “chief cryptographer”, as that’s what he’d be building for the platform if/when the time came. 

Hernández worked with Zimmermann at the Dutch telecom KPN building security and privacy tools for internal usage — so called him up and invited him for a coffee to get his thoughts on the idea.

“As soon as I opened the website with the name Openbook, his face lit up like I had never seen before,” says Hernández. “You see, he wanted to use Facebook. He lives far away from his family and facebook was the way to stay in the loop with his family. But using it would also mean giving away his privacy and therefore accepting defeat on his life-long fight for it, so he never did. He was thrilled at the possibility of an actual alternative.”

On the Kickstarter page there’s a video of Zimmermann explaining the ills of the current landscape of for-profit social platforms, as he views it. “If you go back a century, Coca Cola had cocaine in it and we were giving it to children,” he says here. “It’s crazy what we were doing a century ago. I think there will come a time, some years in the future, when we’re going to look back on social networks today, and what we were doing to ourselves, the harm we were doing to ourselves with social networks.”

“We need an alternative to the social network work revenue model that we have today,” he adds. “The problem with having these deep machine learning neural nets that are monitoring our behaviour and pulling us into deeper and deeper engagement is they already seem to know that nothing drives engagement as much as outrage.

“And this outrage deepens the political divides in our culture, it creates attack vectors against democratic institutions, it undermines our elections, it makes people angry at each other and provides opportunities to divide us. And that’s in addition to the destruction of our privacy by revenue models that are all about exploiting our personal information. So we need some alternative to this.”

Hernández actually pinged TechCrunch’s tips line back in April — soon after the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal went global — saying “we’re building the first ever privacy and security first, open-source, social network”.

We’ve heard plenty of similar pitches before, of course. Yet Facebook has continued to harvest global eyeballs by the billions. And even now, after a string of massive data and ethics scandals, it’s all but impossible to imagine users leaving the site en masse. Such is the powerful lock-in of The Social Network effect.

Regulation could present a greater threat to Facebook, though others argue more rules will simply cement its current dominance.

Openbook’s challenger idea is to apply product innovation to try to unstick Zuckerberg. Aka “building functionality that could stand for itself”, as Hernández puts it.

“We openly recognise that privacy will never be enough to get any significant user share from existing social networks,” he says. “That’s why we want to create a more customisable, fun and overall social experience. We won’t follow the footsteps of existing social networks.”

Data portability is an important ingredient to even being able to dream this dream — getting people to switch from a dominant network is hard enough without having to ask them to leave all their stuff behind as well as their friends. Which means that “making the transition process as smooth as possible” is another project focus.

Hernández says they’re building data importers that can parse the archive users are able to request from their existing social networks — to “tell you what’s in there and allow you to select what you want to import into Openbook”.

These sorts of efforts are aided by updated regulations in Europe — which bolster portability requirements on controllers of personal data. “I wouldn’t say it made the project possible but… it provided us a with a unique opportunity no other initiative had before,” says Hernández of the EU’s GDPR.

“Whether it will play a significant role in the mass adoption of the network, we can’t tell for sure but it’s simply an opportunity too good to ignore.”

On the product front, he says they have lots of ideas — reeling off a list that includes the likes of “a topic-roulette for chats, embracing Internet challenges as another kind of content, widgets, profile avatars, AR chatrooms…” for starters.

“Some of these might sound silly but the idea is to break the status quo when it comes to the definition of what a social network can do,” he adds.

Asked why he believes other efforts to build ‘ethical’ alternatives to Facebook have failed he argues it’s usually because they’ve focused on technology rather than product.

“This is still the most predominant [reason for failure],” he suggests. “A project comes up offering a radical new way to do social networking behind the scenes. They focus all their efforts in building the brand new tech needed to do the very basic things a social network can already do. Next thing you know, years have passed. They’re still thousands of miles away from anything similar to the functionality of existing social networks and their core supporters have moved into yet another initiative making the same promises. And the cycle goes on.”

He also reckons disruptive efforts have fizzled out because they were too tightly focused on being just a solution to an existing platform problem and nothing more.

So, in other words, people were trying to build an ‘anti-Facebook’, rather than a distinctly interesting service in its own right. (The latter innovation, you could argue, is how Snap managed to carve out a space for itself in spite of Facebook sitting alongside it — even as Facebook has since sought to crush Snap’s creative market opportunity by cloning its products.)

“This one applies not only to social network initiatives but privacy-friendly products too,” argues Hernández. “The problem with that approach is that the problems they solve or claim to solve are most of the time not mainstream. Such as the lack of privacy.

“While these products might do okay with the people that understand the problems, at the end of the day that’s a very tiny percentage of the market. The solution these products often present to this issue is educating the population about the problems. This process takes too long. And in topics like privacy and security, it’s not easy to educate people. They are topics that require a knowledge level beyond the one required to use the technology and are hard to explain with examples without entering into the conspiracy theorist spectrum.”

So the Openbook team’s philosophy is to shake things up by getting people excited for alternative social networking features and opportunities, with merely the added benefit of not being hostile to privacy nor algorithmically chain-linked to stoking fires of human outrage.

The reliance on digital currency for the business model does present another challenge, though, as getting people to buy into this could be tricky. After all payments equal friction.

To begin with, Hernández says the digital currency component of the platform would be used to let users list secondhand items for sale. Down the line, the vision extends to being able to support a community of creators getting a sustainable income — thanks to the same baked in coin mechanism enabling other users to pay to access content or just appreciate it (via a tip).

So, the idea is, that creators on Openbook would be able to benefit from the social network effect via direct financial payments derived from the platform (instead of merely ad-based payments, such as are available to YouTube creators) — albeit, that’s assuming reaching the necessary critical usage mass. Which of course is the really, really tough bit.

“Lower cuts than any existing solution, great content creation tools, great administration and overview panels, fine-grained control over the view-ability of their content and more possibilities for making a stable and predictable income such as creating extra rewards for people that accept to donate for a fixed period of time such as five months instead of a month to month basis,” says Hernández, listing some of the ideas they have to stand out from existing creator platforms.

“Once we have such a platform and people start using tips for this purpose (which is not such a strange use of a digital token), we will start expanding on its capabilities,” he adds. (He’s also written the requisite Medium article discussing some other potential use cases for the digital currency portion of the plan.)

At this nascent prototype and still-not-actually-funded stage they haven’t made any firm technical decisions on this front either. And also don’t want to end up accidentally getting into bed with an unethical tech.

“Digital currency wise, we’re really concerned about the environmental impact and scalability of the blockchain,” he says — which could risk Openbook contradicting stated green aims in its manifesto and looking hypocritical, given its plan is to plough 30% of its revenues into ‘give-back’ projects, such as environmental and sustainability efforts and also education.

“We want a decentralised currency but we don’t want to rush into decisions without some in-depth research. Currently, we’re going through IOTA’s whitepapers,” he adds.

They do also believe in decentralizing the platform — or at least parts of it — though that would not be their first focus on account of the strategic decision to prioritize product. So they’re not going to win fans from the (other) crypto community. Though that’s hardly a big deal given their target user-base is far more mainstream.

“Initially it will be built on a centralised manner. This will allow us to focus in innovating in regards to the user experience and functionality product rather than coming up with a brand new behind the scenes technology,” he says. “In the future, we’re looking into decentralisation from very specific angles and for different things. Application wise, resiliency and data ownership.”

“A project we’re keeping an eye on and that shares some of our vision on this is Tim Berners Lee’s MIT Solid project. It’s all about decoupling applications from the data they use,” he adds.

So that’s the dream. And the dream sounds good and right. The problem is finding enough funding and wider support — call it ‘belief equity’ — in a market so denuded of competitive possibility as a result of monopolistic platform power that few can even dream an alternative digital reality is possible.

In early April, Hernández posted a link to a basic website with details of Openbook to a few online privacy and tech communities asking for feedback. The response was predictably discouraging. “Some 90% of the replies were a mix between critiques and plain discouraging responses such as “keep dreaming”, “it will never happen”, “don’t you have anything better to do”,” he says.

(Asked this April by US lawmakers whether he thinks he has a monopoly, Zuckerberg paused and then quipped: “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me!”)

Still, Hernández stuck with it, working on a prototype and launching the Kickstarter. He’s got that far — and wants to build so much more — but getting enough people to believe that a better, fairer social network is even possible might be the biggest challenge of all. 

For now, though, Hernández doesn’t want to stop dreaming.

“We are committed to make Openbook happen,” he says. “Our back-up plan involves grants and impact investment capital. Nothing will be as good as getting our first version through Kickstarter though. Kickstarter funding translates to absolute freedom for innovation, no strings attached.”

You can check out the Openbook crowdfunding pitch here.

Blippar is using AR to help customers find their way indoors

Remember the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruz walks through the mall and thousands of holographic ads pop up around him? That reality may not be as far off as we thought. Blippar, the augmented reality startup that launched back in 2011, is today announcing the launch of a new product that would let […]

Remember the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruz walks through the mall and thousands of holographic ads pop up around him? That reality may not be as far off as we thought.

Blippar, the augmented reality startup that launched back in 2011, is today announcing the launch of a new product that would let retailers, airports, commercial real estate owners, etc. place augmented reality content across their space.

The product is called the Blippar Indoor Positioning System, and it uses computer vision and augmented reality to help customers, tenants, etc. find their way through a large indoor space such as a grocery store, department store, or stadium.

This isn’t Blippar’s foray into AR navigation. The company launched the AR City app in the summer of 2017, which uses the camera of the phone to pinpoint a user’s location with better accuracy than GPS, according to the company. Blippar rolled out functionality for AR City in more than 300 cities.

But the indoor positioning system should prove more lucrative. Location services is one critical piece of our digital lifestyle that hasn’t been completely overwhelmed by advertisements. But it’s not hard to imagine advertisements popping up within a department store or sports stadium as a user looks for the beauty department or the closest hotdog, respectively of course.

Blippar sees an opportunity to use this for retail and shopping, entertainment and gamification, tourism, and even design, giving interior designers a chance to check out AR furniture, paint colors, etc.

But there’s also a huge play here around data. Facebook may know just about everything about you, but the advertising behemoth hasn’t made the most of leveraging a user’s location. Blippar might stand a chance at doing just that with the new indoor positioning system, giving retailers unprecedented information around the way that customers move through a store.

Because the system uses computer vision to determine a user’s location, the product can be used in offline mode.

Blippar uses blueprints, photography, and 3D models of buildings to build out the indoor visual positioning system, and can turn around the project almost immediately if they have access to CAD files of the building’s layout. Adding content, however, takes as long as designers and other project leaders need to figure out what that content should be and how it should look.

Blippar has been through a number of evolutions as a company. The startup first launched as a tool for brands and publishers, laying AR content on top of real-world objects that were tagged with a Blipp (a little sticker to trigger the AR content).

The company then moved into visual search, letting users point their phone at a car or a flower and learning more about what that real-world object is.

That has all laid the foundation for this latest B2B iteration around navigation. Blippar hasn’t yet disclosed the exact cost of using this new product, but did say that it will range between $300K and $1 million. Thus far, the company has signed on two major clients, one retailer and one commercial real estate owner, though Blippar didn’t disclose which companies it’s working with.

Blippar has raised more than $100 million since launch.

Facebook builds its own AR games for Messenger video chat

Facebook is diving deeper into in-house game development with the launch of its own version of Snapchat’s multiplayer augmented reality video chat games. Today, Facebook Messenger globally launches its first two AR video chat games that you can play with up to six people. “Don’t Smile” is like a staring contest that detects if you […]

Facebook is diving deeper into in-house game development with the launch of its own version of Snapchat’s multiplayer augmented reality video chat games. Today, Facebook Messenger globally launches its first two AR video chat games that you can play with up to six people.

“Don’t Smile” is like a staring contest that detects if you grin, and then users AR to contort your it’s an exaggerated Joker’s smirk while awarding your opponent the win. “Asteroids Attack” sees you move your face around the navigate a space ship, avoiding rocks and grabbing laser beam powerups. Soon, Facebook also plans to launch “Beach Bump” for passing an AR ball back and forth, and a “Kitten Craze” cat matching game. To play the games, you start a video chat, hit the Star button to open the filter menu, and then select one of the games. You can snap and share screenshots to your chat thread while you play.

The games are effectively a way to pass the time while you video chat, rather than something you’d ever play on your own. They could be a hit with parents and grandparents who are away and want to spend time with a kid…who isn’t exactly the best conversationalist.

Facebook tells me it built these games itself using the AR Studio tool it launched last year to let developers create their own AR face filters. When asked if game development would be available to everyone through AR studio, a spokesperson told me “Not today, but we’ve seen sucessful short-session AR games developed by the creator community and are always looking out for ways to bring the best AR content to the FB family of apps.”

For now, there will be no ads, sponsored branding, or in-app purchases in Messenger’s video chat games. But those all offer opportunities for Facebook and potentially outside developers to earn money. Facebook could easily show an ad interstitial between game rounds, let brands build games to promote movie releases or product launches, or let you buy powerups to beat friends or cosmetically upgrade your in-game face.

Snapchat’s Snappables games launched in April

The games feel less polished than the launch titles for Snapchat’s Snappables gaming platform that launched in April. Snapchat focused on taking over your whole screen with augmented reality, transporting you into space or a disco dance hall. Facebook’s games merely overlay a few graphics on the world around you. But Facebook’s games are more purposefully designed for split-screen multiplayer. Snapchat is reportedly building its own third-party game development platform, but it seems Facebook wanted to get the drop on it.

The AR video chat games live separately from the Messenger Instant Games platform the company launched last year. These include arcade classics and new mobile titles that users can play by themselves and challenge friends over high-scores. Facebook now allows developers of Instant Games to monetize with in-app purchases and ads, foreshadowing what could come to AR video chat games.

Facebook has rarely developed its own games. It did build a few mini-games like an arcade pop-a-shot style basketball game and a soccer game to show off what the Messenger Instant Games platform could become. But typically it’s stuck to letting outside developers lead. Here, it may be trying to set examples of what developers should build before actually spawning a platform around video chat games.

Now with over 1.3 billion users, Facebook Messenger is seeking more ways to keep people engaged. Having already devoured many people’s one-on-one utility chats, it’s fun group chats, video calling, and gaming that could get people spending more time in the app.

Magic Leap One AR headset for devs costs more than 2x the iPhone X

It’s been a long and trip-filled wait but mixed reality headgear maker Magic Leap will finally, finally be shipping its first piece of hardware this summer. We were still waiting on the price-tag — but it’s just been officially revealed: The developer-focused Magic Leap One ‘creator edition’ headset will set you back at least $2,295. […]

It’s been a long and trip-filled wait but mixed reality headgear maker Magic Leap will finally, finally be shipping its first piece of hardware this summer.

We were still waiting on the price-tag — but it’s just been officially revealed: The developer-focused Magic Leap One ‘creator edition’ headset will set you back at least $2,295.

So a considerable chunk of change — albeit this bit of kit is not intended as a mass market consumer device (although Magic Leap’s founder frothed about it being “at the border of practical for everybody” in an interview with the Verge) but rather an AR headset for developers to create content that could excite future consumers.

A ‘Pro’ version of the kit — with an extra hub cable and some kind of rapid replacement service if the kit breaks — costs an additional $495, according to CNET. While certain (possibly necessary) extras such as prescription lenses also cost more. So it’s pushing towards 3x iPhone Xes at that point.

The augmented reality startup, which has raised at least $2.3 billion, according to Crunchbase, attracting a string of high profile investors including Google, Alibaba, Andreessen Horowitz and others, is only offering its first piece of reality bending eyewear to “creators in cities across the contiguous U.S.”.

Potential buyers are asked to input their zip code via its website to check if it will agree to take their money but it adds that “the list is growing daily”.

We tried the TC SF office zip and — unsurprisingly — got an affirmative of delivery there. But any folks in, for example, Hawaii wanting to spend big to space out are out of luck for now…

CNET reports that the headset is only available in six U.S. cities at this stage: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco (Bay Area), and Seattle — with Magic Leap saying that “many” more will be added in fall.

The company specifies it will “hand deliver” the package to buyers — and “personally get you set up”. So evidently it wants to try to make sure its first flush of expensive hardware doesn’t get sucked down the toilet of dashed developer expectations.

It describes the computing paradigm it’s seeking to shift, i.e. with the help of enthused developers and content creators, as “spatial computing” — but it really needs a whole crowd of technically and creatively minded people to step with it if it’s going to successfully deliver that.

Naked Labs raises $14M Series A led by Founders Fund for its 3D body scanning mirror

When it comes to measuring your fitness progress, there’s only so much your weight scale can tell you, actually there’s only one thing it can convey. That one metric hardly encapsulates all of the successes that active people are looking to achieve. Naked Labs believes that body shape is a more important thing to measure […]

When it comes to measuring your fitness progress, there’s only so much your weight scale can tell you, actually there’s only one thing it can convey. That one metric hardly encapsulates all of the successes that active people are looking to achieve.

Naked Labs believes that body shape is a more important thing to measure and they’ve begun shipping their body-scanning mirror that builds a 3D model of users and alerts them where progress is being made and where there’s potential for more work to be done.

The startup also announced today that it has raised a $14 million Series A led by Founders Fund. Also participating were NEA, Lumia Capital, Venture 51, Seabed VC, among others.

The company began taking pre-orders last year for its $1,395 Naked 3D Fitness Tracker. It’s already started shipping out those orders and by next quarter the startup hopes to have the devices generally available. The device consists of two parts, a scale that houses sensors and a computer and the weight scale which spins you around so that the stationary mirror can grab a body scan of a user in about 15 seconds.

Soon after, you’ll get your body fat percent, lean mass and fat mass, circumferences, as well as side-by-side comparisons with earlier scans and some graphs that showcase historical data.

Part of what makes this device so pricy is that the Naked 3D Fitness Tracker packs some pretty serious internals for a freaking mirror. The device has an Intel x86 processor, RAM, 4GB DDR4 RAM, and a 64GB SSD. All of this is so that the device can stitch the imagery it’s taking into an easy model that it can then beam directly to your phone from the device, meaning that depth data of your body isn’t being uploaded to the cloud and is being handled on-device.

On the privacy front there are certainly some real concerns about having a mirror stocked with sensors that scans your naked body. For its part, Naked Labs seems to have made some significant choices to minimize some of these concerns. For starters the mirror doesn’t even have RGB cameras, relying entirely on Intel RealSense depth sensors instead. As a result, what the app ends up getting looks more like a TSA body scan image rather than a 3D avatar.

“We have to have a certain amount of trust when we look in the mirror,” Founders Fund Partner Cyan Banister said in a statement. “Naked Labs takes what could be a scary body scan image and turns it into an avatar – like Marvel’s Silver Surfer. This creates a different relationship between people and their body – a more objective one because it takes the emotion out of it.”

Ultimately, the company is in the business of 3D body scanning. Peloton has certainly shown that people are willing to invest significantly in exercise hardware for their homes, but there are a lot of applications outside of fitness which I would imagine is where a lot of these investors’ interests really lay. Having an accurate body model has a lot of applications for helping consumers pick out items that fit their body and style more.

At $1,395 this isn’t the most accessible device to the everyday exerciser, but Naked Labs seems to realize that and it hoping to take some of this funding to scale manufacturing, hire new people and continue working on developing new products.

The 10 Best Tools for Your iPhone: Ruler, Level, and Distance Measurement

best-tool-apps-iphone

Everyone needs some type of toolbox with a measuring device. You may have to measure an object or area, calculate a distance from wall to wall, or make sure that your project pieces are level. Unfortunately, most people don’t carry a toolbox in their pocket. This is when your iPhone can come in handy. With the right apps, you can put those essential tools at your fingertips no matter where you go. Rulers, levels, tape measures, and similar apps are all available for your iPhone. Here 10 of the best you can get. 1. Ruler AR – Camera Measure Tape…

Read the full article: The 10 Best Tools for Your iPhone: Ruler, Level, and Distance Measurement

best-tool-apps-iphone

Everyone needs some type of toolbox with a measuring device. You may have to measure an object or area, calculate a distance from wall to wall, or make sure that your project pieces are level. Unfortunately, most people don’t carry a toolbox in their pocket. This is when your iPhone can come in handy.

With the right apps, you can put those essential tools at your fingertips no matter where you go. Rulers, levels, tape measures, and similar apps are all available for your iPhone. Here 10 of the best you can get.

1. Ruler AR – Camera Measure Tape

The Ruler AR app lets you quickly and easily measure objects, areas, distances, heights, and angles. Just swap between the various tools with a tap and then get measuring.

Tap to start and end the measurement, then view the size on the augmented reality screen. You can save, send, and share your measurement photos for group projects. Adjustable settings let you see the units in centimeters, inches, or meters. Plus, you can enable plane focus and feature points for even more help.

Ruler AR offers an in-app purchase to remove the ads if you decide to use it often. You might also check out some free ARKit games and apps for your iPhone.

Download: Ruler AR – Camera Measure Tape (Free)

2. Ruler App + Photo Ruler

Ruler App + Photo Ruler gives you a standard ruler and 2D ruler, plus an AR photo ruler, all in one spot.

Take simple measurements or plan a space with elements like angles, area, or arrows. You can annotate your plans with text and colors and save projects in the app. Choose from centimeters or inches, lock in your measurements, and adjust the speed of the moving rulers.

Ruler App + Photo Ruler offers an in-app purchase to remove the ads if you enjoy using it.

Download: Ruler App + Photo Ruler (Free)

3. Ruler + Tape Measure Tools

Ruler Plus Tools iPhone

The Ruler + Tape Measure Tools app gives you three simple ways to measure. You can use the classic ruler, camera ruler, or tape measure.

Easily measure objects or rooms with the camera ruler. Just snap a photo and then move the measurement tool on the screen for the exact size. You can adjust the camera ruler settings for the reference object and save your measured photos to your device. All three tools let you measure in inches or centimeters and offer clean displays.

Ruler + Tape Measure Tools currently has an offer to remove the ads and obtain a 25-foot tape measure by watching three short videos.

Download: Ruler + Tape Measure Tools (Free)

4. Measure

Measure gives you standard ruler, chain ruler, precise height, angle, and trajectory options for multiple measurements. They’re all easy to use. Just tap your starting and ending points to capture the measurement, and hit the camera button to save a screenshot.

Enable the built-in flashlight as needed and measure in centimeters, meters, inches, feet, or yards. For objects, areas, and distances, Measure uses augmented reality.

Download: Measure (Free)

5. Tape Measure

The Tape Measure app lets you quickly get measurements of objects, rooms, or distances with augmented reality.

Just open the app and scan the surface until you see the yellow dots. Tap the plus sign to begin measuring and move your iPhone to the end of the area and hit the plus sign once more. That’s it!

Once you finish measuring, the size remains on the screen for you. You will also see the measurements at the top of the app screen in centimeters, inches, and feet, which is great for objects and areas large and small.

Tape Measure offers an in-app purchase for a Pro subscription, which includes more tools and removes the ads. And if the sizes of everyday objects interest you, take a look at apps for measuring or comparing anything.

Download: Tape Measure (Free, subscription available)

6. TapMeasure

TapMeasure is another choice that uses augmented reality. The app includes three measurement tools, including a quick measure for objects, 3D room builder for measuring spaces, and a smart level for, well, making sure everything is level.

With each tool, you simply scan the area or object until the app locates the surface. When it does, you’ll see it in yellow on the screen and tap to confirm it. You can use inches or centimeters, save images of your measurements in the app, and measure more than one object on the screen at the same time.

TapMeasure is a great app that’s easy to use, but also provides short videos if you need help with the tools.

Download: TapMeasure (Free)

7. PLNAR

PLNAR goes beyond simple measurements to help you create 3D models of rooms and spaces. Move your device in a circle slowly for the app to capture the surface. Then tap to begin measuring. As you move and tap the points, you can see the area and perimeter measurements displayed.

With the app, you can adjust the measurement units all the way down to millimeters, create and save room plans and projects, and view both 2D and 3D models. PLNAR is a convenient mobile tool for professionals and do-it-yourself aficionados.

Download: PLNAR (Free)

8. EasyMeasure

Measure distances, objects, and more with EasyMeasure. The app uses your camera and offers an augmented reality mode if you prefer.

As you measure the area, tap anytime to switch the unit. You can use centimeters, meters, inches, feet, or yards. Turn on the in-app light for dark spaces, snap photos of your measurements to save or share, pause measuring at any point, and calibrate your device easily.

EasyMeasure offers a few in-app purchase options for height and width measurements along with ad removal.

Download: EasyMeasure (Free, premium version available)

9. Bubble Level

The Bubble Level app obviously gives you a bubble level, but it offers much more than that. Other tools include a surface level, gyroscope, plumb line, metal detector, compass, and AR ruler. Just swipe to move between each option and adjust their settings individually if needed.

You can clearly see the degrees on the level tools and lock them into place with a tap. The AR ruler is simple to use: tap the start and end points of the object and you can measure more than one object on the same augmented reality screen.

Bubble Level offers a great level tool with little extras that come in handy. And you can remove the ads with an affordable in-app purchase.

Download: Bubble Level (Free)

10. iHandy Level

iHandy Level iPhone

The iHandy Level app is the simplest level you’ll find. You can use it in both portrait and landscape modes, giving you flexibility.

As the bubble moves on the level, you’ll see the degrees adjust on the screen. You can tap the Hold button to stop the bubble in place, enable or disable the Calibration button and beeping sound, and adjust the bubble sensitivity to your liking.

Download: iHandy Level (Free)

Turn Your iPhone Into a Digital Toolbox

Each of these iPhone measuring tools has something different to offer. It may depend on your project or simply your taste, but take each one for a spin and see what works for you.

If you’re interested in distance measurements, check out how to measure areas and distances with Google Maps or find the shortest distance between two points on Google Maps.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Tools for Your iPhone: Ruler, Level, and Distance Measurement

Magic Leap details what its mixed reality OS will look like

Magic Leap just updated its developer documentation with a host of new details and imagery, sharing more specifics on how the company’s Lumin OS will look like on their upcoming Magic Leap One device. It’s mostly a large heaping of nitty-gritty details, but we also get a more prescient view into how Magic Leap sees […]

Magic Leap just updated its developer documentation with a host of new details and imagery, sharing more specifics on how the company’s Lumin OS will look like on their upcoming Magic Leap One device.

It’s mostly a large heaping of nitty-gritty details, but we also get a more prescient view into how Magic Leap sees interactions with their product looking and the directions that developers are being encouraged to move in. Worth noting off the bat that these gifs/images appear to be mock-ups or screenshots rather than images shot directly through Magic Leap tech.

Alright, first, this is what the Magic Leap One home screen will apparently look like, it’s worth noting that it appears that Magic Leap will have some of its own stock apps on the device, which was completely expected but they haven’t discussed much about.

Also worth noting is that Magic Leap’s operating system by and large looks like most other operating systems, they seem to be well aware that flat interfaces are way easier to navigate so you’re not going to be engaging with 3D assets just for the sake of doing so.

Here’s a look at a media gallery app on Magic Leap One.

Here’s a look at an avatar system.

The company seems to be distinguishing between two basic app types for developers: immersive apps and landscape apps. Landscape apps like what you see in the image above, appear to be Magic Leap’s version of 2D where interfaces are mostly flat but have some depth and live inside a box called a prism that fits spatially into your environment. It seems that you’ll be able to have several of these running simultaneously.

Immersive apps, on the other hand, like this game title, DrGrordbort— which Magic Leap has been teasing for years — respond to the geometry of the space that you are in and is thus called an immersive app.

Here’s a video of an immersive experience in action.

Moving beyond apps, the company also had a good deal to share about how you interact with what’s happening in the headset.

We got a look at some hand controls and what that may look like.

When it comes to text input, an area where AR/VR systems have had some struggles, it looks like you’ll have an appropriate amount of options. Magic Leap will have a companion smartphone app that you can type into, you can connect a bluetooth keyboard and there will also be an onscreen keyboard with dictation capabilities.

One of the big highlights of Magic Leap tech is that you’ll be able to share perspectives of these apps in a multi-player experience which we now know is called “casting,” apps that utilize these feature will just have a button that you can press to share an experience with a contact. No details on what the setup process for this looks like beyond that though.

Those are probably the most interesting insights, although there’s plenty of other stuff in the Creator Portal, but also here are a few other images to keep you going.

[gallery ids="1681679,1681678,1681680,1681705"]

It really seems like the startup is finally getting ready to showcase something. The company says that its device will begin shipping this summer and is already in developer hands. Based on what Magic Leap has shown here, the interface looks like it’ll feel very familiar as opposed to some other AR interfaces that have adopted a pretty heavy-handed futuristic look.

Enterprise barcode scanner startup Scandit raises a $30 million Series B

“Augmented reality for enterprise” is the sort of phrase that surely hits all of the right neurological pleasure centers for VCs. No surprise, then, that Scandit just raised a $30 million Series B, in a round led by GV (née Google Ventures) and NGP Capital. That joins a previous $13 million raise for the Zurich-based […]

“Augmented reality for enterprise” is the sort of phrase that surely hits all of the right neurological pleasure centers for VCs. No surprise, then, that Scandit just raised a $30 million Series B, in a round led by GV (née Google Ventures) and NGP Capital. That joins a previous $13 million raise for the Zurich-based startup.

We highlighted the company back in early 2017. At the time, its mission was focused on focused on weaning enterprises off of pricey proprietary scanning hardware — instead, its technology leveraged standard smartphones with custom software on top. AR has also always been a key part of the Scandit picture.

The company has focused on the Microsoft Hololens and other wearable displays as ways to help streamline warehouses. “A number of data capture use cases for HoloLens come to mind,” the company wrote in a 2016 blog post. “For example, a warehouse associate with a HoloLens headset could be directed with virtual markers to the correct items. They could then use the built-in HoloLens camera for hands-free scanning. HoloLens could also indicate where an item should be placed once it is scanned, or deliver additional information about scanned objects.”

This latest round will go toward growing the company globally and introducing its technology across various mobile platforms or “any camera-equipped device,” as it puts it in a press release tied to the news.

“This new funding will enable us to keep up our rapid growth, but also, looking at the bigger picture,” says CEO Samuel Mueller, “it’s going to increase the overall adoption of mobile computer vision and augmented reality in the enterprise, which will help to streamline operations and lead to cost savings.”