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AR, VR, return to growth

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The worldwide augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset market returned to growth after a year of decline as global shipments during the first quarter of 2019 (1Q19) reached 1.3 million, up 27.2% from the same quarter last year. The overall AR/VR market has begun to grow again thanks to a surge in shipments of standalone head-mounted displays (HMDs) and tethered HMDs that helped to offset the decline in the low-end, screenless viewer segment, according to the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker.

VR headsets represented 96.6% of the combined AR/VR market during the quarter with strong volumes from top companies such as Sony, Facebook, HTC, Pico, and 3Glasses. The top five vendors captured 65.1% of the total VR headset market.

“Facebook has promised to bring VR to the masses and it took its latest steps toward realizing this vision with new standalone and tethered headset releases during the quarter,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “The company’s new $399 standalone Oculus Quest began shipping this quarter and has enjoyed positive reviews, and its new Rift S offers an updated take on its pioneering tethered headset. These products, along with other new offerings from companies such as HTC and Valve, should position the VR market for solid growth through the rest of the year.”

While AR market volumes remain low, there is clear momentum here as well. Top AR headset makers included Epson, Lenovo, Vuzix, Google, and RealWear during 1Q19.

“Enterprise AR is evolving quickly and many companies are actively looking for hardware solutions they can use to improve existing business processes and drive new ones,” said Tom Mainelli, group vice president, Consumer and Devices Research at IDC. “Vendors shipping robust, ready-to-use products today are seeing increased traction and we expect their volumes to increase notably through the rest of this year. We have also seen new product announcements from players large and small that should help drive increased momentum and shipments when these products begin shipping later this year.”

IDC anticipates the growth trend established in the first quarter will continue as global shipments for AR/VR headsets are forecast to reach 7.6 million units in 2019, up from 5.9 million in 2018. Much of this growth will occur in the commercial segment, which will consume roughly one of every three headsets shipped in 2019.

IDC expects standalone and tethered headsets to drive the VR market growth. Standalone VR headsets will capture 38.2 % of the VR market in 2019, up from 26.6% in 2018. Tethered VR headsets will have a share of 46.1% this year, versus 44.1% last year. Finally, screenless viewers will decline to 15.7%, down from 29.3% last year.

Standalone will play an even larger role in AR for 2019, where IDC expects it to capture 53.9% of the market, up from 47.8% last year. Tethered and screenless viewers will capture 27% and 19.1% in 2019, respectively. While the tethered segment is small today, IDC expects it to play a larger role in the future, as it’s likely the first truly consumer-oriented products will use this form factor down the road.

Cars

LHI is coming to save your car from hazards

Local Hazard Information will give drivers advance warning of potential dangers lurking around the corner

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There are many times when knowing what is around the corner could be useful. But for drivers that knowledge could be critical. Now, thanks to Ford’s new connected car technology, it is also a reality.

Local Hazard Information (LHI) marks a significant step on the journey towards a connected transport infrastructure by helping drivers prepare for and potentially avoid dangers on the road. When drivers ahead encounter sudden tailbacks, accidents or spilled loads, the driver behind – and possibly out of sight – is given advance warning. This could also apply to everything from freak hailstorms, to sudden flooding, or even landslides.

The triggers for the system come from what is happening in the cars ahead. It could be that airbags have been activated, hazard warning lights are flashing, or windscreen wipers are in operation. Previous traffic incident alert systems have relied on drivers to input information in order to generate alerts. LHI works autonomously, without the need for any driver interaction, to generate information and issue warnings.

Hazards are only displayed – via the dashboard display – if the incident is likely to impact on the driver’s journey. LHI is designed to be more beneficial to drivers than hazard information from current radio broadcasting systems, which often deliver notifications not relevant to them.

Already featuring as standard and free of charge for the first year on the new Ford Puma, LHI technology is being rolled out across more than 80 per cent of Ford’s passenger vehicle line-up by the end of this year. Crucially, the benefit will not be limited only to those travelling in Ford vehicles. Information sent can be used to alert drivers of other manufacturers’ vehicles, and vice-versa.

“What makes Local Hazard Information different is that it is the cars that are connected – via the Internet of Things. There is no reliance on third party apps. This is a significant step forward. Warnings are specific, relevant and tailored to try to help improve your specific journey.” Joerg Beyer, executive director, Engineering, Ford of Europe

How it works

Sensors monitor activities including emergency braking, fog lights and traction control to detect adverse weather or road conditions. Data from these activities is then computed to determine the hazard location and whether a traffic incident has occurred.

The vehicle automatically provides updates through a secure connection to “the cloud” using the Ford Pass Connect modem. Ford’s technology partner HERE Technologies operates the central cloud-based platform that collates information from multiple vehicle brands, governed by a business-to-business agreement.

The more cars are connected to the network, the greater the efficiency of the system. When many vehicles generate the same warning, others in the vicinity receive incident information from the cloud via the cellular network, enabling drivers to reduce speed or take appropriate action.

Additional information is sourced from public authority incident databases and traffic reports to provide drivers with further advance warnings including approaching vehicles driving on the wrong side of the carriageway, animals or people in the road ahead, and roadworks.

The on-board modem will be connected at the time of vehicle delivery. Customers may choose to opt in/opt out of certain data sharing.

Local Hazard Information data provided by HERE Technologies.

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Bundesliga plans to “revolutionise football viewing”

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Germany’s Bundesliga football league has selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its official technology provider to deliver more in-depth insight into every live broadcast of Bundesliga games and enable personalised fan experiences. 

Bundesliga says it will use AWS artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), analytics, compute, database, and storage services to deliver real-time statistics to predict future plays and game outcomes. It will also use the technology to recommend personalised match footage across mobile, online, streaming, and television broadcasts.

Using AWS technology, Germany’s premier national football league will build new cloud-based services that automate processes, increase operational efficiency, and enhance the viewing experience for the league’s rapidly growing global fan base. By developing a new, next-generation statistics platform on AWS, using Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed service to build, train, and deploy ML models, Bundesliga will offer fans real-time predictions on when a goal is likely to be scored, identify potential goal-scoring opportunities, and highlight how teams are positioning and controlling the field, based on live data streams and historical data from over 10,000 Bundesliga games. Bundesliga also plans to leverage AWS ML services, such as Amazon Personalize, an ML service to create real-time and individualized recommendations, to offer fans personalized game footage, marketing promotions, and search results based on their favourite teams, players, or matches.

Using other AWS ML services, including Amazon Rekognition, an intelligent image and video analysis service, Bundesliga will build a cloud-based media archive that will automatically tag specific frames, from its more than 150,000 hours of video, with metadata such as game, jersey, player, team, and venue, so that the league can easily search historical footage and surface pivotal plays for in-game broadcasts, in more than 200 countries. This archive will enable Bundesliga to search across its entire history of football footage to provide a more enhanced viewing experience for fans and automate the current manual process of searching and tagging match highlights.

“We are extremely excited to be working alongside AWS to develop the next generation of football viewing experience,” said Christian Seifert, CEO of Bundesliga. “Innovation means challenging the status quo. Working closely with AWS, as one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, significantly enhances the investment we’ve made in innovation over the past two decades, all of which contributes to us being able to deliver a world-class football experience for our fans.”

“As the league with the highest average number of goals per game, and the highest stadium attendance globally, the Bundesliga is one of the most entertaining sports leagues in the world,” says Andy Isherwood, Vice President and Managing Director EMEA, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “We are thrilled to work with the Bundesliga and help them use cloud technology to give football fans around the world a more engaging match day experience and look forward to helping them leverage our deep portfolio of ML and AI services so they can deliver even greater insight into the world’s favourite game.”

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