i3 - November/December 2017 - 19

Opposite page, bottom: John Phillips/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion

Microsoft
Ushers
In 4K Gaming

"What Peter Jackson's team is bringing to AR is very
high-quality, photo-realistic, almost movie-class
graphics," Sweeney says. "It's just astonishing to pull up
your iPad and look at a science fiction space battle
scene happen right there in your living room with 3D
objects. As you move around, it all tracks perfectly.
That's a great step, and this is just the very beginning.
You can imagine new types of hardware coming over
the years, new form factors, and this becoming a bigger
and bigger part of our lives."
Unreal also powers Directive Games' The Machines
AR game, which debuted at Apple's unveiling of the
iPhone 8 and iPhoneX devices. Both are designed to
support augmented reality through a new camera and
the A11 Bionic chip to support 4K visuals in a multiplayer experience that comes to life on a tabletop.
Directive Games CEO Atli Mar says AR is an amazing evolution in how games are played and experienced.
"You can use the position in the real world to gain a
tactical advantage in the game," he adds. "You are not
just controlling the game. You are in the game."
Apple also showcased Warhammer 40,000:
Freeblade from developer Pixel Toys at the event.
Gaming remains a lead application for AR, just as it
has for VR. But AR has a much larger immediate
audience to connect with across mobile devices without the expensive up-front costs of VR.
Dave Burke, vice president of Android Engineering,
says ARCore brings AR to more than two billion active
devices and has been built to support future releases.
"We've been developing the fundamental technologies
that power mobile AR over the last three years with
C TA . t e c h / i 3

Microsoft has now officially jumped
into the era of 4K gaming with
its $500 XBOX ONE X CONSOLE.
The tech giant has priced the new,
more powerful, hardware to target
the more hardcore gaming audience at first. It also marks a shift in
the way the console business is
evolving to follow more in line with
the smartphone and PC ecosystems, which release more regular
devices with gradual upgrades
rather than a brand new console
every six or seven years.
At least until the PlayStation 5
is announced, the Xbox One X
is the most powerful console on
the market today. It's 30 percent
faster than the original Xbox One,
which launched in 2013, while its
GPU is 4.6 times more powerful.
The console's 6 teraflops of graphical processing power allows
games like Forza Motorsports 7
and Middle-earth: Shadow of War
to be created with 4K resolutions
and fast frame rates.

Xbox One X is the only console
to include a 4K Ultra HD drive, allowing gamers to watch 4K movies on
discs. Sony's $400 PlayStation 4 Pro
allows for 4K movie streaming, but
features a standard Blu-ray drive.
Samsung has teamed up with
Microsoft to cross-promote its
QLED 4K TVS, which have been
featured at events like E3,
Gamescom and PAX West. Xbox
One X will upgrade the visual fidelity
of all Xbox One games through
high dynamic range (HDR), but
specific games like Final Fantasy XV
and Forza Motorsport 7 have been
designed to take full advantage
of the new hardware.
This new marketing push will help
drive sales of 4K UHD TVs this fall
and into next year. Michael Pachter,
video game analyst at Wedbush
Securities, forecasts Microsoft will
sell one million Xbox One X consoles this year.
But once the price drop comes,
4K gaming will become mainstream. There's no going back.
And with Sony promoting its own
less powerful 4K console (which
launched last fall and features 4K
visuals and HDR support) alongside
Bravia 4K UHD TVs, the leap from
HD to 4K is happening now.

Tango, and ARCore is built on that work," Burke explains. "We're targeting
100 million devices at the end of the preview by working with manufacturers
like ASUS, Huawei, LG, Samsung and others to make this possible with
a consistent bar for quality and high performance."
Both AR platforms focus on three core competencies: motion tracking
(keeping the virtual objects stationary as the phone's camera moves),
detecting horizontal planes (many AR objects appear on the floor or a table)
and light estimation (which creates realistic lighting and shadows for virtual objects). They also support the leading game engines, including Unity,
Unreal and Jave/OpenGL, which means this fall, a wide array of games and
other applications will blend the virtual and real world in new ways.
Niantic, the company that ushered AR into the mainstream with Pokémon
GO last year, is supporting both new AR technologies. "At Niantic we are
thrilled to see the amazing pace of AR development across the industry," says
John Hanke, CEO of Niantic. "We look forward to begin exploring the new
kinds of interactions that can be unlocked by these latest innovations."
While VR has stolen the headlines, as well as billions of dollars in VC
funding, over the past few years, 2017 is shaping up to be the dawn of AR.
And these first games and apps are just the beginning of what this new
technology can deliver.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

19


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i3 - November/December 2017

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i3 - November/December 2017 - Cover1
i3 - November/December 2017 - Cover2
i3 - November/December 2017 - Contents
i3 - November/December 2017 - 2
i3 - November/December 2017 - 3
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