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Welcome back to Marxent’s Augmented Reality News, a periodic digest that highlights interesting stories about Augmented Reality (AR) as reported in the mainstream press. In this week’s edition, Disney is using AR to bring Star Wars to life, the iPhone 8 is rumored to be lasering up, a $99 AR headset is on the way, and much more.

Recently, in a galaxy very much nearby …

For this year’s D23 event, Disney dropped a series of Star Wars-related announcements that had attendees feeling the Force. The big news was Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, a training simulator for would-be Jedi that will use Augmented Reality to bring lightsaber battles to life for the players. As part of the announcement, Lenovo teased a new AR headset that will allegedly be available “soon” at Best Buy stores.

Yes, Augmented Reality lightsaber battles are exciting, but for the more cerebral Star Wars fans there’s an Augmented Reality version of the famed “Holochess” game that Chewbacca and R2-D2 play aboard the Millennium Falcon in the original Star Wars. Remember: Let the Wookie win.

Finally, Disney also let slip some details on the forthcoming Star Wars lands that will pop up at its Florida and California theme parks in 2019. In addition to Augmented Reality, there’s some amazing tech going into the creation of these state of the art attractions. But it’s the human story that keeps us coming back, right? For example, check out this video:

Speaking of new AR headsets …

Disney and Lonovo are far from the only game in town when it comes to new AR headsets. MIT Technology Review profiled a start-up that is looking to bring a $99 AR headset to market. The HMD, known as the Mira Prism, will work with your smartphone to deliver an experience that mixes digital images with the real world, a la the Microsoft Hololens. The tech may be clunky to start, but that $99 price tag will get the attention of consumers and developers, with the latter perhaps seeing the headset as a viable platform to experiment on.

iPhone 8 adds frickin’ laser beams?!!?

The rumor mill has been overheating in recent weeks with strange tales of Apple’s next generation iPhone. That’s unsurprising, as the latest edition of the flagship device is due to ramp up manufacturing any second now if Apple wants to get the phone into customer’s hands during the usual September launch window. One rumor that caught our eye says the 10th anniversary phone (mostly referred to as the “iPhone 8” online) will include a laser system that will serve to improve the accuracy and tracking of Apple’s Markerless AR. This is not unlike Google’s Tango platform, which also includes a laser for more accurate room measurements.

The fact that the laser would also greatly improve the autofocus of the camera is another bonus sure to push Apple toward including the feature. For now it remains just a rumor, but with Apple expected to keep beefing up its AR tech, it’s a highly plausible one.

Bonus Story

Too cool not to share — Check out this combination ARKit/HTC Vive experience:

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