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Fishbowl adds AR to its VR consulting and testing portfolio

Virtual reality consultancy and testing firm Fishbowl has told UploadVR they have expanded their services to include augmented reality testing. The company produced their first AR usability test with Inkhunter, an application that allows users to see how a tattoo might look on their body before actually putting ink to skin. Describing the reason behind the expansion, CEO Geoff Skow highlighted the difficulties inherent in AR development, “There’s a huge gap between getting an AR app to work in staged environments and having it work for regular users in a real-life setting. Because everyone’s environment is necessarily unique (lighting conditions, surfaces, phone processors, a million other things) it’s absolutely critical for developers to test in as many different settings as possible.”

Skow said Apple’s new augmented reality SDK, ARKit, has triggered a stampede of developers clamoring to make their mark. With a standard SDK to work from, AR developers can now focus on big ideas instead of getting bogged down in minutia like camera calibration. Any would-be app maker can now tackle augmented reality with minimal overhead.

Despite the current boom, Skow says other testing firms are lacking in solutions designed for augmented reality creators. “Unfortunately for developers, the giant incumbents in the crowdsourced mobile user testing space have built solutions for a tap-first world. They can show you where people are tapping when using your app, and even have them think aloud so you better understand their mindset. … But that doesn’t cut it for immersive AR applications, because you’re missing the view of the environment the user actions are taking place in. You’re missing the context. ”

Skow says filming testers can help reach a more complete understanding of the user experience. “We’ve built up a remote testing panel of more than 1,0000 VR/AR enthusiasts across more than 600 cities around the globe. These testers have recorded more than 5,000 hours of split-screen playtests, which developers use to see both what the user is looking at and what they’re doing in real life. This helps them understand where and when users are encountering usability or performance issues.”

ARKit is barely over a month old, and no ARKit applications will hit the app store until IOS11 drops later this year, but Fishbowl is betting big on an augmented reality gold-rush when iPhone owners finally get their hands on ARKit developed apps.

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick