Extended Reality: XR4ALL announces winners of the second open call

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Launched in 2018 by the European Commission, the XR4ALL project aims to strengthen the industry of extended reality (XR), which consists of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). The main idea behind XR4ALL is to support and coordinate some of the most important projects in the field, accelerate growth, unite the XR community and facilitate the exchange of knowledge.

In addition to that, XR4ALL fosters and promotes innovative XR solutions via three open calls for projects, which result in the best of them receiving funding for further development.

All three open calls are composed of two phases. During the “concept validation” phase, successful applicants get a lump sum of €10,000 to develop and experiment with their ideas. Half of those projects are then admitted to the second phase, “development and integration,” whereby each of them receives another €40,000 to develop a working version of the proposed solution.

The second XR4ALL open call was launched in March 2020 and ended in June 2020. Out of 140 applications, 18 projects were selected for the concept validation phase.

After careful evaluation, the jury has announced the nine winners that will participate in the second phase and receive a €40,000 grant.

XFAM4SENIORS, Switzerland

XFAM4SENIORS is a project by the Swiss startup Senopi AG that intends to improve the cognitive and physical health of seniors through VR therapies. Seniors in nursing homes have limited access to activities such as excursions to nature or visiting their families. Senopi AG has developed a system that allows these people to enjoy virtual experiences.

The XR service is supported by a system with two XR apps allowing seniors to visit their families immersively. The system is composed of two modes: online and offline. In the former, seniors’ family members will use a 360-degree high-resolution camera that will be configured to stream content via secure servers. Seniors will wear their headsets to be immersed inside their family. In the offline mode, the seniors will be able to re-experience some previous events. The second phase of the open call will allow Senopi AG to improve the prototype and deliver a commercial B2C service by the end of the project.

Eyecandylab, Germany

Eyecandylab is changing the way to watch TV by proposing an AR solution to broadcasters and content producers. The product is compatible with live and pre-produced content and offers immersive AR experience synchronised with the video timeline. The interactivity generated by it can be used for higher user engagement or commerce capabilities. Within the second phase of development, Eyecandylab will enable everyone without skills in this field to create AR experiences by using Unity and the Google Cloud Platform. Hence, the tech startup will propose to the public a working solution of this project.

VR-DICOM Virtual Medicine, Slovakia

VR DICOM aims to improve the diagnosing capabilities of medical doctors by displaying medical images in a 360-degree environment using VR technology. Doctors will be able to interact with images, increasing the quality of evaluation of medical data. Additionally, the project intends to improve medical education by integrating VR DICOM into the Virtual Anatomical Atlas platform (Human Anatomy VR). It will be possible to display images acquired by computed tomography, magnetic resonance or positron emission tomography, allowing radiologists to drastically improve their diagnostic possibilities.

This XR software application will help medical doctors in their everyday work and students in their learning process.

Superpanc, Spain

Limbak has introduced a new optical design for a high-resolution and ultra-compact VR headset based on the pancake configuration. The main innovation of this project is the major reduction of the distance between the eyes and the display, including myopia correction. The technology used is based on the exploitation of some specificities of the human vision such as the lack of acuity in non-gazing directions and the use of a reciprocal distortion on both lenses and images. With this process, the VR/AR scenes which are directly aimed by the pupil are depicted with more pixels.

The main objective of the project is to improve the comfort of using VR/AR headsets by reducing the size and weight without compromising the user experience, achieving 20mm optical train thickness. The second phase of the open call will allow Limbak to manufacture and assemble a demo headset showcasing all the features.

ECARules4All, Italy

Building XR experiences requires different skills involving a team of 3D experts, developers, game designers, etc.

The main objective of ECARules4All is the development of a Unity plugin for enabling users without programming skills to modify the behaviour of an XR experience through event-condition action rules. Lowering the barrier for creation and editing of XR experiences can boost the adoption by new market segments.

The program uses the rule-editing End-User Development (EUD) to make this possible, it consists of defining the object behaviour through Event-Condition-Action rules expressed in natural language.

Connected-World, the Netherlands

Nowadays the purchase of a VR headset can be an issue for many people. Connected-World has come up with a solution that will overcome that problem and enable the democratisation of VR technology. The team is developing a VR player plugin that automatically translates interactions with six degrees of freedom (6DoF) to traditional input systems like touch or mouse and keyboard.

The plugin is intended as a solution to scale VR apps to different devices. The test-case used for the plugin is “PlaygroundVR”, a VR application for children who cannot play outside, bringing them together in a virtual playground. Currently, this VR-solution is used in multiple hospitals in the Netherlands.

The second phase will be dedicated to the realisation of a working version of the solution including a proven implementation in PlaygroundVR.

XRPS, the Netherlands

A team of developers and researchers from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands are developing a tool to measure, analyse and track presence in users of mixed reality systems.

This framework will be implemented as a plugin for games engines and all the data will be available through a live visualisation presenting the level of presence. Through this initiative, the developers seek to combine knowledge in psychophysics and interactive technologies to develop a tool able to democratise scientific insights. It could be useful in various cases such as academic research, user experience research, health care and therapy, marketing, gaming or 360-degree videos.

The final objective is to provide a fully functional plug-and-play game engine plugin, integrated with the OVR SDK and the OpenVR SDK.

MECM, the United Kingdom

Musemio is a UK-based VR software company developing methodologies to understand and analyse user behaviour in immersive virtual learning environments (IVE). The main goal of the project proposed by the VR ed-tech startup is to correlate users’ behaviours or modes of engagement in the IVE with markers used in traditional education, to reduce the time of development and optimise the user experience. The team’s approach seeks to test the use of machine learning (ML) to analyse head and hands position data over time and identify user’s movement patterns.

The final step of the open call will be dedicated to the development of a Virtual Calibration Room which can be plugged into Unity to design IVE.

VTC, the United Kingdom

Workforce training in the industry can be challenging because it requires lots of resources and involves potential safety issues and complex training scenarios.

Virtual Training Creator resolves this problem by transporting users to realistic and risk-reduced work scenarios through VR technology. The project will develop a content creation tool that integrates work instructions, 3D models and training features to facilitate the learning process. All the instructions will be segmented into different steps presenting animations, 3D models and easily editable.

This technology will be powered by Unreal Engine, allowing the training to be used on any selected device. The second phase of the open call will allow the HSSMI team to propose a gaming engine available for XR developers and increase the functionalities based on the feedback.

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