ABCs of Light Field Capture, Key to Photorealistic Virtual Reality

A technique called light field capture will become the foundation for photoreal virtual actors for virtual reality, says Paul Debevec, chief visual officer at the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT). At the recent VRLA Expo, Debevec gave a talk on the topic that explored two decades of research and development in light field capture technology, and described the basics of what makes this technique so compelling to create photorealistic virtual reality. Continue reading ABCs of Light Field Capture, Key to Photorealistic Virtual Reality

Publishers Raise Amazon Kindle E-Book Prices, Sales Plummet

Three big publishers that inked new pacts with Amazon to be able to set prices for their titles are now scratching their heads. The prices went up, but the sales went down. Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers and CBS Corporation’s Simon & Schuster all reported declining e-book revenues, despite the “win” of setting their own, considerably higher prices. Although the correlation between the two facts might seem obvious, some publishers insist lackluster books are to blame. Continue reading Publishers Raise Amazon Kindle E-Book Prices, Sales Plummet

D3D Cinema, Christie Debut Laser Projection for Dome Theaters

After a year of R&D, D3D Cinema and Christie just finished testing a new laser-illuminated digital projection system for giant domes. The system will be ready for client demonstration this fall, with the first installations expected in 2016. Although movie theaters have essentially all migrated to digital projection, large dome theaters have found it more difficult to find a digital solution. Executives at D3D Cinema and Christie say the new laser projection system fits the bill, with regard to price and image quality. Continue reading D3D Cinema, Christie Debut Laser Projection for Dome Theaters

EU Regulators Gain Regulating Clout With U.S. Tech Companies

Brussels, where the European Union is primarily based, is becoming a mecca for U.S. tech firms to plead their cases. That’s because the EU has taken a hard stance on issues of antitrust and privacy among others, becoming the world’s first regulator to confront Google on antitrust charges… twice. The unintended result is that U.S. tech companies are now hiring full-time lobbyists to protect their interests. And aggrieved U.S. firms go there to lodge complaints that might otherwise have gone to the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading EU Regulators Gain Regulating Clout With U.S. Tech Companies

Discovery Releases Mobile App for VR Videos of Popular Shows

The Discovery Channel has released a mobile app that features virtual reality videos from some of the channel’s most popular shows, including “Mythbusters,” “Gold Rush” and “Survivorman.” The videos can be viewed as 360-degree experiences (via moving the phone), or as VR experiences with Google Cardboard. The videos, which were made by Los Angeles VR network startup Littlstar, are also available on YouTube, Discovery’s VR website, and a dedicated channel on Samsung Gear’s virtual reality video app Milk VR. Continue reading Discovery Releases Mobile App for VR Videos of Popular Shows

Intel Aims to Reinvigorate PC Sales with New Skylake Chips

Intel hopes to reverse the trend of declining PC sales with the release of its new line of computer chips. Based on a design called Skylake, the chips are the sixth generation of the company’s Core processor line and feature more performance and less power consumption, as well as fewer wires and a host of new technologies including facial recognition. Intel hopes that the new chips, together with Microsoft’s just-released Windows 10 operating system, will encourage consumers to replace 500 million PCs older than four years. Continue reading Intel Aims to Reinvigorate PC Sales with New Skylake Chips

DxO ONE Camera Turns iPhone into Professional Level Device

A French company that creates image-processing software and an industry measurement for sensor quality just released DxO ONE, a $600 sensor and lens that plugs into the iPhone camera. DxO Labs created the ONE to feature a 1-inch image sensor (that’s six-and-a-half times bigger than the iPhone 6’s native sensor) and the equivalent of a 32mm fixed lens whose aperture opens to F1.8. The resulting 20.2-megapixel images are a considerable improvement over photos taken with the iPhone camera and competitive with those taken by pro level DSLRs. Continue reading DxO ONE Camera Turns iPhone into Professional Level Device

Game Changer: Netflix Film to Debut on Big and Small Screens

Netflix’s first feature film “Beasts of No Nation,” debuts at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, to be followed by showings at the Telluride and Toronto festivals. The movie, about a young boy recruited to fight a civil war in an African nation, was directed by Cary Fukunaga (“True Detective”) and acquired by Netflix for $12 million. The movie will open on October 16 on Netflix and 29 independent screens via distributor Bleecker Street. Netflix also plans a comprehensive ad campaign and awards season push. Continue reading Game Changer: Netflix Film to Debut on Big and Small Screens

Magic Leap Patents Contact Lens to Marry Virtual, Real Worlds

Magic Leap, the Florida-based startup that’s worked in stealth mode since its 2010 founding, may be coming into focus with the information contained in 97 new patent applications. Google led a funding round of $542 million for the company, which has been working on a head-mounted virtual retinal display that composites 3D digital imagery over real world objects, not dissimilar from Microsoft’s HoloLens. Taking that idea to its logical conclusion, Magic Leap now has a patent for doing the same trick — but with contact lenses. Continue reading Magic Leap Patents Contact Lens to Marry Virtual, Real Worlds

Google Ups the Ante with VP10 Compression, to Beat H.265

Media today requires more bandwidth, and that means more efficient compression. Ultra HD or 4K, wider gamut for more color choices, and HDR (high dynamic range) all require a bigger pipe and better compression. Same goes for HFR (high frame rate) — anything above 30 fps, for movies and games — and of course all that video streaming that everyone is doing. Up until now, H.264 has been the leading contender, but now Google is pushing its VP9 technology hard to play catch-up. H.265 and VP10 are just over the horizon. Continue reading Google Ups the Ante with VP10 Compression, to Beat H.265

Google Augments Search, Connects Users with Home Services

Google is no longer just a way to search for a good local plumber or electrician. Now, users in the San Francisco Bay area can make appointments via Google Home Services, a newly unveiled program that connects users with companies vetted by Google. So far, Google Home Services supplies plumbers, handymen, locksmiths and housecleaners. The move puts Google in direct competition with Amazon, which launched a similar service in March, as well as Angie’s List, Yelp and TaskRabbit. Continue reading Google Augments Search, Connects Users with Home Services

Could Facebook Patent Be Used to Approve or Deny Loans?

Facebook just filed for a patent that tracks how users are networked together. The patent can be used to prevent people from sending spam to those they’re not legitimately connected with. But the patent filing also describes a less savory possibility: that banks and other lenders could examine the credit scores of those in your network when deciding whether or not to make a loan to you. For some experts, at least, this conjures up visions of housing discrimination, aimed at the poor and people of color. Continue reading Could Facebook Patent Be Used to Approve or Deny Loans?

Apple TV 4 to Debut in October, Could Be a Game Changer

Inside sources report that Apple is on the verge of releasing its 4th generation Apple TV in October for a price likely to be under $200. The new Apple TV will feature an A8 chip in a dual-core configuration for an updated interface and improved navigation. More importantly, it will include a native software developer kit, ensuring that a wide variety of apps will continue to be developed and released. Also featured are a new motion sensitive remote control, Siri support and an as-of-yet unknown quantity of TV content. Continue reading Apple TV 4 to Debut in October, Could Be a Game Changer

Netflix Allows Its Epix Cable Deal to Run Out, Hulu Jumps In

Netflix has let its deal with pay-TV channel Epix lapse, as it moves away from non-exclusive content to more exclusive content and original programming. Into that void, the smaller Hulu has inked a deal with Epix to stream its content beginning in October. Epix, owned by MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures, has the rights to numerous high profile films including “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Transformer: Age of Extinction.” Epix also signed a deal in 2012 with Amazon Prime Instant Video. Continue reading Netflix Allows Its Epix Cable Deal to Run Out, Hulu Jumps In

Europe’s TV/Film Groups Rebuff Netflix, Digital Single Market

The European film and TV industries are expressing concern over two forces they believe threaten their well-being: Netflix and the Digital Single Market, a proposal by the European Commission to create a single European market, ending movie and TV territorial copyright barriers. International TV and film business groups coalesced against the latter proposal, arguing that the Digital Single Market would only benefit a handful of big global Internet platforms. Chief among those platforms, they believe, is Netflix. Continue reading Europe’s TV/Film Groups Rebuff Netflix, Digital Single Market

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