Nintendo Debuts Labo Cardboard Add-Ons for Young Gamers

Nintendo has begun selling Nintendo Labo, $70 and $80 cardboard add-ons that, with software, let users transform the hybrid Switch tablet/console into a miniature piano, motorcycle handlebars, robot exo-skeleton and other objects. The goal is to appeal to new users outside its core base of hardcore gamers. Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said that only 10 percent of Switch users last year were younger than 16, likely due to its $300 price point, which is more than double Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system. Continue reading Nintendo Debuts Labo Cardboard Add-Ons for Young Gamers

Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

As part of the company’s recent push to develop new hardware, Facebook is reportedly working toward designing its own custom chips to be used in its consumer devices, data centers and AI software. The social media giant is currently developing devices such as smart speakers and VR headsets, and building its own chips could provide more control over design and development of these projects. Facebook’s strategy follows similar approaches by other tech giants, including Google and Apple. Continue reading Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

NAB 2018: Immersive Leisure With AR, Gamification, and VR

During a Destination NXT presentation at NAB Show, Media Sherpa managing director John Canning moderated a panel on “redesigning the consumer experience” with “AR Adventures, Gamified Gatherings and VR Vacations.” Canning asked the panelists what drew them to creating immersive media. Fulldome.pro chief operating officer Stephen Powers sees this “new media as having the unique power” to “lift the human spirit.” For Vari Parks chief executive Louisa Spring, it’s her love of VR and desire to bring the experience to more people. Continue reading NAB 2018: Immersive Leisure With AR, Gamification, and VR

NAB 2018: Google News, Journalism 360 on Immersive Media

Google News Lab works with journalists and entrepreneurs around the world to drive innovation in the news industry, explained training/development manager Nicholas Whitaker. Established three years ago, the worldwide team focuses on trust and misinformation, local news, inclusive journalism, and emerging technologies. “Building a more informed world will require news organizations and technology companies to work together,” said Whitaker, in an NAB session that revealed some of the work being done. Continue reading NAB 2018: Google News, Journalism 360 on Immersive Media

Apple Submits VR Patents for Next-Gen Autonomous Vehicles

According to Patently Apple, “There have been a series of very smart and very cool patent applications surfacing of late covering a future mixed reality headset that could one day be a part of a virtual desktop system designed to edit 3D documents” and a “detailed invention covering an advanced gesturing control system for a heads-up-display system of an autonomous vehicle.” For the latter, the official patent application by Apple reads that the invention could lead to “safe, smaller, and less expensive autonomous vehicles.”

Continue reading Apple Submits VR Patents for Next-Gen Autonomous Vehicles

Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

Continue reading Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Google, Ubisoft Partner on Open-Source Game Server Project

Multiplayer game servers are notoriously difficult to build and maintain, but as the popularity of multiplayer games increases, Google Cloud aims to tackle the issue with the advent of Agones (Greek for “contest” or “gathering”), its new open source project developed through a partnership with French gaming company Ubisoft. Dedicated servers are important for multiplayer games to reduce delays, stop cheating in its tracks, and provide a better overall experience for those connecting to play. Google is currently seeking more partners for Agones.

Continue reading Google, Ubisoft Partner on Open-Source Game Server Project

Google Maps Helps Develop Real-World Gaming Experiences

Google is enabling game developers to create “Pokémon Go”-like experiences in which game elements are embedded into real-world maps using the new Google Maps API and the Unity game engine. Over 200 games are already in development. Next Games is developing a game based on the popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” and NBCUniversal and Ludia will release a “Jurassic World Alive” location-based game for mobile. Because Google Maps updates in real time, developers can create gaming experiences with a sharp eye on reality.

Continue reading Google Maps Helps Develop Real-World Gaming Experiences

Facebook Debuts Real-World AR Effects Tied to New Movies

Facebook has confirmed that it is currently testing an augmented reality camera that goes beyond its earlier functions (and limitations) of selfie masks and inserting 3D objects into locations. Beta users can now test the use of real-world location markers that set off augmented reality experiences right where they stand. The closed beta includes promotions tied to the films “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Ready Player One,” and near future plans include adding tracker-based AR to its AR Studio tool that will be open to all developers.

Continue reading Facebook Debuts Real-World AR Effects Tied to New Movies

Sony Showcases Interactive Hologram Experiences at SXSW

The South by Southwest (SXSW) technology, media and culture conference is taking place in Austin, Texas this week. From March 10-13, Sony invited guests to its WOW Studio, an interactive exhibit blending art and technology that featured displays and prototypes involving spatial audio, AI and robotics, tabletop projection, VR gaming, and more. Sony created interactive augmented reality without the fuss (or added cost) of goggles, glasses or other headgear, and SXSW attendees had the opportunity to participate in immersive hologram experiences.

Continue reading Sony Showcases Interactive Hologram Experiences at SXSW

Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

Continue reading Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

Snap Planning to Release Updated Spectacles Later This Year

Snap Inc. is planning to launch a second version of its video recording glasses this fall followed by a more ambitious version in 2019 that will include two cameras and other features. In addition to new colors and water resistance, the second version aims to fix bugs and provide needed performance improvements. The potential price tag would be around $300, which is more than double the $130 cost of the first version. News of additional versions comes just months after Snap announced it lost $40 million on the original. Continue reading Snap Planning to Release Updated Spectacles Later This Year

Next-Gen 5G Will Unlock VR, Autonomous Vehicles and More

Improved latency is the biggest selling point for next-generation 5G wireless technology. Verizon, Vodafone and Huawei are demonstrating the impact on wireless video, video games and virtual reality. With 5G, latency will plummet to 1 to 2 milliseconds, versus 4G’s average 50 milliseconds, positively impacting many markets, from medicine to self-driving cars. But, although the U.S. will see the first commercial 5G sometime this year, many emerging markets are still limping along with 3G and hoping for 4G connections. Continue reading Next-Gen 5G Will Unlock VR, Autonomous Vehicles and More

Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

ETCentric subscribers and their friends are invited to participate in the Creating Reality Hackathon, being held March 12-15 on the USC campus. The organizers are seeking forward-thinking industry storytellers, game designers, coders, and other creative artists. The teams that produce the top AR and VR submissions will each be awarded $5,000. This event will also be an opportunity to get a hands-on preview of the HTC Vive Pro and Intel’s Vaunt AR glasses. If you wish to participate, please submit your request via this special link (the deadline has been extended to March 7). Visit the event website for more info. Continue reading Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Just before Mobile World Congress, Google officially introduced its ARCore mobile augmented reality platform. Snapchat and Sony Pictures are among the first to use it; Sony Pictures plans to debut an AR game with a “Ghostbusters” theme that lets users fight and capture ghosts from the movie franchise, comic books and elsewhere. According to Sony Pictures Entertainment executive VP Jamie Stevens, SPE’s partners in the venture are Columbia Pictures subsidiary Ghost Corps and game publisher FourThirtyThree. Meanwhile, Amazon has introduced “AR View” to its Android app for devices that support ARCore. Continue reading ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

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