New York City Invests $6M in Augmented, Virtual Reality Hub

In 2016, a Goldman Sachs report predicted that AR/VR sales could reach $182 billion by 2025. Now, New York City, home to at least seven virtual reality centers, is committing $6 million to a 15,000-square foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that will serve as a “hub for virtual reality and augmented reality.” The de Blasio administration says the hub will create more than 500 jobs. One of the existing centers, VR World, is equipped with a bar and dance music and lets users sky dive, rock climb or wield a samurai sword. Continue reading New York City Invests $6M in Augmented, Virtual Reality Hub

Kodak Shows 360-Degree Cam, VR Cameras in Development

At CES 2018, Kodak showed its new Kodak Pixpro Orbit360 4K camera, debuted in August. Kodak is positioning the camera as a next-generation 360-degree camera for video and still photography that features built-in processing. The camera has two hemispherical lenses, one on either side of its rectangular body. One lens is 155 degrees and the other is 235 degrees; the two lenses work together to create the 360-degree, 4K image that can be live-streamed or uploaded via Wi-Fi to Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. Continue reading Kodak Shows 360-Degree Cam, VR Cameras in Development

HTC Beefs Up Resolution and Adds Headphones to Vive Pro

HTC’s new Vive Pro VR headset made a major splash this week in Las Vegas and received notable Best of CES awards, including the Best Gaming Product from Engadget and the Best VR/AR award from The Verge. HTC added built-in headphones to this version and increased the resolution of the dual-OLED displays 78 percent to 2,880 x 1,600 (1,400 x 1,600 per eye). The headphones offer spatial audio support, but no noise-canceling functionality. HTC added dual microphones and dual front-facing cameras, which should attract developers. Continue reading HTC Beefs Up Resolution and Adds Headphones to Vive Pro

Nvidia Introduces Big Format Gaming Displays to Las Vegas

Nvidia unveiled the first big-screen TVs designed for gamers this week at CES. The company’s “Big Format Gaming Displays” (BFGDs) are 65-inch, 4K screens that tout impressive features such as HDR, low latency, 120Hz refresh rates, full-array backlighting, full DCI-P3 color gamut support, and Nvidia’s G-SYNC technology for smooth game performance (it minimizes screen tearing). “Nvidia is partnering with Asus, Acer and HP to build these displays,” reports Engadget. “With their built-in Shield support, they’ll do everything Nvidia’s set-top box can, and they’ll also come with the company’s remote and gaming controller.” Continue reading Nvidia Introduces Big Format Gaming Displays to Las Vegas

CES to Offer New Take on the Future of Ambient Experiences

For 20 years the quest and definition of Ambient Intelligence (AmI) has been the purview of think tanks and device manufacturers. Defined in the 1990’s by Eli Zelkha and a team at Palo Alto Ventures, the pursuit of pervasive presence for humans and responsive connection with the computed environment has been the goal of multinationals and government entities. Most recently, the concept of creating environments that are responsive to the presence of individuals is making its way into the consumer electronics and personal computing space, which we expect will make a compelling splash next month at CES in Las Vegas. Continue reading CES to Offer New Take on the Future of Ambient Experiences

Hulu Will Debut Its First eSports Programs, Produced by ESL

Hulu is now into eSports, having just ordered four original series from ESL, a major eSports content and tournament producer. The upcoming eSports content, which will total about 15 hours, will premiere in the fall, exclusively on Hulu. The shows are “Player v. Player,” a game-style talk show; docu-series “Bootcamp,” which follows The Immortals, an elite “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” team; “Defining Moments,” which explores various eSports topics; and “ESL Replay,” which recaps four big tournaments. Continue reading Hulu Will Debut Its First eSports Programs, Produced by ESL

‘Pokémon Go’ Is Still Popular: Passes $1.2 Billion in Revenue

According to the latest figures from Apptopia, mobile AR game sensation “Pokémon Go” has reached 752 million downloads and has earned more than $1.2 billion in revenue. The freemium game supports in-app purchases; total revenues for last year topped $950 million. The game “had about 60 million monthly players in June, with 20 percent of them opening the game at least once a day,” reports VentureBeat. “While that’s down from the app’s peak last August, which was at 100 million monthly users, it’s still a huge number.” Apptopia breaks down the game’s players: 57.4 percent are male, 38 percent are millennials (ages 19-34), and 32.5 percent are 18 or younger. Continue reading ‘Pokémon Go’ Is Still Popular: Passes $1.2 Billion in Revenue

Nintendo to Double Planned Production of New Hybrid Console

In response to strong initial demand, Nintendo plans to at least double production of its new Switch game console through March 2018. The hybrid console, designed for home and mobile use, launched globally March 3, and “its North American unit described the initial momentum as the strongest in the company’s history,” reports The Wall Street Journal. This could put Switch on a similar trajectory as the company’s popular Wii system (and Nintendo needs a hit after its Wii U performed less than expected). “In the fiscal year starting April 2017, assemblers under contract with Nintendo are now planning to manufacture 16 million or more Switches, up from an initial plan for eight million.” Continue reading Nintendo to Double Planned Production of New Hybrid Console

Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

IHS Markit reports that Sony led the gaming hardware, software and service market last year, nearly doubling the share of Microsoft and its Xbox One. Sony is expected to continue its dominance through 2017. According to IHS, Sony captured 57 percent ($19.7 billion) of spending by gamers in 2016, “thanks to growth of digital console games,” notes VentureBeat, adding, however, “that the overall console game market shrank in 2016, and Nintendo is newly competitive this year with the launch of the Switch game console.” Additionally, Microsoft may experience a rebound this year with the launch of its PS4 competitor, Project Scorpio. Continue reading Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

Twitch Introduces its Twitter Competitor Designed for Gamers

Amazon’s game-themed streaming site Twitch is launching a Twitter competitor called Pulse — “a place where streamers can post and engage with all of their followers and the greater Twitch community right from the Twitch front page,” according to the platform’s blog. “It’s an always-on way to share clips, stream highlights, schedules, photos, and more so followers are more informed, engaged, and connected.” This will help broadcasters promote news streams and share content with those who missed earlier streams. “If Twitter were ever going to be disrupted,” writes Casey Newton for The Verge, “this is exactly what I’d imagine it would look like at the beginning.” Continue reading Twitch Introduces its Twitter Competitor Designed for Gamers

Nintendo’s Switch Console to Offer Mobile, TV-Connected Play

Nintendo’s Switch, a $300 tablet with wireless controllers, debuts on March 3, for on-the-go gameplay or connecting to a TV. The platform offers a seamless transition between mobile and docked operation, well-designed hardware, a sleek, refined look, with sensor-packed Joy-Con motion controllers that offer vibration feedback and work as game controllers and Wiimote-like wands. But the platform needs a compelling game to “make us fall in love with flailing our arms around at parties again,” and Super Mario Odyssey might fit the bill. Continue reading Nintendo’s Switch Console to Offer Mobile, TV-Connected Play

Nvidia CEO Announces Cloud-Based GeForce NOW Platform

During his CES keynote, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced the launch of his company’s GeForce NOW streaming platform for PCs, “basically a GeForce gaming PC on demand,” explained Huang. The cloud-based gaming service will launch in March for $25 dollars per 20 hours of gameplay. The service will provide Mac and PC users who might not have the graphics capabilities to play high-end games an option to virtually play any modern game. The new approach should not rely on game company support the way OnLive worked before its demise. For example, Huang demonstrated the Steam store running on GeForce NOW. Continue reading Nvidia CEO Announces Cloud-Based GeForce NOW Platform

Facebook Opens Gameroom to Unity Developers, PC Gamers

Facebook just announced that its PC gaming platform, Gameroom (formerly dubbed Facebook Games Arcade), is now open for all developers. The app is also available to users, for Windows 7 and up. Developers using the upcoming Unity 5.6 game engine will be able to export their games directly to the Gameroom platform. The new platform most closely resembles Valve’s Steam, which boasts 125 million active users. But Facebook is counting on its 1.71 billion monthly active users to intrigue developers and gamers alike. Continue reading Facebook Opens Gameroom to Unity Developers, PC Gamers

Amazon’s New ‘Breakaway’ Integrates Twitch and AWS Cloud

Amazon Game Studios recently unveiled its first big-budget video game, the multiplayer online battle game “Breakaway,” described as street basketball played in a mythological world where athletes are armed. With the game, Amazon integrates live streaming app Twitch, which it bought for nearly $1 billion, and also incorporates Lumberyard, its cross-platform, 3D game engine. Lumberyard, free to game developers, connects to its Amazon Web Services cloud storage. The game is available for free, indefinitely, as Amazon works out the bugs. Continue reading Amazon’s New ‘Breakaway’ Integrates Twitch and AWS Cloud

Best Buy Bets Big on Virtual Reality with First Mainstream Test

Best Buy is going all out to promote sales of the Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR, with what’s regarded as the first mainstream test of VR products. The Oculus Rift demonstrations, which began their rollout in May, will be in 500 stores in time for the holiday season, with an added 200 demonstrations for PlayStation VR starting in October. The genesis of the push to VR began with chief executive Hubert Joly, who had a “mind-boggling” VR experience with a man-eating shark. He’s betting the U.S. public will be equally smitten. Continue reading Best Buy Bets Big on Virtual Reality with First Mainstream Test

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