Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Bolstered by last summer’s breakout popularity of “Pokémon Go,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has shifted focus from VR to AR, which combines the real and digital worlds. At the annual F8 conference, he stated that Facebook will make its AR tools available to developers to create everything from custom masks to filters. Partners already include Nike, Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. The shift to AR puts Facebook in competition with its rival Snap’s Snapchat and Microsoft HoloLens. Continue reading Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Friends Can Share, Watch Videos Together via iMessage App

For friends who want to share and watch YouTube or Twitch videos together, a new Apple iMessage app, called Let’s Watch It!, is the answer. Group chat in the iMessage App Store has proven to be a hit, with video chat app Fam raising $1.8 million and plans to expand to game-playing, interactive live masks, filters and watching videos with friends. But Let’s Watch It!, which debuted in March, may be beating Fam at its game, adding support for turning on the front-facing camera and microphone, making it even more social. Continue reading Friends Can Share, Watch Videos Together via iMessage App

Sony PlayStation Vue and ESL Ink Deal for E-Sports Channel

Sony’s PlayStation Vue TV service is adding a channel devoted to e-sports, becoming the first such 24-hour linear TV network in the U.S. The channel, esportsTV, comes from competitive-gaming event producer ESL. PlayStation Vue’s Elite ($55 per month) and Ultra ($75 per month) levels will have access to esportsTV. It’s got plenty of competition, with free gaming on Twitch, YouTube and other platforms. Last month, ESL also signed a non-exclusive deal with Twitter to livestream about 1,500 hours of e-sports programming in 2017. Continue reading Sony PlayStation Vue and ESL Ink Deal for E-Sports Channel

AMD Pitches Latency-Free Virtual Reality via Super-Fast Wi-Fi

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has acquired Nitero, a startup responsible for a 60-gigahertz wireless chip that transmits high-res video without latency. AMD, which bought the company for an undisclosed price, believes that Nitero’s chip will enable it to push sales of more wireless virtual reality headsets. Sales of VR headsets, according to AMD executive Roy Taylor, have been limited due to their need to be tethered to a computer. Nitero was originally a spinoff from a research center sponsored by the Australian government. Continue reading AMD Pitches Latency-Free Virtual Reality via Super-Fast Wi-Fi

VB Insight Study Says Video Is Key to App Store Optimization

VB Insight, VentureBeat’s research arm, published a report on “App store optimization — a practitioner’s guide to ASO,” revealing that video plays a significant role throughout the app marketing process. Author of the report, mobile analyst Peggy Anne Salz interviewed 35 ASO professionals, integrated data from a survey of over 500 ASO users, and examined techniques of successful app developers. The report details best practices for app marketing and looks at what’s coming down the pike for ASO. Continue reading VB Insight Study Says Video Is Key to App Store Optimization

Metaverse: Mozilla’s WebVR Helps Create Immersive Internet

With more focus on the so-called “Immersive Web” touted by Google, Oculus, Samsung and Microsoft, Mozilla’s free JavaScript API WebVR is experiencing a bump in popularity. WebVR is prized for its ability to enable immersive experiences without downloads or installs. Now, Mozilla is using WebVR to create an immersive version of the Internet dubbed Metaverse, a term first used in the 1992 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson that described a virtual domain without physical or social status limitations. Continue reading Metaverse: Mozilla’s WebVR Helps Create Immersive Internet

Casinos Face Decline in Gambling Revenue, Turn to E-Sports

MGM Resorts International is getting into the e-sports business, converting a shuttered nightclub into a permanent venue for e-sports competitions beginning next year. It’s not alone, as several U.S. casinos are turning to e-sports as a way to attract younger tourists and pump up growth. Downtown Grand in Las Vegas and Caesars in Atlantic City are two others that are opening up e-sports attractions. Other casinos on the Las Vegas strip are looking to restaurants and entertainment to jumpstart revenue growth. Continue reading Casinos Face Decline in Gambling Revenue, Turn to E-Sports

Netflix Remains No. 1, But Faces Increasing OTT Competition

A comScore study conducted in December 2016 revealed that streaming services have exploded, with a total of 11 reaching one million or more homes in any given month. Put another way, of the 49 million U.S. households connected to Wi-Fi, at least 53 percent use at least one OTT service. Netflix still dominates, found in 75 percent of these Wi-Fi homes, but the real news is that it’s got stronger competition than ever before. YouTube now reaches 53 percent of homes, Amazon is in 33 percent and Hulu is at 17 percent. Continue reading Netflix Remains No. 1, But Faces Increasing OTT Competition

Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Millennials are paying as much as $50 per hour to be locked in a room that they can only exit by cooperatively solving puzzles. This kind of immersive entertainment has similarities with games, live theater and virtual reality experiences, and is becoming increasingly popular. Among the most notable examples is Sleep No More, a UK immersive theatrical experience that has been a huge hit since it opened in 2011. Director and live experience entrepreneur Michael Counts is making the most of the trend. Continue reading Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

After sourcing its GPUs from Imagination Technologies for years, Apple has decided to design its own GPU technology. With half of its revenue from Apple, Imagination Technologies stock has tanked as a result. GPUs, graphics processing units, are the workhorses for just about everything that Apple wants its smartphones and other devices to do, including machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, Siri and high resolution gaming. The GPU gets its power from its ability to multitask, processing in parallel. Continue reading Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

Twitch Will Live-Stream Amazon Pilots, Original Documentary

Amazon-owned Twitch is diversifying from its usual fare of videogame broadcasts. Starting April 5, the company will live-stream three Amazon pilots. Sci-fi drama “Oasis,” and half-hour comedies “The Legend of Master Legend” and “Budding Prospects” will stream in back-to-back two-hour blocks over a 24-hour period at Twitch’s programmatic TV content site. Following this, Twitch Studios will premiere its first original documentary, the 22-minute “Ironsights,” about a female Twitch streamer who plays “Big Buck HD.” Continue reading Twitch Will Live-Stream Amazon Pilots, Original Documentary

Twitch to Start Streaming 1080p at 60fps in Upcoming Weeks

Amazon broadcasting site Twitch announced that its support for 1080p video resolution at 60 frames per second will significantly improve video quality when live-streaming via the platform. To accommodate the higher frame rate, Twitch is lifting its 3.5-megabit ingest bitrate restriction. Twitch product manager Noreen McInnis says the company recommends “3-to-6 megabits for most streams, skewing toward the higher end for 1080p broadcasts or faster, more demanding games.” Continue reading Twitch to Start Streaming 1080p at 60fps in Upcoming Weeks

Bringing Modular Sets and Physical Objects to VR Experiences

Virtual reality startup Nomadic is integrating real-world physical objects, such as a flashlight, into its VR experiences. Among the other physical objects are leaky pipes that let off real hot air, a file cabinet that has to be opened to retrieve a real gun replica, and a virtual door with a real doorknob. The idea, according to Nomadic chief executive Doug Griffin, is that such real objects can add a feeling of magic to virtual reality. The company demonstrates these capabilities with an Oculus Rift VR headset. Continue reading Bringing Modular Sets and Physical Objects to VR Experiences

Facebook Takes its Next Step in Becoming Broadcast Platform

Facebook is taking on Amazon’s Twitch and the growing list of video competitors with new expanded live streaming features. “Users can go Live directly from Facebook’s desktop website via their webcam, stream through professional equipment and software hooked up to a desktop and broadcast gameplay from their computer,” reports TechCrunch. While mobile remains a focus for Facebook, desktop users can now broadcast straight to News Feeds and include graphics, titles and other overlays. “Opening up on desktop takes Facebook Live beyond Twitter and Periscope’s options, and brings it into competition with longer-running services like YouTube, Ustream and Livestream.” Continue reading Facebook Takes its Next Step in Becoming Broadcast Platform

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