Oculus Recognizes Virtual Reality Hype, Defends its Potential

Virtual reality has been on a major roll … at least until this year. When Oculus executives sold their startup to Facebook in 2014 for about $3 billion, VR was riding high. The purchase prompted tech giants such as Google and Microsoft to speed up their VR headset development, and sparked a wave of investments and new startups. But this year, interest in VR has arguably slumped, as some consumers seem to have grown disappointed. Oculus has not helped the sentiment, since it has not revealed any official figures about Rift sales, but still very much believes in the technology’s potential. Continue reading Oculus Recognizes Virtual Reality Hype, Defends its Potential

Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

As part of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to get one billion people into virtual reality, the company has also targeted social interaction as a potential powerhouse, with avatars communicating in a shared virtual world. This vision is already a reality on the company’s software platform Facebook Spaces, headed by Rachel Franklin, who previously worked on “The Sims.” She recently described her team’s philosophy and how that motivates design choices. She also described Facebook’s most successful VR elements. Continue reading Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

At Facebook’s annual Oculus Connect developers’ conference, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a new standalone VR headset and stated that his goal is to get one billion people into virtual reality and ensure that VR is a “force for good.” With the latter comment, Zuckerberg tacitly recognized the tsunami of criticism that Facebook has received for live-streaming suicides and murders, and a recent virtual reality tour of the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, during which he and an employee reveled in the technology, to the chagrin of viewers. Continue reading Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

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

Americans Spend Half of Their Media Day Consuming Digital

According to new data from eMarketer, the average U.S. adult is expected to spend two more minutes each day consuming media than the average time per day last year, up two hours from a decade ago. The researcher estimates that adult consumers will average 12 hours and 1 minute per day with major media this year. This increase, not surprisingly, reflects a continued shift in consumer behavior toward multitasking, thanks in large part to mobile tech. The average American still spends the most time watching television (nearly four hours per day), while mobile continues its ascent (currently at three hours and 17 minutes per day). Continue reading Americans Spend Half of Their Media Day Consuming Digital

Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

Amazon has acquired 3D body-model startup Body Labs for a reported $50-$70 million, although some sources say the figure could exceed $100 million. New York-based Body Labs specializes in true-to-life 3D models that are ideal for B2B software applications, including the creation of photorealistic avatars for gaming and virtual approaches for consumers to try on clothing. The latter should be of particular interest to e-commerce giant Amazon. The online retailer could use the scanning and modeling tech to help shoppers select fashion purchases ideal for their body types. Continue reading Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

DisneyNOW Consolidates Three Popular Kids Apps Into One

Until now, Disney had separate Watch apps for children 2-14 that featured entertainment content from the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior. Now, the company has consolidated all three into a single app, thus boosting its pay-TV business. DisneyNOW will offer full episodes and live streaming from all the networks to customers whose cable, Internet TV, satellite or telco providers are participating. In addition to DisneyNOW, the company reportedly plans to create its own movie streaming service when its deal with Netflix expires in 2019. Continue reading DisneyNOW Consolidates Three Popular Kids Apps Into One

VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Over the weekend, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) released its draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam. The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). It then makes specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security. VRIF aims to release the full guidelines, with an emphasis on an open ecosystem, at CES 2018 in January. Continue reading VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Apple ARKit and New iPhones Set the Stage for AR Adoption

Apple ARKit for iOS 11, which enables developers to create augmented reality apps, has caught the attention of developers. With the new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, those same developers now have the best hardware and software for creating new AR apps. IKEA quickly jumped on board, and Apple also showed a multiplayer game using iPhones. Apple ARKit does have drawbacks: it doesn’t detect vertical surfaces, such as walls, and although it works on iPhones as old at the 6s, it really shines on the latest iPhone hardware. Continue reading Apple ARKit and New iPhones Set the Stage for AR Adoption

Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

Despite earlier concerns over censorship and a cyberattack traced to Chinese hackers — and the fact that its search engine can only be accessed in the region by using VPNs (due to the government’s filtering system) — Google is reportedly ramping up its presence in China. Its careers web page lists nearly 60 open positions in Beijing and Shanghai. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least four of the engineering positions involve artificial intelligence, “including a technical lead to develop a team to work on natural language processing, data compression and other machine learning technologies.” Continue reading Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

NewTek Offers Video Over Ethernet Tech for Live Streaming

NewTek is making its NDI (Network Device Interface) technology available to creators of live-streaming content, which would enable them to improve their production values and give them a leg up in competing with rivals. NDI technology is a new kind of video signal that is able to broadcast between computers over a local network. Live-streaming site Twitch has used NewTek’s NDI technology to allow its on-screen personalities to play games, while producers edit the live feed in another room, without the need for extra cables. Continue reading NewTek Offers Video Over Ethernet Tech for Live Streaming

Startup Debuts Prototype of Game Controlled by Brainwaves

Neurable, a Boston-based startup founded by engineer/neuroscientist Ramses Alcaide, is showing a prototype of a game, with the working title “Awakening,” that allows users to break out of a virtual room by issuing mental commands. The prototype, said to be a few years away from commercial introduction, includes an HTC virtual reality headset and seven sensors that read brainwaves. The user selects objects by looking in the general direction of the object she wishes to select, thus narrowing the number of items to be considered. Continue reading Startup Debuts Prototype of Game Controlled by Brainwaves

Intel Claims Big Performance Leap for Next Gen Core Chips

Intel reports that the eighth generation of its Core line of chips, to be debuted in new laptops in September, will offer as much as a 40 percent increase in performance over its previous generation. Although the PC market has been declining, Intel — whose chips are already in 80 percent of PCs globally — is still posting upticks. In Q2, Intel saw a 12 percent increase in chip sales. Intel’s only remaining competitor in this sector is Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which is also bringing its new Zen chips to market this year. Continue reading Intel Claims Big Performance Leap for Next Gen Core Chips

Electronic Arts, NFL Create Tournament for Casual Gamers

Electronic Arts and the National Football League now offer an eSports tournament aimed at the casual user in the living room. Dubbed the Madden NFL Club Championship, the competition is open to players of all skill levels aged 16 or older in North America, the U.K. and Germany, and is based on a pilot program held last spring. It’s also linked to the debut of “Madden NFL 18,” Electronic Art’s newest installment of the annual football game franchise, which has sold more than 100 million units around the world since its 1980s debut. Continue reading Electronic Arts, NFL Create Tournament for Casual Gamers

HTC Slashes Cost of its Vive Virtual Reality Headset by $200

Just weeks after Facebook temporarily reduced the price tag for its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, HTC announced it is chopping $200 off the cost of its Vive headset. The HTC Vive now costs $599, which brings it closer to the $499 Rift (currently $399 during its summer sale). Both VR devices require connection to a computer. HTC’s new price point is intended to spark new interest in the device and its accessories such as the Vive Tracker, wireless adapters and a new head strap. The deal also offers access to VR game titles through a one-month free trial to HTC’s Viveport subscription service. Continue reading HTC Slashes Cost of its Vive Virtual Reality Headset by $200

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