Disney Accelerator’s New Startups Address Robotics, AI, VR

The Walt Disney Company has invited nine new companies into its 2016 Accelerator program. Disney Accelerator, now in its third season, has gained a desirable profile as several alumni have inked partnership deals with Disney. Among them are Sphero, creator of the BB-8 droid “Star Wars” toy and sports data platform StatMuse, which now works with Disney’s ESPN. One of this year’s invited startups, says The Walt Disney Company’s senior vice president of innovation Michael Abrams, is an internal project team. Continue reading Disney Accelerator’s New Startups Address Robotics, AI, VR

Nintendo ‘Pokémon GO’ Creating an Augmented Reality Craze

Nintendo added $7 billion in market value since debuting “Pokémon GO,” its location-based, augmented reality mobile game that it says has attracted more than 10 million players in its first month. The game takes users away from videogame screens and out into the real world where they search for virtual monsters in parks, historical monuments and even police stations. While gamers excitedly take to the streets, reports have recently pointed to distracted players falling into holes, walking into street signs, and even being robbed by criminals using the location tech to locate their prey. Continue reading Nintendo ‘Pokémon GO’ Creating an Augmented Reality Craze

Samsung Rolls Out Gear 360 Camera at VidCon to Select Few

Samsung’s Gear 360 virtual-reality camera will roll out at digital video confab VidCon — but only to top YouTube and other digital video content creators. After that event, Samsung will also make the $350 VR camera available for purchase for chosen creators at “select events and activations,” with a rollout to consumers planned for later in the year. With its strategy of releasing the camera to an exclusive few, Samsung hopes to jumpstart the creation of VR content and increase buzz for the upcoming consumer release. Continue reading Samsung Rolls Out Gear 360 Camera at VidCon to Select Few

Study Finds People Prefer VR Travel, Adventure to VR Games

Market research firm Greenlight VR reveals that consumers’ main interest in virtual reality is not games, but rather travel, entertainment, events, home design and education. The company’s recent 2016 Virtual Reality Consumer Report also notes that the top VR device consumers now want is the Samsung Gear VR, followed by the PlayStation VR, and that they are less enthused about paying a premium for VR than they were in October. The report surveyed more than 1,200 people aged 18 to 60, including both users and non-users of VR. Continue reading Study Finds People Prefer VR Travel, Adventure to VR Games

Patents, Investments Point to Significant Future for VR and AR

Sony dominates U.S. patent filings related to virtual reality, followed by IBM, Samsung, Microsoft and Canon. Magic Leap and Reveo are the leading startups when it comes to published patents related to VR. Microsoft, Sony and Qualcomm have the most published patents related to augmented reality, although they do not necessarily lead in the number of AR inventions. Osterout Group and Magic Leap are the clear leaders in published AR patents. All the companies on these lists have far fewer inventions than patents because multiple patents may be included in a single invention. Continue reading Patents, Investments Point to Significant Future for VR and AR

Alphabet Update on Wireless Internet, Search, Education, Cars

At its annual shareholders meeting, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt reiterated the company’s plan to wirelessly connect homes to high-speed Internet. The technology, viable now due to improvements in computer chips and more accurate wireless signal targeting, can deliver a 1 gigabit per second connection, equivalent to Google Fiber’s capabilities. Schmidt also delved into the company’s plans to advance search features, explore 3D printing for building construction, meatless meat, autonomous cars and other sectors. Continue reading Alphabet Update on Wireless Internet, Search, Education, Cars

E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

At E3 2016 next week, Sony will come to the show having sold over 40 million PlayStation 4 consoles, outselling Microsoft’s Xbox One, by two-to-one. The company plans to debut a more powerful console, a virtual reality headset, and numerous first-party games. Microsoft, meanwhile, plans to launch a wide range of new Xbox hardware this year, beginning with, rumors have it, a slimmer, smaller version of the current Xbox One. In addition to new consoles, Microsoft will show off HoloLens and debut new games. Continue reading E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

E3 Loses Exhibitors as Publishers and Gamers Connect Online

When the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) opens its doors in Los Angeles next week, some familiar game publishers will be missing for the first time. Electronic Arts has opted to hold its own mini-expo, Activision did not take a booth this year, and Disney is exiting the video game publishing business. That’s big news for E3, the industry’s premiere trade show that draws 50,000 video game industry members and historically has been the site of major title unveilings and celebrity appearances. Some ask whether E3 might be losing its luster. Continue reading E3 Loses Exhibitors as Publishers and Gamers Connect Online

Top Game Console Companies Test Tweaking Release Cycles

At least some game console manufacturers have decided not to wait for long release cycles to upgrade their hardware, but instead will begin to release new capabilities in between generations. Microsoft has said as much with regard to its next Xbox One, code-named Scorpio, and Sony has reportedly made noises that its upcoming releases will have forward and backward compatibility. They are both following the model of devices like PCs and smartphones that operate on a continuous evolution cycle. Continue reading Top Game Console Companies Test Tweaking Release Cycles

Xbox One VR Rumors Fueled by Game Developer and E3 Site

Speculation that Microsoft is planning a more powerful, VR-capable Xbox One for next year has been fueled by news that at least one developer plans to show a virtual reality game for the console at E3 in June. According to Ars Technica, “a well-known European studio is planning ‘a new VR game’ set in the universe of an established, long-running franchise.” To further fan the flames, the E3 site added an Xbox One VR category featuring four developers so far. While Sony announced that it plans to launch a $399 PlayStation VR in October, Microsoft has yet to officially announce plans for a VR console. Continue reading Xbox One VR Rumors Fueled by Game Developer and E3 Site

ELeague Broadcasts Gaming Competitions on TBS and Twitch

Turner and WME|IMG’s new gaming league ELeague, which began showing “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” competitions via online video streaming service Twitch, will now debut the winning teams this Friday at 10 p.m. on national cable TV channel TBS. This is the latest attempt to bring eSports to TV, including one by DirecTV, which failed to gain traction. The trick to make it succeed is to translate eSports “online sensibility” to television, bringing some of its 214 million 18-to-25 year old viewers along for the ride. Continue reading ELeague Broadcasts Gaming Competitions on TBS and Twitch

Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

On the 15th anniversary of the first Apple retail store, the company unveiled a new design for its 477 physical outlets. In the face of a slump in sales, the redesigned stores are one more way to bring in customers, existing and new, to buy products and bask in the Apple lifestyle. The first to open is in San Francisco’s Union Square. The two-story building features 42-foot-tall glass doors that expose the interior to the street, special displays on photography, music and more room to wander and play with Apple products. Continue reading Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

Google Introduces VR System Daydream, VR-Capable Phones

During its I/O conference this week, Google announced it is releasing a new virtual reality system, dubbed Daydream, which includes a range of VR-capable Android smartphones, a headset design, a controller and applications, all of which will be released this fall. Daydream will be compatible with Google’s current and future Android mobile operating system, including the upcoming version, code-named Android N. Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi are among those already building Daydream-compatible phones. Continue reading Google Introduces VR System Daydream, VR-Capable Phones

Rovio Self-Finances ‘Angry Birds’ Movie to Control Franchise

Finnish company Rovio Entertainment decided four years ago that, rather than license the “Angry Birds” characters to a Hollywood studio, it would finance its own $73 million movie. Since opening on Friday in some territories, Rovio’s gamble has thus far resulted in a $43 million gross. Companies such as Lego A/S and Hasbro turned to studios to finance their films, but Rovio took the same path Marvel did when it made “Iron Man,” with the goal of controlling the franchise over the long term. Continue reading Rovio Self-Finances ‘Angry Birds’ Movie to Control Franchise

VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

For those looking for an affordable VR alternative, RiftCat has been busy developing an app called VRidge that streams virtual reality games from a PC to a smartphone over Wi-Fi. The beta is currently available for Android, but the company is also working on an iOS version. The most recent update added support for SteamVR and Razer’s open source OSVR project. The implications could be significant, especially when considering the cost of investing in a high-end VR headset, such as the $600 Oculus Rift or $800 HTC Vive, both of which still require a powerful PC starting in the $1,500 range. Continue reading VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

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