Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

The typical VR experience is solitary, but an increasing number of companies are exploring the possibility of virtual realty in the context of a social platform. That trend was made clear by Microsoft’s acquisition of AltspaceVR. High Fidelity is an environment that lets users create their own avatars and social worlds, with a marketplace where they can buy avatars and other 3D elements. And vTime, a stationary platform, lets four people at a time engage in fully rendered environments. Continue reading Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

Google Debuts Spatial Audio SDK for Immersive Experiences

Google has launched Resonance Audio, a spatial audio software development kit based on technology from the company’s current VR Audio SDK. The latter was introduced with the Cardboard SDK in January 2016 and then integrated into the main Google VR SDK in May of the same year. The goal with Resonance Audio is to make it easier to develop for mobile and desktop platforms. The VR SDK audio engine already supports multiple platforms, but Google recognized that it could be “confusing and time-consuming” to work with various audio tools. Continue reading Google Debuts Spatial Audio SDK for Immersive Experiences

Disney, Lenovo Introduce AR Headset and ‘Star Wars’ Games

Disney, with Lenovo, just released a new augmented reality kit for “Star Wars: Jedi Challenges,” which retails for $200 and includes the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, AR-powered lightsaber controller and LED puck for motion tracking. The headset relies on a phone for graphics rendering and can work with the most recent Android and Apple iOS phones. The phone is placed above the user’s field of view, and the image then mirrored on a transparent plane, allowing her to see the environment combined with “Star Wars” games. Continue reading Disney, Lenovo Introduce AR Headset and ‘Star Wars’ Games

Microsoft HoloLens Finds New Life for Corporate Applications

Microsoft hasn’t given up on HoloLens. The company believes it is more suited for corporate training than gaming, and now Japan Airlines is using it is a good example of that. Two years ago, the Japanese company sent pilot Takashi Wada to Microsoft headquarters to try out the HoloLens; now he teaches HoloLens-equipped trainees how to flip virtual switches in a cockpit, prior to using flight simulators. Microsoft isn’t alone in pursuing such applications, with Alphabet, Apple and Facebook following suit. Continue reading Microsoft HoloLens Finds New Life for Corporate Applications

Intel Selects 2018 Winter Olympics to Showcase 5G Network

Intel will use the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea to showcase new wireless networking technologies and super-fast data transfer speeds based on the pending 5G standard. The new wireless standard is expected to mark a new era for Internet connectivity and disrupt wired services such as cable TV, modems and phone lines. “As mobility evolves beyond the smartphone, 5G is becoming one of the most impactful technology transformations we are likely to see in our lifetimes,” wrote Intel exec Sandra Rivera in a blog post. Continue reading Intel Selects 2018 Winter Olympics to Showcase 5G Network

Live Mobile Trivia Game ‘HQ’ Gives Away Money, Goes Viral

A new live mobile game called “HQ” is giving away real money and adding something new to the genre. The iOS game is the brainchild of Vine creators Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, and combines elements of current popular game shows, including “Jeopardy!” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” The game goes live daily at 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm ET, and lasts for 13 minutes as one of two hosts (either New York comedian Scott Rogowsky or British on-air personality Sharon Carpenter) shoots off 12 multiple choice questions that range in difficulty and topic. Continue reading Live Mobile Trivia Game ‘HQ’ Gives Away Money, Goes Viral

Sony to Introduce 3D ‘Time-of-Flight’ Sensors for AR Devices

At Sony’s Atsugi Technology Center outside Tokyo, engineers are developing a new kind of 3D sensor aimed for use first in smartphones and augmented reality devices. The sensors will be able to detect people and objects by relying on calculations on how long it takes for light to reflect off their surfaces. Sony, which will go into mass production next year, is betting that the new sensors could eventually be used in drones, self-driving vehicles, gaming consoles, and other machines that interact with their environments. Continue reading Sony to Introduce 3D ‘Time-of-Flight’ Sensors for AR Devices

AMC Introduces VR App With ‘Walking Dead’ Bonus Content

AMC released a free promotional VR app that lets fans experience turning into a zombie from “The Walking Dead” and other immersive content from the martial arts series “Into the Badlands.” The app also includes trailers of other AMC content and behind-the-scenes video. The new app is stoking fan enthusiasm for the season 8 premiere of “The Walking Dead” on October 22. The app will include a 360-degree bonus scene, available at the conclusion of the premiere episode, which is also the popular show’s 100th episode. Continue reading AMC Introduces VR App With ‘Walking Dead’ Bonus Content

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

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