Sprint Plans 2019 5G Hotspot Launch With HTC, Qualcomm

Sprint, the fourth largest wireless carrier in the U.S., plans to deploy a 5G mobile smart hub in the first half of 2019 developed with HTC and Qualcomm Technologies. Sprint says the “device will deliver multimedia and connected data capabilities in a compact and portable design,” featuring Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 modem for 5G in addition to Gigabit LTE capabilities. The Kansas-based telecom will introduce its mobile 5G network in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. Additional markets, the device name and feature specs will be announced at a later date. Continue reading Sprint Plans 2019 5G Hotspot Launch With HTC, Qualcomm

Shadow VR Joins the Competition in Emerging Headset Market

New standalone VR headsets continue to ramp up competition in the emerging tech sector. HTC has introduced its Vive Focus (starting at $599) to additional markets beyond China — including Europe and the U.S. — while launching an SDK and encouraging developers to experiment with its 6DoF controller add-on. This week, it also unveiled an enterprise version of the Vive Focus. Meanwhile, the all-in-one $399 Oculus Quest headset is scheduled to launch by spring of next year. And new to the scene is Shadow Creator’s $399 Shadow VR, which recently launched globally and is the latest of 15 partners to leverage HTC’s Vive Wave platform. Continue reading Shadow VR Joins the Competition in Emerging Headset Market

Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Google debuted its third iteration of Pixel smartphones to rival high-end Apple and Samsung phones. The company also introduced a smart speaker with built-in display and a hybrid laptop/tablet. Although the hardware devices showcase Google’s chops in AI and image processing, they haven’t moved the needle on the company’s sales or market share; its most popular hardware product is a wireless router. Google also unveiled Duplex, a human-sounding bot to be available on Pixel smartphones by the end of 2018 in a few U.S. cities. Continue reading Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Google Expected to Be Issued Major Antitrust Fine in Europe

The European Commission, executive arm of the European Union, is expected to issue a multibillion-euro antitrust fine against Google, according to insiders. Google will likely be charged with forcing the company’s search and Web browsing tools on manufacturers of Android-equipped mobile devices, which affects Google’s ecosystem and its successful advertising business. In addition to a hefty fine, Google will likely be ordered to make adjustments to its business practices in Europe related to Android, the most widely-deployed mobile operating system in the world. Continue reading Google Expected to Be Issued Major Antitrust Fine in Europe

Manufacturers Show Higher-Res VR Headset Display Panels

During Display Week in Los Angeles, several VR headset displays were showcased by companies including Google, LG, Japan Display and Samsung. Google and LG developed a display panel with 18.1 megapixels of detail per eye, which was similar to those from Japan Display and Samsung. The Google/LG panel, at 18.1 megapixels, goes up against Oculus Rift’s 1.3 megapixel per eye and HTC Vive Pro’s 2.2 megapixel per eye. Facebook was also at Display Week, but wasn’t quite ready to show off its Half Dome varifocal prototype. Continue reading Manufacturers Show Higher-Res VR Headset Display Panels

CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook is getting ready to release Oculus Go, a new phone-free VR headset at a price point of $199. According to CNET, the standalone Oculus Go represents “entry-level accessibility” to virtual reality, an area of technology innovation they hope to see grow at a consumer level. While the games and apps available on Oculus Go seem similar to what’s already available via Samsung’s Gear VR, the design is “less clunky, and the integrated, cleaner, softer and smaller construction here is better,” writes CNET.

Continue reading CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

ETCentric subscribers and their friends are invited to participate in the Creating Reality Hackathon, being held March 12-15 on the USC campus. The organizers are seeking forward-thinking industry storytellers, game designers, coders, and other creative artists. The teams that produce the top AR and VR submissions will each be awarded $5,000. This event will also be an opportunity to get a hands-on preview of the HTC Vive Pro and Intel’s Vaunt AR glasses. If you wish to participate, please submit your request via this special link (the deadline has been extended to March 7). Visit the event website for more info. Continue reading Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

For 5G to take off, manufacturers have to produce devices that integrate the technology. To that end, Qualcomm has partnered with 19 device makers, all of which will be relying on the chipmaker’s new Snapdragon X50 5G-compatible modem in at least one of their devices. Qualcomm has inked additional partnerships with global carriers, which will also be using the X50 modem for their 5G trials. All four major U.S. networks will begin their rollout of 5G networks by the end of this year, with full nationwide coverage by 2020. Continue reading Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Google is stepping up its competition with Apple in the smartphone market. The company inked a $1.1 billion deal with Taiwan-based HTC, which added more than 2,000 smartphone specialists. Google will now be able to design more of its own hardware and may position itself to manufacture more custom silicon chips. Up until now, Google has focused on software, and purchased hardware from Samsung Electronics and HTC. Newly added HTC staff will help Google control more of the design and production. Continue reading Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

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

Virtual Reality Execs Advocate VR Standards, Open Systems

Execs from HTC, Hulu, GoPro and Black Box VR looked at “Tapping Virtual Reality’s Real Potential” during a panel discussion at CES 2018. Each company had its own strategies, but everyone agreed on one thing: the need for the nascent industry to create standards and adopt open systems. “If you’re making a fitness app, you don’t want to have to optimize for every platform,” noted HTC senior vice president of virtual reality Rikard Steiber. “It’s too hard, doesn’t scale and isn’t sustainable. We as an industry must push towards an open platform.” Continue reading Virtual Reality Execs Advocate VR Standards, Open Systems

Content Creators Address the Transformative Potential of VR

The Stanley Kubrick of VR content has not yet been born, suggested Jaunt Studios co-head of studio Tom Vance during a CES 2018 panel. STXsurreal co-president of VR/immersive entertainment Andy Vick added that he believes we have to wait until today’s 12-year-olds get old enough to direct. “Today, we’re leaning on traditional filmmakers,” he said. “And they have to try to not think about a large screen and throw out a lot of production techniques or reshape and augment them to really craft something that makes sense for this medium.” Continue reading Content Creators Address the Transformative Potential of VR

Paramount Pictures to Launch Virtual Reality ‘Movie Theater’

Paramount Pictures, in partnership with Bigscreen and in collaboration with Oculus, Samsung, HTC and Microsoft, is launching its first VR movie theater. On December 3, anyone with any brand of VR headset can sign onto Bigscreen’s website and watch “Top Gun 3D” for free. The viewer walks into a virtual movie theater with theater seating, and watches trailers prior to the main film. Viewers are seated in a virtual audience and can chat before the movie, which is shown in 30-minute increments over the following 24 hours. Continue reading Paramount Pictures to Launch Virtual Reality ‘Movie Theater’

AR and VR Groups Create the First Global Virtual Reality Day

Augmented and virtual reality have been evolving, but aren’t yet at the point of breaking into the mainstream. Now, a grassroots group of individuals and organizations is working to create the first worldwide Virtual Reality Day, on November 18, an event it hopes to make annual until AR and VR reach wide acceptance. The group has chosen the date as the last Saturday before Black Friday, with the hope that parents and children will explore AR/VR together. The New York VR meetup (NYVR) — with 5,300 members, the second largest in the world — will participate. Continue reading AR and VR Groups Create the First Global Virtual Reality Day

Digital Domain Partnering With Qualcomm on VR Ecosystem

Digital Domain Holdings, head of the biggest global indie VFX facility, and Qualcomm have partnered to create what Digital Domain chair Peter Chou calls “a new ecosystem for virtual reality.” This deal follows on the heels of Digital Domain’s partnership with Deutsche Telekom on a virtual reality mobile app. According to Chou, who co-founded smartphone manufacturer HTC, these deals are in preparation for the rollout of 5G mobile services expected to take place in the next few years. HTC is also maker of the Vive VR headset. Continue reading Digital Domain Partnering With Qualcomm on VR Ecosystem

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