Halsey Minor Seeks to Disrupt VR Production with Live Planet

Numerous companies are introducing virtual reality cameras, filling a void that existed a year ago when VR productions were limited to the low-resolution Ricoh camera or custom rigs with multiple GoPro cameras. Among those manufacturers now offering 360-degree cameras are Samsung and LG aiming at the consumer marketplace, and Nokia, Jaunt and Lytro positioned towards the professional market. Kickstarter campaigns are also underway for additional cameras. The latest venture comes from CNET founder Halsey Minor, who is building an end-to-end immersive video system. Continue reading Halsey Minor Seeks to Disrupt VR Production with Live Planet

Advanced Wireless Research Initiative to Develop 5G Networks

The Obama administration has announced its Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, a government-funded $400 million seven-year project aimed at developing 5G wireless networking technology, with speeds 100 times faster than today’s 4G and LTE networks. As stated, the project also wants to “maintain U.S. leadership and win the next generation of mobile technology.” The National Science Foundation will lead the project, and other commercial partners including Samsung and carriers will participate. Continue reading Advanced Wireless Research Initiative to Develop 5G Networks

SoftBank to Purchase UK-Based Chip Designer ARM Holdings

Japan’s SoftBank Group has agreed to acquire United Kingdom’s ARM Holdings for more than $32 billion in an all-cash deal, which insiders suggest marks a major move by the Japanese telecom toward the mobile Internet. As a top designer of chips for companies such as Apple and Samsung, ARM dominates the smartphone market and is a leader in the mobile revolution. Its designs appear in a range of devices, including Internet of Things sensors. The number of chips featuring ARM processors reached 14.8 billion in 2015, up from 6.1 billion five years earlier. Continue reading SoftBank to Purchase UK-Based Chip Designer ARM Holdings

NBCUniversal Marks Numerous Firsts for Upcoming Olympics

For the first time, viewers of the Olympic Games in Rio will be able to watch on connected TVs and via devices such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire. There’ll be a lot to watch: NBC Olympics plans on 4,500 hours of live event coverage of 34 sports to numerous digital devices. Also for the first time, NBC will stream content digitally — but only to pay TV customers, since parent company Comcast’s core mission is to keep people paying for cable TV. Continue reading NBCUniversal Marks Numerous Firsts for Upcoming Olympics

Walmart Makes Mobile Payment App Available to Entire Chain

Walmart is expanding its mobile payment service, Walmart Pay, to its entire chain of 4,600 U.S. stores. The feature can be found on the retailer’s app, which is available for Android and Apple devices. According to the company, more than 20 million consumers regularly use the app, which offers discounts and helps locate products. Walmart, which has 140 million weekly shoppers, is aiming to make the shopping and checkout experience more convenient. It is also looking to compete with companies such as Apple, Alphabet and Samsung, all of which offer ways to make mobile purchases. Continue reading Walmart Makes Mobile Payment App Available to Entire Chain

NBC, Samsung, OBS Team Up to Offer VR Olympics Coverage

NBC plans to release about 85 hours of virtual reality content of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, marking the first time that the Olympics will be available as a VR experience. Participating cable/satellite operators will make the content available exclusively to their pay-TV subscribers on Samsung devices. Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) will do the actual production of the VR content, which will then be supplied to NBC Olympics. Among the content to be made available are the opening and closing ceremonies. Continue reading NBC, Samsung, OBS Team Up to Offer VR Olympics Coverage

Google Debuts Features to Enable Browsing the Internet in VR

Google has been a significant player in defining and deploying what’s called WebVR, which enables VR websites to provide content directly to virtual reality headsets via standard capabilities. But Google has a much broader vision: it would like users to be able to access all websites in VR including those not created with virtual reality in mind. Currently, a user would have to take the VR headset off and on as she jumped from site to site. Google thinks it’s a better idea to let the user remain in an entirely VR environment. Continue reading Google Debuts Features to Enable Browsing the Internet in VR

Apple in Early Talks to Acquire Tidal Streaming Music Service

Apple is in “exploratory talks” to purchase Jay Z’s streaming music service Tidal, according to insiders. Apple is said to be interested in augmenting its Apple Music service with top artists associated with Tidal including Madonna and Kanye West. Tidal landed a number of high profile exclusive releases this year from West, Rihanna and Beyoncé. It is also the only streaming service to feature the catalog of the late pop star Prince. Tidal says it presently has 4.2 million subscribers who pay $20 per month for the high-fidelity version of the service or $10 per month for the standard-quality version. Continue reading Apple in Early Talks to Acquire Tidal Streaming Music Service

Cannes Lions Advertising Fest Highlights Branded VR Content

At the Cannes Lions advertising festival, Google issued its first ranking of 360-degree video ads on YouTube, which have already garnered 20 million views. BMW’s VR racing experiences earned a No. 1 spot on the list, which also included McDonald’s, Oreo and Hyundai. Google has distributed 5 million Cardboard viewers for watching VR with a smartphone. The company acknowledges these are early days for virtual reality, but also believes that more access to smartphones will hasten more adoption. Continue reading Cannes Lions Advertising Fest Highlights Branded VR Content

Google to Offer its Own Smartphone, Secure Future Services

By the end of the year Google plans to release its own smartphone, which will compete directly with the Apple iPhone and extend the company’s reach into hardware. Google is presently in talks with carriers about the branded phone. Its Android operating system already powers 80 percent of smartphones sold around the world in phones made by, among others, Samsung, LG and Huawei’s Google Nexus brand. With its new smartphone, Google will take charge of design and manufacturing as well as software. Continue reading Google to Offer its Own Smartphone, Secure Future Services

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

App for Broadcasting Text Chats Rolls Out with ‘SummerBreak’

Avner Ronen, founder of consumer electronics startup Boxee, has rolled out Public, a messaging service that he calls “a third medium for broadcasting conversations.” Public, which raised $2 million at the end of 2015 and is available as an iPhone app and website, broadcasts group chats to an audience, complete with GIFs and emoji. A handful of active participants chat about a topic, which anyone can follow in real-time or read later. Chats can also be shared on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or embedded in other websites. Continue reading App for Broadcasting Text Chats Rolls Out with ‘SummerBreak’

With FCC Approval, U.S. Could Be First to Open 5G Networks

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will distribute a proposal tomorrow to launch 5G wireless proceedings, and if the plan is passed, the FCC will then identify and open up high-band spectrum capable of sending data at ultra high speeds. The FCC is not defining 5G, and a 5G standard has yet to be established. “Wheeler basically wants to leave it up to the market, as the commission did for 4G before it,” The Verge reports. “The commission will open up a bunch of new wireless spectrum — which is what companies like AT&T and Verizon use to beam data from their towers to your cellphones — and then leave phone companies and other competitors to do what they’d like with it.” Continue reading With FCC Approval, U.S. Could Be First to Open 5G Networks

CryWorks: Disney, Pixar, ILM Vets Launch New VR Company

VFX and CGI veterans Euan Macdonald, Hans Uhlig and Kymber Lim have secured funding led by Michael Bay’s 451 Media Group, 500 Mobile Collective, and WI Harper Group to launch an immersive entertainment company called CryWorks, with plans to produce virtual and augmented reality experiences. “Although there are a few high-quality VR content pieces to date, most of them have little incentive for the viewer to keep tuning back in,” said Macdonald. “We see an opportunity to build the first VR broadcast network, partnering with other production companies and creating addictive, episodic experiences.” Continue reading CryWorks: Disney, Pixar, ILM Vets Launch New VR Company

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

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