Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Android operating system co-creator Andy Rubin has introduced his Essential Phone that he says can be dropped onto concrete without breaking. The new smartphone, which will run on Android software, has magnetic connectors for a 360-degree camera or charger. Priced at $699 and available only in the U.S., Essential Phone will come without preinstalled apps or a need for yearly updates. Rubin also unveiled Essential Home, a voice-activated device that controls appliances. Both products are part of Rubin’s Playground Global incubator. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Samsung Schedules Live VR Broadcasts of Sports and Music

Samsung is looking to expand virtual reality applications beyond gaming to the world of broader entertainment and, hopefully, mainstream adoption. A few months after unveiling its updated Gear VR headset, the company announced plans for live VR broadcasts from UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the X Games and Live Nation. Samsung will debut VR Live Pass by broadcasting the UFC Featherweight Championship bout between José Aldo and Max Holloway on June 3 from Rio de Janeiro. VR Live Pass will then offer the X Games from Minneapolis July 13–16 and a major concert performance from Live Nation in August. Continue reading Samsung Schedules Live VR Broadcasts of Sports and Music

TV Holds Top Spot, While Smartphone Adoption On the Rise

According to new research figures, TV still holds the top spot in tech devices. The Consumer Technology Association reports that 96 percent of U.S. homes have at least one television, while 80 percent have a smartphone. However, the total number of TV sets — 308 million — was down 3 percent, while the number of homes with smartphones jumped six percent over the previous year. DVD/Blu-ray players dropped 7 percentage points and relinquished the No. 2 spot to smartphones. Not surprisingly, the majority of most popular tech devices are products that feature screens. Meanwhile, ABI Research predicts that HDR TV shipments will reach 245 million units in 2022. Continue reading TV Holds Top Spot, While Smartphone Adoption On the Rise

Supreme Court Ruling Is Likely to Suppress Patent Troll Suits

In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court tightened rules on where patent lawsuits may be filed. The consequences, say the experts, will make it much more difficult for patent trolls to seek out friendly courts that are likely to rule in their favor. Patent trolls are companies that buy patents solely to demand royalties and sue for damages. Currently, more than 40 percent of all patent lawsuits are filed in a federal court in East Texas, with a single judge there overseeing 25 percent of all nationwide patent cases. Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Is Likely to Suppress Patent Troll Suits

Comcast Rolls Out Xfinity Mobile, With Streaming TV Service

On its official Xfinity Mobile website, Comcast is now allowing its Xfinity Internet customers to sign up for the service at a discounted rate of $45 per month. The regular price will be $65 per month for unlimited mobile service. Xfinity Mobile was unveiled in April and will roll out to stores over the coming months throughout Comcast’s current markets. The service runs on top of Verizon’s network, but access to Comcast’s 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots means users will automatically be switched over to Wi-Fi when available. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out Xfinity Mobile, With Streaming TV Service

Google Demos Android-Powered Vehicle Infotainment System

Google is demonstrating an Android-powered touchscreen car console and infotainment system, offering Google Maps and Spotify as well as controlling seat positioning and temperature. For the first time, Google Assistant is integrated in the system, allowing users to ask for directions and make phone calls. The Android operating system will be demonstrated running on the Audi Q8 and Volvo V90 SUVs at this week’s Google I/O developers conference. Earlier this year, Google showed the software on a Chrysler vehicle. Continue reading Google Demos Android-Powered Vehicle Infotainment System

Samsung to Roll Out New DCI-Compliant LED Cinema Screen

Samsung’s LED digital cinema display, first unveiled during invitation-only events at CinemaCon in March, has passed DCI compliance tests. The company is expected to have a commercial product available before the end of the year. Keio University in Japan, one of the affiliated partners of Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), completed the compliance test plan certification. Until now, only cinema projectors from Barco, Christie and NEC based on Texas Instruments DLP Cinema tech and Sony’s LCoS SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) panel were considered DCI-compliant display devices.

Continue reading Samsung to Roll Out New DCI-Compliant LED Cinema Screen

Nvidia’s Project Holodeck: Photoreal Graphics in Shared VR

At Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, the company’s chief executive Jen-Hsun Haung introduced Project Holodeck, which aims to provide an experimental multi-user virtual environment with real-time photorealistic graphics and real-world physics. The new technology, which uses Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 and Nvidia’s GameWorks, VRWorks and DesignWorks, is targeted at design engineers and their collaborators. Nvidia’s Project Holodeck demo involved Koenigsegg Automotive, a Swedish company that makes exotic sports cars. Continue reading Nvidia’s Project Holodeck: Photoreal Graphics in Shared VR

Amazon Debuts Touchscreen Echo Show, Adds Video Calls

Amazon will ship a touchscreen version of its Echo speaker, the Echo Show, on June 28. Now available for pre-order at $229.99 or two for $360, Echo Show has the same capabilities as the first Echo, with the Alexa voice assistant, but adds a built-in display that shows information generated by Alexa queries. Users who have the Alexa app can make or receive a video call through Show; a new “Drop In” feature lets friends and family make a call at any time, and the call receiver has 10 seconds to reject it or switch it to audio-only. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Touchscreen Echo Show, Adds Video Calls

Apple iPhone Sales Dip While Apple Pay, Apple Watch Soar

In the latest quarter, Apple’s profit and revenue have ticked upward, but the company is experiencing problems with its iPhone, whose sales dropped 1 percent from the previous year to 50.8 million phones. The dip in sales is attributed to customers waiting for the 10-year anniversary phone, due in the fall, and weakness in China. Despite the slump, sales of the iPhone 7 were somewhat strong, pushing total revenue up 4.6 percent to $52.90 billion. In contrast to the iPhone, Apple Pay transactions and Apple Watch sales soared. Continue reading Apple iPhone Sales Dip While Apple Pay, Apple Watch Soar

NAB 2017: ETC Panel Tells the Producer’s Perspective on VR

The final panel at ETC’s conference on VR/AR convened producers who have worked on virtual reality projects. Producers Guild of America vice president, new media council John Canning moderated the discussion with producers from ETC@USC, StoryTech Immersive, Digital-Reign and The Virtual Reality Company. StoryTech Immersive president/chief storyteller Brian Seth Hurst spoke about his experiences creating “My Brother’s Keeper,” a 360 spin-off of PBS’s “Mercy Street.” “We were able to get close and intimate with our actors,” he said. Continue reading NAB 2017: ETC Panel Tells the Producer’s Perspective on VR

NAB 2017: Google Unveils the New $17K Yi Halo VR Camera

At NAB this week, Google introduced its latest VR camera, the Yi Halo, one year after partnering with Xiaomi-backed, Chinese action cam maker Yi Technology. The $17,000 spherical device, which uses Google’s cloud-based stitching system Jump for producing stereoscopic 360-degree videos, will be available this summer. The Yi Halo combines 16 4K action cams with an extra camera facing upwards. While Google unveiled Odyssey two years ago, featuring 16 GoPros, the rig has largely served as a test case. The Yi Halo, however, is commercially designed with feature improvements and multiple extras. Continue reading NAB 2017: Google Unveils the New $17K Yi Halo VR Camera

NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

Visual effects studio Digital Domain is launching a new suite of platform agnostic “creation, production, and distribution tools for virtual reality experiences — including a VR camera,” which it is demonstrating at NAB this week, reports VentureBeat. Digital Domain’s portable spherical camera features “advanced live-streaming capabilities, new integrations with post-production suites, and a cloud-based VR distribution platform. It enables visual effects production, 360 capture hardware and software, real-time stitching and encoding, livestreaming, application development, and content distribution.” Continue reading NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

Metaverse: Mozilla’s WebVR Helps Create Immersive Internet

With more focus on the so-called “Immersive Web” touted by Google, Oculus, Samsung and Microsoft, Mozilla’s free JavaScript API WebVR is experiencing a bump in popularity. WebVR is prized for its ability to enable immersive experiences without downloads or installs. Now, Mozilla is using WebVR to create an immersive version of the Internet dubbed Metaverse, a term first used in the 1992 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson that described a virtual domain without physical or social status limitations. Continue reading Metaverse: Mozilla’s WebVR Helps Create Immersive Internet

Samsung S8 Offers Bigger Screen and Bixby Virtual Assistant

Samsung Galaxy S8, arriving in stores April 21, sports a high-tech look, featuring a screen that goes from edge to edge, with just a hint of metal at the top and bottom. The screen measures 5.8-inches, compared to the S7’s 5.1-inch. The smartphone’s virtual assistant Bixby offers voice control, and Samsung is positioning the phone as capable of doubling as a desktop computer. That’s a lot of phone, but it’s got a price to match, at $720 at Verizon and starting at $750 for AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Continue reading Samsung S8 Offers Bigger Screen and Bixby Virtual Assistant

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