Virtual Reality Will Be a Major Force at CES 2017 Next Month

In 2016 the definition of virtual reality became somewhat diluted as it entered mainstream culture. Everything from non-interactive 360 videos viewable on a tablet to free-roaming full-body head-mounted display experiences inside warehouse spaces was marketed as VR. We saw ‘magic window’ VR experiences, a push for consumer HMDs including Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, and the introduction of low-cost alternatives such as Google Cardboard. It should come as little surprise that more than 210 companies exhibiting at CES 2017 use the keywords AR and/or VR in their descriptions; 72 are clustered in the Gaming and VR Marketplace section in South Hall Lower Level between spaces 21760 and 26025. Continue reading Virtual Reality Will Be a Major Force at CES 2017 Next Month

VR Headset Makers Launch Global Virtual Reality Association

The Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA) was officially announced on Wednesday. This group is groundbreaking in that its founding members include many of the major competing VR headset manufacturers that have been the focus of so much press attention over the last year: Acer Starbreeze, Google, HTC Vive, Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung and Sony Interactive Entertainment. GVRA states on its website that “while seeking to educate consumers, governments, and industry about VR’s potential, the association wants to get ahead of challenges with developing and deploying the technology responsibly.” Continue reading VR Headset Makers Launch Global Virtual Reality Association

Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

In the carefully watched design patent battle between Apple and Samsung, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that Samsung may not be liable for its entire $399 million in profits after copying the iPhone’s distinctive look, including its rectangular front face, rounded corners and grid of icons. In 2012, a jury decided that Samsung had infringed on Apple’s patents. “Design patents, which address what products look like, are far less common than utility patents, which cover how products work,” explains The New York Times. “The Supreme Court’s opinion, while not decisively resolving the case, found that liability in design patent cases is not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition.” The two companies will return to court to determine an appropriate amount for damages. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

CES 2017 Keynote Speaker Line-Up Foretells Scope of Show

A look at the line-up of keynote speakers for the upcoming CES 2017 show in Las Vegas confirms the Consumer Technology Association’s expanding worldview and provides a leading indicator of what to expect when the sprawling show opens on January 5. The “night before” keynote, made famous by Bill Gates, is now a coveted timeslot occupied this year by Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, making his first CES keynote presentation. Nvidia’s substantial investment in artificial intelligence along with its well-established achievements in self-driving cars, VR, and gaming are likely topics. Continue reading CES 2017 Keynote Speaker Line-Up Foretells Scope of Show

It’s Official: Cyber Monday Bigger Than Black Friday This Year

As projected, this week’s Cyber Monday shopping event set a new single-day online sales record, according to Adobe. Following Black Friday’s record of $3.34 billion in online sales, as well as a new record of $1.2 billion in purchases made via mobile devices, Cyber Monday reached a staggering $3.45 billion in sales in the U.S., up 12.1 percent compared to the same day in 2015. Thanksgiving weekend is generally considered the start of the holiday shopping season and an indicator of economic health and consumer confidence. From November 24-28, consumers spent $12.81 billion, a 16.4 percent jump over last year. Continue reading It’s Official: Cyber Monday Bigger Than Black Friday This Year

Apple Considers Curved OLED Screen for Next Year’s iPhone

A future iPhone featuring a curved OLED screen could be available by next year. According to Apple’s suppliers, Apple has requested thinner OLEDs and new prototypes with higher resolution than screens offered by Samsung. As Apple gets ready for next year’s 10th anniversary of its popular iPhone, the company has been contending with slowing smartphone sales. Samsung, Google and Xiaomi are among those that have already made the transition from conventional LCD displays to thinner and lighter OLED tech that does not require the same backlight and allows for flexible designs. Continue reading Apple Considers Curved OLED Screen for Next Year’s iPhone

Black Friday Sets New Records, More Consumers Go Mobile

According to separate research from Adobe and the National Retail Federation, Black Friday set new records for e-commerce with online sales surpassing $3 billion for the first time, while also marking the first day in U.S. retail history to experience more than $1 billion in sales made from mobile devices. Adobe reports $3.34 billion in total online sales, a 21.6 percent jump over last year, with mobile accounting for $1.2 billion, a 33 percent increase. And shoppers were thrifty this time around. While the NRF found that the number of shoppers increased over the weekend compared to 2015, average consumer spending dropped 3.5 percent, including online and offline purchases. Continue reading Black Friday Sets New Records, More Consumers Go Mobile

Fandango Brings Movie VOD Service to Xbox Game Consoles

Movie ticketing company Fandango launched its VOD service FandangoNOW on Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles. FandangoNOW, which is already on Android TV among other platforms, offers 40,000 new-release and catalog movies as well as next-day TV shows for rent and purchase. The move puts Fandango in direct competition with Apple iTunes, Amazon Video and Walmart’s Vudu. Fandango’s end game is to deploy the rebranded FandangoNOW to increase overall revenues via a home entertainment offering. Continue reading Fandango Brings Movie VOD Service to Xbox Game Consoles

Slack Faces Messaging Competition From Microsoft, Facebook

Group messaging is heating up. Startup Slack Technologies, valued at $3.8 billion, got it going and, now, Microsoft, with Teams, and Facebook, with Workplace by Facebook, are moving in on the space. Slack has been expecting this level of competition for some time, and it’s one of the reasons behind the company’s recent partnership with IBM to use Watson artificial intelligence services. All of this makes it clear that tech companies, big and small, see messaging as the next big thing after email. Continue reading Slack Faces Messaging Competition From Microsoft, Facebook

Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

As Apple reportedly scales back its automotive plans, South Korean smartphone competitor Samsung is pushing into the emerging market with its $8 billion acquisition of luxury audio and connected car leader Harman. Auto connectivity has been a “strategic priority” for Samsung, and the transaction will provide the company with infotainment, telematics, security and safety solutions by Harman that are currently found in 30 million vehicles. Samsung also recently expressed interest in paying more than $3 billion for Fiat Chrysler’s Magneti Marelli autoparts business. Continue reading Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

Google just released Home, a smart speaker that competes directly with the recently introduced Amazon Echo, powered by the virtual assistant Alexa. Since its release, Amazon’s Echo has been a hit, as users have relied on it for everything from a home automation tool to kitchen companion and shopping assistant. Now, the two products, from two technology behemoths, will face off in the marketplace. These devices are still early in their development, and the virtual assistants powering them offer limited abilities. Continue reading Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

The NBA Plans to Experiment with VR Streaming This Season

The NBA announced it plans to stream at least one game each week this season in virtual reality. Available only to NBA League Pass subscribers, the VR streaming will debut October 27 when the Sacramento Kings take on the San Antonio Spurs. “Initially, they will only be accessible by people who own a Samsung smartphone and a Samsung Gear VR headset,” reports The Wall Street Journal, “but the plan is to make the games viewable on other types of VR devices later in the season.” The league, which “plans to have a distinct production crew and even announcing team for the VR broadcasts,” partnered with NextVR to develop an app for accessing the games in virtual reality. Continue reading The NBA Plans to Experiment with VR Streaming This Season

W3C to Host Workshop This Week on Web and Virtual Reality

WebVR development, VR content, 3D audio, user interfaces, codecs, file formats and standardization will be among the many topics addressed at this week’s W3C Workshop on Web & Virtual Reality (October 19-20) in San Jose, California. The goal “will be to establish the overall roadmap to standardization to make the Web a robust platform for Virtual Reality,” explains organizer Dominique Hazaël-Massieux. Through presentations and breakout sessions, the workshop plans “to bring together practitioners of Web and Virtual Reality technologies to make the Open Web Platform a better delivery mechanism for VR experiences,” notes the event page. Continue reading W3C to Host Workshop This Week on Web and Virtual Reality

In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC reinstated the $119.6 million that a San Jose, California jury awarded Apple against Samsung. The recent ruling was 8-3, representing a full slate of judges, unlike the previous three-judge panel that, this last February, overturned the original verdict. The judges in the latest ruling stated that that panel examined evidence outside the record of the case, contrary to U.S. Supreme Court limits on the scope of review. Continue reading In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

Samsung Pulls the Plug on its Troubled Galaxy Note 7 Phone

In the latest update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 saga, the company announced it would permanently discontinue production and sales of the smartphone, “pulling the plug on a premium product whose botched recall has brought headaches to consumers and inflicted damage on the Samsung brand,” reports The Wall Street Journal. In the wake of overheating problems and reported fires, the company explained to South Korean regulators that it would cease making the device. Analysts including Sanford C. Bernstein’s Mark Newman suggest Samsung should drop the Galaxy Note series altogether, while Macquarie analyst Daniel Kim estimates losses could reach $2.8 billion for the last three months of 2016, explains WSJ, “enough to wipe out the entire mobile division’s operating profits for the fourth quarter.” Continue reading Samsung Pulls the Plug on its Troubled Galaxy Note 7 Phone

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