Researcher Predicts AR, VR Will Soon Manage Supply Chains

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Dr. Matthias Winkenbach has a good idea of how virtual reality could completely change how corporations solve supply chain problems. He believes that in at least three-to-five years away, supply chain managers will rely on augmented and virtual reality to make better decisions more quickly, with the ability to see holograms with visible data via an AR or VR headset. Managers can immerse themselves in remote environments without traveling to physical locations. Continue reading Researcher Predicts AR, VR Will Soon Manage Supply Chains

Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Millennials are paying as much as $50 per hour to be locked in a room that they can only exit by cooperatively solving puzzles. This kind of immersive entertainment has similarities with games, live theater and virtual reality experiences, and is becoming increasingly popular. Among the most notable examples is Sleep No More, a UK immersive theatrical experience that has been a huge hit since it opened in 2011. Director and live experience entrepreneur Michael Counts is making the most of the trend. Continue reading Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

After sourcing its GPUs from Imagination Technologies for years, Apple has decided to design its own GPU technology. With half of its revenue from Apple, Imagination Technologies stock has tanked as a result. GPUs, graphics processing units, are the workhorses for just about everything that Apple wants its smartphones and other devices to do, including machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, Siri and high resolution gaming. The GPU gets its power from its ability to multitask, processing in parallel. Continue reading Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

Startup Lightform Readies Release of Inexpensive AR Scanner

Augmented reality startup Lightform has come out of the stealth mode it’s been in for three years, announcing a $2.6 million funding round from former Oculus head scientist Steven LaValle, Lux Capital, Seven Seas and NSF. What Lightform has been working on is a device that can scan the environment and create a high-resolution mesh, which it then combines with very precisely targeted digital projections of light. That makes it capable of creating augmented reality in any environment, without the need for a headset. Continue reading Startup Lightform Readies Release of Inexpensive AR Scanner

Intel Introduces Virtual Reality to March Madness with TrueVR

March Madness is now a virtual reality event, thanks to Intel’s TrueVR platform. Moving the games to VR has been a major effort for the company, which has been live-streaming the NCAA Basketball tournament that way since the start of the Sweet 16 round and was just named the official VR provider of college sports for NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports. For the Final Four, Intel will place seven VR rigs, each of which is outfitted with 12 cameras, in the stadium, enabling it to broadcast a spherical view of the action. Continue reading Intel Introduces Virtual Reality to March Madness with TrueVR

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

Bringing Modular Sets and Physical Objects to VR Experiences

Virtual reality startup Nomadic is integrating real-world physical objects, such as a flashlight, into its VR experiences. Among the other physical objects are leaky pipes that let off real hot air, a file cabinet that has to be opened to retrieve a real gun replica, and a virtual door with a real doorknob. The idea, according to Nomadic chief executive Doug Griffin, is that such real objects can add a feeling of magic to virtual reality. The company demonstrates these capabilities with an Oculus Rift VR headset. Continue reading Bringing Modular Sets and Physical Objects to VR Experiences

Adobe’s AI-Enabled System Could Replace Greenscreen Tech

The traditional bluescreen/greenscreen method of extracting foreground content from the background for film and video production may be on its way out. That’s due to research that Adobe is doing in collaboration with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, to develop a new system that relies on deep convolutional neural networks. A recent paper, “Deep Image Matting,” reports that the new method uses a dataset of 49,300 training images to teach the algorithm how to distinguish and eliminate backgrounds. Continue reading Adobe’s AI-Enabled System Could Replace Greenscreen Tech

Facebook Tests Trans-Atlantic Data Transmission, Sets Record

Facebook engineers tested the transmission of information across a trans-Atlantic-Internet cable, claiming they set a record by pushing two-and-a-half-times more data than current methods. The test was based on hardware designed by the Nokia-owned R&D facility Bell Labs, and relied on optical fiber Facebook owns inside the America Europe Connect (AEC) undersea cable that spans from New York to Ireland. Facebook’s test is part of a trend whereby Internet companies, rather than infrastructure firms, are driving the evolution of the Internet. Continue reading Facebook Tests Trans-Atlantic Data Transmission, Sets Record

Apple Makes Major Play in Augmented Reality, First for iPhone

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is bullish on augmented reality, believing that the nascent sector can be as game changing as smartphones were ten years ago. Sources say that Apple is following through by building a team of hardware and software experts, with the idea of dominating augmented reality as it comes to the fore. The same sources report that Apple’s AR team, run by former Dolby Laboratories executive Mike Rockwell, includes engineers that worked on Oculus and HoloLens headsets as well as top Hollywood VFX experts. Continue reading Apple Makes Major Play in Augmented Reality, First for iPhone

The Rise of Specialized Computing and New Era of Chip Design

Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors in a chip doubles approximately every two years, is sputtering to an end. As a result, an increasing number of companies are relying on specialized computing, which transforms software tasks into silicon chips rather than relying on CPUs. This key technology is behind two recent developments: Intel’s acquisition of Israeli startup Mobileye, which produces chips and software for autonomous vehicles, and Nvidia’s latest iteration of a system to speed up machine learning. Continue reading The Rise of Specialized Computing and New Era of Chip Design

Dolby Uses Biosensors to Research Media’s Impact on Viewers

Dolby Laboratories, known for its proprietary high-dynamic range technology, is conducting research on how media impacts human beings. The biophysical lab, run by chief scientist Poppy Crum, was established in 2015, growing out of research begun in 2012 to better understand human reactions to audio and video. In addition to aiming thermal cameras at them, the subjects wear a 64-channel EEG cap measuring electrical activity in the brain, heart rate and galvanic skin response trackers and a pulse oximeter. Continue reading Dolby Uses Biosensors to Research Media’s Impact on Viewers

NBA Embraces Virtual Reality, Drones and New Technologies

The NBA used last month’s All-Star game in New Orleans to showcase technology initiatives designed to create new fan experiences. Orlando Magic player Aaron Gordon, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest defending champion, received a pass from an Intel-powered drone to set up his tech-assisted dunk. NextVR, the company with exclusive VR live-streaming rights for NBA games, experimented with new camera angles. The NBA also hosted its 18th annual Technology Summit before All-Star Weekend, which included companies such as Instagram, Snap, Twitter and YouTube. Continue reading NBA Embraces Virtual Reality, Drones and New Technologies

South by Southwest Festival Highlights Latest VR Productions

Virtual reality productions are making a splash at SXSW in Austin, Texas. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the festival is featuring shooter game “Archangel,” Skydance Interactive’s first original; a trailer for the interactive, sci-fi experience “Trinity” directed by Patrick Boivin, the first VR series from UNLTD; and alternative reality project “Wonder Buffalo,” made possible by ETC’s “2016 Innovative Technology Award granted to filmmaker Christine Berg and writing partner Simon Shterenberg.” THR also notes that Skydance Interactive is “developing ‘Life VR’ in conjunction with Skydance’s sci-fi thriller ‘Life,’ which is opening March 24 through Columbia Pictures” and “Sony Pictures VR released its first virtual reality project, ‘Passengers VR,’ on Tuesday, timed with the digital and Blu-ray release of the motion picture.” Continue reading South by Southwest Festival Highlights Latest VR Productions

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