Google Pushes Phone Makers and Carriers to Update Android

Google has increased its efforts to get cellphone manufacturers and carriers to update to the latest version of Android. That includes speeding up security updates, offering technology workarounds and limiting phone testing requirements. To back up these enticements, Google is also publicly naming the laggards in a ranking intended to shame manufacturers into catching up. At stake are not simply Google’s latest operating system but new offerings such as its Daydream virtual reality system. Continue reading Google Pushes Phone Makers and Carriers to Update Android

Alamo Drafthouse, Legion M Team Up to Produce Film, TV, VR

In a newly inked deal, Alamo Drafthouse, the indie theater chain/film distributor, will place executives on the advisory board of startup studio Legion M to evaluate scripts and talent for feature films, shorts, and virtual reality experiences among other potential entertainment projects. Alamo and Legion M portray their agreement as a revolutionary way for fans to become key stakeholders in the success; thus far, Legion M has raised $400,000 from accredited investors and nearly $141,000 from fans. Continue reading Alamo Drafthouse, Legion M Team Up to Produce Film, TV, VR

Top Game Console Companies Test Tweaking Release Cycles

At least some game console manufacturers have decided not to wait for long release cycles to upgrade their hardware, but instead will begin to release new capabilities in between generations. Microsoft has said as much with regard to its next Xbox One, code-named Scorpio, and Sony has reportedly made noises that its upcoming releases will have forward and backward compatibility. They are both following the model of devices like PCs and smartphones that operate on a continuous evolution cycle. Continue reading Top Game Console Companies Test Tweaking Release Cycles

Xbox One VR Rumors Fueled by Game Developer and E3 Site

Speculation that Microsoft is planning a more powerful, VR-capable Xbox One for next year has been fueled by news that at least one developer plans to show a virtual reality game for the console at E3 in June. According to Ars Technica, “a well-known European studio is planning ‘a new VR game’ set in the universe of an established, long-running franchise.” To further fan the flames, the E3 site added an Xbox One VR category featuring four developers so far. While Sony announced that it plans to launch a $399 PlayStation VR in October, Microsoft has yet to officially announce plans for a VR console. Continue reading Xbox One VR Rumors Fueled by Game Developer and E3 Site

The Netflix Zone: Virtual Video Store Showcased at Hack Day

One of the more compelling demos during Netflix’s latest Hack Day was a virtual reality showroom using HTC Vive’s room-scale VR. Developers Joey Cato, Marco Caldeira and Adnan Abbas created “The Netflix Zone,” where subscribers can peruse titles on shelf racks arranged by categories and personal recommendations. Movies and original shows such as “Orange Is the New Black” and “House of Cards” appear on shelves as VHS cassettes. When you select certain cassettes, the shop morphs into a setting that reflects the title. Continue reading The Netflix Zone: Virtual Video Store Showcased at Hack Day

YouTube Builds Daydream VR App, Immersive Content Catalog

Shortly after Google unveiled its Daydream VR system during its I/O conference, YouTube revealed its plans for a virtual reality app, to be available on Daydream mobile VR devices. YouTube has also been encouraging its content partners to produce 360-degree content by providing VR cameras, in an effort to build up content for its VR app, which will function like YouTube on mobile or a smart TV. The app, which is being built from scratch, will be full-featured and enable access to subscriptions, favorites, search and more. Continue reading YouTube Builds Daydream VR App, Immersive Content Catalog

Google Introduces VR System Daydream, VR-Capable Phones

During its I/O conference this week, Google announced it is releasing a new virtual reality system, dubbed Daydream, which includes a range of VR-capable Android smartphones, a headset design, a controller and applications, all of which will be released this fall. Daydream will be compatible with Google’s current and future Android mobile operating system, including the upcoming version, code-named Android N. Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi are among those already building Daydream-compatible phones. Continue reading Google Introduces VR System Daydream, VR-Capable Phones

VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

For those looking for an affordable VR alternative, RiftCat has been busy developing an app called VRidge that streams virtual reality games from a PC to a smartphone over Wi-Fi. The beta is currently available for Android, but the company is also working on an iOS version. The most recent update added support for SteamVR and Razer’s open source OSVR project. The implications could be significant, especially when considering the cost of investing in a high-end VR headset, such as the $600 Oculus Rift or $800 HTC Vive, both of which still require a powerful PC starting in the $1,500 range. Continue reading VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

Google Develops Tango and 3D Mapping for VR, Advertising

Google’s Project Tango, which will be showcased at the company’s I/O developer conference May 18 to 20, consists of cameras, depth sensors and software in Android devices to gather images and depth information to recreate a space in 3D. Sources say that the company plans to put more resources into expanding the technology and using it for virtual reality applications. The ultimate goal is to become a ubiquitous source for the world’s buildings, similar to Google Maps, which is used by one billion people a day. Continue reading Google Develops Tango and 3D Mapping for VR, Advertising

Cannes Film Market to Feature 35 ‘Indie’ Virtual Reality Films

At this year’s Cannes film market, the digital program NEXT will include a slate of 35 virtual reality films from several countries as well as roundtable discussions and workshops, all to be presented on two VR Days, May 15 and 16. Michel Reilhac, former head of film at Arte, the Franco-German network, helped to curate the films and also directed the VR short, “Viens!” (“Come!”). Other French VR films to be shown are “Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness,” and Pierre Zandrowicz’s “I, Philip,” about Philip K. Dick. Continue reading Cannes Film Market to Feature 35 ‘Indie’ Virtual Reality Films

‘Ghostbusters’ VR Experience Coming to Times Square in July

The VOID (Vision of Infinite Dimensions), a virtual reality theme park in Utah, is launching a new VR experience in NYC’s Times Square in partnership with Sony Pictures, for the studio’s new “Ghostbusters” film. Opening up small-scale versions of its Utah park is part of the company’s business plan, along with creating its own content and immersive versions of films and video games. In Utah’s park, attendees wear a haptic suit that tracks their movements and a VR headset, powered by a supercomputer backpack that allows untethered walking. Continue reading ‘Ghostbusters’ VR Experience Coming to Times Square in July

Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

Microsoft, Magic Leap, Facebook and other companies are working on technologies that may soon make video conferencing obsolete in favor of wearable face computers that permit VR conferencing. Some idealists picture a future where everyone will communicate via a digital persona, not a huge leap for those already using social networks for professional endeavors. A solution such as AltspaceVR allows the user to create avatars that are “cautiously cartoonish,” rather than going after realism, with customizable skin and eye colors. Continue reading Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

Nvidia Unveils GeForce GTX 1080 Advanced Graphics Card

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang debuted the much-anticipated GeForce GTX 1080 gaming GPU, the first based on the new Pascal architecture, promising dramatic improvements in performance, memory and power efficiency. Huang told the crowd at DreamHack in Austin, Texas that the new GPU delivers twice the performance and three times the efficiency of Titan X. For a sense of Pascal’s capabilities for gaming and virtual reality, attendees were treated to demos involving next generation character models, the Ansel game capture tool and the compelling “VR Funhouse” experience. Continue reading Nvidia Unveils GeForce GTX 1080 Advanced Graphics Card

Live Nation and Hulu Pursue Original Programs, VR Content

Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s largest concert promoter, entertains 70 million people who attend its live musical events annually, selling many of the tickets via Ticketmaster, which it owns. Now, the company is leveraging its access to headlining musicians to create videos and virtual reality content featuring them. It hired MTV vet Heather Parry to build the TV/film production studio and announced co-production plans with Hulu, Vice Media, and VR company NextVR. The end goal is to generate more advertising revenue. Continue reading Live Nation and Hulu Pursue Original Programs, VR Content

‘AOL BUILD’ Expands with Live VR Studio in Downtown NYC

This fall, AOL plans to open up a new 13,412-square-foot studio on Broadway in downtown Manhattan, which will serve as the locale for “AOL BUILD,” its live interview and event series. The street-facing main stage, with seating for a live audience, will be equipped with 360-degree cameras to create live VR experiences. “BUILD” has an active live production unit, creating at least four hours of content per day with around 75 live events per month, for a total of 800 episodes since its inception. Continue reading ‘AOL BUILD’ Expands with Live VR Studio in Downtown NYC

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