Oculus Recognizes Virtual Reality Hype, Defends its Potential

Virtual reality has been on a major roll … at least until this year. When Oculus executives sold their startup to Facebook in 2014 for about $3 billion, VR was riding high. The purchase prompted tech giants such as Google and Microsoft to speed up their VR headset development, and sparked a wave of investments and new startups. But this year, interest in VR has arguably slumped, as some consumers seem to have grown disappointed. Oculus has not helped the sentiment, since it has not revealed any official figures about Rift sales, but still very much believes in the technology’s potential. Continue reading Oculus Recognizes Virtual Reality Hype, Defends its Potential

Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

As part of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to get one billion people into virtual reality, the company has also targeted social interaction as a potential powerhouse, with avatars communicating in a shared virtual world. This vision is already a reality on the company’s software platform Facebook Spaces, headed by Rachel Franklin, who previously worked on “The Sims.” She recently described her team’s philosophy and how that motivates design choices. She also described Facebook’s most successful VR elements. Continue reading Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

At Facebook’s annual Oculus Connect developers’ conference, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a new standalone VR headset and stated that his goal is to get one billion people into virtual reality and ensure that VR is a “force for good.” With the latter comment, Zuckerberg tacitly recognized the tsunami of criticism that Facebook has received for live-streaming suicides and murders, and a recent virtual reality tour of the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, during which he and an employee reveled in the technology, to the chagrin of viewers. Continue reading Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

CableLabs Announces Next Iteration Cable Broadband Spec

Cable industry research group CableLabs has completed its updates for Full Duplex Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), which means that upload streams will now be as fast as download streams, at speeds of 10Gbps on HFC (hybrid fiber-coaxial) networks. Now, upstream and downstream traffic will stream concurrently, for twice the efficiency. CableLabs says the upgrade will also reduce the need and cost of networks that install fiber to the premises (FttP), otherwise known as the “last mile.” Continue reading CableLabs Announces Next Iteration Cable Broadband Spec

TheWaveVR Introduces Another Immersive Concert on Steam

TheWaveVR, which raised $4 million this year, has offices in Austin and Los Angeles. The company creates VR concerts that marry music and visuals by partnering with musicians. The results, similar to real-world raves, have garnered a lot of buzz for pushing the limits of virtual reality. Its newest virtual world, created in collaboration with producer/DJ TOKiMONSTA (aka Jennifer Lee), features about 50 minutes of the dance/electronica album Lune Rouge, and is TheNextWave’s fifth flagship show. Continue reading TheWaveVR Introduces Another Immersive Concert on Steam

Discovery and Google Partner on Virtual Reality Travel Series

Discovery and Google are partnering on a 38-episode virtual reality travel series that takes viewers to all seven continents in seven chapters: North and South America, Asia, Australia, Africa, Antarctica, and Europe. Sascha Unseld, who directed the Oculus Story Studio’s “Dear Angelica” VR short, served as creative producer on the series. Discovery has nabbed an exclusive brand sponsor, which will be announced later. VR travel videos are becoming more popular, with immersive videos from airlines, travel agents and others. Continue reading Discovery and Google Partner on Virtual Reality Travel Series

Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Microsoft and Samsung have partnered on a new virtual reality headset, HMD Odyssey, that relies on the former’s Windows Mixed Reality, Windows 10 software for immersive computing on devices and headsets. Samsung is not the first company to base its VR headsets on Windows 10: Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo Group are all building such VR devices. But Samsung is Microsoft’s most important partner thus far as the computing company faces Apple, Google, Facebook and other major rivals in the virtual reality/augmented reality arena. Continue reading Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

Amazon has acquired 3D body-model startup Body Labs for a reported $50-$70 million, although some sources say the figure could exceed $100 million. New York-based Body Labs specializes in true-to-life 3D models that are ideal for B2B software applications, including the creation of photorealistic avatars for gaming and virtual approaches for consumers to try on clothing. The latter should be of particular interest to e-commerce giant Amazon. The online retailer could use the scanning and modeling tech to help shoppers select fashion purchases ideal for their body types. Continue reading Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

AMC Invests $20M in Dreamscape, Plans to Open VR Centers

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain, just invested $20 million in Dreamscape Immersive, a company that has been developing a virtual-reality multiplex for the last year-and-a-half for rollout in the U.S. and U.K. Other investors include Steven Spielberg, 21st Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. Dreamscape’s team includes former chief of Disney’s theme park design, a “Men in Black” series producer, and a live event bigwig. With AMC’s investment, Dreamscape has amassed $40 million. Continue reading AMC Invests $20M in Dreamscape, Plans to Open VR Centers

Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Google will spend $1.1 billion to purchase part of HTC’s smartphone operations. The Internet giant plans to use HTC’s engineering and design teams to help ramp up its nascent hardware efforts to complement its expanding portfolio of software products and grow its revenue beyond Android and search ads. The deal, which is expected to bring about 2,000 HTC employees to Google, also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property. While HTC has shown growth potential in VR with its Vive headset, its mobile business has been struggling. Continue reading Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Over the weekend, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) released its draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam. The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). It then makes specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security. VRIF aims to release the full guidelines, with an emphasis on an open ecosystem, at CES 2018 in January. Continue reading VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

As smart devices in the home multiply, so does the need for Wi-Fi. Cisco reports that, through 2021, data routed via Wi-Fi to mobile devices will grow 48 percent a year. Several ideas to meet the demand have been proposed. Some have suggested putting a router in every room or floor of the house; most routers already connect to the cloud to optimize the network. Another idea is for the user to rent Wi-Fi through his or her cable company. Yet another is WiGig, whereby smart devices themselves would provide bandwidth. Continue reading Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

The technology underlying Bitcoin is now under development to render 3D visual effects. Los Angeles-based OTOY, which provides a GPU-based software system to create a cloud-based pipeline for 3D content, is hoping to raise as much as $134 million to develop Rndr, distributed cloud rendering for VR and other content, via blockchain technology. HBO and Discovery have invested in OTOY, which has also partnered with Facebook and Mattel. Relying on cloud-based GPUs for rendering is a much less expensive solution than supercomputers. Continue reading OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

New Intel Chip Can Handle 4 Trillion Operations Per Second

One year after its acquisition of Movidius, Intel is introducing a new chip called the Myriad X, which TechCrunch describes as “a ‘Pro’ version of the Myriad 2, bringing a major redesign to the computer vision-minded chip, while also flaunting some new sophisticated deep-learning capabilities by way of its new ‘Neural Compute Engine.’” While a dedicated computer vision chip has a wide range of potential applications, Intel is looking to use the Myriad X in drones, robots, smart cameras and VR and AR headsets. Continue reading New Intel Chip Can Handle 4 Trillion Operations Per Second

Magic Leap’s AR Smartglasses Described by Inside Sources

Florida-based startup Magic Leap has kept its augmented reality plans under wraps. But a patent application with drawings featuring smartglasses just surfaced, revealing more information about what the $4.5 billion company is up to. The original design patent, filed in 2015, showed the skinny glasses had sensors on the right and left-hand sides and goggle-like frames. This second public design application may be closer to what the ultimate Magic Leap AR glasses will be, even as a company spokeswoman denied it. Continue reading Magic Leap’s AR Smartglasses Described by Inside Sources

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