Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

As part of the company’s recent push to develop new hardware, Facebook is reportedly working toward designing its own custom chips to be used in its consumer devices, data centers and AI software. The social media giant is currently developing devices such as smart speakers and VR headsets, and building its own chips could provide more control over design and development of these projects. Facebook’s strategy follows similar approaches by other tech giants, including Google and Apple. Continue reading Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

Apple Submits VR Patents for Next-Gen Autonomous Vehicles

According to Patently Apple, “There have been a series of very smart and very cool patent applications surfacing of late covering a future mixed reality headset that could one day be a part of a virtual desktop system designed to edit 3D documents” and a “detailed invention covering an advanced gesturing control system for a heads-up-display system of an autonomous vehicle.” For the latter, the official patent application by Apple reads that the invention could lead to “safe, smaller, and less expensive autonomous vehicles.”

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Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

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CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook is getting ready to release Oculus Go, a new phone-free VR headset at a price point of $199. According to CNET, the standalone Oculus Go represents “entry-level accessibility” to virtual reality, an area of technology innovation they hope to see grow at a consumer level. While the games and apps available on Oculus Go seem similar to what’s already available via Samsung’s Gear VR, the design is “less clunky, and the integrated, cleaner, softer and smaller construction here is better,” writes CNET.

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Next-Gen 5G Will Unlock VR, Autonomous Vehicles and More

Improved latency is the biggest selling point for next-generation 5G wireless technology. Verizon, Vodafone and Huawei are demonstrating the impact on wireless video, video games and virtual reality. With 5G, latency will plummet to 1 to 2 milliseconds, versus 4G’s average 50 milliseconds, positively impacting many markets, from medicine to self-driving cars. But, although the U.S. will see the first commercial 5G sometime this year, many emerging markets are still limping along with 3G and hoping for 4G connections. Continue reading Next-Gen 5G Will Unlock VR, Autonomous Vehicles and More

Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

ETCentric subscribers and their friends are invited to participate in the Creating Reality Hackathon, being held March 12-15 on the USC campus. The organizers are seeking forward-thinking industry storytellers, game designers, coders, and other creative artists. The teams that produce the top AR and VR submissions will each be awarded $5,000. This event will also be an opportunity to get a hands-on preview of the HTC Vive Pro and Intel’s Vaunt AR glasses. If you wish to participate, please submit your request via this special link (the deadline has been extended to March 7). Visit the event website for more info. Continue reading Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

New York City Invests $6M in Augmented, Virtual Reality Hub

In 2016, a Goldman Sachs report predicted that AR/VR sales could reach $182 billion by 2025. Now, New York City, home to at least seven virtual reality centers, is committing $6 million to a 15,000-square foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that will serve as a “hub for virtual reality and augmented reality.” The de Blasio administration says the hub will create more than 500 jobs. One of the existing centers, VR World, is equipped with a bar and dance music and lets users sky dive, rock climb or wield a samurai sword. Continue reading New York City Invests $6M in Augmented, Virtual Reality Hub

Huawei VR2 Headset Lauded for Comfort, Res, Sound Quality

At CES 2018, Huawei made the U.S. debut of its Huawei VR2 headset, which had been announced in October in China. The standalone unit resembles the Oculus or Vive rather than the Gear VR; the user attaches a phone, tablet or PC via USB-C and then enjoys the VR experience at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,440 per eye. The unit also features a 90Hz refresh rate, which reduces eyestrain and motion sickness. The controller, made of the same bright white polymer as the headset, offers a clickable touchpad. Continue reading Huawei VR2 Headset Lauded for Comfort, Res, Sound Quality

Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

Virtual reality made a strong showing at CES 2018 in Las Vegas last week. Among those highlighting products were Facebook, which promoted new features in its $200 upcoming Oculus Go, a Google/Lenovo designed headset that will sell for half the price of an iPhone, and HTC, which will debut a new-gen Vive headset with more robust graphics. All of this, however, is a prelude to what many companies are planning: an entrance into augmented reality. One of those companies is Amazon, which sources say is exploring AR headset technologies. Continue reading Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

HTC Beefs Up Resolution and Adds Headphones to Vive Pro

HTC’s new Vive Pro VR headset made a major splash this week in Las Vegas and received notable Best of CES awards, including the Best Gaming Product from Engadget and the Best VR/AR award from The Verge. HTC added built-in headphones to this version and increased the resolution of the dual-OLED displays 78 percent to 2,880 x 1,600 (1,400 x 1,600 per eye). The headphones offer spatial audio support, but no noise-canceling functionality. HTC added dual microphones and dual front-facing cameras, which should attract developers. Continue reading HTC Beefs Up Resolution and Adds Headphones to Vive Pro

Study Shows Consumers Worldwide Are Warming to AR, VR

According to new research released at CES this week, consumers are warming to the idea of virtual and augmented reality, but their interests are more focused on practical daily applications than gaming. Harris Interactive conducted a study for Accenture across 19 countries and learned that 47 percent of online consumers would be interested in using AR or VR headsets to play games, while percentages jumped into the 50s and 60s regarding consumers interested in learning about travel and new skills, visualizing how clothing would fit, and shopping for household items and furniture. Continue reading Study Shows Consumers Worldwide Are Warming to AR, VR

Virtual Reality Execs Advocate VR Standards, Open Systems

Execs from HTC, Hulu, GoPro and Black Box VR looked at “Tapping Virtual Reality’s Real Potential” during a panel discussion at CES 2018. Each company had its own strategies, but everyone agreed on one thing: the need for the nascent industry to create standards and adopt open systems. “If you’re making a fitness app, you don’t want to have to optimize for every platform,” noted HTC senior vice president of virtual reality Rikard Steiber. “It’s too hard, doesn’t scale and isn’t sustainable. We as an industry must push towards an open platform.” Continue reading Virtual Reality Execs Advocate VR Standards, Open Systems

Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Google teamed with Lenovo to launch a new standalone VR headset with specialized cameras that intends to reach beyond gaming. The new Lenovo Mirage Solo, on display at CES this week, features VR180 cameras designed to encourage users to capture 360-degree video. Google hopes this will help ramp up the current lack of VR content. The headset runs Daydream and is designed to interact with Google services such as YouTube and digital maps. The Mirage Solo touts displays that do not blur during user movement, and does not require a PC or smartphone. It is expected to ship by Q2 2018 for less than $400. Continue reading Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Startup Debuts Watch-Sized $99 Intelligent Toy Drone at CES

Chinese startup Ryze Tech is debuting its smartwatch-sized, 80g toy drone in Las Vegas this week. Featuring vision-processing tech from Intel and flight stabilization from DJI, the $99 Tello will launch in China later this month and be available in the U.S. after March. The drone is aimed at younger users, with an emphasis on safety and ease-of-use, and features an HD camera for capturing 5-megapixel photos, 360-degree video, and live-streaming to a mobile device or third-party VR headset. The Tello is capable of flying for 13 minutes at a time and is controlled from a mobile app connected via Wi-Fi. Continue reading Startup Debuts Watch-Sized $99 Intelligent Toy Drone at CES

Brands Face the Challenges, Promises of AR/VR Experiences

Industry execs gathered for a CES panel to discuss the challenges brands are now facing with AR and VR. According to NorthSouth Studios chief executive Bill Newell, the most impactful events for AR in 2017 were Apple and Google’s introduction of AR development kits. But he acknowledged that convincing big brands to consider AR or VR projects is still a major challenge for the creators of those experiences. At the agency Firstborn, senior vice president business planning Gabe Garner says his company is always honest about the return on investment, which won’t match up with traditional media. Continue reading Brands Face the Challenges, Promises of AR/VR Experiences

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