CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

As noted by Bolter and Grusin in their seminal work Remediation: Understanding New Media, there is a trend towards transparency of the supports that underlie media content. For example, consider the current obsession with grinding down smartphone bezels so that all that remains is a gleaming, five-inch window into the world of “Angry Birds.” Or, look to the excitement of panel manufacturers who boast of new color spaces, dynamic ranges, and resolutions. Virtual reality presents the possible apotheosis of this kind of mediation: a technology where content has no borders, instead utilizing the totality of one’s senses, the net cast by its content so wide that the machinery which deploys it becomes eclipsed. Continue reading CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

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

AR Experiences a Breakout Year, More to Come at CES 2017

Until “Pokémon Go” burst onto the scene last summer, augmented reality was developing quietly in the shadow of virtual reality. With the spike of awareness around the success of “Pokémon Go,” we are rapidly redefining and evolving our ideas of what an AR experience can be. The AR landscape includes developers, storytellers, world builders, platforms and SDKs, apps and browsers, glasses and lenses, image recognition, spatial audio and spatial awareness tech, haptic feedback and other sensory input/output tools, agencies, research institutions, and more. We expect AR to be a major topic at next month’s CES 2017. Continue reading AR Experiences a Breakout Year, More to Come at CES 2017

CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

Artificial Intelligence is finally here. After nearly 50 years in the doldrums of research, the science of designing “thinking machines” has jumped from academic literature to the lab, and even from the lab to the store. This is largely because its precursor, machine learning, has been enjoying a dramatic revival, thanks in part to the commoditization of sensors and large-scale compute architectures, the explosion of available data (necessary to train advanced machine learning architectures such as recurrent neural networks), and the always burning necessity for tech companies to find something new. We expect AI to have a significant presence at next month’s CES in Las Vegas. Continue reading CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

Early Corporate Trials with Augmented Reality Prove its Value

Augmented reality has found a spot on the factory floor of AGCO Corp., a company that manufactures agricultural equipment in Jackson, Minnesota. Workers wear Google Glasses that display diagrams and instructions as an aid in conducting quality checks on tractors and chemical sprayers. The result is so successful that the Duluth, Georgia-based company plans to expand the program next year, using 3D computer-generated imagery to help workers weld 30-foot booms to chemical sprayers. Continue reading Early Corporate Trials with Augmented Reality Prove its Value

ETC Publishes Report on AR Salon, Announces Spring Event

On November 11, the Entertainment Technology Center @ USC brought together 89 people working on augmented reality from 56 companies and organizations to share ideas and build community. ETC published a report that summarizes the information shared by the participants (available online as a PDF). The ETC is planning to produce a much larger AR event in the spring with many more attendees participating in moderated discussions as well as a large demo area. Please email us at Events@etcusc.org if your company would be interested in participating in the enhanced program effort through sponsorship and product demonstration. Continue reading ETC Publishes Report on AR Salon, Announces Spring Event

Leap Motion Introduces Hand Tracking for Samsung Gear VR

Leap Motion, a company that provides hand tracking for smartphone-based virtual reality headsets, introduced a reference design for its Leap Motion Mobile Platform to work on top of the Samsung Gear VR. Leap Motion relies on two mini-cameras set in a faceplate to detect finger motion. The company began by providing a desktop-mounted, non-VR hand tracker, but segued into smartphone-based VR headsets. Although no manufacturer has yet announced products integrating Leap Motion, a few may do so at CES 2017. Continue reading Leap Motion Introduces Hand Tracking for Samsung Gear VR

Ambient Paradigm Has Implications for Media & Entertainment

A future ambient business model would change the way we think about screens, mobile and IoT in a post-device world — an emerging reality that we expect to see illustrated at CES 2017. Recently, a look at what it means for businesses to operate in a post-device world has surfaced in forward-thinking analyses. Specifically, some reports have examined how Apple continues to prosper as customers increasingly do almost everything on anything. At UBS, analyst Steve Milunovich thinks Apple is already moving towards an ambient (present on all sides) paradigm, with a proliferation of devices that increasingly allow you to interoperate seamlessly across a full range of digital formats. In this new paradigm, the real growth will likely be extensions of services. Continue reading Ambient Paradigm Has Implications for Media & Entertainment

December Previews to Launch ETC’s Coverage of CES 2017

Extensive, in-depth coverage of CES 2017 by ETC@USC begins the week of December 5th with a series of preview stories exploring the top CE trends and technologies — and their significance to the entertainment industry. CES, the global gathering place for innovation and tech, is presented by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and runs January 5-8 in Las Vegas. CES 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the conference. Since the first Consumer Electronics Show in 1967, more than 700,000 products have debuted in what CTA calls “the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.” Continue reading December Previews to Launch ETC’s Coverage of CES 2017

Microsoft Imagines a Practical Future for Quantum Computers

Microsoft is going full bore into quantum computing, moving from pure research into efforts to build a prototype of what has been primarily an experimental field. If and when they come to fruition, quantum computers could have an impact on drug design, artificial intelligence and even our understanding of physics. For that reason, IBM and Google are also investing in quantum computing, although Microsoft has taken a singular approach, based on so-called braiding particles (also known as anyons). Continue reading Microsoft Imagines a Practical Future for Quantum Computers

Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook has acquired FacioMetrics, a startup spun off from Carnegie Mellon University. FacioMetrics’ IntraFace can detect seven different emotions on peoples’ faces. Since the purchase, FacioMetrics has been removed from the app stores. The acquisition is likely fueling Facebook’s goal to apply its artificial intelligence research to create “gesture-based controls, recognize facial expressions and perform related actions.” Facebook has said it will use FacioMetrics to enhance its augmented reality face masks. Continue reading Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association outlined the CTA’s projections for retail holiday sales. Anticipating a 3.1 percent increase over 2015 in consumer holiday spending on tech, top product categories include televisions, laptops and smartphones. Emerging categories such as wearables, drones and VR headsets are also projected to have a strong showing this season. DuBravac noted the top five tech trends to watch for at January’s CES: vocal computing, intelligent systems connecting diverse objects, self-driving cars and driver-assist technologies, artificial intelligence, and VR and AR entertainment. Continue reading CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

Insiders report that Apple is working on a pair of wireless digital glasses that would connect to iPhones and possibly use augmented reality. “While still in an exploration phase,” reports Bloomberg, “Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers” and “the company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing.” According to those familiar with the concept, Apple isn’t ready for mass production and, if it moves forward with the eyewear, we shouldn’t expect to see a product until 2018. Chief exec Tim Cook, under pressure to make up for waning iPhone sales, has expressed interest in AR following the success of “Pokémon Go.” Continue reading Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

ETC’s AR Salon: Industry Experts Discuss Augmented Reality

On November 11, at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, ETC’s AR Salon gathered a group of industry experts to discuss their experiences in augmented reality. ETC executive director/chief executive Ken Williams opened the event to welcome attendees, many of whom are already engaged in producing AR projects. Phil Lelyveld, ETC’s VR/AR program lead, spelled out the salon’s organization, which consisted of 10-minute presentations on the business of AR and the art and technology of AR, followed by discussion workgroups. Continue reading ETC’s AR Salon: Industry Experts Discuss Augmented Reality

Facebook Borrows From Snapchat, Periscope Adds AR Masks

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery it’s said, and that’s what’s going on among social media platforms. Facebook’s WhatsApp is experimenting with a Status feature that is basically a photocopy of Snapchat Stories, sharing photos, videos and emoji. Elsewhere, Periscope is copying both Facebook and Snapchat, by offering its own animated augmented reality selfie masks. The first ones offered, which allow the user to look like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, have been available throughout the duration of the election. Continue reading Facebook Borrows From Snapchat, Periscope Adds AR Masks

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