The NBA Plans to Experiment with VR Streaming This Season

The NBA announced it plans to stream at least one game each week this season in virtual reality. Available only to NBA League Pass subscribers, the VR streaming will debut October 27 when the Sacramento Kings take on the San Antonio Spurs. “Initially, they will only be accessible by people who own a Samsung smartphone and a Samsung Gear VR headset,” reports The Wall Street Journal, “but the plan is to make the games viewable on other types of VR devices later in the season.” The league, which “plans to have a distinct production crew and even announcing team for the VR broadcasts,” partnered with NextVR to develop an app for accessing the games in virtual reality. Continue reading The NBA Plans to Experiment with VR Streaming This Season

Sony PlayStation VR Launches Next Week with Slate of Games

On October 13, Sony will release its PlayStation VR headset to be used with the PlayStation 4 game console and PlayStation camera that detects body movements. Sony’s Move wand-like motion controllers allow the user to interact with virtual objects. Tech experts agree that one positive note is PlayStation VR’s $399 sticker price, which is less expensive than rival models from HTC and Oculus. They’re also enthused that Sony is debuting the hardware with a significant number of game titles. Continue reading Sony PlayStation VR Launches Next Week with Slate of Games

Disney, Major League Baseball Partner for Streaming Sports

The Walt Disney Company just invested $1 billion for a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, Major League Baseball’s streaming division, with an option to buy “a controlling interest” in the future. BAMTech, which also handles streaming for HBO among other media entities, will be Disney’s partner in creating an ESPN subscription streaming service that will most likely debut by the end of the year, according to Disney chief executive Bob Iger, and offer baseball, hockey, tennis, cricket and college sports. Continue reading Disney, Major League Baseball Partner for Streaming Sports

Major Growth Predicted for App Store in the Next Four Years

App intelligence firm Sensor Tower projects that Apple’s App Store will reach 5.06 million apps by 2020, making its catalog 73 percent larger than figures expected this year. The App Store debuted in 2008, reached 5,000 apps by the end of the year, and totaled 1.75 million apps by 2015. “New games fuel the App Store’s growth, because of both their popularity and because game makers have to release new titles often to keep users engaged,” reports TechCrunch. “48,231 new apps were released this May, with 43 percent of those being games.” Those were followed by apps for Education, Entertainment, Business and Lifestyle. Interface upgrades and search ads are expected to help with app discovery moving forward. Continue reading Major Growth Predicted for App Store in the Next Four Years

Researchers Develop Efficient Way to Render Shiny Surfaces

Computer scientists at UC San Diego have developed an efficient technique for rendering the sparkling, shiny and uneven surfaces of water, various metals and materials such as injection-molded plastic finishes. The team has created an algorithm that improves how CG software reproduces the interaction between light and different surfaces (known as “glints”), a technique the team claims is 100 times faster than current state-of-the-art methods, requires minimal computational resources, and is effective beyond still images to include animation. Continue reading Researchers Develop Efficient Way to Render Shiny Surfaces

Magic Leap Still Mum on Release Date, Describes Production

Magic Leap has not yet set a date to unveil its mixed reality technology, and didn’t do so at a recent Fortune conference in Aspen. There, Magic Leap founder/chief executive Rony Abovitz and chief marketing officer Brian Wallace said the technology is “very real” and “not a research project anymore.” Some listeners detected a hint that a product might be released this fall, but Abovitz and Wallace never made an overt statement. The most they would say is that the public would see its products “soonish.” Continue reading Magic Leap Still Mum on Release Date, Describes Production

Cozmo: Anki to Launch Robot Powered by Machine Learning

Anki, the company that introduced Anki Drive, artificial intelligence-powered racecars, will ship its second product in October: a robot dubbed Cozmo, the size of a coffee mug that costs $180. By combining artificial intelligence, computer-vision science, advanced robotics, character development and machine-learning algorithms, Cozmo is a toy that is intended to be much like a real-world Wall-E or R2-D2, says chief executive Boris Sofman. The company is also offering SDKs for Cozmo’s components. Continue reading Cozmo: Anki to Launch Robot Powered by Machine Learning

Apple Changes its App Store to Address Developer Complaints

Apple is now addressing developer complaints with changes to its App Store. Among those changes, Apple will allow more app subscriptions and start running ads with App Store search results. Creators of smaller, independent apps say discovery is difficult in the massive App Store. Other apps, such as those for workplace productivity, are difficult to make profitable without subscriptions. Up until now, Apple has only allowed subscriptions for a few categories, including music streaming, news publications and dating services. Continue reading Apple Changes its App Store to Address Developer Complaints

Critics Greet Long-Promised Oculus Rift with Mixed Reviews

After many months of anticipation, Oculus finally rolled out its Rift VR headset into the hands of many eager technology journalists. There have been numerous reviews, and most — but not all — of them are enthusiastic. What they like is that the system is well-made, accessible, easy to set up and comfortable to wear. But a few critics find the 30 VR “experiences” rolled out with the headset to be less than compelling, and others bemoaned the lack of Touch controllers and more VR games and experiences. Continue reading Critics Greet Long-Promised Oculus Rift with Mixed Reviews

Rental Kiosk Leader Redbox Readies Video Streaming Service

Redbox plans to launch a video streaming service called Redbox Digital. The DVD rental company previously launched Redbox Instant, a streaming service joint venture with Verizon, which lasted 18 months. The new effort will be a video-on-demand store similar to iTunes, Vudu or Google Play, letting consumers stream or buy digital copies of movies or TV show episodes. Redbox Digital will be part of the service’s existing loyalty program, integrate into its mobile apps and support TV-connected platforms like Chromecast and Roku. Continue reading Rental Kiosk Leader Redbox Readies Video Streaming Service

GDC 2016: Oculus Plans to Debut 30 Games with Rift Headset

At GDC 2016 this week, Oculus demonstrated its retail headset with 41 games, 30 of which will launch with the Rift. The headset already has a pre-order list backed up to July, four months past its initial March 28 release. Over four generations, Rift has improved, says one journalist, although the “screen door effect” still exists in games that are heavy in fine details such as “Project CARS” and less so in games with fewer details and more abstraction. The Rift’s head tracking and overall latency was also deemed “spot on.” Continue reading GDC 2016: Oculus Plans to Debut 30 Games with Rift Headset

Pre-Orders for HTC Vive Headsets Top 15,000 in 10 Minutes

Within 10 minutes of accepting pre-orders from the U.S. and 23 other countries, HTC sold more than 15,000 HTC Vive VR kits, which will ship beginning April 5. The $799 Vive virtual reality package includes the headset, two controllers and two Lighthouse laser-tracking sensors, as well as three games that show off the technology of room-scale tracking and motion tracking. Those games are “Job Simulator,” an office destruction physics game; “Fantastic Contraption,” a puzzle game; and Google’s 3D painting tool “Tilt Brush.” Continue reading Pre-Orders for HTC Vive Headsets Top 15,000 in 10 Minutes

Facebook Adds Uber Ride-Hailing Service to Messenger App

Facebook users will soon be able to start hailing an Uber ride without leaving the Messenger app. The new partnership will also allow the Uber service to capitalize on Facebook Messenger’s millions of users. Facebook plans to add other ride-sharing companies in the coming months. The new service is part of Facebook’s strategy to emulate rival Asian apps such as WeChat, which already allows users to message each other, hail rides, and shop for goods and games. Continue reading Facebook Adds Uber Ride-Hailing Service to Messenger App

CES: Virtual Reality Has Young Adults Cautiously Optimistic

The second wave of virtual reality is here, and with it comes a burst of awareness and interest from young adults. The edgy and experimental virtual reality projects of the mid-90’s have given way to the consumer, with many news outlets billing 2016 as the “year of virtual reality.” I call out the two waves of virtual reality because many people in their early to mid twenties have no idea that the first wave ever happened, though the aesthetics, anxieties, and excitement that it produced seem to have carried into the modern perception of what virtual reality is today. Continue reading CES: Virtual Reality Has Young Adults Cautiously Optimistic

Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

Having inked a multi-year licensing agreement, Alibaba and The Walt Disney Company will begin pre-sales of DisneyLife, an OTT system aimed to increase sales of movie-related toys and trips to Disneyland. The system’s device will be sold on Alibaba’s online shopping site Tmall starting December 28. Priced at $125, the Mickey Mouse-shaped device comes with a free one-year subscription and lets customers connect to Disney and Pixar movies, cartoon series, e-books, music and games, as well as plan a trip to the Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland theme parks.

Continue reading Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

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