Microsoft Shifting Its Focus From Windows to Cloud Computing

Microsoft is reportedly downgrading the scope of its Windows franchise to “reorganize its business around its growing Azure cloud-computing operations and its stalwart Office productivity business,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The move is designed to focus Microsoft on its biggest areas of growth. In its latest quarter Azure revenue jumped 98 percent while Office 365 grew 41 percent … In the same period, the More Personal Computing unit, which includes Windows, gained 2 percent to $12.17 billion.” Continue reading Microsoft Shifting Its Focus From Windows to Cloud Computing

AR Developers Make Their Cases for First Uses of Technology

Turning the car’s windshield into an AR screen for navigation, a mobile AR device that helps the blind navigate the real world, and a mobile app to envision that couch from the furniture store in your living room. These are all real-world AR applications that their creators are touting as a good first step into nascent consumer products. GlobalData research director Avi Greengart, who moderated the CES 2018 panel on augmented reality, noted that AR developers have had to find a way to create customized solutions using limited existing hardware and software.
Continue reading AR Developers Make Their Cases for First Uses of Technology

Google, Microsoft Develop New Ways to Compete with AWS

Amazon currently is the dominant cloud computing service; according to Amazon Web Services chief executive officer Andy Jassy, the company has several times as much business as the industry’s next busiest 14 providers combined. In the No. 2 and No. 3 spots are, respectively, Microsoft and Google, and both of them attempt to leverage their strengths and exploit perceived weaknesses of AWS to boost their own market share. Both companies see some strengths in AWS — its self-service model, for example — as vulnerabilities. Continue reading Google, Microsoft Develop New Ways to Compete with AWS

Microsoft HoloLens Finds New Life for Corporate Applications

Microsoft hasn’t given up on HoloLens. The company believes it is more suited for corporate training than gaming, and now Japan Airlines is using it is a good example of that. Two years ago, the Japanese company sent pilot Takashi Wada to Microsoft headquarters to try out the HoloLens; now he teaches HoloLens-equipped trainees how to flip virtual switches in a cockpit, prior to using flight simulators. Microsoft isn’t alone in pursuing such applications, with Alphabet, Apple and Facebook following suit. Continue reading Microsoft HoloLens Finds New Life for Corporate Applications

New Meta Headset Offers Promising Tech for AR Developers

The Meta 2 AR headset, priced at $1,495, is still a developer kit, but even in this form, company employees and one lucky reporter are enthused about its chances to succeed at replacing the desktop monitor in the workplace. The Meta 2’s field of view is much larger than that of the HoloLens, and it sports two LCD panels that reflect off the inside of the visors, which results in sharp images and text at close range. The headset uses numerous outward-facing sensors and cameras to map the physical environment. Continue reading New Meta Headset Offers Promising Tech for AR Developers

Microsoft Opens Studios to Produce Mixed Reality Holograms

Microsoft is pitching its new mixed reality studios in San Francisco and London to developers and producers interested in creating holograms from real life objects. “Microsoft has been using its own studio at its Redmond headquarters to capture Buzz Aldrin, Reggie Watts, Max Frost, and Cirque Du Soleil performances and bring them into virtual reality and augmented reality holograms,” reports The Verge. The new studios will enable content creators to produce holograms for “regular 2D screens, a HoloLens device, or even Microsoft’s new Windows Mixed Reality headsets.” The company “is also expanding its Mixed Reality Academy program to San Francisco,” with workshops for “developing apps and experiences for VR and HoloLens headsets.” Continue reading Microsoft Opens Studios to Produce Mixed Reality Holograms

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

Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Microsoft is developing a chip designed specifically for artificial intelligence processing. A version of its Holographic Processing Unit, used for its HoloLens headset, the new chip will be integrated with the next version of HoloLens, to be launched at an as-of-yet undetermined date. Microsoft isn’t alone in taking chip manufacturing in-house, especially with regards to AI processing. Apple’s iPhone prototypes include the company’s AI-specific chip, and Google is working on its own second-generation AI chip. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Finnish Startup Varjo to Debut VR Headset With Better Vision

Finnish startup Varjo aims to improve the resolution of images seen through VR and AR headsets. Ordinarily, the viewer with a VR headset sees the most detail looking straight ahead, in a rectangle comprising about 5 percent of his field of view. Varjo’s founders want to change that, especially for designers, architects and other professionals who work with 3D models. Resolution with VR and AR headsets from Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Microsoft HoloLens has improved, but nowhere near the level we see in real life. Continue reading Finnish Startup Varjo to Debut VR Headset With Better Vision

Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Bolstered by last summer’s breakout popularity of “Pokémon Go,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has shifted focus from VR to AR, which combines the real and digital worlds. At the annual F8 conference, he stated that Facebook will make its AR tools available to developers to create everything from custom masks to filters. Partners already include Nike, Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. The shift to AR puts Facebook in competition with its rival Snap’s Snapchat and Microsoft HoloLens. Continue reading Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Apple Makes Major Play in Augmented Reality, First for iPhone

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is bullish on augmented reality, believing that the nascent sector can be as game changing as smartphones were ten years ago. Sources say that Apple is following through by building a team of hardware and software experts, with the idea of dominating augmented reality as it comes to the fore. The same sources report that Apple’s AR team, run by former Dolby Laboratories executive Mike Rockwell, includes engineers that worked on Oculus and HoloLens headsets as well as top Hollywood VFX experts. Continue reading Apple Makes Major Play in Augmented Reality, First for iPhone

Mixed Reality Technology Is Coming to Xbox Game Consoles

Microsoft plans to integrate its Windows Mixed Reality technology into the Xbox One and the next iteration of the Xbox (currently codenamed “Project Scorpio”), coming out next year. Windows Mixed Reality tech powers Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset, as well as AR and VR headsets from other manufacturers. Acer is making a Windows Mixed Reality headset that can support both VR and AR experiences. Microsoft will compete with Sony’s Playstation VR and others in the VR gaming space. Continue reading Mixed Reality Technology Is Coming to Xbox Game Consoles

Microsoft Camera Rig Gives HoloLens Developers Video Hack

Microsoft has come up with a new camera rig that allows HoloLens mixed reality app makers to capture video from a HoloLens and make it easier to show a person interacting with that app, something Microsoft dubs “spectator view.” The details of the hardware-software combo were published as open source on the HoloLens’ GitHub page. The HoloLens headset is wireless, which lets the user move around the room freely, and is based on four cameras, lightly tinted lenses and a holographic processing unit. Continue reading Microsoft Camera Rig Gives HoloLens Developers Video Hack

Sundance Festival VR Offerings Include Sensory Experiences

At the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, the New Frontier exhibit features 20 VR experiences and 11 installations touting the latest in technology, with new VR headsets, haptic controllers and even vibrating suits. The Synesthesia Suit, with its 26 vibrating actuators, was created by a Japanese team and Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who, 15 years ago, created a “trance vibrator” accessory for his Sega Dreamcast game “Rez.” Now, in Enhance Games’ “Rez Infinite,” the Synesthesia Suit wearer “feels” the game, flying through cyberspace to a techno beat. Continue reading Sundance Festival VR Offerings Include Sensory Experiences

Lenovo Plans to Launch Windows VR Headset Later This Year

Microsoft is planning a push into VR this year with its Windows Holographic software and Windows-compatible VR headsets. At CES, Chinese consumer tech company Lenovo is previewing its own upcoming headset based on the Windows Holographic platform (users will need a PC with Windows 10), which is expected to launch during the second half of 2017. Priced under $400, it seems Lenovo is looking to compete with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. Interestingly, the unnamed Lenovo headset will also feature the ability to run some augmented reality experiences using external cameras. Continue reading Lenovo Plans to Launch Windows VR Headset Later This Year

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