Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

For 10+ years, video game developers have given up 30 percent of their revenue from digital stores run by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Valve, which also take a percentage of in-game purchases via a revenue-sharing model that has become the industry standard. Now, Epic Games founder/chief executive Tim Sweeney, whose company put out the immensely popular “Fortnite,” opened a digital store that collects only 12 percent of sales. Sensor Tower reports that an average of $114.5 million was spent between the combined top game publishers in Android and Apple stores last quarter. Continue reading Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

Former MoviePass Exec Kickstarts Service for Free Movies

Stacy Spikes, a co-founder and former CEO of MoviePass, just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund PreShow, an app that lets users receive free movie tickets in exchange for watching 15 to 20 minutes of advertising. But there’s a catch: PreShow is based on facial recognition; Spikes said it is to prevent users from gaming the system. While the user watches ads, her smartphone’s camera keeps track of her level of attention. The ad pauses after five seconds should the user walk away or even hide part of her face. Continue reading Former MoviePass Exec Kickstarts Service for Free Movies

Audible, Chooseco Team on Interactive Tales via Alexa Skill

Amazon’s Audible and Chooseco have collaborated on two new “choose your own adventure” children’s audiobooks. Available on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices via Chooseco’s Choose skill, “The Abominable Snowman” and “Journey Under the Sea,” designed by the two teams, feature professional voice actors and can be navigated by voice commands. The two stories together offer 65 different endings and, on Alexa devices with screens, show illustrations for story beats. Decision-making points in the story are signaled by a sound. Continue reading Audible, Chooseco Team on Interactive Tales via Alexa Skill

Remo Technology Presents Auto-Director AI Camera at CES

China-based camera company Remo Technology showcased a compelling AI camera at CES that should be of interest to YouTubers and prosumer videographers looking for an affordable gesture control solution. The OBSBOT Tail camera combines artificial intelligence tech and its built-in three-axis gimbal in order to automatically track specific subjects with smooth camera motion. Users can even live stream while easily keeping themselves in the camera shot. The new camera — which can record up to 4K video at 60 fps with support for HDR10 — is expected to launch later this month. The early-bird pre-order special is listed at $469. Continue reading Remo Technology Presents Auto-Director AI Camera at CES

Kaaya Haptic HoloSuit for VR Apps to Ship This November

Kaaya Tech reached its $50,000 Kickstarter funding goal for the HoloSuit, a wearable haptic controller for virtual reality. The company will start shipping the suit, available in several versions, in November. The top-end version, HoloSuit Pro, offers 36 sensors, nine haptic feedback devices and six firing buttons, spread across two finger-tracking gloves, a pair of pants with feet extensions and a jacket with a head extension. The lower end model offers 26 sensors, and comes with a jacket or jersey with haptics and buttons. Continue reading Kaaya Haptic HoloSuit for VR Apps to Ship This November

CES: AirSelfie Updates its ‘Flying Camera’ With New Features

The pocket-sized AirSelfie drone first appeared as a Kickstarter project in 2016, and now the AirSelfie2 is on display at CES 2018. The new model — which touts camera, flight time and field-of-view upgrades — features the ability to hover in one spot, providing users with the opportunity to record unique selfies and video footage. The AirSelfie2 is controlled by a smartphone app (Android or iOS) and includes a 12MP camera, 16GB of on-board storage, and a flight range of about 60 feet. The drone will be available this March for around $300. Continue reading CES: AirSelfie Updates its ‘Flying Camera’ With New Features

Startup Gnarbox Enables 4K Video Editing From Smartphone

Two years ago, Gnarbox, which offloaded video from the smartphone to enable 4K video editing, earned over $500,000 from almost 3,000 backers on Kickstarter. Today, the $299 Gnarbox — a small black box for portable backup and editing — contains a mini-PC with 1.9GHz quad-core processors, a dedicated GPU, 128GB storage, Wi-Fi, SD card slots and three USB ports, but no display. Instead, all the processing that takes place in Gnarbox is visible on the user’s smartphone, with editing in and out points indicated by a simple swipe. Continue reading Startup Gnarbox Enables 4K Video Editing From Smartphone

Most Americans Support Net Neutrality, Online Protest Slated

Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Reddit and Y Combinator are planning a “day of action” to oppose the FCC’s plan to undo net neutrality. On July 12, the companies plan to change their websites in various ways to raise awareness of the current efforts to repeal net neutrality, which prohibits ISPs from blocking or slowing websites or charging fees to display content. A recent poll showed that a large percentage of Americans, across all political affiliations, support net neutrality and question the government’s ability to protect Internet access. Continue reading Most Americans Support Net Neutrality, Online Protest Slated

Pogue’s Last Gadget Standing Showcases New CE Devices

Last Gadget Standing, which took place at the LVCC on Saturday, January 7, is a well-loved event in its 16th year. Created by Living in Digital Times founder Robin Raskin and guest emceed by journalist David Pogue, the event chooses — by live and online audiences — the “most likely to succeed product.” The live event’s winner — which is chosen by an applause meter — was the Matrix PowerWatch, which is powered by the wearer’s body heat. The online winner was the Linksys Velop, a whole home wireless mesh system for robust Wi-Fi. Continue reading Pogue’s Last Gadget Standing Showcases New CE Devices

Fitbit Close to Acquiring Struggling Smartwatch Maker Pebble

According to a report from The Information, fitness band market leader Fitbit is close to finalizing a deal to purchase smartwatch maker (and Kickstarter success story) Pebble. The startup was said to be facing financial challenges and looking to sell. Fitbit is reportedly looking to pick up Pebble’s intellectual property and software, and is expected to shutter the brand and its products over time. While a dollar amount for the deal has not been revealed, some place the purchase price in the $34-40 million range. “Watch maker Citizen was interested in purchasing Pebble for $740 million in 2015,” reports TechCrunch. “This deal failed and before the launch of the Pebble 2 Intel made an offer for $70 million.” Continue reading Fitbit Close to Acquiring Struggling Smartwatch Maker Pebble

The Wolfe Aims to Turn MacBooks into Virtual Reality Players

Apple’s laptops may not have the power to run many virtual reality experiences, but an upcoming Kickstarter campaign aims to change that. The Wolfe offers an external Thunderbolt-connected GPU as a simple solution for supercharging laptops. According to its creators, The Wolfe increases the MacBook Pro’s GPU processing capabilities up to ten times. The form factor is a tidy, largish box housing an Nvidia GPU that is currently the baseline for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Early Kickstarter backers will get one for $399. Continue reading The Wolfe Aims to Turn MacBooks into Virtual Reality Players

Study Examines the Significant Impact of Kickstarter Projects

Research out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, led by Professor Ethan Mollick, revealed that, since its 2009 founding, Kickstarter has been used to raise $5.3 billion, leading to the creation of 8,800 new companies and non-profit organizations and generating 29,600 full-time and 283,000 part-time jobs. The study, funded in part by the Kauffman Foundation, relied on data from Kickstarter and only looked at successfully funded projects. Kickstarter had no involvement in the study. Continue reading Study Examines the Significant Impact of Kickstarter Projects

Halsey Minor Seeks to Disrupt VR Production with Live Planet

Numerous companies are introducing virtual reality cameras, filling a void that existed a year ago when VR productions were limited to the low-resolution Ricoh camera or custom rigs with multiple GoPro cameras. Among those manufacturers now offering 360-degree cameras are Samsung and LG aiming at the consumer marketplace, and Nokia, Jaunt and Lytro positioned towards the professional market. Kickstarter campaigns are also underway for additional cameras. The latest venture comes from CNET founder Halsey Minor, who is building an end-to-end immersive video system. Continue reading Halsey Minor Seeks to Disrupt VR Production with Live Planet

Oculus and Valve Have Yet to Open Tracking to Third Parties

A year after going on record that they would open up their tracking systems to third party developers, neither Oculus nor Valve have done so. So called ‘6DOF’ (degrees of freedom) tracking allows for head and body tracking, as well as mapping of physical objects like handheld objects and furniture, into the virtual world. Oculus’ Constellation tracking system uses a collection of IR-LEDs tracked by an external camera. Meanwhile, Valve/HTC’s Lighthouse tracking system uses photodiodes that track lasers from base stations. Continue reading Oculus and Valve Have Yet to Open Tracking to Third Parties

NAB 2016: Sphericam and Liquid Cinema Look to Advance VR

Two companies at last week’s NAB Show, Sphericam and Liquid Cinema, are making interesting contributions to the advancement of VR Cinema. Sphericam is preparing to launch a 6-sensor, 4-microphone spherical camera the size of a baseball into the prosumer market. The camera can internally stitch at 30 fps and, with an attached PC, output 60 fps live video. Liquid Cinema has developed a comprehensive yet simple-to-use software package for editing VR footage, adding effects, and, most interestingly, re-establishing the director’s intent for where viewers should look at cut-points within the video. Continue reading NAB 2016: Sphericam and Liquid Cinema Look to Advance VR

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