Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

Immersed in a virtual world, the user can be at risk for bumping into real-world objects, such as walls and coffee tables. Microsoft has filed a patent application for a technology to address this issue. With its “virtual reality floor mat activity region,” the user has a designated safe space to explore, with so-called fiducial markers that help the VR headset recognize the mat as well as the possibility of pressure sensors in the mat. Some VR players have used their own rubber mats as a physical cue to be safe. Continue reading Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

Microsoft Reaches Out to Developers at its Build Conference

Microsoft revealed interesting news during this week’s Build developer conference in Seattle, Washington. Among the key announcements: a pair of mixed reality enterprise apps for the HoloLens; a partnership with DJI to bring Microsoft’s AI and machine learning tech to commercial drones; a preview launch of deep learning acceleration platform Project Brainwave; prototype hardware designed for the meeting room of the future; and Project Kinect for Azure, which provides developers with the opportunity to experiment with a package of sensors and Microsoft’s next-generation depth camera. Continue reading Microsoft Reaches Out to Developers at its Build Conference

Sony to Introduce 3D ‘Time-of-Flight’ Sensors for AR Devices

At Sony’s Atsugi Technology Center outside Tokyo, engineers are developing a new kind of 3D sensor aimed for use first in smartphones and augmented reality devices. The sensors will be able to detect people and objects by relying on calculations on how long it takes for light to reflect off their surfaces. Sony, which will go into mass production next year, is betting that the new sensors could eventually be used in drones, self-driving vehicles, gaming consoles, and other machines that interact with their environments. Continue reading Sony to Introduce 3D ‘Time-of-Flight’ Sensors for AR Devices

Thalmic Labs Aims to Change How We Interact with Computers

Since Thalmic Labs debuted the Myo muscle-sensing armband, which lets users control a computer with a wave, the Y-Combinator startup received a $120 million investment from Intel Capital, the Amazon Alexa Fund, and Fidelity Investments Canada; and hired Samsung veteran Tara Kriese as its CMO and former Under Armour wearable devices head Abhi Bhatt as VP of Product Experience. The 100-employee company also opened a 50,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Waterloo, where it’s working on its next, still-unannounced product. Continue reading Thalmic Labs Aims to Change How We Interact with Computers

TV Ratings Companies Help Marketers Find Engaged Viewers

As Americans change their viewing habits, watching content on TVs, laptops, smartphones and a dozen other devices, TV networks and marketers among others want more information. TVision is one such company that’s answered the call. With a Microsoft Kinect device on top of a receiver, TVision can track the movement of participants’ eyes in relationship to the TV, recording tiny shifts for everyone in the room. TVision then matches viewing patterns with shows and commercials via technology that “listens” to the TV broadcast. Continue reading TV Ratings Companies Help Marketers Find Engaged Viewers

E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

At E3 2016 next week, Sony will come to the show having sold over 40 million PlayStation 4 consoles, outselling Microsoft’s Xbox One, by two-to-one. The company plans to debut a more powerful console, a virtual reality headset, and numerous first-party games. Microsoft, meanwhile, plans to launch a wide range of new Xbox hardware this year, beginning with, rumors have it, a slimmer, smaller version of the current Xbox One. In addition to new consoles, Microsoft will show off HoloLens and debut new games. Continue reading E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

Top Game Console Companies Test Tweaking Release Cycles

At least some game console manufacturers have decided not to wait for long release cycles to upgrade their hardware, but instead will begin to release new capabilities in between generations. Microsoft has said as much with regard to its next Xbox One, code-named Scorpio, and Sony has reportedly made noises that its upcoming releases will have forward and backward compatibility. They are both following the model of devices like PCs and smartphones that operate on a continuous evolution cycle. Continue reading Top Game Console Companies Test Tweaking Release Cycles

Israeli Startup Debuts Index-Finger Device to Replace Mouse

Israeli startup MUV Interactive unveiled Bird, a device the user wears on an index finger, to replace the mouse. The small plastic shell, covered with sensors, is on sale to the public for $150 for the first 15,000 units; the regular price is $250. With Bird, the user can move his or her hand as if controlling a touchscreen — but without any touch — for any TV or projector up to 300 inches. The device weighs about 20 grams (7/10th of an ounce). With plug-ins, Bird can control other devices, including a drone. Continue reading Israeli Startup Debuts Index-Finger Device to Replace Mouse

With New Funding, AltspaceVR Plans More Virtual Gatherings

AltspaceVR, a virtual reality chat room and communication platform, just raised $10.3 million, which it will use to work towards a business plan that could include paid virtual gatherings with celebrities. Founded in 2013, Altspace launched its VR chat room in June. Its global user base spends time on the site chatting, browsing, playing games or watching videos; the software runs on Oculus, Mac and PC desktops and 3D TVs. Users can add a Leap Motion or Kinect motion sensor to add gestures to their robot avatars. Continue reading With New Funding, AltspaceVR Plans More Virtual Gatherings

Oculus Acquires Technology That Enables Direct VR Interaction

With the acquisition of Pebbles Interfaces, Oculus VR is poised to replace its Touch controller with hand-sensing technology that allows users to interact directly with the virtual world. This is Oculus’ latest acquisition this year of companies offering expertise in tracking and 3D mapping. Pebbles’ technology, based on custom optics, sensor systems and algorithms, tracks hand movement in real space, with detailed mapping of where each hand is in relation to the other. The terms of the purchase were not announced. Continue reading Oculus Acquires Technology That Enables Direct VR Interaction

MashMe Enables You to Create Animated Avatars in Real Time

Croatian company MashMe has developed new software that allows users to create animated scenes and avatars of themselves using only a webcam. MashMe tracks even the most minute details of a person’s facial expressions and gestures to create animated avatars that can be used with services like Google Hangouts, Twitch and Skype. The company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $50,000, promising its contributors access to one of the two final software packages it plans to offer.  Continue reading MashMe Enables You to Create Animated Avatars in Real Time

Xbox One Likely to Add DVR Functionality Sometime This Year

In a post yesterday about the death of Windows Media Center, tech journalist and blogger Paul Thurrott cited unnamed sources regarding an update to Xbox One’s live TV functionality that would add television recording. This would allow Xbox One to replace TiVo and other DVRs in many households. Microsoft recently unveiled a tuner that enables the console to accept over-the-air broadcast TV signals. It also offers the options to pause live TV and stream live content to mobile devices via SmartGlass. Continue reading Xbox One Likely to Add DVR Functionality Sometime This Year

Intel Promotes its RealSense 3D Camera Technology at CES

At CES, a wide range of companies showed or discussed products that are becoming more aware of their surroundings, largely due to improved sensors. This will enable tablets, phones, cars, drones and other devices to interact with people and each other in more sophisticated ways. This could also require significant upgrades to camera tech. While Microsoft’s Kinect sensor for Xbox was built to use gestures for game control, the tech has proven more far-reaching, especially in robotics research. Now Intel is aiming to take the next step with 3D sensors. Continue reading Intel Promotes its RealSense 3D Camera Technology at CES

Oculus Acquires Nimble VR for its Hand-Tracking Technology

Oculus, the virtual reality company picked up by Facebook in March, has acquired two startups that may bring hand-tracking and better mapping of 3D interiors to the Oculus Rift headset. Nimble VR (formerly 3Gear Systems) is the startup behind Nimble Sense, a camera that connects to the headset and uses Kinect-like technology to track a user’s hands and sync movements to the user’s VR experience. Oculus also bought 13th Lab, a computer vision and augmented reality firm focused on 3D reconstruction. Continue reading Oculus Acquires Nimble VR for its Hand-Tracking Technology

Microsoft Has Developed 3D Audio to Augment Virtual Reality

Video games are about to get very realistic, and it’s not just because of virtual reality headsets. Microsoft researchers have developed the technology to make sounds seem as if they are coming from a specific point in space. The 3D audio technology is made possible by the software that builds a 3D model of a player’s head and shoulders and calculates a personal filter to trick the player into perceiving sound as coming from a specific location. Continue reading Microsoft Has Developed 3D Audio to Augment Virtual Reality

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