Disney Demonstrates Surround Haptics System for Gaming and More

  • Disney Research has developed a new technology that leverages phantom sensations and other tactile illusions to provide a wide range of physical sensations for gamers and film-goers via chairs outfitted with vibrating actuators. The technology is being demonstrated this week at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver.
  • Disney says its Surround Haptics system makes it possible for video game players and film viewers to “feel the smoothness of a finger being drawn against skin, for example, or the jolt of a collision.”
  • The system could potentially have a wide range of applications in movies, music and games, even communication systems for the blind.
  • “Although we have only implemented Surround Haptics with a gaming chair to date, the technology can be easily embedded into clothing, gloves, sports equipment and mobile computing devices,” says senior research scientist Ivan Poupyrev. “This technology has the capability of enhancing the perception of flying or falling, of shrinking or growing, of feeling bugs creeping on your skin. The possibilities are endless.”

Microsoft Develops Accurate Technique for 3D Facial Modeling

  • Researchers from Microsoft’s Beijing lab have developed a technique to automatically model human faces in 3D with a new level of accuracy.
  • According to the research, the new approach can acquire “high-fidelity 3D facial performances with realistic dynamic wrinkles and finescale facial details.”
  • The technique combines 3D scanning technology with a motion-capture system, in addition to what Geekwire describes as “a technique they developed to determine the minimal number of face scans needed to create an accurate model, which makes the system faster and more efficient.”
  • The research paper will be presented this week at the SIGGRAPH Conference in Vancouver.
  • ETCentric staffer Phil Lelyveld comments: “This more-accurate facial modeling, tied to game engine character behavior generation, will make for some very interesting experiences. There was a recent story on an emotional (versus Q&A response) Turing test. Would you hurt a visually realistic avatar?”

McAfee Researchers Claim to Discover Massive Hacking Attack

  • McAfee researchers say they have uncovered the biggest hacker attack ever, involving 72 governments and organizations around the world, including the U.S., Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, Canada and India — some dating back as far as 2006. Data compromised amounts to several petabytes of information.
  • The attack uses compromised remote access tools, or RATs, which allow system administrators to access systems from around the world and would allow an attacker to view and download confidential information. Some of those organizations and companies compromised still do not know it.
  • The attacker was not a hacker group but likely a “state actor” with very high skill levels (China is the “leading candidate”).
  • According to a blog post from Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee’s VP Threat Research: “I am convinced that every company in every conceivable industry with significant size and valuable intellectual property and trade secrets has been compromised (or will be shortly), with the great majority of the victims rarely discovering the intrusion or its impact.”

Music Service Spotify Responds to Use of Tracking Cookie

  • Researchers at UC Berkeley have found that digital music service Spotify is using a cache cookie method with ETags that still tracks when a user has ‘Private Browsing Mode’ enabled.
  • According to Digital Music News, the cookie technology “cannot be deleted, still tracks if the user blocks cookies, and even operates in browser stealth mode. In fact, if you try to delete this thing, the cookie dynamically regenerates.”
  • The cookie is powered by analytics platform Kissmetrics, which Digital Music News explains was also used by Hulu and others.
  • Spotify is reacting quickly, trying to head off a “Cookiegate” incident. “We take the privacy of our users incredibly seriously and are concerned by this report,” explained a Spotify spokeswoman. “As a result, we have taken immediate action in suspending our use of Kissmetrics whilst the situation is investigated.”

Global VOD: Web-Based TV Revenue to Overtake Terrestrial by 2012

  • According to a new report from London-based Direct TV Research Ltd., worldwide revenues from video-on-demand movies and TV shows will top $5.7 billion in 2016.
  • These 2016 projections represent a 58 percent increase from 2010 global revenues of $3.6 billion.
  • Internet-based television revenue is expected to overtake that of digital terrestrial TV by 2012.
  • The U.S., Italy and China are projected to be the top three VOD markets.
  • Simon Murray, author of the report, points out there is minimal evidence free VOD offerings will drive transactions. “There is little evidence to suggest that these free services actually encourage subscribers to pay for on-demand titles,” Murray wrote. “In fact, it may be harder to convince households to pay for on-demand services if they have become accustomed to receiving free on-demand titles.”

Entertainment Media Companies Not Ready for Digital Opportunities?

  • Most media and entertainment company senior execs believe they are not fully leveraging customer data that would make it possible to deliver customized content, suggests a new study by consulting firm Accenture.
  • The research indicates that 91 percent of these executives are not taking full advantage of the data, and as a result, are not adequately prepared to identify revenue opportunities related to current and future digital technologies. Additionally, 95 percent do not have strong digital customer relationship management capabilities.
  • If fewer than 10 percent of the companies have a fully integrated view of their digital consumers, a new operating model may be necessary for sustainable digital growth (Accenture recommends a shift from legacy vertical, channel-oriented structures toward a horizontally-layered operating model).
  • Only 55 percent said their companies had a clearly defined social networking strategy in place, while 80 percent believe the industry is still in a state of flux. And 42 percent anticipate that advertising will serve as their main source of revenue in the next two years.
  • Accenture’s “Global Media & Entertainment High Performance Study” canvassed 130 executives across Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific from industries including television, gaming, film, music, publishing, portals and advertising.